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Model S as a ski car?

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by tander, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. tander

    tander Member

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    So I have seen the winter driving videos and heard from people in my area (the NW U.S.) about how the MS does in winter conditions, and it sounds like it's pretty much the best rear wheel drive car out there in terms of traction (assuming snow tires). Now I'm sure that for most people getting around town etc. during a snow storm is the most important thing and it sounds like the MS is sufficient, but are there any owners out there that use it as a ski car? By that I mean, not just getting around town, but navigating slick winter passes at highway speeds? I am a frequent skier and it seems like at least once a season there is some sort of close call (usually an oncoming and out of control car that I have to quickly get out of the way of) where I am very thankful I have AWD. This is one of the biggest things holding me back from pulling the trigger on an MS, anybody in a similar position?
     
  2. Raffy.Roma

    Raffy.Roma Active Member

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    IMO a RWD with ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and winter tires has a better behaviour than an AWD with winter tires and without ESC. Than the Model S, when will get also the AWD, will be the best car in the world on the snow. In fact the electric engines, not having the inertia of ICE, can better integrate with the ESC realizing the so called "torque vectoring" (torque applied to each wheel independently).
     
  3. David Rhee

    David Rhee Member

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    I agree that indeed MS is the best handling RWD in winter conditions. However, my recent experience in the Northeast with unplowed roads indicates that an AWD is still superior in the severe winter conditions. Having said that I would not hesitate to take my P85 to the snow country! Just don't expect it to behave like a Range Rover.
     
  4. Yggdrasill

    Yggdrasill Active Member

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    #4 Yggdrasill, Dec 11, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2013
    The Tesla Model S is currently (and again) the best selling car in Norway, so winter experiences are starting to accumulate. Here is the relevant thread on the Norwegian electric car forum. (google translated)

    To sum up - people think it performs quite well. Better than almost all RWD fossil cars and better than most FWD fossil cars. AWD fossil cars are of course still superior. (Also, tires are of course important.)
     
  5. polyphase

    polyphase Member

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    I got back to the train station last night to find the MS entombed in wet snow that had frozen hard. The temp. was 24 deg. F. Still, the door handles blasted out of their bays with a satisfying "crack!" as I approached. Super cool. Once I got home it took a few whacks with the palm of my hand to cajole the charge port to open, though. I remembered to put the scraper beneath the car before I left in the morning so I didn't have to open any doors to start scraping.

    I wish I had remembered to pre-heat the car but the MS warmed up WAY faster than my old Infinity, which took five minutes before a trace of warmth was emitted from the vents. The MS showered me with warm air right away.
     
  6. mnx

    mnx 2013 P85

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    That's interesting. I would put it the other way around, Model S being worse than most FWD cars.

    If the snow is deep or if I had to go up some icy slopes, I'd take our FWD minivan in a heartbeat.

     
  7. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    And there is the issue.

    If the roads are plowed, but slick, iced up, etc, then the MS does great. With good winter tires is awesome with its traction and stability control.

    The problem comes if there is unplowed snow on the road that is more than 6 inches (15 cm) deep and you have to climb a steep hill. Not only does it have low ground clearance, if you have air suspension and set it to high, it resets to low when you hit 18 mph. On my driveway, in rough conditions, its all about maintaining momentum and my motto is "As long as you're moving, you aren't stuck!" I try to keep my speed around 25 mph to blast through tough spots, and the car drops back down to a standard height settings.

    Last night was as close a challenge as I would want to give the Model S, but it did succeed! I drove back from Boulder yesterday, giving the new, 70 Amp J1772 in Salida a test, 4 Corners EV Charging - Page 3. While I was away, the first real snows fell and dropped about 16", 40 cm, of great new powder on my 1 mile, 1.6 km, driveway. The first 3/4 mi, 1200 m, of this is gravel, and the last, steepest 1/4 mi, 400 m, before the house is asphalt. What I had forgotten is that the fellow who plows my driveway leaves 6 in, 15 cm, of powder on the gravel in the first snow fall to start building up a packed powder layer. This protects his snow plow from bouncing over all the gravel later in the season. That gravel part of the drive has several 12% sections. The combination of being a little snow plow, pushing the wide 245/45/19 tires though the fresh powder, and climbing a 12% grade almost defeated the MS, but it made it up the hill!!! :biggrin:

    Normally, this is not a problem, because I will run my 2000 Jeep Cherokee up and down the hill several times and pack the powder. Once this is done, the MS has no problems whatsoever. There are limits for all cars. Even with 4 good snow tires, 4 sets of full size metal chains mounted on them, all locked up with air-lockers engaged (bull-dozer mode), I could not get the Jeep up my driveway in 40 in (100 cm) of fresh powder a few years ago. I almost made it, but could not take on the 15% grade up hill. I had to back down and let the snow plow clear the snow first. My snow plow guy has a tracked bob-cat with a two stage hydraulic snow blower on the front!

    The point is all vehicles have limits. I use my MS as my ski car all winter. It did wonderfully last year, and I expect the same this year. To get to the ski area I drive over Wolf Creek Pass at 10,857 ft (3,309 m) to get to the Wolf Creek Ski area that gets the most natural snow of any Colorado Ski area, average of 450 in (11.4 meters) a year. The MS is no Jeep Cherokee, but for the conditions that I encounter going to Wolf Creek (pretty good alpine stuff), it does great!

    BTW, here is the view from my house in Pagosa, http://irupe.com/webcams/KPSO199006.jpg, this morning. :cool: Wolf Creek Pass is on the right, passing between the last two ridges. Saddle Mountain is on the ridge to the left, and that is the Pagosa Airport middle left.

    KPSO199006 (14).jpg
     
  8. JohnQ

    JohnQ Active Member

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    Nice and close to an airfield, too. Is that public or private?
     
  9. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    It is a public airfield, http://www.airnav.com/airport/KPSO, but does not have any commercial, airline service. The closest airline service is in Durango.
     
  10. tander

    tander Member

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    Thanks for the constructive comments everyone, very helpful, looking forward to seeing tesla put ice awd's to shame and usher in a new winter driving safety standard, seems like if you've got awd on an ms or x that would be tough to beat. And Cottonwood, I used to live in CO and was lucky enough to get to Wolf Creek once, that is a beautiful part of the country and the ski area is incredibly underrated. Sometimes those family owned places are the best.
     
  11. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    #11 Cottonwood, Dec 11, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    Its been a pleasure of mine to get to know some of that family. We have talked about putting a 30 or 40 Amp J1772 at the ski area, but there really is not much need. If you are local, the drive up and back, even with heating the battery and cabin is not an issue. If you are from out of town, stay at Incredible Pagosa with its J1772, and its the same story.

    I tried to use the suction mount for my GoPro today to get a video of my driveway in the MS, but for some reason it would not hold. I will try cleaning the suction cup and my windshield. In the mean time, I just did a hand held video with the GoPro and let YouTube try to take out most of the shakes (still in process as I post this). We are still packing down the powder on the first gravel section which is making the MS work. On the last asphalt section, the plowing was much closer to the pavement and the MS has no problems. I call my place "Hole in the Wall" See what you think. The elevation gain is about 600 feet in just over a mile, or about 10% average grade, but there are some flatter and some steeper sections. :biggrin:

     
  12. paco3791

    paco3791 TMC OG

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    #12 paco3791, Dec 12, 2013
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    Gorgeous Cottonwood :love:. Looks like I'm going to need to plan a ski trip out to your neck of the woods once my boys get a little older.
     
  13. ecarfan

    ecarfan Well-Known Member

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    Your "driveway" is so long it's practically an interstate highway! :)
     
  14. tander

    tander Member

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    Thanks for the video Cottonwood, make me miss those long CO driveways, dry snow, and 300 days of sunshine (beautiful home btw)! I ended up in my local Tesla showroom today and while I didn't yet pull the trigger on the S, the salesman was saying that the each individual rear wheel can move backwards or forward independent of the other, so depending on which way you are slipping the left tire (for example) could be going in reverse while the right tire is going forward. That hadn't occurred to me, is that right? If that is the case I think Tesla needs to highlight it better in the winter driving videos because it could be a huge tech advantage in terms of winter driving, and I can't wait to see the X in action.
     
  15. Cottonwood

    Cottonwood Roadster#433, Model S#S37

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    My "Hole in the Wall" house is a very special place for me. Thanks for the complement. By road, my closest neighbor is a mile away. My closest neighbor by air (1/4 mi) takes 40 minutes to hike to and 45 minutes to drive to. :wink:

    The traction control in the Tesla Model S is amazing, perhaps the best in the world. With good snow tires, it challenges a good AWD car. As long as the snow is plowed and less deep than the bottom of the car, it does very well.

    As I understand it, the traction control in the MS is (although perhaps the world best) of a conventional design. An open, simple differential creates equal torque at each wheel, but allows the wheels to turn at different speeds so the car can go around turns without scrubbing rubber on the pavement. Equal torque works great as long as each wheel has traction. The problem is when one wheel starts slipping. A slipping wheel has zero torque. Because the open differential is an equal torque device, the slipping wheel transfers zero torque to the wheel that has some traction. In very simple terms, what "real" traction control does is to apply the brake on the slipping wheel. The torque created by this braking action reflects torque through the differential to the wheel with traction. The MS has a low moment of inertia electric motor relative to a large ICE. With this and many fine details the MS has a wonderfully capable traction control.

    However, nothing in this will turn a wheel backwards. I think that your salesman has heard, or is creating, a huge hyperbole with wheels turning backwards.

    My other vehicle here in Pagosa is a 2000 Jeep Cherokee. It has a very conventional 4wd. I can lock the transfer case so that the front and rear axels turn at the same speed. This is bad on dry pavement, but fine if the things are a little slippery. Next, I have aftermarket air-lockers, Air Lockers
    These allow me to selectively switch the axels from open differentials to solid (no differential) axels. When I lock up the transfer case and lock both differentials, all wheels turn at the same speed; if one of four wheels has traction, the jeep moves forward, bulldozer mode. Yesterday, I drove the Jeep and the Model S up my driveway; later I walked my lab down and up the driveway and looked at the tracks. Its pretty easy to tell the tracks apart, very different tread widths and different track widths. The MS climb tracks were chattered blurs as a result of a very busy traction control. The traction control did well, but the tires were always working the snow. The Jeep tracks were clean and distinct; the tire tread was clear and distinct. The locked axels of the Jeep just rolled up the hill.

    The MS will push through 5-6 inches of powder up a 15% grade and the Jeep will push 30-40 inches of powder up the 15% grade. The Jeep is a great tractor, and the MS is a wonderful luxury sedan. :biggrin: I love both in its home environment.
     
  16. vgrinshpun

    vgrinshpun Active Member

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    I absolutely loved the video, very impressive.

    While I agree that Model S has superb traction control system (more on my experience below), it should be noted that traction in dry powder when temperatures are in the teens is generally better than in wet snow at around the freezing mark. Navigating up 15% slope in 5-6 inches of wet slippery snow might prove problematic even for Model S with winter tires.

    I've run winter tires (Blizzak WS60, WS70) for years on my previous RWD car - Infiniti G35, and have a nice base for comparison. Despite the fact that my setup with Model S is significantly worth than with G35 as far as winter traction is concerned, it performs markedly better than G35. The setup:

    G35 - Studless winter tires (Blizzak WS70), tire width - 205mm, weight - 3800lbs+
    MS -Studless performance winter (Blizzak LM60), tire width - 245mm, Weight - 4700lbs+

    Regarding the salesman using huge hyperbole, it is definitely inaccurate as far as MS is concerned for all the reasons explained in OP, but as a concept, for an EV with four motors, this is entirely possible, and will bring stability control systems on an absolutely new level that simply can not be touched by the most advanced systems in any ICE car. The video linked below was posted on this site a while ago and demonstrates this well (don't miss the second part - convesation with an engineer):

    Mercedes SLS Electric Drive. Can Volts Ever Match Pistons? - /CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS - YouTube
     
  17. JohnQ

    JohnQ Active Member

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    A few inches on the ground here and the Model S handled really well. No issues up my 12% grade from sharp turn. Tomorrow will be the real test when we try to go skiing after a 10" snowfall with a likely glaze of ice.

    Really wish the sub-zero pkg was available for my car since icing of the wiper blades is a constant issue.
     
  18. tander

    tander Member

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    #18 tander, Dec 14, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2013
    Cotton I think I heard somewhere that one of the most common vehicles MS owners are switching from was a Jeep Cherokee, so that is interesting. Regarding the traction, the salesman must be confused, it sounded a bit off to me but I figured I should check with actual owners, although the concept is kind of interesting, seems like the tires would get shredded on pavement but on snow/ice it could potentially be a huge advantage. I don't recall ever having any sort of traction worries in Colorado, even when going over loveland pass during storms. But in Oregon, the snow tends to be so wet and the temperature so close to the freezing level that winter driving (and skiing) is almost a totally different ballgame. A system that could actually reverse direction of a particular tire could be a life saving thing in the mountains, or maybe that Wisconsin pilup Video captures deadly 70-car pileup on icy Wisconsin highway - latimes.com. Vgrin, thanks for sharing that video, interesting that they have one motor for each wheel on the Mercedes, I wonder if Tesla will move to that eventually or if it is just redundant. Sounded like that guy was a little confused by the negative torque conversation, I was too, the engineer guy seemed to be saying the wheels reverses and then also that it doesn't.
     
  19. huntjo

    huntjo Member

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    I've taken it skiing twice. Great for carrying all our gear and keeping us warm and toasty. Last spring we drove through a little blizzard while crossing Berthoud pass on the way to Winter Park. Traction control and stability control work great.
     
  20. theapple

    theapple Member

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    I'm hoping to use mine as a ski car someday. Fitting skis definitely isn't an issue, and snow driving is pretty solid. However, I'm still waiting for charging infrastructure to be built out here in New England, notably the (presumably) Concord NH and Kennebunk ME superchargers. Very few of the resorts here have public charging yet, and in winter weather my S60 is at its limits just getting to the mountain, let alone home.
     

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