By Tori Mason

LONGMONT, Colo. (CBS4)– If you’re spending more time at electric vehicle charging stations during the winter, you’re not alone. A new study by AAA found these vehicles have limitations in winter weather.

Chris Webster loves driving his Nissan Leaf, but his Leaf hates the cold.

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Chris Webster (credit: CBS)

“I get about a 120-mile range on a nice day, but I lose about 30 percent of that on a cold day,” said Webster.

According to AAA, an electric vehicle’s driving range plummets when the temperature plummets below 20 degrees and the heater is running. The average EV driving range drops 41 percent.

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“As electric vehicles increase in popularity, it’s important to remember how they differ from gas-powered cars,” said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. “Colorado isn’t California – our temperatures fluctuate here, and often dramatically. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy an electric car, it just means you should understand their limitations when cold weather comes around.”

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Webster found out the hard way.

“They day after I bought my car, there was six inches of snow and I had to drive to the airport. It was a long, scary drive. I barely made it,” said Webster.

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Now, his winter commutes are more cautious than most.

“You have to be more aware of how you’re going to do the drive. You don’t crank the heat, you keep the speed under 65 mph and find charging stations on your route,” said Webster, “One of the things I would consider is renting a car for a road trip.”

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AAA also suggests electric vehicle owners pre-heat their cars while still connected to the charger. This will reduce the demand on the car’s battery to regulate cabin temperature. If possible, electric car owners should also park inside a garage to stabilize cabin temperature.

Tori Mason