Tesla Model 3 Winter Test: Cold Weather Demands A Long-Range Battery


As the bitter cold sets in, it’s time to test out the range of your electric car.

Or, rather, to sample the range loss of your EV.

In this example, a Tesla Model 3 is put to the winter driving test. The test concludes by suggesting that you should opt for the long-range battery version of the Model 3.

But there’s more to the story to tell.

All Teslas have ample range. The Model 3 is not an exception to that rule. But when the cold kicks in, range drops. Depending on the severity of the weather, the drop can be substantial.

So, what this video is suggesting is basically that 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.

This cold-weather driving is always a hugely popular topic here at InsideEVs, largely due in part because we drive cars, not in labs, but out in the elements that Mother Nature tosses our way. And oftentimes that includes cold temperatures and/or snowy conditions. So, watch the video above for some more interesting info on the winter EV driving topic.

Video description:

In this Tesla Model 3 review video we go over 4 reasons why Performance/AWD/RWD Long Range battery is beneficial over the Standard & Mid range battery.

If you’re on the fence on getting a Model 3 (now that European/Austria model 3 are available to order), things to consider before ordering.

We look at how the Tesla Model 3 handles winter weather and look at range loss in the life & day of a driving Tesla, especially during the winter season.

1) Consider phantom drain

2) Don’t rely on public charging stations or paid Supercharging

3) Winter range loss is REAL!

4) Better car performance, longer warranty, better long-term life


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52 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Winter Test: Cold Weather Demands A Long-Range Battery"

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Utilizing A Combustion Heater In A Fully Electric Car – A User’s Story:


Once it got cold in late fall, Duluth had to add diesel heaters to their new Proterra buses. There are simply very few options to counteract something like a -30F morning….at least in a cost effective manner.

I would have gone with Ethanol heaters – less stinky for sure.

pretty sure you can run a diesel heater on kerosene…

I’m surprised how many posts there are on Reddit about the increased consumption in winter and loss of range. One person mentioned that they expected close to the EPA range and didn’t consider range loss when ordering their mid-range Model 3.

For road trips, we generally estimate 60% of the rated range for our 3 and S to be safe. The 3 appears to have a more dramatic range loss due to weather than our S.

Another Euro point of view

Probably because more and more “normal people” get to buy EVs, a good trend actually as we now have balanced review of EVs by them, before that it was a bit the EV taliban brigade where nothing could ever be wrong with EVs. We are slowly getting there.

Agreed. My wife likes to keep the heat in my Bolt EV at 75 degrees fahrenheit. That’s a far cry from the 60-65 degrees EV enthusiasts love running at.

People are used to the easily available waste heat from ICE and run the interior climates super toasty. I think as more people adopt EVs this habit will change to run the climate at more efficient settings that are still comfortable.

Normal people don’t serve their car. They expect their car to serve them.
Getting cold for the sake of some numbers on dashboard or ability barely reach destination (if wind doesn’t blow in wrong direction) is prerogative of the same “EV taliban”.

Waking up with a full charge means my EV is serving me. Regularly going to a gas station is me serving my car.

There’s plenty of other ways an EV serves me and I serve a gas car. Don’t act like the road doesn’t run both ways.

“the EV taliban brigade where nothing could ever be wrong with EVs.”

LOL! 🤣😂🤣

“According to FuelEconomy.gov, a regular gasoline-powered car sees its gas mileage drop by 12 percent when the temperature is 20 degrees,”

Thats not too far off from the 20% ‘expected’ from an EV in freezing temperatures.

Does more aggressive brake regeneration kick in when the temp is so cold?

With with the factory 18″ after 8,000km getting 125Wh/km
In the cold with winter tires after 3500km getting 165Wh/km
So with heat and headlights on lots, this is very acceptable to me.

And what is the average ambient temp? I doubt its anywhere close to freezing.

No way in hell you could get those efficiency numbers when litterally everyone else get above at least 200wh/km.

Your quoting EPA range in the winter. Im officially calling shenanigans!

Not these are long term averages, set up the odometer to collect this data.
Live in Ont Canada, yes it’s below freezing.
An hour before I leave top up the battery.
15 to 30 minutes before raise the temp to 19C
Been driving around in -14C at times.
May get worse in Jan and Feb, will find out soon.

“An hour before I leave top up the battery.”

A very clever way to warm the battery up and improve its efficiency once you start driving. Nice.

Except it’s better for the longevity of your battery to charge it when it’s still warm when you park it. Any “lost capacity” will be regained as the battery warms while you next drive it.

It’s still a 20% range loss, with temperatures only going down to -14 (not that cold). It doesn’t seem that unreasonable from a relativistic view if it’s an average. Expect around 40% range loss for -20 and below days though.

As all things you have too aware of it and act accordingly.
At -20C even gas cars suffer, only the foolish drive around with a 1/4 tank or less.

Sure, but the range doesn’t suffer anywhere near as much, especially on the highway where range is most important.

The initial range on a full tank is greater too. Most cars nowadays have a highway range of >400 miles, so a quarter of a tank is still over 100 miles (or in my particular case not far off 200 miles).

Losing 40% of a 300 mile range is far more severe than losing 10% of a 450 mile range, especially when the latter takes 5 minutes to fill up and the former can take half an hour or more currently.

Gas cars easily lose 20% range in the same conditions an EV loses 40%. They lose just as much efficiency from winter tires and dense air, and ICE efficiency also goes down.

The EPA estimates 12% average efficiency loss for ICE (and >30% for hybrids) at 20F, so it’ll be worse at -20C.

And 5 minutes standing in -20F is much worse than 20 seconds to plug in, especially at home (>80% of mileage) but even at chargers (<20% of mileage) where you stay cozy in the car.

So 12-20% of 450 miles and 40% of 300 miles then? Same difference.

It’s not a competition here. These are real issues and the OP’s post shows this. Obviously if you only commute short distances then this is not as much of an issue, but if you use a vehicle for longer distances it can be. All depends on how you use your car.

When travelling at relativistic speeds it’s natural to see some range loss as well. Try keeping it below 0.00012c and you should get better results.

Another Euro point of view

50% range loss because of cabin heating, ? That screams for a eberspächer type of device to be installed in any EV that does real cold weather driving. I would not buy an EV without at least the possibility to install one. I hope that next generation of EV for the masses do actually have the masses in mind and make this possible.

I hope it since 2012 actually.
Read your post about auxiliary heater and I just don’t understand why this is still not an option offered in the cold climate.
Much better burn a couple liter of combustible, that could be reclaim biofuel, than to stay stranded in lethal cold.
Let say you’re stuck in a snowstorm for a couple hour and you drain your battery with people on board that aren’t polar bear club fan.

Let’s say you get stuck in the snow with half the battery left. In an emergency you aren’t going to blast the heat while waiting for help but will use the seat heaters and keep the cabin temperature as low as possible while still being somewhat comfortable. Doing this will keep you warm at no more than a 3 kW rate.

So with 35 kWh left at a 3 kW rate you will deplete the battery after 11 or 12 hours. You could likely double that time just using the seat heaters only. You have a real problem if you haven’t been found after 12-24 hours whether in a gas car or an EV. I would say though if you live in the Yukon then maybe a Model S or 3 isn’t for you. However, driving on the hundreds of thousands of miles of well traveled interstates in the winter you will be fine. Also mobile phones and growing cell coverage have shrunk the areas where being stranded in the snow becomes fatal.

Another Euro point of view

I would rather see the range issue. Do not forget that for many of us (at least in Europe where still about 40% of cars are diesel) we come from cars which have 500 miles real autonomy so of course we do not need that plentiful but still half of that (250 miles) in all conditions is a must have, so losing out of that reduced range because of cabin heating is problematic, mainly it is so unnecessary- Ethanol when burned is 100% efficient as regards heating, a few litters (3, 5 ?) will go a long way and will not cause any environmental damage as compared to our footprint anyway. Actually I would not be t all surprised that using a few liters of ethanol in a whole winter to heat your car cabin is more environment friendly than to create the need of a big battery that will still create a bit of an environmental mess to manufacture then the big heavy car which needs to be built around it and the electricity used that probably is like 60% of the electricity which needed to be produced in the first place before it gets to your car battery.

In many regions you would burn oil or other fossil fuel in winter one way or another. Peak power in cold winter nights doesn’t come from unicorn PVs – it comes from peaker plants that may convert only about third or less of thermal energy to electricity for your resistance heater.

So you may be burning several times more of oil by insisting of keeping the process out of sight. Better do it locally if you need thermal energy.

More Big Oil propaganda from a fossil fuel shill.
Fossil fuels are and will be replaced by RE and electric cars are already far more efficient then the Dino burners you drive zzzzz.

It’s not just cabin heat. It’s heating the battery as well, which may well have more of a range degradation. There’s also the lack/significantly reduced regen which is likely to affect range as well.

Winter range loss is a reality of all EVs. Here’s my formula on the range you need for your EV. Take your round trip commute say (70 mi) add 25% because you don’t want to charge regularly to 100% or go lower than 10%, add 25% because winter will sap your range, make that one 35% if you live somewhere really cold, add 10% for errands because you might need to go someplace other than your commute, add another 20% because if you plan on keeping the car for the long term, you’ll experience some degradation. So in my case with a 70mi commute, I’d need minimum 130 miles of range just to make my commute without stress for the next few years. This is in Northern CA.

Obviously these numbers are just for commute driving. If you’re frequently making longer trips, that’s a whole different story. Even though I have work charging and there’s plenty of public chargers, the harsh reality of EVs (in the bay area at least) is that there’s too many cars and too few chargers, so you can’t rely on these things. You need to assume they aren’t available to you.

Percentages lost….. Might I also add that driving in a good rain probably dropped my range about 10% the other morning, even trying to avoid the deeper track puddles.

Too bad he didn’t mention how cold it was in his garage or car port when talking about the “Phantom Drain”.

In other news: GM just announced layoffs of 50 people at its battery plant in suburban Detroit, mostly due to the VOLT and a hybrid buick being discontinued.

Rather shows you where GM’s head is. I never believed their blather about EV’s being so great, and then discontinuing 2 of their 3 electrics. If they are really releasing 20 new evs or some other nonsense they’re spewing, why wouldn’t they need an extra battery or two?.

At least Tesla to their credit is still making electric cars.

With EVs you get massive heat instantly (and with a heat pump in less than a minute) so its not an apples to apples comparison. This is especially useful with really really cold weather.
Then again if I were to live in Siberia the winter electricity bill for the Model 3 would be gigantic.

Doesn’t seem true of all EVs. My Spark EV can take quite some time to heat up. I generally precondition in the morning while plugged in, so it is not too much an issue. But currently don’t have a place to stay plugged in while at work to do the same for the drive home.

Massive heat instantly? I’ve not experienced that in any EV.

My Model 3 gets good heat within a couple of minutes at most.
My Bolt gets good heat within 2-4 minutes.
My 2012 Volt takes 5-10 minutes to get good heat and drains half the battery if you leave the heat on unless its running on gas.

If they offered the LR at $35k I would do it for sure. But a $9k upcharge for a few more miles is highway robbery. Then add mandatory $5k PUP option and the car is $50k. Which is a lot more than I am willing to spend on a car.

Eventually we just need tons of L1/L2 destination charging in every parking lot. Then winter range won’t matter as much.

With the full tax credit, the LR RWD was the best option. Any state credits made it an even better deal. It’s unlikley that you will ever be able to get a $35k version of the car that qualifies for any federal tax credit.

For those that only use their car for commuting. In which case why not take public transport?

For those of us that regularly travel 100’s of km then it’s a different story.

That is why I bought the Honda Clarity PHEV. No range anxiety even in winter. So far I’ve clocked over 3,000 miles running in EV mode using 110 VAC overnight charges at home + about 10 US gallons of gas in total. The GOM shows a pure EV range of about 38-40 miles after an overnight charge even with the current cold weather.

Dude is trying to self justify the extra expense he imposed on himself. The SR with 220 miles range even if it dropped to 110 miles range due to extreme cold would have covered his 88mile battery usage scenario easily. Also, he could have save himself many miles range by preconditioning while plugged in at home, and then not preconditioned after work while not plugged in.

Does it have battery & cabin pre-heat while still connected to AC power options? That would help.

When I bought I could have ordered AWD for $4k extra. That’s less than 10% on a $49k car. I stuck with the LR RWD car because that version’s true EPA range rating is 332 miles (Tesla down-rated because they didn’t want it to look better than the AWD and P versions). I’m so glad I did that because I live in New England and need every bit of range I can get in the cold.

For my car on my daily commute (60 miles each day) I average the following efficiency:

Warm Temps (>60F)
No HVAC 180-190wh/mi
HVAC 210-220wh/mi

Cold Temps (<60F)
No HVAC 210-220wh/mi
HVAC 260-280wh/mi

Heat is an efficiency killer. AC is not as bad. I’ve yet to experience sustained temps under 20F.

For a 60mile commute, with your high level of efficiency, doesn’t seem like you needed the LR, you could have made do with a SR. I’m sure you end up with a ton of remaining range each and every day, regardless of temp.

Queue the hate from the BEV Puristas in 3-2-1 but I think until battery capacity gets really cheap a “very cold weather” package consisting of a small propane or alcohol powered heater would be a great option for BEVs. Most of us agree it is more efficient to heat our houses with natural gas than natural gas generated electricity no? I don’t need to deal with real winter but if I did even the range of the model 3 LR in really cold weather would be marginal to me. 200 miles of real highway range is my minimum and the boss isn’t going to ride shotgun with the climate control set to 60F.

You have got to be kidding

Nope but the thumbs down reaction was predictable from the BEV Puristas. What would you suggest as an alternative for people who want to own a BEV but need 200+ or more miles of range in really cold (sub zero F) weather? Again I am only talking about a fuel powered _heater_ as an _option_ for BEVs for people who live in really cold climates. At some point battery prices and energy densities will make this unnecessary but we are not there yet. Note that my wife and I own 2 BEVs so I am very much pro BEV. But, where I live we don’t get real winter. If I lived somewhere with a real winter there isn’t presently a BEV that would meet my needs.

Model 3 Range loss is highly variable, my one way commute is 33 miles in NJ , weather 25-30 F, upto 15 miles average energy usage around 350 wh/mile at highway speed next 18 miles energy usage falls below 300, so it takes 15 miles to warm up battery fully, if car is charging right before I leave for work efficiency is lot better, because of my Time of the day rate with JCP&L I normally charge at night.

Is is partly warming up the battery but assuming you are using the cabin heater there is a large initial cost to heat up the cabin. The resistive heater will run full tilt at about 4K watts until the cabin reaches your set temperature. Once it is at that temperature keeping it there requires considerably less energy. You can really see this if you start the car “cold”, pull up the energy use graph and then drive at a steady speed.

So Tesla still refuses to offer any cars with heat pumps, right? Hardly surprising then. When you have a large, thirsty car with a big battery the heating load doesn’t make as much of a difference, but as smaller, cheaper and more efficient cars with smaller batteries come on the market, heat pumps will become more and more important. The TM3 MR is a good sign of this.

Something similar to this issue is currently being discussed at Tesla Motor Club. This ‘Phantom Drain’ when the car is parked.
Model ‘3’ losses range from a few miles a day to 13 / 6.5 hour overnight.

Seems to be very temperature dependent, but there is also something about apps, and also doing anything to disturb the car’s ‘sleeping’ by making it go unintentionally into an ‘idle’ mode – that and the cold seem to make the worst losses.