Tesla Model 3 will keep you warm for two days, or about 50 hours if you get caught in a winter storm. This will give enough time for the rescuers to find the car and provide assistance, and the occupants of the car do not get injured due to frostbite or carbon monoxide poisoning.
At the moment, although this is not true, there is a perception that electric cars are dangerous if you get stuck in them in snowy conditions. EVSmartBlog decided on a dangerous experiment to check if this is true. When Teskas, representing the team, shared the details with me, I was shocked, but the results were impressive.
The guys traveled to the Japanese mountains and stayed overnight in three different Tesla Model 3s, with different settings, to see how long it would take for a car battery to drop to 10% from 80% at -5°C (23°F) outside temperature. The test was conducted in the parking lot of the Zao Astria Hotel in Yamagata Prefecture from January 27 to 29 and lasted a total of 38 hours. The parking space is located at an altitude of 940 m (3084 ft.) above sea level. These days were cloudy with occasional snowfall and the average temperature was -5°C (23°F). A significant amount of snow had already accumulated in this area after prolonged snowfalls.
The “comfy”; 2021 Model 3 Long Range (Red). A/C@20°C (68°F), automatic air conditioning, interior air recirculation, seat heater switched off.
The “not bad”; 2019 Model 3 Performance (Blue). A/C@18°C (64.4°F), automatic air conditioning, interior air recirculation, seat heater switched off.
The “tolerant”; 2019 Model 3 LongRange (White). A/C@16°C (60.8 °F), automatic air conditioning, seat heater is on among all seats, stayed with electric blankets.
The battery state of charge (SoC) dropped (could be dropped) to 10% from 80%:
33 hours with air conditioning at 20°C,
51 hours at 18°C; and
40 hours at 16°C, heated seats and an electric blanket.
The level of electricity consumption was less than the guys initially expected, so they had to stop the experiment before the cars reached a 10% battery charge, as they were not ready to stay in the mountains for another day. That is why the graph demonstrates extrapolating the data (points) to simulate the experiment up to 10%.
Of course, most drivers can't rely on their batteries starting at 80% if they are unlucky enough to get stuck in the snow. However, the test shows that a battery with only 40% charge can operate for 14 hours at 20°C, 22 hours at 18°C, 20 hours at 16°C, with heated seats and an electric blanket. Thus, cars must provide a safe environment for a sufficiently long period of time, and 14 hours, in many countries, is usually enough for emergency services to respond to a situation.
In addition, the guys tested electric cars and a gasoline-powered car to find out if there are any hidden dangers that drivers may not even be aware of. The result of this test was also impressive, as it showed that in a car with an internal combustion engine covered with snow, the level of carbon monoxide (CO) is rapidly rising, which adversely affects the occupants of the car.
A common problem for drivers stuck in gasoline vehicles is cabin CO levels, which can increase if the vehicle's exhaust is blocked by snow. The guys measured these levels in a car that was covered with snow up to the top of the wheel arch and using the air conditioner with external air circulation turned on. The CO gauge left on the dashboard showed 322 PPM in just 3 minutes. At this level, the average person will develop headaches and nausea within 2 hours. For a fair comparison, they ran the same test on the Model 3, also covered in snow, and found no significant increase in CO levels.
Summing up this test, the guys found that getting stuck in the snow is uncomfortable and tiring, regardless of whether the occupants are in an EV or in a gasoline car. If the snow continues to accumulate, the driver will need to clear it frequently around the vehicle to avoid blocking the doors. However, the threat of carbon monoxide poisoning in an ICE vehicle is high, which means that the zero-emissions of an electric car is a big advantage.
© 2022, Eva Fox | Tesmanian. All rights reserved.
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About the Author
Eva Fox joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover breaking news as an automotive journalist. The main topics that she covers are clean energy and electric vehicles. As a journalist, Eva is specialized in Tesla and topics related to the work and development of the company.