Cold arctic weather and battery life?

Cold arctic weather and battery life?

I am close to putting in my order for the Tesla S. But I live in the wrong part of Norway and there is a 1.500 km drive to the Tesla store. No need to say that even if I would like to have a test drive and a Tesla chat with the people at
I am not able to do so.

So what I have been wondering about is how does cold arctic weather influence the batteries?
I am set to get the 85kw hi performance package. But I am not sure how minus 20 degrees celsius will affect the driving range. I have read that Tesla S with 85kw package will make 480 km on one charge. But I can not find any information about weather conditions. That 480 km range is under ideal conditions I am sure. What about real life?

Say in minus 20 degrees celsius, how many kilometers can I drive before recharing? Keep in mind that in weather conditions like that running the electric heater is a must otherwise one would freeze to death. Also north of the arctic circle the sun is below the horizon for a good 2 months each winter - meaning wintertime is equal always driving with the light on, and the heater going.

What kind of rang will I make in conditions like that? 10% less the aclaimed 480 km? Or even more reduction?

Has there been any testing done of how cold weather clime affects the duration of battery power?

DouglasR | 25 januari 2013

I can't answer your question about the cold, but even if you lived in a warm climate, you would be lucky to get 10% less than the 480 km. Those numbers are "ideal" conditions: driving a warmed-up car at a constant 88 kph on flat roads with an outside temperature of 20 C., and even then you would need to start with a "range charge" (not recommended on regular basis) and drive until the battery is nearly completely discharged (also not recommended). Read through these threads, and you will see that most of us rarely drive more than about 320 km between charges. Those in cold climates or hilly terrain go considerably less far.

torst1 | 25 januari 2013

Oh man - that is like saying it was all a lie.

If you only do 320 km between charges and I need to estimate considerably less then that it will mean real life range between charge would maybe even less then half of what Tesla claims.

This was so disturbing news I will skip driving electric.
Tomorrow I will head down to my Mercedes dealer and order their new hybrid.

Guess the world is not yet ready for electric cars. :(

Shoot - I was so looking forward to ordering av Tesla. But what you just said is a deal breaker. I live in rural area, and places to charge is far and few between. Maybe a dozen of chicken that can lay egg can cure my environmental guilt. Surely I can find cheaper and more reliable ways then Tesla S.

nickjhowe | 25 januari 2013

@torst1 - I'd contact and ask them for an official answer to your question. It is too big of an issue to speculate on. They've done extensive cold weather testing so should know the accurate answer...

jat | 25 januari 2013

@torst1 - they are quite clear that the 300mi is based on 55mph on flat ground with no HVAC (some people have achieved over 400mi range driving very slowly). In the US, the EPA does ratings based on real-world driving, and I think if you aren't too aggressive with the accelerator you can easily achieve the rated 265mi. I assume Norway has some similar ratings agency.

All of that is based on a maximum charge, which degrades the battery faster than normal and is not recommended for daily use. The standard charge gets you about 90% of the maximum range. The other thing to consider is that by the end of 8-10 years, you might have only 70% of the original battery's capacity available.

However, -20C is going to put a serious dent in the battery just to warm up the cabin, to say nothing of the battery being less efficient. I don't know that anyone in the US has direct experience with how the car performs at that temperature, though Tesla has probably done some testing.

DouglasR | 25 januari 2013


I didn't mean to scare you off. But it's not a lie. TM reported achievable ranges based on "ideal" conditions and also EPA standards. In my ICE car, I don't get anywhere near the gasoline mileage specified on the EPA sticker because I don't drive under those test conditions.

Nickjhowe is right: you should check with TM to get an official answer. I certainly don't know the answer. However, the conditions you described are truly extreme, and the consequences could be disastrous if you run out of charge in the middle of nowhere, north of the Arctic Circle. If you regularly need to travel more than, say, 250 km before you can charge up, then I agree: perhaps this car is not for you.

JDun | 25 januari 2013

We have had -16C recently. I park the car in my garage, which is about 6C on these cold days, and it is happy on the drive to work. Range is good. But after sitting in the cold all day unplugged, it takes awhile to warm up. During the warm up. the range deteriorates a lot. It tells me I should pre-heat with the Phone App, but we don't have that yet! It is not a problem for me, as there is plenty of range for my needs.

Mark22 | 25 januari 2013

Torst, regarding your comment 'guess the world is not ready for electric cars'.
The world IS ready, you may not be ;-P

What type of range do you need?
Cold weather, especially extreme weather like yours will shorten range. If you use the same driving conditions and pattern as the EPA you will get the EPA range. If you drive as Tesla did, you wlll get their range.
If you have to drive long distances, you may be stuck wither poorer performing vehicles. There is nothing wrong with that. Everyone has certain needs from a vehicle and unfortunately a few of those needs will require settling for less.

Timo | 26 januari 2013

IMO -20C is not extreme, just cold.

Norway is quite hilly place though (basically entire northern Norway is mountains), so I would wonder about that affecting my range as well as cold weather at winter. Driving 55mph at flat plane is near impossibility for most parts there.

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

For sure I must be able to go 200Km without charging. That 200km drive I make once or twice a week for my work. The problem is I have to go to our neighbor city cause of work once or twice a week. Cold weather is a common thing up north and we can't live our lives like the cold don't exist.

From city A to city B there are no places to get a charge. Sure there are a few houses along the way, but not even in rural places on can count on the good nature and kindness of man to more juice to batteries. And what's to say there are even people at home during the odd hours I pass by.

The traffic is often next to nothing, and a stop in cold weather like due to empty batteries cold in fact be fatal. It could be hours before somebody drives by.

There have been written several articles about the Tesla S in norwegian magazines and newspapers. None have actually debated if the claimed range of 480 km is in fact possible to reach in real life. In fact some of them have even written that the use of the heater would only reduce the range by as little as 4-8% depending of how hard you run the heater. And according to those articles that was because Tesla uses the technology as is commonly used in air condition units for homes, and that is supposedly one the the most effective way transforming electrical power (batteries) to heat.

No one of the articles I have read during my research of Tesla have even pointed out that the cold itself would affect the duration of battery power. In fact those who have noticed this have claimed that cold is better then heat for the batteries hence the cold climate in Norway should not be a valid reason not to choose electrical vehicle such as Tesla S.

Me I am just your average Joe. I don't know much about electricity, or how the temperature impacts duration of battery power. That is why I posted here. Reading the first reply to my thread I was so disappointed it felt like Tesla had been playing games. And to think that Norway is an important market to Tesla and times and times over we read that Norway is the highest Tesla per capita in the world one would think Tesla had done some testing on how the Norwegian climate affects usability of electric vehicles.

Reading this thread I feel betrayed by Tesla. It feels like Tesla is focused primarily on sheered numbers of sold units. At any price. And that any problems after money changes hands is not an issue for Tesla.

I understand Tesla is a small company after all, it is fairly new and have limited resources financially speaking. But one would still expect a minimum of testing being done before signing contracts, and shipping cars.

I feel like Tesla played me - and I fear many of the people who have already signed a contract and made down payments have been played as well.

After all - even if Norway is small country. Even if we are not important to Tesla they should care. For our climate is nothing special really. Even in the northern part of USA, south of Canada there longer periods of cold weather. Not to mention Canada itself. String along Finland, Sweden and Russia and the cold weather market is not so small anymore. Even Tesla should see that.

Some testing should have been done and the results should have been possible to find on the Tesla website. Everything else is a failed strategy and borderline "used car" salesman tactic.

ArieK | 26 januari 2013

@Torst1 : Do remember you would wake up to a car ready to do at least 250 km EVERY day. So you could drive 1750 km of daily driving a week without any problems or anxiety whatsoever.

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

I did send and email to address given earlier in this thread. Hopefully all my concerns will be dealt with during next week.

One final Q is rust protection, saltwater and corrosion.

I know the bode of Tesla S is aluminum, and that alu withstand corrosion better then steal. Audi has used alu for years and it seems it has gone well.

Even larger companies like Mercedes have stopped short regarding corrosion of that harsh saltwater seeping in everywhere. The E class modell w210 was prone to rust eating away. How well has a fairy new company like Tesla addressed corrosion and saltwater?

In harsh winter clima they regularly uses salt to better road conditions.
Salt onto ice and snow leads to melting and and massive film of saltwater covering the road surface. Driving on such roads that saltwater splashes underneath the car and will penetrate even the tiniest of wholes. Then corrosion will take place from the core itself if any saltwater finds its way into the structure. Even stainless steel will crumble to salt eventually. So my fear is that if saltwater finds its way into batteries or the core one might get into serious problems.

What have been done by Tesla to avoid any corrosion problems?

Timo | 26 januari 2013

@torst1; For sure I must be able to go 200Km without charging

If you select 300 MILE battery that 200km trip should not be any problem even in most severe road conditions. 265miles EPA estimation is actually quite good one for summer conditions and that translates to 424km. You would need to drop your range over 50% to not make 200 km trip which would require very spirited driving even in cold climate.

Cold itself isn't much a problem for Tesla Model S, it is the road conditions that cause more rolling resistance and added ancillary output from heater to keep the cabin warm.

If it looks like you can't make the trip using the remaining battery just slow down. Difference in range between 50mph (80km/h) and 65mph (104km/h) is huge.

I assume you have in Norway "winter speed limits" just like we have here in Finland. That's about 80km/h, right? At 50mph (80km/h) you should have closer to 250 mile (400km) range even in winter conditions with heater on, so just obey the speed limit and you should be fine.

DouglasR comment about "most of us rarely drive more than about 320 km between charges" applies to US where usual freeway speeds exceeds 75mph or 120km/h, in Norway that kind of speeds are rarity (without breaking the law that is). With slower Scandinavian speeds range is considerably higher.

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

Is there any chance for an optional even bigger battery pack?
I for sure would happily pay even more for a larger battery pack.

Rather then 85kw/h maybe 110 or even 125kw.
How much you think that would influence the driving range?

I guess there is a downsize to larger capacity batteries, and that is extra weight. Any ideas how much extra weight such battery might put on?

Is there maybe other and newer battery technologies to use in the new future, that will let us have farther range without the cost of extra weight?

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

Downside that is - sry typo.

jkirkebo | 26 januari 2013

I agree that typical Norwegian speeds will be good for the range. Many in the US seems to do a lot of 75-85mph driving, while I usually average around 45mph over here on my longer trips. Few roads have speed limits above 50mph even in summer.

I do think 350km would be easily achievable in -20C if doing 43-50mph (70-80kph) which is the typical speed limits here.

Jens_Berlin | 26 januari 2013

@Torst1 - don't know if you live in Oslo or Tromso, but even southern Norway is rather the same latitude as Alaska... On the plus side: over the course of the year you get theoretically the same amount of sunshine then everyone else (saving a bit of energy over the summer...:)

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

Well as I said I live north of the arctic cirle - that translates to the northern part of norway.

That we have midnight sun during summer will not help if I am stuck with empty battery in the winter.

That would be like putting your right hand in boiling water and your left hand icecold water claiming to be just fine cause the icewater balances out the boiling water. While your skin starts to blister and you get severe injuries from the heat.

The cold weather, harsh road conditions and the constant darkness in the wintertime will make me put a larger dent in the battery range during winter season for the same driven distance then I would during the summer.

If I am not able to make the trip between city a to B during winter it does me no good if I can drive twice that distance in the summer.

Car-El | 26 januari 2013

I live in Tromsø. I have order a Model S. I do not think that it shall be a problem driving to Bodø (550km/350miles) in winter time. I have to stop in Narvik and charge for some time, but I have friends there.

And also. Inside country from the sea we can have temperature as far down as -45C/-49F. Then we begin to speak about extreme temperature.

torst1 | 26 januari 2013


Congrats you really managed to get the point of my consern.
You can drive 550km but have to stop to charge. So not what I was looking for.

Btw congrats on having friends Narvik. I wish I was so lucky.

Timo | 26 januari 2013

@torst1, you said that your required range is 200km. 550km is 2.75 times that. If he needs only one charging at that trip it shows that you will have no problem whatsoever.

GeirT | 26 januari 2013

@ torst1, good points and understandable that you are pissed when it comes to promoted vs, real miles/kilometers. Also, from where you live it is understood that what you'll get with the 85 is not sufficient, probably.

That said, be reasonable. You cannot take everything you read at face value. A California car compamy indicates range according to an average of its home market. That means nice flat roads, and fair climate to say the lest compared to ours. Yes, there is super cold climate in northern US and Canada too but we are talking about averaging out.

When I decided to get the P85 I had in mind min. milage of 200 km/day (I live in Oslo, work twice a week at Notodden). That 400-someting km should be possible I did not even consider it to be realistic, just as I did not believed that my MacBook Pro should give me 7 hours battery life. I get 4.5 hours max.

Agree, it is bloody irritating and annoying that real life is not as described and presumably documented. That is frankly damned stupid of TM as it only creates great uncertainty.

On the other side, if you are here and consider to buy this car, you realise the "early adopter' risks as well as the "beta testing" (something I hate to read but nevertheless...) role.

You do what you need to do - of course. But don't blame TM but rather blame the hype and your own disappointments re expectations. I give you that TM could have been much more forthcoming on the issue especially as it relates to cold climate and we after all is their 2. most important market - for now.

LazMan | 26 januari 2013

@torst1 Mybe all you need to do is be a bit patient. There are lot's of Canadians getting this car who live in a similar climate and soon there will be lots of real-world experience driving in cold climates.

One of the important advantages of electric motors is that they are almost in order of magnitude more efficient than gas engines. However, in cold climates all that excess heat loss of gas engines can be used to keep you warm. The Model S has to use its battery power to warm up. Still, I suspect you will have plenty of power to drive 200 km.

From Tesla's point of view, I would suspect that the "north of the Arctic Circle" market is a tiny tiny percent of their potential sales. I can't imagine that they will spend a lot of effort on driving in those conditions.

Brian H | 26 januari 2013

As others have noted, you keep jerking around the distance you need. Is it 550km or 200km? The latter is EASY. You should never, ever, have trouble with that, even in the coldest weather.

Do you have trolls in Norway? Are you one?

ArieK | 26 januari 2013

Only 2 million people out of 7 billion people on earth live above the arctic circle so I doubt Tesla will have given this group of people a lot of thought. Doesn't mean we have to call them trolls. :-)

GoTeslaChicago | 26 januari 2013


If your car is parked overnight in an unheated area, you will find a lot of energy goes to heating the car and the battery the first few miles. This plus not having regenerative braking available will mean that your first few miles will use up an awful lot of electricity. After the first 10 to 20 minutes of driving energy use will be closer to normal, but still high when it is very cold. I think you could do 200 km, but your safety margin will be very little unless the car is parked in a heated garage.
(this based on my limited experience with my Model S in Chicago.)

The same applies if you leave your car outside during the day while you're are at work.

Before you buy the Model S, you may need to wait for real world experience reports from people who live in very cold climates.

The forums are a good place to get this information.

Kiteulf | 26 januari 2013

The average speed on norwegian roads is just 65km/t!! So that will translate into more range. On the tesla graphs you get a reading of 640 km!!! But that graph is probably just the optimal range. With cold weather like minus 20degrees celcius, this will go down. My guess is that the model s range in these conditions will be mostly affected if you start and stop a lot along the route . This will cause the battery to start warming up many times. On the experience from roadster owners the regen is so good that most energy used to go uphill, will be recuperated.

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

Sry if I sounded hash but that man making that claim has not even gotten his car yet. He is basing his comment on whatever - not real life experience.
So his comment is a bit moot anyway.

Timo | 26 januari 2013

I'll write to Tesla Bulleting Board a question about range at colder than 0C temperature. They have done cold climate testing in Sweden so they should know what the reality is. The "Go Electric" -page range meter goes only to 32F which equals 0C (IE. freezing point of water), and that is too high temperature for places where you experience real winter.

(Note that "north of arctic circle" in Scandinavia isn't actually much colder than majority of Canada most of the time, thanks to Gulf Stream, so far more people than 2 million is experiencing this same situation).

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

@Brian H

Jerkin around? Pls stopp smoking now.
I have said consistently that I need to be able to get 200 km range without charging. I dunno where you got that 550 km from. Surely it was not from me.

200 km without recharge is what i need - in cold winter climate.
I will be running the heater and light at all time. There are no options to stop to charge - cause there ain't no place to stop. It is rural.

Captain_Zap | 26 januari 2013


Have you visited forums? It seems as if it would be useful for you. The forums are more easily searchable than these forums and there has been some in-depth discussion about the several topics that you mention. Also, there are some Canadian owners that are sharing their experiences with severe cold weather.

It looks like there is an active Norwegian community there as well.

If you want to do a search on this site you can use

torst1 | 26 januari 2013

Thx captain - you zapped me there. Thought I was at the right forum.
I will check out the other one immediately.

jkirkebo | 26 januari 2013

You will probably be able to do 200km easily in Standard mode even with 30% capacity loss on the battery. I would not be concerned about this at all.

Personally I have to be able to do 283km & 800m elevation gain all year. I belive that too will be easy going for the 85kWh version.

patp | 26 januari 2013


I've had my Model S for a month and travelled 2500 km. I live in Quebec, Canada, so very similar winter condition to Norway.

For city driving at -20C, I'm getting around 170 km of range on average for a standard charge. For a trip on highway, do not think you'll do more than 230-240 km at these temperature.

Plus, there's no way you can risk getting out of battery at these temperatures so you have to keep a buffer.

Right, now, for city driving, my rule of thumb to calculate my range is to cut the rated range in half and it gives me my real range. This will get better as the weather will get warmer. We got -28C this week.

Car-El | 26 januari 2013

I have two -2- diesel engine power car today. The private and old one I manage to drive as many km/L diesel they promise. It is an Opel 2005. My work car, MBenz 2013 (bought i aug 2012), I am not even close to those numbers.

So I believe that it can be a differs between what TM say what the Model S can and what I manage to preform. But I will take my Model S for a drive in the winter time from Tromsø to Bodø (550km/343miles). I know that I have to charge between. In Winter time it will take longer time then in the summer. But I se this more like a challenge to drive more eco-frendly, so charging time will be as short as possible.

I do not see problem to drive 250km/156miles and 300km/188miles (equal 550km/343miles) in winter time.

Car-El | 26 januari 2013

OBS! That sounds bad!

Brian H | 26 januari 2013

really surprised at your 170km city estimate. How many separate "trips" is that? (I.e., separated by parking long enough to cool down.)

michaellevine | 26 januari 2013

I am in Toronto Canada and drive a Sig P85. We have had -20 c weather and at that temperature I loose about 35% of range

Brian H | 27 januari 2013 | January 26, 2013 new
... I loose about 35% of range


Timo | 27 januari 2013

@patp, give us speeds. That's extremely important factor in understanding if your experience is comparable or not. Average speeds in Norway highways is just above 56mph (90km/h), which is very close to where you get real life 300 miles in good summer day. Most roads are even slower (80km/h = 50mph).

City driving surprises me too. Very slow speeds, like really really slow, under 20mph, parked or something like that with heater on could explain that.

Brian H | 27 januari 2013

repetitive parking and cooling and re-warming could also explain it.

torst1 | 27 januari 2013

Even though there are strict speed limits in norway we all go beyond the limit driving in rural areas, I am sure you do too? One easily saves between 30 minutes to an hour on a 200km drive if pushing the limits. I wold say about 120km/h is a normal cruising speed for driving outside of cities - you cut the time spend by 25% yet you are not loosing you driving license if the cops catches you.

And those extra 30-45 minutes I get to spend with my wife and kids each night is well worth the extra speed. So assuming that we all stick to the speed limit is not calculating for real world experience.

I am sure you too at least go 10% above speed limits as rule of thumb. For me I try to stay just below margins for loosing driving privileges.

Brian H | 27 januari 2013

Cruise control will help immensely in "hovering" just at that limit.

Timo | 27 januari 2013

@torst1, Even though there are strict speed limits in norway we all go beyond the limit driving in rural areas, I am sure you do too?

Not at winter we don't. Some do, but most don't. Roads are just that bad, and there is real moose (elk? what's the difference?) hazard in rural areas, and up north you get reindeers. Too many close calls to ignore those risks.

How can you save a hour in 200km stretch if you do it in about two hours normal driving? Driving 200km/h average, IE. full throttle? In that case Model S range is not sufficient to you. Not even at summer.

Have you actually tested that you save that much time? Speeding usually doesn't give you nearly as much time advantage one would believe because average speed will be considerably lower than they expect.

Brian H | 27 januari 2013

The European and North American (Canadian) terms for elk and moose are switched.

Didja hear about the Scotsman, seeing his first Canadian moose? On being told what it was, he said, "I'd hate to meet up with a rat!"

oyvind.hestnes | 27 januari 2013

Personally I would stay far below 120km/t during the winter to actually get home safely to my family. Saving a few minutes does not matter if you crash :(

120-130 is OK on class A highways with four lanes, but going 120km/t during winter on narrow rural two-lane roads with varying conditions doesn`t sound safe to me.

200km should not be a problem as long as you range charge before you go and drive like a sane person.

Lots of real world experience is posted in this thread, including canadian winter range:,6560.0.html

Kiteulf | 27 januari 2013


I suspected you were here just to prove to others that MS is not a viable car, when you stated your last post I knew it was right. No sane person drives 120 km/t in wnter time in the north of Norway. The roads are horrible and the average speed on Norwegian roads (actual speed is just 65 km/t . we have the lowest speed of all of Europe except Malta. Our roads are that bad.

When the actual speed is so low, there is an upside for the electric car like MS.

Torst1 please leave the forum, and go somewhere else with your bickering

torst1 | 27 januari 2013

Nono dont get your panties all tangled up there.
I dunno where you live or if you are 100 years old or if you are just and old prune. Check with the police - people are regularly being caught in those speeds all over northern part of norway just as elsewhere in norway. Winter and summer. Average speed does not mean shit - you drive after what the conditions allow. Someday when it is cold like twenty below the surface of the road is not slippery at all, the rubber has fantastic grip and you can brake really hard. As temperatures rises closer to zero the conditions get worse in terms of grips and speed will be reduced in order to drive safe.

Comments like your make me think that you either do not actually know how to drive on snow and ice or you have never been to northern part of norway. Here people learn to drive according to what the weather will allow. In bad snowy weather with limited visibility or slippery conditions with bad grip you might need to drive no faster then 40km/h. Three days later driving that same distance you can so much grip and such good visibility that driving 120 km/h is perfectly safe.

What are you a blinded fanboy that has lost eyesight or did your wife strip you off the ability to ask critical question and to think for yourself?

You actually believe I went thru all that annoying process of getting @nick here just to try to talk you into NOT buying Tesla? If you are that paranoid I would recommend medication or therapy my friend - cause that does not seem to be a nice way to live your life. Struggle like that every day. Get help sir. Then you can be all that you want.

Brian H | 28 januari 2013

Flame war! Pass the popcorn.

GeirT | 28 januari 2013

@ Kiteulf, tend to believe as you that torst1 is a troll after this rant...

Kiteulf | 28 januari 2013

@ torst1

Don´t worry I wont be attending your funeral.