While EVs can struggle in the cold, especially related to range and initial cabin heating, this situation is on another level. In fact, some people have reached out to Tesla to report situations during which they say they could have died due to the extreme cold temps and the complete lack of cabin heating.
That said, there have been many reports online that are missing key details. Fortunately, the folks from Drive Tesla Canada and Tesla North, as well as our friends at Tesla Owners Online have some answers and temporary solutions. Since these publications have close ties to such issues and are wrapped up in this situation, they are sharing inside information to help impacted Tesla owners.
As the story goes, several Tesla owners have reported that their heat pumps have seemingly stopped working completely in cold weather. Some of the drivers had to drive for many hours with no heat aside from heated seats. To be clear, we're not talking about mild winter weather, but temps in some areas of Canada dropping to -40°C (-40°F) or lower.
Another Tesla owner already had his heat pump sensors replaced as a potential solution to the problem. Tesla recently put out a service bulletin about the fix. However, it didn't solve the problem.
Drive Tesla Canada notes that these tweets are only an example of the issues people are having. Apparently, similar problems are impacting multiple Model 3 and Model Y owners in Canada, and those owners have taken to Facebook pages and Twitter to share their complaints and potential solutions. Tesla North shares that the President of the Tesla Owner’s Club of Alberta Angie Dean "estimates the issue is affecting 10-20 drivers across Alberta and Saskatchewan."
Fortunately, Tesla knows about the failing heat pumps, and the company is pointing to a firmware update that may have caused or exacerbated the problems. Tesla Mobile Service has sent out emails alerting owners that it's working on a software update that should fix the heat pump issue. However, we have no idea at his point how long it will be before the fix is sent out to Tesla's fleet remotely.
If you're one of the many Tesla owners impacted by this problem, there are steps you can take while you wait for the fix. Drive Tesla Canada recommends:
“Current mitigations are to precondition the vehicle 30-60 minutes prior to departure, use recirculating air mode and use auto mode. Symptoms may still occur when driving in climates -15°C and below. If heat does not return please park vehicle in a warmer location and allow vehicle to warm up."
Angie Dean agrees:
“Preconditioning the car is it’s just healthier for the batteries. You wouldn’t throw your phone out in a snowbank and then try and turn it on and go all over the place. Same thing with an electric car, it just works better.”
However, Tesla Owners Online put together a whole thread about the situation. It's definitely worth reading, especially if you are having issues or are concerned that you could have issues going forward.
As always, let us know your thoughts in the comment section. If you've been impacted by similar issues, please share your concerns with us. Stay safe out there, and let's all cross our fingers that the Tesla team can fix this issue ahead of a tragedy.