Motortrend test drive to Las Vegas

Motortrend test drive to Las Vegas

Volker.Berlin | September 6, 2012
sergiyz | September 6, 2012

What an agonizing trip !
Why do it ? To prove you can squeeze some extra miles by sweating a lot ?
Top Gear guys have done it many times with ICE and even EVs, I don't see the point.
Drive it like you normally would with climate control on and not on cruise control, at your normal speed, then it will be the true range that seems to be about 180mi or so.

EdG | September 6, 2012

They must not have calculated the effect of the hills correctly. They ended up with too much left in the battery, so they did something wrong (assuming they didn't want to suffer the heat).

Going slower will conserve energy, but there isn't any need to go slower on the uphill than the downhill - it's just the apparent wind speed that makes a difference. I think they should have used the AC and kept it at 55-60 MPH if they were worried, and passed or failed based on that. How does the trip they took cure range anxiety?

sergiyz | September 6, 2012

exactly my point, I feel more range anxiety now than I've ever had before ;)
they also had a flatbed following them "just in case".
How is that supposed to make me feel better...

Brian H | September 6, 2012

Gorgeous! Nice car, too.

ggr | September 6, 2012

The car talk guys always say that opening the windows is worse for mileage than running the air conditioner. I believe that myself, and the sleeker the car the more the difference would be, I think. Maybe the tradeoff is different given that the car is so much more efficient. It would be interesting to repeat the drive without opening the windows.

Alex K | September 6, 2012

It would be nice if Tesla updated the range estimates based on A/C and accessory usage or broke out the various energy usages. The Nissan Leaf does this.

jed-99aggie | September 6, 2012

At the Houston store they have a nice app on a large touch screen that allows you to calculate various ranges and multiple tradeoffs: e.g. Day vs. Night, speed, city/hwy, w/ or w/o heat/AC, tire size... It really is quite interesting.

As I recall, the first I saw it was before EPA results were out.

At one time there is talk that this was going to find its way to the web site. But I have not stumbled over it. Is this display in other stores.

Quigibo | September 6, 2012

Ok report---but that is why we need actual owners giving out real life reports of range and other issues. No way would a real owner want to travel at 55mph or without AC.

Somewhat good/bad---the 85K battery matched the EPA ranges but fell short of the 300 mile "hope" that most of us desired---with all due deference to the tesla fine print. But even at that I'm not worried about the range---so long as you can recharge it.

Its too bad the motortrend and tesla teams didn't see if any charging facilities existed beyond the Ontario Mall or San Bernadino area....some of the power companies offer them at their offices. And they could have found a location in Barstow at a business that would have let them tap into a 50-60a 220v outlet.

In that case---MT could have topped off in Ontario or SB going to Las Vegas and then filled up as they came back from LV---love those gasoline terms! And they would have shown that even with a recharging system in its infancy---the Telsa could blow into LV at 65-75 mph with the AC running in style.

So kudos for the road trip---but suggest a bit more creative planning for the next one---the Big Oil boys just love to dig the EV people about this type of thing---and it could have been a totally different story.

Sudre_ | September 6, 2012

"I also hate arguing. So when it came down to a shouting match between Motor Trend’s video guru about what makes a better road trip story...."

That quote tells me they were trying to find some kind of 'STORY' to report. If they had just got in the car and drove to LV and as any other person in an ICE the article would have been boring... so they glamorized it. I am getting sick of the good yet crappy reviews.

These retarded reviews don't tell me anything.

The last one with the 'we are going to drive 260 miles without stopping for lunch' (where they could have charged) is just more grandstanding and trying to make a story out of nothing.

I can't wait for the real owner reviews:
"We drove 185 miles, stopped for lunch (and charged)then drove 135 more miles for a total trip of 320 miles and no inconvenience. Oh and we set the A/C at 60 degrees and never came down off 75 MPH just for fun."

lph | September 6, 2012

If you total up all the drives by MT you get an average of 286 miles on 85 KW charge. That beats the EPA milage by quite a bit. That is good news!

Docrob | September 6, 2012

They stopped for 20 mins in Baker, put a supercharger at that rest stop and they could have done the trip at 75 mph with the AC on. Presumably the LA to Vegas run will be a high priority one for a supercharger, one in Baker and one in Barstow would split the trip into neat thirds for the 230 milers and the 300 mile owners would just pick one or the other based on preference or availability.

Brian H | September 6, 2012

Especially considering the trip was all highway. (The lower EPA city mileage is BS, IMO).

archibaldcrane | September 6, 2012

It is nice to be able to say "You can drive from LA to Vegas without stopping" (with the 85 kwh battery) so that's nice.

I am a little annoyed with these "range reviews" not actually pushing the car below E. You've got the flatbed, just do it.

Andrew18 | September 6, 2012

The video was pretty funny, and they seemed to be having a good time. They still had 65 miles left after they got to Vegas; more than enough electricity to have used the A/C on the trip, assuming 10% loss.

Teoatawki | September 6, 2012

I like the final point: "The takeaway is that the Tesla Model S is not a real electric car, it’s a real car that just happens to be electric."

Hopefully, this attitude will be contagious.

vouteb | September 6, 2012

no spoiler!

Robert22 | September 6, 2012

Maybe next time they can try some "real world" range testing in death valley with two flat tires and a few bowling balls in the frunk?

It's probably fortunate that a large percentage of the general car-buying public won't see that review. When I showed the article to a friend his response was: "So I'm supposed to sweat to death or freeze my b#%*& off to be able to reach my destination? Good luck with that." I'm sure he was exaggerating to needle me, but he hit on the general tone of an uncomfortable driving experience on long trips which I think Tesla PR better nip in the bud. I'm with Sudre above, enough with the contrived ironman competitions, let someone review the car that will drive it like a real owner would. Explore the outer bounds of the cars envelope later.

Oh, and the tow truck...... seriously? Would you buy a horse that needed a vet in tow?

As an expectant owner, I wince when I read this article. The story ends happily, but IMO likely raises more doubts than it assuages for the non-engineer reader.

Dave-LasVegas | September 6, 2012

The LA-LV run has been a subject of great interest to me from Day 1 as my only likely long trip, especially if the nearest Tesla service would be in California. (Disneyland is a bonus too.) I'd never considered it possible in the long hot summer without adding a few kWh en route, but it's nice to see that it might be possible in a pinch.

@Docrob (a few replies up) speaks as if he's reading my mind.

And I can't resist a favorite tidbit from the article:

...I leave the Strip and head out on I-215 with a support truck and trailer literally in tow...

"Literally in tow!" Holy moley!

Dave (P1736, finalized last week, due "Nov.-Dec. 2012")

gary.greene | September 6, 2012

This whole thing is a no brainer and ridiculous. I'm ordering the 65k battery and am well aware that if I want to take a long road trip, I'm going to have to plan to use a supercharger station or take my Prius instead. I'd be crazy to drive slow, use no air, or experience nail biting anxiety over running out of charge. I recognize and understand that the Model S has limitations but I'll take those limitations for all the other amazing and wonderful things about this car!

Volker.Berlin | September 7, 2012

As an expectant owner, I wince when I read this article. The story ends happily, but IMO likely raises more doubts than it assuages for the non-engineer reader. (Robert22)

Well-put, exactly my feelings. And the accompanying flatbed is just the icing on the cake... Why don't you just ride in the flatbed and leave the Model S at home, if you are suffering so much driving it?

ManuVince | September 7, 2012

That report is not as bad as Clarkson style range anxiety stunts, but not very far.

What's the point of driving a car windows opened at 50mph, while just putting the airco at a mild 26ºC with windows closed is exactly the same. And all of that to arrive with 70 miles of range left, idiots !

It would too uneventful and not dramatic enough for them to attract readers. Man, I'm angry at these people...

Hopefully, in couple weeks, we will get less moronic reviews from owners in the forums.

Timo | September 7, 2012

One bit in that story that made me wonder: is it better to turn off A/C and roll windows down, or keep A/C on and windows up at highway speeds? Windows down your Cd goes up causing more drag but OTOH A/C consumes energy also. Windows up and A/C off would be obviously the best, but too hot is too hot.

I realize that it was hot outside in that trip so maybe A/C was using more energy, but I bet difference isn't very big. One of the commenters in that article noticed the same.

sergiyz | September 7, 2012

I doubt anyone here can tell you that since you have to know what kind of AC unit Tesla is using, how efficient it is and the power consumption for different conditions.
Same goes for how much rolled down windows influence Cd, but on lower drag vehicles (and tesla S is one of them) the effect is higher.
On an average sedan it could be over 20% change.
What makes it harder is that it's non-linear - depends on speed, ambient temperature, elevation change, wind and other factors.
This is why empirical data from real life driving is so important.

Volker.Berlin | September 7, 2012

Timo, I had the same thoughts. I'm pretty sure that rolling down the windows is a really bad idea in terms of range. It's likely more efficient on the bottom line when you dial the a/c to a temperature that is still bearable, but as close to the outside temperature as possible.

It is not the a/c per se that draws significant current. It's only when there's a big difference between the outside air temperature and the desired inside temperature that a/c becomes a range hog.

Also, as far as I understand, there is some "low noise" position for the sun roof at about 80% open. Driving with the roof closed is still optimal in terms of aerodynamics, but if you want a drag of fresh air, then the sun roof's "low noise" position is probably much better than rolling down the side windows.

Volker.Berlin | September 7, 2012

sergiyz +1! (you posted while I was still typing)

I let myself drift away in some wild guessing... Definitely my suggestions need real-world validation!

EdG | September 7, 2012

According to "Myth Busters" experiment, using their vehicles and test setup, going under about 50 mph you're better off with the windows open; for faster speeds, close the windows and turn on the AC.

Scroll down to "AC vs. Windows Down" on

For the earlier (45 mph) experiment, see

mbcaffe | September 7, 2012

in another "new" MT article they are reporting range numbers.

Driving range numbers have also been revised to 140, 200, or 265 miles depending on the size of the battery pack. “

are these revised numbers published yet?

Teoatawki | September 7, 2012

The crossover point is probably lower than 50 mph for the Model S because the windows-up cD is so low, and the air conditioner is extra efficient.

sergiyz | September 7, 2012


The crossover point will depend on the ambient temperature, not just speed.
Looks for the study GM did back in 2004, it's way better than what mythbusters did.

Superliner | September 7, 2012

Leave it to the Gas Jockeys to manage to cast a negative spin on the Model S capabilities. I've driven from Orange County to Las Vegas numerous times during the summer. NEVER without A/C and never without stopping at least once sometimes more. I / We "usually stop @ State Line" for a walk around refreshment break etc. where I'm SURE one could find an available source of electricity in some form of plug be it an RV plug etc.

IMHO their test along with the San Diego run are biased toward the negative creating Drama in imagined range anxiety where none exists and are therefore reinforcing the limited range golf cart mentality.

They even went so far as to mention that "most BEV's including the Tesla Roadster were spartan with few creature comforts. guess they forgot the Roadster was a "sports car" which often are light on amenities as it is all about the drive, You'd think Motor Trend would know better.

jerry3 | September 8, 2012

Well, if they said something like "In a few years, once Tesla production ramps up and more models are available, traditional car manufacturers are looking at bankruptcy", their advertising revenue from the ICE manufacturers would plummet. They're almost forced into writing a negative review. Actually, I'm surprised it was as positive as it was.

Sudre_ | September 8, 2012

oooorrrr they could have just got in the car and drove it to LV with no flatbed truck following using the A/C like real people do.
If they felt nervous about the charge they could have stopped for lunch in Barstow where my charging app says there is a shopping center with a McDonalds that has a standard charger.

dahtye | September 8, 2012

Barstow would have been a great stop. There's a Tesla charge station across from the McDonalds (it's attached to a Starbucks). I believe this station is dedicated to Roadsters currently, but perhaps in the future we would be able to purchase converters to the Model S.

I'm trying to map out how I would travel from SF bay area to LV but need a place to charge in Bakersfield - maybe it will require an overnight stay at a hotel to charge, but it's only 10 hr drive, so it can be done in one day with 3 stops for charging.

Koz | September 10, 2012

If they preconditioned the cabin, set A/C to 76 degrees, and drove 65mph there still would have been plenty kwh to spare on the way there and they already knew this from the previous drive. Not sure what their point was.