As many of the 361,000 drivers who put EVs in their driveways in 2018 discovered this winter, the range of electric cars is greatly diminished in cold weather. In fact, range can decrease by 41 percent when temperatures drop down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
Automakers are going to great lengths in order to engineer solutions to power-sapping cold weather. BMW, for example, is currently up near the Arctic Circle with its trio of next-generation EVs. The German automaker is there to ensure the cars perform as well as they can when the mercury drops below freezing.
Along with the revelation that it is going to great lengths — and all corners of the earth — in the development of its new electric models, Bimmer also gave some insight in the forthcoming models’ range and performance.
SUVs As EVs
BMW is currently in Sweden testing its iX3, i4, and iNEXT electric vehicles, all of which will feature the brand’s fifth generation electric eDrive. In addition to ensuring an adequate driving range, BMW is also testing how the cars’ suspension and traction control systems handle icy climates.
First into showrooms will be the iX3 crossover. Its state-of-the-art batteries and powerful electric motor will allow it travel 248 miles per charge (BMW estimate). That is, under ideal temperatures. Only time will tell how successful Bimmer’s arctic testing will be at preserving cold-weather battery performance.
The i4 four-door coupe, which is slated to go into production in Munich, Germany in 2021, will have a much longer estimated range than the iX3. BMW calculates the i4 will be able to do more than 372 miles (600 kilometers) per charge. It is also reported to accelerate from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 4.0 seconds and reach a top speed of 124 mph.
The last all-electric Bimmer being torture-tested in the arctic is the iNEXT, BMW’s most future-facing model yet.
Like the i4, iNEXT is also slated to be built in 2021. However, iNEXT will be built at a BMW facility in Dingolfing, China. iNEXT will be more than an electric crossover; BMW boasts it will combine “the latest innovations in the areas of design, automated driving, connectivity, electrification and services (D+ACES).”
Essentially, it will be the example BMW sets for how it envisions the future of mobility, from design, powertrain, autonomy, and services standpoint.
Most, if not all, of these three EVs will be globally available products. That means they have to withstand extreme temperatures on both ends of the thermometer. So it makes sense that BMW is going to such extremes with the development of these vehicles — especially so early on in their development cycle.
No Quick Fix
What’s more, the growing popularity of EVs means that they need to become hardier and more robust, no matter the season. After all, early adopters might be happy to baby their EVs and accept a diminished driving range during colder months. Everyday consumers likely won’t — especially if they’ve grown accustom to go-anywhere at anytime gas-powered cars. Carmakers understand that and are working overtime to ensure the best year-round performance for the future EVs.
No matter how much German engineering magic BMW throws at its EVs, there will still be some measurable degradation to the batteries in extreme temperatures, however. If you’re keen to know how to save your EV’s batteries from extreme weather, we compiled some surefire tips here.