Long Distance Driving - Onboad Nav vs Website - Supercharging

Long Distance Driving - Onboad Nav vs Website - Supercharging

I've tried to post this a few times, but I think my post is too long, so I'll cut it into sections.

Part 1:

I just completed a somewhat decent road trip where I had to preplan the route for using superchargers. I'd be curious to get other's feedback and experiences. Here are my observations.

The first thing I would note is that when you plug your car into the supercharger, do not immediately walk away from your car and grab a bite to eat. Stay with the car for about 5 minutes to ensure that the charge is working and that the kW remains sufficient to charge in the time you've anticipated.

Here is what happened to me.

At one charger I stopped at, I plugged in my car, it started charging fine so I walked about a block away to get some food. Right as I arrived at the restaurant, my phone alerted me that charging had stopped. I was not able to restart it from my phone so I had to walk back to the car. It appears that the supercharger had over heated and would no longer work. I had to move my car to a different charger and plug it in. It worked fine second time around.

Another spot I stopped at, I plugged in and it started charging just fine just north of 100kW (which was providing about 400 miles each hour of charge). It told me I had about a 10 minute wait (which matched what I'd preplanned using the Tesla trip planner). However, about five minutes into the charge the kW dropped significantly to around 40kW and my car's display now said I had 40 minutes to wait. I unplugged the charger and plugged it back in and the same thing happened almost immediately. I decided to move to a different charger and that one delivered max capacity kW just North of 100kW again and completed the charging the car to the level I needed in 5 minutes.

It was extremely hot both days this occurred (over 100 degrees out), so I suspect that had a lot to do with it.

NapaChris | 14. Juni 2019

Part 2:

If you have preplanned your routes using Tesla's trip planner on their website and you follow that route it seems you should be fine.

I would make note of the charging times that the trip planner tells you and write those down.

The overall drawbacks I see about driving long distance trips is that you can't just get in the car and use the onboard navigation and go on your way. Especially if you have multiple planned stops that you have to hit along the way. The only way to plan this kind of trip is to use the online trip planner, adding stops and making notes.

Here is what I mean by this (if anyone cares):

The trip I just took was a camping trip and I knew that when I reached the campsite I would not have anywhere to plug in and recharge for the two days my car was parked at the campsite. There is no way to use the navigation in the car to start off from your house and have it properly calculate where to stop for supercharging to ensure I arrive at the campsite with enough juice left to sit for three days and make it to a different super charger in order to get back home. I had to use the online trip planner and use my home address as both my starting point AND my destination. Then I had to plug in the campsite as a stop along the way. Doing this, the trip planner told me where to stop to charge and for how long so that I could safely make it to the campsite and still have enough juice to leave two days later and get to a super charger.

NapaChris | 14. Juni 2019

Part 3:

In truth, the battery drain during that two days was more than anticipated so I didn't actually have enough juice to get to the original supercharger I'd preplanned. However, there was enough juice left thankfully for me to get to a slightly closer supercharger.

vmulla | 14. Juni 2019

I just use the onboard app to decide where to stop. Just charge to max at the closest SC near your destination, that should take care of your concerns. If that's not sufficient, you're looking at alternative charging options anyway - and that's a whole different story.

NapaChris | 14. Juni 2019

I don't think it's convenient to wait an hour at each stop to charge the car back to capacity. That's the advantage of the trip planner online. It tells you exactly how many minutes you'll need to charge in order to get enough capacity to make it to your next destination and/or supercharger. For my trip, using this method, I never had to stop at a super charger for more than 20 minutes at a time. I never had to sit there and wait an hour for the car to fully charge each time which would have added a considerable amount of time to my trip.

FISHEV | 14. Juni 2019

Whose DC chargers were using? Did you plan the route around them or around Tesla SC's or a combo? Did you use Tesla or other EV trip planners? Did the hot temps affect your range?

NapaChris | 14. Juni 2019

I only used Tesla Superchargers, nothing else. And I only used Tesla's online trip planner.

In terms of what affects the range, I don't feel the heat impacted anything. Nor did my using AC, or the fact that I have a Performance model and I drove in Performance mode (not "chill" mode) the entire time.

I think the only factors that had the greatest impact were uphill vs downhill and wind resistance.

NapaChris | 14. Juni 2019

I found that the estimated mileage was always off. On my way to the campsite, it was short each leg of the journey by at least 50 miles. I'd start the day with 310 miles on the battery, drive 180 miles to a supercharger and arrive with only 80 estimated miles left.(instead of 130). On the flip side, when I left the campsite to head home, the car said I had an estimated 126 miles left on battery (super charger was about 50 miles away). And it stayed at 126 for about 15 miles of driving because the first part of the return trip was mostly down hill... and I ultimately arrived at the supercharger with about 90 miles of range left according to the car (instead of 126-50=76 miles of range remaining).

NapaChris | 14. Juni 2019

conventional wisdom tells you to pay attention to battery percentage, not estimated mileage remaining. The shame is that the battery percentage is not displayed anywhere on the Tesla dashboard that I can see.

FISHEV | 14. Juni 2019

"On my way to the campsite, it was short each leg of the journey by at least 50 miles."

Good to know probably a good general assumption to make, give yourself an extra 50 miles. I have no home charging so I'm always "tripping". I have not seen the 50 mile discrepancy but then I never charge to 310. Do you normally charge at home to 80%? I wonder if the discrepancy you saw was difference between what Tesla had calculated on your day to day range vs. the new parameters on your trip, higher overall speeds and less efficiency and that's where the 50 miles went?

On my StatsAp, it shows my Estimated range (how much I should get with my specific driving) to be 10% higher than Reported range which is the 310 miles.

vmulla | 14. Juni 2019

you can change the settings to show the battery percentage.

I just get enough charge to make it to the next SC - I only linger to charge the car to the max at the last SC before my destination, just to be prepared for whatever I might to at the destination.

Gordon87 | 14. Juni 2019

You can switch between the car displaying the remaining range in miles or in percent charge, but unfortunately at this time, you can’t get it to display both at the same time.

IHaveArrived | 14. Juni 2019

"conventional wisdom tells you to pay attention to battery percentage, not estimated mileage remaining. The shame is that the battery percentage is not displayed anywhere on the Tesla dashboard that I can see."

I'm pretty sure if you just tap the miles of range with your finger on the screen the units flip to percentage. However, I never do that, since I can just mentally divide the miles of range remaining by 3-ish (3.1 to be accurate) and get percentage.

FISHEV | 14. Juni 2019

Don't the miles take into account the car's driving history while the per cent is just an absolute number? If so, unless the trip was under significantly different conditions, the miles would be a more accurate than the percentage.

paul | 14. Juni 2019

Very useful information. Thank you NapaChris!

hokiegir1 | 14. Juni 2019

@NapaChris - as others have noted, you can choose miles or percentage. It's in the main display settings. Also, the on-board nav will tell you how long you need to charge to continue your trip--it doesn't automatically assume a full charge leaving a stop. It does sometimes opt to skip chargers, so having a good idea of the available ones along your route is helpful, but not necessary. But you were right on the one waypoint options. You could reset your nav from you last stop, though, assuming it's the same one you'd use on return, and it will tell you the estimated percentage to return there.

Tesla2018 | 14. Juni 2019

Enter in your webbrowser and itxshows both mileage remaining and bsttery level at the same time.

eandmjep | 15. Juni 2019

Its funny when people blame altitude on poor performance forgetting what goes up must dome down. Unless you plan on staying up for a while but will later come down.

I only use the cars onboard navigation and my Brain. I have a bit of OCD and plan my trips out well before I start and I did that even before I owned a M3. Gas stops, food etc. I have 110% confidence in my cars ability to accurately calculate range to a destination Hint: This works best Driving the Dam Speed Limit. With the earlier update that added the Energy and consumption graphs it has been fun to look at the consumption graph and see the up's and down's and watch the % increase as we drive ALWAYS arriving at the next stop with more range than the car predicted at the start.

gmr6415 | 15. Juni 2019

@NapaChris, I think you are over thinking it. If you have multiple waypoints you can enter them in the navigation screen before hand and just pull them up as you go. I enter them in the reverse order and they will be listed in the navigator in order...first entered, last in list, second entered, second to last in list, etc. Secondly, always enter the final destination too, so you get an overview of the entire trip.

It's very easy to toggle between them, so you can see all of the SCs covering the whole route, or just those on the way to the next waypoint. Going back and looking at the whole route will give you information on how long to charge at each stop, the SOC you will arrive with, and an estimated time you will arrive. It will update to compensate for any changes as you go. Navigating to a given waypoint will give you the same data, but I find going back to the whole trip more useful once you get on the road again.

If you need a food break or a bathroom break look for the closest SC on the navigator, tap on it and hit navigate. Go to it whether the car needs charge or not. There will always be food and bathrooms near by. When you navigate to it, it preconditions your battery for optimal charging also. If you charge even when it's not really necessary the navigator will update charging times for the whole trip based on the new SOC when you leave the SC.

I find looking at the "online" navigator only results in confusion because it often plots the route differently than the car will. We've done a lot of long distance traveling since getting our M3 (2000 mile+ trips) and the onboard navigator has always been spot on. For example I just did a trip from Winter Haven, FL to Birmingham, AL. I contacted my relatives in Birmingham when I was in Lake City, FL (northern FL) probably a good 7.5 hours away. The navigator showed I would arrive at their house at 5:58 PM. I pulled in their driveway at 5:56 PM.

I've also found that if the navigator all of the sudden starts rerouting you off the highway believe it. It's trying to get you around a back up (as long as you have it set up to reroute you in the settings). We ignored it on our first trip and ended up sitting dead still on the highway for 45 minutes because of an accident.

kevin_rf | 15. Juni 2019

One of the tricks I've done is plan a route with online tools like evtripplanner and then add every supercharger along the route creating a table which contains the distances to each possible supercharger. It gives you a nice little cheat sheet.

That way I can adjust on the fly depending on how consumption is really doing. I've also adjusted in the past because I wanted a bathroom break, and why not charge early.

My other trick is to turn all superchargers on the map on. I enter the destination, look at the range and maybe pick a different SC as a destination. When you select a SC it tells you your estimated SOC. It works better to flexible enough to adjust on the fly.

Tesla's method of picking needs some work.

gballant4570 | 15. Juni 2019

I also only use the car's navigation. I also would like that system better if I could add all planned stops, or alter the route to see how that would turn out. On my recent road trip, I chose different charging stops at times, or put in a charging location as the destination, and then put the final destination in again after charging at the added charger.

NapaChris, don't forget to use the energy graphs - they will help you see how you are trending compared to the estimated miles. My recent experience was a bit different from yours - I was averaging around 220 wh/m, so my remaining miles were routinely higher than the estimate predicted.

NapaChris | 15. Juni 2019

@gmr6415 - please provide a step by step tutorial on the first two paragraphs of your reply - because from what I’ve seen I believe you are wrong. This cannot be done on the Nav system in the car.

NapaChris | 15. Juni 2019

@gmr6415 - also your proposal does not address the conundrum of when you have a destination that has not charging station. It will navigate you there with the power you have. But it might calculate your arrival with only 5% power left. Since you can’t charge at that destination you’d be stuck...

gmr6415 | 15. Juni 2019

@NapaChris: In the image linked to below is a mock trip from Central FL with a first waypoint in Charleston, SC, then on to Asheville, NC, then to Lexington, VA, then to the final destination, Washington DC.

You simply select the leg to the first waypoint in the navigator window and go to it, then to the next and so on. All subsequent legs/waypoints will update their information and routing based on where you are in the trip. I keep the final destination at the top of the list, so I can refer to it at any time easily should I want to. I enter the waypoints in reverse order in the navigator and then the final destination last. It's not that hard to figure out.

At or between any point/s you can select the icon for the SCs (pointed to with the yellow arrow in my image) to pull up SCs along the given leg you are on, and it will show all SCs and many destination chargers along the way. If you want to go to one of them you select it from the list, when it pops up you hit navigate. The navigator window that pops up will give you the SOC at arrival, the time of arrival, etc. as well as the amenities close by.

I don't see how it could be any simpler.

As far as the issue of going somewhere with no charging stations take your mobile charger and find some where to charge close by before you start your trip. The navigator can't put chargers there that aren't there.

There are always campgrounds and destination chargers at hotels and restaurants that you can take advantage of if there is one along the way. Just keep in mind that 99% of those are for patrons only. If your going to see a friend or relative ask them in there is a way you can plug in after arrival.

Last August we went to Lexington VA. At the time I started planning the trip the Lexington SC wasn't open yet, or at least didn't show up on the map. I asked our friend that we were going to visit if it was okay to charge at his house. I then asked for a photo of his dryer plug, which was near his garage. I made sure I had a mobile charger adapter that would work. In that situation I went to home depot and bought what I needed to make a 220v 30amp extension cord with the appropriate ends to carry with me, because the distance from the laundry room to the garage was longer than the 20' mobile charger cord.

By the time we got there the Lexington SC had opened up, and I only charged at his house once.

There is always a solution if you put your mind to it and plan ahead.

vmulla | 15. Juni 2019

What @gmr6415 said.

NapaChris | 16. Juni 2019

Sorry @gmr6415 - sometimes you reach a destination where it is simply impossible to charge. I did bring my mobile charger. But there is no outlet in the middle of a national forest campground in California to plug into. And even if there were, charging 4 miles per hour would require a lengthy stay to add any significant mileage to the car. But again, that often is not an option when you go camping.

Yes, there is always a solution - planning ahead with the website vs the onboard navigation is the solution. Exactly what I did. Thanks for reiterating exactly my point in your last sentence.

Otherwise, I find your post pretty belittling.

mtapes | 16. Juni 2019

Thanks for posting..

vmulla | 16. Juni 2019

Where in California can you not return to a Super Charger when you're charging to the max? I just cannot think of a place in California that's more than 100miles away from a SC.

gballant4570 | 16. Juni 2019

gmr6415, that pretty well describes the way I've been using the Nav system on road trips. If you don't like the straight through results, whether that is due to low SOC upon arrival with no destination charging or for routing reasons, it's a process that works. I wish that the Nav system allowed more flexibility, but perhaps that is an enhancement that will come later.

Destination charging availability is something I look at closely when planning a trip these days, and I like the idea of spending my money at establishments that support EV ownership. I don't mind making destination charging a significant part of the decision on where to go, or where to stay, and I am sure to communicate that to the owners/managers of the facilities.

gballant4570 | 16. Juni 2019

NapaChris, I'll add that I've not had the low charge level or stop charging experience you described in your post. However, its fair to say that I haven't used superchargers much so far, and have only taken a couple of shorter road trips.

To date I have only used Tesla Superchargers in 5 locations, and have not experienced crowding (having to wait to charge) or any charge/time limitations at those locations. One of them, in Kill Devil Hills NC was just newly operational. I had seen some charging on it 6 days prior, and new enough that the charger was not showing up in the car's Nav system. The charge rate was only 30 kw, and I was not billed for charging. I was only topping off so that I could skip the Norfolk charging stop, and so was not adversely affected by the slow charging rate. I didn't think to try another adjacent charger.

gmr6415 | 16. Juni 2019

@gballant4570, It would be nice if the Navigator in the car would allow you to truly add waypoints or stops to a single navigation like the online version, but as you know it doesn't, so the way I use it, and you say you use it, is the best work-around I've found. You use what you've got and make the best of it.