Is it possible that, without all-wheel drive, the Tesla Model S can provide just as confident of a driving experience as in conventional vehicle?
The Tesla Model S is a rear-wheel drive electric vehicle, which may or may not be better than a front-wheel drive vehicle in the snow, depending on who you ask, but could it be better than an all-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle? Having grown up in the winters of Upstate New York, I remember working on rear-wheel drive vehicles, such as the Lexus SC430, which could not get out of its own way with ¼” of snow on the ground, even with snow tires. I have to wonder how the significantly-more-advanced Tesla Model S would act in the same environment…
Now, if we’re talking about Tesla Model S performance above the Arctic Circle, at latitude N66°33’44”, then this is a big change over what I was used to at N42°39’06”, a good 1,600mi North and a few degrees colder. How does the Tesla Model S perform in such a northern clime, such as Norway, where electric vehicles are the best-selling of any kind? The high-torque properties of the Tesla Model S electric motor does a couple of things.
The same properties that make the Tesla Model S fun-to-drive actually make it more controllable than any conventional vehicle. Because it lacks a transmission and a heavy internal combustion engine, the motor can be sped up or slowed down nearly instantaneously. In snowy conditions, the electronic stability control works far better than in a conventional drivetrain, enabling the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.
Thanks to an ingenious battery and motor thermal management system, the heat generated in the electric motor is used to keep the lithium-ion battery pack at the optimum temperature for proper operation, even when the weather dips below 0°F, as is wont to happen above the Arctic Circle. One other cool feature, kind of like a remote starter for your Tesla Model S heating system, uses the smartphone integration to preheat the car for operation, so you can get into a warm car. Where the temperature is often below freezing, a remote starter is a great investment. The best part of this system is that it burns no fuel or depletes any range while warming up, because it’s plugged into the charging station while you ready to leave.
Image © Tesla Motors [Screenshot]