Tesla Model 3 ‘Highland’ Underperforms in Norway’s Winter EV Range Assessment

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Tesla Model 3 'Highland' Underperforms in Norway's Winter EV Range Assessment

Did you know that the range of electric vehicles (EVs) decreases in cold weather? Experienced EV drivers are all too familiar with this phenomenon, which has been well-documented over the years. The reason behind this reduction in driving range is linked to the liquid electrolytes within the lithium-ion cells—found in most of today’s EV batteries. These electrolytes can freeze in low temperatures, disrupting the ion flow between electrodes and consequently diminishing the vehicle’s range.

However, it’s important to note that not every electric vehicle (EV) is affected equally by cold weather. Some models are better equipped to preserve their driving range, staying closer to their advertised figures even when temperatures drop. This is where the Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF) steps in, boasting what it says is the largest EV range test globally.

Named El Prix, this year’s test by the Norwegian Automobile Federation included an impressive lineup of 23 electric vehicles, all driven until their batteries were fully depleted. Given Norway’s chilly climate, especially during winter, this test is particularly relevant as it mimics the conditions where EVs typically experience the most significant drop in range.

This winter’s contenders featured a mix of familiar and new faces, including the updated Tesla Model 3 (Highland), Ford F-150 Lightning, BMW i5, Hyundai Ioniq 6, Kia EV9, and Toyota bZ4X. Additionally, vehicles like the HiPhi Z, Nio EL6 (also known as the ES6), and BYD Dolphin were tested, showcasing a broad spectrum of EV technology.

The test took place on January 31, with temperatures ranging from 28.4 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 to -10 degrees Celsius). While none of the EVs hit their advertised range numbers, the results varied, with some models faring better in the cold than others. The standout was the HiPhi Z sedan from China, which managed to cover 324 miles (522 kilometers) before its battery was drained—only a 5.9% decrease from its WLTP-rated range of 344.8 miles (555 km).

In contrast, the Tesla Model 3, despite its higher WLTP range of 390.8 miles (629 km), experienced a significant shortfall, achieving only 274 miles (441 km) before battery depletion—a 29.9% reduction. The Volkswagen ID.7 faced the most considerable variance from its official figures, with a 31.9% drop, managing only 257 miles (414 km) against its WLTP rating of 377.8 miles (608 km).

Close contenders in the range reduction race included the Toyota bZ4X, Volvo C40 Recharge, and Polestar 2 Long Range. The bZ4X experienced a 31.8% decrease in its range, reaching just 194.8 miles. The C40 Recharge completed the test with 245.4 miles, marking a 30.9% drop. Meanwhile, the Polestar 2 saw its range diminish by 30%, ending the test at 267.1 miles, down from its advertised 381.5 miles (WLTP).

The Ford F-150 Lightning also saw its range decrease but by a smaller margin of 21.3%, running out of power after 209.7 miles (337.5 km), compared to its WLTP rating of 266.5 miles (429 km).

During the range test, the Norwegian Automobile Federation (NAF) didn’t just look at how far the EVs could travel; they also scrutinized the vehicles’ energy consumption, comparing it to the manufacturers’ advertised rates. Interestingly, while most vehicles consumed more energy than what their brochures suggested, a few stood out by using less.

Leading the pack in efficiency was the NIO EL6 SUV (also known as the ES6), which outperformed expectations by consuming 9.5% less energy than its advertised figures. It was closely followed by the NIO ET5 Touring wagon, with a 7.9% better energy consumption rate, and the Kia EV9, which used 3.9% less energy per 62 miles (100 km). On the flip side, the Ford F-150 Lightning pickup showed a significantly higher energy consumption, using 49.2% more kilowatt-hours per 62 miles than its official rating in Norway suggests.

Tesla has been a consistent performer in NAF’s winter range tests since 2020. However, this year, the HiPhi Z, a vehicle from an emerging player in the EV market, outshone Tesla’s most affordable model. This outcome raises questions about potential shifts in the EV landscape, particularly in the U.S. market. Could the HiPhi Z’s performance indicate a broader trend, or is it merely an exceptional case? We’re eager to hear your thoughts in the comments section.

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