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Review of Long Trip

Review of Long Trip

I recently drove from Alexandria, VA, to Nashville, TN, and back for a long weekend. We took two days each way. Going to Nashville we stopped at Kingsport, TN, and on the way back we stopped at Hickory, NC, taking a different, southern route back.

The trip was 1,613 miles, including traveling around Nashville for the weekend and a short trip to the Loveless Café to get some biscuits, 14.2 miles from the Nashville supercharger. The air conditioning was on almost all of the time. All charging was at superchargers. We made eight stops at superchargers, three of which allowed us to stop for lunch. By the time we finished lunch, the car was ready to go. The total cost for charging was $62.50, which calculates to $0.039 a mile. My previous, gas powered car would have cost $208 in gas alone.

I have firmware 2019.16.2 and I used Autopilot and Navigate on Autopilot for large portions of the trip. Those were set for five miles above the speed limit, or 70 to 75 mph for large portions of the highway driving. In general, they worked very well. It was much easier monitoring the car’s driving than actually doing the driving. Here are a few observations. First, I found it easier to use the wheel on the steering wheel rather than torquing the steering wheel to let the car know I was paying attention. (Sometimes I would torque the steering wheel too hard and cancel Autopilot.) The wheel has to be moved one click up/down and then one click in the other direction. Otherwise, the speed increases or decreases (right wheel) or the volume on the audio system goes up or down (left wheel). I had the car set to Mad Max for changing lanes; that seems to be the most human version of changing lanes. Navigate on Autopilot still required me to confirm the lane change it wanted to make, not by pushing the turn signal, but by torquing the steering wheel in the direction of the turn, the same as telling the car that I was paying attention. This caught me by surprise the first couple of times it happened until I actually read the pop-up window on the dashpad. I thought Navigate on Autopilot did not require confirmation. But it did. Taking my hands off the wheel while the car changed lanes at 70 mph spooked out the passengers in the rear seats. Very entertaining.

There were two issues when using Autopilot. First it wanted to change one lane to the left. The car turned on the left blinker. At the time, a van was coming out quickly in the left lane. It slowed down a little behind me to let me make the lane change. However, the car seemed to be confused and did not make the lane change. I had to take control from Autopilot. This points out a flaw in the system. When the car wants to make a lane change it starts the change four blinks after the turn signal starts. In my region this is way too long. It needs to start around two or three blinks. Four blinks before starting the lane change confuse other drivers, I think.

Secondly, I was driving on the highway using Autopilot when an 18-wheeler passed me in the next lane over on the right. Since I was gently speeding, he was hauling. There was a gentle left curve in the road and he took it a little too chose to my car. In fact, the trailer crossed into my lane, especially the rear wheels of the trailer. Even though it came within a foot of my car, no warning was sounded. Nor did Autopilot take any evasive action. Even my passenger said that it should have done something.

All in all, the car performed very well. The supercharging went well. Most of the time the car started charging at between 140 – 145 kWhs. The estimate of time remaining that was given at the start of a changing session was always more than the actual time needed.

Lonestar10_1999 | 8 June, 2019

Were you able to charge to 100% or were you limited to 80% at any SC ?

gmr6415 | 8 June, 2019

@Lonestar10_1999, I just did about a 2000 mile trip on the east coast and through AL and back. All but 1 supercharger gave me the 80% warning and preset my charge limit to 80%, but below the warning it stated something like, "If you need additional charge set the charge limit higher", which I did. I had no problem getting additional charge, so it isn't really being enforced in any manner at least through FL, GA, and AL.

Magic 8 Ball | 8 June, 2019

The wheeler encroachment, and lack of car responding, may be because a move would have put you in more danger. I save dashcam footage when something like that happens and try to figure it out.

roger.klurfeld | 8 June, 2019

@M8B I was in the left center lane and the left lane was open. But I watched the encroachment as it happened and decided I didn't need to swerve or slow down. On the other hand, you might be right.

@Lonestar I had my limit set to 95% and could always charge up to that if I needed. It's better to cut if off before that because those last percentages take a long time. One thing I learned is that if the limit is 80% and you want more, you need to change the limit after you begin to charge. The higher limit wasn't always noticed by the supercharger. After I changed the limit, the car recalculated how long it would take to reach the limit.

Magic 8 Ball | 8 June, 2019

@roger In any case I am glad you made it out Okay. I have had some close calls with wheelers myself and it is not fun.

gballant4570 | 8 June, 2019

I just got back from a similar length road trip. I used destination charging at the place I stayed, but superchargers to and from. I did not get any limitation message at any of them - Genn Allen (Richmond VA suburb), Norfolk VA, Haymarket VA, and Kill Devil Hills NC. I charged to 90% twice, and over 90% on one occasion. The Kill Devil Hills charger did not register for payment. This may have been due to its going operational within days of my using it, and it was only charging at 30kw.

The Glenn Allen station is really nice - charged at a fast rate, got over 90% while just going for coffee and a bagel. I don't recall the specific kw, but it was over 120 I believe....

gballant4570 | 8 June, 2019

BTW, that Glenn Allen station also has 18 chargers - the largest I've been to. I also might add, that in spite of paying for AutoPilot and FSD, I did not use AutoPilot on this trip. The truth is, in 8+ months I've never engaged it. One day I will....

apodbdrs | 9 June, 2019

Tip if you don't already know: If you go into your Tesla account and select "History", one can view all all the Superchagers used, location and date, selecting a specific charger will show the number of KWHs used, cost incurred and charge per KWH.

roger.klurfeld | 9 June, 2019

@apodbdrs It depends on the state. In Tennessee, for example I was charged for Power Tier 1 and Power Tier 2 by the minute. No mention of kWhs.Power Tier 1 was about twice the charge per minute as Power Tier 2 because the car was sucking more kWhs per minute.

rob.kibler | 11 June, 2019

@Roger, thanks for the trip summary. We did a similar trip to Nashville from DC back in late April for the Rock-N-Roll Marathon. We supercharged in Stauton, Wytheville, Abingdon, VA, and Bristol, Knoxville, TN on the way and used destination charging in Nashville at a downtown Airbnb building. On the way home we supercharged at Cookeville and Knoxville, TN., and Mt. Jackson, VA. We used a destination charger in Blacksburg, VA at the Courtyard Marriott. I used Autopilot extensively on the highway. But I had to engage and disengage AP every time I needed to change lane as I don’t have FSD. On Interstate 81 and 66, traffic was heavy for the entire trip, so lots of lane changes. Maybe it’s time I get FSD.

Bighorn | 11 June, 2019

Language is personal, but “long” starts at around 8k miles amongst my cohort:). I don’t find Nav on AP to be particularly useful in traffic. Great for paying it forward by helping to train it, though. AP generally stays uncomfortably close to other traffic relative to how most people drive simply be remaining centered in the lane. Ultrasonics were constantly pinging the distance to the semi and regulating the separation. You’ll see red semicircles if you’re too close and adjustments will be made. No fuss will be made with alerts in most cases. If the truck encroached prior to your arrival, a collision avoidance maneuver would have been initiated. I’ve not heard of any collisions under these circumstances, so it was likely just a sense of foreboding out of the novelty and your lack of confidence.

vmulla | 12 June, 2019

@Bighorn,
I was thinking the same about 'long' trips. After mntlvr's 26k mile trip everything seems small.

It's a good thing to be reminded that Teslas are excellent road trip cars.