Cold weather range loss

Cold weather range loss

Does anybody else notice that M3 actual range drops by as much as 40% when temps drop into the 20s Fahrenheit? Is the heater the culprit? Wh/mi on my normal commute is about 215 in 65 degree weather and about 290 in 25 degree weather.

derotam | 14 novembre 2019

Yep, its your cabin heater use.

derotam | 14 novembre 2019

Near the end of my 40 minute drive this morning with HVAC on Auto at 69F, outside temp ~25F, the heater was drawing a constant 3kW. 3kW at 60mph is an additional 50Wh/mile.

robert rogus | 14 novembre 2019

derotam How can you determine that 3kw draw?

billtphotoman | 14 novembre 2019

To elaborate on @derotam's information on the heater impacting energy use a lot, the effect will be especially noticeable if you do a lot of shorter trips Vs 1 longer one because the high cost of initially warming the cabin is amortized over fewer miles. At highway speeds the increased density of the colder air will also negatively impact range but not nearly as much as the cabin heater. If you are concerned about the cabin heater energy use the seat heaters use much less energy.

robert rogus | 14 novembre 2019

This will be my second winter with the car. The loss of range last winter has been my only unpleasant surprise driving an EV. Everything else about the car is better than a gas car. and I’m definitely never going back to ICE.

PECo CT | 14 novembre 2019

For me, maintaining the correct tire pressure is hard to do when the temperature drops below freezing, because I keep the car in a garage that typically stays around 40 to 50 degrees. The recommended tire pressure for my car is 42 psi. I have to overinflate the tires by three to five degrees or the pressure drops low enough to trigger the low tire pressure warning when the car leaves the garage. Yesterday, the warning light came on, because the 20 degree temperature caused the pressure to drop to 38 psi. The low tire pressure definitely impacts cold weather range.

PECo CT | 14 novembre 2019

Another factor in cold weather range is the greater density of cold air versus warm air. It’s a BIG factor.

4fannings | 14 novembre 2019

Yes, it's lots of factors. Definitely the heater, regen is probably limited, colder batteries are less efficient, cold air is denser, tire pressure is lower...

Bighorn | 14 novembre 2019

All this stuff was figured out in the winter of 2013, so the answers are out there to most everything.

Joshan | 14 novembre 2019

Keep the car heater as low as you can stand and utilize the seat heaters as much as you can.

Lorenzryanc | 14 novembre 2019

Is this the first official winter 2019 post about range? it begins. :) @OP as others have mentioned, EVs take a hit in the cold mostly around heater. ICE vehicles have the advantage of having tons of waste heat to use to make you warm and cozy. With a few 100,000 more M3 owners this year, we'll hear a lot about it this winter. ICE vehicles have the same disadvantages as tire pressures, air density, rolling resistance, etc.

We all need to move to Cali and say bye-bye to winter!

derotam | 14 novembre 2019

@robert rogus: by getting the CANbus data from the car, as other have done in the past

SalisburySam | 14 novembre 2019

I was introduced to EV winter losses in my 2012 Nissan LEAF with a very degraded battery and the world’s least efficient heater. You quickly realize that in an EV you have to create heat whereas in an ICE you direct already-created excess heat. End result is the same, heat in the cabin, but the cost is dramatically higher in an EV. For the LEAF where range was so critical, this was/is a huge deal. With my now 317-mile range Model 3, not so much.

For me, range is king in an EV, and mostly so that the greatly-reduced winter range is adequate for my needs. I’m unwilling to forego cabin heat, so I take the hit on range, but I expect that now.

mvermef | 14 novembre 2019

The last few weeks here in Texas I have seen a 90% SoC only show about 255 as of Today on my M3P, little concerning considering. Now I didn't drive it much yesterday or the day before. However, my concern is that when I first got it back in May, I was getting 280 on a 90%, daily driving and a long trip and a short trip my range has dropped on 90% to around 270 miles before the cold appeared. At 7.7K that seems to be a little to much loss already. Would a drain to 10% then a 100% recharge re-calibrate in this instance or is there something else going on?

mvermef | 14 novembre 2019

Also both trips were 100% charges on house charger.

sa012 | 14 novembre 2019


I live in CT to and I had the same thing happen to me when I left my garage yesterday in regards to the TPMS telling me that i had low pressure. Is that going to happen everyday it gets that cold?

Iwantmy3 | 14 novembre 2019

Tire pressure can fluctuate by ~ 1 psi for every 8°F change in temperature. Winter temperatures tend to fluctuate alot. There is not much you can do to avoid this. I set my tire pressures to 45 psi on a 60°F day on the expectation that I would only see colder temperatures for the next few months. My tire pressure yesterday morning was down to 40 psi and it is only November.

Bighorn | 14 novembre 2019

Pressure should be adjusted in winter climates.

PECo CT | 14 novembre 2019

This morning, I inflated my wife’s tires to 45 psi in our garage. Today, they didn’t lose enough pressure due to the cold to trigger the low tire pressure warning light. I’ll just keep an eye on the weather and adjust them accordingly, I guess.

FISHEV | 14 novembre 2019

It's mostly the cold effects on the battery you see it in all kinds of electrical equipment. Tesla goes over this multiple times in the manual. While cabin heater has to work harder in colder weather, cabin heat is figured into the EPA range tests as is AC so only the portion above the testing would have an effect on range.

" In cold weather, some of the stored energy in the Battery may not be available until the Battery warms up."

With cold weather the battery will take a long time to warm up. My regen is still restricted after 50 miles at 60-75 mph in the AM and that with just temps in 40's. Regen restriction means battery is still cold. Battery (per the regen bar) just gets warm when I'm near work, 52 miles.

So for most folks driving (25 miles commute), the battery would still be cold affecting range. If it sits at work with no charging, the battery is cooling again so the ride home is also lower range.

It's an EV thing, affects other EV's same as Tesla. Safe to say range is reduced about 20 miles net effect at least at the low to mid 40's. It might increase as weather gets even colder. If you ball park 30 miles of lost range for cold weather you are probably safe.

kevin_rf | 15 novembre 2019

Last winter I used the three miles of range lost for every two miles driven rule. Was fairly accurate most days.

Other tricks include warming your battery a little by bumping it up 5% shortly before departing. I usually bump it, walk the dogs, then get in the car.

I also, usually turn on the heated seats and leave the cabin at 68. For me, that is a quite comfortable combination.

billtphotoman | 15 novembre 2019

@Bighorn "All this stuff was figured out in the winter of 2013, so the answers are out there to most everything."
This reminds me of why the moderator of the Volt forum (the Volt was my EV gateway drug) forum had "Range drops when it is cold" in his posting signature. Every winter this comes up....

WantMY | 15 novembre 2019

Yep, enjoy Tesla glorious Resistive Heaters, the most inefficient in the EV world. Even if you do not use one, Tesla will use it for the battery that should be kept above 32F to allow regen or charging. You power train efficiency doe not change much with temperature, it is your battery capacity drop ~20% + heaters are responsible for the range drop and lower efficiency overall.

andy.connor.e | 15 novembre 2019

Resistive heaters are 100% efficient.

WantMY | 15 novembre 2019

Andy, when it comes to heat transfer AC/HP beats RH by a factor of >2. You experience it in the summer on your 3 when using AC - it does not affect efficiency vs. RH.

WantMY | 15 novembre 2019

Otherwise, RH are very efficient (100%) in draining your HV battery at 6KWh rate.

andy.connor.e | 15 novembre 2019

Didnt realize you were comparing resistive heating vs AC. In which, resistive heating 100% of the energy that goes to the heater is used to heat the air, 100% efficiency.

Bighorn | 15 novembre 2019

And to be clear, the EPA figures do not begin to cover the cabin heating of winter. That lie keeps being repeated by the Usual Suspect.

Keithdorschner | 15 novembre 2019

Last winter (parked outside in NJ) I did pretty well with my range. I threw on an extra charge of around 5% right before heading out. I think it made the batteries happier.

coleAK | 15 novembre 2019

@WantMY. How else should the Tesla heat other than resistance?

And I’m in Alaska 2nd winter with the 3. I averaged ~410 Wh/mi Nov 1 to May 1 last winter. And saw 40-60% decreased efficiency (or range loss). In my observations the top drain is the heat. After that since we don't salt in Alaska (salting the roads is very bad for the environment) l and AKDOT sees plowing as optional next is snow/ice covered roads. So yes 4” of fresh snow on top of ice and packed out snow covered roads with temps in the teens F and the heat on I get 550+ Wh/mi doing the same drive I get 250 Wh/mi in the summer.

For the other factors: winter tires, when I switched from the MXM4 to my studded Hakka 9 early October and had no noticeable increase in usage. Cold air? Possibly at 70mph+, even decreased regen, my commute to work is mostly down hill I average 80-90 Wh/mi on my way to work in the summer with regen “normal”, With Regen on “low”
I get 90-100 Wh/mi. So unless you are doing long downhill descents based on my observations regen really dosn’t add that much. As for reduced battery when cold soaked, seem to get that energy back when the battery warms to temp after driving a bit.

hokiegir1 | 15 novembre 2019

@Cole - some seem to think they should use a heat pump instead if resistive heaters.

@all - In GA last year, we had about a 30% loss in general for winter. For regular daily use, we used the heater to our comfort. For long trips, we might have been a little more conservative and relied more on seat heaters -- but not significantly. We just planned more frequent supercharger stops to account for the extra usage (the southeast is generally well covered, with few areas >200 miles between stops).

ReD eXiLe ms us | 15 novembre 2019

Let's see... IDAHO, MONTANA, COLORADO, NEBRASKA, NORTH DAKOTA, SOUTH DAKOTA, WISCONSIN, KANSAS, MISSOURI, ILLINOIS, MICHIGAN, IOWA, INDIANA, KENTUCKY, OHIO, PENNSYLVANIA, NEW YORK, CONNECTICUT, VERMONT, MAINE, and any number of other States where I have never lived would like very much for residents of California who don't like California to please consider relocating to their locale, and that you bring ~2,000,000 of your closest Friends with you. Please?

TE51A | 15 novembre 2019

I maybe late to this post (not usually here) a colleague of mine drives the AWD variant while I drive the RWD, I noticed that I lost more range idling while he lost more range driving, contrary to my driving resulted on no range loss that same day.

I was wondering if the AWD varient does use more energy commuting during the Winter and if it is as big a difference as we observed which was nearly 2 folds.

Again we haven't discussed into details to compare our routes, temperature settings, only other thing I have are the extra rubber seals on the doors that may have accidently ended up aiding in energy consumption maintaining cabin temperature at 19c

FISHEV | 15 novembre 2019

"Last winter I used the three miles of range lost for every two miles driven rule. Was fairly accurate most days."@kevin+rf

That sounds like a safe estimate to use. It's not even cold here yet, 40-50's and it's having a big impact on range. My commute is 52 miles and if I had 100 miles of rated range, I'd drive home. Now I can't do that because the Tesla is saying via the Energy Graph that estimated range for conditions is 70 miles.

FISHEV | 15 novembre 2019

"Near the end of my 40 minute drive this morning with HVAC on Auto at 69F, outside temp ~25F, the heater was drawing a constant 3kW. 3kW at 60mph is an additional 50Wh/mile."@derotam

So 3kW for 40 minutes is 2kWh about 8 miles of range to the heater in that case.

coleAK | 15 novembre 2019

@hokie. Heat pumps are mediocre at best. Pretty much the only places a heat pump would work as heat is Places that don’t really need heat in the first place.

andy | 15 novembre 2019

Coming from a Leaf I expected it. In a car that could do around 160 miles in the right conditions I struggled to do 70 on night bringing collogued back from a Chrismas party at motorway speed across the Pennines (hills) at below zero (Celsius).

From that experience I knew to use the quoted winter “highway” range for a Model 3 to decide which version to buy and knew that it would need to be the LR for the winter.

Stopping at a 50kWh charger or supercharger makes a very big difference. That extra bit of heat in the battery greatly improves range. There’s also a significant difference between an outside temperature of close to zero (Celsius) and just a few degrees warmer. I suspect that’s because we are comfortable with cabin temperatures of around 18 or 19 degrees and the difference between that and, say, 8 degrees as an outside temperature vs. 4 degrees or less, makes a big difference to how much heating is needed.

As others have suggested, legacy cars have waste heat from relying on controlled explosions for motion. In an EV the heat mainly has to be deliberately created - although batteries and other components do also generate heat in use.

kevin_rf | 16 novembre 2019

andy.connor.e, The advantage of a heat pump for heat is you get more BTU's of heat per kwh used than you will with a resistive heat element.

It seems counter intuitive, but that's how the thermodynamics work. Why you don't see them up north in houses is because as the temperature drops the efficiency drops and it becomes cheaper to heat with fossil fuels like oil and gas.

PECo CT | 16 novembre 2019


What do you mean by, “the extra rubber seals on the doors”?

ReD eXiLe ms us | 16 novembre 2019

coleAK: Agreed. Heat pumps work 'well' in climates where individuals such as myself feel 'cold' or 'frigid' at anything less than 75° Fahrenheit. They do NOTHING in regions where PACKERS, BILLS, or JETS home fans go barechested in December.

andy: It depends upon your perspective. It has been oft said that 'ICE vehicles produce waste heat', true. But I prefer saying that, "ICE vehicles are heat generators that give off waste motion.", instead.

gaetanbernard318 | 16 novembre 2019

I came back home
I opened the door
I closed the door
I opened the trunk to take what I bought
Then I closed and the passenger window is wide opened

It happened twice in two days?

I should be advised that a window is opened

Tell me what's not normal

I have my model 3 since 6 weeks

Magic 8 Ball | 16 novembre 2019

For a heat pump to be effective it will need an resistive heater anyway so the car can stay warm in very cold conditions. Tesla does have heat pump patents and they may use them in the future but maybe they determined that by not having to run the compressor to move heat they are saving on components that have a lower MTBF than a resistive heat coil (they last forever).

gballant4570 | 16 novembre 2019

gaetanbernard318, stop pushing the wrong button when you open the door.

To address the OP.... If you can park and charge at home in a garage or other building, your winter losses can be minimized with battery warming charges and pre-heating. If this is your second winter with a Model 3 I am sure you've already figured out how to minimize that for your own situation. Your wh/m of 215 summer and 290 winter do not sound out of line, they are much like my own. But they do reflect much closer to a 25% efficiency hit rather than 40%.

derotam | 16 novembre 2019

@FISHEV, yes your math is correct but it doesn't help the OP, which is why I put it in terms of Wh/mile in reference to the OP's observations.

Joe M | 16 novembre 2019

It hurts to see the poor little heat pumps maligned.

Heat pumps are getting better and can be cost effective where the Packers play. To be fair if we accept (which we should) the comment on 100% efficiency of resistive heat then we need to also accept that most newer heat pumps at temps as low as 17 deg f are 275% efficient. All that said my take is vehicles still won’t use heat pumps because the exterior coil surface needs to increase significantly as the design ambient drops. That doesn’t play well with the aerodynamics of a moving object.

FISHEV | 16 novembre 2019

"Pretty much the only places a heat pump would work as heat is Places that don’t really need heat in the first place."@coleAK

Pretty much correct. I switched to split duct with heat pumps when I went solar in OR which is temperate climate. In winter, the heat pumps can't keep up so the gas Franklin stove and/or a couple electric base board heaters are needed to help it.

To thaw out the car in the AM, you previously mentioned 15 minutes of cabin heat. What is your heat setting when you do that?

FISHEV | 16 novembre 2019

" I put it in terms of Wh/mile in reference to the OP's observations."@derotam

Which is fine but it all has to be translated to miles/range which his how car performance is measured.

Magic 8 Ball | 16 novembre 2019

@JoeM A small volume car cabin is slightly different that a stadium. Heat pumps typically take a long time to move same amount of heat so they can be effective in a place that is highly thermally insulated or where there is a high thermal mass (the huge volume of air in a stadium that has been heating up a long time to keep fans comfortable for a few hours).

Joe M | 16 novembre 2019


Thanks for the clarification. Darn all these years I though BTUs an hour rating meant BTU delivered per hour was the same regardless of the device. Now I get it, magically capacity ratings don’t apply to heat pumps!

Magic 8 Ball | 16 novembre 2019

You bring up a good point. How big do you think a heat pump would have to be in a car to deliver same BTU's/hr as a resistive heater glowing at 7kW?