Tesla and Bolt Cold EV Performance

Well if you are even mildly cold temperatures like 32F, we’ve found that range falls significantly. There are quite a few factors but a very smart guy at Tesla Motors Club lays it out well:

  1. Preheat your battery. Turn your range mode off on the Tesla, turn cabin heat on while you are plugged in. This is counter intuitive but range mode turns off the external battery heater and thus the only way to heat up the battery is with internal resistance. If you don’t this what you will see is your electricity consumption is double until the battery reaches operating temperature of 15C
  2. Draft (aka platoon). Air is denser and resistance increases as the square (he says the cube but I don’t think that’s right). So when cold it is even more important to platoon. That is follow a big rig if you can stand going relatively slowly (65 mph max) or look for that really fast camper van. Get as close as you dare by changing the follow distance. Just be aware that Autopilot does not handle the case where the car in front swerved and there’s a stalled car in front. It’s designed to ignore stationary objects. So keep a close eye. I’ve seen this reduce power usage by 50%. While this is true all the time it’s even more important when cold.
  3. Manage max power. When the battery is cold this is really important. The battery is very inefficient below operating temperature so keep it very chill to say 25KW usage until it reaches operating temperature. You can tell this by watch the power meter and there is a charge limit icon as well.
  4. Limit the power used uphill. Going up is not symmetric with going down. It’s actually much better to go 55 up and hill and 75 down.
  5. Use your seat heaters. The internal cabin can use 2-6Kw of power and seat heaters are way more efficient. And it’s ok to wear your coat inside the car if you are a true nerd.

Now in a Chevy Bolt you don’t have the same flexibility as it doesn’t have an internal battery heater:

  1. Preheat. Ok you don’t have a real way to do this but the best way is to keep the car is a nice warm garage.
  2. Draft. This is more important but a little harder since there isn’t adaptive cruise control in the car. On the other hand it is smaller than Say a model X so even getting behind an SUV seems to help.
  3. Seat heaters. They supply one in every position so use it!
  4. Chill uphill. Same advice as the above