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Arizona's extreme heat could be a problem for electric car batteries

Electric vehicles are gaining popularity in Arizona and across the country. But, as we watch the extreme heat in Arizona continue to break records — what does it do to the lithium-ion batteries that make them go? 

AAA is warning EV owners to watch their vehicle’s range this summer.

"The last study that AAA did on this found that EVs driving with the AC on, when the temperature is hotter than 95 degrees, those vehicles lost 17% of its range," said Julian Paredes, a spokesperson with AAA.

He says the car has to work harder in this kind of heat, making it less efficient. On top of that, a compromised driving range will likely require more charging, and  that, according to the study, could increase the cost to operate the vehicle.

Michael Pecht is a mechanical engineering professor at the University of Maryland. He joined The Show to talk about his studies on the effect of heat on EV batteries and how it can be a problem.

KJZZ's Kathy Ritchie contributed to this report. 

EDITOR’S NOTE: A listener asked about the difference in battery capacity and charging in liquid cooled vs. air cooled systems. Pecht articulated that all cars use a liquid cooled thermal management system to keep lithium ion batteries cool during operation. But when the vehicle is off, there is no thermal management and the batteries are exposed to the heat. It is during those times that batteries of all kinds struggle to maintain capacity.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.