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Model S Performance in Winter (Canada)?

What cold weather provisions are there built into the design of the model S and how is its Performance affected?
What effect does cold (Canada ~ -10 to -25 Deg C) winter have on battery life / mileage range?Especially with Winter items ON such as interior heater, rear window defroster, heated seats, etc?
In other words, if I am driving in winter with the interior heater and rear window defroster on, what % loss of mileage distance / range should I expect? My guess ~25% reduction in mileage?

How does the cold weather effect the Lithium Battery charge / performance.

(Note: I live in Toronto, Canada and have a Reservation for a TESLA Model S, Performance)

Thanks, Currie

mvbf, apart from higher cost, what specifically do you consider "limitations of an active air suspension"?

mostly that it can not maintain increased height above very low speeds.

mvbf, I understand but you have to look very closely to warrant that claim. As far as I understand, the regular suspension sits at the air suspension's medium level, meaning it does not offer increased height at all, regardless of speed. As far as I can see, increased ride height at low speeds is an extra over the regular suspension, not a shortcoming of air suspension. Your argument goes for the air suspension, not against it.

I think the TM system is designed to lower to minimum level at high speeds, on the assumption you must be driving on a smooth highway surface and minimizing drag. If you do 50-70 mph in rough off-road terrain, that could be a problem. Becoming airborne on short notice is another. ;)

Normal height = 6"
High Level 1 = 0.90" taller; When the vehicle accelerates above 19 mph, the clearance adjusts back to Normal height.
High level 2 = 1.3" above Standard and can be used for ascending a steep driveway or fording deep snow. Clearance reverts to High Level 1 above 10 mph.
Low Level = 0.79" under Standard; Active Air Suspension will automatically lower the vehicle for highway driving to improve aerodynamics. Low Level is also accessible from the touchscreen for loading/unloading of passengers. When the vehicle begins driving the clearance adjusts back to Normal height.
(Walter Franck, Ownership Experience Advocate)

It is my understanding that the lower-than-normal setting is only manually activated, or possibly automatically chosen at highway speeds. This is hardly a limitation of the air suspension.

Having reread mvbf's post (page 1 of this thread) I noted that he refers to the Model X. Mind you, the numbers given by Walter refer to the Model S. For the Model X I'd assume similar relative heights "above/under standard", but a significantly different "normal height" in the first place.

To be more clear a Model S with active air suspension is definitely going to do better clearance wise than a Model S without it. However, a Model X with standard clearance at and above the heights of the heights of the Model S with air suspension is more preferable to some because that clearance is NOT limited by the speed you drive the vehicle. It would be nice if the clearance of the Model X were great enough that one did not feel the need for an active air suspension.

That being said I am glad that the Model S offers one. For my particular driving conditions, I would not consider a Model S without one.

It was my impression that the air suspension was primarily for better ride and performance than a regular suspension and that the ride height adjustments were just a perk. From their description - "Much more than a great ride and handling package, ..."

This isn't so much a case of "feeling the need for an active air suspension" for required clearance as "enjoying the added clearance benefits when one chooses the air suspension for its performance"...

Yes, I want the active air suspensions "performance" of not hitting my battery pack on the road surface when my wheels go into a 6 inch to one foot deep frozen mud rut. Or the "performance" of not getting stuck when I realize I turned down a road the plow has not got to yet after a 1 foot snow.

To me the active air suspension is both about clearance and performance. When it is higher I would guess the performance handling of the vehicle would actually go down, hence the speed restrictions in its up states. And then at highway speeds lowering would most definitely increase its performance and efficiency. That is why I guess it is required/included with the performance equipped Model S.

So to me to answer is the active air suspension for clearance or performance, my answer is yes.

Does the Model S require anything special for tires? I'm wondering about winter tires. What would be required?

Don't get the 21" rims. AFAIK no one has found suitable winter or even all-weather tires for the 21's.

Someone please prove me wrong!

My plan is to get the nice 21" rims with tires for summer high performance driving when i order the car and then buy a set of basic 19" rims for winter tires... It is never a good idea to swap your summer / winter tires on the same rims. It wares out the seal and rims... I have always had two sets of rims (summer / winter) for all my cars.

Same plan for me CurrieG. It's definitly the best way to do if you want to get the best from your tires and wheels.

Right. Every time you mount and demount a tire there is a chance of damaging it.

What I really meant was you would most likely be unhappy with *just* the 21" rims.

To be honest with you all, I originally Planned to got a Tesla S this year, but Living in Montreal And after I read that keeping the S for more than 24H with a temp colder than -25 will void the battery warranty, it worries me a bit more... so to me, this is the biggest concern you might have until the conceive a S model adapted for cold environment which I think they already plan


Tesla have removed any restrictions on the battery warranty, so that shouldn't be a concern for you anymore...

I live in Montreal as well but I haven't had a real winter yet with my car having picked it up in March. But I have no concerns that it'll be just fine.

@ dieselboy77

You better check this one more time. For Norway deliveries a winter package option is a choice. That takes care of the worries you express. It would surprise me big time that the package is not offered for Canada as well.

Has anyone looked on the underside of their MS battery in person?
There are some small openings (most likely used for swapping), which, I wonder, if those could accumulate some dirt/snow/salt etc. in winter time?

Tesla recently confirmed for me that battery is warranted so long as it is plugged in in these subzero conditions. Unplugged batteries for -25degC for 24hrs plus are not. I do not have a garage (yet) so this was something I wanted to get in writing.

Also - I have seen rated range decline faster than my distance indicated in GPS (to be expected, see energy graph, deviation from 'rated' line, by a rule of thumb of kilometers/hr per degree of temperature. So, -20degC reduced my starting rated range of 260km down to 200km after just 30 minutes on the road. Yes speed matters, but at 85km/hr I was chewing through 300Wh where in warmer weather 250Wh or less is easy (bit of snow on roads, snow on car/drag).

So in other words, if I plan a longer trip, I need to plan for a greater margin, say, one km for every degree below zero for every hour of travel. 220km trip at -20degC? Plan for 2.5hrs on the road, reduce range by at least 50km, so top battery to 300min, and better yet 400 for cabin heat penalties, emergencies, etc. as I often have nowhere to charge enroute!

Ya, go for all the margin you can get in winter.

I am still (regrettably) using the 19" all season tires but our Model S has handled everything we've thrown at it.

Performance is down about 20-30% with respect to the battery's range at apx -20c. It is otherwise perfectly usable and with preheating there is no loss in range to warm the car in the morning.

I highly recommend you get the car. :-)

I'm in Montreal. This winter has been brutal... -20C... -30C (not counting windchill).

In very cold weather (-30C) you loose 35%-40% of battery range. I would say, the loss is about 25-30% at -20C. It gets much better above 0C. The projected range based on average on your display is very accurate. Keep an eye on that value and your GPS distance to your destination. Last time we drove in -35C, we made it home with 10km over the projected range (we decided that was the night we would test the range in cold weather... :) )

The cabin heater and the speed you drive have the most effect on battery range in cold weather. The biggest gain on projected range is simply achieved by reducing speed. We gained significant range mostly by reducing from 115km/hr to 105 km/hr that night we drove in -35C weather. The other items have very little effect (even the seat warmers).

Battery heating has also an effect on battery range in cold weather but there is nothing you can do about that other than finishing charging as close as possible to your departure time.

Here is a good link about increasing range.

I don't recommend the Pirelli winter tires that Tesla is recommending. Very bad on ice. We got stuck places where no one else got stuck... May be good on snow, but not on ice, in Montreal anyway...

Hope this help!


Drove 198 miles today. 4 degrees F. It was a round trip, so no net change in elevation.

Started out with a just-completed range charge, car fully heated, range mode. 265 rated miles on display.

Turned around with 113 rated miles remaining, with headwind going home but no headlights (sun had come up). Obviously should have been paying more attention. With no good charging options (Edison supercharger, where are you??!!), I limped home (well, to Darien Supercharger which is 10 miles closer) with NO HEAT driving 55-60, and got to 0 with 5 miles to go. I would have made it right at 0, except I had to stop at a service area for washer fluid. That took 5 miles of rated range.

I would have gone to Greenwich supercharger if I was SURE it was powered up. That would have been another 5 miles closer, but at decision time I knew I could make it to Darien, and not sure I would be able to get home if Greenwich was not online.

This trip has new parameters for me. I used to think 200 miles would be fine under any conditions.

No trips over 240 miles when it is between 60 and 80 degrees.
No trips over 160 miles when it is 0 degrees.
Between 0 and 60 degrees, make a judgment call.

Just filled my ICE for the second time this month. Rate 32 - 36 mpg, I've gotten 22 and 21 mpg on those two tanks. So a loss of 40% performance in cold (I'm in St Paul, MN) is not unique to an EV.


My F-250's lose about 30% range through the winter. Definitely not unique to EV's.

Is anyone aware of a way to plug in the "winter norm" into the range prediction? Ideal and Rated are not all that useful when I'm averaging 450 - 600 Wh/mi throughout the winter.

Does anyone know of a way to get a more accurate mileage prediction vs. doing the math in your head (300 is rated range, 450 means 75% rated range and 600 means 50% rated range)

Doesn't Predicted take the last X miles as a base?

Russia, Moscow.
-15 to -25 Celsius (-15 to 5 Fahrenheit).
Heavy traffic (average speed 15-40mph), short distances (5-25 miles).
Average 370-450Wh/km (550-700Wh/mi).

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