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2000 miles in a Tesla Model S

I spend a week in Atlanta every year, and drive down and back. This year I was going to drive my old Saab ('85 SPG) again unless it looked like I'd be on salty roads, as it's my default road-trip car. The morning of the afternoon that I was going to leave for Detroit to spend a day with friends before going to Atlanta, my sweetheart spontaneously offered me her Tesla, and I thought "what the hell" and said yes (turns out she didn't think I'd accept! LOL).

I was curious enough to find out what it was like to take an EV on a long road trip. I've done the drive to Atlanta from either Detroit or Chicago many, many, many times so it's very familiar. It's generally about a 12-hour drive with stops for gas, food and stretching. I'd driven the car some around Chicago, so I had a basic familiarity with it but never had to worry about charging it (she charges it at work or in her building.) The car is a 2018 Model S with a 70kWh battery and a nominal maximum range of 245 miles.

The drive to Detroit is normally about 4.5 hours - it took me 5.5 hours with two shorter charging stops. Once there, I had to find a sort-of-convenient Supercharger station and charge twice on Sunday to make sure I had enough range for the whole day, and enough to get started with on Monday.

The drive from either Chicago or Detroit to Atlanta is about a 12-hour drive, and I've done both lots and lots of times over the past twenty years, so they're familiar. In the Tesla it was at least a 16-hour drive. The car is nice to drive (OK, it's pretty damn sweet) and the extra time is spent hanging out charging, so it's nowhere near as tiring as 16 hours of driving, but 16 hours is still 16 hours, and the difference between 12 and 16-17 is the difference between an easy day's drive, leaving after breakfast and arriving just after dinner, and a really long day with a late night arrival.

That said, Tesla makes it about as easy as it can get with its Supercharger stations. You program your route in and the car looks at your starting charge state, weather, terrain, whatever else, and comes up with a charging scheme for you, telling you where to charge and for how long, guiding you to and from the stations, and recalculating as you go. Only in one case did I have to go out of my way to get to a station, going about five miles up I-71 in Cincinnati. I spent extra time charging because I did not have a charger at my destination and I didn't want to arrive with ~10% charge. With a bit better understanding of charging, I could probably take about an hour off my total trip time if I did the same trip again.

In Atlanta the car was easy to use, with easy availability of stations (I also used ChargePoint stations a number of times, which I had access to free charging at), but without fast charging at home I did have to plan time around charging the car on a couple of occasions. On the road, Supercharger stations are located next to food, coffee, bathrooms, etc. so if you don't want to just sit in the car and take a nap or watch YouTube or browse the web, you've got places to go.

I quite enjoyed the experience - the car grows on me, and the Supercharger network means it's the only EV I'd even consider taking such a long trip in. But when I make the trip next year, I'll do it in one of my cars because I just don't want to take that long to make the trip.

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Old 01-14-2020, 02:30 PM
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Can you estimate cost compared to a conventional Vehicle?
Old 01-14-2020, 03:17 PM
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So how long are we talking for a supercharge?
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Old 01-14-2020, 03:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete3799 View Post
So how long are we talking for a supercharge?
How quickly do you want to fry your battery?
Old 01-14-2020, 04:36 PM
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One thing to note is that the longer range the battery the faster you can charge for a longer period of time before the taper. So a 100kwh battery would help with both range and charge speed.

It's also super helpful to charge overnight if at all possible when it's cold. On 120v/15amp, it'll only gain a couple miles per hour, but will keep the battery warmer and you can preheat the cabin for free, and that makes a big range difference the next day.

Also, Model 3s have a different battery composition which charges faster, that may or may not be making it into the X/S eventually.
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Old 01-14-2020, 04:45 PM
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Read that a little better, Temps probably weren't as much of a factor on the Atlanta side, I read it in the reverse. The 30ish miles overnight on a 120 still might have helped a bit, but it does take away the most of the big advantage of home charging.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pete3799 View Post
So how long are we talking for a supercharge?
A comparison route, though in a Model 3 last January (low Temps hurt range)

Left Seattle with a 100% charge
Charged 20 minutes in Vancouver and got coffee at Fred Meyer
Charged about 50-60 minutes in Eugene near a brewery and had dinner
Charged about 30 min in Grant's Pass to have some running around juice, was at a hotel in Medford and nowhere to charge.

So on a typical 7 hr drive it added about an hour, because it would have been two gas stops and dinner in the BMW.


For Christmas over and back from Chelan, which is a typical 3ish hours each way, we did a 15min stop on the way over and on the way back in Leavenworth and charged on 120v while there.

The longer the trip, the more the effect because you don't have the overnight factored in.

I only take about 5-6 trips more than 4hrs one way per year, the not getting gas every 4 days all the rest of the time probably makes it a wash time wise. Borrowing one makes that math not work at all.
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Old 01-14-2020, 05:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Otter74 View Post
... and the Supercharger network means it's the only EV I'd even consider taking such a long trip in.
Right here is were Tesla leads the pack and I can't see that changing anytime soon.
The rest will be playing catch up for years.
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Old 01-14-2020, 08:01 PM
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VW has billions going into charging stations, so I'd expect that to speed it up a lot, unless that is only a US settlement.
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Old 01-14-2020, 10:18 PM
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How many of these charging stations were powered by solar/hydro ?
Old 01-15-2020, 02:48 AM
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Originally Posted by ckelly78z View Post
how many of these charging stations were powered by solar/hydro ?
16
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:18 AM
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Sounds like a great car for a traveling retiree or urban-only dweller. Might change when "super" charger networks become more prevalent.
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Old 01-15-2020, 04:42 AM
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Sounds ridiculous to me.... In a cheaper gas car, I simply don't have to worry about any the crap mentioned in this thread. I don't get why anyone spends big bucks to own a modern car that requires planning in regard to temps/charging rates/trip lengths/charging station locations/ect. Luckily we won't run out of gasoline in my lifetime.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:27 AM
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I had to upgrade from a minivan to a full-size van for roadtrips this year. We simply couldn't put 5 people and their luggage into a 7 passenger minivan. Travelling with small children means many, frequent, unexpected stops. If I had to worry about charging in addition, we'd probably just never make it to our destination.
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Old 01-15-2020, 05:40 AM
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Quote:
Sounds ridiculous to me.... In a cheaper gas car, I simply don't have to worry about any the crap mentioned in this thread. I don't get why anyone spends big bucks to own a modern car that requires planning in regard to temps/charging rates/trip lengths/charging station locations/ect. Luckily we won't run out of gasoline in my lifetime.
Completely agree. Besides an e39 M5 would be so much more enjoyable.....at half the price.

Last edited by cairns; 01-15-2020 at 06:08 AM..
Old 01-15-2020, 06:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by legion View Post
I had to upgrade from a minivan to a full-size van for roadtrips this year. We simply couldn't put 5 people and their luggage into a 7 passenger minivan. Travelling with small children means many, frequent, unexpected stops. If I had to worry about charging in addition, we'd probably just never make it to our destination.
That just shows how lucky we are to have a variety of vehicles for a variety of needs and interests. A full sized van would be ridiculous for me, while a Volt serves my purposes perfectly. A gas powered sedan would work, but I've had a lifetime of driving them and I wanted something more interesting. Vive la Differance!
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:17 AM
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Thanks for confirming what I have believed for a long time. Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I read of people waiting a few hours at charging stations just to have their turn.

To me, would only make sense as a commuter car. Even Tesla doesn't have charging stations on the back roads I often roam.....
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Old 01-15-2020, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by LakeCleElum View Post
To me, would only make sense as a commuter car. Even Tesla doesn't have charging stations on the back roads I often roam.....
That'd be another issue for me. I often find myself taking backroads, either because it is the most direct route or because I'm trying to figure out a better route.
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:07 AM
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I am very tempted by Model 3, but my driving pattern is either 30 miles@45Mph (for which Tesla is overkill) or 150 miles at rather high speeds (which is on the edge of theoretical range).

SO I am loking at hybrid Lexus instead...
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Old 01-15-2020, 07:29 AM
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A friend of mine took his model 3 from Toronto to Florida this past fall.
Its approximately 24hrs of driving so he stops over night. mostly interstate driving.

He makes this trip regularly but this was his first time in an electric car.

He said it took him four hours longer than it usually does in his conventional car.

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Old 01-15-2020, 07:33 AM
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