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Extreme Cold, Winter Driving Questions

RossRohrer

New Member
Nov 4, 2019
2
1
Northern Minnesota
Hey! first post, don't currently own an EV but am thinking about it.

I have watched quite a few videos on YT about the Model 3, and have a few things in my head that is holding me back from spending the money on the car.

If i were to get a model 3 it would need to be my only vehicle, financially i would not be able to afford a M3 and a ICE unless the ICE was an absolute beater...

But, i live in northern Minnesota where we quite often get weather that's pretty extreme, the worst of which is the month of January where it can be -20F and stay -20F for a month (or more) Sometimes it gets even colder

It gets so cold here last year i discovered that there is a software bug in my dodge where if it gets colder that -40F that the temp readout gets stuck at -40F until you disconnect the battery. (Can you believe they never noticed?!):D

I have seen seen a few YT people testing the M3, in freezing conditions such as 20F or so, and saying they loose about 50% range, and that seems like a lot and it's got me wondering how much range the car looses at -20F.

So, my questions to you are:

1. What happens if i drive a M3 to work and it sits in the parking lot at -20F for 8 hours? Will i be able to get in it, warm it up and drive home? At what temperature will the car just not move with a 70% charge?
2. Will letting the battery pack freeze cause accelerated degradation?
3. Will the battery pack burn up it's own energy to keep itself warm?
4. Is the M3 RWD is better than ICE RWD in snowy conditions, since i understand EV's have a better weight distribution, lower center of mass, and lower moment of inertia, i figured maybe RWD EV wouldn't be so bad, is that true?
 
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MNScott

Member
Sep 24, 2019
5
6
Minnesota
1. You won't have to get in to "warm it up" - you can do that from your phone app - including turning on the heated seat(s). It will sit in -20F just fine and move just fine with or without interior cabin warmup.
2. No
3. No. Model 3 uses the motors to warm the batteries or they are also warmed by charging. Most folks time their overnight charging to end close to their planned departure time so the batteries are warmer.
4. Yes, the RWD M3 is better than a ICE RWD simply due to it's weight and weight distribution. I'm in MN too and would recommend snow tires (I'm even putting snows on my LR AWD).

Scott
 

DirtyT3sla

Member
Apr 17, 2019
565
623
Holly
I actually just made a video about this myself :)

I will say that 50% range loss is on the extreme end, and I think we say this to make sure you understand it's possible. I'm in MI so getting much below 0F isn't common, but even then if you aren't going 80mph with the heat cranked max, it's hard to really see 50% range loss...that's just the worst case scenario. Mostly I see around 30% loss.

The good news is, you start every day with 90% if you want, so not much to worry about if you plan ahead. Gas cars also lose 10%+ efficiency, we just usually don't notice.

To answer your questions...

1. The car will always move with a 70% charge. You can (and should) preheat from the app. In winter, I usually start pre-heating 20-30 minutes before leaving (if range allows, which on a normal day it always does) to help warm the battery and get some regen back before I drive. What you WILL see is part of your battery will be blue - meaning that portion is unusable until the battery warms a bit. So you may come out to a car with 200 miles of range, but as you drive a bit and warm the battery, your range will actually increase.

2. Tesla says not to leave the car outside in -22F for more than 24 hours without it being plugged in...so as long as you aren't doing this, you should be ok.

3. Yes, in extremes. I don't know what the cut offs are...but the battery is always trying to stay healthy and happy :)

4. I hear RWD Teslas are fine in the snow, and I believe it. The traction control on these cars is from another planet. Get some snow tires I assume you'd have no worries. Weight distribution on RWD is ~47% front, ~53% rear.

Here is the video for anyone intrested:
 
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ZOMGVTEK

Member
May 19, 2015
559
434
'Merica
Presumably a temperature exists where the car will be too cold to move. But its definitely not -20F.

The cold will actually dramatically reduce degradation, so long as the battery never physically freezes. I'd assume the freezing point of the electrolyte is around -22F. The battery should heat itself, but its unclear how its logic works. It probably stops heating if the car is parked too long. EV's are vastly superior to ICE from a comfort standpoint, but the battery does perform a lot worse when its cold. So long as you don't mind reduced regen, reduced power, and reduced rapid charge rates, its great otherwise. The battery will heat itself before supercharging, but its going to take a very long time if the pack gets down to -20F.

I had a Leaf for a few years, and it dips into double digit negatives here. The range when its -15F and snowing is really, really bad in a 1st gen Leaf. Maybe 10-15 miles. It drives fine, just looses regen. I'm assuming the 3 should be a touch better...
 
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DirtyT3sla

Member
Apr 17, 2019
565
623
Holly
Also, here is my efficiency at different temperatures. I got my car in February so I don't have as much data on the low end yet.
 

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KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,712
3,373
Maine
Hey! first post, don't currently own an EV but am thinking about it.

I have watched quite a few videos on YT about the Model 3, and have a few things in my head that is holding me back from spending the money on the car.

If i were to get a model 3 it would need to be my only vehicle, financially i would not be able to afford a M3 and a ICE unless the ICE was an absolute beater...

But, i live in northern Minnesota where we quite often get weather that's pretty extreme, the worst of which is the month of January where it can be -20F and stay -20F for a month (or more) Sometimes it gets even colder
...
I have seen seen a few YT people testing the M3, in freezing conditions such as 20F or so, and saying they loose about 50% range, and that seems like a lot and it's got me wondering how much range the car looses at -20F.

...?
If the relationship between temp and efficiency is linear, then my results seem to indicate that I'd lose probably about 40% at -20F. I lose just a little under 20% dropping 50 degrees from 70F to 20F, so probably another 20% going all the way down to -20F.
IMG_3968.jpg
 

vletnguyen

Member
Nov 20, 2016
194
76
FL/MN
I drove to work, in the twin cities during the winter vortex this year (65 miles round trip) and car drove fine, minus reduced regen. Car Sat outside 9am-6pm. I saw on social media a bunch of people with ICE cars that had their 12v battery die, I think our traction battery keeps the 12v one topped off. Its nice to leave the house with 90% range and the ability to warm the car with the app on your phone. Warming the car is for your personal comfort (warmth) the car itself didnt need to be warmed to operate.
 

TLej

Little-Known Member
Dec 29, 2015
525
530
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
You lose more range in the winter from doing multiple short trips, than if you're highway driving for a couple hours. This is because the car will use energy from the battery to warm the battery when you drive, because it wants the battery to be happy. If you're only driving a few miles, the car tries hard to get the battery warm, then you leave it to cool off again, then you go somewhere else and start the warming process all over, and so on and so on. Same thing happens with an ICE vehicle, but the ICE is so wasteful there's plenty of heat to get the oil up to temperature - it burns rich for the first while though, so uses more fuel (at least the last ICE car I had did this).

My experience with my S is highway range drops by more like 30%, while short commutes can see a much bigger range drop (but not as bad as 50%). Lots of winter driving threads on this forum if you do a search.
 

polycarbon

Member
Oct 10, 2019
26
6
Minnesota
So, I too live in MN. Here's my experience so far with ownership at 1 week driving the p3d-. With temps below 20, I noticed a bit more efficiency loss. My typical commute is 40 miles, 20 each way. I drive normally, with traffic 60-75 mph, heat on, music, seat warmers. I will lose 10% for the 20 miles drive with temps above 20-40 degrees. Today with the morning at 10 degrees, high at 18, I lost 15% each way, with getting home at 60% SOC from leaving the house at 90%, that's 40 miles round trip driving how I typically do.
 

coleAK

Member
Oct 23, 2018
892
611
Alaska
Hey! first post, don't currently own an EV but am thinking about it.

I have watched quite a few videos on YT about the Model 3, and have a few things in my head that is holding me back from spending the money on the car.

If i were to get a model 3 it would need to be my only vehicle, financially i would not be able to afford a M3 and a ICE unless the ICE was an absolute beater...

But, i live in northern Minnesota where we quite often get weather that's pretty extreme, the worst of which is the month of January where it can be -20F and stay -20F for a month (or more) Sometimes it gets even colder

It gets so cold here last year i discovered that there is a software bug in my dodge where if it gets colder that -40F that the temp readout gets stuck at -40F until you disconnect the battery. (Can you believe they never noticed?!):D

I have seen seen a few YT people testing the M3, in freezing conditions such as 20F or so, and saying they loose about 50% range, and that seems like a lot and it's got me wondering how much range the car looses at -20F.

So, my questions to you are:

1. What happens if i drive a M3 to work and it sits in the parking lot at -20F for 8 hours? Will i be able to get in it, warm it up and drive home? At what temperature will the car just not move with a 70% charge?
2. Will letting the battery pack freeze cause accelerated degradation?
3. Will the battery pack burn up it's own energy to keep itself warm?
4. Is the M3 RWD is better than ICE RWD in snowy conditions, since i understand EV's have a better weight distribution, lower center of mass, and lower moment of inertia, i figured maybe RWD EV wouldn't be so bad, is that true?
I’m in Alaska. Had the model 3 LR AWD for 14 months. I’ve had it down to -30F. And it has sat at -20F for 12 hours unplugged while I’m at work. No drama, it did great last winter. I run winter tires, but do and have on all our vehicles.

I averaged ~410 Wh/mi last winter Nov 1 to May 1. That is ~40% range loss from running the heat and driving on mostly snow/ice covered roads. We had a few weeks last winter where it never got above -10 to -20s and then I averaged over 550 Wh/mi so >50% range loss. In those temps 100 miles is about all I get between charges that is charging 20% to 80%. I’m in S central AK so I probably have a longer winter but not quite as extreme cold as you but I know there are at least a dozen Tesla’s around Fairbanks which is colder than where you are.

I’ll also mention we do not have any superchargers in Alaska and almost no destination charging which would make it hard to have one as your only vehicle. but looks like you have a much better charging infrastructure.
 

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