How Do EV’s Perform in High Altitudes?

Does living in a high altitude climate affect the range of electric vehicles? You may be in the market for a new vehicle and are wondering if the high altitude will affect the performance or range of an electric vehicle?

Living in a high altitude climate offers net positive benefits to electric vehicles. For every 10% increase in altitude up to 5000 feet you should expect to see a 2% to 4% increase in range on an EV due to the air becoming less dense and thereby reducing drag on the vehicle. The more temperate climate can also benefit the longevity of the battery. They tend to perform best between 68 and 86 degrees. However if your climate is generally colder than that you will experience a decrease in range.

Is there any power loss?

Unlike traditional gas powered cars EVs do not require oxygen to power the engine. Therefore unlike gas cars EVs will not experience any power loss when going into high altitudes. Mountainous terrain has the potential to reduce range as driving up and down hills requires more energy. But because there is constant torque it will generate a smooth ride without any loss of power. Also the regenerative breaking system will help mitigate some of the energy lost due to the mountainous terrain.

Which EVs are best suited for High Altitudes?

High Altitude locations are typically more rugged than the typical cityscape. These 3 vehicles would be a great choice,

Rivian R1T

  • A great truck option All Wheel Drive Standard
  • Standard comes with a 260 mile battery but it can be upgraded up to 400 mile range.
  • 5 Passengers
  • 11,000 Pound towing capacity
  • Starts at around 75K

Ford F-150 Lightning

  • The most popular vehicle in America now electric. All Wheel Drive Standard
  • Standard comes with 230 mile battery but it can be upgraded up to 320 mile range
  • 5 Passengers
  • 10,000 Pound towing capacity
  • Starts at around 93K

Tesla Model X

  • Great Family Vehicle. All Wheel Drive Standard
  • Around 340 mile range
  • Up to 7 passengers
  • 5,000 Pound towing capacity
  • Starts at around 133k

Will the Battery Be Affected by the Altitude?

No, altitude itself is not a factor in the life of the battery. A bigger concern is temperature, if you life in an altitude that gets very cold it would benefit your battery greatly to be put in a garage to keep it warm.

Most EVs however have thermal management systems in places so if you do live in a cold climate chances are good that your car will keep the battery warm to prevent any damage to the battery. Just keep in mind this can drain the battery if it is very cold outside and you are not charging the vehicle.

Will the Motor be Affected by the Altitude?

It has the potential to run hotter because the air is less dense, but this isn’t a concern as motors are built to run in altitudes higher than anyone will be driving one.

Will Charging be affected by the Altitude?

Charging time will be moderately affected by higher altitudes as opposed to sea level. This is related again to the air density. As an EV charges it creates heat in the battery. The vehicle has a cooling system that dissipates that heat using the air around the battery. If that air is thinner it will slow down the cooling process and thereby slow down the charging process. But you may wonder, how much will it be affected in real life? Lets look at an example.

Lets say for example you live at 3500 feet, have a level 2 charger in your garage and you need to charge a Tesla Model X from 50% up to 100%. According to my research the extra charge time could vary from just a couple extra minutes to 10 or 20 minutes longer. It’s difficult to be any more specific because there will be several factors that affect how much longer it would take at your altitude such as temperature, design of the vehicles cooling system and the specific charging station you are using.


From a 30,000 foot view. An EV performs very well in high altitude climates and even has advantages over gas vehicles. Increased range and no loss of power make them a compelling option. A slightly longer charge time probably won’t be notice by most people as they will be plugging it in at the end of the day and charged overnight. EVs especially rugged ones such as trucks or a Hummer make for excellent daily drivers even in high altitudes.

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