How Much Range Does a Tesla Model S Electric Car Lose In Winter? One Owner Figures it Out

While your average fossil-fuelled car owner may not notice it, every single car on the market today suffers reduced fuel efficiency in the winter, caused by denser air, inclement weather conditions, increased rolling resistance with the road, and higher user of the car’s heating and air conditioning system.

By far however, electric cars suffer more than any other type of vehicle in the winter, caused by extra use of on-board heaters and the material properties of the electrochemical batteries which provide the power needed to move the cars along.

What is the real-world effect of winter on range? Read on to find out.

What is the real-world effect of winter on range? Read on to find out.

For hardened electric car drivers with several years of winter driving experience under their belt, winter conditions rarely pose a problem. For would-be electric car owners however, the question of how much range is affected in winter is one that is often in the front of their minds, despite a large number of electric car owners around the world living their daily lives without a range-related problem in electric-car friendly winter wonderlands like Ontario, Canada, Norway, and Finland.

Since each electric car on the market today is affected to a lesser or greater extent by winter weather as a consequence of its specific design, figuring out just what affect winter can have on an electric car can be difficult to figure out. So when the owner of a particular car does their own in-depth analysis of winter driving range in their plug-in car, it’s always worth sharing.

Expect up to 40% of range loss in the winter, says one Tesla Model S  owner.

Expect up to 40% of range loss in the winter, says one Tesla Model S owner.

Enter Rob M, a blogger over at popular Tesla fan sites Teslaliving.net and TeslaratiAn engineer by trade and a resident of New England, Rob has seen some particularly brutal temperatures this winter, giving him the perfect opportunity to track his car’s winter performance over the entire month of January.

Recording the rated range of his Tesla Model S at the start of every day and again at the end of the day, along with the odometer readings, miles driven, energy used, and rated miles used, he was able to figure out just how much of an impact his ten month old Model S 85 kWh was experiencing. To improve the analysis, Rob also recorded the average temperature for each day recorded, enabling him to plot range loss versus temperature.

New England Tesla Model S Winter Range Log compiled by Rob M from Teslarati.com

New England Tesla Model S Winter Range Log compiled by Rob M from Teslarati.com

The results, explained in full in this Teslarati post show on average a ten mile drop in real-world range for every ten degrees Fahrenheit drop in temperature.

Given the consistent battering of the north east this winter, he said that equated to an average drop of 40 percent or more during the winter, equivalent to a real-world average range of just 143 miles between charges from a 90%, non-range mode charge. That’s far from the 265 EPA-approved miles of the Model S in temperate weather.

As you might expect, Rob says snow and ice on the roads affects range even more, so if it’s cold and snowy, you need to be really prepared for a range reduction. Given that the Tesla Model S is one of the more capable cars when it comes to keeping its winter range, we’d suggest other electric cars could suffer even more in similar conditions.

Other electric cars also suffer range loss in winter.

Other electric cars also suffer range loss in winter.

In a previous post, Rob says there are other things affected by the cold, including a marked reduction in regenerative braking capabilities.

Here at Transport Evolved, we’ve noticed all of our staff cars — eight in total — all suffer varying degrees of electric range loss in winter due to colder weather, with cars that have no battery heating suffering more than ones with active thermal management.

But in our experiences, the best way to ensure that electric car range doesn’t drop in winter is to make use of cabin pre-conditioning as much as possible, and to ensure that cars are regularly driven to prevent their battery pack temperature falling too low.

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  • JohnCBriggs

    Is this you in front of one of your “staff cars”?nhttp://www.robertsarmory.com/staff.jpg

  • Stephen Noctor

    And let’s keep in mind that all cars have reduced range when it gets cold. For comparisons sake, I’ve kept track of my 2010 Prius efficiency for 5 years. The geek in me has recorded every single gallon of gas and mile driven in that car. In perfect weather I averaged 58 MPG over a month period (several tank fills) while in winter months (low temps down to about 30F for the morning drive) I averaged 46 MPG over a month period. That’s a 20% reduction in efficiency for me. And it would likely be an even greater drop if we experienced truly cold temps here in California like they do in New England. Food for thought…..

    • D. Harrower

      Exactly. It’s just hard to drive this point home to ICE-owners since their vehicles have access to so much energy that throwing a bunch away doesn’t really demand a change in behavior. Dropping from 30% efficiency to 25% efficiency isn’t going to be all that noticeable.

  • Espen Hugaas Andersen

    I don’t think the data is very meaningful. There are too many variables for it to have any real world application. You need a lot more data in different geograpical regions, over the entire year to be able to have any sort of meaningful analysis.nnFor one thing, the range is reduced 40% *relative to rated range*. There are no guarantees the owner in question ever approaches the rated range in summer, with his specific driving pattern. If the owner in question can achieve up to 220 mile range in summer, the reduction due to winter is only around 20%.

  • Chris Brooks

    In a Twizy the battery is not as protected. Summer ie. over 10c – 50 miles range, 5c to 10c – 44 miles range, below 5c 36miles range. All done over 3 winters on the same commute routes. So 30% loss in Winter.

  • mrstudz

    lol @ a bunch of americans living in cities that never see snow, and don’t even own tesla’s trying to “defend” winter electric car performance. It’s abysmal, end of story. Until some form of energy storage becomes cheap, widely available and effective, electric cars are summertime only vehicles in Canada, and to be frank 130k summer time only vehicles arent ever going to be in high demand. Probably the same posters that argue global warming isn’t real too lol! way to go ‘murica

  • John Johansen

    Why the FUCKING Miles?
    4 Countries in the World, dont use the metric system!!!!!
    (Well! Officially its only 3! USA, Myanmar and One More)

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