Tesla owners, particularly those from Canada's prairies, claim they are experiencing heating issues in their vehicles at a time when temperatures have plummeted.
Issues with in-cabin heating seem to be isolated to Tesla’s Model 3 and Model Y electric vehicles (EVs) and only started popping up in mid-December following a firmware update, although that’s also when temperatures in North America really started to plummet.
“One day when it was -12°C in the cabin, I was just shivering, and seems like the only fix that I can get is if I pull over at the side of the highway,” said Kelly Gibbons, who owns a 2022 Model 3. “Worst case scenario, I might just have to start looking for another vehicle.”
Gibbons isn’t the only one who has complained of the heater in their Tesla not working as of late. A couple of Tesla owners from Saskatchewan tweeted about their woes with interior cabin heating in late December, with one explaining how the loss of heat mid-commute actually endangered their family.
"Our Model Y could have killed my family today when the heat stopped working in -40c Called service and the reset and auto didn’t fix. Hour away from any service. Luckily we had family in an ICE vehicle that I could put my 2 kids under 3yrs old in quickly," wrote one Saskatchewan resident on Twitter.
One Model Y owner, Mark J., wrote, “mine was intermittent, but now the heat pump is officially dead. Died at -5 degrees while skiing for less than an hour at Cypress Nordic. I preheated for 30 minutes until the heat gave out and started blowing cold air. Tried a reset, tried defrost and nothing. Wipers frozen to the windshield as well as ice forming. Wasn’t a safe drive home to say the least but thankfully not -20 or -30 like some of you out there across Canada. Service was booked for January 7th then rescheduled for January 25th. I don’t have heated steering so my fingers were frozen.”
Angie Dean, the president of the Tesla Owner's Club of Alberta, says the issue is due to a recent software upgrade and is isolated to approximately 10 - 20 drivers across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Dean reached out to Tesla corporate last week and was told the issue has been sent up the chain.
A long-time Calgary-based Tesla owner herself, Dean says newer models have a new heat pump installed so as to not drain energy from the lithium-ion battery.
She tells owners to "precondition" or warm up their vehicles before driving, saying it could improve the way batteries operate in cold weather.
"Preconditioning the car is it's just healthier for the batteries," Dean said. "You wouldn't throw your phone out in a snowbank and then try and turn it on and go all over the place. Same thing with an electric car, it just works better."
Will York is on the board with the Electric Vehicles Association of Alberta (EVAA) and says his Tesla is experiencing less-than-optimal interior heating as he drives around Edmonton.
"I think that Tesla made a mistake and it is a very unfortunate mistake," York said. "But it's a software update. It's a software mistake, not an electric vehicle performance mistake." York continues to assert that "the tide is changing and it's going fully towards electric. I believe there will (soon) be electric everywhere in Alberta."