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Ran out of juice in the sub zero weather on the East Coast

Ran out of juice in the sub zero weather on the East Coast

Before any crazy replies, veteran forum participants know I am not a rookie. I began this journey from the heated garage after preconditioning the car. I understand my MS classic very well which may contributed to stretching the limits and not FULLY adjusting for the extreme weather. The average temp for the ride was -5.

This is a trip I make often. I have made this run several times, the latest, just one week earlier 2/8/2016. It was cold but not in the single digits.

I was making a trip 2/14/16 from Yonkers, NY to Albany, NY It was extremely cold with car reporting temperatures -7 degrees. I followed the guidance from the navigation system, supercharged for the recommended time in Newburgh, NY. The speed limit was 65 and I was following the guidance of the navigation system. I became concerned when the navigation advised to slow down to 55mph to reach the destination. I did slow down as recommended but also decided to charge using my once tested CHaDemo adaptor on the NYS Thruway. (Veterans will remember this was part of legislative settlement in NY to keep the Tesla showrooms and Service Centers open.) Following the Tesla instructions, the car would not begin to charge. The charging company representative recommended I put int Tesla adaptor in first (contrary to Tesla’s written instruction), initiate the charge then connect the charger. This instruction worked. Yeah baby! 299v but hold the phone -- all other indications were 0. (Amps, kwh, miles added). I called Tesla.

The Roadside Assistance rep saw that the Tesla was indeed receiving the voltage but it appeared a battery warm cycle was running. Meanwhile I was watching the remaining miles go down, approximately lost 6-10 miles of precious range while on these calls. The rep indicated that he had not seen this before volts with no charge, I then decided to drive to the Albany SC — I told the rep that it would be close on range (I had about a 10 mile positive buffer between range remaining distance) but I could not take the chance continuing to lose range sitting to see if it was going to work.

I went into range mode. I slowed down to 50 then 45 with a 65mph speed limit as I watched the range equal to and then go under the amount of distance remaining to get to the SC according to the navigation. I have never seen the regen limiter pop up (bottom yellow lines) AFTER it has gone off while driving. Baby, it's cold outside.

I hit zero less than 5 miles away from the destination. I know I have a bit of room. But it is -4. It is downhill through the tolls, up a ramp then downhill to the Wolf Road exit for the Albany SC. On the way up the ramp after the tolls the car said it was shutting down. I ran out of charge about 1 mile from the SC on an exit ramp through the toll plaza. Roadside Assistance called back to say that I was in a “protected” area and would need to call 911. When the tow driver arrives approximately 30 minutes. The car no longer will power on. The tow company has never towed a Tesla and I put the tow driver on with the rep. We are towed to the Albany SC - the rep now is attempting to explain what needs to be done to remove the nosecone, then “jump” the 12v. The tow drive has cables but they will not reach to a car below. The tow driver calls his dispatcher who says it will be an extra charge to have someone bring a battery starter. Tesla is explains to me what has to be done. The rep states it might take a while for the Tesla to come on to attempt to put the car into tow mode so it can get off the flatbed with a battery booster. After an hour, the car comes on when the door is opened. We attempt to put the car in tow mode then the system dies again. The rep calls the Tesla contracted downing group who attempts to do a couple of things, opening up the charge port, identifying if the lock is enabled (it is). I asked the rep to send a Tesla towing company to jump the battery. Says that will take about 30 minutes and $65.00 plus tax.

The Tesla rep arrives, attempts to perform the jump using his booster. Leaves it on for 10 minutes. Does not work. The two tow operators maneuver so the Tesla tow operator can do a boost from his truck. That works and the Tesla tow operator opens the charge door from inside the car, we plug into the SC. Takes about 5-10 minutes before the charge get to 1mph of charge and I watch the amps go up slowly as the battery is warming. Hmmm, I realize that this is what happened at the CHaDEmo charging station. The battery was being warmed first to a temperature that could handle the higher charging speeds. I suspect that the Tesla SC has an express path which is why the reporting was almost instantaneous - albeit slow. The display should should have stated something like state the battery is warming to begin charging instead of the starting to charge. When the car got to 15 miles of charge, have the tow operator lowered the car and I drive off the flatbed, park and charge.

So 4 1/2 hours and $400 later - I learned that maybe there could be a clearer message that charging would begin after battery warms or if the rep reported that all the car systems are working that the car will begin charging after the battery warms. I would have simply left the car charging and gone into the rest area. The reps were extremely responsive and helpful, but this is an issue beyond the capacity of the Roadside Assistance reps. We all know we lose range in the cold and we know it takes longer to charge in the cold. I learned that in extreme cold temps, it may even take a while before any charging happens.

I hope this info helps someone else.

jjs | 2016年2月15日

@kenj - Thanks for the detailed report. I live in an area that gets to the temps you detailed. This indeed may come in handy for me someday.

Thanks.

Innkeep | 2016年2月15日

Thank you so much for sharing what turned out to be a miserable adventure. As a midwestern S owner without a back up ICE car I will certainly remember this with extreme cold driving. I hope you didn't get frostbitten.

1BadNerd | 2016年2月15日

Thanks for the info.

I've said before that Tesla needs to open a cold weather R&D center in Chicago or Toronto (or maybe Albany, now). There are a lot of improvements that could be made to the UI for cold weather operation.

J.T. | 2016年2月15日

@kenj So sorry to read about your adventure. If I were you I would use the contact form and suggest they change the notifications about slower charging due to battery warm-up. It's an easy fix and could help a lot of people.

Stay warm.

Droschke | 2016年2月15日

@kenj - When you left Newburgh how much charge (miles) did you have?

Made in CA | 2016年2月15日

Thanks for detailed report. Very informative. Sorry you had such problems.

SbMD | 2016年2月15日

@kenj - Glad you are ok and what a painful episode. Thank you for sharing.

mrjedistud | 2016年2月15日

Kenj. I am a rookie with less than 2 weeks of ownership. Just did a road trip from ny to DC. Had a almost experience twice. Had 30 miles of range to get 12 miles. At first everything looked ok but then the range miles started to decrease faster than the gps route miles. It was nerve racking. Eventually the range miles hit 0 with just under 1 gps mile to go. I was praying for just one more mile. Thankfully in my case it worked out. Sorry to hear about your situation. Cold weather stinks.

whitex | 2016年2月15日

Thanks for sharing kenj - this is useful to know.

Bighorn | 2016年2月15日

Sorry for that adventure, Ken. Lots of useful points.

Run4Waffles | 2016年2月15日

Thank you very much @kenj for sharing your detailed story. I'm glad no one was hurt given the conditions. This record cold has been raising havoc. Your information is good to know.

+1 @J.T.

kenj | 2016年2月15日

Thanks everyone.

@Droschke I don't remember the range coming out of Newburgh, I have gotten to the place where I trust the nav algorithms, I knew I had other high speed options, as well as lower speed charging.

There are a couple of threads talking about why have the CHAdeMO adaptor -- I believe in having as many options as possible and there are still places without any high-speed options.

@JT I did send a separate email to provide some feedback to help make everyone's experience better - I follow the guidance of the "Owners Manual Companion" :)

@Bighorn Anytime you make it back from an adventure ... it's all good.

Remember sharing is caring! We know the systems always improve but real life experience contributes to the next update.

NKYTA | 2016年2月15日

@kenj, you aren't the only seasoned owner to hit this, thanks for sharing the pain points. When traveling in Idaho this winter, I had no idea that an overnight cold soaked battery was going to take so long to ramp up amps at an SC. Lesson learned for me is always to stay where there is destination charging, if at all possible.

kenj | 2016年2月15日

@NKYTA I am working with some people on workplace charging initiatives and I am advocating for a percentage of Level 1 charging for keeping the battery warm and plug-in hybrids that have less than 20 eMPG.

WHitchings | 2016年2月15日

So the whole issue could've been avoided by waiting for the battery to warm while on the Chademo adapter? I would've done the same thing you did, but now I know better. This is a very valuable post!

NKYTA | 2016年2月15日

Capital idea.

NKYTA | 2016年2月15日

I've trickle charged off 120V in Tahoe in cold weather before. It works well enough.

Pleasanton_Ca | 2016年2月15日

Hey Kenj, thanks for the info. Your title says "Ran out of juice ", (apple or orange ?)...

Red Sage ca us | 2016年2月15日

kenj: Sorry for the loss of time and money, but thanks for relating the experience! I'm sure it will help others!

Though honestly, the moment I read where it seemed the car was warming, I hoped you wouldn't unplug! If only the Tesla Representative, or the car itself, had been able to tell you that!

Man... Something tells me there are going to be some cold weather response review seminars for Tesla Reps over the next couple of weeks.

buddyroe | 2016年2月15日

Another way that EVs are inferior to ICE cars.

Most of you know I LOVE Tesla, but more info, more training, etc doesn't change the fact that in extreme cold weather, the battery gives about 40% of its rated range. That's a major problem. I can't imagine how many people are going to be running out of power when Tesla has 1m cars on the road instead of 100k - especially when the Model 3 hits the road. How many miles would a 200 miles rated Model 3 get in similar weather conditions? 75 to 80 miles?

Tesla needs to rectify this problem one way or another.

Muzzman1 | 2016年2月15日

Sorry that you had to suffer, but thanks for sharing the experience.

@Kenj,
Isn't range mode (when off) supposed to keep the battery warm as needed? Why should you have to depend on the charging to warm it up prior to charging? I am referring the Chademo stop particularly, when you had not yet activated range mode.

Bighorn | 2016年2月15日

@buddyroe
Actually a Tesla will start right up when it's 25 below--a lot of ICEs, not so much. I've definitely been better off than many neighbors in frigid conditions.

Hart | 2016年2月15日

Not all Tesla people are unaware of this: I sat at the Silverthorne Supercharger recently with an overnight cold-soaked battery (no regen, and seriously limited power), and after 20 min of no apparent charging, I called the Denver SC. They pinged the car and determined that my battery temp was -4 degrees. They said it would take a bit more time, but that I should see charging start soon. Sure enough, after another ten min (appr. 30 min after initial hook-up), charging began very slowly.
I am surprised Tesla roadside assistance did not know better!

SbMD | 2016年2月15日

@Buddyroe - I have also had the distinct pleasure of sub zero weather in the NE (and elsewhere). I have not experienced 40% range (i.e. 60% loss). I think your estimation is off. Lower, yes... And depending on how much you crank up the heat and stomp on the accelerator it will affect your range. ICE suffer from range loss as well in the cold and with adding on heat, accelerator stomping, etc.

Red Sage ca us | 2016年2月15日

buddyroe: Bighorn is always right.

Haggy | 2016年2月15日

I've had ICE cars that wouldn't start because the temperature dropped too low. It's not as if we see threads like this all the time. Of course it was a problem and a serious one. Of course it's a concern. It means learning how much range is realistically needed depending on circumstances.

With ICE cars, there's no concept of a miscalculation. The car says how much gas there is, not how much range you will get out of it, so it won't be wrong. The Model S can display battery as a percentage of capacity instead of miles of range, in which case we'd be no worse off than with ICE vehicles. But that misses the issue. Tesla is already giving us far more tools. In most cases, they work. In this case, they fell short. A different message might have been all it would have taken.

Koz | 2016年2月16日

The engineers have a conundrum with battery conditioning: shed heat in summer vs retain heat in winter. Tesla should add a charging option to set leaving time and have the cars computer optimize charge rate for power rate structure and battery temperature on departure. This would not helped the OP but would help in other scenarios. The engineers could insulate the battery better but at the expense of warm weather efficiency due to cooling the battery. I think they should incorporate into Model III and all future designs, the ability to attach a battery insulation layer for winter. Would be large footprint (similar to battery footprint) but thin and light. Could attach/detach from the underside of the battery. This could greatly improve the cold weather issues the OP experienced.

buddyroe | 2016年2月16日

@SbMD

I didn't estimate. I used mrjedistud's real world figures in his post above.

"Had 30 miles of range to get 12 miles. At first everything looked ok but then the range miles started to decrease faster than the gps route miles. It was nerve racking. Eventually the range miles hit 0 with just under 1 gps mile to go. I was praying for just one more mile. Thankfully in my case it worked out."

So, he made it 12 miles (the last mile of which was on "0" miles remaining) from the point that the car told him he had 30 miles left. Twelve is 40% of thirty. That is where I got 40% from.

cpmarino | 2016年2月16日

All cars have issues in these kinds of temperatures, it is inevitable. Range loss is more impacted in an EV than an ICE, for sure, but still an issue for both. A little education for me please ... as you were already driving, and drove to the charger on the NYS Thruway, why was it necessary for the battery to warm first before the charging would work? Isn't it already warm by virtual of the driving you'd already done?

kenj | 2016年2月16日

UPDATE: I did receive an email from Owner Services last night apologizing for the incident. The email stated Tesla had followed up with the Roadside Assistance rep to provide additional instruction and would make this a part of the weekly call scenarios with the Roadside Assistance team. Since this happened after I called the SC at a charger my costs for towing are being reimbursed.

Davidb0229 | 2016年2月16日

Thanks for the detailed write-up. Good lessons. My car has also given me a scary moment or two in the severe cold of the past few days (but not as cold here in Boston area as you were experiencing in NY). And I agree that neither the UI nor the owner's manual gives an owner very good guidance on severe cold. And in particular, neither describes the concept that, once it is plugged into a charger, the battery will first get warmed up before it begins charging, when it is below a certain temperature (maybe the temp that causes the snowflake symbol?).
It is great that Tesla tries to keep it fairly simple for owners, who should be able to trust the battery management system, but at some point we need more guidance, or reassurance.,

WHitchings | 2016年2月16日

At about 14 degrees F, I saw 42% range loss once. I've never cold-soaked the battery. It's a physics problem - stick your cell phone (or a bunch of AA batteries) in the freezer for a day and tell us what the capacity is until the batteries warm up.

Excellent comment, Haggy, that a gas gauge is always right because it shows how much gas remains, not range. I shall use that comment myself and credit myself with making it up. I stole from the best...

KP in NPT | 2016年2月16日

Thank you for this detailed report. As a newish (Jul15) owner and learning about range for my first winter, I learned a lot from this thread.

WHitchings | 2016年2月16日

@cpmarino: excellent question, I was wondering the same thing.

tes-s | 2016年2月16日

I'm surprised you could not make it from Newburgh to Albany without charging, even in extreme cold. Only 100 miles or so.

markvallaster | 2016年2月16日

I purchased a chademo adapter 8 months ago and have tried to use it 3 times. 1 of the three worked. The other two times, the charger either was broken or wouldn't connect. I find them to be very unreliable. That adapter does not seem to replicate the chademo connection completely. Really a poor product on tesla's part.

plusplusjames | 2016年2月16日

@Kenj:

1. What battery do you have?
2. How many miles of range did you start off with from Yonkers?
2. Where did you stop on the Thruway to Chademo charge?

I was also driving this past weekend from NYC to Burlington and will write up my story shortly. My S was parked outside the evening of the 13/14 in Vermont when the temperature went down to -22. I was plugged into a standard NEMA 5-15 110v outlet.

plusplusjames | 2016年2月16日

@Kenj:

1. What battery do you have?
2. How many miles of range did you start off with from Yonkers?
2. Where did you stop on the Thruway to Chademo charge?

I was also driving this past weekend from NYC to Burlington and will write up my story shortly. My S was parked outside the evening of the 13/14 in Vermont when the temperature went down to -22. I was plugged into a standard NEMA 5-15 110v outlet.

plusplusjames | 2016年2月16日

@Kenj:

1. What battery do you have?
2. How many miles of range did you start off with from Yonkers?
2. Where did you stop on the Thruway to Chademo charge?

I was also driving this past weekend from NYC to Burlington and will write up my story shortly. My S was parked outside the evening of the 13/14 in Vermont when the temperature went down to -22. I was plugged into a standard NEMA 5-15 110v outlet.

plusplusjames | 2016年2月16日

@Kenj:

1. What battery do you have?
2. How many miles of range did you start off with from Yonkers?
2. Where did you stop on the Thruway to Chademo charge?

I was also driving this past weekend from NYC to Burlington and will write up my story shortly. My S was parked outside the evening of the 13/14 in Vermont when the temperature went down to -22. I was plugged into a standard NEMA 5-15 110v outlet.

Bighorn | 2016年2月16日

Under a certain temperature, the battery heater can't keep up which is why regen started getting limited again and there was a heat cycle before charging would start in earnest. In range mode, the battery heater is supposedly hobbled in order to conserve energy, so the battery is allowed to get colder within certain parameters. Keep in mind that the battery heater draws about 6kW or an additional 21 rated miles per hour. The same is true for a maxed out cabin heater which at those temperatures doesn't become optional since the windows will frost over with it turned off. If I'm not mistaken, Ken has a 60kWh battery, but he can certainly correct me. These extra draws are not calculated into the Trip planner which will often allow you to set off on a journey with just an 8% buffer which clearly is insufficient under these conditions.

@ken
Very glad to hear that Tesla reimbursed the tow--I thought they should from the get go. They say that the first dead battery tow is handled gratis, but I don't think this one should be counted against you given the poor advice both from the car and support.

SbMD | 2016年2月16日

@buddyroe - Sure, I can see how one would come at that, but it is not an accurate way to calculate when at extreme levels of the battery, both high and low SOC. I'll spare the more complex explanation for simplicity sake as it gets into battery physics and charge/discharge curves, as well as battery management. Add to that the extreme temperature and it sets up erroneous mileage and efficiency calculations. Add to that the points @BH makes above and it might seem like a 60% loss.

Similarly, at extreme levels of depletion of ICE gas tank and extreme temperatures, there are problems that can occur with fuel lines, fuel injectors, etc. Ask me how I know...

Each system has its peculiarities.

plusplusjames | 2016年2月16日

I have no idea why my post went up 3 times. Jeez!

Arcam | 2016年2月16日

@plusplusjames because you posted 3 times perhaps :)

Tesla-David | 2016年2月16日

@kenj - Thanks for posting this valuable information, and sorry to hear about your experience, but happy to hear you came through ok. This info will certainly help others and was worth sharing.

NKYTA | 2016年2月16日

And just to double check @kenj, that was 30 Rated miles to go 12 actual? Not Ideal...

plusplusjames | 2016年2月16日

@Arcam: I posted once and it went up 4 times. We are having internet issues at my location... Apologies to all.

TeslaTap.com | 2016年2月16日

@markvallaster about CHAdeMO failing 2 out of 3 times.

This is likely the CHAdeMO and not the Tesla adapter. Many CHAdeMO chargers are not maintained as well as the Superchargers and some are just bad. You can use plugshare or several other apps to check the status of CHAdeMO chargers, although they may not always have the latest information.

Compounding the problem is often there is a single CHAdeMO charger at a location. If it is down, you're out of luck. Tesla was smart in having multiple Supercharger stalls, even in out of the way locations so that if one were to fail, there is another that should be working.

PhillyGal | 2016年2月16日

To echo others - thanks for sharing. It's definitely interesting to learn about the whole battery warming thing. This info would have certainly saved you (at the ChaDeMo) and hopefully could save others the hassle.

jordanrichard | 2016年2月16日

Hopefully incidents like this will prompt Tesla to increase the density of Superchargers in the Northern tier of the country.
As for the gas gauge always being accurate about the amount of gas, that is true, but it doesn't accurately indicate how far you can go. Just as it is with batteries, cold/extreme cold temps will effect one's fuel economy/overall range.

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