Temperature, range, and charging are closely connected in the minds of most electric car owners. Why? Basically, chemical reactions happen faster at higher temperatures. Think of the electrons inside your battery as minions. During charging, they move from the cathode to the anode. While driving, the process is reversed.
When your battery is nice and warm, those helpful minions are full of energy and running around like crazy doing minion-like things. When its below freezing, those minions are like, “Dude. Do we really have to do this?” They move, but more slowly.
Notice anything interesting? Every electric car in that chart has less range when the temperature drops, which means EV drivers have to be aware of the weather, especially on trips. [Most combustion engine cars suffer some loss of range in cold weather as well.]
Recurrent explains that cold weather slows the chemical and physical reactions that make electric car batteries work, specifically conductivity and diffusivity, leading to:
Longer charging time (increased impedance)
Temporary reduction in range (lower capacity), primarily due to heating systems. Since the energy for heating and cooling your car comes from the same battery that propels the car, use of climate control can pull charge away from the primary battery
Even though cold-related range effects are temporary, your battery should be above freezing before charging, it advises. Most vehicles do have some sort of temperature regulation in their battery management system (BMS) that will prevent high voltage or fast charging if the battery is too cold.
In general, if your vehicle is turned on or plugged in, energy will be drawn to keep the temperature in a healthy range. The two outliers for this are Nissan Leaf, which only has thermal regulation kick on when the temperature is below -20C (-4F), and Tesla, which will activate thermal management even if the vehicle is off or not plugged in. Tesla’s temperature regulation protects your battery health, but can also cost you some range if the car is heating the battery while not plugged in.
Read more: How Temperature Affects Electric Car Range, Charging, & Performance