Shifting Into Winter: Winter Tires, Driving, Energy Consumption, Tips & Expectations

Winter driving can be dangerous and also has higher energy consumption. However there’s a misconception that electric vehicles fair much worse than their internal combustion engine counterparts. Electric vehicles actually fair better on costs and efficient energy use. There are also measures you can take to help counter or reduce the impact on both range and consumption.

Tires are important!

Tires: The cooler it gets below 7° C, summer and all-season tires loose their grip. They suffer from a big increase of traction-loss to loosing most of their grip around -14° C. However, winter tires are made to gain grip as it gets cooler. With rain (and any form of frozen precipitation) this impact get even bigger.

Winter tires or chains are required on most routes in British Columbia from October 1 to March 31. For select highways, including mountain passes and rural routes in high snowfall areas, the date will be extended until April 30 to account for early-spring snowfall.

3.5 mm or more tread & a proper symbol

Mountain/Snowflake and/or
“M” and “S” lettering.

See the BC Government website tire and chains passenger vehicle requirements for more details.

Winter Driving: Avoiding problems

Drive for the conditions! Shifting your driving habits to tackle winter driving which puts our car and our skills to the test, is vital to avoid problems. There’s just too much unpredictability & variability to drive the same as we do during ideal conditions.

  • Drop your speed. The speed limit is for ideal conditions. Be ready for the inevitable unpredictability of snow and ice on the road. Its going to take you longer to stop as you’ll very likely have to slow down and maneuver slowly to maintain control.
  • Four second following rule minimum. At least double your stopping distance from others.
  • Always be looking and planning ahead for your stops, turns, and lane changes.
  • Adjust and smooth out your steering, braking & accelerations.
  • Black Ice is common in shaded areas, bridges, overpasses. Be extra vigilant when maneuvering in those area. Slow down slowly in advance if you know you’ll need to in those areas and coast through it otherwise.
  • Sharp curves & hills: Try to avoid accelerating and braking during turns, try and coast thought them. Slow down slowly before going down a hill.
  • Drive with headlights on in low light, fog, smoke, & snow to see and be seen.
  • Use extreme caution around road maintenance vehicles. Be ready with the wipers and whats ahead in case you have a few seconds of no visibility.
  • Practice how to handle skids in case you accidentally find yourself start or are out of control of your vehicle. If you start to skid, ease off the brake or accelerator, and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Be careful not to over-steer. When in a straight line try to shift into neutral or coast.

For more tips & resources on how to stay safe on the road this winter see the BC Government DriveBC website Shift Into Winter. DriveBC also provides current road conditions via an interactive voice response system. Call the Traveller Information System at 1-800-550-4997. For example to get the Highway 1 road conditions in the lower mainland say the following voice prompt at the main menu: Highways, Trans Canada Highway, Mainland, Conditions.

Drive BC Phone Tip: You can interrupt and speak the next option (or confirm by saying Yes) to speed up getting though the 4 levels of menu to get the conditions. Say Yes to confirm and say Main Menu to start over.

Higher Energy Consumption: The Cold Weather Factors

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that a drop in temperature from 24° C to 7° C can increase fuel consumption in urban commutes by 12 to 28 % for internal combustion engines.

Here’s some of the other factors and impacts

  • Cold, dry winter air is 11% denser (1.3 % impact) & its windier!
  • Rainy & winter road conditions (7 to 35 % impact)
  • Higher vehicle electric loads due to heating, defrosting, longer time with headlights on, heated seats, mirror, & more use of the wiper pump & motor.
  • ICE: Winter Fossil Fuels have less energy ( 1.5 to 3 % impact)
    BEV: Battery pack heating for optimal energy efficiency & cabin heating (5 % impact)

Model S and X Range curves appear similar

Model S 100D 22% less range when below freezing
Model X 100D 22% less range when below freezing

Are EV owners actually fuelling the myths and misconceptions about winter range?

As with all cars in the real world, electric vehicles don’t get anywhere near EPA mileage estimates during normal driving. However electric vehicle owners are well aware of our energy consumption and thus notice any impact. Thus its important to understand all the factors that cold weather drives up energy consumption.

The maximum range of Model S and X at temperatures below freezing is about 22% less than at temperatures above 20° C (68° F). For the Model 3, the ‘statistics’ are a little harder to come by. Reports of 25-30% loss at and below freezing to 40-50% at below -20° C. There are many factors that aren’t due to the battery rated range we see. Our expectations should have this loss in mind.

The chart below shows how the real world range is compared to the ‘rated’ range. This shouldn’t be excepted in cold weather conditions. Maybe we need an Igloo Mode to adjust the rated range for typical winter conditions?

Click on the image for a larger view.

As you prepare for winter, please read TESLA’s Winter Driving Tips to make the colder months a breeze and be aware of some mitigation strategies you can implement if you should desire or require them. The average regular trip and regular seasonal trips such as going to the mountains likely won’t require any effort in assuring your vehicles range ability.

Have a wonderful Happy Thanksgiving and please drive safe!

Drive Electric Week: EV Advocacy by supporting Ride and Drive Events.

National Drive Electric Week, presented, now globally by Plug In America, Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association, Drive Electric Events are on now.

Plug In America also released in conjunction with Sierra Club, AchiEVe 3.0: Transition to EVs Policy Toolkit. Part of their toolkit talks about Consumer Education and Protection including EV Proclamations, Driver Bill of Rights, Ride and Drive Events, Open Access and Interoperability, and Uniform Signage Requirements.

We again see a theme regarding Ride and Drive Events. They state “Nothing gets people more excited and sold on the idea that an EV could work for them than a ride and drive event. These opportunities give people the chance to kick the tires and check out EVs for themselves, so they can see just how easy a transition it is.” (Page 21).

We totally agree and support local events by offering ride alongs whenever we can (not just this week)! Nothing beats a bum in a seat! Tell your friends & family if they are curious about electric vehicles that these type of events are a great way to experience it and talk to an owner with first hand experience. These owners are passionate about it for a reason and want to help others see how driving electric is right for them. They help combat myths & stereotypes that people start believing as misinformation is shared without fact checking. We applaud our members and all other volunteers for volunteering their time doing this public advocacy work.

Thank-you Tesla Owners Club of British Columbia club members for you support! We are making a difference. People walk away and Take the 2 Degrees Institute Electric Pledge (

For further reading on what you can do and what legislative efforts to support, please see this great resource of what the best policies around EV adoption are to incentivize people to make the switch.

Tesla Owners Club of British Columbia

The Model S/X “Raven” Refresh

Did you know that Tesla Vancouver has an updated test drive fleet for the Tesla Model S and Model X?

Here is a quick summary of the three areas of improvements.

Ask your closest local store to take one out on a test drive or even arrange for an overnight one to compare for yourself!

More Efficient Design
The Model S and X now has a new generation of drive unit technology (pairing a permanent magnet motor in the front with an induction motor in the rear). In addition to adding range, power and torque increases improving the 0-100 km/h time.

Faster Charging
Recharge rates can now be up to 50% faster at the new Version 3 Superchargers. The recharge rate also has Improvements on the existing Version 2 Superchargers.

Fully Adaptive Suspension
The new air suspension provides a fully-adaptive damping, giving it an ultra-cushioned feel during your ride.

The system constantly adapts by sensing the road and adjusting for driver behavior, automatically softening for more pronounced road inputs and firming for aggressive driving.

Also improves the leveling of the system while cruising, keeping the car low to optimize aerodynamic drag.

For full details, see the Tesla blog posting linked here:…/longest-range-electric-vehicle-now-…

Tesla Charging Guide

Tesla Owners of British Columbia

Charging Guide by Kelly Saunders, Abstract Energy 
Our newest Sponsor, Abstract Energy has created a charging guide for new and existing owners.

For the best ownership experience, it is important to have a charging solution in place that doesn’t require thinking ahead each time you need to plug in. This guide provides an overview of your charging options and helpful tips on how to hire the right electrician for your home installation.

Home Charging
Charging with a 120v wall outlet will not provide enough range for most drivers, so it’s best to install a 240v charging solution at home and plug in every night – this ensures a full charge every morning without any hassle or stress. There are 3 options for home charging:

  1. 240v Outlet – this is the cheapest option and allows you to plug directly into the wall with your Mobile Connector Bundle and a NEMA adapter (14-50 is the most common). You can charge at a maximum of 32A (40-48 km of range per hour), which is more than enough for most drivers.
  2. Tesla Wall Connector – this option provides the best experience and is the fastest way to charge your Tesla at home. Most Model S, X and 3 LR vehicles can charge at a maximum of 48A (66-80 km of range per hour). NOTE: Model 3 SR can charge at a maximum of 32A.
  3. J1772 Charging Station – this is the least desirable option because these stations are typically more expensive and you will need to use your J1772 adapter every time you charge. However, the J1772 plug is universal and can be the best option if you share charging with a non-Tesla EV.

Whichever option you choose, make sure to get multiple estimates from reputable electricians that  specialize in EV charging. Price is important, but don’t let it be the only factor in your decision – If you think hiring a professional is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur. Getting multiple estimates will create competition for your installation, but it does require significant effort and coordination.

If you are looking for the easiest way to get multiple estimates from reputable electricians, Abstract Energy will streamline this process for you. No need to juggle contractors, the team will complete a single site inspection and then invite top-rated installers to compete for the electrical work. You select the winner based on availability and price. Please see Abstract Energy for details on how to get an estimate.

Tesla Supercharger Network
The Supercharger Network is the fastest way to charge your Tesla and can provide a full charge in 75 minutes. There are now over 1,500 Supercharger Stations and 13,000 Superchargers in the world, strategically located along major road trip routes near restaurants and other amenities. The new Urban Superchargers are designed to serve local owners that are unable to install charging at home or work.

Tesla Destination Network
The Destination Network is a convenient way for Tesla owners to charge at hotels, restaurants and shopping centres. These strategic partners offer free charging as a way to attract Tesla owners to their business. Charging speeds vary by location, but each Wall Connector should provide at least 40 km of range per hour.

Public Charging
The best way to see all public charging stations is with Plugshare – you can download the app or visit their website. Your Tesla comes with a J1772 adapter, which allows you to plug into any Level 2 charging station. Unfortunately, only Model S and X have access to the Level 3 CHAdeMO network at this time. If you are planning a trip, do your research in advance because some charging networks will require you to register before plugging in. Some charging stations are free, but most will require payment.

About the Author
Kelly Saunders is a Board Member at the Tesla Owners Club of BC and the President of Abstract Energy . As an early employee with Tesla Vancouver back in 2015, he began providing vehicle walkthroughs for new owners, then was promoted to oversee delivery operations, and then all Used Tesla sales and trade-ins across Western Canada.