EV Non-Charging In The Cold

About charging that EV in the cold… “A work in progress”… at best.

Discovered this channel with a True EV Enthusiast who likes finding the limits on EVs. This “Cold Snap” has given an opportunity to test out charging in the cold.

A few things of interest were demonstrated.

In the first one, he runs around in a Ford Rivian (pickup) and tries to get various chargers to work at -9 F or so.

In the 2nd one, he charges a Tesla that was parked in the cold for 2 days. I.E. not in a heated garage nor plugged into a charger / heater outlet.

1) Some just do not work at all for anyone. Even ones that worked for him with that truck in warmer weather. These are a New model from a major provider of nation wide charging solutions: Electrify America.

Note to self: During cold weather, do not expect all charger models to work.

2) Other chargers that did work, automatically reduce the charging rate during cold weather. Often to 1/2 or so capacity. Why isn’t explained. Overall heat pump demand in the grid? Cold battery limitations on charge rate? Who knows.

Note to self: In cold weather allow double the expected time for charging on any trip, or anywhere really.

3) There’s what looks like 1/2 dozen different charge station makers, charge plug types, and charge system operators. You must get all of those to line up properly for your car to charge (in warm weather or cold) but that gets harder in cold weather when some of them just crap out.

Note to self: Double that double in #2 and allow 20 to 40 miles of range for finding the station with the provider you need with the charger that works that has the connector for your car.

4) Snow likes to get into the socket and pile up on the plug. It seems like a Very Bad Idea to be introducing snow into high voltage high current electrical connectors.

Note to self: Do not let any spit out when blowing snow off things, or carry an insulated brush, or something…

5) Thick copper and plastic cables become very stiff and spring like under -9 F sometimes requiring a burly man to use 2 hands:

Note for small folks and women: Carry a burly man around with you in very cold weather. One with gloves, preferably.

6) The Auto Latch on the plug for the Tesla sometimes doesn’t latch in the very cold. It was -14 F in that case. Moving to a warmer recently vacated charger did latch, after a while.

Note to self: Do not drive Teslas to places that are below -15 F, or Alaska any time. Or north Canada for that matter.

7) A battery that is cold will not take a charge. For the Tesla it does something called a “Pre-Condition” that amounts to use of 7 kW-hrs to warm the battery up before you charge it. “On the road” this is just a range reduction. If your car has set out and froze, it’s a 45 Minute period (without internal heat on) while the battery gets warmed up (on your dime, or dollar). Then you can begin your charging period.

Note to self: Be wary of weekends at ski lodges, or weekend flights with the car in airport parking. You may return to a frozen battery, a 3 hour wait, and questionable ability to limp to a charger if more than a few yards / meters away. Pack a book and a big coat and gloves for “while you wait to warm the battery enough to run the heater and charge the car”.

8) Tesla does that whole battery pre-condition / warm up thing better than anyone else, AND their chargers are far far more likely to run in the cold. Advice given by the EV Enthusiast was “Buy a Tesla or an ICE car for cold weather use).

Note to self: Budget $50,000 to $100,000 for that “Second Car” for winter use… Expect Domestic USA, EU and Japanese cars to either not charge in “Below” temperatures, or charge poorly. At least until the charging issues are all worked out.

9) There’s a New & Improved! North American Standard plug of some kind coming Real Soon Now! It doesn’t fix any of the issues, and is incompatible with all the present plug kinds and chargers already in stalled, but it is coming and will be a New Standard!

Note to self: Do not consider buying an EV until that plug and the charger ends issue is fixed… in a few years. You either get an old kind that becomes obsolete and then deprecated and then unavailable; or you get the new one where there’s no place to plug it in for a couple of years until the chargers are changed / fixed…

10) You get to drive around with a 12 inch tablet display destroying your night vision and distracting you from LOOK OUT THE WINDOW! first duty. It is essential to operating the car.

Note to self: If you don’t like learning a new operating system, having “system upgrades” often, exploring the beauty and pain of masochistic Dependency Hell in software, and generally having your car become a self obsoleting disposable computer that nobody can fix after 5 years as “the software isn’t updated anymore”… Or even if you just like driving dark country roads without a computer screen in your face, consider an older “Proper Car”. You know, with knobs and dials and buttons and stuff.

11) Range drops, a lot, in cold weather. 1.4 Miles / kW-hr? At California “lifeline rate” of 19 ¢ (and rising, that’s 13.5 ¢ / mile. At the 39 ¢ (and rising) over lifeline rate, that’s 27.8 ¢ / mile. At the (proposed an in review when I left the State) $1/2 rate, that’s 35.7 ¢ / mile.

Note to self: Assure you get some kind of Government Subsidy on your electricity. At “The Usual” 40 ¢ / kW-hr I’ve seen in EV charging videos, winter driving is going to kill your wallet. 3 or 4 “miles / dollar” is going to make a “one tank trip” of 400 miles into an “over $100 experience. 16 gallons is between $40 and $70 depending.

I’m sure you can find more bits of wisdom in the videos. You know, things like “wake up and first plug in your EV to charge and warm the battery THEN have breakfast and drink morning coffee”… all in the frozen cold… Just to drive a couple of dozen miles…

I suspect this “Cold Snap” AKA Storm From Frozen Hell will be educating a great number of new EV owners about the joys of cold battery chemistry and such.

Merry Christmas to all! We’ll be having Christmas Ham & Roast Turkey tomorrow. In a nice warm house in Florida. With gas and Diesel powered cars. Warmth, it’s a good thing!


About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
This entry was posted in Emergency Preparation and Risks, Energy, News Related. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to EV Non-Charging In The Cold

  1. H.R. says:

    @E.M. re the bright screen in your face at night.

    The 2021 RAM has about a 6″ x 9″ screen – never measured it or looked up the size – and I was close to loathing it. At the dealership, the salesman ran through almost every feature of the truck, most controlled from that screen. There were just a few buttons related to the towing package.

    I drove it for about 2 or 3 months trying to hit the spot on the screen to make whatever it was do what I wanted it to do. I did not like it at all. Unseemly words were often muttered.

    Then, wonder of wonders, I found out that almost every function on the screen had a corresponding mechanical knob or button that did the same thing that was on the screen… and I could put the screen into a barely there mode. YAY!

    I am now a happy camper, and hats off the the RAM engineers who figured that not everyone wanted to stare at and poke a touch screen to operate their vehicle.

    And an EV cautionary tale I read in comments over at Small Dead Animals.

    The Canadian guy commenting had a neighbor with an EV and who charged it up at home. Well, this cold wave hit, and his neighbor had to make a quick run to the grocery store. The battery was low, but showed a range of 40 miles, plenty to get to the store and back and then put it on the charger.

    Got to the store and coming or going, I have forgotten which, his car crapped out. It seems he was not aware just how much his range was reduced when running his heater in this very cold weather. His car blocked a lane in the parking lot while he waited for a flatbed to come get his car loaded and haul it away.

    As I understood it, the car crapped out in a very inconvenient place in the lot, so there was a small crowd that had to wait and watch until his car was toted off and there were many who arrived and left by a circuitous route to get around his blocking car.

    The commenter said he figured that any onlookers who might have been considering an EV probably were having second thoughts after seeing that fiasco.

    (Hmmm… I guess you can’t put an EV in neutral and push it to the side if it craps out. It remains a brick where it sits until the flatbed truck arrives. Another 👎👎 for EVs.)

  2. Power Grab says:

    I had to work from home during this short week because my van’s check engine light started flashing Saturday night. We took it to the shop Sunday night and dropped it off. They usually don’t have to keep it more than 1 or 1-1/2 days. This time, they had it 3 days.

    It turns out that there was some oil in one of the spark plug tubes, preventing the spark plug from firing. That was caused by leaking valve cover gaskets. I knew it was coming, but kept putting it off so I could pay for work on the Civic.

    Oh, BTW, the Civic had the dash message “MAINT REQ’D” turn on while we drove the van to the shop. We still haven’t had it diagnosed because of the cold and holiday schedules.

    The van took a long time to repair because there were issues with getting the correct valve cover gaskets. They told me it needs 2 different sizes. The boxes that came from the parts people were either not labeled correctly, or they had 2 of one size and none of the other size. Stuff like that. They finally figured out Tuesday at 4:45 p.m. that they had the correct gaskets. Of course, that was too late to put them in.

    So I got the van back on Wednesday. I stopped by the office and spent a couple hours working on some manual stuff that I had been waiting to get back from some other folks. Then I drove home and put the van in the garage. Then the temps took their Deep Drive into extra-low territory on Thursday night, combined with extra-high-speed winds. So it was one of those events where the weather folks advised everyone to stay indoors if they can. I didn’t go anywhere Thursday. Work was cancelled at the last minute because of the expected dangerous wind chills. The van was sitting snug in the garage.

    I am off work until after the New Year, but I had an appointment at the eye doctor Friday. They wanted me to bring in my old glasses (I have many pair of computer glasses and one current pair of street glasses.) I wanted to bring in my favorite pair of computer glasses that I had to retire because they won’t hold their shape and won’t sit in the correct place on my face. They were in my desk at work. I also brought the current computer glasses that had been retired until I gave up on using the others. I wore my current street glasses, which makes 3 pair that I planned to take in with me. It only took about 10 minutes to do a quick check of a system item at the office and get the 3rd pair of glasses, and I went back outside into the extreme (for us) cold. It was less than 10 degrees, IIRC. With wind.

    I was able to use the key fob to unlock the van door, but once I got belted in and tried to start the car, I got nothing. It was as if the car had no battery at all. No clicking. No lights. No nothing. I couldn’t even unlock the doors by using the lock button built into the inside of the door.

    So I had to call the eye doctor. That got re-scheduled. I called the repair shop because they had just put in a new battery in the van on Wednesday, in addition to the valve cover gaskets. I figured they owed me. They sent a mechanic out, thinking the battery needed jumping. The mechanic tightened the clamps on the battery and asked if I could follow him back to the shop.

    The van did start just fine this time. They spent about 15 minutes making it so the problem wouldn’t happen again.

    I should have picked their brain about what they did to fix my battery problem, but spent most of my time at the shop commiserating with the staff behind the desk because their water lines froze up overnight. They were having to drive to a nearby gas station to use a restroom because of the shop’s frozen water lines.

    Anyway, I said all that to ask this question:

    Is it possible that during the 10 minutes my van sat at my office, under those extreme cold conditions, the post on the new battery shrunk enough to prevent the clamps from making contact sufficiently to work????

    What do you think?

    EM, thanks for that write-up about EVs not working very well in the cold weather. I thought that would happen. It sounds even worse than I even imagined (shudder!!)

    Speaking of frozen stuff…I thawed my 13+ pound turkey in the sink today. This was a first for me. We’ll see how it bakes tomorrow. I had bought it in November because all the talk about a shortage of diesel fuel made me concerned that I might not be able to fly to my sibling’s home for Thanksgiving…I wanted to be able to make a turkey dinner if the trip got cancelled. But the flight went well. The only problem was that 2 escalators in the Dallas airport weren’t working when I needed them. So I had to pick up and carry my bag up two long flights of stairs. I used my special way of breathing that I learned in an exercise class…did the climbs without incident…and lived to tell about it! ;-)

    I guess I don’t look like one of those little old ladies who have trouble getting around. None of the staff offered to help me.

    I couldn’t remember what the latest advice was about what you write on luggage tags to help identify your bags. (I haven’t flown in a very long time!) When I was packing my travel things, I found a package of bunny stickers. So I wrote a minimally sufficient name-and-mailing-address on the card in the luggage tag I found somewhere, stuck a bunny sticker on the blank back side of the card, inserted the card face down in the luggage tag sleeve (with the bunny showing), and put an extra bunny sticker inside the recessed area where the drag-handle sits when not in use.

    I was very pleased with how fast I was able to identify my bag when it was time to retrieve it. They didn’t really “check” it, but as we boarded, they took our bags from us at the door of the plane. I loved being able to tell from a distance which was my bag, without having to take lots of time pawing through all the bags on the flight. I had bought a new, generic-looking black bag with wheels. I almost used my avocado green 50 year old Samsonite bag(s). They would have been totally unique and easy to identify, but I decided I preferred to have wheels.

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    Sounds like the Would-be rulers haven’t figured out transport.
    First push EV’s with subsidies and “how Great they are” media pieces about cheap running costs.
    Then reduce the electricity generated which forces up the price until there is no capital payback.
    Then when the weather turns cold claim that it is due to Global Warming and blame Putin or “Climate Change Deniers” when renewables cannot handle changes in the weather.
    When SUVs first came to prominence in Australia they were nicknamed Toorak taxis (Melbourne) or Double Day taxis – both suburbs not populated by those on middle range incomes. It seems that Toorak Teslas might be coined soon – can I claim copyright?

    A Merry Christmas to you EMS (and all readers) from Adelaide South Australia where the air-conditioning is working (and necessary) today and for the next 2-3 days. Today’s peak was 32℃ (90℉). Expected to reach 38℃ (100℉) in the next 2 days then drop to the low 20’s℃. Given that it has been a long cold year (except in the official figures) we will have to endure this heat. (I can’t think how to bottle it and sell it to the northern hemisphere.)

  4. Simon Derricutt says:

    Quite a few decades ago in the UK the TV programme “Tomorrow’s World” decided that they needed to test the various products available to make a car start when it was cold. They got a standard Ford car (can’t remember what type) and stuck it in a huge freezer overnight (also can’t remember temperature, but somewhere around -30°C I think), and then filmed while they tried to start it, figuring on trying the various aids and sprays until it started. It started first time, so they didn’t get to try the products.

    Let the engineers play, and the problems get fixed in order from the major failures to those that are hardly noticed by most people. Given enough time, I expect that the EV problems will get fixed, too, but it’s really waiting on some new inventions in energy generation and storage. Many people are working on battery chemistry, though there’s a basic problem in how much chemical energy you can store before a minor failure gives you a bomb. A few people I know are instead working on new ways of generating energy that may actually work, at which point your EV range becomes essentially infinite. Obviously we’re not there yet, so this is still speculative.

    In the meantime, looks like you won’t be able to rely on an EV to always get you there, and not to run out of charge at some inconvenient time. Maybe in 5 years or so that might change.

  5. Tonyb says:

    This from an Australian blog

    “Lithium batteries require a heating source before being charged if at 0 or below and even then most should have a controller that prohibits charging at very low temps , my setup is set to 4 degrees minimum. At zero / below there is a chemical reaction that takes place when charged that can severely reduce the life span of the batteries. A heating pad or electric blanket is needed for cold climates , some setups sold in Oz do have an inbuilt heating pad .”

    To which I replied

    “That’s an interesting snippet. So, is there a danger if an EV is charged at below freezing point?”

    3 or 4 degrees c is by no means cold and would affect millions more EV’s in more temperate climates like the UK and Northern Europe.

  6. David A says:

    “For the Tesla it does something called a “Pre-Condition” that amounts to use of 7 kW-hrs to warm the battery up before you charge it.”

    That is crazy. That’s about 25 miles of driving in my Rav 4 Prime Hybrid. I think the hybrid ICE can warm the car and passengers more effectively.

    All the Best and Merry Christmas to all.

  7. Clay Marley says:

    Last summer I traveled from Arizona to Wisconsin with a 32 foot travel trailer, Ram 2500, 6.7 L Cummins diesel. One night we stayed at a KOA in Amarillo TX. In the spot next to me, among the many diesel trucks and motorhomes, was a young couple with a small Tesla, and a tent. They were traveling cross-country too. They needed to stop at RV campgrounds to use the 30 Amp electrical hookup to charge the car.

  8. cdquarles says:

    There are a few Teslas here, now. A local dealer has a charging station. Recent cold snap brought weather similar to that back in the late 1960s and early 70s. Now, mind you, we have one hydroelectric generation station and one coal fired one within a 20 mile radius of me. A local small city has a solar station, though it is just a pilot project and is small. I wonder how they fared. Likely well enough, given the robust, and relatively cheap, electricity supply and that we did not have any major icing.

  9. John Hultquist says:

    Topic: Battery drain while parked – I’ll get there

    I’ve never understood why the published date of magazines is out in front of the arrival in my mailbox. The just arrived Motortrend is dated February 2023.

    A Mr. Scott Evans is testing a 2022 Rivian R1T that cost $76,875 [p.76]; it is a pickup he has had for 4 months. A camping trip from Inglewood to Big Bear Lake is described. The trip is from about sea level to just over 6,700 feet.
    He discovered the battery drain (past terminology was parasitic draw; unwanted physics) from on-board necessary components was significant. The company calls this “phantom power drain” designed to keep computers and other stuff in a ready-to-go mode. The story is in the article, but …
    Big Bear Lake is high and the road out goes down. Regenerative braking helped at the start of the trip until they found a charger that worked.

    Note: If plugged in at home every night, you won’t notice this feature.

  10. YMMV says:

    I thought it was well known that Li batteries should not be charged at cold temperatures. So I was curious how this never seemed to be mentioned for cars.

    It’s true, and it’s worse than I thought. Even one cold charge can permanently reduce the battery’s capacity.

    These links explain why. Physics and Chemistry.



    quote from this one:
    But, even more importantly, a lithium ion cell that has been cold charged is NOT safe and must be safely recycled or otherwise discarded. By not safe, I mean it will work fine until it randomly explodes due to mechanical vibration, mechanical shock, or just reaching a high enough state of charge.

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    It depends on the material your connector / cable end is made from and the temperature range.

    look at 3rd & 4th column sorted by coefficient of expansion. Lead is much higher than steel, brass, copper, etc. So when cooling it will shrink more.

    IF your connector end is the “more modern” and cheaper… steel clamp type with a steel bolt AND it was just tightened to “good enough” and was not so clean that any part touching was electrically clean enough to take current: It would be quite possible for the lead post to shrink a lot, the steel not so much, and the clamp to be loose at that point. Then a little bit of oil or anti-rust coating left where it touched the post would insulate it (while the rest was air gap, or even just enough of a resistive contact to not carry enough current to crank the starter).

    So I’d rate it a “yeah, quite possible”.

    But also if the tech didn’t clean the post enough at assembly they could have a nice lead oxide layer on them that would be problematic too.

    I usually carry a post cleaner for just that case where the battery posts are a bit oxidized and winter comes; battery volts drop in the cold and it can’t get enough current through the connector surfaces. Polish both bright and re-tighten and off you go! Done it dozens of times….

    Thanks for the question. I’d always wondered why, if things were bolted up, the surfaces could oxidize. Now I know… the mating surface can ‘gap’ a little with temperature changes, let in air and moisture in winter, and that’s enough to oxidize.


    Spouse ties colored yarn or ribbon on our bags / handles. Makes it easy to tell which one is ours.

  12. E.M.Smith says:

    IMHO, due to dendrite formation and the Boom Flame Issue they bring: Lithium Ion battery cars are not suited to very cold climates. You either take drastically reduced range (heater for passengers & batteries) or you live on life support in the garage (increased costs) and do not park in the cold anywhere very long, or you risk your house going up in flames.

    Oh, or, I guess, you can obsess constantly and be “on top of it” about constantly watching your battery state of charge, temperature, range, etc. etc. etc. and be constantly adjusting things and adapting. I.E. there is no “just drive it” option…

    I would not mind, at all, having an eCar for around town short trips. I’d love to have a Plug-In Hybrid 4×4 as long as it had enough ICE & Gas to go 350 to 400 miles on gas only and was light enough to go off road in sand and not sink / get stuck. (I do live in Florida after all… so cold charge isn’t much of an issue almost all the time… but sand and range ARE, especially if you are at the beach or fishing in the lake in the sand and need to bug out due to a hurricane warning / approach…) BUT, I’m not going to park any Lithium Ion Battery thing inside my garage. Maybe under a car cover metal roof over a driveway (or better yet, concrete pad a dozen or more feet from the house… with a power drop so it can charge).

    Fire risk may, in general and for newer cars, be low; but eventually the dendrites form in old cars and under less than ideal charging cycles. It is maybe only 1 in 100,000 for everyone, but if it happens to you it is 100%. I’m not willing to ‘bet my house and everything in it” on that with known failure modes and existence proof events recorded.

  13. John Hultquist says:

    The battery in an ICE auto needs to be thought of at Christmas time.
    4 years: Thinking of you.
    5 years: Knock, knock — How ya doing?
    6 years: Yikes! Might be time to say goodbye.

  14. another ian says:

    This is being noticed –

    “Not A Creature Was Stirring – Not even an EV charging station.”


    And comments

  15. another ian says:

    Not only the cold –

    “Great Reset: German Govt Wants to Remote Control Home Heat, Electric Car Charge”


  16. YMMV says:

    From another ian’s last link:
    the Federal Network Agency aims to make it mandatory that such devices can be remotely limited to as low as 3.7 kilowatts to enable what has been euphemistically described as “peak smoothing”.

    Such a limitation would cripple the effectiveness of many devices, with Die Welt saying that would make it take as long as three hours to charge an electric car enough for it to travel up to 50 kilometres (around 31 miles).

    The way I figure it, that is a 10 mph car.

  17. The True Nolan says:

    Another EV winter horror story from Eric Peters:

    One sentence summary? If it is cold leave your EV in the garage. Maybe even if it isn’t cold.

  18. another ian says:


    “The way I figure it, that is a 10 mph car.”

    The humiliation of being out dragged by a pedal bicycle!

  19. John Hultquist says:

    @ True N
    the Eric Peters blog is worth a bookmark.
    Thanks for the tip.

  20. Steven Fraser says:

    Another Ian, YMMV

    “The way I figure it, that is a 10 mph car.”

    “The humiliation of being out dragged by a pedal bicycle!”

    Passed by Amish buggy…

  21. Ossqss says:

    So, I got a new jump start box to replace my 10+ year old AC Delco jump box that finally lost the charging board (replaced the 18-amp hour battery 3 times) and passed away.

    It is a Fat Max Staney 1200-amp lead-acid powered box from Sam’s Club.

    So, I had to evaluate things as heck it has been years since I thought about jump box specs and options because mine always worked, so I did.

    Lots of options out there including a capacitor-based unit. Things have changed since my last purchase :-)

    Bottom line, you really need to evaluate your needs for such an item.

    Craning amps, weight, heat/cold tolerance, where you store it, optional function (compressor, USB charger, AC inverter, work light, and even BT and FM radio?), etc..

    Reading reviews on these products was quite interesting. Lots of operator errors on the math’s involved. Urgh!

    Bottom line, I was prepared to replace the $89 unit with something better, but there really was nothing else I would trust any more than what I had at a better price point.

    The lithium units are quite small and quite potent. Don’t get them hot or too cold, however. Having experience, in Florida summer, with a solar charged USB power pack on my dashboard, taught me a lesson.

    Reviewer have recently figured out they don’t work at all in really cold weather too.

    The thing that really got to me in this process was the professional reviewer/manufacturer recommendations on charging these Lithium based batteries.

    Only keep them between 25% and 85% charged to help their longevity. WTF?

    I want every bit of juice possible if I have to jump something.

    Well, all in all, I have a unit I can start a large V8 with and I trust the battery type from experience and can replace the battery if needed. :-)

  22. EV_Nick says:

    Small corrections and observations after 5 years and over 80,000 Tesla miles.

    Rivian is a startup, the R1T pickup is their first offering. Ford’s F150 Lightning is a competitor. The Long Way Up covers two Harley Davidson electric motorcycles supported by two Rivian prototypes in a journey from South Argentina to LA. Trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=611fw81BN98 .

    The North America charging landscape is not quite as confusing as it seems. Try this 3-D framework:

    – Two EV connection “camps” – Tesla; everyone else. Tesla had to roll out its connector before the standards were hammered out. Tesla recently proposed its plug design as a no-license-charge North American Charging Standard (NACS). Another acronym but not an additional configuration.

    – Two power “flavors” for EVs – AC (low (L1) to medium (L2), 1.1-19.2 KW, in-car “charger” converts it to DC); DC (high (L3) 50 – 350 KW, higher power RSN). Tesla Superchargers and Electrify America are strictly L3 since fast charging is the only practical option for long EV trips.

    – Several plug/socket combinations. Tesla uses a single plug for all scenarios with recent claims it can accommodate up to 1 MW, one can find Tesla to J1772 adapters that allow non-Tesla cars to use L1 & L2 Tesla chargers; Non-Tesla uses J1772 for AC (Tesla provides a J1772 to Tesla converter with each car sold) and CCS-2 for DC (Tesla now sells a CCS to Tesla adapter that allows its cars to charge at CCS stands.

    – Noise. CHADeMO is a sunset Japanese L3 max 50 KW DC adapter.

    Gas/diesel vehicles warm the cabin with the engine’s waste heat. EV heaters can be a significant power drain. Hyundai/Kia, Tesla and a few others have adopted heat pumps to get more warmth per KW. This benefit shrinks as the temperature drops. Tesla also integrates all thermal management – battery, motor/s, electronics (liquid cooled) and cabin – for better efficiency. Battery getting too hot during fast charge? Ship the heat to the electronics and/or cabin if they’re too cold.

    IRL, a Tesla driver sets their scheduled departure time in the car or via iPhone / Android app. The car then warms the battery and interior so life is easy when it’s time to go. This assumes either connection to home power or an adequately charged battery.

    The videos explore worst-case scenarios. It’s valuable information, consistent with our experience.

    After a week away, we drove home, about 350 miles, in my Tesla, arriving very late afternoon Saturday. Local temperature was solidly below freezing, though warmer than Friday. Our daughter warned us the local supermarket would close soon. My wife’s Tesla had been sitting in the driveway for a week with a charging cable attached. I told my wife I would take her in my car and unload later since her car wouldn’t be able to warm up in time.

    My wife’s car needed more than 30 minutes to warm adequately the next morning when we drove to visit our daughter’s family nearby.

  23. Rudolph Hucker says:

    Tesla owner says his car wouldn’t charge in freezing temperatures, leaving him stranded on Christmas Eve


  24. David A says:

    I have yet to hear of a Rav 4 PRIME catching fire. Most use only 110 to charge on a 20 amp circuit. It never fully charges, or fully discharges. 150,000 mile battery guarantee. There were problems with the Rav 4 hybrid battery catching fire.

    I will let you know if my garage burns up. (-;

  25. Jon K says:

    Another unforeseen problem that could arise in urban areas where EVs presumably are in higher demand: Structural issues due to the increased weight of EVs.


  26. Jon K says:

    Another unforeseen issue concerning EVs: Structural issues due to the increased weight of EVs.


  27. Power Grab says:

    @ EM:
    Thanks for the information about the expansion/shrinkage of metals. :-D

    Also, thanks for the tip about yarn and ribbons on the luggage handles. That’s also a slick way to do it. ;-)

  28. E.M.Smith says:


    You are most welcome!

  29. E.M.Smith says:


    So if I’m filthy rich, and can support an entire film crew and support vehicles, I can maybe go 150 miles a day on an electric motorcycle. Nice.

    (BTW, I’ve done 250 miles in one day on a Gas motorcycle, through the mountains too. Oh, and parts of it were at 100 MPH+… 2:40 or so AM on an August evening middle of nowhere… only had to lose one cop.)

    Rivian is a startup? So?
    “Rivian started deliveries of its R1T pickup truck in late 2021.”

    Folks are buying them. Which means folks will be having those same problems.

    Nice to know that the NACS is in fact just Tesla style. Does that mean all the folks who already bought non-Tesla cars will gradually be left out in the cold as the Standard comes to dominate? Nice, that… /snark;

    So I can carry around a big box of “adapters” (at what cost?…) if I want to charge on the various things that I can find (that might or might not be in service or working in the cold). I guess that’s a “feature”. Spouse will never do it, though, so not going to work for her at all.

    I take it this: “– Noise. CHADeMO is a sunset Japanese L3 max 50 KW DC adapter.” means that folks who bought Japanese L3 cars are just screwed “noise” then. OK… Call it “sunset” and don’t look back?

    I’ll wait until the field is narrowed to things that will survive and then reconsider.

    I have no desire to have all my life pre-planned and run through an iPhone. (Note that I’m not a tech luddite. I did computer support for a living and managed a Cray supercomputer site. BUT if you want me to use computers to drive cars you will need to pay me my hourly rate…) I quite often have no set schedule. I’ll “wake up and go”. There are times I “wake up and go” from a rest-stop next to the freeway somewhere between 700 mile segments of a cross the continent drive…

    In an eCar that would be on a dead battery and not plugged into anything. Now I suppose I could get to where I was planning exhaustion as I arrived at a charge point and then would sleep in the car while it charged for 6 hours… but that requires driving around to find such a place in Van Horn Texas or Middle Of Mississippi farm country or…

    Prior to the move to Florida, I’d often do a one day round trip to Los Angeles. About 820 miles. 410 each way. Doing that in an eCar would require at least 3 and probably 4 charging stops (and take enough time to not be able to do that round trip). In my old Mercedes 240 D, I can go “door to door” on one tank (450 mile range) and then fill up in about 5 minutes. My newer ML 320 D can get over 500 miles (claims in the low 600…) on a tank. Now, in Florida, it’s about 400 miles to Atlanta Ga should I wish to exit the State on arrival of a major Hurricane. That leaves me between 100 and 200 miles of Diesel in the tank on arrival and no need to fill up anywhere when everyone is mobbing the stations. An eCar traps me in Hurricane Arrival while sitting in a long line of eCars all taking an hour or 5 to “fill up”… So: How many charge stops did your 350 mile trip take?

    Then “no way” I’m going to have a car that takes 1/2 hour to get warm enough to go. Maybe it’s the number of “midnight runs” to the ER or other places I’ve had to make; but there’s been a LOT of times I’ve had to have “start and go”. From Earthquakes (7.1) to “out of milk for baby” to “kid can’t breath” to “dog needs vet” to “computer down get here NOW!” and more.

    All that said:

    As I’ve said before: I have NO problem with an eCar as a “2nd Car” and mostly for just around town errands. I could even see using it for trips in the 100 to 200 mile range and for times when it was just a leisure run with no time schedule. I’d be thrilled to have a “Plug in hybrid 4×4”, preferably with a Diesel as the main engine; but now they are all gas near as I can find out.

    But you will not find me depending on one in anywhere that goes to freezing, nor any time I might need to do a rapid long run somewhere.

    One Example:

    A couple of decades ago, the whole family was on a Road Trip to Walt Disney World (from California). With about 2 days to go before heading back, we got The Dreaded Phone Call. Spousal Mom was in the hospital. Don’t know what it is. Get here FAST. Well, we crossed the country (2800+ miles) in 56 hours (including one 9 hour stop in a hotel in New Mexico). 3 drivers in rotation (son with a new learners permit got a LOT of freeway practice ;-)

    That’s the kind of thing that has me saying “I need a gas car for any time I’m far far away”. That’s also why I’m “OK” with plug in hybrids. In an AwShit, you can just gas and go; then normally and around town, it’s all electric miles. Win-win.

    Yes, you can make a Tesla work for 90%+ of the driving most folks do. But it comes with “issues” that are not workable for some of us, and for many scenarios that I have experienced.

    Oh, just thought of another one… At the Marina where the boat is berthed, there’s no chargers in the parking areas. Whenever I go to the boat, I’d arrive with 1/2 dead battery, so then the car gets to sit for hours to charge up “somewhere” before I can get on the boat to play (or sleep). That’s not going to work out well… It is “only” about 150 miles, so I suppose I could try to find a place along the way to charge up and then sit for an hour or two on the way back home, but… That’s time that must come out of “Boat Time”… and that’s precious time. Then there’s the fact that the middle 100 miles or so of that drive is “Grass and Cows”… so not a lot of charger opportunities.

    Again, I’m sure I could “solve that problem” with some work. But why ought I take on a new “problem” that needs “work” on my part, eh? I’m in this to play on my boat…

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    Were I ever required to have a “remote” on my heat pump, you would find a $90 “oil filled heater” in every closet in the house. When the heat pump was remotely turned off, then 1500 W of Oil Filled Resistance would be plugged in in each room…

    Just not going to be cold at the whim of some idiot. Just not.

    @Jon K:

    Interesting point that raises… I also wonder about bridge specs and stopped traffic…


    Thanks for that. My starter box died a couple of years ago and I’ve been thinking I ought to get a new one (but didn’t want to before the move…). Now I know I can just go to Sam’s and pick it up without doing the Dig Here! on it ;-)

  31. YMMV says:

    Tesla EV charging, the NACS
    “North American Charging Standard”

    tech details here: https://www.tesla.com/en_CA/support/charging-product-guides

    What got me started (and I am still just beginning)
    was the comment that it was DC charging.
    AC has the advantage that you can change voltage; that is not so easy with DC, especially high-power DC.
    So if it is a standard, does that mean all EV batteries take the same charging voltage?
    And with previous battery types, the charging voltage may have to vary depending on state of charge, temperature, etc. Not to mention the nominal voltage of the battery pack. So is there a charge controller in the charger itself, and not in the car?

    All I have so far is that NACS supports 500 V and 1000 V (and 48 A AC).
    And I have not looked at what Germany or Japan thinks.

    And the diagrams show straight-through direct connections charger to battery.
    But no doubt there is a BMS involved. Somewhere. (battery management system)

  32. Taz says:

    Have reasonable concerns they will never succeed at this :( Many bright people have tried for more than 100 yrs, so it’s not like EVs haven’t received their share of competent effort. Yet EVs still fail.

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    As different makers have different batteries in them and even different chemistries, the Battery Management System and charger are built into the cars (so as to match the battery and be connected to things like temperature sensors and cooling fans).

    Then the North American Standard is just now being proposed. So give it about 5 years to be adopted and become the actual standard. That, then, means a whole cohort of non-NAS cars on the road for a decade or so. All the while as more of the “Standard” chargers get installed.

    So buying anything but a Tesla NOW is going to require that box of adapters in the trunk. Then, over about a decade, most of the present stock of non-Tesla cars will need an adapter (with increasing frequency) to get charged at the NAS stations. It will take about 15 years for this mess to simplify.

    I think I’ll wait until after it is simplified to look at buying an EV…


    I’m sure that electric cars will succeed… for some value of “succeed”… Just not going to work well AND be efficient in very cold places / times.

    It all comes down to battery chemistry and technological advance. That mythical Super Duper Battery. “Someday” they will find the mix that does it. Maybe… But someday may be decades (or centuries?) away. Or it could be the latest Magic Batteries being touted. Sodium Ion Batteries and / or Aluminum Graphene or…

    However there is a fundamental point that has me thinking it will be harder than expected. This: Chemistry is temperature dependent for reaction rate and products produced.

    Not any clear way around that other than battery heaters & coolers. Or finding some particular battery chemistry that doesn’t change significantly from -60 F to 130 F (ranges known to exist in nature…). Somehow I think that’s not going to happen….

    So for now, they are pretty good for distances under 100 miles, with occasional 200 mile trips as long as you don’t mind hours charging at the other end. And back home.

    It also looks like Tesla may have solved the Dendrite Flaming Battery Pack along with extended charge / discharge cycles by going to the Lithium IRON Phosphate chemistry that is popular with RVs as “house batteries” (for the same reasons of safety and durability).


    A Closer Look at Lithium Iron Phosphate Batteries, Tesla’s New Choice of Battery
    October 28, 2021 by Lianne Frith
    Increased Safety and Stability

    LFP is thermally and chemically stable, making it less prone to explosions or fires due to misuse or structural damage. In lithium cobalt oxide batteries, thermal runaway can result from the omission of the cobalt with its negative temperature coefficient.

    LFP is said to emit a sixth of the heat of nickel-rich NMC.

    (that article discusses why this is the case in a way that, to me, looks confused, so I’ve left it out).

    The key bit from my POV is just that Tesla is going with a less energy dense cell chemistry, but making up for that with better packaging in the battery assembly.

    Then you get a battery known for being safe and that can have a 20 year life span and 8000 charge cycles (or about 22 years of charging daily). IIRC, it also charges faster with lower internal resistance. At that point an EV starts to make some sense.


    It still has issues when cold. But there may be ways to fix that…


    Below -30°C ~ -50°C are beyond their operation limits. They can operate flawlessly between -20°C ~ +60°C. A regular LiFePO4 battery can deliver 10-20% of its power capacity under -20~0°C. Under the above weather condition, a LiFePO4 battery often fails to muster the necessary power. In such a condition, people need to go for a low-temperature LiFePO4 battery that can work under such hostile weather conditions.
    New technology to solve Lithium-ion battery cold temperature charging
    Lithium-ion battery technology has improved a lot recently, and the new technology in electrolyte chemistry is finding its way to charge a lithium-ion battery as low as -60°C. The new technology is a boon to electric vehicles and utility machinery that run on electric battery power. The new electrolyte that allows the battery to charge and operate efficiently in a colder/low-temperature environment will change how we use lithium-ion-powered equipment.

    The new electrolyte chemistry can increase the energy density and improve the safety parameters of electromechanical capacitors and lithium-ion batteries. The new electrolytes let the electrochemical capacitors run below -80°C. Even though this is the case allowing lithium-ion batteries to run in a low-temperature environment, the room temperature of the battery needs to be appropriately maintained.

    But being a less tech article, it neglects to mention if the low temperature improvement comes with any reduction in high temperature performance… or other properties.

    But the point remains that there’s ongoing battery improvements happening.

    IF someday (in under, oh, 20 years…) they can come up with a battery chemistry that works from -50 C to +50 C, and has 300+ mile range, and can be charged in 5 minutes; while lasting for 20+ years: Then I’d consider a battery operated car. After all, even on my marathon drives, after 300 miles I need 5 minutes in the Mini-Mart Gas Station to buy more coffee and use the “coffee change of fluids facility” ;-)

    But I’m pretty sure it will take longer to get to that state than I have years of driving left in me. Then there’s that 39 ¢ California home kW-hr rate and the 45+ ¢ rates seen on some chargers in networks… At present it is cheaper to run my fossil fuel cars than that…

    Since we are not building nukes and coal plants with oodles of cheap electricity, I don’t see the cost to charge coming down anytime soon. Then, with Time Of Day being the “savior” pushed by Utilities, expect rates to go even higher during the daytime to evening prime driving time (for me). In the Central Valley of California, that can hit about $1 / kW-hr during summer afternoons (when AC demand spikes). Figure about a $300 to $400 “fill-up” on your eCar under those terms… so better not plan to cross hot places in Summer in the afternoon…

    Frankly, given all the “issues” and the crap you have to worry about just to get the car charged: I’m sticking with my gas & Diesel cars for the foreseeable future ;-)

  34. Power Grab says:

    Speaking of cold conditions…what kind of batteries do they use on Mars?

  35. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, as the Pu thermal generator is hot, I suspect they just package the Lion batteries next to it in just the 70 F zone; so then never get too cold.

  36. cdquarles says:

    I have long said that the key to electrochemical batteries isn’t just the anode’s and cathode’s half reactions. The electrolytes matter, too. As our host says, chemical reactions map to exponential functions. Sure, they can look linear enough over short ranges and tight conditions; but …. exceed those at your own risk and don’t put others at risk if you can help it. Electrochemical “Voltaic” cells are roughly 300 years old now. The laws of economics are just as hard (as in firm) as the laws of chemistry and physics. That said, conditions matter; and the conditions that really matter just might be the ones you didn’t think of, or think through.

  37. Nick Fiekowsky says:

    NACS (Tesla connector) uses the same pair of wires for either AC or DC charging. A second pair of wires supports two-way communication between the car and the power source. This allows the car to specify the Volts and Amps it can accept. The DC charger responds. This link provides a good explanation – https://www.power-sonic.com/blog/the-ultimate-guide-to-dc-fast-charging/ .

    TMI – EVs are in a higher voltage is better phase. Higher voltage means fewer Amps required for a specific power delivery. Thinner power cables can do the job with lower vehicle cost and weight. Also lower current means less energy lost to cable resistance. Finally, higher voltage can allow faster battery charge.

    Tesla’s Semi uses 1 KiloVolt battery and up to 1 MW charging. The truck can charge with lower voltage. Tesla S, X, 3 and Y are nominal 400 Volts.

  38. E.M.Smith says:


    Very insightful! Take a look at “Gravity Batteries”‘ as an example where the electrolyte is very important and can be the energy storage medium. The Zink Iiodine or Zink Bromine batteries for example.


    I think Tesla has the right idea. But for those of us without $80,000 to spare, the “lesser lights” of other manufacturers are sort of it for us. Oh Well.

    I’m likely to get an EV sometime about 5 years from now. By then, I think most of the charger / cable / connector things will be worked out. Also I’m pretty sure folks will have either settled on the LiFePO4 battery (for safety at good enough density) or will have found The Magic Cell Chemistry to make them better than gasoline.

    UN-fortunately, I think the EV in my future will likely be a Golf Cart as I fail my drivers eye test… 8-[ So far, at 70, I can pass it without glasses, so it’s possible I’ll just need to actually give up and put some lenses on to pass the test…

    (I can hear all you folks with glasses tuning up your tiniest Violins… it isn’t necessary… I KNOW already that passing the eye test at the DMV at 70 without glasses at all is Very Lucky. The ’40 something’ behind the counter wearing glasses informed me how unusual it was… All I can figure is that it’s from a life of ignoring ALL Government health and diet guidelines… Lots of beer, wine, whiskey, meat, BBQ, fats, fish, Real Butter ™, cream, cheeses, etc. etc.)

    But “whatever will be will be” (que sera, sera… My first French ever learned, BTW, before I knew it was a different language, or French… thanks to “that song”…)

    Essentially: I don’t have anything, at all, against EVs. I just think any given tech ought to be used where it is best and NOT forced into use where it is crummy. Use Diesel for 1000 mile runs with minimum stops. Use batteries for under 50 miles and around town stop & go (regen breaking and such). FWIW, in the early 1980’s, Volvo had a prototype wagon that used a Hybrid Diesel / Electric design. Claim was it got 70 MPG. I really really wanted that one. It was never manufactured.

    My ideal vehicle would be just that. A plug in Diesel Electric hybrid station wagon, SUV, or van. Nobody makes one. Oh Well.

  39. YMMV says:

    @Nick Fiekowsky, thanks for that link. It fills in my missing pieces.
    Although it does not mention temperature issues, it does a good job.

    The EV subsides and mandates were a mistake. It would have been better to build acceptance of hybrids now and wait for pure EV technology to evolve. The electric motors are good and getting better. Batteries to match gasoline or diesel are either far in the future or are a dream. Fuel cells could be good, maybe. Hydrogen is worth exploring, without getting your hopes up.

    The next step beyond hybrids with ICE should be a “plug in Diesel Electric hybrid” in the locomotive sense — the Diesel only drives a generator, not the wheels.

    Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 REx tried this and gave up.

    In this vain, Mazda is developing something interesting.

    At the Brussels Motor Show on Jan. 13, Mazda will offer a range-extended, plug-in hybrid version of the MX-30 electric SUV which uses a rotary Wankel engine to generate electricity.

    The rotary should be small, light and less intrusive than a piston engine when it is running, and its efficiency will be optimized since it can operate at a constant speed rather than having to rev up and down with changes in speed.

    (The MX-30 EV claims 100 mile range. The BMW i3 EV claims 81 mile range.
    And not inexpensive)

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