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The door handle on Model S arent going to work in winter time. You have to push it in. What are Tesla going to do? Make a own Tessla for people living noth of the 50. latitude? xD

AFAIK, the handles are heated. I guess there's some lower limit on the temperature it can handle (water hits handle, then the outside temp goes down to -40 so it can't be melted?). In that situation, hopefully on of the passenger door handles or the trunk can be opened.
[ Maybe this is the reason there's nothing on the floor between driver and passenger? :) ]

If you anticipate this happening (if you ever find out the lower temperature limit) you might want to put something over the handle to keep it dry?

@Unversell, you are not the first to raise this concern. You may want to read this thread:

I recall the mobile app they demo'd was able to single the car the car to warm up before you enter it... would that provide enough heat to keep the handles from sticking?

Even normal door locks freeze up and can't be opened.

Geesh, people freak out about the weirdest things.

I just don't understand the need for retractable door handles. The claim is made that this is done to smooth the car profile and reduce aerodynamic drag. Really? Have you noticed the scoop in the side panels, the wheel well openings, the grill?
If the Model S were an airplane flying at 250+ mph I could understand that (the door handles.) But at typical car speeds? How much energy is saved by retracting four small handles at the side? I would think that driving with one or two side windows open for a few miles or minutes would waste far more energy than the door handles during a years use of the car (I admit, I can't do this calculation nor know how.)
Then, of course, the electrical energy required to operate the handles and keep those circuits alive. Might not that exceed the drag energy wasted? And, of course, the cost and complexity of the (electrified) door handle design. Those handles are subjected to a lot of abuse and people unthinkingly just love to yank those things (why do some people slam cars doors when they can close them with a modest push?) I'd definitely hate to have to replace those handles both in time and cost.

Yes, flush handles make a difference. No, they don't have to be retractable; other cars have flush handles that aren't electric.

Elon thinks retractable handles are cool and he's in the driver's seat, (so to speak), so we get retractable handles.

You don't have to buy it.

"My v-v-voice is m-my pass-s-s-port, v-v-verify m-m-m-e. T-t-tesla heat handles p-p-please."


Tags ate the respond. Retrying...

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

I live on sealevel 400 km south of Trondheim in Norway, in wintertime it is -20 degrees celsius. Normaly we use oil on the door handle, but on Model S it is impossible. What kind of a designer idiot has designed this car?

It is very nice, and I like the design. But it isnt functional!

I think Tesla should make an full electric rough SUV for people which live in a contry whith very bad roads and changing weather.

Zelaza It's obvious by your "contributions??" to these forums that you are a "Special Needs" individual. Your participation here is not going to help you in making a decision to get a vehicle (or "get a life" for that matter) that you so desperately need. Your confrontational, unreasonable and negative attitude does not belong in these need help, go find it in somewhere else.

@Universell: I live in Norway too, but I don't share your fear of frozen handles. What makes you so sure they won't work? Do you already have one? Do you have the construction & assembly drawings?

@Denis Vincent

I think Zelaza has very good technical skills, and see how things really works. He could do it very good as an engineer. But as an designer....


I often has a prblem with my normal door handle, and i think this type maybe can double this problem. I have never tested a door handle like this, so I dont know how it would do through the Norwegian winter ;)
But it isnt funny with a doorhandle full of silicon :)

Unversell, they've stated somewhere that the plan is for the handles to be pre-heated. So it's quite likely that "silicon" enhanced door handles will be superior to "normal" handles.

However, Tesla has never mentioned developing a "rough" SUV type vehicle. So you're going to have to look elsewhere for that. At least for the next 4+ years.

Great! Im going to buy one of those :D

A scatter-shot of responses:

  • Heated handles
  • Preheated cabins on command will clear ice from windows, so that the window can lower and allow the door to open (these are frameless windows, remember)
  • Wide blue masking tape over the handles?
  • Custom car cover, with a little flap where the charger plugs in. I really hope Tesla will offer this as an accessory (really!)

@brianman, nice combination of Sneakers and 2001. Great movies too.

As multiple people have mentioned those door handles will be heated. Probably better than ordinary handles then with frozen locks and stuff like that. Cool and functional.

For drag, electricity usage is tiny for popping them out. People don't seem to understand how huge amount of energy is required to move a car, if you change Cd even 0.004 with those door handles (there are four of those), it is worth it.

On the door handles freezing, this has happened for me only with rain/freezing rain/wet snow followed by a drop in temperature. The solution was to use a de-icer spray, or hair dryer, or wait until it either warms up enough and dries out enough to get the doors open. And in such cases, the handles aren't the only problem. The doors themselves can be frozen shut.

@David70: "The doors themselves can be frozen shut."

Yep, yep -- freezing rain, snow falling on warm cars that cool down, etc. There are a lot of situations where I find one side of my Audi completely frozen under and I crawl in the other side.

I've since bought a cover for my car, which is a huge help. Hopefully Tesla will have someone custom-make a cover for the Model S that allows recharging while covered (with appropriate ventilation).

I'm in California, no issues with the door handles what-so-ever here! :) I think they are super cool and wouldn't change a thing about them! Heck, I know people who payed extra to customize their cars like that!

Over night, most of us will be parking and charging our "S" in heated garages. No worries.
During the day it could be challenging.

I live in Los Angeles, not a snowflake in sight -ever.

When parked and the temp drops below freezing, the car automatically pushes out the handles.

Can we talk about something else please? ;)

But Discoducky, this IS the frozen handles thread.

But anyway, I'm going to be wintering in California, so hopefully won't have too many days with freezing rain while in Washington. OTOH, I hope to get a good car cover for the Model S for when I am still up here.

Even if you have a garage (heated or otherwise), does your ski resort? Your movie theater? Your office park? A cover will come in handy.

Your key fob should have a built-in laser to direct at the offending ice on handles and around the door frame.


Simple, people. Humans were never meant to be polar bears. Move somewhere with normal human temperatures, like here in Sydney Australia. A really horribly cold and miserable winters day - raining and the outside temp at 7 degrees Celsius!! Awful hey? Move over here!
I really like the tech on this car, handles included. Lets move on. One feature I consider essential but not mentioned anywhere is the provision of a foot support for the left foot. Most uncomfortable to drive without one, and so basic - not an electron in sight to offer this.

There's a left foot rest/brace in the beta, so it's quite likely to be there in the production car.

Anyone who engineers real products will readily concede that every machine has possible failure modes.

If you care about the quality of what you build, you think about these possibilities and provide some practical level of safety factor and recovery options.

By integrating heaters into the handles, it seems to me that Tesla engineers have been more conscientious than traditional car designers.

Getting enough liquid water on all the right spots for the 5 handles, followed by an abruptly freezing atmosphere ... this can certainly happen, but it is not routine.

If you are faced with these specific conditions often, you'd generally take steps to avoid trouble - like putting on a cover or activating the built-in heaters.

The beauty of Tesla's glass cockpit architecture is that those heaters can be activated by an upgradeable app on your smartphone. At every level, this outperforms traditional approaches to the problem of frozen door handles.

To focus on a rare circumstance and frontline it as a serious design deficiency seems to me to be a disingenuous attempt to discredit Tesla.

These obviously motivated and spirited Engineers instead deserve our encouragement.

Thank you, Mark K, you nailed it IMO.

A decade ago in Minnesota, we had a day with alternating cycles of rain and snow. My car ended up covered in a single sheet of ice shaped like a car.

We first used a hair dryer to melt lines around the edges of the doors, which we then cracked with a scraper, and then melted again. Repeated around the door handles. Repeated around the locks. Injected antifreeze into the locks. Unlocked and opened the car... and of course it wouldn't start.

Repeated the entire procedure with the hood. Opened that up and heated the block. Still wouldn't start.

Called the mechanic, who disconnected a number of hoses, injected antifreeze into them, and reconnected them. (It wasn't the fuel line, as that already had antifreeze in it, since it *was* a Minnesota winter.) *Finally* it started.

I daresay my Model S will be easier to deal with in those conditions than the gasoline car. Melt the doorhandles and door frames out, open the handles manually. There should be far fewer hoses full of liquid subject to freezing.

I do see one potential serious problem, though. If the car is left *not plugged in* under these conditions, *how do we get the charge port open*? Does it have a manual opening method, the way the door handles do? Because the car will likely have to be plugged in in order for the temperature management system to recover from the icy conditions...

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