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Cold Hearted: Teslas lose 15 to 19 percent of range in cold weather, study says

Toronto, Ontario — Tesla models appear to fare better in cold weather when compared to other popular EVs, according to an updated range study by Recurrent Auto.

Recurrent Auto obtained data from 7,000 vehicles across the United States and analyzed “tens of thousands” of data points from onboard devices providing data on energy usage.

Image from Recurrent Auto. Estimated winter ranges are based on onboard telematics and reflect the OEMs proprietary range calculations and software. Verified winter ranges are based on original Recurrent research using a combination of onboard devices and real-time usage data providing more than 35,000 datapoints.

According to Recurrent’s data, the Model X and Model Y Long Range loses 15 percent of range when operating between -6°C and -1°C (20°F to 30°F); the Model 3 Long Range lost 17 percent and the Model S lost 19 percent of its range.

For comparison, Ford’s Mach-E Premium AWD lost 30 percent—as did the Volkswagen iD.4.

A 2020 study performed by the Norwegian Automobile Federation showed a 34 percent range reduction for the Tesla Model 3; Recurrent notes that this model did not have a heat pump, which now comes standard.

“A heat pump will increase the cold weather range,” it wrote alongside Model 3 results.

The Model Y uses a “more sophisticated heat pump system” to the Model 3, “help[ing] to regulate temperatures without drawing on the battery.” The system allows for 12 heating modes and three cooling modes, and even uses the thermal mass of its battery to store heat.

“The battery can be used as a heat source as we draw down the thermal energy stored in the pack.”

Teslas are also aided by localized cabin heating—from heated seats, steering wheels or other parts—in addition to the heat pumps that come standard on Tesla models.

Ultimately, the study concludes that though some range is lost when driving a Tesla in cold-weather conditions, “Tesla’s thermal management is still great at controlling cold weather range loss.”

For more information on Recurrent’s cold weather EV range loss study, click here. 

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