The Winter is Wreaking Havoc on Electric Vehicle Batteries

If there’s one thing electric vehicle owners are learning, it is that extremely cold temperatures are likely going to lead to frustration if they don’t take extra special care of their battery powered vehicles. Look at it as just another added benefit to "saving the world". 

As we push through the cold that automakers are using as an excuse for poor sales this winter, customers of some companies – notably Tesla – are starting to realize that things are a little bit different with electric vehicles in the winter.

Disgruntled owners of Model 3s have been widespread on social media and online forums, talking about numerous issues they’ve had with cold weather on their vehicles. People have complained about battery range draining and Model 3 door handles freezing up.



A new writeup by Fortune details a couple of Tesla owners pointing out their issues.

“My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles overnight and an extra five to ten miles on my drive to work. I paid $60,000 to not drain my battery so quickly,” said New Jersey based Model 3 owner Ronak Patel. 

The pro-EV lot over at InsideEVs stated frankly back in December, "Cold weather demands a long range battery" before also encouraging people to shell out more money: "...if you reside in a colder region and can afford to spring for the long-range Model 3, then come winter, you’ll be glad you made that choice." 

Salim Morsy, an analyst with Bloomberg, stated: “It’s Panasonic that manufactures Tesla batteries. It’s not something specific to Tesla. It happens to Chevy with the Bolt and Nissan with the Leaf.”

Additionally, the door design that Tesla used for the Model 3 as part of its appeal to be "different" continues to come back and bite owners during the winter. As we previously had noted during a cold spell in Quebec late last year, owners were having difficulty getting their handles out from their recessed spots in order to open the doors to their car. This has left some owners complaining and others writing to Tesla (or even Elon Musk on Twitter) looking for a fix.

Pro-Tesla blogger Frederic Lambert was himself unable to get into his vehicle back in November. Lambert documented his own issues in this hilarious video, where he, bare-handedly in Quebec, can't get into his own car:

"Jesus Christ!" Lambert exclaims about 53 seconds into the video, hands shaking from the cold, upon finally getting his door handle to pop out.

“What’s specific to Tesla," Morsy continued, "is the quality of manufacturing.”

Andrea Falcone from Boston, who bought a Model 3 about two months ago, stated on Twitter: "I can't wait all day for this silly car."

As with everything, Elon Musk tweeted that there would be an over the air software update that would address how cars are holding up in cold weather. Given that the company can’t physically readjust door handles over the air, we’re guessing the fix will wind up being something that puts further pressure on an already drained battery. And recall, back in November, we had already reported that Tesla was going to "fix" these issues with a vague software update. 

In terms of that "fix", it looks as though the only thing that was addressed was the window not always coming down after the door opened. Since there are no door frames on the Model 3 doors, the window rolling down is semi-necessary to help open the door once the handle has popped out.

In the release notes of its new software improvement in late 2018, Tesla said very little:

“Window position and charge connector locking behaviors have been optimized for cold weather.”

As we stated back in November, we're still waiting for Elon Musk's software update that'll stop cold weather altogether.