A recent study conducted by electric vehicle research firm Recurrent Auto suggests living in colder climates could offer better long-term battery health for Tesla vehicles. While cold weather is known to sap range temporarily, the data indicates it does less permanent damage over time versus hotter climates.
Key Research Findings
The study analyzed battery health data from over 12,500 Tesla vehicles across a variety of models and years. It focused specifically on Tesla EV due to their prevalence and available data pool.
The key finding was that Tesla in colder northern states maintained higher average battery capacity and range scores compared to those in hot southern states. This trend held consistently across the Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y.
For example, the average range score for a 2020 Model Y was 95 in cold Vermont but just 92 in hot Arizona. The range score indicates what percentage of original battery capacity remains, with 100 being perfect and lower meaning more degradation.
The Role of Thermal Management
Recurrent Auto highlighted Tesla’s battery thermal management as a key factor in preserving battery health over time. The system uses intelligent temperature control to protect batteries from damage.
Heat provides extra energy that accelerates chemical reactions in batteries, causing faster deterioration. Tesla’s design safeguards against this environmental impact in hot climates.
Meanwhile, cold temperatures do not have the same damaging effect at a chemical level, shorter-term range loss in winter is temporary as batteries warm up.
Recommendations for Owners
For Tesla owners in hot regions, Recurrent suggests parking in covered areas and charging to only 50% before leaving the vehicle in direct sunlight. This prevents overheating.
Those buying used Teslas should consider the previous owner’s parking habits and any LFP batteries that are more heat-resistant.
All owners should plug in when not driving for preconditioning benefits and purchase cars with active thermal management like Tesla’s.
Weighing the Trade-Offs
There is an inherent trade-off between colder and warmer climates. The cold saps range but may support longer-term battery health. The heat preserves range but accelerates degradation over time.
For most drivers doing shorter daily trips, less degradation may be preferable to temporary cold weather range loss, but preferences depend largely on driving habits and battery size.
Different Cell Chemistry Factors
The study focused specifically on Teslas and their NCA cathode battery chemistry. Results may differ for other brands using NMC, LFP, or solid-state batteries in development.
Cold weather life cycle also depends heavily on the breakdown between highway versus city driving, more stop-and-go conditions make it harder to keep batteries warm.
In summary, Recurrent Auto’s study provides compelling evidence that colder temperatures benefit Tesla battery lifespan despite the inconvenience of shorter range in winter.
Tesla’s thermal management goes a long way in optimizing battery health over hundreds of thousands of miles. While not definitively settling the cold versus hot debate, the data makes a strong case that colder climates support longevity.
Of course, other factors like charging habits and battery type play a role too. But climate appears to be a significant variable in dictating degradation rates. As more EVs hit the road, understanding these effects will be key.
Recurrent Auto’s analysis offers valuable insights into the complex relationship between temperature and EV battery lifespans using Tesla fleet data. Their findings suggest colder regions may enable better long-term health, albeit with some short-term range trade-offs. Further research incorporating different brands and chemistries would provide broader perspective.
But the takeaway for now is that living in cold weather locales could pay dividends for Tesla owners wanting to maximize their EV battery lifespans, with proper precautions, heat appears more detrimental in the long run.