LA to Vegas via Barstow Supercharger: Who has done it?

LA to Vegas via Barstow Supercharger: Who has done it?


On the fence between 40 and 60kW battery. I live in Las Vegas and infrequently drive to LA. Assuming worse case weather conditions, how reasonable is it to assume I could drive to the coast in my 60kW Model S with 3 passengers and luggage at a speed equal to the flow of traffic using the Supercharger in Barstow? Is the additional battery capacity of the 60kW battery going to make my Model S a reasonable choice (A/C running, cellphone/iPad plugged in) over our ICE vehicle for this rare trip?

Darmok | 3 February, 2013

We'll be doing the opposite in two weeks, bringing the 60 kWh home to LV from Fremont via Barstow. It will probably need a range charge in Barstow to make it home, as it is about 170 miles from the SC to the house, and I anticipate we'll have to drive conservatively, drive the speed limit, not use much climate control, etc. LV-Barstow is the longer segment on the trip, I think, and Barstow-LA seems like it wouldn't be a problem, depending on where you're going (Anaheim is only another 100-110 miles from Barstow).

I was also on the fence between 40 and 60. I decided on the 60 because of the SC capability, and it opened up the possibility of making the LA trip or even PHX depending on where the SCs are located. As the batteries lose capacity over time, the 40 also might end up with a real world range of just over 100 miles, and that seemed short, even for primarily local use. The 60 was the sweet spot for me.

Back to the 60, worst case weather conditions means the pass west of Primm is closed due to snow, and that will make the LV-Barstow run very difficult. If the weather is sketchy, I'd take the ICE. Another complicating factor is speed equal to traffic flow, which is 10-15 mph over the limit at least. That would also make the LV-Barstow segment tough. We plan on doing the limit on the way back, unless it becomes clear we have plenty of range.

It's good to know there is another S owner in town. Feel free to send me a private massage over on TMC, where my user name is Darmok, and we can email offline. I'd be happy to let you know how the trip goes.

Carefree | 3 February, 2013

I think the only way you will make it with a 60KWh is driving at the posted speed limit. Forget driving with the flow. You want some safety margin in range - at least I would. Personally, if driving back on forth between the West Coast is a must, I would spring for the largest battery.

dennisbutchart | 3 February, 2013

You will be fine but to be safe switch to max charge when charging at the Barstow station.

Jolinar | 3 February, 2013

I also wonder how fast is supercharging with 60kWh battery, I guess it will be slower, but how much? Maybe 110 mi/h instead of 150 mi/h ?

Jolinar | 3 February, 2013

typo... I mean 110 miles per 30 minutes :)

Dave-LasVegas | 3 February, 2013

I'm in exactly the same boat -- I live in Las Vegas and take one or two trips per year as far as Los Angeles or Phoenix.

I'm sure that the 60kWh battery can do either of those with one charge along the way, but what about when the battery is 5 or 10 years old and has lost maybe 25% of its capacity? So I gritted my teeth and clicked the 85kWh button. I can "go with the flow" for the first few years and drive more economically (i.e., slower) on the longer trips after a few more years.

My Model S arrived just before Christmas (thanks Santa!) and its first Disneyland trip is on the President's Day weekend.

@blephneiben: Is that you, Matt?

Darmok | 3 February, 2013


Brian H | 3 February, 2013

It will be slower in terms of miles/minute, but not in terms of % of battery size. It's pretty much "proportional". 50% charge in 60 and 85 will be similar.

paulwireless | 3 February, 2013

Blephneiben and Carefree, thanks for responses. You both validate that the 60kW makes the trip possible but not with recklessness. Carefree the last time I made the round trip was 2007. 75% of time we're flying out of town but having the 60kW does seem to be the breakpoint between "town car" only and "road trip" capable now. 85kW makes it simple and I initially configured for a Performance S but the reality is the 40kW meets 99.99% of my daily needs. Now I just have to rule out later regrets for not spending $10,000 for that remaining 0.01% of travel I really want to do in this car.

Blephneiben, I'll pm you.

skulleyb | 3 February, 2013

I had the same dilemma. I was going to go with the 40. But i decided to future proof the car and got the 60 with dual chargers and the supercharger. I will be making the vegas trip in April. I hope someone can report back to see how the LA to VEGAS trip went.


mbcaffe | 3 February, 2013

if it helps on the caculation of rate per 30 minutes, I charged my 60 kWh at Harris Ranch for 45 minutes. I went from 26 rated miles to 176 rated miles. I am going to Vegas on Friday with some friends and asked them to take their hybrid. I was a little concerned with not much in between Barstow and Vegas, uphill grade (?) plus no spare tire. I have not purchased a repair kit yet. I only have an old fix it can.

mbcaffe | 3 February, 2013

forgot to meniton, if you have an adroid phone get the beta app from the play store. It will tell the per hour charging rate.

portia | 3 February, 2013

I assume you have seen the MT trip
before the supercharger was available in Barstow, and they had an 85kwh version.

and perhaps of interest, is
this site does elevation route for bicycles, but same route is true for cars, do click lots of times along the road.
to help plan the elevation change on your route. Looks like you gain 4000 feet going from Barstow to Vegas.
When I drove from Tejon Ranch to Arcadia (near Pasadena) over Hwy 5, there was also 4000 ft elevation gain, so I think you should be OK going 170 miles to home, with a rated 208 miles of the 60kwh battery, just drive no faster than 65mph would be my advice.

DouglasR | 4 February, 2013

Or check out It computes range of a Model S, taking account of terrain.

c.bussert67 | 4 February, 2013

I have recently made the trip in a P85. I took some data along the trip to help others conquer the range fear. I used gps to track elevation and speed along with the S data of range and power. Here it is:
Leg one, home to barstow. The most conservative run due to us breaking our range fears...124 miles, elevation climb of 1300 ft. 51.5 MPH avg with a Max speed of 72. Averaged 333 Wh/mi.
Leg two after mind blowing charge at Barstow! Confidence is setting in. 158 miles to Vegas. Elevation drop of 300 ft. 66.7 MPH avg speed with Max speed of 83. Amazing average of 306 Wh/mi considering our open cruise speed between 70-80 MPH.
Coming back home, 158 mi to Barstow, climb 300 ft. 66.6 MPH avg. With Max speed of 84. We averaged 338 Wh/mi. It is a bit high due to a 10-15 MPH headwind we had to fight leaving Vegas.
From Barstow to home it was 124 mi, a 1300 ft drop. Avg speed was only 61.6 due to some slowing traffic thru LA. We were bookin in the open road! A Max speed of 89 MPH. Even with the high speeds, we avg only 294 Wh/mi because of the elevation drop.
After the dust settled it was 605 miles with an avg of 322 Wh/mi, with avg speed of 61.6 MPH.
In regards to the motor trend effort, we covered the same ground in the same time WITH lunch and charging at Barstow! I hope you see that you can drive like you mean it with no worries with the supercharger.

Brian H | 4 February, 2013

Ya, you can/must drive extra fast to make up that half-hour at the Supercharger!

Mark Z | 4 February, 2013

Just don't expect to make the drive in freezing weather at night. Starting with 220 mile range in Vegas, at 71 mph I arrived in Barstow with 21 miles left. Turned off the heat the last 30 minutes to avoid stopping at Yermo to charge at the RV park. A SuperCharger in Primm would help bridge the gap during imperfect conditions.

paulwireless | 4 February, 2013

That's exactly what I needed to hear,...real numbers from somebody who has gone out and done it the way I would. Configured with the 60kW this afternoon. We'll be able to bring home from factory tour/delivery and not worry above power depreciation over battery lifetime.

c.bussert67 | 5 February, 2013

You're welcome. Other minor factors were the wind which I mentioned, but we hit rain the whole way up to Vegas and were occasionally running the HVAC to clear the fog in the windows. Temps were in the 50's on the way up and in the 60's the way back. Plus it was me, my wife and her Mom and we had to pack for four nights in Vegas! Ladies going to Vegas for 4 cold nights? Yeah we had some serious luggage! I was impressed with the numbers. I think you'll do fine with 60kW keeping to the posted speeds, 70 and 75 in some sections. Elevation point to point is the biggest concern if you ask me... the middle stuff all averages out.
Have fun!

Brian H | 5 February, 2013

Mark Z;
In freezing weather at night, drive 61 instead of 71. You'll have heat and miles to spare.

R3dStang66 | 5 February, 2013


Just curious where you charged at? I'm thinking the best places would be the casino hotels.

Earl and Nagin ... | 5 February, 2013

Don't forget to account for battery age. You should expect to have about 30% less range in 8 years. That will bring your 60 kWh battery EPA range down to about 145 miles. Remembering that EPA range is set to fairly benign driving, you will have to plan to hypermile (ie drive around 60 mph with minimal heat or A/C in 8 years to make it to Barstow.
I have no doubts that this will be possible but be prepared to take it easy if you expect to be doing the drive in 8 years.
The 85 kWhr battery definitely adds some safety margin to the drive.
Of course, in 8 years, there may be a lot more chargers available as well.

Brian H | 5 February, 2013

Yes, the casinos will be happy to fill your car while they drain your bank account! >B-P

R3dStang66 | 5 February, 2013

@Brian H

Yeah thats what i was thinking. lol
I was looking at all the activity from recargo, and looks like MGM and Sands resort are the places to charge at.
It would be Xcellent if Tesla had a store there along with a couple of charging stations.

nickjhowe | 5 February, 2013

@Paulwireless - the 70% range after 8 years is debatable. There are active discussions and statements made by TM that degradation could well be limited to single digit percentages over 8-10 years. YMMV

Darmok | 5 February, 2013

@Paulwireless, I'll definitely let you know how the trip goes, in particular the Barstow to LV stretch.

I didn't see a PM from you over on TMC.

paulwireless | 5 February, 2013

Blephneiben, I can't seem to get my password reset at TMC. Please shoot a message at pj

c.bussert67 | 5 February, 2013

I'm thinking your name comes from a 66 mustang. Mine comes from my 67 coupe!
Anyway, I made reservations at Palazzo because they said they had Tesla HPCs there. They are only for roadsters and we were sent to Venetian for standard J1772 charging in the public parking garage. We decided to charge at TheShoppes at Mandalay bay because their chargers are located in a nice spot in their valet garage. Had several issues with the PEP station there. It either slowed charging to 15 amps, or quit completely, so our first few nights I was struggling to recover a charge. My goal was to get at least 200 in the battery before the 160 mile trip back to Barstow.
Frustrated we went to the Venetian and they had a GE Durastation and it was much more reliable doing a consistent 30A, 17-20 mi/hr charge. They also had one Tesla roadster charger. So while it wasn't our favorite location, it was a better charger.
I highly recommend getting the app for your phone. I was still on 4.0 and we didn't have the app, so I had to physically check on the car every hour or so, but had no issues with the GE unit.
I'm hoping some hotels trade their old roadster chargers in for S units!

c.bussert67 | 5 February, 2013

For anyone doing the Vegas trip, here is a site I found the most helpful. It has all the locations and notes for each charging spot in Vegas!

Have fun!

Darmok | 5 February, 2013

For Las Vegas visitors who make it to the west side of town, I have shared my NEMA 14-50 on Plug Share. No takers yet, and I haven't even gotten to try it myself yet (11 days to go, but who's counting). People are welcome to stop by to top off.

c.bussert67 | 6 February, 2013

@ paul,
I read your original post and it got me thinking... these might be the numbers you are looking for to ultimately answer your question.
You can reference my post for the other numbers, but as far kW used I also had that data.
Home to Barstow: 41kW
Barstow to vegas: 48kW
Vegas to barstow: 53kW
Barstow to home: 36kW

So you see a 60 kW battery eclipses the power needed on a fast 160 mile, uphill, headwind run with 3 people and luggage.
Hope that helps.

Earl and Nagin ... | 6 February, 2013

super67cobra's data show that a 60 kWhr (note that energy is measured in Watt hours - the amount of energy needed to produce a Watt for an hour) is barely marginal.

Remember that in 8 years you can only expect your 60 kWhr pack to hold ~70% of the new capacity or 42 kWhrs.

This data also, I assume, is for fairly moderate temperatures that don't overload A/C or heating. Also, the roads were apparently dry. Very wet roads will reduce your mileage a bit as well.

Also, can the supercharger charge to 100% if you wait longer or does it stop at 80% like many CHAdeMO ones do? If so, the most charge you'll get in a 8 years is ~70% X 80% X 60 kWhrs = 34 kWhrs.

Therefore, an older Model S with 60 kWhr battery will have to drive a lot slower than super67cobra did in order to make the drive.

Brian H | 6 February, 2013

The SC will go over 80%, but it slows down by about a factor of 4.

Darmok | 20 February, 2013

We finished our trip from Fremont to LV yesterday. The Barstow to Las Vegas portion (and the rest of the trip) was no problem. We did a range charge in Barstow, showing 197 miles of rated range. It took about an hour to charge starting from 30 miles of rated range after coming over Tehachapie Pass from Tejon Ranch. From Barstow to LV we used 48.8 kWh over 160.7 miles and had 25 miles of rated range to spare upon arrival. Cruise was pegged at 70 mph and we had a decent tailwind. I didn't skimp on hitting the accelerator to get around trucks. Making it was never in doubt and the rated range was well over the distance remaining for the entire trip.

I still think there should be a SC in Primm, right at the outlet mall, primarily for people to charge up on the way out of town.

chriztrax | 14 June, 2013

@Darmok - That's good to hear. What was the weather and did you using any AC or heater? And how about on the way back?

paulwireless | 14 June, 2013

Just in case anybody cares to know, at the last possible moment I reconfigured my order for the 85kWh battery. I have roughly 1,800 mi logged all in town. My charging schedule is every 3 to 4 days. I have purchased more battery than I needed to travel between LA and LV but the extra capacity allows me the flexibility to skip several night before recharging. No plans to drive to LA on the horizon.

Brian H | 14 June, 2013

Charge when you get around to it. Sweet deal.

TFMethane | 15 June, 2013

Good decision, Paul. I just did the LA to vegas trip last weekend with an 85kWh battery, stopping in Barstow to charge. I went 75-80mph with traffic and made it to vegas with 60mi rated range left (which is probably about 50mi actual range. Don't think I would have been able to make it with a 60 kWh battery unless I drove no faster than 60mph the whole way.

There is no way I would have been able to live it down with my friends in the car if I had this super expensive car that I had to drive 60mph in the right lane on the drive to vegas. You would constantly have people swerving around you and honking and flipping you off.

I would feel like such a tool. LA to vegas is a super common road trip that everybody does, and if this car couldn't make it, nobody in LA would buy it, I'd wager.

hademarco | 19 January, 2014

I just did it. The LA to Barstow leg is a piece of cake. The Barstow to Vegas leg was very nerve racking. We had to go slower than everyone else at 70 MPH. Coming back, we stopped at PRIMM to get a few electrons before heading out. Again, had to go 70 MPH while everyone else was whizzing by. For trips like these, I wish I got the 85.

We still had fun, but wish I could have driven faster.

Docrob | 20 January, 2014

They're going to need to put in a Primm supercharger if they want to make it doable for 60s, or Baker, a secondary advantage would be for 85s could do the trip by stopping at either charger meaning if the first is full they can keep going to the second, this would make live info about supercharger utilisation useful to help people decide where to stop.

Kimscar | 20 January, 2014

Isn't the understanding that a SC is going in around Primm? I'm hoping it opens before July. That's when I have my P85 and will go see my dad in it. Talking to various Tesla People they seem to think in the Next few months. The SC map used to show Winter for the Calif/Nevada border.

mbcaffe | 20 January, 2014

Did you do a full range charge or standard range at Barstow? What was your rated miles? would you recommend stopping in Primm on the way up too? Thanks

Rheumboy | 20 January, 2014

I want a SC at the bunny ranch.

SamO | 20 January, 2014

This is a VERY easy trip.

Be aware that getting a range charge will ensure worry free arrival.

Do not be afraid to depart with 100%. Switch over to IDEAL in settings.

This will show your range ~240 (60 kWh MS) and 300 (85 kWh MS).

You will not be able to make this drive at 80MPH unless you slow down on the big climbs. Speed and elevation kill range.

Or in 110F or windy days.

With that being said . . . enjoy ;-)

You can stop at EITHER Barstow or Primm.

sharpe222 | 20 January, 2014

I admit to feeling a little "greedy" calling for the Primm supercharger when many areas of the country don't have any as of yet. That said it really is needed to smooth out one of the most common long distance drives made in the MS. I'm thrilled about the downtown Vegas and the 100 Tesla's project but for Cali to Vegas and vice versa a Primm one is much more useful.

SamO | 20 January, 2014

Everyone agrees that there is plenty of charging at hotels.

Supercharging will cover driving through Vegas to Havasu, Grand Canyon or SLC.

Primm will cover the gap.

Palm Springs/Indio need Supercharging before Coachella.

Not feeling greedy as CA has purchased at least 8,000 cars and thus needs the infrastructure sooner.

hademarco | 20 January, 2014

@mbcaffe. Going to Vegas, I did a full charge with 200 rated miles at Barstow. You have to or else you will not make it. Going 70MPH (speed limit) all the way. Slow for traffic. Many cars and some trucks whizzed by me. It was a little embarassing. I did stop in PRIMM, but now I think I might have made it, but was too nervous. I think I could have also made it to Barstow without stopping in PRIMM on the way back, but was too nervous to risk it. There is nothing between PRIMM and Barstow. I think you can make it either way without stopping in PRIMM, but you have to be very careful with your speed. Do not go over 70 very much. PRIMM definitely needs a supercharger. A battery swap at Barstow would be awesome though.

@Kimscar, I think the original supercharger "dot" on the map was approximately at PRIMM, but Zappos has lobbied to put the supercharger in downtown Las Vegas and now the "dot" is right in Vegas, so I'm concerned that they may have scrapped the idea of putting one in Las Vegas.

hademarco | 20 January, 2014

typo. I'm concerned they have scrapped the idea of putting one in PRIMM

Kimscar | 20 January, 2014

@hardemarco - you are voicing the same concern I have. However when I placed my reservation last week with my contact in Palo Alto, and when I did my last test drive before I placed the reservation they sounded like Primm was still on. I'm going to shoot my contact an email and ask him. Not sure what he can tell me but worth a try.

NKYTA | 20 January, 2014

Totally doable in an 85 and have done so. I'd be cautious in a 60.