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back to article Tesla vs Media AGAIN as Model S craps out on journo - on the highway

Californian electric car maker Tesla Motors - well known for tangling repeatedly with the BBC (and the Register) over coverage of battery vehicles which it did not deem positive enough - is now in a row with the New York Times after one of the paper's journalists wrote a stinging review of its new Model S. Tesla Model S sports …

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

Motoring journos do seem to be ridiculously anti anything but petrol. There was a recent 'story' about how petrol cars were actually cheaper to run than diesels over the a typical 3 year ownership period with average mileage, if you took into account the higher purchase price.

What the headline calculations excluded (to be fair, it was mentioned toward the end of the story) was the higher price you also get when you come to sell the diesel car. Which actually made the diesel cheaper. And the story false.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

It's a fair point, but he states that TWO THIRDS of the charge disappeared overnight. Effectively meaning that the Tesla S needs to be plugged in while not in use,.....

And flies in the face of being eco bloody friendly (lets ignore the toxic chemicals in the batteries). Last I looked even in below freezing conditions, my petrol tank didn't empty overnight.

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Holmes

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"If the gauge says 100 miles left I'd quite happily set off on an 80 mile journey with no petrol stations along the way."

In winter? In a car that you'd not driven on a road trip before?

I sure as hell wouldn't. I'd think "Maybe I'd better put in a bit more, in case I'm stuck in traffic/get lost/decide to drive like a maniac"

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

In two of my cars, when it reaches 0, there is usually enough fuel vapors left to drive another 100+ km. (and then, at the petrol station, I fill 73 liters of fuel into a tank specified to hold 70. I guess some fuel hides in various pipes and tubes)

Besides... For long trips, I bring a 5 liter spare can "just in case". Once, in Greece, I was driving around at night. I had to deploy my emergency fuel tank and then barely managed to reach an open gas station (turned out the guy had just started the first shift moments earlier).

Either way; Yes, a normal car can run out of juice as well, but the result is not nearly as dramatic.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

I guess this might have somewhat of an impact on the interstellar equivalent MPG figures, too...

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Go

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

"Either way; Yes, a normal car can run out of juice as well, but the result is not nearly as dramatic."

I'm sure they said the same about petrol a hundred years ago. Why bother when you can just feed a horse some more hay.

The infrastructure isn't yet here. But it could be if we wanted it to. We just don't want it enough, because we have an easy alternative.

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

Actually I tend to find that most vehicles' trip computers' estimation of remaining range is quite accurate. Certainly to within the odd percentage point or two of the overall range.

Sounds like Tesla have borrowed their estimation algorithm from Vista's copy dialogue.

Tesla do need a warning sticker, but it should say; "This is a rich bastard's toy, not a practical car.".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

So even if the infrastructure is there, I don't want to spend 3 hours doing a 2 hour journey. (+ usual jams)

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Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

It has an automatic shut off - flat battery

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WTF?

Re: Writer was intent on high risk of failure

Isn't it plugged in when it's in the driveway?

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WTF?

2/3 of charge lost *overnight*

Are you f***ing kidding me?

Note that Tesla did get a truck to haul him to a fast charge bay (but given what this thing costs shouldn't that have been expected?).

And the parking brake that cannot be overridden?

But the bottom line is

"computer says no."

So highly suspicious (design flaw or "doing a Clarkson") but not quite a FAIL.

Yet.

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It kind of shows that the battery powered electric car has a long way to go to replace the petrol/diesel cars unless you live and work in a city.

Especially when you consider that as the car becomes a few years older the batteries will hold less power in between charges and they are extremely expensive to replace in the current Tesla models

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Big Brother

"vehicle logs from Broder's Model S contradict his account of the journey"

Oh good. Now your car can dob you in

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Re: "vehicle logs from Broder's Model S contradict his account of the journey"

Apparently this feature is turned on for media loans after the shoeing they got from Top Gear; according to a response from Tesla...it's optional for customers, apparently.

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Re: "vehicle logs from Broder's Model S contradict his account of the journey"

Kinda handy if people lie their arses off and slate you in the press and you can prove 'em wrong, though!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "fuel vapours"

In a liquid-fuelled vehicle, when the gauge is at the bottom - the tank is not empty.

It is deliberately calibrated to give a 'reserve capacity', to help you avoid knackering the engine.

In my Golf Diesel the reserve capacity is 9 litres - that is enough for over 100 miles of driving.

There isn't as much leeway to play with when talking about current technology battery capacities.

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Facepalm

then another problem is what to do when your low on charge and you get to to charge up place only to find all of them taken. waiting round watching the other cars charge, the owners finally coming to collect them then you get to charge up. for an hour.

http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2013/02/12/teslas-charging-problem/?section=magazines_fortune

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Anonymous Coward

Why was the charge lost overnight?

I understand that cold weather can make batteries APPEAR to be low on charge, but once they get back up to normal temperature (thanks to Tesla's battery cooling AND heating system) it should have worked fine, right?

Unless the battery heater stayed on all night? Seems like a huge design flaw in that case.

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Coat

Re: Why was the charge lost overnight?

He parked the car in a rundown neighborhood...

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Re: Why was the charge lost overnight?

maybe 2/3 of the batteries were found on ebay?

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Hey, Lewis ...

"A normal US wall socket will take well over two days to do the job, according to the company's own specs."

What, exactly, is abnormal about 50A, 240V wall sockets (NEMA 14–50)? Rather than griping about "wimpy US ones", perhaps you should gripe about the actual capability of the electrical service supplied to the house? Many people survive quite nicely on 60 Amp service. Most have 100 Amp service. Newer homes have 200 Amp service, and are theoretically capable of Tesla's "Fastest Way To Charge At Home". Personally, I have the power capability to install a so-called "supercharger". It's available, at home, for a price.

That said, you couldn't pay me enough to put up with the hassle of an electric car. Something to consider: Have you ever raced radio controlled cars? What's the biggest difference between the electric ones and the gas powered ones?

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Re: Hey, Lewis ...

Most US homes have one or two 240V outlets. One will almost always be behind the clothes drier and there's sometimes another behind the stove (though that one is often missing). The only times I've ever seen one in the garage is when someone has either wired it themselves or brought in an electrician to wire it up for their arc welders or other professional grade equipment. I've lived in houses where 30 amps was sufficient to blow the main breaker, though admittedly that is not the norm.

Now, the hassle of an electric car is another thing all together. I'd happily deal with it, but my daily commute is roughly 4 miles round trip, with perhaps another 10 or 20 miles a week added on by carting my family around when I'm not at work. (There are advantages to living in a small town that thinks itself a big city, even if it is often frustrating.) If I had a more typical commute, covering my normal weekly driving just going to and from work every day, I might feel differently.

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Re: Hey, Jack ...

The electrical codes mandate those 100A and 200A services due to expected use with expected technology, expected technology that does not include your "super charger".

So you are going to turn off at least the dryer, refrigerator, air conditioner, water heater and furnace in your home when you plug in that super charger.

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Re: Hey, Jack ...

Maybe he has 480v industrial at home, how do you know? Quite a lot of older converted buildings still have that...

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It's "jake", for the reading comprehension challenged (was: Re: Hey, Jack ...)

@Chris: Bingo. I have roughly 200kw of unused 3-phase capability. Overkill for most households, but I have a small print-shop (Heidelberg KORD & Windmill, Chief 217 & 40" Polar paper cutter), a Bridgeport CNC, and I restore old mainframes to keep myself sane ... The power was initially brought in for the machineroom/museum/mausoleum/morgue (depending on the Wife's mood), and the Mill. I intentionally over-purchased the capability right from the git-go. Thankfully ;-)

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Re: It's "jake", for the reading comprehension challenged (was: Hey, Jack ...)

I live in an old cottage with a 60A circuit. I reckon the wiring would melt if I tried for 60A. I certainly wouldnt like to run a big shower, never mind recharge a tesla.

Not sure the local substation would be too happy if the row of two dozen cottages all started charging overnight either.

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Anonymous Coward

@ WaterWorld: you fail

Dryer = 2 - 3kW, on for an hour or so at a time. Can choose when to use it.

Fridge = 0.3 - 0.7kW, short intermittent periods.

Air con = 2 - 4 kW, less likely to be used at night, not applicable in many geographic locations.

Water heater, furnace = Most work on fuel, not electric. Electric consumption of a typical fuel-fired home furnace (boiler) is negligible. Only used when needed. Unlikely to run heating at the same time as air con. Unlikely to need heating or hot water during night time. If electric, premises will have a larger supply rating.

Your comment represents a fallacy.

110V * 100A = 11kW, pretty puny. Probably not much spare when everything in the house is in use, but that is quite rarely.

110V * 200A = 22kW. You have plenty of spare capacity, especially at night.

In most other places in the world: 230V*100A = 23kW

A three-phase supply will give you three times as much usable power.

3 * 415V * 100A = 124kW, ample for a small industrial unit.

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Trollface

Well that's the trouble with milkfloats init!

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Boffin

Wrong application of technology.

There is a place for electric cars, but it's not in any sort of grand tourer or anything to cover long distances. It's for taxi runs in an urban environment.

Scatter a few high power charge points about your city - relatively easy to do, since a lot of the infrastructure - or at least the containment - is there already. Next, design your electric car so it can reliably cover the distance between, say, Heathrow and central London, reliably, a few times a day, in any conditions and carrying 5 adults plus luggage.

Make sure those charge points have a reasonable amount of medium term parking space. When your taxi driver begins running low on charge, he parks it up, plugs it in and gets in a freshly charged motor and drives away. Eliminates hanging around for an hour with the car off the road. (An HOUR, btw? Fuck that.) The next driver similarly parks up the clapped out one and gets into the new one - ad infinitum.

I know the argument that electric cars don't cut down pollution, they simply shift it elsewhere. Shifting it out of city centres is absolutely fine by me.

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Re: Wrong application of technology.

That's always been my feeling on the bes use for electric power.

That and local light delivery. Milk floats of old, couriers of new.

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Re: Wrong application of technology.

"Scatter a few high power charge points about your city"

To handle the thousands (millions?) of motorists? I think your definition of "few" is radically different to mine...

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Re: Wrong application of technology.

No, just to handle the thousands of electric taxis. A quick google gives about 19,000 black hacks currently operating in London, fewer for smaller cities obv. Even if 100% of these were converted to run on leccy, is it really any more difficult than having petrol stations every few streets?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Wrong application of technology.

> Scatter a few high power charge points about your city - relatively easy to do, since a lot of the infrastructure - or at least the containment - is there already.

I filled my car on Saturday morning at the local petrol station. There were 12 cars at six pumps when I arrived and about the same when I left 10 minutes later. In order to handle that volume with electric vehicles (and give them an hours charge) they would need about 60 parking spaces. When you take into account access roads you are looking at up to 1000 m2 of area being needed to handle 60 cars per hour. This land would be needed in built up areas where land prices are at a premium.

> When your taxi driver begins running low on charge, he parks it up, plugs it in and gets in a freshly charged motor and drives away

You are assuming that a large company owns the cabs and so can swap. The reality is that some cab drivers own their own cab (mushers) and others rent their cabs (journeymen). The mushers would have stop every few hours and wait for their car to charge (assuming a charger was available) which would severely limit their income. Journeyman will often rent the same cab and are responsible for that cab so, like the mushers, would have their income limited. There are relatively few cab companies that own large enough fleets of taxis to make this feasible. Most of them simply dispatch the jobs to mushers or journeymen.

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Re: Wrong application of technology.

1) Agreed. I'm vaguely imagining some variation of those vertical car parks I've seen in NYC and some German cities. Not hard to do if you're on a site with high voltage supply readily available I would think.

2) I was indeed assuming a large cab company, based on some knowledge of one here in Glasgow who are in fact investigating leccy cabs for this very purpose - plead ignorance of how this arrangement works. Then again, if the scheme was proven viable (technologically and financially ofc) it surely wouldn't be long before some sort of lend/lease/rent/timeshare agreement became available.

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Anonymous Coward

Standardised, modular, swappable battery packs

See title

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Silver badge
FAIL

They desperately need new PR people

Because at this rate they'll soon have burned up all the credibility they may have left.

Going after Top Gear was very bad marketing, going after a website like El Reg is simply pathetic and as said; if they keep this up then it won't even matter any more if they eventually do manage to come up with a brilliant product. Because if the media covers it in a positive manner a lot of readers might wonder: "Are they positive because of the car or because they're being afraid to get sued if they reported otherwise?".

I guess Tesla never heard of the old saying "Don't shoot the messenger".

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Pint

I can reproduce the electric car experience. Never, never ever, fill-up your car's gasoline tank past the one-eighth mark. Bring home a three gallon jerry can of gasoline so that you can 'recharge' at home; but you'll also need a funnel with a bottom opening about 1/64 of an inch diameter so that it takes an hour to empty the jerry can. Only fill-up on the road if the gasoline station's zip code is a prime number (following the three gallon limit and the tiny funnel). Enjoy.

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FAIL

horse shit

You drive the car around in the day, get home, plug-in, fuck off inside. Every morning you have a fully charged car. This is precisely what was discovered during the GM Impact trial. The trialllists got so used to this routine, they never even CONSIDERED their car's range.

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JFS

My ford focus electric works fine in the cold. The instructions manual, the car itself and the app all tell me to plug it in overnight (or before driving) for best mileage if it's cold out. It has the same sort of battery "conditioning" system as the Tesla. So I'm pretty sure that user error was involved, perhaps compounded by bad tech support. Not bad technology.

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From the Battery University

http://batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/discharging_at_high_and_low_temperatures

"The performance of all battery chemistries drops drastically at low temperatures. At –20°C (–4°F) most nickel-, lead- and lithium-based batteries stop functioning. Although NiCd can go down to –40°C (-40°F), the permissible discharge is only 0.2C (5-hour rate). Specially built Li- ion brings the operating temperature down to –40°C, but only on discharge and at a reduced discharge. With lead acid we have the danger of the electrolyte freezing, which can crack the enclosure. Lead acid freezes more easily with a low charge when the specific gravity of the electrolyte is more like water."

earlier,

"Batteries achieve optimum service life if used at 20°C (68°F) or slightly below, and nickel-based chemistries degrade rapidly when cycled at high ambient temperatures. If, for example, a battery operates at 30°C (86°F) instead of a more moderate room temperature, the cycle life is reduced by 20 percent. At 40°C (104°F), the loss jumps to a whopping 40 percent, and if charged and discharged at 45°C (113°F), the cycle life is only half of what can be expected if used at 20°C (68°F)."

And to further confound thing, maximum charging rates are reduced under adverse temperature.

Where I live -- in the land of hydro-electric power* -- the overnight low temperatures are less than 5°C for 6 months a year.

"Fast charging of most batteries is limited to a temperature of 5 to 45°C (41 to 113°F); for best results consider narrowing the temperature bandwidth to between 10°C and 30°C (50°F and 86°F). Nickel-based batteries are most forgiving in accepting charge at low temperatures, however, when charging below 5°C (41°F), the ability to recombine oxygen and hydrogen diminishes. If NiCd and NiMH are charged too rapidly, pressure builds up in the cell that will lead to venting. Not only do escaping gases deplete the electrolyte, the hydrogen released is highly flammable. The charge current of all nickel-based batteries should be reduced to 0.1C below freezing."

* Canada's prairie provinces.

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"So I'm pretty sure that user error was involved, perhaps compounded by bad tech support. Not bad technology."

Nope its bad technology - if my petrol car is left overnight without a petrol bowser being inserted 2/3rds of the petrol doesn't disappear. My range also doesn't drop by over 50% because its cold.

Can't remember who said it, but someone was driving a leaf and said "I feel like I'm driving a Laserdisc" ie something that was groundbreaking and a great idea, but the tech hadn't advanced enough to make it convenient/practical for everyday use - I get the same feeling with current electric-only cars.

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Anonymous Coward

> The instructions manual, the car itself and the app all tell me to plug it in overnight (or before driving) for best mileage if it's cold out.

So in the cold, your car is using energy even when it isn't moving.

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Pint

Re: From the Battery University

"Where I live -- in the land of hydro-electric power* -- the overnight low temperatures are less than 5°C for 6 months a year."

Where you live, you have a house. Your house is connected to endless grid electric power. This electric power is connected to the electric car to recharge the battery. In other words, when the electric car is parked at your house, it has access to essentially unlimited electric power from the grid.

Why oh why oh why would the car designer fail to provide a grid powered electric heater for the battery pack?

See other post about how to combine good insulation around the battery to minimize heat loss, combined with some thermostatically controlled air ducts (doors) to provide unlimited cooling when appropriate.

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NewsFlash: Electric Cars require FULL charge for FULL range.

The NYT article is full of holes, particularly in the fact that the news reporter ADMITTED he didn't fully charge the car.

LOOK: In a regular 30 mpg gas car, put 6 or 7 gallons in your gas tank and you will have a hard time going 300 miles. Just a fact. You will have to do all sorts of hypermiling tricks to try to eek out extra range.

Electric cars should be plugged in at night. It takes a luddite / incompetent reporter to not do so. FAIL by NYT.

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Re: NewsFlash: Electric Cars require FULL charge for FULL range.

NewsFlash: Electric Cars with enough charge to travel 185 miles should be able to do that, regardless of charge level.

Given the consequences of fuel depletion in an electric car, they should have *even more* accurate range calculators than those in a petrol engined car.

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Re: NewsFlash: Electric Cars require FULL charge for FULL range.

"Given the consequences of fuel depletion in an electric car, they should have *even more* accurate range calculators than those in a petrol engined car."

Yeah, because the calculator knows that you're going to put the heating on and maybe sit in traffic for two hours?

C'mon: No car mileage calculator is accurate, and only an idiot would go on a long winter journey in a car they didn't know without a very healthy reserve.

If you run out of fuel, there's generally only one person to blame.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: "eek"

Eek! I am a mouse

Can you help me disable this trap so I can eat the tasty cheese?

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Meh

I'm not yet convinced that electric vehicles that rely soley on battery stored energy will ever be practical in temperate to artic climates. Where I live, it's not uncommon to have 10+ days a year in which the temperature exceeds 100F/38C, and round about the same number of days in which temperatures dip below 0F/-20C.

That's pretty much murder for useful battery life, never mind the stresses of rapid charging at those extreme temperatures.

Electrics with gas generators now, those I see on the roads even in the coldest winter days. Shame they burn dead dinosaurs, but maybe someday another form of chemically stored energy will become practical and replace one or both of the current EV power sources.

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Pint

Cold weather and cold batteries

Perhaps I'm just naive and innocent, but it seems to me that battery temperature problem is (for the non-extreme cases) such a trivial problem to solve. Wrap the battery pack in two inches of super insulation. Add controlled air ducts for infinite air cooling when required, otherwise R2000 The Better Built House.

Once rolling, use waste heat from the drive train to keep the battery pack toasty warm at the ideal temperature.

When parked and connected to the coal powered national grid, feel free to use a wee feisty heater as required to help keep the battery pack toasty warm at the ideal temperature.

When parked at the mall without AC power, make a calculated judgement to drain off a wee bit of battery power the battery pack toasty warm at the ideal temperature where the benefit of increased range outweighs the detriment of decreased range. The R2000 should only require a few watts. A solar panel in the roof might make up the difference.

If you're parked at an Alaska airport in the dead of winter for six weeks, forget about it. You'll be buying a new $40k battery pack anyway.

Heat is a trivial thing to conserve with good thermal insulation. Any car, even electric, should have plenty of waste heat.

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Unhappy

Re: Cold weather and cold batteries

Excellent.

Now, we have all that insulation around the batteries - what do we do about the excess heat we have when the temperature is at the other end of the scale?

Batteries work best at a relatively constant warm temperature, cold will kill the charge, heat will kill the battery itself.

Heat conservation *is* relatively trivial, heat disapation however is unfortunately not.

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