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Do heavier cars do better on ice?

How Do Tesla Vehicles Handle In the Winter?

There is a video from Tesla about how Tesla vehicle handle in the winter. I also have experience with this that I’ll share.

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Tesla Handling in the Winter

There was some winter testing done in New Zealand by Tesla in July and there was snow everywhere. One of the questions I often get is how will a Tesla drive in the snow and when it is icey. We have an answer.

Tesla vehicles are built to be able to drive in the winter. Tesla was working on Model Y track mode in the snow and was testing it in the most harsh of conditions. The car was able to drive well even in the snow.

Tesla is working on making winter improvements. Tesla did different manuevers with each of their vehicles to see what the car would do when different driving actions are applied.

Tesla says they want to do things before the customer does so they can prepare the car to handle the situation before the customer does it. Tesla can then make the car respond with over the air updates.

Tesla vehicles are stable even in the winter. They have a battery farm underneath the vehicle which gives it a widely disperesed center of gravity that is heavy. A Tesla vehicle won’t slide as much and is a little heavier, making it slide less.

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Tesla Vehicles Efficiency in the Winter

  • Visit Torque News homepage for more stories.

I have a Model 3 RWD and I’m driving it in the heart of winter here in Utah. There’s been plenty of snow and ice this winter. My car has handled very well. I’ve had a couple instances where the car slid on ice, but it was only about a foot and wasn’t for very long.

I haven’t felt any issues driving the car in the snow or handling. Tesla has clearly spent a lot of time testing their cars in the cold and snow and I feel like it’s not much different than driving in regular weather.

As for the efficiency of my Tesla in the winter, I’m getting about 10% to 20% less range in the winter due to using climate controls and not having as much regenerative braking. In fact, there were a couple really cold days that my car started with no regenerative braking at all and I wasn’t at 100% charge. As the car warmed up, regenerative braking started to turn on again.

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Even with this less range, my Tesla is far superior to any gas car I’ve owned in the past. Any car that is using regular climate controls is going to get less range, whether an EV or a gas car.

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For more information, see this video from Tesla:

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Jeremy Johnson is a Tesla investor and supporter. He first invested in Tesla in 2017 after years of following Elon Musk and admiring his work ethic and intelligence. Since then, he’s become a Tesla bull, covering anything about Tesla he can find, while also dabbling in other electric vehicle companies. Jeremy covers Tesla developments at Torque News. You can follow him on Twitter or LinkedIn to stay in touch and follow his Tesla news coverage on Torque News.

How Much Does a Car Weigh?


Car manufacturer assembly line

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Article QuickTakes:

  • What does my car weigh?
  • How much do subcompact and midsize cars weigh?
  • How much do crossovers, SUVs, and trucks weigh?
  • How much does an EV weigh?

Wondering how much the average car weighs? It’s a question that’s come up more often in recent years. The addition of safety equipment, luxury amenities, and the increasing size of modern automobiles continue to push the numbers on the scales higher and higher. The average 2020 model-year vehicle weighed 4,166 lbs according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That’s a 30% increase from 1981, when the average vehicle weighed 3,200 lbs.

Vehicle weight influences attributes such as safety and fuel economy. In general, a heavier car is better for occupants and worse for anyone outside of the vehicle in a collision. All else being equal, a heavier vehicle will use more gas and emit more carbon dioxide. Mass also affects how a vehicle accelerates, handles, and stops, with lighter vehicles being more nimble.

What Does My Car Weigh?

Don’t worry—you don’t have to break out the scales. The easiest way to find your own vehicle’s curb weight is to crack open the owner’s manual where the specifications page will show how heavy your particular model is. You can also check out the manufacturer’s website or the brand’s media site to search for your vehicle’s technical specifications. If you can’t locate the information, you can weigh your car for a fee using the scales at a truck stop.

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How Much Do Subcompact and Midsize Cars Weigh?

Logically, the lightest new vehicles on the market are also among the smallest.

Subcompact sedans and hatchbacks like the 2022 Mitsubishi Mirage, 2022 Hyundai Accent, and 2022 Chevrolet Spark check-in with curb weights in the range of just over 2,000 to 2,600 lbs. The 2022 Mazda MX-5 Miata roadster also falls into this lightweight range.

The average midsize sedan family sedan checks in at a little more than a thousand pounds heavier. A common model like the 2022 Toyota Camry weighs between 3,310 lbs for the base model and 3,590 lbs for the fully-loaded V-6 trim. The 2022 Subaru Legacy checks in at 3,790 lbs in the top trims, in part because of the added weight of its standard all-wheel drive.

How Much Do Crossovers, SUVs, and Trucks Weigh?

Compact crossovers, given their larger dimensions and the availability of all-wheel drive, can frequently push past midsize sedans on the scales. The 2022 Ford Escape weighs between 3,298 lbs (base model) and 3,884 lbs (plug-in hybrid), which is similar to Toyota’s RAV4 (3,380 to 4,300 lbs). On the other hand, larger SUVs can stretch across a wider spectrum, from a midsize 2022 Kia Telluride at 4,112 lbs to a full-size 2022 Cadillac Escalade ESV at 6,181 lbs.

The latter is relatively portly due to being based on a full-size pickup platform. Trucks like the 2022 Ford F-150 (4,021 to 5,540 lbs) and the Chevrolet Silverado (4,400 lbs to 5,150 lbs) are some of the heaviest non-commercial vehicles on the road.

How Much Does an EV Weigh?

Due to the weight of the batteries, electric vehicles tend to be significantly heavier than similarly-sized vehicles powered by gas or diesel engines. For example, at 3,563 lbs, the subcompact 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV is roughly 1,000 to 1,500 lbs heavier than a gas-powered Accent or Mirage.

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In the SUV and truck world, the difference is even starker. The 2022 GMC Hummer EV has a battery with more than three times the energy storage of the Bolt EV’s pack and is expected to weigh more than 9,000 lbs. That’s nearly 50% more than the gas-powered Cadillac Escalade.

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Benjamin Hunting is a writer and podcast host who contributes to a number of newspapers, automotive magazines, and online publications. More than a decade into his career, he enjoys keeping the shiny side up during track days and always has one too many classic vehicle projects partially disassembled in his garage at any given time. Remember, if it’s not leaking, it’s probably empty.

NTSB head warns of risks posed by heavy electric vehicles colliding with lighter cars

Jennifer Homendy speaks during a news conference on Oct. 3, 2019, in Windsor Locks, Conn. On Wednesday, Homendy, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said she is concerned about the risk that heavy electric vehicles pose if they collide with lighter vehicles. Chris Ehrmann/AP hide caption

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Chris Ehrmann/AP

Jennifer Homendy speaks during a news conference on Oct. 3, 2019, in Windsor Locks, Conn. On Wednesday, Homendy, the chairwoman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said she is concerned about the risk that heavy electric vehicles pose if they collide with lighter vehicles.

DETROIT — The head of the National Transportation Safety Board expressed concern Wednesday about the safety risks that heavy electric vehicles pose if they collide with lighter vehicles.

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The official, Jennifer Homendy, raised the issue in a speech in Washington to the Transportation Research Board. She noted, by way of example, that an electric GMC Hummer weighs about 9,000 pounds (4,000 kilograms), with a battery pack that alone is 2,900 pounds (1,300 kilograms) — roughly the entire weight of a typical Honda Civic.

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«I’m concerned about the increased risk of severe injury and death for all road users from heavier curb weights and increasing size, power, and performance of vehicles on our roads, including electric vehicles,» Homendy said in remarks prepared for the group.

The extra weight that EVs typically carry stems from the outsize mass of their batteries. To achieve 300 or more miles (480 or more kilometers) of range per charge from an EV, batteries have to weigh thousands of pounds.

Some battery chemistries being developed have the potential to pack more energy into less mass. But for now, there’s a mismatch in weight between EVs and smaller internal combustion vehicles. EVs also deliver instant power to their wheels, making them accelerate faster in most cases than most gas-powered cars, trucks and SUVs.

Homendy said she was encouraged by the Biden administration’s plans to phase out carbon emissions from vehicles to deal with the climate crisis. But she said she still worries about safety risks resulting from a proliferation of EVs on roads ands highways.

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«We have to be careful that we aren’t also creating unintended consequences: More death on our roads,» she said. «Safety, especially when it comes to new transportation policies and new technologies, cannot be overlooked.»

Homendy noted that Ford’s F-150 Lightning EV pickup is 2,000 to 3,000 pounds (900 to 1,350 kilograms) heavier than the same model’s combustion version. The Mustang Mach E electric SUV and the Volvo XC40 EV, she said, are roughly 33% heavier than their gasoline counterparts.

«That has a significant impact on safety for all road users,» Homendy added.

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The NTSB investigates transportation crashes but has no authority to make regulations. For vehicles, such authority rests largely with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Even apart from EVs, the nation’s roads are crowded with heavy vehicles, thanks to a decadelong boom in sales of larger cars, trucks and SUVs that’s led to extreme mismatches in collisions with smaller vehicles. But electric vehicles are typically much heavier than even the largest trucks and SUVs that are powered by gasoline or diesel.

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Michael Brooks, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said he, too, is concerned about the weight of EVs because buyers seem to be demanding a range of 300 or more miles per charge, requiring heavy batteries.

Setting up a charging network to accommodate that may be a mistake from a safety perspective, Brooks said.

«These bigger, heavier batteries are going to cause more damage,» he said. «It’s a simple matter of mass and speed.»

Brooks said he knows of little research done on the safety risks of increasing vehicle weights. In 2011, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a paper that said being hit by a vehicle with an added 1,000 pounds increases by 47% the probability of being killed in a crash.

He points out that electric vehicles have very high horsepower ratings, allowing them to accelerate quickly even in crowded urban areas. «People are not trained to handle that type of acceleration. It’s just not something that drivers are used to doing,» Brooks said.

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Also, many newer electric SUVs are tall with limited visibility that poses risks to pedestrians or drivers of smaller vehicles, he said.

Sales of new electric vehicles in the U.S. rose nearly 65% last year to 807,000 — about 5.8% of all new vehicle sales. The Biden administration has set a goal of having EVs reach 50% of new vehicle sales by 2030 and is offering tax credits of up to $7,500 to get there. The consulting firm LMC Automotive has made a more modest prediction: It expects EVs to make up one-third of the new-vehicle market by 2030.

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