Tesla Model 3 Winter Range In the Real World – Video

JAN 5 2018 BY MARK KANE 66

Now You Know’s test of the “real world” winter range of Tesla Model 3 shows only 16% drop in estimated range compared to the car’s 310-mile EPA rating.

Model 3 “Real World” Winter Range (source: Now You Know)

With winter weather truly gripping much of the U.S., it’s comforting to know that the conditions don’t seem to impact the Model 3 too severely.

In the test, the Model 3, after a day outside in the cold, achieved 281 Wh/mile with both cabin heating and heating seats on and Autopilot was on for most of the trip. The car was driving up to 70 mph (112 km/h). Estimated range was at 261 miles (420 km).

On the trip back, heating for the cabin was off, so the result was closer to the EPA estimation.

  • EPA: 310 miles (499 km)
  • Trip A (with heating): 261 miles (420 km) and 281 Wh/mile
  • Trip B (no heating): 308.6 miles (496 km) and 243 Wh/mile
  • Average A & B: 275.7 miles (444 km) and 272 Wh/mi

We believe that in even colder weather and heavy snow, results will be worse, but that’s the case with any car, electric or otherwise.

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66 Comments on "Tesla Model 3 Winter Range In the Real World – Video"

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Our BoltEV really hates the cold.

* In the summer/spring/fall it consistently exceeds EPA regularly; 4.3mi/kwh average (~260 mi range) even with light air conditioning.

* In single-digit winter weather with minimal heat (thermostat set to LO) it drops to 2.8mi/kwh (~160 mi range).

In other words very cold temps brings a ~40% drop in range on the BoltEV.

The most interesting part is the efficiency gets better after about an hour of constant driving in the cold (rises to about 3.3mi/kwh); presumably as the battery and tires warm up?

On the other hand, our SoulEV only takes a ~25% hit in range in the cold (although it has way less range overall).

Does the Soul EV heat the battery for the first ~ 1hr?

That might be the difference

Heat pump might make a diff. Is this the + version that includes the heat pump?

We got our Bolt EV in September, and at first we were averaging about 5.1 – 5.2 miles per kWh, with about half of driving at highway speeds.

And yes, at about 9F (and strong gusty winds) with four people in the car, at 55MPH, and the defroster / heat set on 61F (the windows fogged in a minute or two w/o it), we averaged 3.3 miles / kWh.

GM is better with PHEVs, in this regard. For instance, Volt2’s exhaust manifold coolant loop was an upgrade from a system that already had separate cabin and battery loops.

Does Bolt range-estimate, like Volt? Tesla’s interest in optimistic claims extends to its approach on range displays. It’s up the user not to end up like NYT’s “Broder”, and subtract from the range display the amount of “miles” they’re really going to need.

No, it’s not. Put the address in the GPS and the car tells you what you’ll have when you arrive, based on hills, cold, wind, your speed, etc.

I agree Hans.

With my wife freeway driving the Bolt at 70+mph in cold, rainy weather blasting the heater/defrost on high she usually gets about 140-150 miles range from full so a huge hit on range.

I can keep it up closer to 180-190 miles just by using only seat/steering wheel heaters and driving 65mph.

Are you preconditioning the car while plugged in at home before leaving?

“* In single-digit winter weather with minimal heat (thermostat set to LO) it drops to 2.8mi/kwh (~160 mi range).”

So far, the lowest my Bolt’s range estimate got was 199 miles this past week. Temperatures were in the teens and winds were pretty high.

The past few days the weather has been in the 30s and 40s, I’m back to around 220 miles. Today we hit 50 again and I’m back above 230.

I do the same thing you do. I set the thermostat to low although I just turn the defroster on. When it is below 40, I also pre-heat the cabin for about 10 minutes before I get in.

Most likely the only difference is speed. My average speed is between 45 and 50 mph with lots of stop and go to capture regen. So I’m sure that helps!

You guys are crazy for going without cabin heat. No thanks!

Please don’t tell people you do this, it’ll set EV adoption back years if the word gets out.

lol but I have cabin heat! I don’t turn it completely off.

I warm it up to 70 while plugged in then keep the defroster blowing warm air so that It never gets below 60. That plus the seat/wheel warmers keeps me plenty warm in 30 or 40 degree weather.

If it was below 0 that might not be strong enough lol. But it doesn’t get that cold very often in my area.

FYI, stop and go doesn’t help efficiency. Regen just reduces the huge loss of efficiency that gas cars get in stop and go traffic.

But yes, 50mph will have a lot less consumption than 70mph due to air resistance, so that explains your better range.

Every bit of information helps…

Eventually I’m hoping that someone will build a trip calculator that factors in cold temperatures.

For example, if a family wanted to go to a rustic (off grid) cottage for a weekend snow shoeing or ice fishing trip, what capacity would be safe:
1) travel X*2 miles in temperature Y
2) let the BEV sit for H hours at average temperature Z

If X=100, Y=30F, Z=25F and H=36, this might be safely done with a Model 3 LR.

But what if Y/Z=-10F? or H=72?

People might not properly account for H as an ICE does not lose range sitting in cold climates.

Yes, a calculator and/or knowledge of your H calculation would be nice and why not when the technology is there to give us the information.

Of course, as battery ranges and charger locations increase, we get closer to range loss we have lived with for years with an ICE. My F150 loses 20% when temps head toward the teens.


That is a great result. My eGolf will take a 50% range hit in SoCal for running the heater…pretty lame.

I have been driving EV’s for a bit over 3 years, and I live pretty close by the folks who made this video. It seems that the Model 3 is losing less range in the winter than the LEAF, e-Golf and Bolt EV that I have lived with.

My guess is that the Model 3 has a heat pump, and it definitely has much lower aerodynamic drag than any of the EV’s I have owned. Colder air is denser, and so aero drag has an even stronger effect in the winter. So, highway speeds are even tougher on range, than they are in the summer.

Though, hopefully they will do a similar test during the snow storm, with winter tires. Snow adds a lot to rolling resistance, and loss of traction also lowers range a fair bit.

As far as my knowledge goes, the Model 3 has a resistive heater.

Model 3 AFAIK has a battery heater that works by sending DC current through the motor windings, then running the coolant pump to distribute that heat to the battery pack.

“As far as my knowledge goes, the Model 3 has a resistive heater.”

Yeah, I’m pretty sure I read that no Tesla car including the Model 3 uses a heat pump.

Heat pumps can save energy in mildly cold weather, but when it’s really cold they don’t put out enough heat to matter. So if you’re going to have just one heater for the cabin, it should be a resistive heater… unless you’re sure you’re never going to drive that car in bitterly cold conditions.

A decade or two ago that would have been true. Heat pumps today work well at even very low temperatures.

My heat pump is 18 years old. It does ok until the outside temps drop into the teens. Overall I’m happy with it.

The heat pump in my 2002 Rav4EV works just fine down to 26F–the lowest it has been where I live.

I can only guess that a 75kWh battery was used. Why is that piece of information missing in the article?

If I calculate because of “with minimum 70% retention of Battery capacity over the warranty period”, the worst-case range mentioned here is just some km too short.
I’m also thinking of a) having capacity for 2 working days in case there’re problems concerning charging and b) other car manufacturers with batterys from other manufacturers than Tesla is using.
When you buy a Renault Zoe with battery it’s 66% (75% if rented).


Uh, you don’t need to guess.
The 75kWh battery (the “long range” option) is the only one available in a production Model 3 so far. It’s unclear when the smaller battery option will be available, but it’s at least 3 months and more like 6.

1. Why do you obviously assume people should know that?! There’re also other (electric) car manufacturers/models…
2. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Model_3#Technische_Daten says the Model 3 with 50kWh battery is available since 11/2017 (probably they don’t care about if it’s already available for people who aren’t working for Tesla).


Sorry, build since …

No, everyone knows that only the 75kWh packs are available.

No, definitively not everyone.


PS: Such behavior like yours in that posting will IMHO have negative influence on people who are currently unsure about buying an EV…

“2. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Model_3#Technische_Daten says the Model 3 with 50kWh battery is available since 11/2017″

Wikipedia isn’t always right. That appears to be one example of it being wrong.

That’s why such values must be written in such articles.


Yes, the Wiki is out of date. Best to get information like this from the manufacturer. There is no other battery configuration available for the Model 3 at this point. Not in any country, for any customer. They are all “long range” with ~ 75 kWh packs.

Long way of saying that your assumption of 75 kWh is a winner, because it can’t be anything else.

At this point ,there is only one battery pack level available……

At 2:35 in the video it says 75 kWh battery on the screen.

There’s so many variables at play, that approximating the “winter” loss is an exhaustive exercise. Personally, one of the biggest hits I see are from the result of battery “cold soaking”, which (in the Model S) often requires the 6 kW battery heating element to run for ~an hour or so. This effectively takes about 20 miles off for each “warming session”, in addition to heat required for the cabin to warm up. Also, to note that during battery warming regenerative braking is significantly reduced or even eliminated, furthering overall efficiency losses.

In general, my summer consumption averages about 315 w/mile, winter ~360-450 w/mile depending on the length of trip and conditions.

Winter Range was the biggest factor I was unaware of when getting into my first EV, Ford Focus Electric. 76 miles EPA, saw 100 miles in 90F and as little as 49 miles in 10f. It’s a huge swing and that was challenging at times. Now with my Soul EV with battery heater, rate 93 miles, I’m seeing 67 miles in 10f winter weather and 114 in summer at 90f. Consumption 4.7mi/wh down to 3.2mi/Wh. I’m glad to see articles discussing this because you should buy range according to your climate swing, so that you can drive all year round without too much concern for your conditions.

Ho hum, another joke of a comparison. 35 to 39 degrees? “Really really cold”?

Not representative since recently 92% of the 48 states were under 32 deg F.

Where I live in Western Ny, you can go over a month during the winter time with the weather never going above that.

If someone seriously wants to do a cold winter test, do it in Northern Minnesota.

Also – the thing that at once, Everyone asks about (Including mostly people who really own Teslas), but NO ONE ever tests for, is what is the % battery drain leaving the car in a parking lot, something I personally have to do OFTEN during the winter time with ANY car.

Hi Bill – I can give you one data point. I just bought a Bolt EV and left it in Philly at the airport unplugged for a week while temperatures were in the 10-20F range (lows/highs), though it went down below that when we arrived (5F, maybe??). I parked with 105 miles range and it went down to 98 miles range when I got back and immediately drove 80 miles before plugging in (and though I went into low-power mode, I made it with some range left).

105 was about 65% SOC, based on my total range for the cycle of around 160, 98 then was then 61%. So, lose 4% SOC/week of sitting in ~ 20F average temps, more or less.

Yeah Hi Dan, As far as the Bolt goes it uses just about double what it does in the summertime in this weather on average.

But this video was about the Model 3. But then these videos always test in warm weather no matter what they say.

The one that gets me is they never test the performance of I3 Rex when the battery is dead with the heater on high. But they’ll do a hundred of the same roadtests, whereas the former is the FIRST thing I’d want to know.

But that is interesting to know that it loses 1/2 % per day in under 0 deg weather.

The battery must self-heat once per day to protect itself.

Worst case I get is around 3X summer usage, unless in bumper-bumper traffic its around 4X

I didn’t hear him say what temp he set the cabin heater to. Obviously that could make a big difference. (60 degrees vs 75 degrees). He had on a thick coat while driving with the cabin heat “on,” so I suspect it was a low heating level. 32 degrees outside is also not that cold. I don’t know what you can actually conclude from this. The Tesla defies the laws of thermodynamics and somehow is nearly as efficient using heat as it is not using heat? Doubt it. I believe the Tesla model S uses some mechanism to capture heat from the motor and electronics to help with other heating demands which is neat and if present in the model 3, maybe helps it gain a bit of cold weather efficiency in the cold relative to other EV’s. I doubt the effect is large. My Bolt’s heater is powerful and the car is very liberal with its use. If you don’t mind it, it can eat up the energy quickly. There is no eco heat setting, either. I can also tell it is not as efficient at highway speeds because of its aerodynamics. I have no trouble believing the model… Read more »

Completely agree. This video only generates one data point. I hope he will continue generate data at different temperatures (20, 10 F) and different heat settings (no heat, 60F thermostat, 70F thermostat).

The temperature on the dash was set to 72 degrees. I assume he didn’t change that at any point in the trip.

Attention to detail dept.. The video clearly shows a close up of the inside cabin temp settings for the first leg of his trip set to 72 degrees F.

Cold weather disproportionately affects city driving, not highway driving. Admittedly, nobody cares about city range. At worst, in the winter in the city, an EV costs more to operate, and must plug in more often.

If you compare to ICE cars apple to apple (i.e, no heater for both EV and ICE, or heater on EV vs warm up ICE for 5 min before you get into the car), EV in winter definitely costs much less than ICE if you drive in city with short distance trips.

You don’t lose a lot of range driving one long distance trip. You lose way lot more when you drive many short distance trips with heater on.

EPA: 310 miles (499 km)
Trip A (with heating): 261 miles (420 km) and 281 Wh/mile
Trip B (no heating): 308.6 miles (496 km) and 243 Wh/mile
Average A & B: 275.7 miles (444 km) and 272 Wh/mi

Pretty decent numbers! not drastically different than what I get in my Bolt under similar circumstances. Although I rarely get the opportunity to drive 70 mph. The Model 3 will outperform the Bolt at those speeds. 😛

*Just FYI to Mark, according to the dash Trip A used 287 Wh/mile not 281. Not a major difference… just letting you know! 🙂

70 mph?

It took him over an hour to go 36 miles. The video was a “fluffy” winter range test,… imo.

Good catch, I missed that. 😉 That doesn’t mean it took him an hour though.

Most likely after starting the “trip”, with filming and such in between, a lot of that time was not spent actually driving. He did say he let the car sit for a while before continuing the return trip.

But generally yeah, not a very scientific study. Just a guy who loves his car lol. We will have to wait for someone to do a truly detailed winter stress test.

He travelled from northwest of Lowell to MIT. Google maps says that’s a 56 minute drive… due to traffic, which is what he says in the video.

Brand new model 3 and already the charge port door needs service???

(⌐■_■) Trollnonymous

I know some brand new Bolt owners and their screen freezes/hangs.

“Now You Know’s test of the ‘real world’ winter range of Tesla Model 3 shows only 16% drop in estimated range…”

That’s nice, but it’s not going to apply in all situations. This was done with overnight temperatures about 20° F, and my guess is they left the car on the charger overnight, so the battery heater would keep it warm.

Try that in sub-zero temps, with the car left outside and not plugged in overnight… that would “broderize” the car and leave it with sharply reduced range.

I don’t mean to bash EVs here, but people do need to understand what their limitations are, just as most people now understand what the limitations of gasmobiles are. It’s not that EVs are worse than gasmobiles; it’s just that they’re different. One of those differences is that if it’s going to be bitterly cold, then you need to leave the car plugged in overnight.

ummm, this is not a real test.

not that cold, sun shinning, not driven until battery dead, just estimated.

At -20degC (-4F) my 30kwh Leaf is down to about 110K (about 66m) from avg 180K in nicer weather. Car works well in extreme cold other than that.

Couldn’t finish up planned work today as I forgot some tools and used up range going back to get them. By mid afternoon battery was down to 36% and I was afraid of the battery heater turning off if it got below 30%. I’ve heard Lith Ions may “brick” if they get down to minus 20C.

Would be interesting to see how the M3 would fare being parked outside at these temps without being plugged in. To be safe, one should plan on a range loss of 40% with the kind of temps we’ve had lately.

“I’ve heard Lith Ions may ‘brick’ if they get down to minus 20C.”

To “brick” a li-ion battery pack means it’s permanently ruined and has to be replaced. Is that actually what you meant?

I’ve read of PEVs refusing to start, if left sitting outside and not plugged in, when the temperature gets that cold, but I’ve never seen any report of an EV’s battery pack being ruined just because it got too cold.

Ha! You accused Musk of selling Defective Roadsters but you had NO CLUE all this time that it was cold related.

36mph average speed is pretty slow and great for EV range.

Hmmm 310 miles range at just 70MPH?
This will not work well in Germany … when you drive long distances you may have average speed of 100MPH with peaks up to 150MPH.
Guess range will shrink a lot then?

My ICE Skoda has > 300 miles range whith this usage pattern.

They can’t do this. They drove a short trip and then calculated the total range from that. That means tad they would drive 35 miles, let cabin cool down, drive again and let it heat up again and do forth. On a real long range trip heating would affect range a lot less!

Cherry pick data. Garage in garage out.


32F really cold… it was reported the Model3 was being tested in Montreal. I wonder, what the range data would be in Montreal/Ottawa, or even Toronto (as we are getting into -25C overnight (-13F) for the past few days.
But frankly, it’d be ok for me if I get a half of those 499km/310m at -25C, leaving a cold garage at 2-3 degree warmer than outside. We have chargers around pretty dense already.
danpatgal, thanks for the useful data about Bolt in Philly.

Another Euro point of view

If EVs are to become mainstream in cold climate they will have to offer fuel heaters as an option (webasto etc.) I know this would be difficult to accept for early EV adopters but who cares. This “thick coat/no heating” non sense is only OK for the 1 percenters and not many will accept to pay for a large battery instead of a reliable 600$ fuel heater that will take a few liters of fossil fuel (or ethanol) per year just for the sake of keeping warm without hard hitting the already tiny range those EV have.

As some already wrote, those are no real cold weather conditions.

I am curious as the video makes not mention of elevation change. Which can also be a huge factor in the efficiency.

It would be helpful to know what the temperature outside was.