Calculating Tesla Model 3 range loss through a cold winter night (video)



As the holiday season is nearing, cold weather is striking parts of North American with snow and wind. A Tesla Model 3 owner from Saskatoon, Canada tested his car for overnight range loss in temperatures as low as -17 ℃ (1.4 ℉).

The Model 3 owner conducted this battery range loss calculation outside in the snow and the car was not plugged into a charger for the entire 16 hours of testing.

According to our guide on cold weather tips for using Teslas and electric vehicles, it is in the best interest of the battery and range to let the car be plugged into the home charger overnight.

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How to check Tesla battery temperature

Before jumping on to the video, let’s catch up with some basic indicators in Tesla vehicles showing the current state of battery temperature and affected range.

Dots and line indicator on the Tesla Model 3 / Model Y center touchscreen showing how cold the battery currently is and availability of regenerative braking.
Fig 1: Dots and line indicators on the Tesla Model 3 / Model Y center touchscreen showing how cold the battery currently is and the availability of regenerative braking. Source: SaskTesla / YouTube. Editing: Iqtidar /

As we can see in the above screenshot, the horizontal dots+line on the Tesla Model 3 / Model Y center touchscreen indicates how cold the battery currently is and how much regenerative braking is available right now.

Since Canada uses the metric unit system, the car’s range is displayed in kilometers. At the time of parking the Model 3 in snow, the car’s screen showed 362 km of range left, for a Standard Range Plus Model 3, this is around ~85% of battery left.

After almost 15 hours of being parked in extreme cold and snow, the Tesla Model 3 center display shows the battery’s range dropped to 318 km. If we look closely (Fig 2 below), I have indicated a portion of the battery is showing in blue color on the screen and a snowflake icon appears on the top-left information bar.

Snowflake icon and cold blue portion of the battery shown on Tesla center display.
Fig 2: Snowflake icon and cold blue portion of the battery shown on the Tesla center display. Source: SaskTesla / YouTube. Editing: Iqtidar /
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This blue portion shows that this amount of range cannot currently be utilized right now because the battery is cold. As soon as the car runs for around 15-20 mins, this blue area on the center display disappears as the battery gets all warmed up.

The Tesla Model 3 lost 44 km (9%) of range including the cold blue inactive portion of the battery, this range loss is calculated before the battery gets heated while being driven. Excluding the Sentry Mode usage, the estimated loss of range is only 5% according to the owner’s estimate.

The owner also intelligently used the Pre-Heat Cabin function from his Tesla Mobile App to heat up the interior of the car and melt any ice on the windscreen and other areas of the car. The pre-heating used around ~8 km (1.5%) of range — not bad at all for the comfort in this much cold.

With the advent of the Tesla Model Y heat pump, the heat management for battery and cabin heating has become more efficient. It is strongly believed that the refreshed 2021 Model 3 is now also equipped with the new heat pump technology.

Since the car was in Sentry Mode, the side and front cameras were already defrosted to keep the car’s vision clean for any vandals, like the one we just saw in London, Ontario throwing a concrete brick at a parked Model 3.

Actual Range Loss

Looking at the Model 3 energy consumption graph after more than 15 mins of driving, the car showed the projected range of 195 km left. This is around 34% loss of range in total including overnight Sentry Mode usage, pre-heating, and 15-20 mins of driving in snow which requires constant temperature management of the battery pack.

SaskTesla actually got some efficiency data from his Tesla Model 3 for the Canadian Winter and Summer and he has put it into the following graph to show us the trend of average range loss in a Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 summer vs. winter range efficiency graph.
Graph: Tesla Model 3 summer vs. winter range efficiency in Canada. Source: SaskTesla / YouTube.

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Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar Ali
Iqtidar has been writing about Tesla, Elon Musk, and EVs for more than 3 years on, many of his articles have been republished on CleanTechnica and InsideEVs, maintains a healthy relationship with the Tesla community across the Social Media sphere. You can reach him on Twitter @IqtidarAlii

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