Breaking
March 1, 2024

Frigid Temperatures Freeze Tesla Owners Across the Midwest

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Jan 20, 2024

Frigid temperatures gripping the Midwest this week have exposed major weaknesses in electric vehicle charging infrastructure, leaving many Tesla owners stranded. As temperatures plunged below zero, Teslas died in long queues waiting for charging at overloaded stations.

Tesla Owners Endure “Nightmare” Conditions Trying to Charge

Over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, hundreds of Teslas lined up at Supercharger stations around Chicago, waiting hours for a chance to charge. Many ran out of juice before reaching the front of the line. Owners described a “nightmare” scene of dead cars piled up with dying batteries in the bitter cold.

With temperatures as low as -23°F, EV batteries lost huge chunks of range. Owners expecting 200+ miles dropped to as low as 50 miles per charge. This “range anxiety” sent desperate drivers to the nearest Superchargers, overwhelming capacity.

“We’ve got a bunch of dead robots out here,” said Brian Weiss, a Lyft driver whose Tesla died after waiting eight hours at a Supercharger.

Why EVs Struggle in Extreme Cold

While gasoline engines can start right up on the coldest days, the lithium-ion batteries powering EVs suffer greatly in extreme cold. Batteries work by chemical reactions, and chemistry slows down as temperatures drop.

Studies show range loss depends on battery chemistry and vehicle design, but most EVs lose 20-50% range below freezing. For example, a Tesla Model 3 dropping from 315 miles to 150 miles range causes understandable panic among owners.

Cold weather also makes charging slower. Below freezing, charging speed can drop 20-40%, extending wait times. Slower charging means stations hit max capacity quicker, with queues spilling out onto roads.

Temperature Range Loss Charge Time Increase
0°F ~30% ~30% longer
-10°F ~40% ~35% longer
-20°F ~50% ~40% longer

So frigid cold combines the worst of both worlds – massively decreased range and much slower charging.

Strained Grids and Batteries Exacerbate Issues

The Midwest grid strained under surging energy demand as temperatures plummeted. Utilities begged users to conserve power during extreme demand. Increased reliance on heat pumps, with 4-5 times the power demand of furnaces, has heightened peak loads.

Simultaneously, EV charging loads spiked as owners tried to replenish dying batteries. Regional grid operator MISO hit record winter power demand during the cold snap. Officials warned the grid was being “stretched to its limit.”

Overloaded stations couldn’t increase charging capacity fast enough during the EV stampede. Many owners found chargers broken or offline. Some gave up charging altogether rather than risk draining their batteries further while waiting overnight in subzero temperatures without heat.

Automakers and Critics Pounce

The scenes of frozen, stranded Teslas have created a public relations crisis for the automaker. Critics argue the cold weather breakdown shows EVs have a long way to go before matching gas vehicles in extreme conditions.

On social media, many mocked Tesla’s troubles in the cold:

{{< tweet 1747749886911471879 >}}

Automotive News ran an op-ed calling the incident a “black eye” for Tesla superchargers. Conservative politicians have also weighed in, warning of putting too much confidence in EV readiness.

Even EV advocates admit there are still gaps in extreme weather preparedness. Charging infrastructure and grids clearly need reinforcement to handle increased capacity demand. Batteries need improvment as well.

What Comes Next?

Automakers assert upcoming models designed specifically for cold weather will perform better. Tesla aims to double charging capacity at newer stations. But this week made clear the difficulties still facing EV adoption in many areas.

Industry experts say cold weather issues aren’t insurmountable, but solving them requires big investments in charging networks, battery tech innovation, and grid modernization. Until then, EV owners in cold climates should carefully manage range and charging to avoid being stranded during winter spikes in demand.

This frigid weather event has shaken confidence about the pace of the EV transition for many. But it also illuminated weak points that need addressing sooner rather than later as transportation electrification accelerates. Ironing out extreme cold performance issues now will pay major dividends down the road for EVs. Automakers can’t afford to ignore these problems if they want mass adoption.

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post