Warm Up to the Facts: Tesla's Success in Cold Weather Challenges Myths

By Kevin Armstrong
Teslas are winter ready
Teslas are winter ready
Not a Tesla App

It’s that time of year again. A cold snap across many areas of the U.S. has sparked a recurring debate about the performance of electric vehicles in extremely cold conditions. Contrary to the negative portrayal by some legacy media outlets, data and experiences from one of the coldest countries globally provide compelling evidence of the robustness and reliability of EVs, particularly Teslas, in frigid temperatures.

Norway's Real-World Experience with EVs in Cold Weather

Renowned for its harsh winters, Norway has become a global leader in electric vehicle adoption. Interestingly, recent reports from Norwegian rescue services and insurance companies shed light on the performance of EVs versus traditional fossil-fuel vehicles during the recent extreme cold wave.

Svein Setrom from Viking Assistance group told TV2 (and reported by Electrek) that there is a significant increase in service calls this winter, with electric cars proving to be more resilient in the cold. According to Setrom, only 13% of starting difficulties involved electric cars, despite them making up 23% of the country's vehicles. This data highlights that EVs, including Tesla, are almost twice as effective as fossil-fuel cars in cold conditions.

Tesla's Dominance in Norway

Cold weather is nothing new in Norway, the fifth coldest country on the planet. Despite the challenges posed by cold weather, Tesla's popularity continues to soar in Norway. In 2023, Tesla led Norway's car sales for the third consecutive year, with almost five out of six new cars sold being battery-powered. This success is evidence of the efficiency and reliability of Tesla vehicles, even in one of the world's coldest countries.

The continuous growth in Tesla's market share, now standing at 20%, clearly indicates Norwegian consumers' confidence in electric vehicles' performance, even in extreme weather conditions.

Misconceptions About Teslas in Cold Weather

Contrary to some reports, Teslas are designed to cope well with cold temperatures. While it's true that battery efficiency can decrease in extreme cold, leading to reduced range, this issue is not exclusive to EVs. Fossil-fuel vehicles also experience a drop in fuel efficiency in cold weather. Tesla provides comprehensive guidance in their manuals for cold-weather maintenance, and these state-of-the-art vehicles are packed with technology to make winter driving more comfortable.

There are simple practices for Tesla and other EV owners to maximize performance in cold weather. Some recommendations include regular maintenance charging, occasional longer trips to warm up the battery, and avoiding car washes on extremely cold days. These practices and features, like pre-conditioning and battery management systems, ensure that Teslas remain a reliable choice even in harsh winter conditions.

The experience in Norway and real-world data dispel the myth Tesla underperforms in cold weather. Instead, these vehicles have proven more reliable and efficient in extreme cold than their fossil-fuel counterparts. As electric cars continue to gain popularity globally, it's essential to base discussions on facts and real-world experiences rather than unfounded assumptions. Tesla's success in Norway, a country known for its challenging winters, is a clear indicator of the robustness and reliability of EVs in cold climates.

Tesla’s Forgotten Market – Canada

By Karan Singh
Ian M | LinkedIn

Tesla’s primary market is North America, with China close behind. One could argue that their primary market is actually the United States – not so much all of North America.

Canada sits as the forgotten red-headed stepchild of Tesla’s North American market. Let’s shine some light on the maple leaf for a moment and see what’s missing or what they have missed out on.

Subscriptions and FSD

Subscriptions have been a big one for Canada. Only recently, in April – was Canada allowed to Subscribe to FSD for the first time. The Canadian price equivalent for FSD at the time was $18,000 CAD before tax – nearly $21,000 CAD after tax. This was after the initial $3,000 CAD price drop in 2023.

With FSD becoming a subscription, it became massively more accessible for Canadians. But Canada did get one win on that front. The price for FSD Subscription in Canada isn’t at US-price equivalent – it’s $99 CAD, which is approximately $72 USD! A small victory for not having access to FSD subscriptions since its introduction in the U.S. in 2021.

Even FSD beta itself wasn’t initially available to Canadians – despite NHTSA, USDOT, Transport Canada, and CANDOT having many of the same regulations for homologation. FSD Beta only came to Canada in 2022, a full year after the American release. Even then, access was primarily restricted to early access testers and influences. The full Canadian rollout began in late 2022.

But that’s not all. If Canadians want to use Tesla’s Premium Connectivity – for now they must still subscribe month-to-month. There is no yearly subscription (which is available in the US, with a slight discount). A small gripe, but just another odd example of the lack of standardization.

Cybertruck

Cybertruck still isn’t available to Canadian pre-order holders. Much of this has been attributed to regulatory issues in getting Cybertruck approved by Transport Canada to be on Canadian roads.

Tesla Cybertruck Program Manager Siddhant Awasthi mentioned on X that as Tesla gets confidence in estimated delivery dates to Canada, they intend to open up the configurator like they did in the US. However, he didn’t provide any estimate in terms of timelines or anything else.

We believe the delays to be regulatory – there is no regulation or standardization for vehicles with steer-by-wire in Canada. It’s worth noting that when Tesla filed its patent for steer-by-wire in the US and Canada, Canada did not begin regulatory processes to approve it. Of interest is the fact that Transport Canada has generally shown to be faster than NHTSA in approving new technologies – adaptive high beams and headlights rules have been available in Canada since early 2018.

Transport Canada vehicle approvals require hand-over-hand maneuvers, which currently isn’t available on the Cybertruck since it leverages a steer-by-wire system that automatically adjusts the steering ratio depending on speed. However, a software update could likely make it compliant in Canada, although it would lose one of the biggest advantages of a steer-by-wire system. It’s possible Transport Canada could also make an exception to changing its ruling.

Models S and X – the Luxury Tax

The Model S and X, and in the future, the Cybertruck – cost over $100,000 CAD. This means that they’re impacted by Canada’s Luxury Vehicle Tax. The luxury tax adds the lesser amount of two values, either the amount over $100,000 of the list price multiplied by 20% or the total list price multiplied by 10%.

In the case of the Long Range Model X, with no additions, this is an additional $2,000 CAD. If you were to add in FSD and a non-standard paint color, it would be $4,860 CAD. The Plaid Model X tops it off with a brutal $9,060 CAD tax on the final purchase price. This is all without changing the default seats, wheels, and yoke/steering wheel.

At one point, for a short period of three weeks, Tesla offered the Model S and Model X in a Standard Range+ package. This package was listed at just below the $100,000 mark, even if you added in a different color. Tesla then offered a post-sale software upgrade to unlock the vehicle to the regular Long Range version for any customers interested.

Once again, Canadians would love to see the SR+ variants return to Canada, even if it was just to dodge the Luxury Vehicles Tax. It’s a pretty sizeable amount for even the base Model S or Model X, and this could open up the market to people not wanting to get impacted by the tax.

Discounts and Offerings

Tesla has recently offered quite a few inventory discounts, direct price discounts, and even favorable financing for both purchases and leasing. Sadly, very few of these demand levers have been pulled in the Canadian market, leaving Canadians bewildered as to why the “Tesla North America” account on X promotes these deals.

As of the first week of June, the Tesla account started mentioning that these benefits are US-only. Sometimes inventory discounts and direct price changes do make their way to Canada, but they’re usually several weeks late, and last for only as long as the US promotion. In one specific case, a Canadian inventory price reduction lasted for under 72 hours, as the US one began nearly two weeks earlier, and ended on its third week.

We’d love to see Tesla improve its offerings in Canada – especially ensuring to match vehicle pricing changes in both markets and hopefully also begin offering favorable financing terms alongside them. Canada’s interest rates are in lockstep with the United States for the most part – so some Canadian consumers are considering EV alternatives that have been providing better financing recently.

Tesla Insurance

Just like many US states, Tesla Insurance has no presence in Canada yet. However, unlike the United States, the Tesla Insurance link in Canada just throws an error. It used to link to Aviva Insurance’s Tesla Insurance program in 2023, but that is no longer the case.

Tesla has recently made moves in the Insurance space, picking up an Ex-GEICO executive to expand and revitalize the Tesla Insurance program. Hopefully, we will see an expansion into Canada with Tesla insurance sometimes making a big difference in the total cost of the vehicle.

Powerwall 3 and Solar Roof

This one is a bit of an oddball, as we’ve reached out to a few folks in different places in Canada and received different responses. Some Canadian submarkets are receiving Powerwall 3’s for installs, but other markets are still only receiving Powerwall 2’s, including Ontario and Quebec.

We’d like to see some standardization regarding product offerings in Canada – if you want a Powerwall 2, you should be able to get one at a cheaper price than a Powerwall 3 if available – but make sure to offer the 3 when it’s available throughout the United States without restrictions.

Solar Roof is completely unavailable in Canada. It is possible to have an American installer quote you, ship the materials, and install – but it’s obscenely expensive and a regulatory hassle in comparison to just using regular solar panels.

Service Centers and Superchargers

Tesla’s expansion of Service Centers into Canada has been an ongoing issue – with many major cities being several hours away from the nearest service center. There has been a lot of progress on this front, with smaller service centers being opened around the country – but there are only two major collision centers in Canada, one in BC, and one (coming soon), in Ontario.

Given that Tesla sold 45,000 vehicles in 2022, and nearly 55,000 in 2023, and makes up nearly 75% of the EV market, they’re the largest player in the Canadian market. Of course, those numbers pale in comparison to US-sales, with annual Canadian sales accounting for a single month’s worth of sales.

The Supercharger situation is quite similar. Canada has drastically fewer Superchargers than the US – its capital, Ottawa, is serviced by just three Supercharger sites, for a population of over 1 million people. And one of these sites is a paid parking garage.

You can use the spectacular Supercharging highway that exists to get from province to province, but going places in those provinces can be fraught with difficulties. There are also vast areas of Canada that are inaccessible to Tesla vehicles not wanting to brave CCS or L2 charging – which can be sporadic and unreliable at best.

Accessing Thunder Bay, Ontario – one of the largest ports on the Great Lakes, still requires careful planning. In Alberta, the trip from Calgary to Edmonton in the winter can be difficult – the two largest cities in the province. There are still major improvements needed between major Canadian population centers before range-conscious first-time buyers take the leap into EVs.

Canada has been ignored by Tesla for some issues, with some simple offerings like FSD subscription just becoming available in 2024, while others are still completely unavailable.

We’d love to see Tesla continue to work to bring their entire suite of offerings and features to Canada in the future, as many Canadians are already loyal Tesla fans.

Optimus - What We Learned About Tesla's Robotic Future

By Karan Singh
Optimus Gen 2
Optimus Gen 2
Tesla

Optimus was a major point of coverage at the 2024 Tesla Shareholder meeting, and we’ll help break down some of the key points for those interested in Tesla’s future humanoid robots.

What Is It?

Optimus is Tesla’s humanoid robot, built entirely in-house, from the batteries to the motors and actuators in the arms, legs, and hands. Tesla has taken a unique design approach to Optimus and intends to have it replace humans in mundane or risky tasks.

It is a bipedal robot, built around the same aspect as the human body. Optimus was originally unveiled in August 2021 and has since seen several major design iterations. And those aren’t the only ones, Optimus is scheduled to undergo at least one more major design revision this year, as well as one more major design revision for its hands – which will feature 22 degrees of freedom.

In comparison, the human hand has 27 degrees of freedom – Tesla is quite close to replicating the complexity of a hand in its custom-designed hands. Musk mentioned that with the 22 degrees of freedom, Optimus is capable of learning and playing music on a piano – an intricate task that many humans find difficult today.

Best of all, they’ve placed the immense learning prowess of FSD behind its brains – each Optimus unit runs similar hardware and software as Tesla cars . It can also navigate autonomously, using the same object recognition and learning that Tesla’s cars use every day. Optimus learns from watching humans do things or can be taught how to do something by a remote operator. Elon Musk also mentioned that it will eventually be able to watch a video and learn how to do a task.

What Can It Do?

Elon Musk has mentioned that Optimus’ primary goal is to replace humans in certain tasks, especially those that could put a human at risk. This could be anything from being a humanoid companion or caretaker, a construction worker, or even working in factories. Of course, it has a focus on high-precision tasks, owing to its intricately designed hands, and is intended to replace human workers doing everyday precision work that robots today cannot do.

The primary goal is to have Optimus robots begin working in factories, and to this end, two have been deployed to one of Tesla’s factories, and are working on the battery cell assembly lines in a prototype and testing deployment. Today, these two units are moving battery cells off the production line and into shipping containers.

2:1 Robot to Human Ratio

There are some ambitious plans for Optimus – Elon Musk envisions that there will be 2 humanoid robots for every human on the planet in the future. This is alongside an eye-watering build rate of 1 billion humanoid robots a year – of which Tesla intends to build at least 100 million per year or more.

With these numbers, Tesla sees the market cap for Optimus as double that of FSD – approximately $20 trillion, with an expected profit of $1 trillion per year at scale. That’s an expected profit of $10,000 per unit, which will be quite the achievement.

When’s It Coming?

Given the fact that Tesla still has design revisions planned, scale production isn’t starting anytime soon. However, Elon Musk did mention that Tesla currently plans to have approximately 1000 to 2000 Optimus units deployed for internal use in Tesla factories by the end of next year. This limited production run will be the start of Tesla’s larger Optimus deployments and will serve to help them refine the FSD stack that runs Optimus, helping teach it the many tasks it could do in a factory.

Costs

The next big question is what it will cost. Musk has mentioned that it will cost less than a car – with an expected cost of $20,000 USD, once large-scale production kicks off. Just like the Cybertruck, that means initial adopters will be faced with fairly high adoption costs for the initial production runs. Economies of scale will eventually lower the cost as more units are produced.

One of Tesla’s significant challenges will be scaling to reduce these costs. Currently, each unit is hand-built in Tesla’s Optimus labs. Eventually, this will have to scaled up to a proper production line, which will require a factory. Optimus also uses 4680 cells, which means some production of the newer 4680 batteries will be required to produce Optimus.

So perhaps, someday soon, there will be an Optimus knocking on your door, delivering itself to help you take care of your home. Definitely a bright future to look forward to.

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