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Dead Cars Surround Chargers as Teslas Struggle in Frozen Weather

Polar Express

A deep freeze has gripped Chicago, with temperatures plunging to an Arctic minus 32 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend.

As a result, Tesla owners are becoming deeply frustrated with their vehicles not being able to charge or hold a charge, even after a trip to a Supercharger.

As local news station Fox 32 reports, dozens of owners are lining up at supercharging stations in the Windy City. Some owners are even leaving their vehicles behind, turning some public charging stations into "car graveyards."

The news isn't exactly a vote of confidence for the carmaker, highlighting a glaring drawback of electric vehicles. And it's not just Tesla: EV batteries drain much faster in freezing temperatures, which can greatly affect performance.

Frozen Batteries

Meanwhile, Tesla has been caught trying to change that narrative. Reuters reported last summer that Tesla had created a "diversion team" to cancel range-related appointments with disgruntled customers. Many of these complaints were related to Tesla vehicles being vulnerable to cold weather.

South Korean regulators also fined the company to the tune of $2 million last year over exaggerated claims of its cars' range in cold weather. The regulators noted that the range drops by over 50 percent in cold climates.

So what can Tesla owners do in the meantime? Experts say that at least a small part of the issue can be traced back to user error.

"It’s not plug and go," Mark Bilek of the Chicago Auto Trade Association told Fox 32. "You have to precondition the battery, meaning that you have to get the battery up to the optimal temperature to accept a fast charge."

That kind of advice likely won't come as much of a help to those stranded without a vehicle.

"This is crazy," one owner told the outlet. "It’s a disaster. Seriously."

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