Long trip, in cold weather, with kids

Long trip, in cold weather, with kids

Just came back from a round trip from Sunnyvale, CA to Seattle, WA. The trip is about 850 miles long in one direction.

I was looking forward to it (love driving my Model X 75 locally) but this is the first time I came back from a trip in Tesla and felt exhausted, partly due to restraints imposed by the car.

In this post I want to share some negatives as I think we are all aware of the positives.

I have some friends who would do the one way trip in one go, taking them about 13 hours. Given we are travelling with kids, it is winter and we need to charge we decided up front that we are going to split it into two days.

- 7 superchargers each way meaning we had to stop every 121 miles on average
- It took us around 18 hours each way, which means supercharging added 5h to the trip time. This means that on average each charging lasted about 45 mins.
- Temperature was about 32F and this meant that 212 rated range would transform into 140mi-150mi real range.
- Weather can cause traffic delays which further impact the range. There were two times when we made supercharger stations with less than 10 mi indicated on battery. Pretty scary when you have small kids in car.
- This creates anxiety and I spent a good portion of a trip trailing behind a truck driving slower than otherwise
- Snow and dirt will affect falcon wing sensors so the doors would never open fully. My back still aches as I got used to grabbing kids half-bent. Door open override feature, while useful, is sometimes inconvenient to reach out to.
- There are not always food options around superchargers specially in these more remote areas. Also some chargers were difficult to reach due snow not been cleaned.
- Seattle does not have a nearby supercharger so had to charge in a commercial station effectively paying as much as I would pay for gas for the same trip
- It roughly took us 2x9h each way, basically meaning two full days

When we finally returned home I felt exhausted. My comfort levels were very low. I'd say that about 50% of the time I loved the car and other half I disliked it.

What I'd expect will happen in the future to make this more comfortable
- 130kwh-140kwh battery so that we could basically use every other charger. Ideally it would be only 3 charging stops for such trip. Charge and eat at first, sleep at second, charge and eat at third.
- as much as I love them, I would replace falcon wing doors with normal doors if I had the option

Bighorn | January 14, 2017

This is why when someone recently asked a question about whether they should take their Tesla down the east coast in winter with a car full of riders, I said the most important variable is who those people are. You didn't mention what model you have.

KP in NPT | January 14, 2017

212 rated range sounds like a X60?

vprelovac | January 14, 2017

Its X75D but you usually charge to 90%

Bighorn | January 14, 2017

Maybe take the 90 or 100 next time? :) In the best of conditions, figure averaging 50 MPH overall, so you're talking 17 hours for 850 miles.

KP in NPT | January 14, 2017

In the winter, I charge to 100% when setting out on a long trip - S70D. Then charge just enough to give me 20-25% buffer between charging stops. (depending on conditions.)

sosmerc | January 14, 2017

Thanks for a very fair and informative report. Your story points out the BEV potential issues that remain to be solved and the reason that so many folks are still reluctant to "take the EV plunge". Long range travel is still a bit too much of an adventure for some. But progress will be made and the picture will get brighter.

SO | January 14, 2017

I live in Michigan and realize that I would want a vehicle with good range in winter. That's why I went with the 90 over the 60/75. I would have gone with the standard 100 if it was available.

hcwhy | January 14, 2017

I admire the adventurous spirit of so many of you on this forum...however I'm more comfort driven. I love just about everything about my S85 and have over 60,000 joyous, range anxiety free local miles on it. I've never had to charge anywhere but my garage. I do use an ICE when it's a better fit for the job at hand. As the electric car's range and charge times improve, this will become increasingly less often. But for now, using an ICE occasionally, has kept my total Tesla experience on an extremely high plateau.

Captain_Zap | January 15, 2017

I need that time to stretch on a road trip, so it doesn't really add time to the trip for me.

Topping off the last 5% of the battery is so slow, so I don't wait to do it. That is where the luxury of a larger battery really pays off.

Earl and Nagin ... | January 15, 2017

Clearly, the OP is correct though that an EV is not as fast for multi-day driving as an ICE today. It also takes some planning to schedule normal stops with charging stops. Larger batteries and battery swap may someday change this but its not here today.
However, there's also using the right tool for the right job.
The X75, as the OP pointed out, is fine for local driving, however, it it not as well suited for long road trips as larger batteries. The OP's trip would have been much better as BH hints, if they had a larger battery. An 85 kWhr battery or larger would have been quite a bit easier since it would charge faster to a higher level, providing more range margin and flexibility and/or less time spent charging.
I would say this bad experience is more a reflection of smaller batteries than of the Model X in general. The experts on this forum have been recommending larger batteries for folks who road-trip from the beginning. Nothing has changed.

ram1901 | January 16, 2017

Something doesn't add up ... OPs said average charge time was 45 minutes per stop.. and that he had to stop about every 121 miles. Even in cold weather driving he should have been able to add 170 miles to his battery in 30 minutes on average.

Also.. based on my own experience with a 70D on long trips, with a minimum of planning, most humans, keeping hydrated, need to stop every two hours to drain their system. That's a 20 minute stop to stretch and drain, and in the second stop, a lunch or dinner break, one needs at least 45 minutes to get served and eat and stretch and drain and that would give you a full charge with no extra waiting, as you'd do the same with an ICE vehicle, (except you'd have to stand by while you topped off the tank..before going in to eat.).

With a car load of people, those stops may even be more frequent .. and that is not the fault of the chargers.
When traveling with children, even in an ICE vehicle, you expect it to take longer because of frequent stops.

Truth is: on average, if you're not one of those people who stays in the car for 10 hours and drives straight through, which is bad for your health, a trip in a Tesla should only take an hour or two longer than an ICE vehicle for a normal 10 to 12 hour drive.... Not 5 hours longer.

For comparison: It takes me 12 hours to drive from my home to a relative's vacation home in Myrtle Beach, SC.
They live 30 minutes South of me and drive an ICE vehicle and it takes them 12 hours to get to Myrtle Beach because they stop for potty breaks, meals and general stretch breaks.

Bighorn | January 16, 2017

I've never seen 170 miles in 30 minutes even starting from empty--closer to 140. That's Tesla marketing theoretical max. Numbers sound reasonable for the conditions.

High Plains Drifter | January 17, 2017

The OP's claim of needing 212 miles of rated charge to perform 140-150 miles of REAL winter weather driving matches my ACTUAL experience. Why was our usage so much higher than others? HEAT, ROAD surface conditions, and PAYLOAD. We family travelers tend to set use higher HEAT consumption levels (>71), plus we are carrying 700 lbs plus more weight than the solo flyer. Add in the use of wipers, defoggers and snow on the road and you will find that 180 rated miles will not get you 120 miles down the road to the next supercharger.

Rocky_H | January 17, 2017

@ram1901, In addition to @Bighorn's point about how Supercharging will usually be less than the pie-in-the-sky 170 miles in 30 minutes, there are a couple of other factors that make it lower. The OP's vehicle is a Model X 75kwh. The 75kwh batteries are a lower voltage and do charge slower than the 85/90/100 sized 400V batteries. Also, the Model X, being bigger and less aerodynamic, gets fewer rated miles added per the given amount of energy.

SteveOf2 | January 17, 2017

I live in Seattle and can vouch for the reduced miles. I have a MS 90D and have found actual miles to be far less than rated. The mountains are steep, and I assume he came up I5, which has some steep parts through Oregon. It doesn't help that we've had far colder weather than normal. Depending on how far off the highway you're heading, the superchargers are sometimes out of the way. A recent trip took me 20 minutes out of the way to charge. 20 minutes each way, 45 minutes of charging, including the 40 miles needed, just to get to the supercharger and back on path.
I'm looking forward to see how it performs in the warmer weather. And, the new superchargers being planned.

ram1901 | January 18, 2017

I yield to Rocky & BigH :)
(just as I yield to my wife).

mattykolej | August 18, 2018

Hey, I have a question for those who have kids and I mean elder ones (from 10y.o.), do you use any phone tracking apps like this one ? Some people say that it's really important to do that and some say that it's a bad thing and I want to know your opinion.