Ford F-150 Lightning to Tesla Cybertruck: Electric truck roundup 2022 Honda Civic 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT 2022 Hyundai Tucson GMC Hummer EV 2021 Ford Bronco Best car insurance
Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

Chevy Bolt EV owner sues automaker because range drops in winter

The plaintiff alleges that his range dipped by 100 miles in the dead of winter, which the suit alleges is a defect.

Driving an EV in states that actually have weather can be an exercise in frustration, as range usually dips when the mercury does. Automakers generally warn potential buyers of potential range discrepancies on their website, but one Chevy Bolt EV owner thinks his range drop is serious enough to warrant a lawsuit.

Jason Haas filed a lawsuit last week against General Motors in South Dakota state court, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports. Cold-related range drops are the focus of the lawsuit, as the Bolt EV owner alleges that the automaker engaged in "fraudulent misrepresentation" and that the vehicle itself suffered from "manufacturing and design defects," as his range dropped some 100 miles from the EPA-estimated range of 238 miles in the cold of winter.

GM filed a motion to dismiss the case, the Argus Leader's report says, saying that the claim was "nonsensical" and "vague, conclusory, and inadequately pled under the pleading standards of the Federal Rules." GM's motion also points to places on Chevrolet's website that specifically states the car's range may be affected by weather and other factors. GM's motion has not been given a ruling as of this writing.

It may seem like common knowledge to anyone who keeps up with the automotive industry, but the idea of a vehicle being this affected by weather may be a foreign topic to many buyers. This change in range doesn't come from cold physically affecting the battery chemistry itself, but rather the demands that come with it. When it gets cold, you're more likely to run the HVAC's heater, which increases electrical demand at the cost of range, since EVs don't generate waste heat like gas or diesel vehicles do. Using seat and steering wheel heaters can reduce energy demands, providing direct heating to your body while being more efficient than the climate control. It's worth noting that even gas cars lose efficiency in cold weather for the same reason.

There are studies to back this up, too. Consumer Reports ran a small-scale experiment with a Tesla Model 3 and a Nissan Leaf and found pretty substantial range drops in cold weather on a 64-mile trip. AAA ran its own study recently, too, and came to the conclusion that HVAC heating in 20-degree-Fahrenheit weather reduces driving range by an average of 41 miles.