Tesla charging stations become ‘car graveyards’ as batteries die in cold, say US reports

CHICAGO: Tesla owners are lining up at Chicago-area charging stations as subzero temperatures cause electric vehicle batteries to die quickly, Chicago news outlets report. But, their cars aren’t always making it to the charging port.

Fox32 called the charging lots “car graveyards”, describing the abandoned cars left in the lot after cars wouldn’t charge. Tesla driver Brandon Welbourne told CBS2 that multiple cars had been towed from an Evergreen Park charging station.

Tesla driver Wes France told WGN9 he drained his car battery just looking for a charging station around the Chicago suburbs and eventually used a tow truck to get his car to a charger.

McClatchy News reached out to Tesla for comment on Jan 16 and was awaiting a response.

By the time a Tesla driver gets to one a charging station, they may be faced with hours-long lines, according to CBS2.

“I’ve been here for over five hours at this point, and I still have not gotten to charge my car,” Welbourne told CBS2 at a charging station in Evergreen Park on Jan 15.


If a driver found an available charger, they may be waiting hours for their car to get fully charged. Welbourne told CBS2 the charging process took two hours, but should have taken 45 minutes. Fox32 reported some chargers at a station in Oak Brookwere not working.

“Nothing. No juice. Still on zero percent,” Tyler Beard told Fox32. He told the news station that he had spent a total of six hours between Sunday, Jan 14 and Monday, Jan 15 trying to charge his car.

While recent media reports have focused on Tesla, shortened battery life amid cold temperatures is not specific to this location or brand. According to a report by Bloomberg, lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power electric vehicles, lose some of their capacity as temperatures drop.

Tesla’s support website says the company has made updates to the vehicle to improve charging in freezing temperatures, but it also notes that energy consumption can increase in cold weather.

“In cold weather, vehicles use more energy to heat the battery and cabin, and it’s normal to see energy consumption increase.”

Tesla’s support website recommended that drivers use the precondition or defrost features prior to driving.

Evergreen Park is about 16 miles southwest of Chicago. Oak Brook is about 20 miles west of Chicago. – The Charlotte Observer/Tribune News Service
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