The Model S is an excellent car in the snow -or- A tale of a winter drive in rural Ontario.

The Model S is an excellent car in the snow -or- A tale of a winter drive in rural Ontario.

This weekend my wife and I drove 180+km each direction from West Mississauga to Owen Sound, Ontario. I would estimate the average temperature was -11c and the wind was a minimum of 30+km/hr. (Gusts to 70+km/hr.) We had our young daugther in the car and hence the heat was on at ~24c nearly the entire time. We did the drive after 10:30pm on Thursday night and we just pulled into the driveway about an hour or so ago. (It's about 9pm on Sunday.) This therefore meant we were using full illumination. We used the radio (not too loud, perhaps at volume level 4) and at times used the interior LEDs to prepare the baby's bottles or find a baby wipe, open our coffees, etc. (Obviously the radio and illumination aren't big draws, but I thought I'd be pedantic and include everything...)

We were using about 380-400Wh/km. (Not surprising since there are some fairly major elevation changes on highway 10, there was a headwind and we used the heat. Our speed was approximately 105km/hr on the 403 and the 410. Once we hit highway 10 we initially drove the speed limit of 80km/h but ended up doing closer to 65 or 70 once we passed Shelburne... the weather was, shall we say, interesting. (Blowing snow, (no visibility really), some snow accumulation of about 2 or 3 centimeters was present on the road. Since the snow was fresh it was very, very slick. More on the traction aspect later.)

We left our home with 410km on the dial and pulled into my mother in law's home with almost 160km left. In other words we could've gotten there on a standard charge but since we had the little one with us I felt better having some reserve if we got stuck at the side of the road and needed to keep the heat on until help arrived.

Having nearly finished a range mode charge the battery was already nearly warm enough to remove the clip on regenerative braking. (We left when the charging status indicated 5 mins until completion.) At about a third of the way along our trip the battery fully opened itself up for regen. Given the cold temperature I was quite surprised that the battery was fully functional and optimally warmed so quickly. Let me tell you, I wasn't completely warmed yet but seemingly the car was ready.

As mentioned earlier the roads were atrocious. Amazingly given a normal amount of care the 'S handles perfectly. (Most of us have been warned that rear wheel drive performance sedans are terrible in the winter. Others swear that AWD/4WD are a requirement in winter, particularly outside urban areas. I can't say I felt that way on our trip... the 'S was very well behaved.) On certain parts of the ride acceleration was clearly slowed due to traction control. For mere mortal drivers like me this was perfect and I'm quite certain the abilities of the car kept us out of the ditch. I have driven in Ontario for 13 years but this ride was more than what us GTA'ers are used to.

On a few bends the car warned us it was losing traction and we were able to calmly correct and losing control.

At our destination the car struggled slightly getting up a snowy hill but this was our fault; we need to heed the many warnings we've heard and get winter tires. (Yes, for shame. I will listen now, promise.)

We headed home and hit two streamers coming up highway 10. (Of course) The car handled well and didn't seem to get pushed around nearly as much as some other cars we've owned. (By then the winds had picked up again.) Further south where there was less snow we're pretty sure we hit some black ice. The car appeared to skate for a moment then suddenly decided it found traction again at the other side of an underpass. It was scary but my wife simply brought the car back into the lane and we continued on. (She laughed. By comparison I think I need a new set of undies, a scrub brush and some Tide.) The car is clearly extremely well balanced - other cars might have been easier to get sideways.

All in all I am very glad we took the Model S instead of another car. Even on a non-winter specific set of tires a normal everyday driver can ride in comfort and safety in the winter.

Thank you Tesla for a great car; I will not hesitate to use it during the winter on our next trip.

Bighorn | 15. Dezember 2013

Good write-up. Have you heard--this car is a beast (BEAST) in the snow, especially with good tires.

Bernard Hong | 15. Dezember 2013

Thanks for your sharing and FYI, Tesla has the winter tire set dropped to $3000+tax of your choice of Aero or the Stock style. That is good price IMO

Jewsh | 15. Dezember 2013

A few edits:

"We did the drive after 10:30pm on Thursday night and we just pulled into the driveway about an hour or so ago. (It's about 9pm on Sunday.)"

This should read that we just pulled into the driveway at home. My fault, sorry.

"On a few bends the car warned us it was losing traction and we were able to calmly correct and losing control."

This should read that we were able to *avoid* losing control. (Tesla we need an edit feature!)

Jewsh | 15. Dezember 2013

Thanks guys. I hope it helps Tesla ease the minds of any potential Model S buyers who are on the fence due to winter handling concerns.

I have again been surprised by the car's abilities!

cfOH | 15. Dezember 2013

I was one of those people who, having owned an AWD Subaru for 8+ years, had decided I didn't want a car without AWD. So, when Model S reservations started, and Tesla said no AWD option would be available, I determined I wasn't going to get one. Then, after two winters with essentially zero snow, I thought, "What am I waiting for?" and pulled the trigger. Well, so far this winter, we've had more snow than the two most recent winters combined, and the Model S has been a real trooper. While it still doesn't have the raw rally abilities of an AWD sports car in the snow, it's certainly extremely composed for daily driving.

Pungoteague_Dave | 15. Dezember 2013

Don't tell @robert from Sweden about this. You will get a beat-down post of epic proportions for having standard tires in the snow, especially with a baby onboard. Followed by a multiple-post harangue about stupid Americans, EU superiority, MENSA member studies, etc. You were warned. ;-)

And congrats on the great car, good story.

shop | 15. Dezember 2013

@PD, yes, watch out for @robert! I guess I shouldn't tell him about the time I drove a single lane dirt mountain logging road in a rear wheel drive rental. Six inches of new snow on the road by the time we got to the top, and then we had to descend - no guard rails, at night. Well, that's how we learn, one near death experience after another!

Nice to hear your story Jewsh. Spread the word in the great white north. I think too many Canadians think EVs don't work well in the cold...

robert | 15. Dezember 2013


Too late. And I am not alone. I will, in order to keep some resemblance of peace in this Forum, not share with you the comments I get from other Swedes when showing the A BEAST thread. This is even worse. It has nothing whatsoever to do with being American or not. Stupidity is international. And Jewsh has already seen the light, after very good luck allowed him to see anything at all more in this life.
Why can't you differentiate between stupidity on an individual level from a Federal/State level? The latter is: am I allowed? The former: should I?

And, having seen these posts, I will just do the only smart thing: abstain from driving, especially in snowy conditions, anywhere on the North American continent, regardless of the condition of my own wheels. I don't want to have a close encounter with people like romaniac and Jewsh, and if the laws don't protect me, I shall do so myself.

robert | 15. Dezember 2013


Nice to hear that the car worked well, though. It really is a good one, given the drawback of being Rear WD.

robert | 15. Dezember 2013


Honestly, I don't care all that much about you, however unfriendly that sounds. You decide your own fortune. I do care about the ones you might meet, or should I say meat, who can do nothing themselves, being in the wrong company in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are the ones that the State should protect.

robert | 15. Dezember 2013


At some stage I thought we could have a constructive discussion, and your long post in the BEAST thread was very informative and thought-provoking. I replied in kind.
Now I see that you revert to sarcasms again. Pity.

Jewsh | 15. Dezember 2013

Honestly being in the city I've really been conditioned to feel like we are not part of the Canadian winter experience, snow, ice and all.

As mentioned we really got a wakeup call this last trip... we are usually careful drivers and otherwise take care of our cars but I must conceed your point, despite my urban conditioning.

Don't be too hard on us Tesla fans in N.A, there are plenty of smart and responsible people here, too.

bent | 16. Dezember 2013

This weekend I had a couple trips with the Roadster across a mountain in the most treacherous of Norwegian winter conditions.

I love my winter tires. :-)

Lessmog | 16. Dezember 2013

Good lesson is learned by experience. Better if lesson can be learned from others' experience.

Take care of yourselves, your loved ones and why not care for the rest of us too. At least a little bit. Please.

NKinne | 16. Dezember 2013

Come on Robert. Let these people have some fun sharing their experiences with the car they love. You have your opinions, but dont force them on everybody, all the time. Its just boring for others to read.

robert | 16. Dezember 2013


It is not me that is hard; it is the car, when it mashes into someone/something that happens to be in the way, when the law of physics makes its voice heard.

However, I do recognize that I come through as an unrelenting zealot, and I do point with the whole hand in a rather unforgiving style, which perhaps hides the real message I am trying to convey. I unfortunately have the opportunity to see quite close to me the result of what such a single, ridiculous, avoidable "accident" (read: murder) can bring with it, and that has hardened my resolve to do whatever I can to fight against a repeat. Perhaps my attitude is causing the reverse effect, in the case of which I am most profoundly sorry.

שלום, חבר שלי (Shalom, khaver sheli - Peace, my friend).

robert | 16. Dezember 2013


I am afraid that you ARE right, but, if my efforts can prevent only one single accident, it was worth it. But, as I wrote above (our posts past each other in cyberspace), I am starting to fear that they may have the opposite effect, and, since I really don't have much more to add to the subject, I shall endavour to shut up. Just don't provoke me, please.

Men Du må da indrømme, att holdningen i USA til vinterkjøring er mildt sagt bemerkelsesverdig.


NKinne | 16. Dezember 2013

Hehe, ja :-) Men tror ikke du får gjort noe med det desverre.

robert | 16. Dezember 2013

Before Brian wakes up:

"our posts past each other in cyberspace".

passed. Whatever was I thinking about.... | 16. Dezember 2013

@Jewsh Thanks for the nice writeup. From CA, I doubt I'll have the chance to drive in snow, but it's nice to know the MS handles well.

Do you have the 19" or 21" tires?

Also you can edit your post. It's not obvious, but you'll see an Edit link up by the Tesla Logo. Only the original poster can edit the initial thread writeup. After that, all our sub-post mistakes are permanent!

Jewsh | 16. Dezember 2013

We have 19" rims with the all-season RS-2s fitted. It would have been nice to get the 21" rims/tires but we were concerned that with the amount we drive and the state of some of the roads we travel we would be replacing the tires and even the rims much too quickly.

tes-s | 16. Dezember 2013

What has your experience with regen been on slippery roads. If you take your foot off the accellerator, do the rear wheels lose traction. Does it sense the rear wheels are not turning as fast as the front wheels and reduce regen?

Jewsh | 16. Dezember 2013

@ tes-s:

You can lose control of the car if you allow regen to slow the rear wheels too quickly. It was controllable though in the same way as you can pace yourself in braking.

It's been discussed to death but winter tires would've helped with all handling aspects, regen included.

Jewsh | 16. Dezember 2013

... and if I had a choice between outright braking or regen, the regen did seem to be gentler and easier to handle in the snow.

polyphase | 16. Dezember 2013

I'll give some credit to Jewsh for experience driving in the snow. I expect we can correlate the positive winter driving experience with northern latitudes and fully expect to see someone from Washington D.C. chime in after a light dusting so report a horrible experience.

NOTE: This is a tongue-in-cheek post teasing D.C. drivers about how paralyzed the city becomes when even a hint of snow is in the forecast.

Pungoteague_Dave | 16. Dezember 2013

@robert, my apologies for being a bit snarky at your expense. I had no idea you would read this, and thought it would find some humor among those of use amused by your rants... and you did then go on to make my point. Gotta have thick skin to hang around here, or any internet forum, but I should be more gracious. Peace.

robert | 16. Dezember 2013


Apology unnecessary (really) but very happily accepted. And some of my comments have really been over the top, for which I in my turn apologize. This is something that I feel very hotly about and have spent many years in thinking about, but I'm afraid that some of my reactions do more harm than good.

But pleae do look away from the inadequate delivery and think about the message instead, OK?

kback | 16. Dezember 2013

@Jewsh - thanks for the great post. Living in CT, I had the opportunity to drive my MS85 in the snow. Since the tire place was late in getting the snow tires I had ordered 3 weeks ago, I drove on my all-seasons in the first snow, but did have my snow tires in place for the recent second snow of the season. The S handled well on both, though certainly it had more secure footing with the snows - Dunlop WinterSport 3D, by the way.

@Robert - you've made some excellent points and certainly make abundantly clear why snow tires make sense. I think that the anti-Americanism that has begun to appear in your most recent posts has led to some of the backlash. It's hard to remain objective when one is being insulted, and though Americans are extremely self-critical, no nationality enjoys criticism coming from others. You certainly have a persuasive way of making your point, and I've enjoyed much of your commentary. Please keep the anti-American generalizations out of it and we can continue to have a useful Tesla forum (this forum is about the Model S, after all, not winter driving laws and customs.)

shs | 16. Dezember 2013

@Robert - and please also accept that gravity is a legitimate force to consider in understanding how a car behaves when braking. It is hard to discuss the "laws of physics" without using formula or gravity.