2017 Chevy Bolt Cold Climate Range Test – 4 Degrees Fahrenheit



Chevy Bolt Cold Climate Range Test in 4 Degrees Fahrenheit. I bummed this from a dealership to get an idea of how many miles you could conceivably drive in the coldest temperatures on earth with a full battery charge. I also discuss the possible causes of 20 percent range loss in sub-freezing temperatures regardless of climate control turned on and across any electric vehicle you drive in these temperatures. I would appreciate any input on this from those knowledgeable on this topic.

12 Replies to “2017 Chevy Bolt Cold Climate Range Test – 4 Degrees Fahrenheit”

  1. scuBarry

    Chemistry has way more to do with the range variation than physics. The physics part might be very small losses due to increased air density and some rolling resistance in very cold weather. At the "cold" temperatures we are talking about electrical resistance is not reduced, it must be near -320 F. Rather than go into complex chemical "stuff" let's just compare you to a GAS engine. You both need chemical energy (Food/Gas) to "work". You both convert that energy to mechanical energy (movement) and some to heat & electrical energy. You both need oxygen and produce waste and have exhaust pipes. You both operate BEST within a narrow range of temperatures which is why you both have methods/systems for temperature control. If either of you is too cold or too hot you may not work at all. In EV's the batteries store chemical energy which is converted to electrical energy (and then by a motor into mechnical energy). They also work BEST over a relatively narrow temperature range where these electro-chemical changes take place. Hope this helps.

  2. Trevor Kemp

    It's about battery chemistry so you have to think of an electrochemical battery like a lead acid battery or gel cell or an AGM glass mat or a nickel or alkaline or lithium ion battery kind of like with us humans we have a Comfort Range and temperature and what happens with the batteries is as it gets colder especially when it gets down closer to freezing with a lithium ion battery or below freezing the electrons do not flow through the actual substrate that stores the energy nearly is easily it is way more resistive so the internal resistance of the battery goes up by quite a bit when it gets cold the electrodes in the battery themselves do not shrink enough to affect this cuz the electrodes themselves do not store energy in a sense that is affected by temperature the only reason the temperature would affect anything with the electro days there is just a little bit less surface area which means there is just that much less surface area to pass current through but in an application like an electric car using a lithium battery you really won't see any type of reduced ability for the electrode carry amperage until you're getting near the very top of the power abilities of the car and the battery itself all electrochemical batteries are not a solid-state battery they are actually a liquid state battery as liquid gets colder it becomes more and more resistive so you have to think of an electrochemical battery as a thermal resistor it gets too cold and its internal resistance goes up and it's not willing to share its energy as much so it doesn't release energy as efficiently because it's also as it's trying to release energy because of its internal resistance trying to heat itself as well now if you were taking a road trip in the car and you were going to have to stop off and do a couple of DC quick charging sessions after driving a while down the road with running the heat probably at a lower setting at a higher setting at first and then at a lower setting after you stop and charge you would see your miles per kilowatt increased because stopping and doing a DC quick charge would actually help to warm the battery up Plus in the case of your Bolt it does have active thermal management and when you turn the car on it automatically starts doing the active thermal Management on the battery pack it is actually better if you turn the car on for about 10 or 15 minutes on a day like you did this video with the car still plugged in especially if it's plugged into a five or six kilowatt sure power source so it can heat the batteries up and as you probably noticed you had very little to no region available especially when you first started the car up for the trip as I said earlier charging the car especially at a higher charge rate at a DC quick charger would naturally just do the batteries natural internal resistance even if it were at a more idealistic temperature like 70 or 80 degrees would still cause the battery to warm up a little bit even if it wasn't that cold out even if it was nice and warm out as well as you have to remember the heater that is installed in the bolt is not known for its efficiency and you are running the heat at a pretty good level if you just turn the heat to Auto instead of on manual the car would have actually probably been a little bit higher than 2 miles per kilowatt at the end of the drive just because the heat probably would not have ran as hard anyway and it would have turned down the fan which would have saved having to charge the 12 volt system and then the extremely inefficient resistive heater that is used in that car which works great for colder climates and not too bad for cooler climates where you're around freezing also sucks up a lot of energy as well cuz when you first started the car and you started filming the heater in the car was taking about five and a half to 6 kilowatts to heat the car up so you have to keep that in mind as well there is a paste inside of the battery which is primarily what is used for actually storing the energy and that paste as it gets colder becomes less efficient and more resistive so now if you were taking a road trip in the car and you were going to have to stop off and do a couple of DC quick charging sessions after driving a while down the road with running the heat probably at a lower setting a higher setting at first and then it'll lower setting after you stop and charge you would see your mile per kilowatt increase because stopping and doing a DC quick charge what actually help to warm the battery up plus in the case of your bolt it does have active thermal management and when you turn the car on it automatically starts doing the active thermal management on the battery pack it is actually better if you turn the car on for about 10 or 15 minutes on need a like you did this video with the car still plugged in especially if it's plugged into six kilowatt power source so it can heat the batteries up and as you probably noticed you had very little to no region available especially when you first started the car up for the trip as I said earlier charging the car especially any higher charger at at a DC quick charger would naturally just do the batteries natural internal resistance even if it were at a more idea elastic temperature like 70 or 80 degrees would still cause the battery to warm up a little bit even if it wasn't that cold out even if it was nice warm out as well as you have to remember the heater that is installed in the bolt also the storage medium in a lithium battery that actually stores the power is a electrochemical paste and at the temperatures that you are looking at even though you are only drawing 20 kilowatts let's say that the car is using the battery is actually giving off 24 or 25 kilowatts of energy at that point in time because of the internal resistance of the battery because of the electrochemical paste which is actually what is storing the energy if they were using a solid-state Battery Technology which temperature has almost no effect on then there would not be much storage medium available to actually store energy so the 60 kg energy storage ability of the battery in the bolts would more realistically with the best solid-state storage technology we have be about 10 kilowatts Max of stored energy because solid state batteries have almost no internal resistance that's even measurable compared to an electrochemical battery but we use electrochemical batteries because they have a very high storage density compared to solid state batteries and a problem with science of electrochemical batteries is to make them consumer affordable we have to use materials that when they get cold or when they get too hot or as the battery gets Fuller ends up having a much higher internal resistance there is electrochemical solutions that exist and could be used instead of the ones that we currently know that would have a lot less internal thermal resistance than what we currently use but to make a lithium 60 kilowatt hour battery out of that chemical would be about $60,000 just for the battery alone and currently pretty much only high grade military equipment that needs to be able to operate in really cold temperatures and scientific research equipment used in the Antarctic and the Arctic circles are the only places that use this because of the prohibitively expensive cost of this stuff and the fact that it has a very very low internal resistance compared to what we get as consumers the internal resistance of that electrochemical would be the same at 0 degrees Fahrenheit as the batteries we are currently using have at about 36 degrees Fahrenheit.

  3. Greg Collins

    Not everything shrinks when cold. Water actually expands when close to freezing which is why (fortunately) ice floats.
    Its not so much that battery resistance changes during charging, but that the chemical reaction rate is lower at close to empty and close to full (at any temperature) which is why the charge controller limits the charge rate at these times. Don't know about why the chemistry does this exactly, but cold temps make it worse.

  4. Chad A

    Batteries have an optimal temperature RANGE. While charging, too high can cause damage and too low can cause damage. And yes, low temperature does cause the electrochemical efficiency to be worse. And charging must slow down at the top end, just as you would slow down pouring water into a glass to prevent overfilling.

  5. Francois Charbonneau

    I'm surprised that this is still a puzzlement for you being a Volt owner. On Volt.com many owners have stated that the range meter is best known as a guess-o-meter, depending on driving conditions, terrain and temperature. If you compare a gas car, we compare our driving experience with EPA estimates, but because heat from the motor is transferred to the cabin, you're distance is not as effected as it is in an EV. You're using some of the battery power to keep you warm. The fact that you are consistantly averaging a 20 to 25% lost in distance means you are a very consistent driver, let someone else drive your car for a day or two and you will see a change in those averages. As in a gas car if you drive like a grandpa you'll beat EPA averages and if you have a lead foot you wont attain them.

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