Protecting Electric Vehicle Batteries in Hot Weather

Hot weather can accelerate the degradation of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, according to a battery-health analysis firm called Recurrent. Their recent study on Teslas revealed that EVs based in hot climate zones tend to experience more range loss as they age compared to those in cold climate zones.

The increased environmental heat in hot weather contributes extra energy to the electrochemical reactions within the battery, which can lead to premature aging. Recurrent states that irreversible battery damage is generally accepted to occur at temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit.

To mitigate the effects of hot weather on EV batteries, there are several steps owners can take. Parking the vehicle in a garage or shaded area can help prevent excessive heat exposure. Nissan, for example, improved the battery chemistry in its Leaf model to address early vulnerabilities to degradation from hot climates and parking lots.

Leaving the battery half charged in hot weather can also protect it from degradation. The stability of the battery is greater at half charge compared to being fully charged. Additionally, for buyers in hot climates, choosing an EV with lithium iron phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry is recommended, as it has better temperature resilience. Certain Tesla models and versions of the Ford Mustang Mach-E utilize LFP batteries.

For EVs equipped with active thermal management systems, keeping the car plugged in and setting a charge limit can be beneficial. Battery cooling typically begins at a lower temperature when the vehicle is plugged in compared to when it is unplugged.

Recurrent’s research indicates that battery degradation occurs gradually and is unlikely to render an EV inoperable. Frequent fast-charging does not significantly degrade batteries, although certain models may perform better in this aspect.

In conclusion, while hot weather can degrade EV batteries, taking preventive measures such as parking in shaded areas, maintaining a half charge, and considering LFP battery chemistry can help protect the longevity and performance of the battery.

Source: Recurrent (battery-health analysis firm)