Tue, Feb 05, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Tesla owners vent about polar vortex affecting their cars


The next time a polar vortex rips through the US, electric vehicle owners should be prepared to be frustrated if they do not take special care of their battery-powered rides.

Winter has come for Tesla Inc and its army of car owners, which swelled in size last year. And some of those customers have cooled on the company along with freezing temperatures. Model 3 owners have taken to social media and online forums to air issues they have had with their sedans due to the frigid weather of last week. Cold conditions are a drain on battery range, no matter the car brand, but other predicaments are particular to Tesla.

Ronak Patel, a CPA auditor in New Jersey, bought a Model 3 in August. He has driven about 240km in the cold over the past few days.

“My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles [32 to 40km] overnight and an extra five to 10 miles on my drive to work,” he said. “I paid US$60,000 to not drain my battery so quickly.”

Tesla is not alone in facing this flaw.

“It’s Panasonic that manufactures Tesla batteries,” Bloomberg New Energy Finance analyst Salim Morsy said. “It happens to Chevy with the Bolt and Nissan with the Leaf.”

Tesla delivered more than 245,000 cars last year, tripling its total from 2017, and much of its growth took place in the second half after overcoming what Elon Musk called “production hell.”

“What’s specific to Tesla is the quality of manufacturing,” Morsy said.

Tesla made a door design decision that is coming back to bite some buyers. The Model 3’s handles are flush with the exterior of the car and require customers to push on one side, then pull on the other to open them. Ice is making that maneuver difficult for drivers who have posted pictures online of their frozen handles.

Some are just venting, and others are writing to Tesla or Musk himself, asking for a fix.

Andrea Falcone, a software engineer in Boston, tweeted a picture of her frozen handle, commenting: “I can’t wait all day for this silly car.” Less than two months earlier, she had purchased the Model 3 and posted a smiley emoji and a picture of herself posing with the new car.

The cold temperatures came even earlier for customers in Canada, prompting instructional videos suggesting ways to overcome frozen handles. One almost seven-minute YouTube video shows how an owner had taped dental adhesive film over his door handles to protect them from freezing.

Musk tweeted on Jan. 25 that Tesla was preparing over-the-air software updates that would improve how its cars were holding up in cold weather.

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