Winterizing Electric and Plug-in Vehicles

By Matthew Askari | January 25, 2012
Harsh winters take a toll on cars, and electric and plug-in vehicles are no exception. As EVs and plug-in vehicles become more common, automakers are being tasked with creating cars that can function in and withstand varying environments. Cold temperatures are one of the toughest, because the chill can affect battery function, reduce range, and in the case of hybrids, lower fuel economy significantly. The energy in batteries is produced through chemical reactions, ones that are slowed significantly when temperatures drop below freezing. A study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory found that nickel metal hydride and lithium ion batteries, the kinds used in electric cars, could experience a drop of up to 80 percent in capacity around freezing, versus 73 degrees Fahrenheit. Consumer Reports has noted that the Nissan Leaf, which normally has a range of 100 miles, saw that drop to 65 miles in cold. ReGo is a Minnesota-based company that specializes in winterizing EVs. They outfit battery packs with insulation and heaters that can keep batteries warm, helping mitigate the effects of cold temperatures. Shayna Berkowitz of ReGo says that, "when it comes to transportation, people want reliable, dependable, consistent, easy technology," adding, "change is hard for people. They don't want their commute to be a science fair project."'s take: While automakers are making progress in battery development, companies like ReGo can help EVs and plug-ins function optimally in harsh conditions. It all sounds good in theory, and keeping batteries warm should improve performance. However, it should also be noted that we don't have specific data regarding the benefit and effectiveness of cars using the heaters and insulation that companies such as ReGo provide. Source: Clean Technica