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Winter Ice Adventure

Discussion in 'Canada' started by Doug_G, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    #1 Doug_G, Feb 10, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 13, 2016
    The following is a little story of my recent experience driving to Toronto. I was going there to meet up with Kent Rathwell of Sun Country Highway; he wanted some technical input at a couple of meetings.

    Spoiler: I hit some severe weather...

    Part 1: Icy

    I figured I'd leave early in the morning so I could take my Model S. Then I get an email address from Tesla Service asking if Eli can work on my car that day in Ottawa. Uh, I'm going to be in Toronto. So they invite me to Toronto Service. Well, that will be a change, service at Tesla. Sure, why not?

    Since the J1772 doesn't reach the Model S when parked in the garage (buttoned up Roadster in the way), I put it in the driveway and plugged in for a Standard Mode charge. My plan was to wake up at 5 am and hit the Range Mode switch on the App, hit the cabin heat, and head out at 6 am with a toasty, fully charged vehicle.

    So the alarm goes off at 5 am. I lean over and squint at the phone. -22C outside. Great. I hit the Range mode and cabin heat, and start prepping myself. Fifteen minutes later there is no increase in range - obviously still heating up the pack. Current is increasing though... okay, so I will leave half an hour later. No biggie. I had planned plenty of extra time in my schedule for this sort of thing.

    At 6:30 I hop in the car and drive. Destination: SCH charge station at the Cobourg Best Western, 300 km away. I see there's a regen limit, and I can tell the pack heater is still on. Okay so I'll use a bit more power at first. Nasty cold.

    "At first" turned out to be an hour. Wow, I guess parking outside wasn't the best idea, really didn't help. Quite a bit of extra range got gobbled up, and I'm soon to get on the faster 401 highway. It's time to be conservative and stop at the Kingston Best Western to charge instead of going all the way to Cobourg. Shouldn't affect the trip time more than a few minutes, right?

    Part 2 - ICE-y

    IMG_1467.JPG

    New problem: I'm ICE'd!!! First time that has happened to me. Attempts by the hotel staff to find the owner fail; they appear to have left the hotel without their car. I don't even ask about kicking the SUV out of the wheelchair spot; it's got a legitimate permit.

    So I go over to the nearby Ambassador Hotel, but I know from previous overnight stays that it only provides 30A. I spend an hour there, with half the time spent just recovering the distance to/from the highway. It's warming up, though, so maybe I could squeak it to Cobourg. But first, let's check out the Best Western again.

    No dice. No sign of the owner. I give up, get in the car, put it in Drive... and a lady climbs into the wheelchair spot SUV! She drives off slowly, and I'm charging before she's out of the parking lot. Hotel staff says it's okay to stay there, as there are lots of wheelchair spots around front. I stay for half an hour charging at full power.

    IMG_1468.JPG

    I figure I have enough and head out. Unfortunately I've also burned a lot of time. No "range anxiety" here, but I've got "schedule anxiety".

    Part 3 - Not so Icy

    Temperature has come up quite a bit, -16C, and the car is warm and happy. It's definitely doing better range. I start driving at 100 kph, right on the speed limit. Lots of cars zooming past, but a surprising number aren't. I must have joined the senior citizen crowd or something.

    After a while a big-ass tandem tanker truck passes me, and I slip in behind him. Not crazy close or anything, but closer than I'd normally drive. He's averaging 107 kph. Let's see if I can drive that fast behind him without using more power.

    10 km later I can't believe what the Energy App is telling me. I'm getting "Rated Range"! I've only ever driven the car in winter... I've never seen that before. I guess drafting really works!

    With this baseline I start experimenting a little. I try turning off the heat for 15 minutes, then turn it back on (in Range Mode) again, and look at the effect. I can't tell the difference. Apparently the effect of small elevation changes is WAY bigger than having the heat on low. So I leave it on and stay toasty. This is SO much more comfortable than the Roadster!

    Part 4 - Now I'm Toasty

    I arrive for my originally-planned Cobourg Best Western charging stop hours late but with a LOT more power in the pack than expected. Go figure. I plug in and head into the restaurant for some soup (I always try to make it worth the charge station owner's efforts). It's looking likely that I'm going to miss the first meeting. Fortunately the second one is the important one.

    There's still a chance I can make the first meeting, so I put in just enough to get to my destination, the Town Inn Suites hotel in downtown Toronto (CS-90 charger!), and head out. But 20 minutes later Kent calls, and we decide that it's too late and I'll just head for the second meeting. Why don't I take my car directly to Tesla Service; they've got a rental for me.

    Uh, okay... if I had known this 20 minutes ago I would have put in enough power to do that...

    New plan hatched - drive to the Tesla Yorkdale store and charge there. This is getting complicated. Just as I arrive it starts snowing.

    I spend an hour chatting with salespeople at the store. They were quite excited to have four customer cars downstairs at the same time. The mall was oddly quiet, though. They have the highest foot traffic of any Tesla store, but it sure didn't look it today. I checked the weather... reports are sounding VERY ominous...

    Off to Tesla service. Snow is getting heavier. Traffic is horrible - but that's normal.

    Part 5 - ICE World

    I drop the S off with Lisa and Eli, and Enterprise comes to pick me up. I'm back to the world of ICE, in more ways than one. By this point the roads are horrible. Naturally they give me an ancient Ford Fiesta with summer tires. No, I am not kidding... this is the only car they have left.

    Let me tell you, I am no longer complaining about the Pirelli snow tires! This thing drives like it has bald plastic disks for wheels. I'm really missing my S. I'm particularly missing the lack-of-utter-terror.

    The storm is also messing up our plans. The venue for the meeting shifts to a hotel near the airport, so one of the guys won't miss his plane (if it's not cancelled!). Unfortunately Kent doesn't have snow tires for his S yet, so he wants me to go back over to pick him up. Okie-dokie.

    I'm sliding all over the place in this ****box. A Toyota Echo blasts past me at a stop light. Everyone does. Would it really hurt Enterprise to plunk down for All Seasons??? Somehow I manage to keep the car intact, but I completely miss the Tesla entrance. No, I didn't drive past it... the car did... by about 30 feet.

    We make it to the meeting... eventually. I'm definitely not going home tomorrow. Good news, I'm told, another important meeting has just popped up in Cambridge for tomorrow! Oy... if you know Kent, this sort of stuff happens all the time!

    At this point the snow is tapering off, the side streets are awful but the highways are fine... off we go!

    Part 6 - ICE World: The Sequel

    There's very little snow around here, and nothing falling. We park at the hotel and head inside. They don't have an EV charger here... but we didn't bring an EV.

    Next morning I get up, head downstairs. Start eating breakfast. Glance out the window, and do a double-take. OMG!!! It didn't just snow... it SNOWED! Am I even going to get out of the parking lot???

    Short answer: eventually.

    We're just a few kilometers from our meeting. Unfortunately I come to my first turn, and it's six inches deep on that road. We wouldn't go three feet.

    Eventually we arrive at our destination, by a circuitous route of barely passable roads, and we get stuck 10 feet into the parking lot. It took another 10 minutes to get parked.

    Two hours later the meeting is over and there's even more snow. Here we go again - stuck only half-way out of the parking spot. I've probably already cycled the transmission forward/reverse more times than it's last 55,000 km. Getting out of there took some serious effort.

    Part 7 - The ICE World Hoth

    I don't want to relive the horror of the 401. I've never had a worse drive in my life. Once we were on it, there was no turning back - the off ramps were too deep! Kent slept through most of it.

    Call ahead. Enterprise is closed. They can't even get out of their own parking lot. Probably they all have summer tires. They tell us to leave the car at Tesla. Last minute change of route - too late! Wham into a snowbank. Had it back on the road in 30 seconds. I have developed mad winter driving skillz. But I am exhausted - I just want this to be OVER!

    Finally arrive at Tesla. I get out my phone. "Hi Eli, I have jammed this stupid car into the entrance of your parking lot, as planned. Any chance you could help?" I didn't mention that he wasn't going to get home otherwise, since we were blocking his only way out.

    Mark has been made Service Manager in Vancouver, so Eli has a "loaner" Ranger. It was quite humorous at first watching this California dude try to shovel snow. He got the hang of it quickly, though, with only one or two pointers from me. Eli used an Old Jedi Mechanic Trick that really helped. Eventually I jammed the thing into a parking spot. Enterprise may need a tow truck to retrieve it. I gave Eli the keys saying, "I never want to see that thing again!"

    Part 8 - Escape from the ICE World

    Suspension to Very High. Check! Reverse gear. Check! Back out, tuck in tight to the building to avoid the snow drift. Check! Forward. Stuck!


    Two Rangers, One Shovel

    In my experience cars don't move very well when the snow is higher than their chassis. The Model S is no exception, I'm afraid. That said, getting out of service wasn't nearly the same ordeal as getting the Fiesta in. We had it out in a few minutes.

    IMG_1470.JPG
    Kent's Model S sprinting out of service - NOW he has snow tires!

    Off we go. Obviously going to stay the night, but where? Would be good to juice up. Town Inn Suites is full. Delta Chelsea has room, and a "snow rate"! They also have a Sun Country station. Unfortunately it's in valet parking, so it's a $39 parking charge.

    The doorman says, "Your car has beautiful lines, what is it?" "Tesla Model S". "Who makes it?" "Tesla Motors"... oh nevermind, you know how this goes. Needless to say he was very impressed that it was electric, had no engine, and yet looked gorgeous. I got him a flyer out of my Frunk (he thought that was hilarious).

    Slept in the next morning, gee I wonder why? Thanks to the App, I went out to my fully armed and operational, uh, fully warmed and charged Tesla. (How did I get into this Star Wars theme? Oh yeah, the Ice World.)

    IMG_1475.JPG

    The same doorman was on duty - he told me that people were looking at the car all morning, taking pictures, asking him about it. He said we should have parked it up front by the door, too bad we didn't have an extension cord. I should have given him more flyers! He said the one I gave him before lasted 10 minutes. I gave him another, and took the car away so he could keep it this time.

    The trip back home was pretty uneventful. Sunny and not nearly as cold, -5C most of the way. I charged at the Best Western in Cobourg, and made it home with 32 km of range remaining (planned for 30), exactly on my planned ETA (6:00 pm on the button!). The driveway had a foot of snow, so I unfortunately had to use some gasoline to snowblow it. Essie is once again tucked away inside my garage, happily feeding on electrons.

    Afterward - Some Observations

    By now it's well known that the Model S (and the Roadster) drops a fair bit of range (perhaps 20%) between +3C and -3C. What I hadn't realized before is that there's another drop, perhaps 10%, a bit below -20C. I believe this is the point where the pack heater is operating constantly.

    I suspect the Roadster might have a range advantage in extreme cold, as it has a less exposed battery pack. On the other hand, the Roadster has intrinsically less range to start with. Plus it is far less comfortable to drive in the cold! When hypermiling the Roadster in the cold, I needed long johns, extra sweaters, gloves, and I still felt chilled out after a few hours of that.

    In comparison the Range Mode heat keeps the Model S comfortable with minimal power draw. I needed no extra clothing in the Model S, was quite comfortable the whole time, and yet still had a little more range than the Roadster in the same conditions. So the Model S wins hands down. Yes, driving in the winter requires a little more planning and flexibility than in the summer time. But it's a pretty pleasant experience overall.
     
  2. Jeeps17

    Jeeps17 Cath Jockey in a P85

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    Thanks for that Doug!

    That loaner sounds atrocious, but at least you didn't have to slice open a tauntaun to stay warm. I thought these things smelled bad... on the outside!

    Since it is fresh in your memory, forward your trip story to the higher-ups at Tesla and tell them to HURRY UP with an AWD variant of the S :rolleyes:
     
  3. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX

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    Ah, you hardy Canadians: 'a pretty pleasant experience overall'. Hah!

    Thanks, that's a great trip report, Doug. Veteran EV drivers are nothing if not resourceful!
     
  4. HiddenWolf

    HiddenWolf New Member

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    Hi Doug,


    Great story glad you made it in one piece.
    You don't know me, I am a continent away and I should stay out of your business, but I have a bone to pick.
    As a wheelchair-user it pisses me of whenever a car without a permit sits on a handicapped space. You had reason, you asked management, other spots were available, and I certainly don't want you to freeze at the side of a road for lack of juice.
    That said, while you did everything responsibly, you still should not have parked on a handicapped spot. Here's why.

    Being 'disabled' is a major pain. It is different for everyone, but the most significant issue I personally run into is my available amount of energy versus my day. Everything takes a lot more time and energy when you can't use your body as nature intended. In my case, all physical strain for moving about is taken by my upper body, which means I need physical therapy and almost daily workouts to prevent injury to my back or shoulders. Even with the extra investement, I still lack enough of a battery to make it through the day most days.
    The distance between the door and a parking space increasing means more energy expended to both get there safe and to stay warm. Both are exceedingly difficult in winter conditions. I sit still in a steel contraption with hands pushing metal hoops through icey slush while generating very little body heat in my lower body. My chair does not offer traction control and is certainly not climate controlled. Winter in a wheelchair is a pain and simply dangerous. In my case the extra energy expended to cover the distance from the next space over (and the crappy icy pavement, and the cold) might just mean the difference between doing something after work or being in bed by 6pm worn out by half a dozen of these minor things over the course of a day.

    I say this not to pick on you as you appear to have been responsible, but I want to dissuade the idea that it is OK to 'ICE' a handicapped spot. You are not qualified to determine if your need to charge is greater than my need to park there, and neither is management. These spaces are there to in some miniscule way even out life's injustices a little.
    Put another way, you would not 'ICE' an EV spot.
    Put another way, you don't want to give the next guy the idea that it is OK to park there because he'll only be there for a few minutes to get gum.

    Had I been there, I'd have told you this with a bit of anger, a lot of humour, and an overwhelming desire to bum a test drive. As is, a virtual soapbox will have to do.
     
  5. djp

    djp Roadster 2.0 VIN939

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    #5 djp, Feb 10, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
    So that was your S on the hoist when I picked up my Roadster at the Toronto Service Centre - I must have missed you by a couple of hours! Great story, I'm amazed you even attempted driving the next day in those conditions. Good to hear everything worked out in the end.

    This service visit was the first time I drove the Roadster in snow. I was impressed with the handling - the car was solid while others were sliding around me. I'm not planning to take it out again until the roads dry off but the winter performance with Pirelli's proved to be more than capable for an occasional drive in the snow.
     
  6. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    #6 Doug_G, Feb 10, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2013
    @HiddenWolf, I was keeping an eye on the car, and would have moved it immediately if needed. This is not something I did lightly.

    Also this was tucked in at the back of the hotel. There were several prominent and unoccupied slots right at the front door and partially under an awning. They would have been a much safer place for a severely disabled person to disembark.

    - - - Updated - - -

    I don't think they needed the hoist for my service; they were mainly into the dashboard. There was another Sig Red Model S there. Mine has the N TESLA plates.

    I did however see an orange Roadster.

    The Roadster is pretty amazing in snow. Better than the Model S in fact.
     
  7. HiddenWolf

    HiddenWolf New Member

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    As I said, it is nothing personal, you appear to have acted responsibly and no harm was done. Given the circumstances, if that had been my car I'd have moved for you.
    But as a matter of principle, I had to remark on it. I have often had somone block a spot for a proverbial pack of gum where harm was done. You being there without either permit or ticket might well put an idea in a less responsible head. And while not a fan of the slippery slope argument, almost thirty years of experience tells me that this is a case study where it would be proven true, simply because it falls so far outside of peolple's frames of reference that they cannot see harm.

    i have no intention to drag the thread off topic further. My intent was to make the reader think and hopefully make an informed judgement. That done, I wish all happy motoring.
     
  8. rsquared99

    rsquared99 Member

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    This shows the difference between EV experience and non-experience. The NYT author made errors that an experienced EV driver wouldn't make when he encountered "unknowns". Doug was able to adjust to the dynamics of the trip and didn't place himself in a situation where he couldn't recover. The inexperienced NYT driver didn't have these skills, ergo placed himself in situations from which he could not recover. Thanks for the write-up Doug. I enjoyed the story, especially from Arizona where I don't get put in these types of situations.
     
  9. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    Great story, Doug. Out of curiosity, what were your repairs being done to address?
     
  10. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Flyer pic?
     
  11. zax123

    zax123 CDN Model S P308

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    Great story, Doug, thanks for sharing and making it all the more interesting with pictures. :)

    You're finding Sun Country chargers all over Ontario. Why do I feel like SC deployed more chargers per sq.km. in Ontario than they did in Quebec?

    Are you surviving well on the Pirellis? Not tempted to switch to to Hakkas?

    It's awesome how seeing the S in pictures in "normal" situations still looks so not normal... it's such an attractive car and there's something about it that looks "special" when you drop it in everyday life pictures.
     
  12. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    My MCU (touchscreen computer) had a fault that caused it to occasionally boot up improperly. This would cause either a checkerboard display or no illumination at all. It was replaced.
     
  13. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    I can't help but take away from story that snow driving sucks generally. Especially in a Fiesta with summer tires.

    I'm glad you had an uneventful trip from a human health perspective.
     
  14. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    They're standard Model S flyers from Tesla, older ones I think. A friend of mine asked TM for some flyers for his frunk, and they gave him a whole whack of them, so he passed some on to me.
     
  15. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Still curious what it looks like if you get a chance to get phone pic. Especially for comparison purposes with the recent forum flyers
     
  16. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    No kidding. I was using every once of skill to stay alive. Often people were trying to pass me on all sides because they thought I was "slow" or something, when I was really trying to keep a 10 car length following distance - not enough by the way.

    One one occasion I saw the cars at the bottom of a hill on the 401 come to a stop, and despite being about 200 feet behind it wasn't enough. The ABS was going for at least 30 seconds, but the car was not stopping. This gave me time to muse on the upcoming "slowest crash in history". I started thinking of suing the rental company for giving me a completely inadequate vehicle with unsafe tires during the worst storm of the year. Then I started laughing, it was just so ridiculous. Luckily the cars started moving again before I got to the bottom of the hill. (In the end I would have taken the ditch, I suppose.)
     
  17. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Automotive euthanasia.
     
  18. Doug_G

    Doug_G Lead Moderator

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    Quebec has Circuit Electrique, so SCH mainly concentrated on higher power stations for the highways. That said, the guys are still working on getting more installed in Quebec.

    Tempted, yes, but the worst part of the winter is winding down now. Plus I've gotten used to working with them. I'll definitely think about it for next year.

    Yes, it looks great even covered in salt. I thought maybe the Model S would attract less attention than the Roadster. Not nearly so much as I thought...

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quick pics:

    IMG_1478.JPG
    IMG_1477.JPG
    IMG_1476.JPG
     
  19. Jgdixon

    Jgdixon Member

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    Could have been my car on the hoist, getting the drivetrain replaced.
     
  20. zax123

    zax123 CDN Model S P308

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    Can of worms opened!

    You had to get your entire drivetrain replaced? Why?
     

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