Source: RCMP

As Canadian governments increase their reliance on electric vehicles (EV), the question of whether vehicles can maintain expected performance in winter weather conditions. 

This month, the RCMP unveiled the Tesla Model Y as the first EV to be added to the Mounties’ vehicle fleet, with tests of the electric Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Ford F-150 coming soon. 

However, a study published in late 2022 found that many EVs have problems maintaining expected performance. It estimates a significant drop in the amount of miles-per-charge EV batteries can sustain. 

The study found disparities between vehicles in their ability to withstand cold weather conditions, with cars like the Jaguar I-Pace only losing 3% of its range, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E lost 30% of its range.

The worst performer in the study is the Chevrolet Bolt, which lost 32% of its range in winter temperatures between 20-30°F (-1 to -6°C) and up to half of its range in -40°C. 

Meanwhile, a class action lawsuit is being brought before a Quebec court alleging that General Motors knew that the Bolt’s performance significantly dipped in cold weather conditions but did not inform the plaintiffs upon purchase. 

Tied for second worst performing among the studied vehicles were the Ford Mustang Mach-E and the Volkswagon ID.4, the former of which is being added to the RCMP’s vehicle fleet. Both of these vehicles lost 30% of expected range in winter conditions. 

Four Tesla models were evaluated and results show that the popular EVs lose about 15-19% of their range in cold weather – nearly the same amount of range lost across models. The Tesla Model Y, the RCMP’s first EV, lost 15% of its range. 

The performance of EV batteries drop significantly in cold weather because the cold inhibits the chemical reaction occurring within the lithium-ion battery, thus affecting the battery’s performance.

One Twitter user commented on the potential impracticality of operating Teslas or other EVs in winter conditions.

The Trudeau government has committed to taking big steps to convert Canada’s national vehicle fleet to EVs. Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault announced that the government will be mandating that EV sales make up 20% of all vehicle sales in Canada by 2026, 60% of all vehicle sales by 2030, and by 2035 all vehicles sold in Canada will be EVs. 

The RCMP’s purchase of EVs is in response to a 2021 piece of Liberal legislation called the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act.