In the midst of an intense cold wave in Chicago, a number of Tesla vehicles encountered difficulties charging at Supercharger stations. Whether a vehicle runs on electricity or relies on an internal combustion engine, extreme cold poses challenges, leading to issues like gas-powered cars struggling to start.
While it is a common occurrence for gas-powered vehicles to face starting problems in frigid temperatures, electric vehicles are not immune to weather-related challenges. The cold weather adversely affects the range and charging speed of electric vehicles, though instances of complete failure to charge in such conditions are infrequent.
The current extreme cold wave in Chicago, with temperatures reaching as low as 2F (-19C) and feeling like -20F (-29C) due to wind factors, has been identified as the culprit behind problems at Tesla Supercharger stations in the city. Numerous Tesla owners reported being unable to initiate the charging process once plugged in, resulting in some resorting to having their vehicles towed to the local Tesla service center.
A thorough check on Superchargers in the region revealed a significant issue, with most stations marked as all-in-use and displaying wait times. Some speculation has arisen suggesting that the problem may be attributed to Tesla owners neglecting to pre-condition their battery packs before charging, a practice recommended by Tesla, particularly in cold weather conditions.
Despite this recommendation, pre-conditioning the battery pack is typically performed automatically when a vehicle enters a Supercharger station as part of the car’s navigation system. Therefore, it seems unlikely that this would be the primary cause for the reported charging difficulties.
An alternative explanation could be the failure of the Superchargers themselves, possibly due to the extreme cold weather in the region. Unfortunately, obtaining additional details about the situation is challenging, as Tesla lacks a dedicated PR department for outreach and clarification.
In light of these challenges, a reminder is issued to stay safe in extreme cold conditions. Residents in areas prone to cold weather are advised to have a cold kit in their vehicles, comprising essentials such as candles and blankets, regardless of whether the vehicle is electric or not.