Tesla Adds Battery Pre-Heating To Improve Efficiency In Cold Climates




Tesla Model X

It seems Tesla is getting more prepared for the cold months ahead, and beginning to cater more toward frigid climates.

There are Tesla vehicles all over the world, though many are registered in the sunny state of California. This is not to say that there aren’t snowy, cold mountainous areas in the Golden State. Additionally, we see a fair amount of Silicon Valley’s finest in the Pacific Northwest, and let’s not forget about Norway. Nonetheless, there are just not as many Tesla vehicles in many of our coldest states.

Now that some 500,000 people have reserved a Model 3, the Tesla Semi is on the way (which will travel all over the country and throughout Canada), and the upcoming Model Y stands to be ridiculously popular, it’s high time for the automaker to more seriously consider the impact of the elements.

According to Electrek, Tesla has released battery pre-heating in its vehicles. EVs, like their gas counterparts, are less efficient in the cold, which sometimes means significant range loss. This also affects the vehicles’ power output, regen braking, the time it takes the vehicle to charge, and how much of a charge it will accept. Speeding up those electrons can only lead to positive results.

Here’s the wording from Tesla on the battery heating update:

“When temperatures are near freezing, preconditioning will also heat your battery for better driving and charging performance. We recommend you plug in to reduce range loss, and start pre-conditioning about an hour before you plan to leave since it can take some time to warm up the battery in colder weather. Note: Requires vehicle software version 2017.50 or above.”

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Source: Electrek

Categories: Tesla

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26 Comments on "Tesla Adds Battery Pre-Heating To Improve Efficiency In Cold Climates"

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How it works? How is the heat generated? Does it come from the motor in idle?

It would be from the 6 kW resistive heating element that is installed in the battery’s thermal management loop. I have the latest firmware update on mine, but have not yet found any way to activate the feature (although my S isn’t plugged in at the moment).

Where I used to work, I would immediately leave and head down a steep, mile-long hill. In the winter, this really bugged me, as I’d have to ride my friction brakes the whole way down. Although wasteful, this is still a good feature.

“I have the latest firmware update on mine, but have not yet found any way to activate the feature”.

I do too. The feature is activated by turning on climate control from the app. After cabin temp comes up to the set point or so, a new icon comes on indicating pack heating is underway. All there is to it.

This is the one thing that always puzzled me – that the Model “S” didn’t have the cold weather features that even the roadster did. Although a somewhat different battery, (which apparently didn’t NEED preconditioning unless under -10 deg F – in that case the battery would self-heat for a few minutes before being able to be put in “D”), the ROADSTER, although not allowing actual charging of the battery – WOULD allow Regeneration into the ‘battery system’ when it was charged up to 100% – this was easily shown that the car wouldn’t brake, but would slow down immediately if the heater was put on high. (A software bug prevented that same feature when it was under 35 Deg F, unfortunately). My Canadian friends who own “S”‘s say there is none of that when it is cold and they just lose dynamic braking and that is the way it is. (The roadster, when finally being plugged in, would run a 900 watt heater to warm the battery up to 35 deg F before main charging started, no matter how fast the actual charging was). But what is interesting here is that the VOLT, ELR, etc would ALWAYS do battery… Read more »

Living in Québec, this is just basic necessity.

The real question is why it wasn’t built into it right from the start?

So they can add a new and improved feature later. People really seem to love these constant updates, so they have to save a few so they can appear to always be innovating and improving.

You’re right. It should have been there day one.

Hey, you Tesla haters need to go back to denying that Tesla is actually making and selling the Tesla Model 3. That was much, much funnier!

😆 😆 😆

If better for direct optimum performance and battery durability, it’s a good move.

Perhaps they can also do precooling right before going to a supercharger to increase the charging power limit and be faster done recharging. It is just software change so it should be feasible and could allow winning of a couple of minutes in charging time. 38’ instead of 40’ isn’t much but it’s something if you are in a hurry.

I have the new app and the firmware. I cannot find this feature. As far as I can tell, this is a lie.

Automatic. Be plugged in and precondition.

What do you mean by precondition? There is an option to “precondition” in the car’s menu, but it has always been there. I cannot find anything like that in the app.

Perhaps the “precondition” in the app means to warm up / cool down the passenger cabin before anybody gets into the car. I don’t think that has anything to do with the battery heater.

But I was under the impression that a Model S or Model X was already running the battery heater if the car was plugged in, to prevent the battery from getting too cold on very cold nights. I don’t understand what this change is, unless it means the car will now run the battery heater even when it’s not plugged in.

Color me confused.

I believe they run the heater as needed to prevent damage from very cold temps, but they don’t warm the battery to optimal temp for active operation as that would be wasteful of energy and not needed while the car is sitting idle. Preconditioning is the latter.

Please join us at the Flat Earth Society we need your membership. The world is not round and we aim to prove it!! As to Tesla, we all know a fake car when we see it!

I don’t think anything changed, they just added a somewhat cryptic indicator to the mobile app. Battery preheat was always a feature and always quite limited. The users do not have manual controls to turn it on or off (except for tuning max battery power for Ludicrous mode on) nor do they still have a battery temperature gauge to have awareness of the temperature and change. The more adventurous ones use an app called TeslaSpy with an OBD2 adapter connected to a diagnostics port and can see the battery modules’ inlet and outlet temperatures.

Why Tesla does not expose more information on the vehicle state on the giant screens (and in the mobile app) is beyond me. It’s a waste, a missed opportunity, and frankly a bit offensive to the users who have the right to know what is happening with their vehicle.

While I partially agree, this is of course true of every vehicle on the road, EV or not. None of them provide users with access to all of the data available on the CAN bus. There is software available for anyone who wants to explore the data, though, and the only hardware required (in addition to a laptop or tablet or phone) is a cheap ODB-II adapter. Be warned though that the software tends to either give limited information or raw, uninterpreted data that you must figure out yourself what it means.

Of course, if manufacturers were truly open we’d all have access to all the data, not just for our own car, but also comparisons to the fleet. Oddly enough, it seems manufacturers act out of self-interest whenever that comes into conflict with the interests of their customers…

Not only the instrumentation on Tesla vehicles is limited, Tesla has been gradually reducing the useful information displayed in the vehicle and available remotely via the API. Pretty much every ICE vehicle on the road has an engine and sometimes a transmission temperature gauge, oil pressure gauge, many used to have a 12V battery gauge, older ones had a current gauge, etc, etc.

EVs by comparison have been a black box. It is absurd that a high-tech EVs have less instrumentation than the fossils. One of the reasons I went for a Model S was that at least Tesla would display the charging voltage and current, then they stopped doing that when Supercharging. The first generation Nissan Leaf has a battery temperature gauge, on the new one it is gone. Since the battery temperature affect the charging speed, the regen power, the traction power, and of course the longevity of the battery it should be made available to the driver. It is really that simple.

I have firmware 2017.50.2 on my P85D and iPhone app version 3.2.3, and turning on the cabin heater in below freezing conditions also shows the battery is heating. I can share a screenshot if someone would show me how to.

But I don’t want to turn on the cabin heater. I wear heavy fur clothing in cold weather, I want my cabin cold and my battery warm. I want crisp cold air inside the car, not the smell of electric heating…

What do electrons smell like?

The opposite of what protons smell like, of course.

vvk where I live you can’t drive that way. You couldn’t see out of the windscreen.

Unless you held an ice scraper in your hand the whole time you are driving to scrape the ice off the INSIDE of it as I had to do with my ’64 VW.

It was -16 deg. F yesterday morning in Michigan. If it weren’t plugged in at that point, would the batteries even have enough juice to run the heater?

Only if the heater really runs on juice.


The current cold weather initiated battery heating is useless,they need to allow us to turn it on with the app and set the temp.
I can hardly use regeneration during the winter and it doesn’t get that cold in Vancouver. Not to mention the range drops dramatically.
I use my ludicrous batt heater mode to heat my batt in morning, but I have to go down to the car to do it at least half hour before I leave. The fart app may be funny for men and some decerning women, but a battery preheat on demand option on the Tesla app, should take precedence to a fart app, though Whimsy is important.