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.


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


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.

@teslaMS60 on twitter and instagram


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.

slipdrive | 03. März 2014

Oh, I see it above.

JohnGlenney | 03. März 2014

Thanks for sharing the trip. People need to know that an ev is not an ice car and with proper management the model s can do everything an ice car can do, with two exceptions, no fuel costs and a more comfortable ride. By the time vacation driving season arrives model s owners will have confidence that they can go almost anywhere and enjoy themselves more. Enjoy the journey.

SamO | 03. März 2014

Mitche SD is too cold for my Southern California weakened temperature regulator.

Next time passing through I am going to nap in the car.


SamO | 03. März 2014

+1 myfastlady

EVs are not only the equal to gas but better in many of the ways you mention.

AoneOne | 03. März 2014

At the moment, it's colder in Pittsburgh. :-)

orb | 03. März 2014


Looks like you are good at calibrating your driving to barely make to the next SC on occasion. On trips, I occasionally keep an eye on comparing miles remaining (from the Nav screen) with the projected miles displayed on the energy graph (30 mile average with cruise control) to keep the difference well on the positive side (this is well known obviously).

How reliable has this "figure of merit" worked for you (on level terrain)? How much extra mileage range have you added to this to feel comfortable?

Thanks for allowing us to ride along and have a great trip!


Jamon | 03. März 2014

@myfastlady it's great to see you on this thread! What a fun time we're living in here :)

SamO | 03. März 2014


I've played a bit, but mostly it's feel. I reduce my speed up the steep climbs if my miles are getting tight. But for the most part I start in the bonus, and I keep my cushion until I know when to step on it. The battery fills fastest from empty to 80% so there's no need to keep much in reserve. I've decided to be a bit more careful from here on out and I arrived in Mitchell, SD and Worthington, MN with 4 and 5 miles, respectively.


Agree that it's nice to see everyone commenting. Lots of #teslalove!

Bruce Wayne | 03. März 2014

I wish you the best of luck and I really hope you don't encounter any issues. My GF, her brother and I drove cross country from LA to DC a few weeks ago in a s85. We left Cali on Feb 11th and got back on the 15th. I'll write a little bit about our experience, so hopefully it will be helpful.

It was my first time driving the car and I was excited about driving my new car, so I definitely went much faster on the first few supercharger stops. I definitely used a lot of power doing it and learned quickly that was not the best idea. We ended up with 1 mile of rated range driving into the flagstaff supercharger. After that we were as conservative as possible the rest of the way. Also, we encountered some random pedestrians on the side of the desert roads(nothing around for miles). During the day this isn't bad , but you have to be very careful at night. Supposedly, it's a big problem. Overall, we averaged about 70 mph throughout the trip. We were up and out the door between 6-7am and stopped around 11pm everyday. We also had a close call on the way to Silverthorne. We ended up with 5 miles of rated range pulling into Silverthorne. I must say it was a beautiful drive and you feel like you're playing a video game having the mountains in the background. The cold makes a huge difference in battery life. Especially, when you get in the teens and below. It is not like driving the car in Cali or other warmer climates. I'm sure you know this, but experiencing it is different. For us, I think the hardest part of the trip was WY and SD. I would recommend maximizing your daytime driving in these states. Alot, of the WY portion was done at night and with all the snow surrounding us it seemed like we were driving into an ocean. To top it off you will see tumbleweeds flying across the road. This may not sound like a big deal, but this was my first time in this part of the country and I've never seen one before. At night, driving with no street lights and what appears to be the ocean surrounding you having a random object(tumbleweed) flying in front of the car definitely startles you. We thought it was an animal the first couple of times. We also saw a truck jackknifed on the opposite side of the road block traffic for about 10 miles. We finally got to the next SC and we pulled in the Cheyenne supercharger to call it a night (so we thought). I'm not sure what your plans are at night, but call ahead and make sure there are hotels available where you plan on stopping. We figured we would get a room in a lot of these small towns, but once had to get the executive suite(NM) and stay at some supposedly haunted hotel (WY) since all other options were taken. Also, we got stuck after we charged at the Cheyenne station. They had not plowed the charger area properly and my back tires were on some snow covered ice. Luckily, my gf's bro was able to push while I backed up. After a few attempts we got out and we were on our way to the haunted hotel.
SD had to have been the worst state to drive through. It takes forever to drive through and it is very flat and boring. At one point we got pulled over and they searched the car. Supposedly, they have a huge drug trafficking problem with the relaxed laws in CO and Cali. After that incident we switched drivers and my GF almost got pulled over by another cop. We were not speeding or doing anything abnormal. I was missing a front plate though and the cop said I touched the yellow line (shoulder) when I was passing a semi-truck. I had Cali plates, so I' not sure how he can enforce another states laws, but whatever it's done with and I'm not ever going back to SD. I saw Mt Rushmore, so there is no reason to ever go back. Another thing is cell service is terrible. My gf and her bro have verizon and I have sprint. I had no service in all of SD and they had maybe one bar in a few areas. We got the XM hooked up in WY, but the Internet, most radio stations and your phone do not work in this state. So be very conservative with your driving here. You won't see people for miles and you will be isolated with no way to communicate. Also, the Mitchell SC is behind the dairy queen and across from the good will entrance. It is easy to pass and hard to see once you're in the parking lot. Minnesota was the coldest place, but we didn't really encounter any problems. The forecast didn't call for snow, but they got about six inches to 8 inches. The lady at the front desk of the hotel we stayed in said that it was a light dusting and it was balmy 2 degrees out (not counting windshield)..haha Anyway, we didn't really have any problems in Minnesota. I think we were very happy to be out of SD, so even the cold didn't bother us. There were a few people who drove like maniacs to pass us and each time we saw them in a ditch a few miles up the road. We made sure they looked ok and moved on. After Minnesota it was pretty much smooth sailing. We constantly got a low tire pressure warning after entering the cold weather states, but figured it was normal in the cold. This happens in my Toyota, so I didn't think anything of it. We had it checked in IL, since the tesla doesn't actually tell you what the pressure is. It was extremely low and we had it inflated at the highland park service center. They were great. Also, we drove along lake shore drive as I assumed it was a shorter distance to the next SC and more scenic. The only other stretch you might have to worry about is between Ohio and Pennsylvania. Hope that was helpful and good luck!

Brian H | 03. März 2014

Yes. Set tire pressure after parking in the cold. The warming from driving DOESN'T COUNT in matching recommended psi!!

"it was balmy 2 degrees out (not counting windshield)"

How did you drive without a windshield? \;p

J.T. | 04. März 2014

@Brian H Thanks for the laugh . . . again.

Baribrotzer | 04. März 2014

@ Bruce Wayne: ".....I'm not sure what your plans are at night, but call ahead and make sure there are hotels available where you plan on stopping. We figured we would get a room in a lot of these small towns....."

I've run into that one myself on road trips. You'd think those towns will be empty, but every now and then there's a construction project or something else that fills all the hotels. Isn't there an oil boom somewhere in the Dakotas?

SamO | 04. März 2014

@bruce Wayne

We are about 20 minutes from Onalaska WI but I would swear it's actually Alaska it's so cold.

We drove through the night last night and the cold really hammers range. We've slowed a bit and are having no trouble getting from Suprercharger to Supercharger.

The last challenge will be Macedonia.

Thanks for the tips and sorry to hear that your drug muling got you stopped. I hope the shipment made it ;-)

Bruce Wayne | 04. März 2014

@ brian H
I guess I wanted to be the first to drive without a windshield and really feel the wind chill. haha.. not sure what I was thinking. nice catch!

The shipment made it just fine! We got lucky as he didn't think to search the Frunk.

Saw some of your pics and it brought back memories. The lady who worked at the lodge was very nice. Did you find all the animals in the lodge creepy?
What speed are you averaging? I guess we should've gotten a lot better mileage then we did. Our speed combined with the cold and low tire pressure made us get terrible mileage. Hopefully, Tesla adds a tire pressure monitor that shows the readings and I learn to drive slower.
The supercharger in Angola, Indiana is on a slight slope and the ice/snow can be a problem. Depending on how well they cleaned it. If you decide to stay at the motel unload your bags before parking at the supercharger. I think you are out of the hardest part. You will have street lights in most places and the roads were generally better in my experience.

We had no idea what was going on. We asked the people working at the applebees, but they had no clue either.

SamO | 04. März 2014

So we're now charging in Boston Wisconsin but willing to about hundred miles to get to Madison.

@ Bruce Wayne, I filled my tires before we left with a nitrogen gas so that they would have keep their car pressure and I also filled them to the max sidewall pressure which is 51 pounds. That seems to done the trick and I haven't had any issues. My watt hours did drop last night when it was about 6°, but this morning everything seems to be okay.

SamO | 04. März 2014



Doug H | 04. März 2014

My wife and I made the trip from Somerset, PA to Macedonia OH (other direction) on our way to Detroit. That was a challenge. We were only 6 miles short in low 20s and teens temperatures that night. We stopped at a Nissan dealership 10 miles out for 30 mins to get just enough to make Macedonia.

On my way to from Chicago to Philadelphia on a previous trip, before Maume, Macedonia, Somerset, or Hagerstown were turned on, I stopped at several PlugShare hosts. Among them were Jake P in Wexford. He and his wife were gracious hosts. He has an HPWC. That might be a good place to stop. Jack P is a little off the path but he is a super Tesla enthusiast. You won't need much charge to make the next SC. Another option in the area is Jack J. Our schedules conflicted so I never got a chance to meet Jack J. That's how I met Jake P. They live in the save area.

Lawless Industries near Youngstown also took good care of me. He is the most interesting electric motor enthusiast I've ever seen. He has converted motorcycles and dragsters along with other traditionally ICE applications.

Those are a few options between Macedonia and Somerset.

Theresa | 04. März 2014

Samo, It is very easy to miss seeing the Madison supercharger as it is right at the entrance to the parking lot. The first time I went there I drove right past it. It will be on your left.

SamO | 04. März 2014


Thanks for the tip. I'll try and hyper mile the gap tomorrow morning.

@thersa. Thanks for the heads up on Madison. Found them pretty easily but there was quite a bit of snow in their way.

Now I'm at the new "temp" supercharger at roundhouse in aurora il.

JZ13 | 04. März 2014

Way to go Samo!!!!! I've enjoyed your posts for quite some time so it's awesome to follow this amazing adventure you are on. You rock dude!!!!!

Brian H | 04. März 2014

Max sidewall is not a good idea. Stick to the recommended 45 when cold (before starting).

NKYTA | 04. März 2014

Enjoy the nap @Samo - Ohio here he comes! :-)

Webcrawler | 04. März 2014

Great Sam,

I just found out that I get my car on Friday so I can start having some adventures of my own. It is fun to tag along on your as well...

SamO | 04. März 2014

@Jz13 thanks again for the kind words. This community really is the very best.

@brianh. Tires filled at 70F in Southern California.

@NkYTA. I was getting really grumpy. That's what comes with driving through the night.

@ Webcrawler. Awesome! That's the point of this trip: to show the arc of the possible. Can't wait to read your post!

About to stop in Angola IN. Will tweet some pics in a few.

theapple | 04. März 2014

Wow, I'm late to the party but loving this! Thanks for sharing! It's awesome to see what my little 60 is capable of (even if my vacation schedule isn't).

SamO | 04. März 2014

Just stopped at Maumee OH for a few minutes of charging.

Tomorrow is Macedonia. . . I practiced hypermiling from Angola IN and got my Wh/m down to 270 despite 18F temps.

A good nights sleep and then the last big gap. Wish me the best.

Thanks again to everyone on this board.

Bighorn | 04. März 2014

Good luck!

sbeggs | 04. März 2014

@SamoSam, rest up, you're almost there!

lph | 04. März 2014

You are an inspiration to all of us!
Good luck with rest of the journey....

Brian H | 04. März 2014

The rule of thumb is 1 psi/10°F, so if you're at 0°F or below, you've lost 7+ psi. Refill in the actual conditions you're going to drive in, wherever possible. You might also keep in mind that inflating itself raises temperature, so allowing cool-off might be desirable.

Shesmyne2 | 04. März 2014

Good Luck. We're all counting on you.

Still Grinning ;-)

NKYTA | 04. März 2014

"I was getting really grumpy", clear a great time for a nap! ;-)

Good luck on your last long leg!

SamO | 04. März 2014

@ Big Horn, thanks so much for all the help and advice.

@sbeggs. Just arrived in macedonia. Travel companion checking us in to La Quinta nearby.

Supercharging to 80% tonight and will get do my first full range charge tomorrow morning.

@brianH. Not sure how I can fill up at 10F and then have appropriate tire pressure when the temp warms in VA Beach (or LA) without constant tire pressure adjustments

@shesmyne2. Thanks for the additional pressure ;-)

@NKYTA. I really need one now but I'm trying to make it to VA Beach in time for dinner tomorrow night.

Brian H | 04. März 2014

I meant on the road in cold states, of course. You can't prefill in LA for that. You must take the time to do it in the cold.

orb | 04. März 2014


Thanks for the mileage buffer info! Please drive as slow as you need to for managing the long segment tomorrow, take care!


SamO | 05. März 2014

Topping up in Macedonia

J.T. | 05. März 2014

It's been great following this thread, SamoSam. Nosy Nosinson wants to know if you're going to Virginia Beach for a birthday celebration for your Dad.

Tesla-David | 05. März 2014

Absolutely wonderful thread. Thanks so much for sharing. Very best wishes for a successful completion to your wonderful adventure. My wife and I will be making a trip from Seattle to East Coast this summer in our S85. Following your adventure makes me very excited for our upcoming trip.

SamO | 05. März 2014

just arrived in somerset details posted to twitter but bottom line: no problems at all.

10 miles of range left (a huge margin compared to previous legs).

SamO | 05. März 2014

@jtodman. From you I will answer. No it's not my dad's birthday. that's in December. ;-)

@Tesla David, can't wait to read about your adventures!

Bighorn | 05. März 2014

Awesome job!

Theresa | 05. März 2014

Samo, Since I live in this cold country and you are from a place where heat is used once it gets below 66 ;-) I am wondering how much you had to limit your heating in order to make it to some of the SCs. I normally do not have to worry about limiting the heat but I do have a trip I make at least once a month that I have to watch closely once the temps get below 20 to make sure I don't run out of juice.

Theresa | 05. März 2014

Or has this trip been compromise free?

SamO | 05. März 2014

@theresa. I hit wind in South Dakota that limited either :

Speed OR


I like the seat heaters and they served me well throughout. When I needed a little warm air, I turned on the front defrost to low and it heated the cabin nicely.

SamO | 05. März 2014

Supercharging currently at Hagerstown outlet malls. Have a few more minutes before I leave. I'll skip Bethesda supercharger, and head all the way to Glen Allen Virginia supercharger. That should be about 160 miles with a downward elevation change.

NKYTA | 05. März 2014

Man, you are close enough to taste the salt air!

NKYTA | 05. März 2014

Hah, angle brackets got me...that was supposed to be:
+ (however many miles you've driven on this trip)

SamO | 05. März 2014

stopped at bethesda sc on principle

5 minute charge and am stuck in 95S traffic

Bruce Wayne | 05. März 2014

Just an FYI, traffic can be a nightmare the way you have to go and rush hour is starting now.

Nu2Ecar | 05. März 2014

Sam, thanks for posting your experience, and congratulations! You said you hypermiled on occasion. What speed was that? and what's your usual freeway speed - uninhibited by weather, traffic or range?