Electric cars performance and battery range in cold weather must be improved, say Chinese regulators
If there is one area in the electric cars vs gas cars competition where EVs can't exactly match up to internal combustion engines, that's battery performance in cold climate conditions. The range on a charge drops precipitously when the temperatures are low and you crank up the heating inside the electric vehicle. The issue has lately been flagged by none other than Russia’s trade and industry minister, Denis Manturov, whose Tesla Model X 100D, bought just last year, has proved to be a less than suitable vehicle for Moscow's winters:
The existing energy storage units aren’t yet a fully established technology, particularly in our climatic conditions. It has a claimed range of up to 450km, but my experience shows that, after being parked for an hour and half at -30 degrees Celsius, the vehicle is barely able to get me home, as the remaining range was only enough to drive less than 100km – in fact, even less.
There have been quite a few reports on electric car drivers overshooting their range estimates in the winter, so the Chinese regulators want EV manufacturers to take a long and hard look at the issue to serve their customers better. The Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, whose responsibilities include electric vehicle certification, held a panel discussion where it asked EV manufacturers for better driver protection in cold weather conditions. The list of participants in the panel discussions reads like the who's who in China's red-hot EV industry, as the Ministry wants to coordinate the efforts of manufacturers, regulators, and academia in coming up with solutions for the pesky electric cars cold-weather performance problem:
First, we must ensure normal use at the current stage. Industry enterprises must improve work plans, unblock information channels, comprehensively apply monitoring platforms, after-sales service and other channels, do a good job of early warning and communication, enhance service initiative, and timely coordinate to solve the problems reported by consumers. Second, we must continue to improve low-temperature performance. Vehicle companies, battery companies, research institutions, etc. should strengthen work cooperation, strengthen technological collaboration, increase research and development investment guarantees, and fundamentally promote the solution of low temperature problems, and improve product quality and environmental adaptability. Third, we must create a good industrial environment. Industry enterprises must follow the new standards and new requirements to produce and sell in accordance with laws and regulations. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology will speed up the formulation and release of energy consumption labeling standards, strengthen product access and production consistency supervision and inspection, and protect the rights and interests of consumers.
China has invested so much in electric vehicles and battery development in the last decade that its carmakers currently hold the range-on-a-battery-charge records. Thus, there is a good possibility the government's initiative to improve the performance of electric cars in cold climates could be a net positive for the global EV industry, provided that the laws of physics and chemistry don't get in the way.