Model S in serious winter

Model S in serious winter

What I'd really like is someone with real life experience with a Model S in serious winter and by serious winter I mean loads of snow and temperatures in the -10..-30C range. I'm seriously contemplating placing an order on the 85kWh model these days, but the winter in Estonia is from ~December-March with average temp around -10 with weeks of -30 not impossible. The Model S would be my ONLY car.

I don't need range beyond ca 200km in winter, I can recharge at my destination for sure and if not I can take a break at a charging station easily enough (we've got chargers over the whole country, every 40-60km or so, the first fully electrified country in the world). But I seriously need to know the Model S will in fact work just fine in -30C.

bent | August 29, 2013

At -30°C you will want to make sure you always have somewhere to plug it in when you park it for any longer period of time.

Other than that I'd be surprised if it gave you any problems. My Roadster worked just fine through last winter which got down to a sustained -20°C or so in periods, and the Model S is a further development of the same technology so presumably should be as good or better.

toruonu | August 29, 2013

Define any longer period of time :) Would it be ok if I take it off the charger in the morning, drive to the office and leave it at the parking lot (no charger) for 10h and then drive back and plug in. The trip itself is negligible (ca 15km). Same goes for driving a 100km, staying for a number of hours and then driving back.

I've heard the Model S loses about 10 miles (so ~15km) worth of charge per day sitting somewhere. I just wonder how bad it'll be in -30C and 10h without charger. As long as it starts up nicely (I can use the app to pre-heat) and gets me back home I'm happy :) It's just that the goelectric and other pages all stop at around 0C and don't really detail car behavior in serious sub-zero conditions.

bent | August 29, 2013

I was deliberately vague about the "longer" time because I don't remember what the Model S manual says about it. :p

It does say to plug in the car if it's colder than x degrees and you're going to leave it for more than y time. I will now unhelpfully wait for someone else to fill in the gaps …

jkirkebo | August 29, 2013

If I remember correctly, the definition of "longer" is 24 hours, in -30C or below temperatures.

toruonu | August 29, 2013

Ah, great, that would not be a problem then because if I'm going to leave the car standing for >24h in that cold it's 99.9% going to be at home and hence at the charger :) And if I go visiting someone I'll just have to ask them to have a power plug at hand to keep my tesla warm :) And luckily -30 is more of a rarity, sustained -20 is more likely and probably more easily managed by the car :)

bonaire | August 29, 2013

All EVs lose driving range in winter conditions. The battery maintenance will matter more if you have firmware 5.0 or lower. The vampire drain of pre-5.0 would not be "good" for cold winter conditions if not plugged in.

I'm familiar with my Chevy Volt (in Europe, the Opel Ampera) and in summer, we get up to 50 miles of electric range and in winter, some people using the cabin heater only find 25-30 miles is their range. Chevy says "EPA 38 miles of range" - and I suspect that takes winter conditions into account. Expect to lose 10-20% or more. Interestingly, Chevy Volts/Opel Amperas don't lose range when not plugged in long-term. They do experience some cold-soak and loss of range that way. The on-board engine helps warm the batteries and offer benefit against range-anxiety and might be a solution to winter driving issues.

Generally, EVs are not "great" for winter driving. Oh - the rear wheel drive aspect of model is also a consideration. It's heavier and thus should offer a bit better traction but you will want snow-tires if you do get a lot of snow/ice. How are people doing in the winter with other rear-wheel drives - like BMW, Mercedes, etc.?

chrisdl | August 29, 2013

Check this Norwegian video to see how the MS behaves in cold weather:

WARNING: The video is great fun and makes you want a Model S even more! 8-)

Mathew98 | August 29, 2013

All EU deliveries have 5.0 firmware. According to @Dripp, her MS with 5.0 software lost about 1 mile overnight.

That is an impressive improvement from 4.5!!!

hsadler | August 29, 2013

Has got to be the best video demo of the Model S !!
If I had seen this while I was making my decision it would have sealed it then. And I won't be in cold weather.

Mathew98 | August 29, 2013

@chrisdl - This video should be edited, translated, and used as a standard demo for all TM showrooms.

Brian H | August 29, 2013

Yes, that's been around for a couple of months, at least. I expect a few new ones to pop up, now that Norway is getting its first cars. Of course, even Norway will have to wait a few weeks for its first snow & ice! ;)

thranx | August 30, 2013

The only difference between a properly maintained ICE and an S in the kind of weather you describe is that a sensible ICE owner would plug in to an engine warmer vs. plugging in the whole model S.

Which leads me to wonder, for the Alaska purchasers where public/private engine warmers are commonly found in front of businesses and other institutions, what the voltage is on those warmers and if they could be adapted to charge a model S instead of warm an engine...or if there's enough juice flowing through them to even make such an adaptation worthwhile.

mario.kadastik | August 30, 2013

I have to admit I've never plugged in my Evo X. It doesn't even have a way to warm the engine like this. However it has always started at -30C :) The required condition is that the battery for ignition is good, real good. I guess the Model S battery is also real good so probably don't need to worry.

Disclaimer: was previously known as toruonu on this board, but now that I actually made the reservation I guess the fact that I used my official e-mail created a new My Tesla account ...

wolfpet | August 30, 2013

Here's another link from some winter driving school in Canada

Brian H | August 30, 2013

I think you can go into Profile and reset your user name.

Iowa92x | August 30, 2013

-30c is -22f, from the warranty doc: In addition, damage resulting from the following activities are not covered under this Battery Limited Warranty:

• Exposing the vehicle to ambient temperatures above 140°F (60°C) or below -22°F (-30°C) for more than 24 hours at time

Dreamknightmanga | August 30, 2013

So I am not planning this car to be my every day car in the winter because in Minnesota we have icy conditions often. As long as it's garaged and plugged in it should it be fine?

Brian H | August 30, 2013

It's only sitting unplugged in -22°F for more than a day that is a problem. Even a standard 120V plug-in is enough.

mario.kadastik | August 30, 2013

Brian H: well that's what I'd assume as well, but the warranty leaflet does not say that, it just says that exposure to -22F or below for over 24h voids battery warranty. I've sent an e-mail to my Tesla contact clarifying this as on the phone she said the car has no problem with handling below -30C. I guess -30C and below is rare enough that I can control that I get it plugged in on those days, but I cannot guarantee that there won't be -35C for 1-2 days, weather control's still beyond my reach :)