Tesla owners' winter driving insights proves EVs' are great cars for sub-zero conditions

The Tesla Model 3 Performance gets tested in a rally course. (Photo: Team O'Neil Rally School/Facebook)

Thanks to outdated assumptions and what appears to be an ongoing misinformation campaign against electric cars, some mainstream car buyers may assume that vehicles like the Tesla Model 3 would be grossly ineffective in sub-zero temperatures. Yet despite this persistent stereotype, actual experiences from electric car owners have recently proven these notions wrong once again.  

Tesla owner and president-founder of the Saskatchewan Electric Vehicle Association Matthew Pointer recently shared some of his winter driving experiences with CBC News. A resident of Saskatchewan, Canada, Pointer is no stranger to cold weather driving. His home, after all, experiences sub-zero temperatures on a regular basis, at times requiring him to drive in -45 C (-49 F) weather. If the stereotype holds true, then Pointer’s Tesla should be near-useless in certain parts of the year. But this has not been the case. 

On the contrary, Pointer stated that his Tesla actually works better than his previous internal combustion cars in the cold. While he stated that his electric vehicle does experience some range loss during winters, the car works perfectly in extreme weather. Just this Thursday, for example, Pointer noted that he passed by several dozen ICE owners struggling to start their vehicles on his way to work. His Tesla, in comparison, handled the cold without any issues, even with its reduced range. 

Tesla’s Winter Experience 2019. | Credit: Danni Efraim

“I passed several dozen people that couldn’t even get their car started in front of their house this morning, as I kind of ripped by them in my electric vehicle that apparently doesn’t work in those sort of temperatures. I wake up with a ‘full tank’ every morning because I plug in at night, and I wake up, and my car’s fully charged in the morning. I’ve got more than enough range to do all the regular stuff that I need to do on a daily basis,” Pointer said. 

Explaining further, the Tesla owner stated that it’s just a matter of design between EVs and internal combustion cars. Electric cars have far fewer components compared to gasoline or diesel-powered automobiles. Thus, there are far fewer things that can get compromised by the cold. Couple this with Tesla’s excellent battery management system, and the company’s vehicles become incredibly effective for winter. 

“The great thing about an electric vehicle is that it has significantly less moving parts, and you’re essentially driving one massive battery that’s very good at maintaining its heat and keeping itself going. There’s no moving parts that need to go through this magical movement and means of combustion and getting things preheated all at a minus-45-degree temperature. Essentially for us to start our cars, we just touch a button, the screen pops up, and we just drive to work from there,” he explained. 

The Tesla Model 3 Performance gets tested in a rally course. (Photo: Team O’Neil Rally School/Facebook)

In a statement to the publication, Tyler Krause, a fellow resident of Saskatchewan and a Tesla Model 3 owner, described how easy it is to live with an electric car during the coldest months of the year. “Yesterday it was -37 C (-34.6 F), and it wasn’t a problem. I went to heat it up. It took like 10 minutes and I was off. I drove by probably three or four people that were getting boosted on the side of the road and I had no issues,” he said, adding that none of the local Tesla Owners Club members have reported any issues during winter.

Perhaps one thing that usually gets forgotten by electric vehicle critics is the fact that all cars, even those powered with the internal combustion engine, lose range during the coldest months of the year. With this in mind, it all comes down to convenience, and based on the accounts of actual Tesla owners from one of the colder places in North America; EVs have ICE beat by a wide margin. The proof lies in actual experiences from Tesla owners, as well as the company’s sales figures from cold countries such as Norway and the Netherlands, where the Model 3 has been making its presence known.

Simon Alvarez: Simon is a reporter with a passion for electric cars and clean energy. Fascinated by the world envisioned by Elon Musk, he hopes to make it to Mars (at least as a tourist) someday.
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