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Is your electric vehicle lying to you?

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We wanted to know why the most technologically advanced cars on the road can’t seem to give drivers more accurate range estimates.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Electric vehicles are zippy, super smart and give off zero emissions, but there’s an elephant in the vroom: true battery range.

The estimated battery range for electric vehicles — especially in the cold — is more of a “guess-o-meter,” according to one Twin Cities EV expert.

Our cold weather tests in two different Tesla models showed between 37% and 43% fewer miles driven than the estimated range showed.

We wanted to know why the most technologically advanced cars on the road can’t seem to give drivers more accurate range estimates.

The Tests

Our journey for answers started with a series of tests, first in a Tesla Model Y Long Range and next in a Tesla Model 3 Long Range.

We charged the Model Y at a Supercharger until it read 258 miles until empty (almost a full charge) and drove it from Minnetonka to St. Cloud, a 118-mile round trip of mostly highway driving in 29-degree weather.

For this long-range test, the car dropped 191 miles in the estimated battery range, even though we only drove 118 actual road miles.

Four other shorter tests (under 40 miles) with the Model Y and Model 3 showed similar results. Each trip got between 57% and 63% of the miles estimated on the range gauge.

Next, we wanted to find a warm-weather comparison for the Model Y. We replicated the exact same 118-mile trip to St. Cloud but on an 80-degree day. This time, the car used 21 more miles on the battery than actually driven.

After every trip, the vehicle’s software told us where the car used more energy than estimated — but that does do us any good after the fact.

The Experts

“I probably lose 30 to 40 percent in the cold,” said Jukka Kukkenon, a former Ford Motor Company engineer who teaches an EV class at the University of St. Thomas and runs an EV consulting business called Shift2Electric. “As long as you are of it, you’re fine, but you have to know about it.”

Kukkenon says it’s no secret that batteries lose their power in cold weather. It’s why combustion-engine car batteries sometimes don’t crank in the frigid temps.

In the case of Tesla, he says the batteries use some of their power to consistently keep the batteries at an optimal temperature in the winter and summer.

The other major factor in frigid weather? The battery’s got to keep you warm.

Unlike combustion engines that use a running engine’s wasted heat to warm the cabin, electric vehicles must use battery power to heat a coil and warm the cabin.

The U.S. Department of Energy says about two-thirds of the extra energy consumed in the cold is due to simply heating the cabin.

Again, why don’t EVs reflect these facts on your battery gauge?

The EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tests all new car models to produce range and emissions standards for the auto industry.

The agency uses five different tests on all-electric vehicles:

  • City test (no HVAC)
  • Highway test (no HVAC)
  • High-speed test (no HVAC)
  • Hot test at 95 degrees (AC used to cool cabin)
  • Cold test at 30 degrees (heat used for cabin)

The agency then weighs each test and averages them together to produce a city and highway estimate for mileage on a full battery.

However, we (and several other media outlets) found the weighted average for full electrics doesn’t even come close to the true range in cold weather.

“The car needs to sit in here 12 hours. It has to be at room temperature before you start,” said Paul Steevens, an engineering aid at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

The university has a dynamometer (known as a dyno), which can spin the wheel of a vehicle at various speeds to record how far and efficiently cars can travel.

MSU-Mankato can run the same tests used by the EPA.

“It is efficient at just moving itself, but as soon as you add more [heat] and take it out of those parameters, that range falls way off,” said Steevens.

The EPA says its range tests create “reliable, repeatable and fair” results across all models.

EPA & car company responses 

We reached out to Tesla, Ford, Toyota, Nissan and General Motors for comment on their electric vehicles’ mileage estimates in cold weather.

Nissan was the only car company to respond.

“Nissan’s official EV range estimates are actually calculated by the EPA, rather than internal Nissan estimates,” said Nissan spokesperson Jeff Wandell. “That being said, yes, it is common to see some range reduction when in cold temperatures. However, Nissan does have some features that help combat this, including a battery heater on vehicles like the LEAF and specific driving modes that help conserve range in certain situations, including cold temperatures.”

A spokesperson for the EPA also responded to a number of questions we asked. Namely, if the EPA would consider offering a warm and cold climate fuel economy label considering how differently EVs perform depending on the temperature.

“The label range is a single number meant to represent the overall average range over the year,” said Shayla Powell with the Office of Public Affairs for the EPA. “No single number can capture the higher range in the spring, summer and fall when temperatures are moderate and then lower in the winter when temperatures are cold. When EPA last considered changes to the fuel economy label, we concluded a single average range result would be more useful to consumers when comparing two vehicles than a list of different ranges for different conditions.”

Given the EPA’s response, and the lack of response from car manufacturers, we don’t expect the fuel range standards to change for EVs anytime soon.

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Dog attack leaves 7-year-old with visual injuries

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A dog attack has left a 7-year-old girl with scrapes on her legs and back and cuts on her lips.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — A 7-year-old who was hurt in a dog attack Tuesday is still processing what happened.

“I was just walking and then it pushed me and started attacking me,” said Yamah Yekeku.

She went to drop off a package at her neighbor’s home. Then the dog ran toward her.

“It’s is third time chasing somebody,” Yekeku said.

Her mother Mary Innis pointed out the scrapes on her legs and back, and the little cuts on her lips.

The dog who attacked her is a part of 13-year-old Yazmina Warsame’s family.

“She was really sweet, she was very playful,” she said.

Warsame said her dog’s name was Diamond, a 1-year-old Pitbull.

“Diamond didn’t mean to hurt nobody, she just wanted to play and they killed her for it,” she said.

Brooklyn Park Police and shot killed the dog because they said it went after another child.

“The animal actually ran into a playground area, a park area in an apartment complex and there were two young children that were in the park. The dog took off after one of the children and was trying to bite that child,” said Brooklyn Park Police Precinct Inspector and Public Information Officer Elliot Faust.

Faust said a cadet lifted the child up to his shoulder to protect him.

“The dog was jumping up actively trying to bite the child and that’s when one of our officers shot him,” Faust said.

He said the 7-year-old was treated for her injuries at the scene. Innis said she took her daughter to the doctor’s office on Wednesday to get a rabies shot as a precaution.

Tuesday’s incident was the second dog attack to happen within Brooklyn Park. A 3-year-old was attacked by two Pitbulls, last Friday. Faust said the child’s injuries were extensive, and he’s still recovering in the hospital. He said that attack was the worst dog attack he has ever seen.

“These are not common, they don’t happen frequently, so it is kind of strange that we’re talking about two in one week,” Faust said.

Faust want community members to be more aware of their surroundings and to understand their dog. He said they’ve had more dangerous dog designations so far this year than all of last year.

“As a dog owner it is your responsibility to take control of the animal,” Faust said. One mistake that happens can have tragic consequences.”

Warsame said her dog was just hyper. Diamond also had long nails, Warsame said they were planning to cut.

She’s heartbroken her dog is gone and doesn’t understand why police had to kill her. She wants people to know her dog wasn’t mean.

“People take advantage of the way a big dog looks, they don’t know her personality, so people might have called her mean and I don’t people to think Diamond is mean, and I feel like it’s important to share. She wasn’t a mean dog, she was never a mean dog,” Warsame said.



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MN church group stranded for days in New Orleans

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The group was originally supposed to be home this past Saturday.

MINNEAPOLIS — A Twin Cities church group is on its way home tonight, after spending the last few days stranded in New Orleans.

“We are really sick of the airport,” Leisha Tays, supervising the trip, said in a FaceTime call from the airport.

That trip, to the Evangelical Lutherans in America Youth Gathering, was supposed to end this past Saturday.

“Every once in awhile, it would just get bumped back farther and farther and farther,” she said.

That group from Our Saviours’ Lutheran Church in East Bethel consists of 14, mostly made up of kids. Tays says it’s been a challenge to figure out their next steps with a group so big.

“It is frustrating, but I also know it’s nothing I can control,” Tays said. “That’s what I keep telling my kids that I’m here with, is that you can only control yourself.”

“Doing our best, what else do you do, right?” she added.

To keep themselves busy, they’ve spent time exploring New Orleans, a vacation that they were initially alright with extending. They quickly realized there were challenges that came with that, including working through Delta’s vouchers, which covered not nearly enough for a group their size.

“We have been given three $12 meal vouchers per person, which doesn’t really cover much,” Tays said. “Especially in four days.”

They made it through thanks to donations from their church members back home, donating to keep the crew fed.

“A lot of details, and everything went great until it didn’t,” Lisa Rykken Kastler, Director of Congregational Ministries for the church, said.

“There wasn’t even an ask, the situation was such that, ok, you’re gonna need money,” Rykken Kastler added.

At the time of this article’s writing, Tays tells KARE11 that they’re finally taxiing, ready to take off and come home – a vacation they can’t wait to end.

“We’re just exhausted, you know?” she said. “There’s the emotional and the physical exhaustion that’s going on, and we’re ready.”



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Met Council asks cities to sign-off on Blue Line Extension plans

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The Met Council is asking several cities to sign off on the preliminary design for the Blue Light Extension.

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — The communities along the proposed METRO Blue Line Extension are getting a chance to review and discuss the proposed plans with the public. 

The METRO Blue Line Extension is anticipated to be 13.4 miles between Target Field and Brooklyn Park, and would also run through Crystal and Robbinsdale. The Met Council hopes to start service in 2030, and estimate total ridership would be nearly 30,000 daily trips. 

Now, community leaders will be asked to consent to major project elements like where stations are located and where tracks will go. According to the Met Council, many project details haven’t been determined and the plans leave a lot of room for future design choices.

“This process gives people an opportunity to participate in the line through their elected officials,” said Met Council Chair Charlie Zelle in a press release. “This is a big investment that will serve our region for the next 100 years.”

Each of the municipalities will hold a public meeting and then vote before October 10, the Met Council said. 

“No matter how well we design a project, we need each city to let us know how it will fit into their neighborhoods and serve their communities,” said Zelle. “We’ve held weekly meetings for the past four years to ensure our designs are on the mark. But it’s up to each city council to approve preliminary design plans or recommend changes.”

The proposed plans can be viewed by clicking here.



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