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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.

+++++++++++++++++

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.

Sam

teslams60@gmail.com
@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.

sbeggs | 10. März 2014

@SamoSam, you succeeded! Now you can rest! You can modify your title to read Coast to Coast and Back Again, etc. etc.

J.T. | 10. März 2014

Great journey, great inspiration.

Fasteddie | 10. März 2014

Great job, SamoSam! I've watched your journey with interest along the way. Sorry I missed you at the Glen Allen VA SC but you were just a couple of hours off from my time there.

NKYTA | 10. März 2014

Way to go Samo!!!

Priceless!
+1 7,740 to ya. :-)

PBEndo | 10. März 2014

Amazing job SamoSam! Inspirational!

CraigW | 10. März 2014

Not a lot of us there to greet him, but it sure was fun. Even Elon responded to his tweet - exciting.

Jamon | 10. März 2014

Way to go SamoSam! Wish you were following @myfastlady's footsteps up to the factory so we could come greet you :)
The trip was inspirational. Thanks for everything!

Doug H | 10. März 2014

Now you and your MS60 are one. When you have spent as much time in a car as you have, you know everything there is to know about the car. You know its hot, cold, climbing, descending, head wind, tail wind, cross wind, rain, snow, sunshine, and cloudy performance numbers. You know how far you can get going to a higher elevation, with rain, while you hyper-mile.

Now MS stands for Master of the Science of Tesla driving.

Congratulations Samo. Great work.

Mark Z | 10. März 2014

Thanks Sam for proving that the 60 kW Model S can travel across country on SuperCharger power in both directions. Your pioneering effort will make it easier for those who follow your tracks. We look forward to your report of what speeds are necessary for success between some of the stations. All the best to you and those who traveled with you. Enjoy a well deserved rest and hope to meet you at a future Tesla event.

CalDreamin | 10. März 2014

Outstanding job Sam! Thank you for the forum posts and tweets along the way.

SamO | 11. März 2014

@reitmanr,
Thanks for the kind words. Not so sure how I'd fill a book but I'll at least try to update here.

@Captain_Zap,
The world is your oyster in an 85. The supercharging network is only getting better and almost every US city will be connected by 2015. Go crazy! I'll hold off on heading to Vancouver for a bit but it sounds like fun!

@Tam,
Missed seeing you tonight in Hawthorne. Sorry your "work" got in the way of our Tesla obsession ;-)

sbeggs@attglobal.net,
Good idea on updating the forum title. I'll give it some thought.

@jtodtman@gmail.com,
Thanks for following the post.

@Fasteddie,
Would have been cool to have met in Glen Allen. I'll likely be back there again. More on that later ;-)

@NKYTA,
I had a bunch of "priceless" tweets planned . . . you rock!

@pbendo,
I hope that it inspires the next generation of drivers to stretch and get a MS60 instead of some stinky gas burner!

@CraigW,
Thank you for showing up and coming to dinner. It was great to meet you and get a chance to meet another MS60 owner that is as passionate about their car and the company as me.

@Jamon,
I'd love to head up to the factory tomorrow and meet everyone in the bay area that's been following along here. That being said, there are some things that I've been putting off for the last 10 days that need some attention . . . ;-)

@Doug H,

That's actually not as crazy as it looks on first read. I really felt like I understood the vagaries of the car so much better on the last day, than the first. One example: I had to leave Barstow with 15 rated miles more than the distance from Barstow to Hawthorne. I got my Wh/m were 202 and I was hauling a$$. I knew when to pulse, accelerate, coast and then when to regen. I ended up averaging over 72mph and arrived with more than 30 miles of range remaining.

@Mark Z,

I kept copious notes for the return trip with speeds, wh/m, total energy usage and distances. I'm putting together an excel spread sheet (should be done tomorrow) that I'll post so that everyone who wants to geek out on the details can review.

I will give a couple of observations:

1. Cold and wind are not your friend. That being said, speeds of 60 mph on the highway are easily possible between every single Supercharger. But not 75+ during the coldest part of winter.

2. Averaged 70+ mph ~10 times between supercharging pairs.

@CalDreamin

Thanks for following the posts.

Brian H | 11. März 2014

So, how does it feel to be famous and admired? Could you get used to it? "Yes, I'm THAT SamoSam."

Sgt Barone | 11. März 2014

Congrats Sam! I enjoyed following your journey on Twitter.

bcimae.co.us | 11. März 2014

Unfortunately, I was out of the country when you went through Denver both times (see separate thread White Water Rafting). I would have loved to meet up at Park Meadows. As for getting close to zero remaining projected miles, I sampled the fabled 17 mile reserve once. We took the “S” to Aspen three weeks ago. We charged the Glenwood Springs SC, but not a full range charge. As we came down Vail pass, my wife said she would like to get home early so she could ride a horse before dark. I looked at my range and did a quick mental calculation. I decided to skip the Silverthorne SC. When we went by Park Meadows, I still had 17 miles, so I didn’t stop charge there, but knew I was cutting it very tight. South of Parker still 5 miles from home I hit zero. I made it home but the dashed yellow line appeared stating that I would not have full acceleration. The Projected range does not go negative, it just goes to zero and stays there. I did get the message to charge immediately.

portia | 11. März 2014

congrats Sam to finish the trip, a big success! My only comment is that is a lot of driving, not much resting, sleeping or sightseeing. It would be nice to take a leisurely trip and see the country along the way, if one has the time, that would be the thing to aspire to.

J.T. | 11. März 2014

See the U-S-A in a T-E-S-L-A . . . needs work.

diegoPasadena | 11. März 2014

Welcome back. Congratulations on your trip! Sorry I couldn't make it to Hawthorne.

johnanniegibson | 11. März 2014

Well done samosam. I glad to read you had a safe journey. I'm sorry I couldn't be there like we did last time. I was there in spirit. Good job. Congratulations. See you next time.

SamO | 12. März 2014

I just dropped my co-pilot at LAX and stopped to charge at the Hawthorne Supercharger for old times same. :-)

Can anyone help me post an excel spreadsheet in a format accessible to anyone?

I have lots of good data for anyone interested in seeing it.

Thanks again to everyone here that wrote kind words, words of encouragement or just made me laugh . . .

This wont be the last road trip but it was certainly the hardest since I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I'm glad we were able to show just how incredible th MS60 performs and how, with just a little awareness and skill, it can perform on par with its larger-battery siblings.

I've had some press inquiries and I'll update this forum when those articles are published. I wrote anonymously so that the focus would be on the car, but human nature being what it is, I've been unmasked.

By Tesla ;-)

- Sam

Mathew98 | 12. März 2014

@SamoSam - What would you do now? Is Disneyland your next stop?

Congrats on some well deserved rest. Can wait to see your road trip details!

Why didn't you stay more than a day on the East Coast? Would you have used any battery swap facilities if they were built along your route?

SamO | 12. März 2014

I would have loved to swap my 60 kWh battery for an 85kWh before the trip.

No other trips planned yet but I'll likely drive to Vacouver soon.

I didn't stay long East because I have work and family that I miss :-)

PBEndo | 12. März 2014

SamoSam - After you get a chance to catch your breath, if you have any tips/advice to give concerning the Superchargers you visited, please comment here -
http://www.teslamotors.com/forum/forums/supercharger-site-tips-and-revie...

I know all of us would greatly value your advice.

SamO | 12. März 2014

@pbendo,

Great idea. I'll post some local knowledge since (with a few exceptions) I stopped at most of the Superchargers twice.

portia | 12. März 2014

@SamoSam you can post the spreadsheet in Googledoc and link to it from here.

SamO | 13. März 2014

Here's a link to the data on the East to West portion of the trip if anyone is interested.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B04DS4Hj9J8CQm02cER2V3puRnM/edit?usp=sh...

@portia - thanks for the suggestion.

Tâm | 13. März 2014

@SamoSam:

More than 4 hours of driving from Barstow to Hawthorne! I guess we have to pick a better time to travel to Los Angeles Metropolitan.

Looks like you didn't use up battery capacity all the way to zero mile left this time :)

Some statisticians would love to analyze the data.

It's a great source of data proving the glory of MS 60, from coast-to-coast.

Thanks for the beautiful spreadsheet.

Fasteddie | 13. März 2014

@SamoSam,

Thanks again for the important documentation of your cross-country trip. It's people like you that pave the way for the rest of us. Congratulations and be sure to get some rest.

SamO | 13. März 2014

Thanks @Tam and @FastEddie,

The time from Barstow departure was 235pm not 1235pm. The elapsed time was wrong by 2 hours, but the speed was correct at 62mph.

TeslaTap.com | 13. März 2014

@SamoSam

I enjoyed the virtual ride! Let us know if you make it up to Fremont after you recover a bit. I'm sure us Northern folk would love to congratulate you in person!

SamO | 13. März 2014

@teslatap.com

Would love to make a trip up to see the Northern folks. In fact, I'm missing being in the car. It's like a crutch. I know what I'm doing in the car. I'm comfortable in the car. I'm happy in the car.

Maybe not so much at the office :-(

NKYTA | 13. März 2014

Heh. I hear you @Samo. I second @Tap's comment, would love to pop over and meet the other x-country driver. Even though we only had 10 minutes with myfastlady, it was fun.

SamO | 13. März 2014

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.

NKYTA | 13. März 2014

@Samo, great tips, especially on "slow on the way up, faster on the way down". I'll have to give the whole coasting thing a try in the Sierra foothills next time I go - at least just to learn it.

I totally agree that this is an awesome road trip car and I think you've quite proved it.

Thanks for the link to the numbers too!

I kept detailed records on every major trip early on, but it is second nature now (P85); however you had a really good reason for documentation.

How is that thing working out with Guiness, c'mon, you know we want your name in lights!

How funny, another reason for a Grin!
:-)

jandkw | 14. März 2014

As a S60 owner, I really appreciate your effort to record your spreadsheet and Wrap Up comments. This is one good model for EV drivers I'm sure I can use. Thanks again.

SamO | 14. März 2014

@NKYTA,

Not sure I broke any records that I could send to Guiness, except, that as far as I know, I have used more of the Superchargers than anyone else (46).
I really appreciate all of the MS85 owners who could look down on the 60 owners but instead are rooting us on. +100 for staying classy (unlike some other car brand owners that shall remain nameless, but look down on anything but top of the line).

@jandkw,

I'm wish I could take all the credit but copilot #2 (east to west) was responsible. I'm sure you'll see that some legs are faster than others and that's usually reflective of temperature and distance between Superchargers. I almost didn't publish some of the faster legs as they show a blatant disregard of speed limits. But since there are two drivers in the car, that just provided the thin vernier of plausible deniability ;-) I can't even remember WHO was driving any particular leg . . .

diegoPasadena | 25. März 2014

@SamO: 46 Superchargers, quite likely a record.

I started thinking about that, and how that would compare to stops made in an ICE car - and I came up with the notion, that it wouldn't be substantially different. Here's my reasoning:

A long road trip requires two types of stops - 1. refueling and 2. body maintenance (bathroom, food, rest).
Presumably we can combine much of the body maintenance with Supercharger stops, so it doesn't require a separate bathroom stop and yet another one to eat. So if we add ten hotel nights, the 7700 miles could be done in 55-60 stops.

With an ICE, you could probably do 7700 miles with 20 fuel stops (let's say you average 385 mi per tank - I know some cars go farther), but there is no doubling up of stops: You refuel standing next to the car. Now your car is ready to go, but you still need to eat, and/or go to the bathroom. So, even if it's at the same gas station, it's an additional stop/delay that needs to be counted. Three meals a day, of which one is perhaps at the hotel, so you have to add at least 2 stops for food, and maybe an additional extra one for a bathroom break once in a while, when you don't combine it with fueling or eating, and maybe occasionally one for a nap. So, a ten-day ICE trip could easily involve 20 gas stops, 20 food stops, 5 bathroom stops, 5 nap stops and 10 overnight stops. There you go: 60 stops.
Of course, many would be a lot shorter than Supercharger stops, but it just goes to show, that 46 Supercharger stops are not *that* much more cumbersome than what we'd do on an ICE car road trip.
Q.E.D.

models60 | 25. März 2014

Thanks for sharing the details @Sam and great tips there in the post. Great suggestion "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". Same experience during a day trip to South Lake Tahoe from Fremont this weekend. Arrived South Lake Tahoe with 80 rated miles to spare; could have left Lake Tahoe without adding more miles but played it safe with 40-45 minutes charge at a Chargepoint charger to 90 rated miles. Did some spirited driving on the way back, mostly downhill back to Folsom supercharger.

Brian H | 25. März 2014

diego;
I think that was 23 SuperChargers, twice.

Mathew98 | 26. März 2014

I noticed you changed the handle and dropped the second Sam. So does it mean that your were arguing with yourself in the past?

SamoSam vs. Samo?

SamO | 26. März 2014

Samo = Santa Monica
Sam = Samuel

Just took a haircut like JT

SamO | 26. März 2014

@BrianH

I've actually recounted and I have visited 43 Suoerchargers in total. Total visits to any Supercharger is greater than 100.

J.T. | 26. März 2014

@Samo

If you're Santa Monica Samuel who is Ethan Weinstein from the customer stories? I am so confused!

SamO | 26. März 2014

Sam is my middle name. Did the trip anonymously until Tesla "unmasked" me.

Mathew98 | 26. März 2014

I like SamO better than ESW.

Would have sounded like you are a shoe salesman otherwise....

SamO | 26. März 2014

I post as CallmeSam on TMC.

SamO | 08. September 2014

Anyone else make this coast to coast using just Superchargers?

CraigW made an entire US circumnavigation, I think.

Bighorn | 08. September 2014

I broke it into two parts--4700 miles to the west coast and 5900 miles to the east. Car has seen both oceans and 52 superchargers, so far.

MitchP85D | 08. September 2014

Being from Texas, I'm trapped here with my MS60. But still, my wife and I put 12,500 miles on in 6 months just from local driving in Houston and one Houston to Dallas trip. Looking forward to the I-10 superchargers opening up!

SamO | 08. September 2014

@bighorn,

Supercharger only?

@rmitchell108,

That island is supposed to become an isthmus (at the very least) by the end of this year.

Bighorn | 08. September 2014

Lusk and Rapid City are my portals to the SC superhighway--both are in the 240-250 mile range from my house. I have made it to both without intermediate stops at non-superchargers--can't remember how I approached trip west, though. Going east, I remember going slowly to Rapid City and making it with only superchargers, though on the way home, I stopped in Gillette to sleep at a 6.6kW plugshare so I could approximate the 80 MPH speed limit. So I have done it, but it may have been temporally segmented. How's that?

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