Public Debate: Road Trip Red Herring

Public Debate: Road Trip Red Herring

I should stop reading Seeking Alpha because of all of the reasons posted here, but this (ironically positive) article highlights a topic in the EV debate that is a red herring in the U.S.: road trips. To skip to the end, we should all practice our answer to the question in the article: "but what if you want to take a 360 mile road trip?" Answer for 85% of us* = "who cares!"

* While, as the article suggests, Tesla will likely crack the code on single car owning, city dwelling, luxury car road trippers making the SCOCDLCRTs (a more difficult application) consume the majority of the public debate today is the tail wagging the dog. Debate 101 says take out the low hanging fruit first before getting caught in the SCOCDLCRT weeds (happy to fight that fight too, just later). The dog here (and the low hanging fruit) is/are the dual car owning, suburban dwelling, luxury car owners. For the DCOSDLCOs (which is a huge market in the U.S.), right now the point is the Model S is a NO BRAINER** for any $50k+ sedan DCOSDLCO. Period. End of debate. This should be the primary sound bite for the S. The hundreds of applications for the other 15% of the S buyers and the Gen III buyers should not cloud the already clear core conclusion.

** probably a true statement even if the $15-20k of gas savings is excluded, but certainly a no brainer with it.

Has Tesla Solved The Road Trip Problem?

Leofingal | 20 January 2013

Yes, this is precisely the approach I took when selecting my Model S. I figure my wife will be more than happy to trade cars with me once/year when I drive 360-400 miles for my fantasy baseball draft. The downside of course is that when that trip comes up, I would rather drive my S than her Acura TSX. Therefore, when the superchargers show up, I'll probably take the S instead.

The logic is so simple and clear, but the S is so much fun to drive that it causes us to defy logic!

Plus, what happens when your second car also ends up being an S or a Gen III (more likely)!

Timo | 20 January 2013

Has Tesla Solved The Road Trip Problem?

With SC, definitely, but it takes some time before that infrastructure is in place. I wouldn't mind taking a short break from driving every 150-200 miles (at 60mph average speed every two and half - three hours). With 400 mile real life range I wouldn't need to charge at all (but probably would take that break anyway, so charging anyway), so I hope for a bit longer range than current unrealistic 300 miles in real life highway speeds.

This is like early days with ICE cars, there were no gas stations everywhere, which translated to no road trips for them either. I just hope that this SC infrastructure expands fast enough that it is in place when I buy that GenIII sport sedan I'm planning to get.

Because gas costs here a lot I would like to have BEV for every trip, especially for long road trips: I can use public transportation in the city or I can use a bicycle if I feel like it (bike is actually faster than car most of the time). The longer the trip the more I would love to have BEV.

defmonk | 20 January 2013

Being parked on the 405, hemmed in by half million dollar supercars, adds a moment of clarity. Our national obsession with over-capacity is so potent it carries over into the eco-car debate. Imagine the net national investment in stuff well-intentioned buyers never actually use. Hummers that never see a battlefield, or even a little dirt road action. Supercars that never really get out of second gear. Seven-seater SUVs principally used for solo commuting. Pick-up trucks with pristine beds, which have never picked-up a one-ton load. We express aspirations, rather than needs, in the vehicles we select. So it is with Teslas, too. By every rational analysis of my urban commuter needs, including Tesla's own calculator, I simply cannot justify more than a 40kWh battery. Just the same, I read the forums, dream of the road trips to San Diego and San Francisco that I'll never actually take and then go into My Garage to reselect the 85kWh battery. I can't help it.

Brian H | 20 January 2013

What's being bought are aspirations and image. Do you want to be seen driving a supercar or an extended cab pickup with all the goodies? That sort of decision.

So your 85kWh choice is X% rational and (100-X)% image and aspiration. What's X? For you?

Timo | 20 January 2013

@defmonk By every rational analysis of my urban commuter needs, including Tesla's own calculator, I simply cannot justify more than a 40kWh battery

And there lays a problem: urban commuting. If you want an urban commuter you don't really want a Tesla. Tesla cars belong to freeways, not in traffic jams, they are not urban commuter cars. For commuting tiny city car is better. Mitsubishi i-MiEV for example.

defmonk | 20 January 2013

@timo It's a bit presumptuous to tell folks what they want. Especially me. And, I think you missed the point entirely.

MrB | 20 January 2013

Timo in the Bay Area urban commuting is freeways, and trust me, the Model S performace is an awesome urban commuter.

Superliner | 20 January 2013

@ defmonk

Never were truer words spoken ... lol!! I too grappled with the 85kwh option it just seemed too good to resist and I too had no real justification for it. After days of fighting my computer mouse and right index finger, sleepless nights and even a few shots of GlenLivet 18 Single Malt, I managed to select 60kwh which should exceed my daily driving needs and most occasional excursions by a factor of nearly 40% on ave.

Sure was a heavy lift resisting temptation though Hahahaha!!

Brian H | 20 January 2013

Suggests a new thread: Failure To Resist!

Timo | 20 January 2013

Well, my understanding about "urban commuting" is mostly twisty city roads, searching for parking places, worrying about getting hit by that car there that has no clue how to navigate roundabout etc. I really would want a small, agile and inexpensive car for that, not a large, wide and expensive street rocket.

If in your case "urban commuting" equals freeway like it is in MrB case, then fine, Model S is OK for that.

Anyway, I would get second car for pure urban commuting if I could have space for one. Model S for a bit more suburban driving and longer road trips. Maybe something like Persu V3 for pure commuting ( especially the electric version once they get that done.

noel.smyth | 20 January 2013

@superliner - I failed in my resistance and got the 85. the 60 would easily have done 90% of my needs. I did take the round trip from philly to NY last weekend and it was nice but I did have the option of my wife's ice car... the S is too nice to pass up though. nothing drives like it, not even close....

rickemishler | 20 January 2013

It is interesting the consider one's actual range need and perceived need. Case in point: I trialed the GM Impact in the mid-1990s for one month. Range: 60ish miles IIRC which more than met my daily commute requirements to office and hospitals. I even took it on a weekend making rounds in several hospitals and used 59.5 miles of the 60 available. My current commuting needs are even less some 15 years later. So, for me, the 40KWH battery is adequate in spades. But what am I ordering? 85P of course. Why? Because its there and I don't want to wait til the 40s go into production. Maybe my justification is really so I can dust off the HP ICE cars that are prowling around.

Brian H | 21 January 2013

Maybe so on the weekends you can spin around blindfolded, stick out your pointing finger, and say, "I wanna go 100 miles thataway!", and have confidence you can make it home the same day without regard to available recharge stations.

Runar | 21 January 2013

Brian H | January 20, 2013
Suggests a new thread: Failure To Resist!

Or: "Resistance is futile"

jackhub | 21 January 2013

Are there any other old folks out there who remember when the first Mercedes diesel cars were introduced in the US? They provided us an 800 number so we could find the nearest diesel pump. We planned our occasional road trip like a military campaign. This feels much the same. It too, will pass.

Hogfighter | 21 January 2013

85 kw is more than about increased range. For me, it's about decreased range anxiety.

I LOVE pulling into my garage after driving 75 miles (like Michael Schumacher) and seeing the batteries over 50% full.

hsadler | 21 January 2013

Range anxiety is relative. We chose the 85 kw because my wife commutes 125 miles RT 4 days a week and 230 miles RT 1 day each week.

The anxiety comes in the form of charging on the road. For her it would extend her workday - time from home and back home. We discussed this for some time. The advantage for us is saving on gas, getting away from fossil fuels, showing others that this can work.

Our deciding factor was the installation of the Superchargers. There is one along her commute (40 miles from home), and although she probably won't use it, it is there if she does run into a range problem.

We foresee a time when the electric car will be recharged in less than 5 minutes. And for us this is a start toward that day.

Brian H | 21 January 2013

For those 5 minutes, you'd be drawing enough current to power a small to medium size neighborhood. A small neighborhood of cars would have to take turns.

GLO | 21 January 2013

As a former diesel car owner, the same applied there too as not every gas station sold diesel. Ypi had to plan your trips to make sure you got diesel before running out.

petero | 21 January 2013

BrianH. “Failure to resist.” I suspect 'the failure to resist gene' is absent in Model S reservation holders.

Brian H | 21 January 2013

That would be "present" in MS res holders; what's absent is the "temptation resistance" gene. Although actually we know the decision to buy a Model S is entirely rational. The accel thrill just happens to make it urgent, and pressing.

hsadler | 21 January 2013

@Brian H 'For those 5 minutes, you'd be drawing enough current to power a small to medium size neighborhood. A small neighborhood of cars would have to take turns.'

No, a little bit beyond - where an energy source would require less.

bobinfla | 21 January 2013

Resisted Model S - No
Resisted Signature - Yes
Resisted upping 60 to 85- No
Resisted upping 85 to Perfect - No
Resisted Tech Package - No
Resisted Sound Upgrade - No

Hmmmm, well below the Mendoza line and no resistance at all shown since Nov 2011. Did they change the Kool-Aid formula since then?

Brian H | 21 January 2013

Heh. The Performance may be Perfect, but don't set the standard too high!

Batting .167 will not get you a lead-off position, for sure. Maybe relegation to A ball.

portia | 21 January 2013

+1 defmonk
so true, my daily commute is in single digit, but I still got the 85kwh, but for the once or twice that I need to drive 320 miles, superchargers made it possible and much more practical. This is my first EV and I would not have gotten it if its range was less. The 0-60 speed and the good looks are all icing on the cake.