Cold snap causes long line ups at Tesla Superchargers in Ontario and Quebec

An arctic air mass descended on Ontario and Quebec on Friday, bringing with it frigid temperatures which combined with a wind chill made it feel as cold as -40ºC (-40F). While Tesla vehicles had no problem operating in the cold, unlike many of the gas powered cars that left their owners stranded, the temperatures did have a greater impact on range than many expected, causing long line ups at Tesla Superchargers in both provinces.

Tesla’s Supercharger map in the vehicle and on the mobile app showed numerous stations with wait times on Friday, indicated by the grey icon with the clock.

Photos and videos shared with us and posted to social media show the information displayed was accurate. In a video sent to us by Twitter user @Mayooran_n, the line up at the Concord Supercharger at Vaughan Mills was more than a dozen cars long. The Model 3 owner told us he waited over one hour in the lineup, after which there were at least another 10 cars that had joined the line behind him.

The same situation could be found in Quebec, where multiple stations also saw lineups, like the 12 stall Supercharger in Brossard, as shared by Guillaume Allard on a Tesla Quebec Facebook group.

Part of the reason for the long wait at the Concord and Brossard Superchargers in particular is that they feature V2 technology, only capable of peak charging speeds of 150kW. However that figure is shared by adjacent stalls, so when the station is full like this each car can only max out at 75kW, extending the time needed to get to 80% state of charge.

Critics of electric vehicles (EVs) will try and use these long lineups as a talking point against shifting away from internal combustion engine (ICE) cars, but EVs offer a number of advantages over their fossil fuel burning counterparts in cold weather. Ignoring the fact that lineups at gas stations also happen, EVs are far more reliable in weather like this. It is common to see gas and diesel powered cars unable to start in cold temperatures, whereas an EV has no such issues.

A Tesla can also be preheated from anywhere with the mobile app without having to go outside to start it and then leaving it to sit idling for 30 minutes or more. Range loss in cold temperatures is also not unique to EVs as gas powered cars also suffer from reduced range in temperatures like this (if they can start at all).

One issue that this scenario does raise is the need for an effecting queueing system for when there are line ups at a Supercharger station. It is not always easy to know who is up next to plug in their vehicle, and when someone jumps the line it can cause other owners to (rightfully) get upset. A simple solution would be for a check-in system on the in-car display which only appears once you are within a certain distance of the station. Once checked in the screen can show your place in the line and when your turn comes up, the Supercharger can only be activated by your car plugging in, preventing someone from jumping the line.

Hopefully this is something that Tesla is working on and will be implemented soon.

Did you get caught in any of the lineups on Friday in Ontario and Quebec? Let us know in the comments below.

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