Two words I don’t like in combination together are “extreme” and “cold.” I could handle the extreme without the cold, or the cold without the extreme, but not the two together. Speaking of insanely cold temperatures, a common issue that people have debated regarding EVs is how they handle extremely cold temperatures. The main problem is the range. Electric vehicles lose a bit of range when it gets colder outside, but will still start reliably. In Saskatchewan, this is proving to be true.
Matthew Pointer spoke to CBC about the issue of the cold and vehicle troubles. He noticed a lot of people having issues in the cold when he went to work last week, when it got down to negative 36 degrees Celsius. This makes me kind of grateful that it only got in the 30s last night where I live and will probably be back in the 80s again later this week.
Pointer is the founder and president of the Saskatchewan EV Association and says that the extreme cold reduced the range of his Tesla by 40 to 50%, but that it is still working better in the winter than his previous gas-powered vehicles. “I wake up with a ‘full tank’ every morning because I plug in at night and I wake up and my car’s fully charged in the morning,” he says. He gets more than enough range to do all of the stuff he needs to do every day. One of the good things, he points out, is that EVs have fewer moving parts than gasoline vehicles, and you are “essentially driving one massive battery that’s very good at maintaining its heat and keeping itself going,” he says.
Tyler Krause, president of the Tesla Owners of Saskatchewan association, and a person who drives a Tesla Model 3, says that when it was -37° Celsius, it wasn’t a problem for him. He lets his vehicle sit outside at work all day without being plugged in. It takes him 10 minutes to heat it up. He also said that he drove by around three or four people who were getting boosted on the side of the road while he had no issues. He’s also talked to other Tesla owners and none had any issues. Jason Cruickshank of SaskEV has driven a Chevy Bolt for the past three winters. He says that it starts every time reliably and that the interior heats up quickly. He also has a gas-powered van, and when he drove it last week, it took forever to warm up.
Electric cars working great in Sask.'s extreme cold conditions https://t.co/g8hP0x1XZr
— CBC Saskatoon (@CBCSaskatoon) January 16, 2020
The key to keeping Tesla and other EVs as a benefit when it comes to the colder weather is making charging stations easier to access. I spoke to a Model 3 owner who lives in a warmer climate but is doing contract work in the Pacific Northwest, so he isn’t used to the cold and neither is his Tesla. He is also in an area where it’s hard to charge his vehicle, and the nearest Supercharger is pretty far. He has had a few issues where he had to get creative to save his range just to get to and from where he needs to go.
In areas where there are EV charging stations and Superchargers everywhere, this issue of cold weather is clearly minimal, but in areas where they are far apart and it’s hard to get to one, it could be a problem that could leave an EV owner stranded in the cold. Hopefully, as the demand for EVs continues to rise, both Tesla and EV charging station companies such as ChargePoint and Volta will be able to meet this demand and help continue to increase these charging networks in more areas.