NREL Studies Climate Control System Impact on Plug-In Vehicles

Preconditioning battery pack can partially restore lost range by up to 19%.

Published: 24-Jan-2011

A technical paper recently released by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reveals the impact of climate control loads in electric drive vehicles.

In plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs), the stored electrical energy in the battery is used to drive the electric drive motor. But using the battery for immediate air conditioning or heat reduces the vehicle’s charge-depleting (CD) range—the distance over which the vehicle operates on battery power alone—and causes additional battery wear.

NREL engineer Robb Barnitt led the effort to quantify the impact of thermally preconditioning the vehicle cabin and battery pack of PHEVs and EVs using off-board power supplied by the utility grid. His team simulated vehicle performance with and without thermal preconditioning over various drive cycles and ambient temperature scenarios.

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