Model S Provides Reliable Ride for Chicago Midwife, Even in Coldest Winter

By · January 09, 2014

Gayle-Riedmann and her Tesla Model S

Midwives need reliable transit. Gayle Ridemann has been very satisfied with her Tesla Model S.

Gayle Riedmann lives in Chicago, where temperatures have been hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit at night. Nonetheless, Riedmann, who is a midwife, gets called out in the middle of the night for deliveries all the time. But when she got a call in the “wee hours of the morning” a few days ago to go the hospital, Riedmann didn’t worry about leaving her warm house for a cold car because she owns a Model S.

“I went to the Tesla app on my phone and turned on the car,” Riedmann told “I put on my scrubs and coat and by the time I went to the car it was warm. Outside it was 14 below. The Model S is worth it for that heating feature alone.”

She worried a bit about the Model S not starting in Chicago’s cold winters—and this winter has been exceptionally frigid. But that hasn’t been a problem at all, said Riedmann. She even left it out of the garage, parked in front of her house, in zero degree weather once, said Riedmann. “I worried it wouldn’t start, but it started with no problem,” she said.

Running the heater does cut down on the Model S range a bit, said Riedmann. And, the regenerative braking disables if the car isn’t warmed up. So if she is going to drive around town on a cold day, instead of charging to 125 miles range she will add 180 miles, said Riedmann. She is able to do that because the Model S allows you to charge on a sliding scale, said Riedmann. “My car is adequately charged at all times,” she said.

What has most surprised her is what a great snow car the Model S has turned out to be. “I was anxious about driving in the snow,” she said. But the rear-wheel-drive Model S has been “wonderful,” said Riedmann. It doesn’t slide around, and when she drove over a high piles of snow and got momentarily stuck, Riedman “reversed and it pulled right out,” she said. And though she can’t control how others drive in the snow, “I feel very safe in this car,” said Riedmann.

Love At First Sight

Riedmann took delivery of her Model S last March, about a year after she put down a deposit on it at the Tesla store in Oak Brook, Ill. It is the first time she has owned an electric vehicle. Her last car was a Mercedes SUV.

The Tesla was sort of an impulse buy. “I had been looking for a new car for some time,” she said. “I wanted to get something green, reduce my carbon footprint.” She walked into the Tesla store and “instantly fell in love with the car,” said Riedmann, 56. She put down the $5,000 deposit that day.

Riedmann doesn’t suffer from range anxiety. She bought the Model S version with an 85 kilowatt battery pack and can travel 265 miles on a single charge. She has driven it 200 miles to Springfield without a worry, said Riedmann. That kind of long distance travel “involves a little planning, but it has not been an issue for me ever,” she said.

Oak Park, the Chicago suburb where Riedmann lives, also has a lot of free public charging. Her business garage has free spots, as does her gym, said Riedmann. She installed a 240V outlet in her home garage and plugs in there to charge at night.

Though there are a lot of EVs on the road in Oak Park, including half a dozen Teslas, she hasn’t faced any competition at public charging stations, Riedmann added. She loves her Model S. “This was my big extravagance for the last 20 years,” said Riedmann. “It is such a fun car to drive.”


· · 4 years ago

Not knocking Tesla (my next car purchase is going to be a Model X) - but I have had three vehicles since 2000 that had factory equipped remote start.

Also - I have never had a problem with vehicles starting in sub-zero temps. As long as we maintained good batteries - they are all OK. Diesels we have has block heaters, and some times we put block heaters or oil pan heaters on other cars too. So we plugged them in just like we would an EV.

I am glad the Tesla has been reliable in the cold - especially after a lot of the hatchet job stories from last year.

But let's be fair - being able to remote start and hear the car is nothing new... My 2005 diesel Jeep Liberty had remote start, a block heater, heated seats, and better snow performance than any other vehicle I have owned. I wouldn't call it a game changing technological advance.


· · 4 years ago

My dad actually had a 1979 Volvo 244 that we had a block heater in. It was parked outside in a carport. We put a normal analog outlet timer on the wall and plugged in the block heater to that so it wouldn't waste juice all night long. He needed to leave at 5am so he had the block heater come on at 3:00am. By the time he got in at 5 the engine was ready to go and the heater core already had the temps needed to start putting out heat...

· · 4 years ago

@valkraider - while remote heating does exist in other cars. One of the advantage of EV heating is that it heats quickly as you do not need to wait for the engine.

· · 4 years ago

@vallraider my car has remote start too but I wouldn't use it inside my small garage. Being able to warm up your car without worrying about toxic fumes or shortening its range is very nice.

· · 4 years ago

@pluginmau: true. We are able to preheat our CMax Energi via the plug inside our garage... It is nicer than a remote start in that regard.

@weapon: "quickly" is not always true. It may be good with an $80k Tesla but most EVs I have driven really take forever for the heat to get warm. (Leaf, Volt, CMax Energi).

But yes, our VW TDIs always had to have supplemental heaters because the Diesel engine in cold temps some times would never get warm enough to provide heat...

My whole point is that it's not a unique benefit to EVs. Every single person I have ever met would expect *any* $80k car to perform well this way... Imagine the hubbub if an $80k Mercedes didn't have preheat capabilities or didn't start in below zero temps...


Again - I totally think the Tesla is the best car on the market currently. But this particular "feature" is a little bit of a stretch to use as a reason why.

· · 4 years ago

All well and good. the app on my phone is free, and it allows me to warm up tessie from my office to the parking garage. Distance is not an issue. Other features on the touch screen have reached another level of quality driving. I have my tesla since Feb. 2013 and I think it's fantastic.

· · 4 years ago

Valkraider, I have a counter-point to your argument that ICEs have had remote start for years. That is, you can't use it in your (attached) garage, unless you wanted to fumigate your house. I love that feature of my Volt. It's something that I couldn't do in any ICE car.

· · 4 years ago

By the way, it also can turn the a/c to a specific temp on to cool the interior as well. Can you top that?

· · 4 years ago

The North American versions of the Think City EV (some 400 here) put out cabin heat within about 30 seconds, although we don't have remote control. This was not true until the free upgrade to the PTC heater replaced the old bottle heater about a year ago.

I don't believe the heater upgrade is available in Europe where they have 10 times as many Think City EV, but there were somewhat fewer heater issues with the Zebra battery over there, as the max voltage was slightly lower.

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