Can You Warm Up a Cold EV Battery on a Chevrolet Bolt?



Can you quickly warm up the high voltage battery of an electric vehicle in the dead of winter? More specifically, can I make it happen on our 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV?

Following cold and warm battery charging sessions that show either end of the DC fast charging spectrum, I wanted to test a viewer suggestion to hit highway speeds and then pull back with maximum regenerative braking.

Hopefully, this would provide sufficient action for the battery pack to warm up and be ready to accept a charge rate closer to that of the second session (43kW), rather than the piffling 15kW rate we saw in the cold session.

Cold battery DCFC link:
Warm battery DCFC link:

This video covers mainly my first attempt to make that happen but also references a subsequent test with more extended highway driving towards the end. Both yielded similar results and should provide useful insight for Bolt EV drivers – or potential owners – considering how they’ll use the car. There’s also a reminder that Tesla owners aren’t immune from this issue, as my Model 3-owning in-laws experienced on their way over to Boston from Cleveland, OH this past Christmas!

Let us know about your experiences with cold battery charging in the comments and thanks again for watching.

Also feel free to e-mail thoughts, questions and content requests to plugandplayEV@gmail.com. I want the channel to be as useful as possible for not only Bolt owners but other electric vehicle drivers and those considering an EV as their next car.

5 Replies to “Can You Warm Up a Cold EV Battery on a Chevrolet Bolt?”

  1. don forbes

    When you were on the L2 charger you could have started 2 sessions of preconditioning which will give 40 minutes of battery warming @2.5KW from the J1772 (assuming the car HVAC is already at the set point).

    When you transfer to the rapid charger you will get a higher rate when connecting to a fast charger

    Driving below freezing, the battery is generally around 4c/38f. The car ramps up the charge rate as the temperature rises to 20c/68f for a rate of 45KW/h. (charge rate varies with temperature as active battery management does its magic and pampers the battery).

  2. Olivier Champoux

    Close the car in order to enable the battery heater to increase the battery temp. If the car is on the battery heater is not starting on DCFC. After few minutes you should have faster rate because of the battery heater and the DCFC power. This has been tested here in Quebec in very cold air temperature (-10 to -30 celcius). But stil we cannot acheive 45kw. GM needs to change this. Thanks for the video

  3. Ed Fegan

    Recharged our Model 3 at a hotel supercharger on a very cold night immediately after driving several hours. Charged fine. I was shocked at how slow it was on a cold morning. Although it picked up after about 45 to and hour minutes

  4. IMHO

    You need a stretch of road where you can go pedal to the medal then full regen 10 times back to back. Driving 70 mph is not going to use many kW. You want 150 kw acceleration and 60 kw deceleration until the regen limit indicator goes away.

    The battery heater is 2kw. And that is what will run off the charger until it heats up. You need to get more than 2kw of waste heat from current in the battery. If you can’t, you might as well go plug in to a lvl2 charger until the battery heater warms up the battery and then you can move to the fast charger.

    Running the heater is counterproductive during regen because it lets you burn those kw instead of forcing it back into the battery.

    It is interesting that it allowed brief 50 kw regen but wouldn’t accept 30 kw charge.

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