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Driving my Model S in extreme winter conditions

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by Kimbal Musk, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. Kimbal Musk

    Kimbal Musk New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2013
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    Location:
    Boulder, Colorado, United States
    Hey everyone.

    My name is Kimbal Musk. I'm Elon's brother and I'm on the board of Tesla Motors. I live in Boulder, CO, and I have the unique experience of being the first to use the Model S in extreme winter conditions. I am sharing my personal experience only. Do not take anything I say as communications from Tesla Motors. In this forum I can only share my experience. I hope that it is helpful.

    For information, I have a black Model S with 19" silver rims. Standard winter tires (not studded). I have found the experience completely acceptable (i.e. no problem) driving in icy and snow conditions in Colorado. This includes driving in Vail in -20F temps on ice and snow. I have a lot of experience driving in Canada with a 2WD (spent four years in Ontario), so for my experience, I am satisfied (keeping my hyperbole down for the lawyers :) ).

    Below is the log of my return trip from Vail, Colorado, to Boulder. It's 224 miles roundtrip. I did not log specific info on my way there, but will do so on my next trip.

    Overall, I used 48 kwh to go to Vail, and 31 kwh to return. Temps on the way there were brutal. -20F. About as bad as it gets for the battery.

    Bottomline is that with a good 110 outlet in Vail I would have been fine. Both drive out there and drive on the way back we did not attempt to sacrifice any driving convenience for range. We drove with the traffic both ways and meandered around Boulder and Vail before we left. I met the very nice and awesome owner of Mountain Haus in Vail Village. He let me borrow his 40A outlet to charge up fully while I was in Vail. I highly recommend you check out his hotel if you stay in Vail.


    Here are the details of my trip:

    Vail return to Boulder - Model S

    Going east on I-70 from Vail Village:
    13 kwh needed to cross Vail pass driving at 60 - 65 mph avg.
    - regen on the way down lets you also only need 13.5 kwh to get to
    Frisco. Total of 30 miles. 440 wh/mi

    13.7 kwh to Silverthorne. 33.5 miles. Climb over continental divide
    starts here.

    21.5 kwh from Vail to get through Eisenhower tunnel to cross the pass
    (no traffic, 65-70mph). 44miles from Vail. Big downhill from here.

    20.3 kwh to Georgetown Exit 228. 56.5 miles from Vail.

    21.1 kwh to Exit 234.

    25 kwh to red rocks golden exit. We left the I-70 here to head towards
    Boulder. 88 miles since Vail.


    32 kwh by the time we reached Boulder. 112 Miles.


    Hope this is helpful. Btw, I have heard of concerns with defogging. My experience is that there is more defogging required than my previous car. Very manageable, but it's there.

    Kimbal
     
  2. stachler

    stachler Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    QUESTIONS ABOUT COLD WEATHER DRIVING
    Kimbal
    Thanks for sharing. Though I saw the snow condition video last year, information about your personal experiences would be most welcome.
    I am just getting ready to finalize my high performance model with 21" tires. I am told that a set of 19" snow and all weather would be recommended.

    I am not familiar enough with the kWh reference you used above. Would you have been able to drive round trip using the heater etc wo topping off the batteries?
    I live in Michigan and we do get snow in the winter, though suspect not as bad as CO. How is the traction in 3-6 inches of snow up a grade?
    What type of range can I expect using the heater and defrosters in 10 degree weather?

    Thank you for passing on your personal experience with the car in these conditions.
     
  3. Jeeps17

    Jeeps17 Cath Jockey in a P85

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2012
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    873
    Location:
    Montreal, Canada
    Hello Kimbal,

    Welcome to the forums, and thank you for posting your experience!

    I would wager that a few of our canadian members would take you up on that "first to use the Model S in extreme winter conditions" title :wink: (one drove his during the december 27th historic snow storm in Quebec and Montreal - 45 cm accumulation in 24 hours).

    Check out the Winter Driving Experiences thread.

    If you don't mind a few fogging questions:

    Did yours occur mainly on the driver's side of the windshield and front window, or was it more diffuse?

    How did you deal with the HVAC settings to eliminate it?

    JP
     
  4. Beavis

    Beavis Signature 991

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    686
    Location:
    Colorful Colorado
    Kimbal, thanks for the report. I have been looking for a place with a charger in Vail. I didn't know the Mountain Haus had one. BTW, when are you going to host the Colorado Tesla Club at The Kitchen?
     
  5. pbrulott

    pbrulott Member

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    339
    Location:
    Montreal, Quebec
    Hi Kimbal,

    thanks for sharing. I suspect that low temperature AND high humidity level are factors in fogging/icing of the windows as reported by some members. In the winter in Montreal, Canada, it is common to have 70-80-90-100% humidity (79% now). Same in Quebec City, Ottawa and likely Toronto and Goldenhorse shoe. Vancouver is humid but maybe not as cold.

    I notice in Boulder, humidity of 42% currently with 5F.
     
  6. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Location:
    Ottawa, Canada
    Kimbal,

    Thanks also for the report. I have also done a few winter road trips, including several 300 km legs at temperatures between -10C and -18C. I must say the Model S is far more comfortable doing this than the Roadster!

    It is not, however, perfect; I have to agree with pbrulott. You will not see the fogging problem in low humidity conditions. Try driving in a snowstorm; things will be very different.

    At -10C and below, in high humidity, the left side of the windshield never clears. Worse, the driver's side window progressively frosts over until it is impossible to see the rear view mirror. A week ago I had to stop in the middle of a 300 km road trip to buy a hand scraper. I had to use it every 20 minutes to clear the side window enough to see the outside rear view mirror. This is awkward to do while driving, but was essential for safety because the rear view camera kept getting caked with snow and was not usable. Yes the conditions were pretty awful.
     
  7. patp

    patp Member

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    Canada
    I concur. Exact same thing as Doug. My wife doesn't want to drive the Model S for that reason - which could be a good thing ;)
     
  8. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    Shouldn't this thread be merged with the long standing "Winter Driving Experiences", which is already a "sticky"???
     
  9. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    Lucky...!...could you please ask het to call my wife at (905) 945- .... :wink::biggrin:

     
  10. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    The moderators discussed it and decided to leave it separate for now.
     
  11. Kimbal Musk

    Kimbal Musk New Member

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    Location:
    Boulder, Colorado, United States
    The kWh reference is the actual battery usage vs the battery range algorithm provided by Tesla. I find that the algorithm doesn't work for me in the cold. Either too low or too high. so I keep my trip meter on my dashboard and it tells me how many Wh I'm using per mile. With an 85 kWh pack, when I'm on long trips I can manage my driving and get the range I need. In my example above, I used 79 kWh to go 225 miles. I crossed the continental divide in -20F temps on the way there. 10F on the way back. Hope that's helpful.

    - - - Updated - - -
    Totally agree. I've checked in with all my Model S friends in Colorado and none of them are seeing real defogging issues like you guys up in Canada. Must be the humidity. I know that Tesla is aware of the issue and working on it.

     
  12. Zextraterrestrial

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    Yesterday I drove up to the 'snow' in Humboldt to test out the 21" wheels and TC some. The temperature was in the upper 40's aroung Humboldt Bay and 32F on Berry Summit (hwy 299). when I hit the 38 degree temps the windows fogged up almost instantly and I had to set climate to non-recirc and defrost @70. Still, the left corner of the front window and my side window were a little fogged. We have pretty crazy moisture around here year round

    I must say in weak snow the car works great. Floor it and steer. Very different than an ICE's TC in snow, pretty cool.
     
  13. stachler

    stachler Member

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    Location:
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    I see the reference to ICE's all the time. What does it stand for?

    - - - Updated - - -

    I live in Michigan and am suppose to finalize my order for a performance model with 21" wheels/tires. I am a bit concerned over the CO claims of frozen windows and unable to close doors, frosted windshields and drivers side windows etc. I need to drive this car year round and am considering holding off perhaps until the AWD version becomes available or another alternative.

    I wonder how soon TM might take a look at the fogging glass issue and Should I consider ordering 19" wheels instead for better traction? Kimbal are you running 21 or 19" wheels? Any recommendations?
     
  14. Jgdixon

    Jgdixon Member

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    ICE= Internal Combustion Engine
     
  15. K Hall

    K Hall Member

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    I have 21's for summer and 19's for winter driving.
     
  16. Raven

    Raven Member

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    This is the only thing that really needed to be said. As early adopters, we expect some hiccups and are willing to work with Tesla to tweak things to make this car perfect. If Tesla can prove that they also want a perfect product, they will have a bright future will an army of owners that double as their best salespersons.
     
  17. William13

    William13 Member

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    @Stachler, some people have had frosted windows. Many report significant improvement with a good cleaning. I have noted fog that quickly cleared three times. I cleaned my windows when I got the car two months ago. I have driven all but three days since then. I live in South Bend Indiana and get lots of snow and ice and cold. So far only down to 10 degrees F. No issues. It is a rear wheel drive car and needs good winter tires.
     
  18. stachler

    stachler Member

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    Thanks for the update. Are you running 19" wheels? Have you noticed the range deterioration as the mercury dips lower? I am in real estate and spend a lot of time in my car showing properties to clients. Just getting more concerned as the finalization time draws near that I am making the right choice.
     
  19. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

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    @stachler: There's an upfront hit on energy usage as the battery warms. You can force this warming to start up while you're still plugged in, however, by forcing the battery to charge for 30-40 minutes before you plan to start driving. If necessary, start a Range charge at low amperage (e.g. 240V at 6 amps). Once the battery is warm, I am able to meet or beat the EPA rated Wh/mile.
     
  20. Mayhemm

    Mayhemm Model S P85+ "Lola"

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    Anybody know the story on why the Model S doesn't continually keep the battery warm while plugged in but not charging? (I've heard the Roadster does this) Seems like quite the oversight to me.

    Were they trying to cut down on energy usage (similarly to how block heaters now don't work above -17*C)? Trying to maximize need for their mobile app?
     

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