2013 Tesla Model SEnlarge Photo
This is apparently because Tesla engineers don't want a cold battery to receive the sudden charge that occurs when a Model S driver suddenly backs off the throttle, or descends a steep hill. So the regen is automatically disabled or limited until the battery warms up.
This has proven disconcerting to a few owners who weren't expecting it. "I was caught off guard by this over the weekend," commented one owner on the Tesla forum. "It's not hard to adjust to, but with something as important as braking, the car should stop in a consistent, predictable way."
"It's a wart on what is otherwise a superior, consistent driving experience," commented another. And, oddly, the Chevy Volt suffers no such quirk. Its regenerative braking functions consistently in all temperatures.Do Chevy engineers know something that Tesla's don't? Or vice versa?
A few Model S owners have suffered more than one of these problems.
One unfortunate buyer who took delivery in late December--when Tesla was rushing to deliver as many cars as possible before year's end--reported multiple problems with his car's paint, GPS system, body trim, and door handles.
"I am so frustrated with all of these problems," he wrote recently on the Tesla forum. "Had I known about this before I made a final order I never would've purchased this car. I wish I could take this car back to them now. Be forewarned."
But the vast majority of Model S owners aren't suffering any problems, or seem far more willing to cut Tesla some slack and give the company time to work out the few bugs.
One of them summed it up this way: "The car is just too awesome to whine about little problems that will (eventually) be taken care of."
David Noland is a Tesla Model S reservation holder and freelance writer who lives north of New York City.