Made In Hokkaido – Increasing EV Range in the Cold

Made In Hokkaido Electric Car
Image courtesy of Yomiuri Shimbun

Winter is finally starting to move through the United States this week, but researchers in Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido have been preparing for the cold for months. Snow is regular and heavy in Hokkaido, and all that cold weather tends to make it an inhospitable environment – for electric cars.

EV drivers the world over (or at least in those areas where it gets below the human comfort threshold) will tend to notice that their vehicle range drops along with the mercury in the thermometer. The reason for reduced range, of course, is because the driver turns on the heater, and that uses up precious energy.

When It’s Too Cold To Just Put On Another Coat

The Hokkaido Institute of Technology, along with the Hokkaido Research Organization and several local companies, has been working on a cold-weather EV prototype to address this issue since July of this year, and it’s making its first performance test this week in Sapporo.

The prototype EV – which is currently called the “Made In Hokkaido Electric Vehicle” – has special insulation to combat heat loss and energy efficient LED headlights. It also has a small LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) generator located below the batteries to charge them should it be deemed necessary, which does make it perhaps more of a hybrid than a pure electric vehicle.

As any innovations the Hokkaido team generates to improve range are likely to be applicable to EVs in normal (or even high) temperatures, the project seems to be a promising one. Either way, driving an EV through the snow sounds like fun.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments, below.

Source | Image: Yomiuri Online.

Charis Michelsen

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.