SR+ Road Trip Report

SR+ Road Trip Report

Seems to be the day for sharing SR+ road trips. Last week we took a road trip from Irvine to Incline Village, NV (Lake Tahoe). We have done the trip several times, most recently in my previous car, a Porsche Macan S (which was a blast).

First off cargo space. We had myself, wife and two adult daughters, who all seem to pack for a month long Europe trip, even though we were headed up for just 3 nights. The Model 3 seems to have more cargo area than our Macan did and was able to fit us and all our stuff comfortably.

On the trip up, ABRP estimated 11:49 with charging stops for our chosen route. For comparison, Google maps estimated 8:37 but of course that does not include any stops.

We left early in the morning and hit our first stop just under an hour later in Fontana, where we grabbed some Starbucks. Even with all the research and assurance from others I was still overly cautious and made sure we were set to arrive with over 20% on all stops, so we made it back to the car and waited another 5 minutes and proceeded. Next was Inyokern, which is much less sketchy than I thought it would be based on what I had read. Of course this was at 9:30am, I’m sure it maybe a little more dicey after 10:00pm, but it was fine. Then Lone Pine (which never showed up on my Supercharger history) which is right next to the Museum of Western Film History. After a 20 minute stop we were off to Mammoth where we stopped for lunch. Really cool restaurant and market with a good beer and wine selection called Bleu Handcrafted Foods. The car was ready to continue before our food arrived so I let it keep charging and it ended up at 99% when we were ready to go. This allowed us to bypass the ABRP suggested stop in Gardnerville and we arrived at our hotel with 80 miles of range. Enough to head out for a local dinner then to the valet for destination charging.

All told we made it up in 10:57 minutes (note sure why the ABRP estimate was so much more) and that was including an approximate 40 minute delay between Mammoth and Tahoe where the road was limited to one lane, having to wait for a pilot truck to lead a caravan of cars while the other side waited. Add that delay to the Google Maps estimate and we are at 9:17. We typically made 4 stops in our ICE car as well between coffee, restroom breaks, gas, lunch, etc. guessing a total of 1:10 which takes Google estimate to 10:27 so in the end not a big difference at all. And we could have made it up quicker now that I have some real-life experience under my belt. Meaning didn’t need to charge as long as I did, and could have driven faster. In a LR, I’m guessing it is very comparable to time in an ICE car. Supercharger network is indeed the secret sauce. I bought my car primarily for my 4 mile commute never thinking I’d take a long road trip in it. But this trip was very enjoyable and wouldn’t hesitate to do it again. If you’re on the fence about taking yours on a long trip, don’t be, just go for it. It’ll take you a little longer but autopilot minimizes fatigue and let’s you take in more of the scenery.

One thing I’d recommend for “partial premium” owners, is making sure you have a playlist on USB or a streaming service through Bluetooth. I made a playlist downloaded locally to my device so I didn’t need to worry about coverage or data usage. I used Amazon music and loaded 7.5 hours of “road trip” music.

I will say on a 2 lane or even 4 lane highway I found Autopilot was not very useful as there was a lot of lane changes to pass Or be passed which cancels auto-steer. I found myself using TACC most of the time on those roads. The car nearly drives itself and since with auto-steer you have to keep your hand on the wheel anyway, not that much of a difference. TACC seems to eliminate most of the driver fatigue. Manual steering also allowed me to hug the left side of the lane when passing Semi-trucks that also seemed to hug the left. My better half was always nervous when auto-steer had us dead center in our lane passing a big truck. So that was another reason to take control of the wheel. That said it’s easy to forget you’re not using auto-steer, which is a good reason to leave Lane Departure Avoidance on ;). Lane passing power even in chill mode is effortless. No turbo-lag either haha.

Finally it was a hot day about 95-100 all the way up. Made sure I left the air conditioning on while plugged in at the supercharger which helped keep the cabin cool without making the HVAC work too hard after we left. Both the wife and my daughters have told me I need to tint the windows, and they won’t need to tell me twice.

On the way home took the I-5 and was able to hit the Kettleman Supercharger, which is worth visiting if you get the chance. I recommend the Ludicrous Mode Americano at the coffee bar.

Not having to gas-up the night before a road trip or the next morning after you get home is the icing (no pun intended) on the cake. Loved my Macan, but I’m not missing it at all anymore.

sbeggs | 06. September 2019

Thanks for the excellent report!

wiscy67 | 06. September 2019

Very informative and interesting read. But I still can't get over that your daughters (even adult) let you choose the music. My two college daughters would never allow that.

Can you share any additional info on your charging stops such as availability of charging stalls, costs and speeds?

Devilstower | 06. September 2019

My experience, in a totally different part of the country (MO - KY - TN and back) was that the highway chargers were generally sparsely attended and fast. Most were also well located in a place where it was possible to get some coffee or a snack.

But the urban chargers were something of a PITA. In particular, the charger in Nashville, TN was completely full, very slow, and so in demand that my time there was limited. I had to beg some additional time just to get some safety margin for the next stop. When I was passing through Nashville the other way, this was no problem at all because I spent the night at a hotel with a destination charger. But going back it was a tough place to get the necessary electrons.

Effopec | 06. September 2019

@ wiscy - with my 2 teenage daughters it's ear buds in as soon as they sit down. My wife is always pissed because she'll be trying to have a conversation with them and turn around to see that they can't hear a thing she just said.

Smalm | 06. September 2019

@wiscy - haha, most of the music was wife friendly, you know happy wife, happy... Beatles, Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Steely Dan, etc. I’m in the camp of there’s two kinds of music, good and bad, so I was good with the selection. My older one who is off the payroll, has eclectic tastes as well, but the younger, well....I did put some Easter eggs on for her (Taylor Swift, Shawn Mendes, Lourde), but they were few and far between. Had to put some Easter eggs for myself as well, Nirvana, STP, etc.

Sorry didn’t take more detail notes on charging. From memory I’d say we stopped for 20 minutes in Fontana, (waited in the car about 5-7 minutes after grabbing Starbucks). My wife was concerned I wasn’t waiting to charge to 100% haha, but reassured her. Inyokern was about 12 minutes. Lone Pine probably 25 minutes and Mammoth was close to an hour but only because we were eating lunch. They were all fast and I saw just over 100Kw initially (except for first stop because still had a fairly high SOC), but didn’t stick around to see when it tapered off. No problems with available stalls. First two stops we were the only cars there initially, but one more 3 showed up while there. Lone Pine we were the 3rd car, Mammoth we I think 4th. As for hotel they had 3 destination chargers, but we were the only one plugged in. Busiest one was Rocklin at lunch time on the trip back but even that had 5 or 6 empty stalls. I spent the most time there because I wanted to make sure I hit Kettleman, but could have proceeded earlier if I just let the Nav decide.

Smalm | 06. September 2019

Oh and didn’t keep track of costs. Still on my 5000 free miles. Loot box says I have 4432 to go, need to start planning my next trip.

wiscy67 | 06. September 2019

@effopec - that's exactly my experience as well!

@Smalm - thanks for the additional info. You were lucky to get the 5000 miles SC incentive. I've only used a supercharger once just to see how it worked. The one in fashion valley mall was easy to find, and plenty of available stalls. I couldn't believe that you could just plug in like I do at home and it automatically started charging. I didn't need to fiddle with app or anything. The cost there was higher than most I've heard - about 6.7 cents per mile and it took about 15 minutes for 100 or so miles. I think it said 75kW and 325 miles / hour.

Smalm | 06. September 2019

@wiscy good to hear about Fashion Valley. Youngest just started back up for her junior year at USD. Will come in handy if I need a little top off when visiting. The 5000 miles expire in 6 months. Not sure why it’s only deducted 568 miles so far but I’ll enjoy them while they last.

Kathy Applebaum | 11. September 2019

> I couldn't believe that you could just plug in like I do at home and it automatically started charging. I didn't need to fiddle with app or anything.

A friend who had a Leaf went on a road trip with me and that part blew her mind. Leaf is gone and she drives an S now. :)

don.lind | 11. September 2019

Yeah... the whole "just plug it in, Tesla knows who you are" thing is great... We've got the LR AWD M3... and after our first fairly meticulously planned road trip it was completely obvious that you can just drive and charge as necessary... Our second trip was from Seattle area to Laguna Hills, CA, in South Orange County... Zero planning... In Oregon, we decided to go down the 101 for the entire length of California. It was great. Nibbling and coffee at various charging stops... the word has to get out to the EV doubters who thing range anxiety is a thing. Once the non-Tesla drivers have something somewhat close to the supercharger network, road trips will be easy for them as well.

SamO | 12. September 2019

Great trip. This is why the Leaf will never fire the imagination.

gballant4570 | 12. September 2019

I am in complete agreement that charging time adds zero time to a road trip, at least for anyone who knows how to travel in a car. The trip that is so much faster in an ICE due to no charging time is the trip I'll avoid like the plague.
And of course the Tesla network makes all that true. I cannot imagine road trips in an EV that cannot use the Tesla network.

HighlandPony | 12. September 2019

Thanks for the trip report. It’s great to share your positive experience so others can see what it’s like. I do question your ICE total stop time of 1:10. Most ICE drivers grossly underestimate their actual stop times. At least one sit down meal really levels the playing field for full day road trip travel and the Tesla ends up as fast or faster than the ICE.

Smalm | 12. September 2019

Re: 1:10 guesstimate, was based on a 40 minute lunch/gas stop at the Whoa Nellie Deli (did miss not eating there haha) in Lee Vining and three 10 minute bio breaks. But maybe 1:30.