Can Tesla's heat pump operate at low temperatures?

Today I got home very late and didn’t finish what I wanted to write, but when I saw this, I felt it was still necessary to write about it.

Note: there is currently high expectation in the market for Model Y and Tesla’s offensive. The following text and questions are only compiled from foreign car owners and do not intend to evaluate the heat pump system of Model Y at low temperatures, but rather to raise questions.

Electrek mentioned something that we have always been curious about. After Tesla fully introduced heat pumps in Model Y and replaced them in Model 3, in low temperatures during Canadian winters (below -10°C, possibly in cases of -15°C), the heat pump system stops working. That is to say, if the user’s description is accurate, after PTC is cancelled, the car cannot heat up the passenger compartment.

Could it be Tesla’s new heat pump? The source of the problem is currently unclear, but it seems to only affect Model Y vehicles and brand-new Model 3 vehicles, which are both equipped with Tesla’s new heat pump system.

The principle of the heat pump system is to transfer heat from a low-temperature heat source outside the car to a high-temperature heat source inside when heating is required. The electric compressor draws low-pressure, low-temperature refrigerant from the outdoor heat exchanger. It then enters the compressor through the four-way reversing valve and becomes superheated gas with high temperature and high pressure. It then enters the indoor heat exchanger through the four-way reversing valve. The indoor heat exchanger condenses and releases heat to the low-temperature air in the passenger compartment. This increases the temperature of the air entering the passenger compartment through the air duct.

In fact, this is a very valuable thing because the reason why electric cars use PTC, which has low efficiency, or install two systems (as in previous LEAF models), is because of the limitations of using heat pumps at low temperatures. When operating under low-temperature conditions, the heating efficiency is reduced and the outdoor heat exchanger of the cabin is prone to frosting.

 We have seen how Tesla has boldly cancelled PTC and relied solely on heat pump systems. Subconsciously, people have felt that Tesla should have considered this issue. However, what is going on with the complaints from users who have recently received the new Model 3 during this harsh winter?

In fact, being stuck with frozen door handles, windows, and charging ports can be tolerated. But if you can’t turn on the air conditioning in the North during winter, then it’s really game over. Today, Shanghai is experiencing a temperature drop, hitting as low as -9°C. Tesla is the most unconventional carmaker, so this article is a bit confused and full of questions. Is it really feasible in the end?


I think it would be more practical to send a Model Y to Heihe (which has been recently closed) or try it out in a cold storage to see the real results. We can see whether it is reliable or not, and if it turns out that buying a Model Y is a direct reflex for the Northeastern customers.

This article is a translation by ChatGPT of a Chinese report from 42HOW. If you have any questions about it, please email