Mopey

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John
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Alaska
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2016 Mustang CS/Conv/SC, 2x MME FE, 1x MME GT-PE
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There have been a lot of questions about the effect of winter temps on the Mach E's range. (I had been told by owners of other EVs to expect a 50% range reduction in extreme cold.) I know Ford tested the Mach E here in Alaska (I saw one here about a month before the Nov 19 reveal), but the actual test results are likely buried in a Detroit filing cabinet somewhere.

First, let me save some of you the time of writing about what I should have done to get better results. This was a deliberate, worse case test to determine:
1) What is the maximum, nonstop, highway range one can safely plan for on a very cold, interior Alaska day with an outside, cold-soaked, not plugged in, but fully charged Mach E
2) Is the Mach E mechanically reliable in extreme cold,
3) What is the most accurate way to compute expected winter range when planning an out-of-town road trip, Specifically, is the GOM a tool you can use to make accurate and safe decisions?

This is a long post. If you are planning to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner outside on the patio, wearing shorts, sunglasses and a Panama hat, keep your snarky comments to yourself, and go back to drinking your Pina Colada with the little, pink paper umbrella while shopping the internet for designer parkas in preparation for that forecasted upcoming +50F cold snap :cool:. Other barely interested parties can go directly to the end and read the executive summary. The rest of you (many of whom are secretly rooting FOR global warming) read on. Apart from some Canadian and Scandinavian members, the rest of you can take comfort in the fact that your cold weather performance will be better (likely much better) than what is described below.

The test specifics:
Route (as planned) – Distance 188 miles (303km), (3hr 12m), Planned for battery - 83kw Avail (5kw Reserve). Except for few miles the route is very flat.
Speed - Speed limit +4 mph (69mph (111kph) outbound, 59mph (95kph) inbound)

Mach E - Jan 21 Build AWD\Ext Battery, First Edition. All FDRS modules updated (as of 2 Nov 21). Continental WinterContact 860S stud less winter tires, Tire Pressure 42psix4, Drive mode: Whisper, One Pedal OFF. Intelligent Cruise ON. Approx. 120lbs survival gear. Winter average efficiency to date (from trip summary page reset on 20 Oct): 1.7 mi\kWh. Start Odometer 4311.9 mi. Steering Wheel Heat On. Seat Heat Auto. Climate Control AUTO. Fan LO. Temp Set 70F

Standard Survival Kit

Survival Gear.jpg


20 Nov Weather - Clear with no wind. All temperatures are ambient temps. No wind chill nonsense.

Just before Departure

Nice Day 0900.jpg


Outside Air Temps: Departure Point -24F (-31C), Mid Enroute -35F (-37C), Journey Restart after hotel charge -31F (-35C)

The Adventure – Test day is cold and clear. Visibility 100 miles+. The car was left outside overnight and not plugged in. There was no pre-starting nor was a departure time scheduled. The car was very cold: Car Metal -25F (-32C), Glass Top Outside -29F (-34C), Car Seat -21F (-29C), Glass Top Inside -21F (-29C). Nevertheless, Mike-E started without issue. 1st Observation: The displays booted immediately, and they were almost immediately responsive to the touch - despite the -25F temp inside.

Prior to moving the car outside, the driving history had been reset, since I wanted to see if the GOM will readjust, based only upon temperature change, even though not moving. 2nd Observation: The GOM did readjust while parked outside in the cold overnight. Before the driving history was reset the GOM range was 181 mi at 100%. After history reset was performed the GOM showed 249 mi at 100%. After sitting overnight GOM at -25F the range had automatically readjusted to 193 mi. I know not to trust the range calculations, but the GOM range is conservative, right?

Departure 0845: Only 2 Nav points loaded – the turnaround point at 94 miles and the home return destination. Ford nav screen shows 188 miles total – the same as Google maps. I’ve calculated that I need to average no less than 2.27 mi\kWh to make the entire 188 mile journey and return with a 5 kW reserve. My winter average to this point has been a consistent 1.7 mi\kWh so, if that average is correct, I won’t make it the whole way and back. Based upon that 1.7 mi\kWh winter average to date, the cars range at these temps should be only ~150 miles max.

First 15 minutes: The seats and steering wheel heat began to be felt within 5 minutes and were at full heat within 10 minutes. (If parked in the heated garage I feel the seat heat within a minute). The climate heat is still blowing cold after 15 minutes. This was unexpected as I usually I find the interior too warm within 5 minutes. An additional eyebrow raiser – the battery is still showing 100% charge after 12 miles. Although I’ve only traveled 12 miles, the GOM range has dropped by 23 miles. I don’t find this surprising as I had reset the trip display and the GOM was relearning for the new conditions. The new GOM it is telling me I will be 5 miles short on range. Only 48% of the battery is going to the journey and 47% is being used to heat the cabin and battery. Again, not a big surprise at -25F, with a cold soaked battery.

40 minutes: The outside temp has dropped to -35F, the coldest of the journey. 3rd Observation: Ford actually installed a temperature sensor that senses lower -20F. Every other device I've bought here (with rare exception) doesn't go below -20. +1 for Ford.
Trip at -34F.jpg

The seats are plenty hot and the steering wheel comfortable. (I do wish Ford had kept the 3 temp settings for the steering wheel heat, though). The battery charge is finally going down - 2% after 20 miles (I wish!). Now, 59% of the battery is going to the journey and the cabin and battery heat usage has dropped to a combined 37%. The GOM is telling me I will be 11 miles short if I keep the same turn around point so I realize I will need to go with my fallback plan - turnaround early, once the GOM range and the distance traveled from the start\end point are the same. The climate control is still not putting out warm air, so I crank the Temp up to Hi. The net result – the climate control is still blowing cold air except now it is at higher velocity (I do discover the Auto Seat heat is connected to the temp setting control and my butt is burning). Yes, I tried cycling the ‘Defog’ button by the drivers left knee. The defroster also just blew the cold air faster. Something isn’t right, so I dig into climate menu and select cabin air recirculation ‘On’. Within a minute or so warm(ish) air begins to flow. The car keeps automatically turning recirculation ‘Off’, so I am having to reselect it every 10 minutes. I also try various manual climate control settings, but on the entire journey, I am never able to find the Equatorial Heat mode that constantly annoys and overheats me when I’m driving around town.

Turn around Point: 1hr 26 min into the trip and cabin and battery heat energy usage has dropped to 32% total energy usage. (It remains at about that level for the rest of the trip.) The GOM says I have 78 miles of range and it is 73 miles back to home, so I turn around. By now, the battery indicator is consistent with the other range indicators – 54% remaining. Within a few miles the GOM shows 71 miles of range, but Nav shows it is 74 miles back to the house. Backup plan 2: Get a short Level 1 charge at the Air Force Base (26 miles from home) or in the town of North Pole (13 miles from home).

When I reach the Air Force Base I have enough GOM range to reach North Pole with 8 miles to spare, so I carry on. Five miles from North Pole I get the low battery alert on the driver’s display. “Low Battery. Reduce Climate Use for More Range”. A minute later, while I’m watching the display, the battery instantly drops from 10% to 5% and the GOM range drops from 20 to 10 miles. (I don’t believe this is a real mileage reduction. I think it is a deliberate Ford adjustment to keep drivers from pressing too far.) The turtle icon appears on the driver’s display and throttle responsiveness decreases. The climate control is blowing cool air again. After 3 more miles, I turn into North Pole’s shopping area and look for a 120v plug in. Most RV parks here are closed in the winter, so there is no easy 240v source. Nearest EV faster charger (50kw) is in Fairbanks but that is a mile further than the distance to my house and both are outside of the GOM and battery remaining range.

20211120_111617.jpg

My plan was to plug into one of the hundreds of car outlets in every parking lot around here. The 120v outlets are used by ICE vehicles in the far north to keep the 12v battery warm and to keep the oil from turning to sludge. Many cars also have a radiator recirculator that keep the radiator water warm, so it doesn’t take as long to warm the interior. When I plugin I see the outlets are on a rotating schedule and cycle on and off constantly. I see a big portable generator running across the parking lot, so I drive over to check it for a 240v outlet. Nope, but it does have a 120v continuously powered outlet. It is behind the best Chinese restaurant in the area, so win-win – both the car and I get fed. When I plugged in, I had 2% battery charge3 miles on the GOM. It’s ony 13 miles to home.

Generator Plugin.jpg


I figure it will take 3-4 hours to add the few miles I need to get home, so I drag lunch out, then walk over to Safeway for a shelf check. When I finally get back to car, I see it has only added 2 miles GOM range after 2 hours charging (Is most power going to heat the battery?). There is a laundromat in North Pole so I unplug and drive over to see if they have an accessible 240v outlet. Their dryers are all hardwired so, after driving around for 2 miles (all the miles I had added at the generator) looking for a 240v outlet, I ended up at the Hotel North Pole to see if they have a laundry with a compatible 240v outlet. They do, but it is too far from the car to use. They do have a 120v exterior outlet providing power to their Christmas lights. Bah Humbug - off go the Christmas lights, on goes the charger (with permission, of course.)

Plugged in at hotel.jpg


No one is home and I’m not about to give my friends the satisfaction of having to listen to them gloat while they drive me home, so I settle into the warm hotel and wait. After 5 hours I get an unexpected FordPass message “You have enough charge to continue your journey”. The battery says 9% but GOM says 7 miles, so I don’t fall for the FordPass message.

FordPass sufficient charge notification.jpg


To be safe, I keep the car plugged in for 7 more hours and when the battery shows 20% and the GOM shows 13 miles, I decide to head the final 13 miles home. (I do have an EGO battery generator in the back of the car that I know from my garage test can provide an additional ~ 3 miles of range, if needed.

GOM and battery at journey restart:

GOM at journey restart.jpg


The car is still in turtle mode and tire pressure after sitting in the cold has dropped from 42psi to 32-33 psi. I decide to keep the climate off and rely on the seat and steering wheel heat. It is 2AM and -31F. Once again, the car starts without problem and the displays boot immediately and are very responsive. (Hilariously, the spare cell phone says it has shut down to conserve battery due to excessive cold. +2 for Ford. ) I accelerate slowly to give time for the tires to even out the flat spots from sitting in the cold (Standard procedure here for all cars in extreme cold). After about a mile the tires are happy, and the ride is smooth. Performance is sluggish due to turtle mode, but I expected that. At the halfway point it seems clear I have sufficient range to make it home, so my only remaining concern are turtle mode and the shallow hills I will encounter the last 3 miles on the main road. The final ¼ mile to the house is up a very steep hill. On the main road, the speed drops to 30 mph going up the hills then accelerates back to 50 mph on the way down. The final steep hill up to the house was a near thing. At the steepest point, Mike-E was only going 4 mph. However, when the road leveled out I could accelerate back to 20 mph for the final 100 yds to the driveway. I think it helps that it is warmer in the hills. I pulled into the garage with 9% on the battery and 8 miles range on the GOM. So, if I had tried to make it home when FordPass said I could continue my journey with 9% battery, I would have, apparently, been 2% short of the charge needed (optimistic to the bad side). On the other hand, at actual journey restart, the GOM had indicated I would arrive home with 0 miles remaining. I arrived with 8 miles remaining (pessimistic to the good side).

Trip summary just before shutting down:

Whole trip summary.jpg



Charging Summary:

I left with 100% charge and charged 3 times – on the generator for 3%, at the hotel for 19%, and 91% back at home to get back to 100% (Typically, I charge to 90%). So, discounting any difference due to rounding up or down .5%, and considering my 88.8kw available battery, I used close to 100.34 kw to travel the total 150.7 mile journey - for an average 1.5 mi\kWh at temps ranging from -20 to -35. In other words, my Mach Es range in arctic conditions is almost exactly 1\2 its summer range. And that was worst case – outdoors and not plugged in.

The bad news for you advocates of using mi\kWh to determine your range (and I was one) - in cold temps at least, it seems even less accurate (to the bad side) than GOM. In fact, the final end trip summary page showed a 150.6 mile journey at an average of 1.8mi\ kWh. The calculated, actual average was 1.5mi\kWh. Even if the 1.8 mi\kWh was a one-off reading just before parking, I never saw less than 1.5 mi\kWh at any time on the trip 0 summary page. Most of the time the journey page showed 1.6 to 1.7 mi\kWh. My winter average up to the trip reset before the trip was 1.7 mi\kWh.

I suspect there was enough hidden range that I could have made it all the way home without stopping in North Pole, but -31F is not the time to be stuck in a car with no heat. So, good judgement ruled the day. We occasionally see -40F to -50F for a few days, every few years, so I will likely do some more in-town testing. At those temps, I will likely plan on plugging in the car and using departure times.

Executive Summary: Surprise, the Mach E’s range is significantly reduced in cold weather. (OK, not a surprise to anyone of us who took the time to learn about EVs before purchase.) In extreme low temperatures (-35F in this case), plan for a worse case 50% reduction in available range. That is exactly what owners of other EVs had told me to expect here in Alaska. Most of you will experience a much smaller range loss.

Mechanically, the Mach E didn’t care a hoot about the extreme cold temps. The doors and trunk pop opened immediately and operate smoothly. The ride comfort was similar to summer’s comfort level. It took a while for the battery to warm up and start providing accurate readings, but normal car performance was not affected by the extreme cold. It was only when the turtle light illuminated, due to the low range alert, that performance decreased.

Climate Comfort was a major problem. The interior never got truly warm in 3 hours. Frost stayed on the roof glass (inside!) for the whole journey. This one made no sense because my biggest complaint with the Mach E’s climate comfort up to this test was that the car got way too hot, even when it was below zero outside. Normally, I keep climate in ‘Auto’ ‘Lo Fan’ wit the temp set at 68F. On this trip, I had to manually manipulate the Recirc Air to get the climate system to start outputting warm air. Was this problem related to parking outside overnight? I’ll be doing more research on the climate system in extreme cold during the coming days.

None of the range tools in the Mach E (GOM, Battery Charge State, or mi\kWh) are the “one answer” to the actual range question. For me, worst case, on the highway, at -35F, I now know I need to plan for a recharge every 2 hours (25% battery remaining). Currently, the nearest\only, highway fast charger is 2.5 hours away. In other words, for now, I won’t be doing long distance winter travel here in Alaska.

Final Point. I have zero concerns driving the Mach E locally in the same brutal temperatures ICE cars experience. However, I'll drive an ICE if I need to drive any long distances in Winter. In the future, I'll have more extreme cold observations, to include sub-zero fast charging and even colder temps, maybe. Like most of you, I am constantly bombarded with questions. Here, the first question is usually, "How does it handle the cold?". I intend to show them by being seen all over town, all winter long.
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Tom L

Member
First Name
Tom
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Nov 5, 2021
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Chippewa Falls, WI
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2018 Honda Clarity
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Retired
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There have been a lot of questions about the effect of winter temps on the Mach E's range. (I had been told by owners of other EVs to expect a 50% range reduction in extreme cold.) I know Ford tested the Mach E here in Alaska (I saw one here about a month before the Nov 19 reveal), but the actual test results are likely buried in a Detroit filing cabinet somewhere.

First, let me save some of you the time of writing about what I should have done to get better results. This was a deliberate, worse case test to determine:
1) What is the maximum, nonstop, highway range one can safely plan for on a very cold, interior Alaska day with an outside, cold-soaked, not plugged in, but fully charged Mach E
2) Is the Mach E mechanically reliable in extreme cold,
3) What is the most accurate way to compute expected winter range when planning an out-of-town road trip, Specifically, is the GOM a tool you can use to make accurate and safe decisions?

This is a long post. If you are planning to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner outside on the patio, wearing shorts, sunglasses and a Panama hat, keep your snarky comments to yourself, and go back to drinking your Pina Colada with the little, pink paper umbrella while shopping the internet for designer parkas in preparation for that forecasted upcoming +50F cold snap :cool:. Other barely interested parties can go directly to the end and read the executive summary. The rest of you (many of whom are secretly rooting FOR global warming) read on. Apart from some Canadian and Scandinavian members, the rest of you can take comfort in the fact that your cold weather performance will be better (likely much better) than what is described below.

The test specifics:
Route (as planned) – Distance 188 miles (303km), (3hr 12m), Planned for battery - 83kw Avail (5kw Reserve). Except for few miles the route is very flat.
Speed - Speed limit +4 mph (69mph (111kph) outbound, 59mph (95kph) inbound)

Mach E - Jan 21 Build AWD\Ext Battery, First Edition. All FDRS modules updated (as of 2 Nov 21). Continental WinterContact 860S stud less winter tires, Tire Pressure 42psix4, Drive mode: Whisper, One Pedal OFF. Intelligent Cruise ON. Approx. 120lbs survival gear. Winter average efficiency to date (from trip summary page reset on 20 Oct): 1.7 mi\kWh. Start Odometer 4311.9 mi. Steering Wheel Heat On. Seat Heat Auto. Climate Control AUTO. Fan LO. Temp Set 70F

Standard Survival Kit

Survival Gear.jpg


20 Nov Weather - Clear with no wind. All temperatures are ambient temps. No wind chill nonsense.

Just before Departure

Nice Day 0900.jpg


Outside Air Temps: Departure Point -24F (-31C), Mid Enroute -35F (-37C), Journey Restart after hotel charge -31F (-35C)

The Adventure – Test day is cold and clear. Visibility 100 miles+. The car was left outside overnight and not plugged in. There was no pre-starting nor was a departure time scheduled. The car was very cold: Car Metal -25F (-32C), Glass Top Outside -29F (-34C), Car Seat -21F (-29C), Glass Top Inside -21F (-29C). Nevertheless, Mike-E started without issue. 1st Observation: The displays booted immediately, and they were almost immediately responsive to the touch - despite the -25F temp inside.

Prior to moving the car outside, the driving history had been reset, since I wanted to see if the GOM will readjust, based only upon temperature change, even though not moving. 2nd Observation: The GOM did readjust while parked outside in the cold overnight. Before the driving history was reset the GOM range was 181 mi at 100%. After history reset was performed the GOM showed 249 mi at 100%. After sitting overnight GOM at -25F the range had automatically readjusted to 193 mi. I know not to trust the range calculations, but the GOM range is conservative, right?

Departure 0845: Only 2 Nav points loaded – the turnaround point at 94 miles and the home return destination. Ford nav screen shows 188 miles total – the same as Google maps. I’ve calculated that I need to average no less than 2.27 mi\kWh to make the entire 188 mile journey and return with a 5 kW reserve. My winter average to this point has been a consistent 1.7 mi\kWh so, if that average is correct, I won’t make it the whole way and back. Based upon that 1.7 mi\kWh winter average to date, the cars range at these temps should be only ~150 miles max.

First 15 minutes: The seats and steering wheel heat began to be felt within 5 minutes and were at full heat within 10 minutes. (If parked in the heated garage I feel the seat heat within a minute). The climate heat is still blowing cold after 15 minutes. This was unexpected as I usually I find the interior too warm within 5 minutes. An additional eyebrow raiser – the battery is still showing 100% charge after 12 miles. Although I’ve only traveled 12 miles, the GOM range has dropped by 23 miles. I don’t find this surprising as I had reset the trip display and the GOM was relearning for the new conditions. The new GOM it is telling me I will be 5 miles short on range. Only 48% of the battery is going to the journey and 47% is being used to heat the cabin and battery. Again, not a big surprise at -25F, with a cold soaked battery.

40 minutes: The outside temp has dropped to -35F, the coldest of the journey. 3rd Observation: Ford actually installed a temperature sensor that senses lower -20F. Every other device I've bought here (with rare exception) doesn't go below -20. +1 for Ford.
Trip at -34F.jpg

The seats are plenty hot and the steering wheel comfortable. (I do wish Ford had kept the 3 temp settings for the steering wheel heat, though). The battery charge is finally going down - 2% after 20 miles (I wish!). Now, 59% of the battery is going to the journey and the cabin and battery heat usage has dropped to a combined 37%. The GOM is telling me I will be 11 miles short if I keep the same turn around point so I realize I will need to go with my fallback plan - turnaround early, once the GOM range and the distance traveled from the start\end point are the same. The climate control is still not putting out warm air, so I crank the Temp up to Hi. The net result – the climate control is still blowing cold air except now it is at higher velocity (I do discover the Auto Seat heat is connected to the temp setting control and my butt is burning). Yes, I tried cycling the ‘Defog’ button by the drivers left knee. The defroster also just blew the cold air faster. Something isn’t right, so I dig into climate menu and select cabin air recirculation ‘On’. Within a minute or so warm(ish) air begins to flow. The car keeps automatically turning recirculation ‘Off’, so I am having to reselect it every 10 minutes. I also try various manual climate control settings, but on the entire journey, I am never able to find the Equatorial Heat mode that constantly annoys and overheats me when I’m driving around town.

Turn around Point: 1hr 26 min into the trip and cabin and battery heat energy usage has dropped to 32% total energy usage. (It remains at about that level for the rest of the trip.) The GOM says I have 78 miles of range and it is 73 miles back to home, so I turn around. By now, the battery indicator is consistent with the other range indicators – 54% remaining. Within a few miles the GOM shows 71 miles of range, but Nav shows it is 74 miles back to the house. Backup plan 2: Get a short Level 1 charge at the Air Force Base (26 miles from home) or in the town of North Pole (13 miles from home).

When I reach the Air Force Base I have enough GOM range to reach North Pole with 8 miles to spare, so I carry on. Five miles from North Pole I get the low battery alert on the driver’s display. “Low Battery. Reduce Climate Use for More Range”. A minute later, while I’m watching the display, the battery instantly drops from 10% to 5% and the GOM range drops from 20 to 10 miles. (I don’t believe this is a real mileage reduction. I think it is a deliberate Ford adjustment to keep drivers from pressing too far.) The turtle icon appears on the driver’s display and throttle responsiveness decreases. The climate control is blowing cool air again. After 3 more miles, I turn into North Pole’s shopping area and look for a 120v plug in. Most RV parks here are closed in the winter, so there is no easy 240v source. Nearest EV faster charger (50kw) is in Fairbanks but that is a mile further than the distance to my house and both are outside of the GOM and battery remaining range.

20211120_111617.jpg

My plan was to plug into one of the hundreds of car outlets in every parking lot around here. The 120v outlets are used by ICE vehicles in the far north to keep the 12v battery warm and to keep the oil from turning to sludge. Many cars also have a radiator recirculator that keep the radiator water warm, so it doesn’t take as long to warm the interior. When I plugin I see the outlets are on a rotating schedule and cycle on and off constantly. I see a big portable generator running across the parking lot, so I drive over to check it for a 240v outlet. Nope, but it does have a 120v continuously powered outlet. It is behind the best Chinese restaurant in the area, so win-win – both the car and I get fed. When I plugged in, I had 2% battery charge3 miles on the GOM. It’s ony 13 miles to home.

Generator Plugin.jpg


I figure it will take 3-4 hours to add the few miles I need to get home, so I drag lunch out, then walk over to Safeway for a shelf check. When I finally get back to car, I see it has only added 2 miles GOM range after 2 hours charging (Is most power going to heat the battery?). There is a laundromat in North Pole so I unplug and drive over to see if they have an accessible 240v outlet. Their dryers are all hardwired so, after driving around for 2 miles (all the miles I had added at the generator) looking for a 240v outlet, I ended up at the Hotel North Pole to see if they have a laundry with a compatible 240v outlet. They do, but it is too far from the car to use. They do have a 120v exterior outlet providing power to their Christmas lights. Bah Humbug - off go the Christmas lights, on goes the charger (with permission, of course.)

Plugged in at hotel.jpg


No one is home and I’m not about to give my friends the satisfaction of having to listen to them gloat while they drive me home, so I settle into the warm hotel and wait. After 5 hours I get an unexpected FordPass message “You have enough charge to continue your journey”. The battery says 9% but GOM says 7 miles, so I don’t fall for the FordPass message.

FordPass sufficient charge notification.jpg


To be safe, I keep the car plugged in for 7 more hours and when the battery shows 20% and the GOM shows 13 miles, I decide to head the final 13 miles home. (I do have an EGO battery generator in the back of the car that I know from my garage test can provide an additional ~ 3 miles of range, if needed.

GOM and battery at journey restart:

GOM at journey restart.jpg


The car is still in turtle mode and tire pressure after sitting in the cold has dropped from 42psi to 32-33 psi. I decide to keep the climate off and rely on the seat and steering wheel heat. It is 2AM and -31F. Once again, the car starts without problem and the displays boot immediately and are very responsive. (Hilariously, the spare cell phone says it has shut down to conserve battery due to excessive cold. +2 for Ford. ) I accelerate slowly to give time for the tires to even out the flat spots from sitting in the cold (Standard procedure here for all cars in extreme cold). After about a mile the tires are happy, and the ride is smooth. Performance is sluggish due to turtle mode, but I expected that. At the halfway point it seems clear I have sufficient range to make it home, so my only remaining concern are turtle mode and the shallow hills I will encounter the last 3 miles on the main road. The final ¼ mile to the house is up a very steep hill. On the main road, the speed drops to 30 mph going up the hills then accelerates back to 50 mph on the way down. The final steep hill up to the house was a near thing. At the steepest point, Mike-E was only going 4 mph. However, when to road leveled out I could accelerate back to 20 mph for the final 100 yds to the driveway. I think it helps that it is warmer in the hills. I pulled into the garage with 9% on the battery and 8 miles range on the GOM. So, if I had tried to make it home when FordPass said I could continue my journey with 9% battery, I would have, apparently, been 2% short of the charge needed (optimistic to the bad side). On the other hand, at actual journey restart, the GOM had indicated I would arrive home with 0 miles remaining. I arrived with 8 miles remaining (pessimistic to the good side).

Trip summary just before shutting down:

Whole trip summary.jpg



Charging Summary:

I left with 100% charge and charged 3 times – on the generator for 3%, at the hotel for 19%, and 91% back at home to get back to 100% (Typically, I charge to 90%). So, discounting any difference due to rounding up or down .5%, and considering my 88.8kw available battery, I used close to 100.34 kw to travel the total 150.7 mile journey - for an average 1.5 mi\kWh at temps ranging from -20 to -35. In other words, my Mach Es range in arctic conditions is almost exactly 1\2 its summer range. And that was worst case – outdoors and not plugged in.

The bad news for you advocates of using mi\kWh to determine your range (and I was one) - in cold temps at least, it seems even less accurate (to the bad side) than GOM. In fact, the final end trip summary page showed a 150.6 mile journey at an average of 1.8mi\ kWh. The calculated, actual average was 1.5mi\kWh. Even if the 1.8 mi\kWh was a one-off reading just before parking, I never saw less than 1.5 mi\kWh at any time on the trip 0 summary page. Most of the time the journey page showed 1.6 to 1.7 mi\kWh. My winter average up to the trip reset before the trip was 1.7 mi\kWh.

I suspect there was enough hidden range that I could have made it all the way home without stopping in North Pole, but -31F is not the time to be stuck in a car with no heat. So, good judgement ruled the day. We occasionally see -40F to -50F for a few days, every few years, so I will likely do some more in-town testing. At those temps, I will likely plan on plugging in the car and using departure times.

Executive Summary: Surprise, the Mach E’s range is significantly reduced in cold weather. (OK, not a surprise to anyone of us who took the time to learn about EVs before purchase.) In extreme low temperatures (-35F in this case), plan for a worse case 50% reduction in available range. That is exactly what owners of other EVs had told me to expect here in Alaska. Most of you will experience a much smaller range loss.

Mechanically, the Mach E didn’t care a hoot about the extreme cold temps. The doors and trunk pop opened immediately and operate smoothly. The ride comfort was similar to summer’s comfort level. It took a while for the battery to warm up and start providing accurate readings, but normal car performance was not affected by the extreme cold. It was only when the turtle light illuminated, due to the low range alert, that performance decreased.

Climate Comfort was a major problem. The interior never got truly warm in 3 hours. Frost stayed on the roof glass (inside!) for the whole journey. This one made no sense because my biggest complaint with the Mach E’s climate comfort up to this test was that the car got way too hot, even when it was below zero outside. Normally, I keep climate in ‘Auto’ ‘Lo Fan’ wit the temp set at 68F. On this trip, I had to manually manipulate the Recirc Air to get the climate system to start outputting warm air. Was this problem related to parking outside overnight? I’ll be doing more research on the climate system in extreme cold during the coming days.

None of the range tools in the Mach E (GOM, Battery Charge State, or mi\kWh) are the “one answer” to the actual range question. For me, worst case, on the highway, at -35F, I now know I need to plan for a recharge every 2 hours (25% battery remaining). Currently, the nearest\only, highway fast charger is 2.5 hours away. In other words, for now, I won’t be doing long distance winter travel here in Alaska.

Final Point. I have zero concerns driving the Mach E locally in the same brutal temperatures ICE cars experience. However, I'll drive an ICE if I need to drive any long distances in Winter. In the future, I'll have more extreme cold observations, to include sub-zero fast charging and even colder temps, maybe. Like most of you, I am constantly bombarded with questions. Here, the first question is usually, "How does it handle the cold?". I intend to show them by being seen all over town, all winter long.

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A herculean post, by gosh. Thanks for the effort and humor.
 

chrisGT

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Great write up. I live in a warmer climate but it was very educational to read your post. Thank you!

I have read that Teslas consume more parasitic power when standing at cold than what a 120V charger can provide, so that was interesting to see that the MME gained SoC while plugged to 120 outside in such cold.
 

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John, great write up, the car, the living conditions. Thanks for that great COLD conditions summary on the MME. 👍
 

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Really, that was great performance on range. 2 hours of highway driving (plus a little) is what I would expect in warm summer weather so to see it almost hitting that in the cold is great!
 

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Here I am in balmy sw wa with auto low, fan at 1 temp at 65. Who’d a thunk! Great write up!
 

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great write up, thanks for taking the time.

when you said you were going to have climate on Auto with low fan, i figured it'd wind up at 50%.
 

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Fantastic post and experiment. Thank you for doing it!
 

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Love this write-up, thanks for sharing!

I left with 100% charge and charged 3 times – on the generator for 3%, at the hotel for 19%, and 91% back at home to get back to 100% (Typically, I charge to 90%). So, discounting any difference due to rounding up or down .5%, and considering my 88.8kw available battery, I used close to 100.34 kw to travel the total 150.7 mile journey - for an average 1.5 mi\kWh at temps ranging from -20 to -35.
I think the assumption of 88kWh here may be throwing off later calculations. I don't have a curve/equation to go by for the Mach-E battery, nor do I know what the actual battery temperature was over the course of this trip, but total available energy generally decreases along with temperature.

The calculated, actual average was 1.5mi\kWh. Even if the 1.8 mi\kWh was a one-off reading just before parking, I never saw less than 1.5 mi\kWh at any time on the trip 0 summary page. Most of the time the journey page showed 1.6 to 1.7 mi\kWh. My winter average up to the trip reset before the trip was 1.7 mi\kWh.
Just by ratio here (using the reported 1.8mi/kWh vs. your calculated 1.5mi/kWh and the assumed 88kWh) usable energy in your battery decreased to ~75kWh (84%) due to temperature, which is pretty close to the 13% reported battery loss due to external temperature. On the other hand, going directly from the measured distance of 150.7mi at 1.8mi/kWh yields 84kWh or only a 5% decrease.

Not quite sure what to make of this, but it's worth considering.
 

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Yes, great write-up, thanks for sharing. I remember when it hit -35ºF here last winter, which was a record low. -20ºF is more typical, I have driven cars in that long distances before. The heat thing is also noticeable in other ICE vehicles, especially with tiny efficient engines. The incoming air is just so cold it takes a tremendous amount of heat to warm it up, which sometimes exceeds the available supply. Turning the fan speed down or turning on recirc can help a lot in those situations, but you will end up with frost on the windows as you found.

I think Ford could add a little HVAC tweak where it does "1/2 recirc, 1/2 fresh air" instead of fully one or the other for those situations. There's just not enough heat available to get -35ºF air up to temp.

You should remix your coolant if you haven't yet and up the glycol concentration to 60%. You might be slushing up in the battery heat exchangers with the factory 50/50 mix which freezes at -34ºF. This may have caused some issues if parts of the system got cold enough.

The other thing I want to mention about battery capacity that a lot of people miss:

Battery capacity decreases in cold weather, so using 88 kWh for calculations will not be correct. Cold weather capacity will only be 70-80 kWh.

Based on your trip summary and charging, your battery capacity was about 74 kWh in the cold. So to perform cold weather calculations you have consider both reduced capacity and increased consumption together.

Another test that might be interesting is to watch the battery internal temp driving in those very cold temps. You'd have to get a scan tool setup, but I wonder if the battery temp is being maintained or not while driving. Or if you start out with a fully-warmed pack, how fast it degrades in temp and to what level in extreme cold.

For my purposes, I should have plenty of range still on -20ºF days, but good to know that my heat might start to be lacking so I'll have to play with the recirc and fan speed to get usable heat.
 

AKPat

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John, thanks for taking the time to run this experiment and write it up. I don’t miss those 40 below Fairbanks nights…
I will add an observation from my GT which I have had for less than a month in our cold spell we are having in Anchorage (only 10-15 below) this week. The power meter on the GT gauge cluster starts showing gray power limit bars (like others have noted when pushing max power passed the cursed 5 second max power limit) as the battery gets colder. I don’t have available power for charging at work, so at the end of the work day, the cold soaked battery would show about 1/3 of the power ”grayed out”. Remote starting does a good job of warming the interior, but the 15 min duration doesn’t seem to make much difference with the batter power condition.
 
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You should remix your coolant if you haven't yet and up the glycol concentration to 60%. You might be slushing up in the battery heat exchangers with the factory 50/50 mix which freezes at -34ºF. This may have caused some issues if parts of the system got cold enough....

Another test that might be interesting is to watch the battery internal temp driving in those very cold temps. You'd have to get a scan tool setup, but I wonder if the battery temp is being maintained or not while driving. Or if you start out with a fully-warmed pack, how fast it degrades in temp and to what level in extreme cold....
I was wondering about the battery coolant temp specs. Typically, for ICE vehicles here, the dealers do remix the radiator coolant to -60F concentration before delivery. I'm guessing that wasn't done for the Mach-E here because dealers on early deliveries don't even know it has coolant. Of the 3 Mach Es here in Fairbanks, one of the others belongs to the owner of the local Ford dealership, so I expect any hard lessons he learns will be passed on to the service department.

I do have a scan tool and app for the Mach E but didn't bring it along for this test.
 
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John, thanks for taking the time to run this experiment and write it up. I don’t miss those 40 below Fairbanks nights…
I will add an observation from my GT which I have had for less than a month in our cold spell we are having in Anchorage (only 10-15 below) this week. The power meter on the GT gauge cluster starts showing gray power limit bars (like others have noted when pushing max power passed the cursed 5 second max power limit) as the battery gets colder. I don’t have available power for charging at work, so at the end of the work day, the cold soaked battery would show about 1/3 of the power ”grayed out”. Remote starting does a good job of warming the interior, but the 15 min duration doesn’t seem to make much difference with the batter power condition.
My GT-PE will be delivered next week, so more testing to follow. I didn't know the gray power meter grays out relative to the cold temps.
 

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Based on your trip summary and charging, your battery capacity was about 74 kWh in the cold. So to perform cold weather calculations you have consider both reduced capacity and increased consumption together.
Ah, that makes a lot of sense. It explains why the mi/kwh doesn't match calculations at -35 when I've found it to be pretty accurate at "normal" temperatures.

Overall a very interesting experiment and topic and thanks for taking the time to post in such detail. Oh, and now I don't feel so bad about living in NJ 🤪
 
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