Let’s take a look at some of the facts, and myths, about EV’s in winter in general. Firstly, I have often heard that the battery will freeze, and can find no scientific, or even anecdotal evidence, upon which to base this claim. It will start.. but at a loss of range. The first problem is keeping the battery warm over a long day parked outside. The way in which the Tesla (and other EVs) does this, is by continually drawing a little bit of current from the battery to keep it just warm enough to start. This doesn't have a huge impact, but if you're gonna be pushing your mileage as it is, its probably not the best idea to hop into a freezing cold Tesla. As well, if the battery temperature of the Tesla is below freezing, it automatically shuts off regenerative breaking. Regenerative breaking basically means that it gathers energy (primarily from heat due to friction) and gives it back to the battery, which, of course, extends range. Batteries are also just less efficient the colder it gets, and there is no way around that. Finally, heating the cabin takes a lot of energy as well. Most of these issues can be solved by having the car plugged in, and set to “preheat.” That way, it will stay warm, so regenerative breaking can begin immediately, and warm the cabin before having to rely on battery power. I could not find any reliable data for the reduction in range, however; estimates range from 10% to around 40%, with most putting it at about a 20% drop in range. Overall, this probably isn't going to be a big deal if you can plug in at night and don't have to commute for too long. As a side note, other EVs like the Leaf are far far worse, but still probably drivable in the winter.
Now let’s talk about range. The optimal range of 354 km isn’t too bad; you can probably get from Edmonton to Calgary (299 km), but not to Jasper (364 km) on one charge. Again, the Tesla has the best range of any EV, so I wouldn't try either trip without one. None of this is a problem, of course, if you stick around the city and can plug in regularly, as I’m sure most people do. All I’m saying is don't go on any major road trips… yet. Because, in America, Tesla is building a nationwide network of “superchargers.” Basically, you park, plug in for free, and in about 40 minutes, your car has 80% range. There are a couple of these stations moving into BC right now, and one in Red Deer, suddenly making that Calgary trip a bit more appealing. By 2016, they plan to expand a significant amount: https://www.teslamotors.com/en_CA/supercharger . Soon, range probably won’t be an issue, and, as battery technology increases, range will, of course, get better and better.
That’s all for this time, I’ll be back soon with more on some of the other concerns about Teslas.