winter driving

winter driving

I have bin folowing Tesla reviews on model s and im impresed.
ther for i living in Iceland and the winter can get cold, i wold like to know how the battery will perform in cold wether conditions?

jerry3 | 11 November 2012

No one has gone through a full winter with a Model S yet, so there are no first hand owner accounts. However, the battery has thermal management and there is a history of the Roadsters working fine in the winter.

In addition to the heat exchanger to maintain battery temperature, there are also "doors" in front of the radiator that open and close automatically to help maintain battery temperature.

Plug it in every night as recommended and there should be no problems.

Brian H | 11 November 2012

Check the papers in Norway for Roadster owners' stories. That country is leading (so far) in Model S orders in EU, I think, so there should be lots of Arctic experience soon.

Volker.Berlin | 12 November 2012

A nice collection of related threads you may be interested to read. Cannot replace the first-hand experience, though:

sdawson4 | 31 December 2012

I live in New England and am curious about the winter road handling characteristics of the S. I've seen the vids of the Norwegian performance on flat ground, but we have hills here in New England, and I need to get up and down them. Are there any S owners out there who have had experience on snowy/icy roads, who are careful drivers, and who can give me some feedback? I've got years of winter driving experience in AWD, FWD and RWD. What's the S like? Can it climb a hill on winter roads? Does it track well through 6 inches of snow?, And since I've never had an EV, what do you do when you'd want to downshift in an ICE car?

sbern18 | 31 December 2012

Drove up mod steep hill in 1" snow here in n.j. This week. Car performed admirably, but not as good as my previous BMW 335xi.

jonathanfsawyer | 31 December 2012

just drove my new models from boulder to Steamboat Springs Colorado over two mountain passes in snow packed and icy roads. Had the stock all season tires. Car performed surprisingly well. Our house is on Buffalo pass above Steamboat and the car made it to there just fine even with about 4 inches of unplowed snow on the road. I have I great picture of it with in the snow but do not know where to post it on this site

one2mark | 31 December 2012

I drove mine in SWPA last week with the 21" wheels which are much less than ideal for winter driving. That being said, it went pretty well in 6-8" of new snow. I was impressed. I will eventually buy winter wheels for the car. In Appalachia, you simply need all season or winter tires.

sdawson4 | 31 December 2012

Thanks sbern, jonathan and one2. This is the beginning of the feedback I need. We've had problems with test drive availability here in Massachusetts, though they tell us it's being addressed. I'm in line for my "configure" notification soon, but I don't want to commit to the car until I've been able to drive it.
I'll be giving up a Lexus LS 460, which I've been driving for 5 years without trouble, though it can be quirky in snow, so I'm trying to get a comparison with the S from people who know winter driving.
Thanks again. Anyone else with winter experiences?

Brian H | 1 January 2013

Norway? flat? where? It's basically a chain of mountains protecting Sweden from the North Atlantic's bad moods.

prash.saka | 1 January 2013

@jonathanfsawyer, in order to post pictures, you can use free image sharing sites like instagram or picasa and add the link here.

@sdawson4, we had the same issue with not having test drives in the Natick store. So, we took a test drive at the Westchester NY store.

~ Prash.

docdac | 1 January 2013

Here is my cold weather test drive results from today, 1/1/13:

Outside temp 7 - 11 deg F.
Accessories in use were: XM radio (moderately loud), driver seat heater at #1 level, and Climate Control set to 67 deg F, auto fan, but with 'Range Mode = On' (which limits how hard the heater/fan tries to work - see notes on software v 4.1). Overall, it was a very chilly cabin.

Drove 86.2 miles (43.1 out, 43.1 back), at steady 65 mph (cruise control), on gently rolling hills, with no net elevation gain.
'Rated Range' at start 250 miles (with warm recently charged battery).
'Rated Range' at end 129 miles. When I shut down, I got a messages saying the battery is cold, and recommended charging.
So: used 121 'Rated Miles' to go 86.2 miles (achieved 71% of rating).
The 30 mile average projected range remaining at end was 102 miles projected. So, real miles plus realistic projected range was 188.2 miles, compared to 250 'Rated', or 75% of rated miles.
Average energy use was 411 Wh/mi, with total energy use of 35.4 kWh.

I was a bit disappointed, but then again it was 7 deg out! I would have thought that the batteries would stay plenty warm, as I used them to cruise at 65mph, but apparently they got colder as the trip went on.
Next, I will try the same trip at 55 mph cruise control (tomorrow - should be about the same temp).

docdac | 1 January 2013

BTW, this was SE Minnesota on dry roads with Dunlop snow tires on 19" aftermarket wheel, inflated to 45psi.

Brian H | 2 January 2013

Snow tires increase drag, whether on snow or pavement. That's what they're for! Winter driving can be safe, or efficient. Not both.

docdac | 2 January 2013

Here is my cold weather test drive comparison for 55mph compared to 65 mph (described yesterday, above):

Outside temp 15 deg F. in SE Minnesota (compared to 7-10 deg F yesterday)
Same accessories: XM radio, driver seat heater at #1 level, and Climate Control set to 67 deg F, with 'Range Mode = On'

Slightly different drive, 53.9 miles total at constant 55mph (cruise control), compared to 86.2 miles at 65mph, very similar road. No stops.

'Rated Range' at start 270 miles (with warm recently charged battery).
'Rated Range' at end 203 miles.
So: used 67 'Rated Miles' to go 53.9 miles (achieved 80% of rating at 55mph, compared to 71% at 65mph).

The 30 mile average projected range remaining at end was 171 miles projected. So, real miles plus realistic projected range was 224.9 miles, compared to 270 'Rated', or 83% of rated miles at 55mph, compared to 75% at 65mph.

Average energy use was 368 Wh/mi at 55mph, compared to 411 Wh/mi at 65mph.

Very definitely improved Wh/mi and range, likely related mostly to 55mph rather than 65mph (and possibly slightly higher outside temp).

Objective1 | 2 January 2013

On the Tesla Motors Club board there are various threads discussing winter driving. Some Model S owners have had problems with over-efficient traction control in snow and other issues.

Brian H | 2 January 2013

About an 11% improvement.

JackM | 8 January 2013


I'm west of Boston (near the Natick store), and took delivery pf a Silver S on 12-12. My experience with range is similar to Docdac's above - but my Prius has about the same performance ratio in cold/warm conditions (about 80% of the milage).

I was out of town for the only major storm, so no experience with truly poor conditions yet - but i'll keep the S in the garage for those types of condtions - and use my ICE cars on the ice.

Glad to hear of Jonathan's experience at Steamboat - i'm there once a year and have driven from Denver - far worse than 89 up to Stowe.

Ice patches can be a problem with the acceleration - so need to be careful in those conditions.

I think with the suit resolve you can arrange for a test drive at the natick store now - this car is a must relative to any ICE car - you'll never go back. Don't think about not buying it!

TonyF | 8 January 2013

I took a trip from Phila to Springfield MA over the holidays (needed one 40 min charge at the Milford Supercharger to gain 164 miles), but unlike Jack M above, I did get caught in the 6-inch snow storm that blanketed Southern New England on the Saturday before New Years. I can honestly say that I had a lot of trouble getting the wheels to spin. Between the ABS and the traction control, there was no slipping & no sliding. Granted, snow-covered roads are less slippery than ice-covered, but the model S worked as well as any car I've had in snow. My driving speed was slow - only 20-30 on crowded city roads and not over 40 on snow-covered route 91 getting to my hotel in Hadley (the nearest Marriott with a J1772 charger). For safety, I raised the air suspension to high to help stay clear of the snow.

Another tidbit: it got down in the teens for two of the nights, and the outside of the car had ice and snow caked on it. I was afraid that the door handles would freeze shut and NOT open, but all door handles popped out every time, and there was ice around a couple of the doors.

drp | 8 January 2013


I presume you have the 19 inch tires is that correct?

TonyF | 9 January 2013

@drp, yes, I had the 19-inch tires, and a non-performance 85kWh car.

Brian H | 9 January 2013

Yes, more robust handle motors were chosen in preference to heaters for penentrating ice coatings. Up to 8mm (1/3"), apparently.

ricktheis | 31 January 2013

Travelling to Lake Tahoe, how do you deal with "Chains Required" laws?

tork | 31 January 2013

you put on chains

nickjhowe | 31 January 2013

+1 @tork LOL

rlpm | 31 January 2013