The frigid winter conditions in North America this week exposed the flaws of some electric cars, especially Teslas.
In the Chicago suburb of Oak Brook, Illinois, where temperatures routinely drop below freezing, local media reported that public charging stations had turned into “car cemeteries” because motorists were unable to start their cars.
“Nothing. No juice. It's still zero percent, and it's like being here for three hours after being here for three hours yesterday,” said Tyler Bird, Tesla owner. Fox 32 said.
He wasn't alone. Dozens of cars were reportedly lined up and left at Tesla's Supercharging station in Oak Brook along with multiple charging stations around Chicago.
“This is crazy. It's a disaster. Seriously,” said Chalice Mizell, another Tesla driver, who had to abandon her trip with a friend because the car couldn't charge.
“We have a bunch of dead robots here,” another joked, while Kevin Sumrak landed at Chicago O'Hare International Airport on Sunday evening to find his Tesla unresponsive. He had to rent a tow truck and drive around looking for a working charging station in the extreme cold.
“I want Elon Musk to do something about this, it will probably help us,” said another hopelessly optimistic Tesla owner.
However, drivers are missing a trick, said Mark Billick of the Chicago Automobile Trade Association. “Like any new technology, there's a learning curve for people. It's not plug and play. You have to precondition the battery, which means you have to bring the battery up to the ideal temperature to accept a quick charge,” he told Fox 32. Cost.”
But it's actually not that simple. Presetting also drains the battery. Even looking at Tesla's own carCold weather best practices“It's like playing 4D chess if you need to take a trip in the dead of winter.
“Tesla recommends activating climate settings at least 30 to 45 minutes before departure,” the message read. “Preconditioning times depend on outside temperature and other factors. The mobile app will notify you once your vehicle reaches the desired preconditioning temperature.”
“Tesla recommends using Trip Planner to navigate to a charging location at least 30 to 45 minutes prior to arrival to ensure optimal battery temperature and charging conditions,” the document continues. “If the trip to the charging location is less than 30 to 45 minutes, consider pre-conditioning the battery before driving.”
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Why does this happen? The problem is that the battery basics simply don't perform well in freezing conditions. Ions inside electric car batteries move between positive and negative electrodes through the liquid electrolyte. As it gets colder, this fluid, at least in most lithium-ion batteries, becomes thicker, which means the ions move more slowly. The slower the ion movement, the greater the resistance. The greater the resistance, the faster the electric vehicle loses power.
The solution is to keep the battery warm, but the heat comes from the battery itself, so injured Tesla drivers are draining the battery just so they can charge the battery, and we don't need to explain why that's inefficient.
Scientists are working to address this issue. South Technologies 8For example, it proposes an “liquefied gas electrolyte” that “liquefies under pressure, enabling numerous safety and performance benefits,” including a wider operating temperature range of -60°C to 60°C. Meanwhile, Korean company LG Chem is developing new electrode chemistry and engineering with the aim of improving charging times and temperature performance. Tesla is also trying to advance battery technology, though the next-generation 4680 cells are just that Mass production proved difficult.
Stories like this remind us that these are still the early days of electric vehicle battery technology. It may take years for the necessary improvements to be made, but until then, the solution is simply to not drive during a deep freeze. ®
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