Electric cars stopped in Chicago, the PoliMi expert: “Neglect and cold are possible causes”

Professor Davide Tarsitano at Adnkronos: “Teslas have sentry mode and the car always stays on, not all owners pay attention”

On the file electric cars, including the Tesla, abandoned to Chicago “several factors may have intervened, such as the cold or carelessness on the part of the owner” who left the vehicle at the charging station in Chicago because the batteries were not recharging. Speaking with Adnkronos, Professor Davide Tarsitano, professor of hybrid and electric vehicles at the Polytechnic of Milan, explained that first of all “it is known that the extreme cold – which was recorded in those hours in Chicago – also affects the components, even the stupider” but “it’s not clear where the problem is and I’m not even sure it’s with the car”.

“The problem could also have affected the charging stations themselves because temperatures at minus 15 degrees can cause problems if they have not been designed appropriately” he observed. “Furthermore, components such as cables or connectors have problems if they are affected by ice. If ice forms inside the car connector – which remains hanging from the column – it does not melt and generates problems” underlined Tarsitano.

It was therefore “multiple factors together” that caused the collapse of electric car batteries in Chicago. The cold, the PoliMi expert also observed, “also puts the batteries in difficulty and the charging times are extended because the battery is less receptive to the energy during the charging phase. In fact, many problems in Chicago were caused by this an aspect which, in turn, has made the queues of cars at the charging stations get longer.” “So those who arrived at the charging station with 2-3-5% of battery ended up consuming it all while waiting to be able to connect and the car then remained blocked” adds Tarsitano also explaining that “if with Tesla cars you point the navigator to a ‘supercharge’, the car alone tries to make the ‘supercharged’ car arrive with the battery in the best condition to be recharged quickly. And that’s what happened in Chicago.”

“In this phase the machine urges the heat pump to maximum power to heat it and reach ‘supercharge’ with the battery at 10-15 degrees so that it can be recharged quickly. However, it consumes a lot of energy and if the user finds the queue at the column the battery ‘dies'”.

Another aspect is also linked to the user’s ability to evaluate the charging his car has at that moment. “If I leave the airport with the battery at 5-8%, then it’s my negligence and if I aim for ‘supercharge’ the car doesn’t start the heating and I arrive at ‘supercharge’ with the battery cold, therefore charging is very slow and queues are created.” And then, the engineer indicated, “users who buy electric or hybrid cars don’t always know how to use the technology” and this aspect too “may have generated the problems with Teslas” in Chicago. For example, continued the PoliMi engineer, “many motorists left with their car batteries on the ground seem to have arrived from the airport and therefore the car may have remained parked for a long time. And especially for the Tesla, the loss of charging does not it is due to the battery but to the fact that the car can remain stationary for a long time but with the functions active. And therefore these functions consume energy”, an aspect that “the user does not always evaluate”.

Tarsitano further highlights that “cars now tend to never be turned off and Tesla even more so because the user can connect from his mobile phone and check the status of the vehicle or watch the cameras from the mobile phone, this forces the car to remain always ready for connection with the mobile phone and, in some way, it consumes energy”. “Moreover, Tesla has the so-called ‘sentinel’ mode and the car always stays on like this, and in the event of contact or movement around the car, it records the movements around the vehicle with its cameras.” “This means that all on-board systems remain switched on. It is a mode that the user chooses to leave switched on. It is a function that consumes a lot of energy, we are talking about 5-7% consumption per day. If it is left on the car parked with all the functions turned on, when you return the battery is quite low and if you don’t immediately find an available charging point, if you have to queue, then the battery ‘dies'” further said the professor who believes therefore that “the user may also have underestimated the technical aspects related to the car, may have underestimated the problems related to the technology of his car”. (by Andreana d’Aquino)