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Tesla's Having Issues Charging In the Cold 476

Posted by timothy
from the my-suggestion-is-a-friction-loaded-crank dept.
cartechboy writes "It's winter, and apparently meteorologists have just discovered the term Polar Vortex, as that seems to be the only thing they can talk about these days. But seriously, it's cold, and apparently the darling child of the automotive industry, the new Tesla Model S electric car, is having issues charging in the cold weather. It's being reported that the charging cables that come with the car are unable to provide a charge when the temperature dips below zero. As you can imagine, this is an issue in a country like Norway where the Model S is one of the most popular cars. In fact, it seems this issue has already left one Model S owner stranded with a dead battery nearly 100 miles from the nearest charging station. Other owners are reporting issues charging. Tesla's European sales chief Peter Bardenfleth-Hansen apologized for he inconvenience owners are facing, and said it's 'trying hard to resolve' the issue. Apparently the issues are simply down to the differences in the Norwegian network as Norway uses a slightly different charging adapter than other countries in Europe."
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Tesla's Having Issues Charging In the Cold

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  • Re:units please (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vanderhoth (1582661) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @01:53PM (#46092879)
    0 deg C is the freezing point. Well below is at least -20 deg C to most people in Canada. Heck in the spring when the temperature gets up to -10 deg C people pull out their shorts and t-shirts. It'd be nice if they were just a bit more specific.
  • Re:units please (Score:4, Informative)

    by mark-t (151149) <markt@ l y n x.bc.ca> on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @01:56PM (#46092933) Journal
    Not that much of a llmb to go out on... there are 7 nations in the entire world that use Fahrenheit... one of them is the USA, and half of the remaing ones are US territories. The other three are all in the Carribean, iirc. Norway is not in the Carribean.
  • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:00PM (#46092977)

    apparently the darling child of the automotive industry

    What's with the snide side commentary? Tesla isn't the "darling" of anyone. Snide, obnoxious comments like this are pretty much du jour in any coverage. Everyone's gunning for them, simply because they're odd kid on the block.

    A Tesla catches fire after hitting a piece of massive road debris or getiting into a crash, and it's a fucking national emergency, their stock tanks, electric cars are suddenly "unsafe", etc.

    Meanwhile: do you drive a Ford SUV made in the 90's? Twice, Ford weakened the roof and support pillars to save money, against the recommendation of their engineers.

    Drive a 90's Ford? Their ignition switches were substandard and could short out, causing your car to catch fire at random. 8.6 million vehicles: http://articles.baltimoresun.c... [baltimoresun.com]

    Drive a recent GM truck? They've also got a "randomly burst into fire" problem; 370,000 vehicles: http://money.cnn.com/2014/01/1... [cnn.com]

    Just google "GM recall fire" or "Ford recall fire" and read page after page of recalls that affect hundreds of thousands if not millions of vehicles.

  • Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by xplosiv (129880) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:15PM (#46093143)

    What's next, are we going to post about a gasoline car not starting (am actually trying to help someone jumpstart their ICE right now, maybe I can get featured too)?

    Anyways, just last week, someone made the trip from NYC to LA [chargeny.com] in his Tesla Model S, seen temps in the -20F range, and the car was just fine. I'm driving my EV in these same temps, no issues either (ignoring the lower range).

    This is not a battery issue as some people seem to indicate.

  • by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:18PM (#46093187)

    I'd advise Slashdot readers to take their typical tack, and not read the linked articles. They are crap. However (again, much like Slashdot), the comments can be enlightening.

    What I'm seeing there is:

    a) This is not about the cold, or winter at all. Its been a problem since they started delivering vehicles in August.

    b) Due to all the bad press (from poor journalists such as these) over fires from improperly overcharged batteries, Tesla charging cables now try to detect when a battery is fully-charged and stop the charging process.

    c) They do this by looking for changes in the current flow through them.

    d) Norway's power grid is so dirty that it is fooling the cables. That's the issue, near as I can tell.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:22PM (#46093237)

    Now the batteries on the other hand.... Batteries don't hold charge very well in the cold. It's been one of the two big problems for electric cars since the 19th century.

    Actually, batteries tend to hold charge very well when cold. Cool/cold and dry is typically the recommended (below freezing or not varies).
    The problem is that they aren't very willing to let go of, or accept new, charge when cold - just as most any chemical process slow down when it's cold. This makes it hard to draw current to run the car or to charge the batteries back up.

  • Re:units please (Score:3, Informative)

    by ziggyzaggy (552814) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:22PM (#46093241)
    yes, many people in the world would be much more concerned about electric car with 32 degree F problem versus one that appears at 0 degrees F (-18 degrees C) Since the problem appears at 0 degrees C, that isn't very cold at all. It was -26 degrees C last night here
  • Norwegian Issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by smack.addict (116174) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:28PM (#46093325)

    I am in the middle of the polar vortex (-13F today) and haven't been having any issues charging my Tesla. I also haven't heard of anyone else in MN having charging issues. This really appears to be a Norwegian issue moreso than a general Tesla + cold issue.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @02:31PM (#46093355)

    Do you live in Norway?
    Do you have any basis for making recommendations for what Norwegians should do?
    The Tesla actually provides a very good value proposition in Norway because of the way petrol-based cars are taxed (and electrical cars are not). Hence the Tesla being so popular in Norway.
    Also, diesel-based cars can struggle in cold weather. For instance p, whenever I go on a mountain trip in winter in Norway I need to make sure that I fill petrol in the cold part of the country as the diesel being sold there is adjusted to handle the cold, whereas diesel from my hometown probably won't work below minus 15 degC.

  • Re:units please (Score:5, Informative)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @03:22PM (#46093925)

    In fact, it seems this issue has already left one Model S owner stranded with a dead battery nearly 100 miles from the nearest charging station.

    Your quote from Futurama is amusing, but there's something even more amusing, or sad, depending on how you look at it. It's that one dude's car died, and somehow this is a reflection on the entire model line? I live in Minnesota, in the coldest major city by average temperature and up here, every cold snap results in thousands of dead batteries. The number one call out for tow truck companies out here isn't a flat tire but a dead battery. And simple physics provide plenty of explanation for why this is; Yet somehow, out of the thousands of cars that wouldn't start (to the point that it's a running joke: "Come for the low unemployment rate and good schools, stay because your car won't start")... one dude got selected and they say his electric car is somehow defective because of this?

    Dude... if ONE car dies during a cold snap out of the entire model line, that's not a problem, that's an engineering success up here of epic proportions when it comes to cars. Maybe you've heard about our roads? We only have two seaons: Winter and road construction. Believe me... if a line of cars can survive up here and only one of them goes tits up in the cold, then someone's doing it right.

  • Re:I call bullshit (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Wannabe King (745989) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @03:26PM (#46093983)
    The Norwegian power system is actually very different from the rest of Europe. The three phase system in Europe has 400 V between the phases and 230 V between each phase and the neutral wire which is grounded. Such a system is called a TN system (Terra Neutral).

    Norway, on the other hand, has 230 V between the phases and is completely isolated from the ground. With a perfectly balanced load you can expect ~127 V ground-phase, but the voltage can stray far away from that. This is an IT system (Insulated Terra). The Tesla charging cable is quite picky with the grounding, so it isn't working as it should.

    This has nothing to do with the connectors, which are the same in Norway as in Germany or France.

  • by The Wannabe King (745989) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @03:40PM (#46094145)
    My Nissan Leaf works perfectly during the Norwegian winter, and the Tesla owners I know here in Norway are very satisfied with their cars. They have had some charging problems, though. This has nothing to do with the connectors (which are the same as in Germany and France), and everything to do with the strange grounding system used here. In short: Both wires are live, we have 230 V between the phases (all three), and ground is, well, somewhere, who knows really. This is what seems to confuse the Tesla charging cable as it believes it has detected a ground fault and shuts down. As third party charging cables work perfectly, Tesla probably needs to redesign the charging cable in Norway and give a new one to every customer.

    Perhaps you shouldn't give such strong advice on topics you are not that familiar with?
  • by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday January 28, 2014 @04:01PM (#46094361) Homepage

    Let's face it. Norway is often very cold in the winter.

    Not particularly cold, given how far north we are due to the Gulf stream and particularly if you live near the coastline - and Norway is a lot of coastline. In the capital, the lowest temp last year was -17.2C, just above 0F, the average in the winter months is just below freezing. True, if I pick one of the coldest cities on the coldest nights it might be -30C, but that's rare.

    If you fuck up and buy a 'green' car that won't start in the cold, then you die in the cold.

    Oh please, it might be a big inconvienience calling a tow truck but nobody's going to die. If you're at home and it won't charge, stay home. If you're at a charging station there will be houses nearby. And if it breaks down in the middle of nowhere on a night with -30C then you're equally screwed as in an ICE car.

    And there is this briefly mentioned problem of the fucking Norwegian electrical connectors not mating with standard electric car connectors...

    Here we're talking about quite regular home connectors, we use the "Schuko" plug used in most of Europe or alternatively the IEC 60309 industrial plugs for faster charging, both very standard in Europe but different than the US. I guess that's what they're talking about since there's few other Teslas on the road in the colder parts of Europe.

    The charging problems mentioned here have by the way been solved [newsinenglish.no] in a software patch already, Norwegian papers covered that on last saturday. With charging stations popping up in more and more places, rather abundant and cheap electric power and very nice tax breaks on electric cars I can assure you Tesla will continue to sell well in Norway.

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