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Chicago-area Tesla owners detail winter 'disaster' with dead batteries, charging station failures


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Tesla owners in the Midwest were left scrambling this week as severe temperatures prompted charging issues that left some stranded in the bitter cold.

One Tesla charging station in the Chicago area was flooded with dead vehicles after temperatures dropped into the negative double digits.

Brandon Welbourne was left stranded in Evergreen Park for hours after he said his Tesla used more battery than it typically does to get to work in the freezing temperatures. 

"Normally I can get to work and only use 40, 45% of my battery, but on Sunday, it took 65%, which meant that I had to charge… somewhere publicly," he told Steve Doocy during "Fox & Friends" on Wednesday. 


Welbourne said after checking his app, he found out all the charging stations nearby were full, so he went to one in Evergreen Park that showed an open slot to fill his battery. 

"The problem was, was that five out of the 10 stalls were out of order. The four it showed available had… vacant cars that were there, so we were all using one charger," Welbourne said. 

"Oh, man, and it was… taking extra long to charge… you're supposed to precondition your battery when you're on your way to the charger so it charges faster. Well, when you're sitting in the cold and you're waiting two, three, four or five hours like me, you can't precondition it, so it's like a double-edged sword. Not only are there no chargers available, it's taking longer to charge."

"We got a bunch of dead robots out here," another Tesla owner told Fox Chicago.

"Nothing. No juice. It's still on 0%, and this is like three hours this morning being out here after being out eight hours yesterday," another person said. 

"No response from Tesla. We have been suffering since yesterday afternoon," another angry owner said. 

Welbourne waited in his car for hours in line to charge his Tesla before he ultimately contacted a towing company to leave the area. 

"I had to sit there in that car for the first two and a half hours until the guy in front of me gave me his number, and I was able to walk inside [and] buy a hat, buy some thermal socks," he said. "I was in dress clothes, dress pants. I came from work, so I was freezing, freezing. It took me two hours after it had gotten out of the cold, where my body still wasn't cold to the touch anymore."

Chalis Mizelle, another Tesla owner who was stranded in the frigid cold, said that while she loves her car, Tesla is to blame for the "disaster."

"It was a complete disaster," she told "Fox & Friends First" on Wednesday. "For the winter storm, a lot of people's cars were left overnight... A lot of people had to get towed… charges weren't working at the charging stations, and that… led to a lot of the issues because the charges… were not working."

"I love… my car, however… the Tesla charging stations… they need to have maybe someone manning those stations or… something like that, because… it was very disappointing to get to the charging stations and, and see that they were frozen, or they weren't working for whatever reason," she continued.

She said people at the charging stations tried to even make deals and pay people off to get access while they were stuck in the blizzard-like conditions. 

"It was like every man for themselves," Mizelle said. 

The Tesla website offers tips and best practices for drivers for winter conditions. FOX Business has reached out to Tesla, but has not heard back.

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