Home » Here’s Why So Many Tesla Owners Are Stranded In Chicago’s Deep-Freeze

Here’s Why So Many Tesla Owners Are Stranded In Chicago’s Deep-Freeze

Dead Robots Tesla Ts2
ADVERTISEMENT

Well, this isn’t a great look for America’s most popular EV brand. News outlets WGN News, CBS Chicago, and Fox 32 Chicago all report that Tesla drivers in Chicago who depend on Supercharger DC fast charging stations ran into substantial issues when trying to charge during the current cold snap. The infrastructure seems to be simply tapped-out at this time, with long wait times and reliability concerns causing a run-on effect.

One guy in an absolutely fantastic jacket told Fox (a news outlet that tends to be skeptical of EVs) “We got a bunch of dead robots out here.” Another well-dressed man spoke to camera, saying “Nothing, there’s no juice, zero percent, and this is like three hours this morning being out here after being out here eight hours yesterday.” Over on WGN, one Tesla driver tells a saga of being towed to a Supercharging station because two other locations were either full-up or unusable. WGN reports that several Teslas were towed from the Rolling Meadows Supercharging station due to running out of juice, an unusual scenario to be in.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Reports Of Supercharger Issues

It’s not just major news stations that are reporting charging troubles. If you drive an electric car, you may be familiar with PlugShare, a charging app that displays stations on a map and lets users check in at charging stations and describe how their experience went. Across the Chicago area, recent Tesla Supercharger check-ins paint a troubling picture.

One review for the Skokie Supercharger station by PlugShare user Rowan Quinain on Jan. 15 reports that arguments have broken out over charging priority.

Chicagoland Tesla owners are losing their minds because of the cold ???? I have witnessed a line about 6 cars long and three vehicles getting into fights over who gets to use the next available charger. The SC network in Chicagoland is a sh*tshow right now.

Of course, it also doesn’t help that several stations were reportedly offline during the cold snap. PlugShare user jsmay311 published a check-in on Jan. 15, stating that:

ADVERTISEMENT

Several Supercharger stations around Chicagoland are out of service today due to the cold, and Rosemont appears to be one of them. The Oak Brook closure in particular has gotten a lot of press coverage.

Up in Northbrook, a Jan. 15 PlugShare check-in from user Rudy C. at the Northbrook Supercharging station reports malfunctioning stations and a line to get hooked up.

Three stations down (1B, 1D, 2C). On-screen charger status didn’t show a long wait due to navigation ending once you’re in the parking lot. No stated wait time but at least 5 cars in line.

PlugShare isn’t the only platform drivers are voicing their problems on. Over on the Tesla Motors Club forum, some users are voicing skepticism due to other cold climate areas like Norway and Sweden having chargers that work, while users claiming to be from the Chicago area are reporting widespread local problems. A user named Bikeman claiming the Chicago Area as their locale went in-depth on local charging station woes on Jan. 15.

These are just the stations in my immediate vicinity. There are many more locally that are either closed or nearly closed. This is a big news story locally, and it isn’t a good look for Tesla or electric cars in general.

currently…
Arlington Heights, 5 stalls out of order (O.O.O.)
O’Hare, 1 stalls O.O.O.
Elmhurst, 2 stalls O.O.O.
Oakbrook, CLOSED all stalls O.O.O.
Burr Ridge, 2 stalls O.O.O.
Naperville, 4 stalls O.O.O.
Aurora, 2 stalls O.O.O.
Oswego, 2 stalls O.O.O.
Bolingbrook, 4 stalls O.O.O.
Rosemont, CLOSED all stalls O.O.O.
Orland Park, 7 stalls O.O.O.
Country Club Hills, CLOSED, all stalls O.O.O.
New Lenox, 5 stalls O.O.O.
Flossmore, 3 stalls O.O.O.

All have wait times, some major. Many have bricked Teslas clogging the area around the stations.

My model Y is currently on “shore power” and hopefully happy. Been plugged in (outside, no garage*) for 5 solid days now and hasn’t moved in these double-digit negative temps. Been using the Prius as my daily driver because it can handle the cold better — the windows and door work reliably, whereas the Tesla is a pain for that reason. I’m lucky I have 2 cars and also have a home charging solution for the both of them. But jeez, I cannot fathom owning any electric car for these 15 days in these temps without being able to charge at home. There’s a guy at work that has one car, a BZ4x, no home charging at all, and travels 75 miles per day round trip. In this weather he says he only has 100 miles of sustained charge. He’s using 3rd party D.C. chargers somewhere. Yikes.

It’s not clear how much broken chargers are contributing to the issues we’re seeing in Chicago, or why those chargers are failing; a number of sources seem to imply that charge plugs can get filled with ice. Here’s a comment from a Redditor on the TeslaModel3 page:

People get lazy and don’t make sure the charging tip is secure in the stand. It falls out into slush or snow on the ground. It either freezes or gets compacted into ports on the tip. That’s why most of the chargers can’t be plugged in fully (at least the ones I tried and looked at with my flashlight in rolling meadows and Northbrook did).

And another:

Oregon here. We’ve been sub-20⁰ for the past several days. The chargers here don’t work because they get ice buildup inside the plug, so they won’t fit into the receptacle on the car. More than half of the 12 stalls were useless at PDX.

Here’s a Tesla body shop owner saying the same thing about ice in the plugs:

ADVERTISEMENT

More Importantly: EVs Need More Juice In The Winter, And That Puts Demand On Infrastructure

Chicago is experiencing an unusual cold snap with conditions as low as -9°F on Monday as reported by CBS Chicago. Electric vehicles have a temperature window of ideal efficiency, so unsurprisingly, these conditions fall far outside of that. One Chicago-based Model S owner reported energy consumption rates of 911 Wh/mi, or about 1.1 mi/kWh. That’s still roughly equivalent to a combustion-powered car achieving 33 MPG, but it’s not great for an EV. Unsurprisingly, this inefficiency causes people to charge more often, and drivers are arriving to infrastructure being used at capacity.

Electric vehicles typically do a neat thing when navigating to a charging station: They pre-condition their battery packs to accept higher current. This is great, except when several people are in line to charge and you’re at the back of the queue, your preconditioning could wear off before you get a chance to plug in. The result? Longer charging times with a knock-on effect for everyone behind. Here’s what a Reddit user on the TeslaModel3 page had to say about how temperature affects his Model 3’s charge time:

I’ve never had a charger not work for me, but plenty of times at -30 and below I’ve struggled to supercharge. I have a RWD with the LFP battery and it will not charge if it’s cold. Simply will not. So it has to stay plugged in for 30-60 minutes before it even starts taking a charge. It’s better if you can drive at highway speeds for 30 minutes to precondition the battery, but if you can’t you’re going to have to wait.

[…]

-35c here last week in northern Canada and yes, the chargers worked. Whether or not your car will charge is dependent on battery temperature. With a cold-soaked battery you will get no charging at all for the first 30-40 minutes, and then 5-7kW, gradually increasing to 50kW over about an hour. VERY SLOW. The secret is to precondition to charging and then drive on the highway at at least 100kph for at least 30 minutes, then you might get 80kW or so, which is adequate.

Here’s another Redditor’s input:

ADVERTISEMENT

As for the car, every time I precondition the battery before charging the car will still many times think that I didn’t do it (I assume because it is so damn cold). And man, I can’t even explain how much charge I’m going through every night I drive UBER. I’m having to hit the charger three times every 8 hours.

And here’s someone who claims to have been at one of the full Chicago charging stations:

I was one of those people yesterday in Chicago, I have a home charger and started the day with 100%. I had a few plans around various locations for a total trip of about 120 miles. I figured it wouldnt be an issue, even for my 23 SR 3. I was wrong. At 110 miles in, I had 3% battery. It was -12*F all day. I tried 2 supercharger stations, both were packed full. My car died waiting for a stall to open at the second one. It sucked.

It’s also worth noting that Supercharger stations failing in cold weather doesn’t appear to solely be a Chicago issue. One Tesla Motors Club forum poster by the screenname Mr. Nuke claims similar outages happened in Iowa during the same timeframe.

Again, just passing what is going along here. -5 below is actually a warm up from the past several nights The high here yesterday was -8. Heading East from Omaha to Des Moines 4 of 8 are down in Shelby Iowa, 3 of 8 down in the West Des Moines supercharger, etc. My only point is whatever is happening here isn’t unique to Chicago. It spans multiple construction crews, multiple generations of superchargers, multiple utility providers, and apparently several states. It is going to “warm” up over the next two days here and then get quite a bit warmer comparatively again. We’ll see if some of these magically come back on line on their own or not.

Then there’s the wildcard of Supercharger stations being frequented by drivers for hire. Looking at news footage of the jammed-up Tesla Supercharging stations, many models shown charging feature fleet plates, and some individuals interviewed drive for rideshare services like Uber. As Uber driver Darryl Johnson told WGN:

It’s horrible. It takes two hours, to wait, you might wait an hour, it takes two hours to charge, then the charge leaves really quickly so now you’re back at the charger twice a day, so it’s actually horrible.

It should go without saying that rideshare drivers don’t follow the same driving patterns as typical commuters. They’re on the road constantly, using the fastest charging options to stay in the game and keep making money. As incentives and low running costs continue to make EVs attractive options for rideshare drivers, more infrastructure will be needed to keep up with demand.

ADVERTISEMENT

Really, more infrastructure could’ve solved most of the issues experienced in Chicago. Not everyone can charge at home, particularly travelers and people living in many apartments. While it’s more than likely Tesla’s Chicagoland Supercharger network is more than adequate for mild weather needs, severe weather can result in some severe needs, and that’s before we even consider other automakers adopting NACS in the near future. Sometimes, even the best charging networks in the business fall short, indicating how far we need to go.

[Hat-tip to Sacha!]

(Photo credits: Fox 32)

Support our mission of championing car culture by becoming an Official Autopian Member.

Relatedbar

ADVERTISEMENT

Got a hot tip? Send it to us here. Or check out the stories on our homepage.

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
124 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
5 months ago

The weather isn’t killing just Teslas. I learned the hard way that my Zero DSR/X long term loaner is programmed not to accept a charge at temperatures under 32 degrees. That’s been a Zero thing for a while.

It also doesn’t run at all at temps below -4 degrees and the charge drop is something like 2% per day in these super freezing temps. So, the bike has died and since it’s so darn cold, I can’t charge it! I had to roll the frozen 500+ pound chunk of electric ADV into my wife’s garage in a desperate attempt to warm it enough to accept a charge.

Edit: Yes, that means it’s entirely possible to ride this bike on a 20-degree day and then get stuck somewhere because it won’t charge.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mercedes Streeter
Blahblahblah123
Blahblahblah123
5 months ago

Uh, do you ride the Zero when it is this cold?? If you do, you are one hard core bike rider!!!
I would ask Zero, but I would hope you can just leave the bike winter stored in the cold not plugged in?

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
5 months ago

I’m too stubborn/foolish to stop riding when it gets cold. So long as the roads are clean and dry, I’ll ride. Coldest run on the Zero thus far was 20 degrees. Coldest run on a bike period was probably 10 degrees or so.

Edit: Zero recommends leaving it unplugged with a state of charge of around 60 percent. Once the charge drops below 30 percent, it’s recommended to charge it back to 60 percent. The problem, of course, is if you’re storing it somewhere that’s not heated and thus cannot charge once the temps get too low.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mercedes Streeter
Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
5 months ago

Certifiable is a word. 🙂

A. Barth
A. Barth
5 months ago

I’ve seen small tent-like shelters for protecting motorcycles. Some of them mount semi-permanently to the parking surface and then expand up and over the bike to ensure all of it is covered, right down to the bottom of the tires.

It seems like the next iteration should be a heated enclosure. That would alleviate some of the issues with electric models and frankly ICE bikes would benefit as well. If there’s going to be a charging connection there anyway…

(I’m thinking about home parking/charging here; it wouldn’t help get an adventure bike home, unfortunately.)

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago

!!! Cold tires, cold pavement = Bad idea. Do they even make winter rubber for bikes?

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
5 months ago

Yes. They even make studded ones for ice racing.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

Far from the same use case as cold dry roads. How do studs help with that? You need pliable rubber that can grip below 5C/41F, especially when you only have two contact patches.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
5 months ago

Two different things. Look up the Mitas XT-434 for studded tires. For regular winter riding, the rating is called “M&S” (mud and snow). Those kind usually have a special tread patterns and rubber compound. Mitas makes M&S winter tires too, but other more mainstream brands like Heidenau, Avon, Dunlop and Bridgestone also have serviceable varieties.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
5 months ago

I’ve been riding in the cold since the year I got my license. It’s not as bad as it sounds. I wait for the roads to be nice and dry and take things easy. The tires on this particular press loaner aren’t winter tires, but they maintain decent, predictable grip in the cold.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago

I’ve done it and it can be white knuckle. Not my idea of fun anymore. I see a surprising amount of bikes go down in early spring when riders get itchy. Most often it’s sport bikes that require more camber and are on racy rubber that has no grip on a cold surface. Usually low speed manoeuvring on top of that. Exactly how I once went down in a parking lot no less. It wasn’t the cold then, it was a lot of loose surface sand that broke my traction on slick tires.

I put winter tires on my car for a reason and that’s with four contact patches and a far more stable platform for balance and steering. It takes just once less inch of stopping distance or avoidance to make a difference.

Stay safe! 🙂

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
5 months ago

Mercedes Jason alluded to this over the weekend, will you be making an article about this situation? I would rather comment on that particular article than on this thread, I have some thoughts.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
5 months ago
Reply to  Scott Ross

I plan on writing about my winter range testing! This situation will be a part of that piece. 🙂

David Escargot
David Escargot
5 months ago

Sorry… I have to do this… Zero battery at zero charge at zero degrees Celsius is absolute zero

Yung
Yung
5 months ago

So the lowest temp to charge a Zero bike is zero degree celcius

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
5 months ago

Makes me want to run out and buy a Tesla. Right? /s
Screw that crap.

Andy Individual
Andy Individual
5 months ago

FWIW – I was nearly stranded in Edmonton once when fuel pumps were freezing up all over the place. I was lucky, a local directed me to a station where they somehow heated their pumps.

R53 Lifer
R53 Lifer
5 months ago

Maybe just don’t live in the Midwest??

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
5 months ago
Reply to  R53 Lifer

Doesn’t’ leave a lot of great options tbh.

Paul B
Paul B
5 months ago

The key thing to know about lithium batteries is that they can not be charged below freezing. That will destroy the battery pack.

When you charge at those temps, it can take up to an hour for the battery to heat itself to where is can start charging.

The batteries can be discharged when cold. Theoretically, you can lose regen braking in the cold as well.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

But how the H do people run Teslas in Norway and Sweden, then?

anAutopian
anAutopian
5 months ago
Reply to  Vetatur Fumare

They probably RTFM and plan ahead?

Ben
Ben
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

Theoretically, you can lose regen braking in the cold as well.

Not just theoretically. My Prius won’t give you much, if any, regen braking when the battery is very cold. And that’s a car with NiMH batteries that aren’t quite as affected by the cold.

Balloondoggle
Balloondoggle
5 months ago

I’ve seen this story in a couple of places so far and have yet to see anything other than the Tesla SC addressed. Did the other charger networks hold up any better? I don’t have a lot of faith that Electrify America was any sort of savior, but I’d like to hear what was going on with others.

I drive a Bolt and we are also having the arctic wave here, though we’re still in positive numbers so not as cold as Chicago. I use Torque Pro to see the battery situation and saw my battery temp hit 19F when it sat outside overnight. Later I plugged it into the L2 we have and saw the battery conditioning start. It eventually heated up to the mid 60F range, but max range at full charge was still only about 160 miles.

Space
Space
5 months ago
Reply to  Balloondoggle

There were no lines at the EA chargers because everyone knows they are already broken.

Rad Barchetta
Rad Barchetta
5 months ago

One guy in an absolutely fantastic jacket told Fox (a news outlet that tends to be skeptical of EVs) 

Important to note that your local Fox affiliate is not the same thing as “Fox News”, and may or may not be a radical right-wing political machine. Sometimes they’re just a local news station like all the rest.

EPGCivic
EPGCivic
5 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Thank you. This was grinding my gears.

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
5 months ago
Reply to  Rad Barchetta

Thank you – I had no idea.

As someone who moved to the US 10 years ago and only watched streaming/on demand TV (so no regular TV programming) I legit thought all Fox TV stations were the same thing!

Roofless
Roofless
5 months ago

This is what you get for buying a car made by a company headquartered in California. You want cold weather performance? Buy from a company from a place that has weather.

VanGuy
VanGuy
5 months ago
Reply to  Roofless

Tesla is headquartered in Texas. Either way, it’s known that all vehicles lose range/efficiency in the winter. So it sounds like this is just something we need infrastructure to catch up on.

Roofless
Roofless
5 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

To be clear, that was a deeply tongue-in-cheek statement

VanGuy
VanGuy
5 months ago
Reply to  Roofless

Hi, I’m a dumbass who can’t interpret tone on the internet

Roofless
Roofless
5 months ago
Reply to  VanGuy

I mean, it’s the internet – you never know.

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
5 months ago

Seems like a similar phenomenon to when the fossil fuel pipeline shuts down, or the major refinery on the Gulf is down, or there’s a hurricane coming and everyone panic buys fuel, etc. Stuff those of us on the east coast are very familiar with. Not saying this is directly comparable, but, having cars that rely on fossil fuels still has its own set of fuel supply issues.

David Davison
David Davison
5 months ago
Reply to  Mthew_M

Coloradan here, took my wife Subaru to the gas station yesterday morning ( temps around 0F ).
The pump refused to work, might have been just the pump itself.
Went inside and they took my card there, but said that sometimes when it is super cold, the tank is too cold and the pumps dont work.
Anecdote and not data, but I found it interesting.
Anyway, it did work eventually.

NosrednaNod
NosrednaNod
5 months ago

Yet the 4 indoor charging stations across the street in Oak Park sit unused as I type this. It is almost as if people can’t be bothered in the slightest to think things through when conditions deviate slightly from the norm.

Meanwhile… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQjsmRIlb2I

Torque
Torque
5 months ago
Reply to  NosrednaNod

I was just thinking ev chargers in heated (possibly underground) garages in places that regularly get below 0 F is a really practical idea.

In MN it is very common for apartment complexes to have indoor heated (above freezing at least) car garages. Also public indoor garages both in MSP downtown as well as near popular suburb going out/shopping areas.

Scott Ross
Scott Ross
5 months ago

Jason alluded to something similar that Mercedes was dealing with over the weekend. I’m waiting for that article.

Alexk98
Alexk98
5 months ago

This is why I tell people who are considering an EV to rent one for a week first, especially if they’re considering new. At worst, you’re out a few hundred bucks for a rental you don’t strictly need but learn that it won’t fit your lifestyle. At best, you are either reaffirmed that it will work for you, and it takes anxiety out of the purchase, or you save a ton of headache, heartbreak, and thousands on depreciation and chargers that won’t last more than a year before they trade in the car on a hybrid.

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
5 months ago
Reply to  Alexk98

I think that is great advice. But unfortunately, in a week you still won’t run into cases like these. Case in point, it took us a few months of ownership to run into a corner case that wouldn’t work for EV. So, not foolproof but a great idea to get a taste of things.

Alexk98
Alexk98
5 months ago

That’s extremely fair, but I think the biggest thing is so many people who want to be environmentally conscious (or at least look like it) or want to be trendy with an EV do next to no research on charging infrastructure, route planning, or pros and cons articles. Nothing gives you an “Expectations vs. Reality” check like living with a car for a week.

That said, my friends seem to avoid taking my advice when it comes to car buying and keep getting ripped off on impulse buys so trying to convince someone to spend half a grand on a rental is a hard sell. Seriously though, why do people walk into CarMax with no research or plan and just buy something “because I’m already here”

My Goat Ate My Homework
My Goat Ate My Homework
5 months ago
Reply to  Alexk98

My wife reallly wanted an EV and I’m not sure she had any clue what the limitations are.
Luckily we have a nearly perfect use case for one. So it wasn’t a problem and I didn’t have to fight her on it.

Torque
Torque
5 months ago
Reply to  Alexk98

The only way evs win over more than the early adoptors is by being better than ice. Which includes just flipping working as needed even in fairly cold spells* and of course the real green for past early adoptors is getting evs to purchase price parity with ice models as well. I think evs are super close and the battery and charging tech. will get there in the next 5 years

* I live in MN so it usually gets close to or past -20 F for between 1-3 weeks each year for daily low twmps. Not the coldest even in the lower 48 (I think Maine routinely gets colder on average winter lows) but pretty close.

Nsane In The MembraNe
Nsane In The MembraNe
5 months ago

I see lots of people here in DC who buy EVs and street park them and it’s pretty perplexing to me. I understand, and support, having an EV as a second car or making the sacrifices they require work as your only car by charging at home. I even see people running cables out to them on the sidewalk from their homes and apartments, which is a little obnoxious to me (particularly as a runner) but I guess it’s mostly harmless.

But buying one in an incredibly cold place with no home charging? That’s just bad judgment IMHO. However Teslas have more or less become and somehow remain the de facto status symbol for the terminally online. For better or worse there’s nothing that impresses people who know nothing about cars more than a damn Tesla.

There’s a weird part of me that almost respects these folks for willingly driving something so compromised. I guess that’s its own form of car enthusiasm in a way? It pains me to say it because I have very little in common with these types and don’t have the inherent admiration for them that I do for someone driving a Miata to work through the snow or something like that…but it does seem like a form of car enthusiasm even if it’s not one us old heads really jive with.

Mike B
Mike B
5 months ago

I rent and street park, not having a dedicated charging space is reason enough alone to keep me from buying one. IMO, for most people hybrids are the answer.

Arch Duke Maxyenko
Arch Duke Maxyenko
5 months ago

If only Chicago had a decent public transit system, if only.
/sarcasm

James Mason
James Mason
5 months ago

This American problem requires an American solution. MORE! MORE!! MORE!!!

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
5 months ago

The amount of people with $50K+ cars and no charging at home is an interesting move. I don’t have a gas station at home, but that’s not a direct comparison to charging and BEVs. I already have electricity to my home that can easily be upgraded.

Last edited 5 months ago by Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
DadBod
DadBod
5 months ago

I wonder if most of these people have charging at home, are lazy about it, and lack the imagination to forsee an issue with SC during a weather event.

Kind of like driving your ICE past a gas station and going home with the empty light on.

Last edited 5 months ago by DadBod
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
5 months ago
Reply to  DadBod

Could be. I don’t really relish the fact of having to remember to fuel my car otherwise I’ve made a 2 hour mistake. When skipping the gas station is only a 10 minute problem that can easily be planned around.

Griznant
Griznant
5 months ago

Well, when we bought our Tesla we did so knowing the limitations so we:
1) Have a house
2) Plug in at home
3) Live in Michigan where it gets cold and we know how that works so we make sure the car is plugged in, charged, and ready for the cold day ahead.

68k miles, fourth winter in Michigan, and we’ve suffered zero issues. Buy the car that’s right for you, not because it’s “trendy” to do so. I’ve heard of these street-parkers in Chicago who buy EVs and cannot for the life of me figure out why you would ever do that.

Also, with snow tires, the car is a beast in the snow. All wheel drive, easily modulated torque, heavy weight, and a computer that sorts out the slippery stuff makes it great. Just put it on Chill mode, drop the regenerative braking to low, and go on your way.

Alexk98
Alexk98
5 months ago
Reply to  Griznant

I think that’s just sage advice for most people. Genuinely consider what you NEED and not what you WANT. I had a friend who out of college needed a car, had little money, but wanted something he could sleep in for adventures and hikes and whatnot. He wanted a Sequoia and was single, about 5’6″ (doesn’t need a ton of space to sleep), and living at home with his parents to save money (no shame, honestly a great move). I slept fine in my Golf Wagon at 6′, so I convinced him to go for a forester or similar and I’ve heard no complaints.
It’s more than big enough, reliable, far cheaper to buy, and gets 2x the fuel economy of a sequoia. Car purchases are emotional, but on a budget and restricted circumstances, you’ve got to be at least a bit objective.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
5 months ago

You mean, there are problems with BEVs when ambient temperatures are low?

That there are limitations in the physics of current battery technology?

I wonder, WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THIS?

/s

Al Camino
Al Camino
5 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

I haven’t seen the scientific consensus on this, so can’t be sure it’s true, but I have heard that driving a convertible with the top down in a Chicago winter is colder for the occupants than driving a fixed roof vehicle. But until the government allocates millions to fund the studies, we will never know.

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
5 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

“that stuff will never happen to me.”

Typical Tesla owner?

V10omous
V10omous
5 months ago

bUt NoRwAy GeTs CoLd ToO

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
5 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

On average, Chicago and Oslo are quite similar. Go a bit further North and west away from a great lake, Madison, WI, and you’ve got an average low of 8 in January compared to Oslo’s 23. Minneapolis? Avg low of 6 in January. Oslo benefits from an Ocean that never freezes. Northern parts of the US that aren’t being warmed by large bodies of water, an EV is going to be a tough sell until it functions pretty much like a gasoline vehicle.

Last edited 5 months ago by Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
V10omous
V10omous
5 months ago

Yes, I totally agree.

My snarky comment is in response to the many people who claim that because EVs sell so well in Norway, no one should have any winter concerns with them even in the US Midwest. Obviously, that is laughable.

Last edited 5 months ago by V10omous
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
5 months ago
Reply to  V10omous

I know. I like it. The upper midwest is cold! I don’t think people understand just how cold it can get so I like sharing it.

For Christs sake we light our rail road tracks on fire to keep them operational.

Last edited 5 months ago by Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Tim R
Tim R
5 months ago

Well, there’s your solution to the battery problems

Rod Millington
Rod Millington
5 months ago

But what about all that Norway that’s not Oslo?

Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
Bjorn A. Payne Diaz
5 months ago
Reply to  Rod Millington

Of the 6 cities in Norway that have over 100K people, none of them come to close to an average low in January in the single digits. All are above 20F. As I said, Norway has a gigantic ocean keeping the majority of the nation (the buyers) relatively warm. Yes, there are some very cold areas, but hardly anyone lives there. There are 5M+ people in Norway. There are 4M+ people in St.Paul/Minneapolis Metro area alone. 1/5 of Norwegians live in Oslo. I think that’s a pretty good sample to take. .

I’d encourage you to look this up for yourself. Not because I’m wrong (I’m not) but because you shouldn’t trust me, you should validate it yourself. 🙂

Chronometric
Chronometric
5 months ago

If I were a Tesla-owning Uber driver I would skip the next couple of days.

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
5 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

I would too, but I don’t think many people start driving for Uber because they have a lot of breathing room in their budget.

Chronometric
Chronometric
5 months ago

I understand their need but they aren’t making any money if they are only getting 100 miles drive time between expensive 3 hour charger sessions.

MrLM002
MrLM002
5 months ago

Honestly as far as BEVs are concerned vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and the eNV200 do extremely well in these conditions with their passive air cooled batteries. Though I imagine it’s not good on their liquid cooled computers, “transmission”, motor, etc. Personally I think Nissan should go full air cooled for their Leaf drivetrain for simplicity and cold weather performance.

If the Leaf came with an NACS port I’d place an order for one tomorrow.

Though what I really want is an eNV200 with NACS sold in the US market.

Ben
Ben
5 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

Honestly as far as BEVs are concerned vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and the eNV200 do extremely well in these conditions with their passive air cooled batteries.

Are you sure about that? They also likely have no way to heat their batteries to allow them to safely take a charge in very cold weather. It’s quite possible a Leaf would be just as bricked as Mercedes’ Zero. At least the Teslas can charge, even if it takes forever to heat the battery enough.

MrLM002
MrLM002
5 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Quite sure. Out of Spec Reviews did a couple tests with Nissan Leafs and a Model 3. Anecdotal stories from Scandinavia support it as well. The Model 3 took 45 minutes of being hooked to a Tesla Super charger before it took a charge. The Leaf started charging in a minute or two.

The issue is of thermal mass. A liquid cooled battery pack has a ton of thermal mass. In the summer it keeps the battery cool. When up to temp in the winter it helps keep the battery warm, when at ambient freezing or below freezing temps it keeps the battery a lot colder than it wants to be.

The Leaf has a passively cooled battery pack, it does not have much thermal mass. It gets hot in the summer which makes it limit its range, in the winter you can actually get better performance as there is tons of cooling available.

Ben
Ben
5 months ago
Reply to  MrLM002

I’m very curious how that works. Do they just start shoving power into the battery and let that warm it up? That seems bad for longevity, but then it is the Leaf, where battery longevity was approximately 33rd on their list of priorities. 😉

MrLM002
MrLM002
5 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Simple. You know how cold water cools better than cold air and stays cooler for longer than cold air? When the liquid coolant is already cold and you’re trying to heat it up it takes longer because it has more thermal mass. The “coolant” of the Leaf Battery Pack is ambient air and the Leaf pack is very well sealed, so the internals get up to temp quick as they have very little air to heat VS a ton of liquid coolant.

The Leaf uses a very very stable battery chemistry, but with that comes low energy density and not the best lifespan for the batteries. To my knowledge there hasn’t been a single Nissan Leaf battery fire, the same cannot be said for really any other mass produced electric automobile.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
5 months ago

This is just a preview of things to come on a normal day. I feel like the immediate future will SUCK for EV owners relying on public chargers as the adoption curve spikes. Like everything, it’ll take real pain for us to get serious about infrastructure to support the EV future that is being pushed. I’ll hop on the train eventually but I won’t be an early adopter.

3WiperB
3WiperB
5 months ago

I don’t totally understand why the chargers systems are failing in this weather, but any car can have trouble in these temperatures. My 2.5 year old truck’s lead acid battery has failed to remote start and barely started the last 3 days and is measuring under 12 volts immediately after charging. It’s under warranty, but I called 3 dealerships this morning and they can’t get me in to replace it for over a week and say I need to drop the truck off for a day so they can run tests and stuff. I can only get the warranty replacement if they replace it at the dealer. So I guess I’m carrying around a jump pack for the next week. It’s amazing that I can use a battery tester or a voltmeter to test the battery and see it’s bad, but a dealership needs a whole day. I’m tempted to just suck it up and pay the $200 to buy a new one myself, but I want it replaced under the warranty. I even asked if I could just bring the battery out of the car to the dealer to swap it and they told me no (of course).

Oh, and our PHEV range is about 40% of normal at our low single digit temperatures, but at least we can just fire up the gas engine. I got about 1.5 miles per kw last night, but a lot of that power was going to heat.

All this bad news wouldn’t stop me from getting a full electric vehicle, but only as long as I was a 2 car family with at least 1 PHEV or ICE.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
5 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

My old Acura was a little slow to start the other day in the sub-zero temps we have been experiencing in MO, so I can sympathize. As for BEVs, you hit it on the head. They just aren’t ready to be most people’s sole transportation yet.

Larry
Larry
5 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

If your Acura is like mine, and some other Honda vehicles I’ve seen, the battery is just too small. I installed a physically larger one in my TSX and it’s much happier.

DadBod
DadBod
5 months ago
Reply to  Larry

I put an AGM battery in my 2007 TSX and it’s doing OK with temps in the 20s

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
5 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

OPTIMA batteries are the answer here. Ask me how I know this…and good luck.

3WiperB
3WiperB
5 months ago
Reply to  Col Lingus

Probably a good idea for the next replacement (once I get the warranty to cover this one).

Col Lingus
Col Lingus
5 months ago
Reply to  3WiperB

Seriously. I got 12 years out of my first one. 10 out of the second one (in a different car). Well worth any premium in price.

Abe Froman
Abe Froman
5 months ago

I maintain: The best solution for most people is not a BEV, it is a Plug-In Hybrid.

Nothing against those who choose BEV, especially as a second vehicle. However, those who use BEV as their only option have a better option- Plug-In Hybrid.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
5 months ago
Reply to  Abe Froman

Of course the “Sausage King of Chicago” has to chime in! Agree with the sentiment. We need to be pushing the hell out of regular hybrids and plug-ins instead of waiting for the perfect full-on EV. If policy makers really want to make a difference, give more incentive to go with tech that will actually make a difference NOW without the need for lifestyle changes.

JumboG
JumboG
5 months ago
Reply to  Abe Froman

The best solution for most people is actually a regular hybrid. I did the math on a plug in Escape vs a Hybrid Escape, and you would have to drive 114k miles on electric power only to make up the price difference between the two – and that’s with FREE electricity. For funzies I just did it for a RAV4, and it’s almost the exact same difference in cost (assuming $4/gallon gas. $3 gallon gas makes it 156k miles to breakeven with free electricity. Also note the hybrid is only $1.5k more than the gas version, so you’ll make up that difference in a year.) Not to mention the societal benefit of we can make a lot more hybrid cars if you aren’t using bigger batteries to make PHEVs.

Last edited 5 months ago by JumboG
Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
5 months ago

I used to be in a barbershop quartet in Skokie, Illinois.

Last edited 5 months ago by Boxing Pistons
MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
5 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Back when I was picking beans in Guatemala, we used to make fresh coffee, right off the trees I mean.

RC
RC
5 months ago

In other terms, 900 wh/mile means, should one wish to recharge at home using a fairly standard 120v/20A outlet (like one might find in a garage) at 75% utilization, you’re gaining the ability to drive approximately 2 miles for every hour you charge your car.

Does anyone know if the charging deficiencies are a battery chemistry issue or issues with the charging stations themselves?

And, I’d like to talk about this:

Really, more infrastructure could’ve solved most of the issues experienced in Chicago. Not everyone can charge at home, particularly travelers and people living in many apartments. While it’s more than likely Tesla’s Chicagoland Supercharger network is more than adequate for mild weather needs, severe weather can result in some severe needs. Sometimes, even the best charging networks in the business fall short, indicating how far we need to go.

More infrastructure also means more of that infrastructure is sitting idle more of the time during warm/highly functional periods. This, in turn, will drive costs up, as there are fixed costs and depreciation that occur, whether a charging station services 10 cars today or just 5. By increasing the infrastructure, people who use the charging network will have to pay more to cover the capital costs and non-variable operating expenses of chargers that will now experience significantly more idle time.

When spinning up 10 more supercharger-equivalent will run north of 1-2MM (probably even more than that in Chicago), there’s going to be a fairly non-trivial effect on what people end up paying at the charging station for their juice.

Last edited 5 months ago by RC
Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
5 months ago
Reply to  RC

Add in the fact that apparently running a charging network is a money-losing enterprise (according to this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2CUhrgoU4VU ), and there’s not much incentive to spin up more chargers.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Add in the fact that apparently running a charging network is a money-losing enterprise “

The reason why the stand-alone charging networks are losing money are the same reasons why gas stations would lose money if they didn’t sell other stuff
https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/economics-gas-station-rcna19516

The fact is, these charging network operators, if they were smart, would pair up their charging business with other businesses they own like a coffee shop, convenience store, restaurant, etc.

That’s why Tesla has started working on their own drive-in restaurant/charging station concept.

https://www.axios.com/2023/11/13/tesla-restaurant-supercharger-diner-hollywood

Scottingham
Scottingham
5 months ago
Reply to  RC

I always liked the idea of mobile hydrogen fuel cell chargers that could be moved to high-demand spots when needed. They would be able to produce the currents needed for DC fast charging without the need for expensive infrastructure. The hydrogen could be trucked in as-needed as well to the mobile chargers so they could remain parked continuing to charge cars.

anAutopian
anAutopian
5 months ago
Reply to  Scottingham

So hydrogen works well in arctic weather? Is that why they are quicker than full BEVs because they can produce the necessary amps? How does that factor in economically?

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
5 months ago
Reply to  Scottingham

A mobile fuel cell is a good way to set up emergency charging stations, but fueling one with H2 is a bad idea. It’s far less cost effective than a simple diesel generator. And it’s not just the absurd cost of generating H2.

Once you start trucking it around, H2 goes from a bad idea to an extremely bad idea. It’s not just the danger of a vessel so highly compressed that it’s like driving a huge bomb around, it’s also the losses you incur from trying to contain it. Hydrogen leaks out of everything, and embrittles the metals it touches. With liquid fuel, you don’t have to replace all the fittings on your tanker trailer every 8 years.

And if you refuse diesel on environmental grounds, it’s still far better to use methanol or other alcohol fuel in your fuel cell. H2 is a big enough problem when generated as needed on the spot.

Scottingham
Scottingham
5 months ago

That’s a really good point about methanol for fuel cells. I’m no hydrogen fan personally, but some sort of on-demand fuel cell technology would have the capacity for high voltage DC charging.

Diesel generators (I don’t think) would do as well for those scenarios without lots of AC/DC losses.

PaysOutAllNight
PaysOutAllNight
5 months ago
Reply to  Scottingham

Diesel is good enough to run railroads in series hybrid mode, where the diesel engine is purely a generator. And even in railroad engines, there’s still a lot of room for efficiency improvements that could be addressed in a stationary generator system.

But, yes, I agree that alcohol fuel cells are worth exploring as portable charging stations.

Scottingham
Scottingham
5 months ago

True, but traction AC motors used to move giant loads is a very different use case than stepping that AC power up to HVDC. With fuel cells, I’m pretty sure it’s DC from the gecko*, so it’s just a matter of stacking cells to get to the voltage needed.

*yes, that was on porpoise

124
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x