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First Supercharger-Only Coast to Coast Road Trip in a Tesla Model S 60

First Supercharger-Only Coast to Coast Road Trip in a Tesla Model S 60

Call me Sam. I’ll be your driver for the next week (or so). Guy . . . girl. Doesn’t really matter. This story isn’t about me. This is about a Tesla MS60. And the Supercharging Network.

The smallest battery currently offered by the company, the Model S 60 is the bare bones of their line. Starting at $63,070 (with Supercharging enabled & living in CA), you get free long distance travel, for life. Add in HOV and HOT access (solo) and you are able to drive at a reasonable rate of speed in areas (Bay and SoCal) that rank among the worst commutes in the U.S.

Just so happens that my hometown also offers free metered parking as a perk of living in what some derisively call the Republic of Santa Monica.

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But this is about the drama. What everyone wants to read and see. Cars on fire, stuck on the side of the road, struggling through adversity. If that’s what you are reading ahead here for, then please close your browser, block my tweets and unfriend me immediately.

This is a story about anyone doing a trip across the country (and back). If you’d consider doing this trip in your gas car at least. Most people never drive cross country. I was going to google the actual percentage, but you can do that yourself. If you care. Which I don’t.

But if you do like to drive, there is no better road warrior that the Model S of any flavor. 14K miles since August 2013 delivery.
Cross country is different. A great city car, be it ICE or EV, can turn against you on the open road. Hoses burst and belts snap. Worst of all you run out of fuel. Since the advent of the pure EV, range has been the forbidden five letter word. The MS60 is different.

It has a range of 208 miles which you can extend even beyond that with careful driving. But we’ll come to that later. Can’t get ahead of ourselves. First the route. Hawthorne Supercharger to Virginia Beach VA. And back.

Most people with the 85kWh version (and a range of 265 miles) are over it. They know it can be done. At least it has been twice already. Once by a father and daughter team from NYC to LA. And then a few days after by Tesla Motors team.

This trip isn’t going to break any records for speed or charging. I reckon it’s going to be a bit of a snooze. But if you want to see how an EV works. How the Supercharging Network work. And how, with superfluous laziness, you can still drive cross country for FREE in about 4 days.

There is a purpose to my trip, but I could just as easily have flown. No I’m not telling. Nosy.

This trip is like any other road trip. It’s also the final nail in the coffin of range anxiety when discussing Tesla. Tesla will NEVER have another car that has a shorter range than mine. I can fail. There is no net. I will be posting updates over the next week (or so) and I’ll try to answer as many questions as possible.

I’ll post updates and photos at on Twitter and Instagram: @TeslaMS60

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The first half of my journey is complete. I arrived in VA Beach tonight at 7:45PM EST. I drove ~3800 miles and charged using nothing but Tesla Supercharging Stations.

I want to thank everyone that gave me hints, suggestions, and made me laugh along the way. Most of all I want to thank Tesla Motors for making the best car I’ve ever seen, driven or owned.

Tesla, you are changing the world one drive at a time.

Everything is possible in this new world. Sustainable transportation. Free Cross Country Travel. Most of all, you are changing heart and minds. Not through advertising and manipulation. But my making an incredible product that sells itself.

I’m going to sleep 12 hours (at least) and then turn around and come home. If anyone is interested if it is possible, twice, I will continue to post here. I don’t have the numbers yet, and likely won’t for another week. For that, I apologize.

If anyone is interested in meeting along the way, please email me and I’ll do my best to let you know the route and timing.

Sam

teslams60@gmail.com
@teslaMS60 on twitter and instagram

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Wrap Up: So made it back, 7700 miles round trip, from Los Angeles to Virginia and back to Los Angeles. I learned so much about driving the Model S 60 that I don't think I could have learned any other way.

I experienced almost every single driving condition imaginable:

Heavy rains in Arizona (2 inches/hour)
Heavy winds in Minnesota (50+mph that caused a big-rig to jackknife)
Heavy snow in Colorado
Extreme cold in Wyoming and South Dakota (4-8F)
Big elevation changes (5000ft climb from Denver via the Eisenhower pass)

I also made many mistakes along the way. Fortunately, I was cautious with my speed and kept an eye on my range whenever there was a longer distance that needed to be traversed.

I nearly shot myself in the foot once: heavy rains on the climb to Flagstaff coupled with failing to do a range charge taught me the lesson to only leave with at least 25% buffer.

I also learned to pick my spots. Slowing down on a climb and then allowing myself to go +5-10 over the speed limit on the downhill resulted in significant increase in range without reducing my average speed. If the hill was steep enough, I coasted until I reached a designated speed, and then engaged the motor for engine braking and regeneration.

On the topic of regeneration, it is always more efficient to coast. Unless you start to reach an unsafe speed, and then use regeneration.

I think anyone can make the drive I made in an MS60. But it would also be easy to run out of electrons, too. Try to drive from Cheyenne to Silverthorne at 75mph. Even in an 85, that might be tough.

I called the MS60 a road warrior and nothing I've seen over the past 10 days and 7700 miles changed my opinion. I now have a grand total of 22,000 miles since Fremont pickup in August and I look forward to the next 100,000 with alacrity.

I wouldn't trade my car in for any other model in the world. Not an exotic. Not a classic. And not a collector car.

I've been driving for 25 years and I've never experience the sheer joy of being on the road. It's my hope that the feeling of piloting what I affectionately call the "spaceship" never ends.

Damian | 02. März 2014

Let us know if there are any brake issues, please.

Ohmman | 02. März 2014

May you have more excess range today, Sam! Let's have all the forum members on the West Coast take a collective blow east.

SamO | 02. März 2014

Thanks @sbeggs !

@damian. No brake issues. Actually haven't used the brakes ;-)

@ohmman lots of shorter gaps between superchargers so no more close calls.

Charging right now in Farmington NM.

Hart | 02. März 2014

Good for you, Sam! You have another 500 miles or so to Silverthorne, which is probably all you can make today. And I-70 and the passes are open (despite 13 inches of new snow last night!), and you won't need chains. The bitter cold we have here in the Denver area (zero degrees, freezing drizzle) will be moving out tomorrow with significant warming. That will help you greatly with range heading to Cheyenne/Lusk/Rapid City. Good luck - we are rooting for you!

Hart in Fort Collins

SamO | 02. März 2014

Thanks for that great local knowledge @hart!

Damian | 02. März 2014

I wonder if this is how the recipients of the pony express felt. Rather than a horse swap like the pony express used, perhaps those in a hurry can use a battery swap in the near future.

Stay safe Sam and a hearty high-ho Silver!

SamO | 02. März 2014

Blanding supercharger has clean bathrooms and is solar powered with a cool playground.

After a 15 minute charge, off to Moab UT for lunch. Anyone nearby want to join?

SamO | 02. März 2014

Is solar powered.

Doug H | 02. März 2014

I'm a fellow MS60 owner. I have 33,000 miles since my June 21, 2013 delivery. Just returned from a trip tto Florida and a trip to the northeast including New York and Boston before that. The MS60 performs well in all weather conditions. -17 in Chicago and 101 in Atlanta are the extremes I've experienced.

Hope it all turns out well for you.

jajabor | 02. März 2014

Good luck. I'll be waiting for the updates.

SamO | 02. März 2014

@DougH

Your stories/posts helped give me confidence to make this trip.

Just finished charging in Grand Junction and will arrive Silverthorne CO at 545pm. Anyone nearby feel free to stop by.

Tâm | 02. März 2014

@Sam:

You are a brave man.

It's amazing that you've gone this far, this fast with a 60 kWh Model S!!!!

By the way, for old time's sake, if you don't mind, would you share your adventure details below?

How many miles did you charge up in Las Vegas for the 149 mile trip with 4,000 foot elevation to Flagstaff with 1 mile remained?

Did you ever descend down 4,000 feet by the time you arrived to Flagstaff (for the purpose of recuperating lost ascending miles)?

How many miles did you charge up last before reaching to Gallup at 0 miles left?

I assumed it was from Flagstaff, AZ to Gallup, UT for about 182 miles for 2 hours and 32 minutes?

SamO | 02. März 2014

Error: Just arriving to Glenwood Springs. Will update later

SamO | 02. März 2014

Will arrive in Silverthorne after 8.

NKYTA | 02. März 2014

How are the roads @Samo?

Up and over Vail pass - should be a beautiful drive!

SamO | 02. März 2014

Will arrive in Silverthorne after 8.

jandkw | 02. März 2014

I have my S60 for a year now and couldn't wait to hear about your cross country experience. I'm pulling for you, Sam.

slipdrive | 02. März 2014

Hey Sam: Are you hunkering down up there, or coming to/through Denver tonight ?

fyi, CDOT says snow and icy spots ten miles each side of the Eisenhower tunnel.
Take it easy and enjoy the crisp Colorado high altitude air. This car is amazing in the mountains.

SamO | 02. März 2014

@Tam

I charged to 191 ideal in Vegas and regretted it when I checked the elevation.

Flagstaff to Gallup was fine. I just sped up at the end to run it down. Charged to 212 ideal.

@NKYTA

Roads are fine. Light snow falling in Silverthorne. Will range charge and make the run to Cheyenne tonight.

@jandkw thanks! I'm loving the trip -and having a blast.

@slipdrive. Definitely coming off the mountain tonight. The roads are fine for the MS. It handles like a dream.

slipdrive | 02. März 2014

Nice. Penny's is a block south east of the Cheyenne SC, next to Oak Tree Inn and has a great breakfast in a 50's retro diner environment.

Tâm | 02. März 2014

@SamoSam

You got me worried for a while there.

I now don't worry because the zero mile was intentional :)

Thanks for the update!

SamO | 02. März 2014

The zero mile was intentional but the 1 mile from vegas to flagstaff had more to do with not charging fully and unexpected and abnormally heavy rains.

Bighorn | 02. März 2014

I'm parked next to you in Cheyenne. Where are you ? Didn't want to go shining a light in your car after midnight.

SamO | 02. März 2014

Just checked into Fairfield inn across the street. Want to stop by for a minute. I'll come down to the lobby.

Bighorn | 02. März 2014

Sure I'll be right over.

SamO | 02. März 2014

Great to meet you @bighorn. Have to say that I really appreciate the Tesla owner and fan community.

You rock!

models60 | 02. März 2014

Sam, thank you for sharing your trip with us. Have a great trip, anxiously waiting to hear of your arrival in NY.

The Tesla supercharger map coming soon map now shows many more dots, the cross country trailblazers like yourself have Tesla 'firing on all cylinders' .... ooops, my bad, that idiom is a thing of past should have said 'Tesla on Performance Plus' instead.

Bighorn | 03. März 2014

Awesome that the timing worked out to meet up! No doubt in my mind you'll make it. Cheyenne to Lusk is a lot of downhill. I was making 250Wh/m the first 50 miles but the temp dropped 30 degrees and my efficiency dropped to 500. CC on 75. Lusk to Cheyenne last week was a challenge between a headwind, the elevation gain and temps around 0F. Enjoy the rest of your trip and I'll plan on seeing you in SD next month.

SamO | 03. März 2014

Tesl nav said to take 85. Hope that doesn't screw the pooch

SamO | 03. März 2014

@model60

Not ending in NYC. Ending in VA Beach. And then back to Hawthorne.

Thanks for the encouraging words.

Bighorn | 03. März 2014

85 is right.

Tiebreaker | 03. März 2014

GO SAM!

SamO | 03. März 2014

Thanks @bighorn. See you in SD.

@tiebreaker. Thanks!

I may drive through the night tonight so I can arrive in Macedonia OH by tomorrow afternoon. We'll see how tired I get.

Joe H. | 03. März 2014

Samo, when do you expect to arrive in Virginia Beach? Lunch/Dinner on me for making me feel better about my Model S60.

Mark Z | 03. März 2014

With the recent SuperCharger in Lone Tree, CO, the return trip is possible for the 60. My only concern is that long stretch in Pennsylvania. Tesla should have that covered soon. While the 85 gives more flexibility, Tesla is spacing the SuperChargers just right. Thank you Sam for making this trip to inform Model S drivers to enjoy travel coast to coast. Thanks to Tesla Motors for making every Model S upgradeable to SuperCharging and 60 kW capability.

SamO | 03. März 2014

@joeH. PM me at teslams60 at gmail dot com

GaryREM.va.us | 03. März 2014

Samo, that must mean stop at Glen Allen, VA and maybe Bethesda, MD?

Will try and see about cheering you on in person!

NKYTA | 03. März 2014

Keep it up @Samo! This is fun to watch in near real-time. ;-)

Webcrawler | 03. März 2014

Thanks for sharing the trip...

I was glad to see the new SC in Lone Tree was ready for your return trip...

I look forward to some road trips when I get me MS next week....

I have a suspicion that the Model S might actually be a bit of a catalyst to bring back the "American Road Trip". It sort of died with rising fuel cost, cheaper air fair and perception that burning gas on a road trip is wasteful. However, I think that the SC network also adds a psychological component. We rush so much in the world today it has even affected the way we (at least I) drive. We try to minimize the time it takes for the road trips by pushing the limits of physical endurance to get "there" on our modern rushed schedule.

With the SC network, I think that you know you have to take a rest break every few hours of driving so you relax, take in more local culture and enjoy the trip more.

I am curious if you actually feel like you are enjoying the trip more than you would have in the past with an ICE car?

SamO | 03. März 2014

@GaryREM

I will likely stop at both. I'll post to twitter @TeslaMS60 when I arrive in Hagerstown.

@nkyta, lots of pictures and updates at my twitter page above. No need for an account to read (why I didn't use Facebook)

@Webcrawler

I totally agree with your point regarding road trips. The road trip is on its way back especially when there is no incremental cost to take a road trip. I have now currently 15,814 miles on my car in the first five months of ownership because it's making it fun to drive again

SamO | 03. März 2014

BTW yes my driving style has changed for the better it's nice to stop and chi every few hours instead of pretending you are in a race

SamO | 03. März 2014

Chill

NKYTA | 03. März 2014

@Samo, yep, following you on Twitter too. Looks coooollllld!

Bighorn | 03. März 2014

The car museum in Murdo is supposedly unexpectedly good. Maybe you can stop on your way back. Mitchell's Corn Palace is usually pretty underwhelming for all the hype.

AaronL | 03. März 2014

Sam,

Really enjoying reading about your adventure. I bought a 60 based on the lighter weight and my 30 mile round trip commute. Drove from LA to the factory in Fremonth using the SC and it was great. Continued success and thanks for the updates.

Aaron

SamO | 03. März 2014

@NKYTA,

Yes much colder than I'm used to . . . the low temp for me in Santa Monica was 55. #spoiled

@Bighorn,

Just relaxing at the Range Country Lodge since it's below 10 degrees. Also they have a great rocking chair and hot coffee!

@AaronL,

I also picked up my MS60 at the factory in August. Really enjoyed the tour and seeing how the car is made. I've noticed that the lighter weight of the 60 allows me to run at a much lower Wh/m than has been reported by MS85 owners.

Bighorn | 03. März 2014

Set a spell:)

Brian H | 03. März 2014

Web;
air fare

Agree re road tripping. The drive itself becomes much or most of the pleasure. Sort of like when we were kids (oldie von moldy speaking here).

slipdrive | 03. März 2014

What's your Twitter @SamoSam ?

NKYTA | 03. März 2014

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