How the temperature affects electric cars

Traditional Petrol and Diesel engines, found in millions of cars are very inefficient, with masses of energy lost through heat.  This can be quite useful in Winter time, when the car is warmed quickly by the heat expelled from the engine bay.  Yet, your fuel economy is affected by the cold weather as the engine uses the least fuel when it has warmed up.

In contrast electric car motors are 95% efficient, compared to 37% efficiency of their fossil fuel counterparts.  Warming the battery components increases efficiency, yet there is a maximum temperature that they can operate.

Thermal imaging camera captures heat loss from a car engine
Thermal imaging camera captures heat loss from a car engine

Controlling the temperature of various components has always been a factor in motorsport, but for Formula E this presents a new challenge. With batteries having a strict operating temperature window, the teams and drivers have to work hard to reap maximum efficiency from their systems. The learnings around electric car battery temperature management are already trickling down to electric road cars, and this will only increase over time.
Formula E battery pack seen through a thermal imaging camera
Formula E battery pack seen through a thermal imaging camera

Former F1 mechanic Marc Priestley talks to Formula E champion Sebastien Buemi to get a driver’s perspective of temperature management, as well as learning about the technical challenges the teams face, and how the mastering of temperature management will mean we’re all driving more efficient cars in the future.

The Founder of driveEV. A driving and new technology fan enjoying learning all about the future of motoring. I drive a BMW i3.

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