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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.

Tesla-David | 07. März 2014

Wow, congratulations Samo on your excellent adventure. You are truly a trail blazer for the ongoing EV revolution, and you make all fellow MS owners proud. We sincerely cheer your safe and successful completion to your journey.

portia | 07. März 2014

a bit soon for a final congrats, but well done and safe trip home.

I met a young Canadian couple in Atascadero super chargers they were in their 60 going down west coast from Vancouver to Disneyland, so glad that the 60 can do the roadtrips well.

CraigW | 07. März 2014

I picked up one of the first 60s at the factory in JAN 2013 and drove it home to Los Angeles. The story is on my website and was not uneventful. Since then I have been unafraid to take my 60 anywhere. I am waiting for warmer weather to visit relatives in South Carolina, however.

SamoSam -- wish I could have been the trailblazer, but it is fantastic that I get to read your exploits in almost real time.

CraigW | 07. März 2014

Sorry, I forgot the 60 owner who put 15,000 miles driving to every corner of the US in April 2013. He, his girlfriend, and his dog were the real trailblazer and I should have given them credit above.

Of course there were few Superchargers then and there were many 7-8 stopovers needed to complete the trip.

CraigW | 07. März 2014

...7-8 hour stopovers...

GLO | 07. März 2014

You are a ROCK Star!! Hang in there....

SamO | 07. März 2014

Tesla-David,

Thanks. Today has been "interesting" but I'll get to that later. Finishing East to West hasn't been a slam dunk.

portia,

When I picked my car up at the factory, all I wanted to do was drive around all day. I put 1000 miles on in the first 3 days.

CraigW,

Please do visit the relatives. That would be a great story and perhaps you can connect via a more direct route by that time.

+ I'm glad you mentioned the couple that drove everywhere in their 60 for like 6 weeks. That was incredible. Seems like what I'm doing is so easy.

Also +1 to Pungoteague_Dave. We may not agree on swap stations, but much respect for his road trip stories.

GLO,

Thanks! Today has been crazy.

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I haven't had great access to computers other than my phone and using speech recognition which others above have shared humerous stories . . .

I'm at the Holiday Inn @ Worthington MN. Route 90 was shut down about 1/4 mile ahead of us with a overturned bigrig blocking every lane. The roads were covered with ice and there were 40mph wind gusts blowing snow everywhere. We were 100 yards before the exit for RT 26 (10 Miles east of Jackson MN) so we exited and got some local knowledge.

We took RT 26 for 12 miles (driving 20 mph) on totally iced roads until we could connect back with 90. Very hairy.

Then another 20 miles east the roads cleared and the snow stopped blowing, and we rolled into Worthington with our lowest rated range of the entire westward journey . . . 5 miles.

Considering several zero and one mile readings on the Eastward trip, this may seem anticlimactic, but the road conditions were seriously scary.

I didn't post every stop this time and we skipped a 3 Superchargers on this route, but it's been pretty tame. Drove overnight and still haven't slept in a bed. Probably stop tonight if we can make it through South Dakota.

I've been told that RT 70 to Eisenhower Pass in Colorado is closed today. I'm hoping it will be open tomorrow.

I'm definitely stopping at the temporary SC in Denver and my travelling companion is doing a weather check as we speak.

Thanks to everyone for the kind comments and suggestions. I may not be able to post as often on the road, but I'm still tweeting and instagram-ing pictures and updates.

I'll post more here when I have good access to a full keyboard. For anyone that has seen my TSLA earnings reports live blogs, you'll know why my iPhone keypad is KILLING me :-)

Brian H | 07. März 2014

The solution is obvious. Get a Blackberry! :)

SamO | 07. März 2014

Exiting the 90 freeway into Mitchell South Dakota my tire pressure sensor light came on saying to check my tires and when I got out of the car, I heard a hissing down and realized that I had a small metal embedded in my right rear tire.

I immediately drove to the super charger and plugged it. I then called the 800 number on the supercharger and spoke with Dan in Service who got me a tow and a tire patch within 15 minutes.

Not surprising that Tesla motors comes through again.

On the road and headed to Murdo South Dakota.

Tâm | 07. März 2014

@SamoSam

Wow! Long distance driving without a spare tire and I am glad that Tesla came through in a flash for a flat!

Drive safe and hope to see you at the finish line in Hawthorne during non-business hours (got to keep my day job.)

CraigW | 08. März 2014

I live in L.A. and would love to meet you in Hawthorne. Let us know when you expect to arrive. Since I am retired the day doesn't matter - I will make the time.

Bighorn | 08. März 2014

Dealing with these set-backs like a champion! WY will treat you well--sunny, "warm" and dry roads. There is a road near Lusk (Rte 20) closed due to flooding, so keep an eye out, but otherwise should be smooth sailing.

J.T. | 08. März 2014

@Bighorn So, you tout your dry roads except for the ones closed by flooding. Back east we have dry roads, too, except for the ones that are wet. (My wife rolled her eyes.)

Bighorn | 08. März 2014

Yes, I appreciated the paradox--limited to roads that cross streams that are running high because of the accelerated snow melt. Maybe your wife ought to edit your posts;)

SamO | 08. März 2014

left cheyenne at 150pm

will arrive lone tree at 4pm

anyone want to meet?

portia | 08. März 2014

@SamoSam you are on the Customer Stories section of this web site now! In case you did not know. Is that possible? Does Tesla ask you before putting your story up?

skymaster | 08. März 2014

Sam, It would have been a pleasure to meet you today at Lone Tree. (I was at a Rec Center 30 miles away)

If you get a chance in Glenwood Springs, CO, I highly recommend a soak in the Hot Springs Pool. It is world famous for good reasons.

Good luck on the final push of your journey.

Ddowns2050 | 08. März 2014

SamoSam it was a pleasure to meet you in Silverthorne. I'm from Missouri and am going snow skiing. I didn't know SamoSam was going to be at the supercharger. I own a 85kwh std (one of only 3 in my town). We don't have any superchargers in Missouri so I just wanted to see one being as I had never seen one before. So when we pull in, there was a tesla charging and I thought good I will get to witness firsthand someone using it and low and behold it was SamoSam. Thanks for the nice chat and good luck the rest of the way.

Brian H | 08. März 2014

Dd;
Lo and behold. Means "look and see".

You are both far from home! But very different directions.

SamO | 09. März 2014

@Brian H, do they still make blackberries? And have the keyboards gotten full size?

@Tam, Tesla was incredible in their willingness to help. They really came through and the delay was truly minimal. I'll know more about arrival times and so forth later today. Likely arrival looks to be later afternoon/early evening on Monday.

@CraigW, I'd love to catch up with anyone and tell some big fish tales when we arrive tomorrow.

@Bighorn, Wyoming was the warmest and clearest of any state since the start of the trip. It was a real pleasure to drive through yesterday.

@jtodman, can I use your wifi? Stop busting @Bighorn's ba!!s HA.

@Portia, I didn't know and I saw the story after reading your comment last night. I told Tesla to do whatever they wanted and that my intent had been to put the focus on the Model S 60 and Tesla Motors. I guess they had different ideas :-)

@Skymaster, I wish I had time for a soak. I had a 10 minute shower this morning, and I'm going to get back on the road in 30 minutes. I've been here before (many years ago) and I'm very likely to drive out here again. Thanks for the suggestion. Would have been nice to meet you too.

@Ddowns2050, great fortuity in meeting you as well. Have fun skiing this week and you'll be Supercharger accessible before you know it. Thanks for stopping to see what supercharging looks like. The owners I've met along the way have been such a nice surprise. Congratulations on being among the few in your to figure out how awesome the Model S truly is.

@BrianH,

I asked Ddowns why he didn't drive his MS . . .and he doesn't have a Supercharger with 300 miles :-(

J.T. | 09. März 2014

@SamoSam I still owe Bighorn one or two more for taking such delight in resurrecting Modernjewels's thread just so Captain Zap could see that her post about Being There wasn't deleted. :-)

CraigW | 09. März 2014

If you get to Flagstaff I will guess you are going to decide to make a straight run to Hawthorne as fast as you can. Let us know when you arrive so we can plan to meet you.

SamO | 09. März 2014

@jtodman,

then you stick it to him!

@CraigW!

I will post ETA from my last two stops likely those will be las vegas and barstow

SamO | 09. März 2014

Incredible drive through the four corners area and now having lunch at outback.

SamO | 09. März 2014

Walked out of outback after waiting 40 minutes. Full charge, empty belly.

Hart | 09. März 2014

So sorry I missed you at Lone Tree SC yesterday, Sam! Didn't get there till 5:30, and you were gone, of course. Good luck, and smooth travel for the remainder of your return cross country trip! Great accomplishment!

SamO | 09. März 2014

@Hart,

Me too. I've enjoyed meeting owners along the way.

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Currently charging at GALLUP NM Supercharger at the Hampton Inn.

Today has been one of the best days of the trip. The weather has been perfect. Temperatures in the 50's and 60's and no wind. No clouds. Sun shining. No snow. No rain.

Average speed today has been in the high 60 and I've arrived at each stop with a TON of rated mileage buffer. I've been taking copious notes (just on the return from VA to CA) so I'll likely upload an excel spreadsheet in the near future.

Other than the MS60 being so dirty, the car has been perfect in every single way. Just a pleasure to drive and I don't want the trip to end. Crazy, huh?

Looks like I'll stop tonight in AZ or Las Vegas (not sure where exactly) and then make the last few Supercharges for an arrival in Hawthorne around late afternoon.

Like when @myfastlady arrived, I'll try and grab a bite to eat after arrival so that anyone that has to work (@TAM!) can meet afterwards for a bite.

http://www.eurekarestaurantgroup.com/

Hawthorne Airport, Eureka!*Tasting Kitchen
12101 S. Crenshaw Blvd.
Hawthorne, CA 90250

Brian H | 09. März 2014

"I'd rather be sailing driving!"

Tâm | 09. März 2014

@SamoSam

Have a restful sleep at Flagstaff, AZ.

Clear warm weather is waiting for you at home!

Good luck and have a safe trip for the rest of the Superchargers:

Flagstaff->Kingman->Las Vegas->Barstow->Hawthorne.

models60 | 09. März 2014

Sam, great going almost home. Wish I can drive to Montreal from SF bay-area this summer, cross-country trip from NorCal using Superchargers seems (still) like a distant dream. SC map for 2014 (& 2015) shows only two SC coming up between Folsom and Salt Lake City (650 miles distance) which includes crossing the sierra mountains. Hoping Tesla SC team has some pleasant surprises planned out for this route else east bound trips from bay area may be limited to Reno and back. If you happen to meet anyone from SC team at Hawthorne, please put in a word for the I-80 route beyond Sierras.

Welcome home, loved all updates from you on the trip!

CraigW | 10. März 2014

I think Tesla is more concerned about Seattle to Denver. My guess is that CA has such an advantage in #SC that they need to focus on the rest of the country. For us 60s, we have to stop in Vegas and I see no plans for anything between Barstow and Kingman (it is a dangerously open stretch of country, with few EV chargers of any type). I mention this because I suspect Tesla feels you can drive south to Barstow until closer to 2016/17, when they have to roll out the ME/MIII.

SamO | 10. März 2014

@Tam Nice pic at the Courtyard in Flagstaff! I'm parked on spot away from the supercharging hardware cabinet :-)

@models60 You could always come through SoCal. It is a bit of a 500 mile detour, but remember what is possible. Sometimes the best trips aren't in a straight line!

@CraigW True, but I actually think that there are likely to be more intermediate dots that will show up next year. Tesla has said that anything beyond coming soon/2014 is an estimate. There will likely be infill, dependent on sales and requests. Tesla has been incredibly responsive to customer suggestions/requests.

tezzla.SoCal | 10. März 2014

I'm baffled by those "foot" prints?

J.T. | 10. März 2014

@tezzla It seems elementary that SamoSam and his intrepid companion exited the car, then turned to snap a pic then headed off to food, lodging or both.

Mathew98 | 10. März 2014

Not if he had used a hexacopter with a camera attachment to take the pix...

SamO | 10. März 2014

I think that's @tam's car (blue). Mine is grey.

Tâm | 10. März 2014

It's Saprolf's Tesla Model S at Flagstaff Supercharger. The picture's from Recargo.com.

My radius of traveling has been San Diego, Las Vegas, Sacramento, San Francisco.

Some day, I'll be be like SamoSam.

tezzla.SoCal | 10. März 2014

@jtodtman, I was referring to the shape of the footprints. The driver's seem normal, the passenger's seems like a skidding cowboy boot!

Bighorn | 10. März 2014

@tezzla
hehehe--apt description!

J.T. | 10. März 2014

@tezzla Now that I'm taking an actual look I'm intrigued as well, as are my wife and daughters (experts on female footwear, if volume is an indication of expertise.)

CraigW | 10. März 2014

SamoSam,
What is your ETA, with a couple of hours, of arriving in Hawthorne?

Tâm | 10. März 2014

I know it is a very sensitive subject, but are we talking about a very first bigfoot sighting at Tesla Supercharger :)

Tâm | 10. März 2014

@CraigW

My guess is around 5pm.

He's charging at Las Vegas now.

If he leaves by noon, he'll be at Barstow at 2:30pm.

Charge up for and leave at 3pm.

He'll be in Hawthorne by 5pm.

SamO | 10. März 2014

345pm

Bighorn | 10. März 2014

Don't forget to subtract an hour for DST when you call Guinness!

SamO | 10. März 2014

Eta

SamO | 10. März 2014

Looks like arrival will be pushed back to 430PM. Traffic and (almost) full Superchargers in Barstow are pushing things back.

reitmanr | 10. März 2014

SamoSam

Your adventure inspires me! Big congratulations. May you have many more joyous MS adventures. When will your book be published?:-)

Captain_Zap | 10. März 2014

@SamoSam Thanks for bringing us along for the ride. This is a liberating accomplishment.

This means that I can get out there with my P85 without worrying about my little tangents and detours. Way cool.
Thank you for blazing the trail!

Are you going to tie this up with a big bow and do the run up to the Canadian Border?

Tâm | 10. März 2014

SamoSam just twitted his arrival with the numbers at 5:31pm PDT:

7,740 mile round trip in 9.5 days for free.

Sorry that I am stuck in Orange County and unable to greet you in person.

Congratulations on a job well done proving that 60 kWh is not a second class at all. You could even do a round trip where no known EV, big or small, could have done!!!!

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