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Tesla Model 3 owners vent about polar vortex affecting cars

New York

THE next time a polar vortex rips through the US, electric vehicle owners should be prepared to be frustrated if they don't take special care of their battery-powered rides.

Winter has come for Tesla Inc and its army of car owners, which swelled in size last year. And some of those customers have cooled on the company along with freezing temperatures.

Model 3 owners have taken to social media and online forums to air issues they've had with their sedans due to the frigid weather of the last week. Cold conditions are a drain on battery range, no matter the car brand. But other predicaments are particular to Tesla.

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Ronak Patel, a CPA auditor in New Jersey, bought a Model 3 last August. He's driven about 150 miles (240 km) in the cold over the last few days. "My biggest concern is the cold weather drained my battery 20 to 25 miles overnight and an extra five to 10 miles on my drive to work," he said. "I paid US$60,000 to not drain my battery so quickly." Tesla isn't alone in facing this flaw.

"It's Panasonic that manufactures Tesla batteries," said Salim Morsy, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance. "It's not something specific to Tesla. It happens to Chevy with the Bolt and Nissan with the Leaf."

But Tesla made a door design decision that is coming back to bite some buyers. The Model 3's handles are flush with the exterior of the car and require customers to push on one side, then pull on the other to open them. Ice is making that manoeuvre difficult for drivers who have posted pictures online of their frozen handles.

Andrea Falcone, a software engineer in Boston, tweeted a picture of the frozen handle of her Model 3, commenting, "I can't wait all day for this silly car." BLOOMBERG