General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

If you live in an area with cold winters, would buying a Tesla be a mistake?

Asked by elbanditoroso (33134points) 2 months ago
61 responses
“Great Question” (5points)

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Apparently in Chicago (temps at -10 or worse) Teslas won’t charge. A lot of dead metal out there.

Oops.

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Answers

Blackwater_Park's avatar

At -10 there are a bunch of dead regular cars too

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@Blackwater_Park that temp can be hard on a older battery but those older cars will still start with a jump.
What do you do when that kind of temp won’t let the Tesla take a charge?

LadyMarissa's avatar

I’m of the opinion that even living in Florida, buying a Tesla would be a faulty decision!!!

Caravanfan's avatar

You will probably lose some range because of the cold. So it depends on how far you travel.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

In Canada we have something called a block heater. You can plug your car in at night in winters. Is for gas powered cars. I don’t know if they work for evs?

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t get it they wouldn’t charge? Why would the cold affect that? I guess it does though.

I personally am of the mind that hybrid is a better way to go for most people, but maybe hybrid cars are having trouble also in the deep freeze? I like the idea of an electric car as a second car.

A lot of people where I live in Florida own a Tesla and like them. Not having to go to the gas station is appealing. We see other electric cars also.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@RedDeerGuy1 but block heaters are designed to keep the engine (and more importantly, the fluids like oil, diesel fuel, transmission fluid, etc., warm in an internal combustion engine vehicle. A Tesla isn’t internal combustion, it’s electric. The only fluids to worry about are transmission and brake.

Since it’s the batteries that aren’t charging, a block heater won’t help.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@elbanditoroso Thanks for the info.

JLeslie's avatar

@elbanditoroso So, if the car is charged is the car starting up ok and running ok? Most people charge in their own garage, which would not be as cold. Are the car batteries not working period?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well… another good excuse for being late to work aside, It’s something to take into consideration in the future. We have to take certain things into consideration with gas cars too.

We’ll think of something!

LadyMarissa's avatar

You might want to read this. Now, they are discovering that you get significantly less miles if you run your heater when it drops below 14°F. Who wants to go on a trip when it’s cold out & not be able to use the heater???

JLeslie's avatar

@LadyMarissa You get less MPG when you run your air conditioning.

Zaku's avatar

Many EVs have battery heaters for cold weather. Usually you use them to raise the battery temperature the to point that it’s more efficient to charge them. Cold does make EVs less efficient, and makes them charge more slowly. In very extreme cold, especially if the car is left outside, yeah it may be challenging to operate an EV.

But there are things to mitigate that, such as parking & charging the EV indoors (unless on a long road trip, I don’t need to charge my EV anywhere other than my garage), and/or using the climate control to keep the car not so terribly cold. Many EVs have very efficient electric heat pumps, which are good at that, as well as computers programmed to try to prevent the battery from getting extremely cold.

EVs with heat pumps are also extremely good for keeping the car warm with people inside for a very long time – they tend to be better than ICEs at doing that. Many of them also tend to be quite good in the snow, particularly the long-range EV’s that weigh a lot.

-10 Fahrenheit is usually way below the point I’d generally want to be driving, or leaving any car out in the snow, anyway.

Jeruba's avatar

That dead Tesla business sounds highly emblematic of . . . something, don’t know what, but emblematic all the same.

I’ll bet Elon doesn’t care.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

It appears that a huge reason for this problem in Chicago was that many charging stations were just offline, causing people to wait in their EVs longer with the heater using the last bit of battery life they had left.

gorillapaws's avatar

I plug my EV in at night in my driveway which mitigates this issue. If you’re not able to overnight charge I would discourage EV ownership, otherwise it’s a non-issue.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you have a garage and have invested in a home charger then you can probably manage. If you have to park it on the street and can’t get a cable to it, then stick with your gasoline Subaru or Tahoe.
There is a good article in the NYTImes about the lines of Teslas in Chicago trying to charge. According to the article what usually takes 1 hour to charge takes up to 5 hours when it is cold. Apparently the anodes and cathodes in the battery lose capacity with cold temps.

The ideal situation for the Tesla is to park it in a heated garage and leave it plugged in. If you can’t do that then you’re exposing yourself to extra headaches and worry.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^^^^No Tessela for me!

snowberry's avatar

I won’t buy an electric car. The electrical grid isn’t that healthy anymore due to gov’mint shenanigans, It doesn’t sound like a sound economic choice.

Caravanfan's avatar

@snowberry I think it depends on where you live. If you’re in a city and are able to charge at home every day and you just do city trips it makes sense. Especially if you have solar power.

SnipSnip's avatar

@JLeslie It’s a small amount of fuel (3–10%) and likely driving with the windows down to stay cool will use more fuel than the AC. I didn’t know that; I just read it at https://www.familyhandyman.com/article/does-car-air-conditioner-save-gas-fact-or-fiction/. I have no idea if it is trustworthy source. I heard my whole life that running the AC increases fuel consumption. Then for the past 10 years or so I’ve heard/read that it doesn’t. Now, I read that it does. I guess I still don’t know for sure. I live in South Florida. Not only will I use the AC, I will buy a new car if my AC goes out. It can be a horribly expensive repair. At this point my car would probably not get that repair. :)

RocketGuy's avatar

AC uses a good amount of power because it, essentially, pumps heat from inside (hot) to outside (hotter). But opening windows ruins aerodynamics, which then needs engine power to compensate. You lose either way. But it you are going at highway speeds aerodynamic loss would probably be more than AC loss. i.e. if you are going fast, close the windows and use AC.

Smashley's avatar

I dunno, my buddy does it in his KIA, and my contractor drives the electric f150. If there are issues with battery power, it’s not enough to change how they use it day to day. I imagine their power bills increase somewhat in the winter, but that happens to everyone around here. As long as they charge at night, it hasn’t been an issue. If they were winter road trippers, I imagine the difference would be more significant.

seawulf575's avatar

Yes. Cold weather and batteries don’t mix. I have a good friend that bought a VW EV. At first he was happy with it because it was quiet and easy to drive. But as time went by his miles/charge dropped from about 280 (not great) to about 150. And then one day we had a really cold morning and it was down to 120. Charging wasn’t as easy, etc.

EV technology is not where it needs to be to show reliability and make them appealing to everyone.

RocketGuy's avatar

At this point, EVs are practical only if you can charge at home. Not enough charging stations out and about, esp. if charging needs increase due to cold weather.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I actually agree with Wulfie on this,and hopefully the technology will advance to get over this cold weather problem and the conservatives won’t squash it like they did ,about making the auto manufacturers make less poluting engines.

Caravanfan's avatar

Again, it’s fine. They have EVs in Norway. You just lose 20% of the range, which is fine in most circumstances.

jca2's avatar

On the news, they were saying it’s up to 5 hours to charge an EV in the cold, and that is after waiting behind another person who’s spending 5 hours charging their EV, so some quoted in the news clip were saying they were spending so many hours charging or waiting to charge, they’re done with EVs.

seawulf575's avatar

@SQUEEKY2 I believe EVs have a lot more problems than just cold weather. The biggest, and probably the most limiting, is the availability to make the batteries. It requires several rare earths that are not readily available in the world. This is a problem from two fronts. The first is that Biden and the Dems want everyone to be driving EVs in the next couple years. Forget the logistics of charging, forget the problems of range, but to manufacture enough batteries just to make that number of cars is not a physical possibility. That leads us to the second problem: replacement. The batteries in an EV do wear out. To replace them costs thousands of dollars, more than most repairs on ICE cars.

And there is still the fire issue. Recalls are happening more and more due to the batteries catching fire and destroying the entire car. I seem to remember reading that being near salt water also adds to the fire concerns.

But it’s funny; I actually like the idea of an electric vehicle. I just don’t see them as practical at this time. Like many of the renewable energy sources, the technology needs to advance to make them practical at replacing fossil fuels.

Zaku's avatar

Battery materials are an issue, but not one that’s preventing plenty of EVs being produced.

“Biden and the Dems” are not an issue with EVs.

EV batteries eventually degrade . . . but that’s getting less and less as technology improves, and currently doesn’t seem to be a big deal.

EVs catch on fire much less than ICE cars do.

“Being near salt water” is not an issue.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

EVs are going to be just fine. We just don’t have the support infrastructure in place for them yet. Sooner or later, we will all be in EVs, and gas powered cars will be about as common as CRT monitors.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Like I said, we’ll figure it out!

jca2's avatar

I think eventually we will all be in an EV, but it might not be for 20 years, since we don’t seem to be prepared for this big push to do it asap.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 I doubt it. I think it will be more like 50% of the population. America is huge and we worry about how far an EV can go without needing a charge. I see it where I live on a small scale with electric golf carts vs gas. The Villages is about 50/50 and it’s approximately 7 miles by 25 miles, and most people aren’t driving that whole length when they go out for the day, they are driving maybe 5 or 10 miles each direction, and plenty of people worry about it. If I remember correctly the golf carts get 30–50 miles on a charge. Some get more. The gas carts I think are 100 miles or more. That I don’t remember well. Some people keep a container of gas in their garage so they don’t go to the gas station very much.

Hybrid seems more practical.

Maybe EV will get closer to 75–80%? Considering a couple can have one car EV and one gas for distance.

gorillapaws's avatar

@jca2 ”...since we don’t seem to be prepared for this big push to do it asap.”

Without the push it won’t happen until it’s too late. If we’d pushed harder 10 years ago we would be further along than we are today. Technology (in the broad sense, e.g. the wheel and plow are technology) isn’t some inevitable linear progression. Technology progresses in the areas it’s been pushed ether by market or government forces.

The EV tech is mature and perfectly adequate to meet the needs for the vast majority of Americans. EV range is already well-beyond what people need in a day, even on a busy day racing around town. My EV will be 6 years old in April. The battery has barely degraded. I’ve only had range anxiety once in that time and that was because I was misinterpreting the screen (I was worried for no reason). And I drive a lot. The range thing is like people buying SUVs that can cross rivers (just in case) but the most off-roading it ever does is going down a gravel driveway.

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws What about the rolling and even planned blackouts in California? It doesn’t sound like all of California is prepared for more burden on some parts of that power grid.

I assume they are working on improving the grid.

RocketGuy's avatar

We recently got solar panels. This will mitigate the risk of rolling/planned blackouts. They are also pretty useful for charging our two PHEVs. Seems PG&E is getting so much solar power that they are now paying pennies for any excess that homes generate. Getting home storage is now the trendy thing to install.

Zaku's avatar

It’s really striking how much anti-EV nonsense conversations have spread.

@JLeslie Blackouts in California have not been caused by EVs. It’s from hot weather causing people to use air conditioners. EV charging accounts for only about 0.4% of overall energy load.

gorillapaws's avatar

I would echo @RocketGuy‘s & @Zaku‘s excellent points. The solution is to push rooftop solar, a distributed grid and battery storage solutions. Yale estimated the fossil fuel industry received $5.9 trillion with a ‘t’ in subsidies globally in 2020 when direct and indirect costs were calculated. There’s plenty of money to push much harder for clean tech if we wanted to make those priorities.

Also on the utility-scale, there are solutions like pumped storage hydropower where utilities pump water to higher elevations when they have excess power and then use hydrogenerators to extract that potential energy to supplement the generation of power.

Blackwater_Park's avatar

Well, solar is nice, but it’s just not enough. It may work for residential eventually but what we really need in a big hurry is more nuclear power. All the current baseload coal and gas can be completely replaced by nuclear right now. That’s the bridge technology that could have averted the climate crisis almost completely. As we get better renewables and hopefully create a more decentralized power grid we can slowly take the nukes offline. I strongly feel people’s fear of fission is keeping us in this climate crisis.

seawulf575's avatar

@Zaku And yet the total number of EVs in CA is relatively low. So when all the cars are EVs, what do you think the demand will be? Pretty high, I would think. That won’t help the grid issues in CA.

seawulf575's avatar

@gorillapaws I have looked at getting solar panels a couple times now. It just plain isn’t cost effective. Forget the idiocy of the power company and what they demand if I get solar, just the cost, the return on investment, and all limits it as a good deal. Basically it would cost me something like $35K to put solar panels (and not all I want) onto my roof. That would have to be a loan that is then amortized over the next 20 years or so. Interestingly, the life expectancy of the PV panels is about 25 years. So basically I’d have to pay more for solar panels than what I am currently paying for electric until it was paid off and then would have to take another loan out to buy new panels. Even using the highly inflated prices the sales guy was using for increased electricity costs, my break even point was 12 year out. That is a horrible return on investment.

JLeslie's avatar

@Zaku I’m not blaming the EV’s for the blackouts, I was saying you can’t charge your car if there is a blackout.

gorillapaws's avatar

@JLeslie ”...you can’t charge your car if there is a blackout.”

You also can’t pump gas…

RocketGuy's avatar

Panel costs have come down a lot. It would have been over $30K a decade ago. We paid $21K for our system in 2023. Our payback period was calculated to be 5 years. But that was before PG&E announced a big rate hike…

JLeslie's avatar

@gorillapaws, True. That’s why we fill up as the hurricanes approach.

I don’t know how California does those planned blackouts, but here in Florida when we repair the power after a hurricane the first areas repaired are commercial areas including gas stations, hospitals, sewer pumping stations, I’m assuming CA doesn’t shut down the gas pumps, or does their best to leave most working.

seawulf575's avatar

@RocketGuy This was last year.

seawulf575's avatar

@gorillapaws “You also can’t pump gas…” No, but you can carry a couple gallons in a can. How much electricity can you store in a can?

Zaku's avatar

@seawulf575 In the first place, the goal of most new car sales in California being zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) by 2035, would not all be EVs (it includes fuel cell and plug-in hybrids with all-electric range of at least 50 miles), and would not mean all the cars in California would be ZEVs – just the new sales would be. ICEs would continue to be used in CA, just like there are many vintage cars still being driven – even Model T’s from over 100 years ago. So even in 2135, I don’t expect 100% of all cars in California will be ZEVs.

In the second place, California’s power planners are not as mindless as you seem to think, and they are of course planning for the demands to change (about 25% expected increase by 2035), and are also planning changes in how the power is supplied, as well as expanding their capacity to supply power at peak. That includes not just generating more power, but shifting the types of production to more sustainable ones, and also increasing the battery capacity of the grid, so that the peak capacity can be increased without needing to increase the maximum production by as much.

Not finding a direct answer to the way you worded your specific question: Back of the napkin math is something like there are about 36 million cars in CA ATM, and something like 850,000 sold last year, including about 215,000 EVs, so if that were a steady increase toward 100% in the period from now till 2035, that’d be about . . . 4 to 5 million new EVs. There are currently about half a million EVs in California, so that looks like about ten times that total by 2035, so an increase of 0.4% of the peak load now, to 4% of the current peak load, but the peak load is expected to be 25% more in 2035, so more like 3% of what the peak load is expected to be.

Another way of looking at it is, 3% increase due to EVs, and 22% expected increase due to other things.

So still not huge, and also, the load increase is expected and being planned for.

(There are some people with home solar panels managing to charge their EVs entirely with their own solar panels. As well as people with home solar panels who sell their power to the grid, and who help increase the grid’s peak capacity.)

Dutchess_III's avatar

No fool carries full cans of gas in their car!

Zaku's avatar

Oh, there are fools . . .

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III People keep gas in their garage. I used to put gas in the back bed of my pick-up truck. The only thing I was told was it is illegal to cross state lines with it. Maybe there is a limit on how many gallons too? We had three 5 gallon jugs, we used them when we were racing. Sometimes I wish we still had one. I would keep one in my garage for back up. My car’s gas tank has 16 gallons and my truck 33 sitting in my garage.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In. Their. Cars. @JLeslie.

Everyone keeps gas in their garage, for their lawn mowers, trimmers, chainsaws, rototillers, edgers, whatever

I would no more drive around with a gas can of gas in my car than I’d store it in my bedroom.

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III No, but there are many people that keep them at home. There are also many people that can charge their EVs from home. If you are getting low on a charge during a power outage, you couldn’t charge up before you went out, nor could you charge up while you were out. But in an ICE vehicle, if you are low on gas during a power outage you could add a couple gallons from that gas can before you leave the house to give you another 50 or 60 miles of travel.

Only complete fools don’t bother checking their fuel in the vehicle before starting out…electric or gas.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I once had a car that would run 1/8th of a tank below empty

Then I got another car that meant what it said. “Somebody come get me!”

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III Yeah, we’ve all had the squirrely gas gauges in our time. But you get used to what empty looks like. Sometimes it takes “Somebody come get me!” to teach the lesson.

Dutchess_III's avatar

We’ve all been there

jca2's avatar

Someone in a local social media app posted that they just bought a Tesla and in addition to the charger, which was a few hundred dollars, they had to upgrade their house electrical panel which was over 3k. I’m guessing some houses may not need to be upgraded, but some might need a more expensive upgrade then 3k.

This was discussed on our local network news the other night. They said if you let your battery run down to less than 20%, you may need a tow truck and a repair. Just food for thought.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wonder what kind of problems the very early gas cars faced?

Tropical_Willie's avatar

18 years ago when we were negotiated some improvements before signing a contract with the contractor; they included two attic fans AND a 220 volt 50 amp outlet in the garage for my wife ceramic kiln. . . . ready for plug-in EV or plug-in hybrid.

Don’t own either.

Selling point for the future.

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