Tesla ditches the resistance heater and goes with a more efficient heat pump in the Model Y

Thanks to Tesla posting the owners manual for the new Model Y yesterday, one of the bigger discoveries is that Tesla now uses a heat pump to heat the cabin of the electric SUV.

This is different than the Model 3, which uses a resistance heater to warm the cabin. The big downside of the resistance heater in the Model 3 is the large drain on the batteries, especially in really cold weather, like most of Canada gets during winter.

Related: Cold weather tips for Tesla drivers in Canada

On the other hand, a heat pump is much more efficient, but do cost more to produce and add to the vehicle. Since the first Model Y’s were only delivered yesterday, we don’t know the exact details of how the Tesla Model Y heat pump works, but we can get an idea from other EV’s that use a heat pump.

Tesla Model Y heat pump

Tesla isn’t the first to use a heat pump in an electric car. In 2013, Nissan used a heat pump in the Leaf EV, helping extend its paltry range of 120km in the cold winter months. It does so by heating the cabin using the temperature difference between a refrigerant and the outside air. This results in a heating effect other than consuming electricity, making it possible to heat the car cabin with less power than conventionally.

Despite Canadian deliveries of the Model Y not beginning until mid-2020, those soon-to-be owners are going to like the fact the Model Y will likely have less range loss in the cold Canadian winter months.

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