Share this on
January 2024

Tesla vs. the big cold in Chicago: it's a 0-1, all square

Enrica Lazzarini

Extreme temperatures leave electric cars stranded
In the heart of Chicago, dozens of Teslas were left abandoned in the streets during the intense cold that is gripping the Midwest these days, bringing temperatures down to minus 30 degrees Celsius in some cases. The cause? The difficulty in recharging the batteries due to the extreme cold. Owners had to leave their cars behind because the charging stations were either out of order or had difficulty filling up the electric cars. Charging a Tesla - as reported by CBS News - should take about 45 minutes, but motorists standing in the queue at the stations had to wait up to two hours to complete the charging cycle.

To US broadcaster Fox News, Mark Bilek of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association explained that cold weather can affect the ability of electric vehicles to charge properly: 'It's not plug and go. You have to precondition the battery, which means you have to get it to the optimum temperature to accept a fast charge'. Elon Musk's car manufacturer's website states that at low temperatures, more energy is required to heat the vehicle and therefore it is normal for consumption to increase. Tesla has therefore recommended keeping the charge level above 20 per cent and using the 'programmed start' function so that the vehicle can manage the charging process itself.

The cold season consumes more battery power because it is needed to heat the car and power the engine. Teslas dominate the US electric car market, with Elon Musk's company accounting for 55% of the 1.2 million sold last year. In all, there are more than three million electric vehicles on American roads and 135,000 public charging stations across the country. And Joe Biden's administration would like half of all new vehicles to be electric by 2030.

This raises the question not only for manufacturers of electric cars in extreme weather conditions, but also for owners of electric cars: it takes some care in planning journeys and monitoring battery levels, as well as in treating the charging stations correctly, avoiding leaving the cables on the ground on ice or snow after charging. In addition, it would be a good idea for infrastructure managers to find ways to protect the charging stations from the weather when the weather gets too cold.

This situation therefore underlines the importance of addressing the challenges of extreme temperatures in the evolution of the electric car industry. Finding solutions to ensure that electric cars operate in all weather conditions is crucial.

Do not miss any article from the Autopromotec Blog! Subscribe to our newsletter!