So, I daydream quite a bit about owning a Tesla Roadster, then it hit me. What happens when it's icy and I need to go get groceries? Well, in my Lotus Elise, I could easily just pop the thing in second gear, maybe even third, and feather the clutch. To the same effect on an automatic, I could put my '97 automatic Saturn in 2 (if I wanted to drive a poor-person car). Unfortunately I don't know if my Tesla would understand that this is one of the few times in life where I don't need MAXIMUM POWER. I can see myself fishtailing it right into the ditch pretty easily.

That scenario set up, how do Electric cars deal with icy conditions? Their ridiculous low end torque sounds like they'd be a bad fit anywhere outside of say California and Florida.

Edit: To Clarify, this question is not about something the car does automatically, but the driver intentionally chooses to do, Ex: Explicitly putting a manual in 2nd or 3rd, or putting an automatic in 2.

  • 6
    I don't expect traction control to be any different on an electric vehicle.
    – Zaid
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 7:34
  • I don't think the OP is talking about traction control type systems. Many automatic cars have a "winter mode" which intentionally increases the gear car starts rolling in to reduce torque and prevent getting stuck in snow/ice. Traction control technically can still get you stuck, as it reduces torque only after it detects slipping. Commented May 4, 2016 at 9:07
  • @IhavenoideawhatI'mdoing is this a regional thing? we get a lot of snow in my state yet i only see this button on 4x4 or awd vehicles and it usually is a differential locking setup.
    – Ben
    Commented May 4, 2016 at 23:49
  • 1
    @Ben It might be more common on european made cars, I guess. I know some MB, Volvo, Opel, BMW models have this. Might be trim dependent as well. Commented May 5, 2016 at 7:04
  • You do realise that the throttle pedal is progressive and not just a switch? A light press of the throttle will not elicit maximum power from the car, the same as a combustion engine powered vehicle. Commented May 5, 2016 at 14:22

1 Answer 1


The anti-lock system already monitors the individual speed of all wheels and reduces braking power of individual wheels when it detects it locking.

From there, it is just a small step to the traction control systems, which applies the brake to individual wheels when they start to slip. In addition, motor power can be reduced.

The Tesla has this system, too, and I found this youtube video showing Model S on snow/ice. (The show starts at 1:30)

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