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In the wake of a nationwide cold snap, we break down some new data showing how electric vehicles perform in below-freezing temperatures — and whether they can keep their drivers warm for hours without a charge.

Snowy roadway

From icy roads in Virginia to crippling blizzard conditions in Buffalo, 2022 was bookmarked with extreme winter weather that left drivers stuck on the roads.

About a year ago, hundreds of drivers got stuck on a highway outside Washington, D.C., some for more than 24 hours. Everyone safely made it home after a chilly night in their cars, but it prompted a question from electric vehicle skeptics: What if everyone had been stranded in EVs instead of combustion vehicles? 

It is true that electric vehicles perform best around room temperature and lose range when it’s colder. But now, there’s data that shows EVs would’ve probably fared just fine — especially if they have a heat pump onboard. 

Recurrent, a data science company that researches electric vehicles, took a look at 13 EV models and compared their battery range at 70°F to around 20-30°F. The result? Cars that come standard with an efficient electric heat pump used up a far smaller percentage of their range than cars without. 

Read more about the Recurrent study and its results from the Washington Post.

And if you’d like more evidence that EVs can withstand the cold, several journalists delivered it in the wake of the Virginia freeze. InsideHook stayed cozy for 12 hours while only using 25% of a Mustang Mach-E’s range. Car and Driver meanwhile pitted a Tesla Model 3 against a gas-powered Hyundai Sonata, and found both their cabins kept warm for a comparable amount of time.


More clean energy news

⚠️ Natural disasters’ profound impacts: A survey reveals that natural disasters displaced an estimated 3.3 million adults in the U.S. last year, disproportionately affecting people with disabilities. (Axios, E&E News)

📈 Good news even as emissions rise: A research group finds U.S. greenhouse gas emissions increased just over 1% last year, but also spots signs the country is emitting less carbon and weaning off coal power even as its economy grows. (Grist)

🏭 New emissions limits could save lives: The Biden administration looks to lower limits on soot emissions from vehicles, power plants and construction sites — a rule change that could save thousands of lives each year. (Grist)

🚀 Solar power heads to space: A solar power prototype launches into space as California scientists seek to prove space-based solar power’s viability. (The Hill)

🔥 Gas stove concerns grow: As studies repeatedly show the dangers of gas stoves’ emissions, the top federal consumer safety official says a ban on the appliances should be on the table. (Popular Science)

🔋 Energy storage on ‘bonkers’ trajectory: U.S. battery storage deployment exceeded federal expectations in 2022 and has seen a “bonkers rate of acceleration” from just a few years ago, says a clean power expert. (Canary Media)


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Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn brings her extensive editorial background to the Energy News Network team, where she oversees the early-morning production of ENN’s five email digest newsletters as well as distribution of ENN’s original journalism with other media outlets. From documenting chronic illness’ effect on college students to following the inner workings of Congress, Kathryn has built a broad experience in her more than five years working at major publications including The Week Magazine. Kathryn holds a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism and information management and technology from Syracuse University.