Electric cars are great, but no one likes the big hit their range takes when it’s cold out. A new Tesla Model 3 might not be the best purchase if you live up North. During the winter you could see your range drop up to 40% just running the heater. You should buy a new Tesla Model Y instead, it’s heat pump solves these problems.
What is a heat pump?
Put simply, a heat pump is a more efficient method of heating the car. Even Tesla’s high-end Model S and Model X use resistive heating. This means that they use power from the battery to turn on a heating element. It’s basically like plugging a space heater directly into the battery.
The new Model Y uses a heat pump. When drawing large amounts of power your battery generates a lot of heat. So why heat your car with power from the battery when the battery is already generating tons of heat on its own?
The motors also generate heat, but it’s unclear if that heat is also used by the heat pump. We also don’t know if the heating is purely accomplished with the heat pump, or if it might need resistive heating in some cases. Here’s what it says about the heat pump in the owner’s manual:
Model Y uses a heat pump to maximize efficiency; therefore, your air conditioning compressor and external fan may run and make noise even when the outside temperature is cold and your vehicle is heating or supercharging.
With the Model Y only just starting to roll off the lines, we don’t know how much of an effect this new heat pump will have. It’s safe to say it should have a large impact on range in colder climates. But I’m curious to see just how large an effect this heat pump has.
Losing some range in colder weather is unavoidable. Lithium batteries just aren’t as efficient when it’s cold. But hopefully increasing the efficiency of the heating system could make range loss in the cold a mild annoyance.
Losing 40% of range to heating is absolutely ridiculous. I’m frankly surprised it’s taken Tesla so long to include a heat pump on one of their cars. I hope in the coming years they’re able to add this feature to their other offerings. The Model 3 has done really well, but this really does need to be a standard feature in all EVs in the future. People do still need to drive during the winter.
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