First Supercharger experience

First Supercharger experience

Took my Model S from St. Louis area to Chicago area (Elgin) and back this weekend and used the Normal, IL supercharger. Overall, a great experience. I felt that I was experiencing the future of long-distance travel. A couple of finger points on the display screen got me flawless directions from home to the SC -- 175 miles. Located in a public garage in an area populated by Illinois State Univ students, there were plenty of restaurants within a couple of blocks. Beats the usual stops at fast food right off of the highway when you gas up. So for the trip north to Chicago, it was daylight, temp in the high 50s or so and mostly went 65- 70 mph consuming 212 miles of rated range with 57 estimated miles remaining when we stopped to charge. No problem. Supercharging is as advertised -- by the time we sat down for a meal in what seemed just a few minutes, my Tesla-apped iphone reported that we were already back to 139 miles.

The return was a little more concerning. Supercharged again and were there a little over an hour (got caught up in the ND-USC game 2nd half!). Set on max trip, it reached 259 miles rated range. Drove home in the dark, near traffic-free conditions, on almost perfectly flat terrain setting cruise control at 72 for at least 3/4th of the trip. (TM can check my speed to be sure) Temp was in the mid 40s. My concern is that I used 232 miles of rated range. We did have the heat on low, and the radio on, and obviously the lights. While I did not have range anxiety-- it was clear I was going to make it --I am concerned about similar upcoming trips later this fall and winter. Do others with long-distance travel experience think the cabin heater/battery heater was the main culprit? Or do i need to watch my speed more carefully? It didn't seem excessive to me. Or something else I'm missing? I am worried about winter travel and I am sure glad I purchased the 85 kwH battery. If cold is the issue, hopefully placement of the future upper midwest superchargers will take this into account.

jbunn | October 20, 2013

Ultimately I think they will put more in Illinois, but the central location serves travel between Peoria, St Louis, Chicago, Champagne/Urbana, Indianapolis, and a host of smaller cities.

RanjitC | October 20, 2013

I have a P85 and personally would not plan more than a 175 mile trip between max charges I ran into a headwind once from Las Vegas to the Barstow SC. Used 212 rated miles for a 150 mile trip. I had only 232 rated miles due to a slow charging incident at Vegas.

Pungoteague_Dave | October 20, 2013

In cold temps (below about 50) we consider our S85 to have a practical range of 190 and a planning range, giving some cushion for unforeseen events, of 170-175 miles, all with a standard charge. In the winter we max range charge twice weekly to make it between our homes, which are 190 miles apart. Given that's already at the max battery range, we do think about trading in after three or four years, before there's a lot of age-related range degradation.

Jolinar | October 21, 2013

remember that even slight elevation gain can consume few extra miles and if you have 8 mph head wind it's like driving 80 mph without wind.

yonak | October 21, 2013

I have a P85 & made a 182 mile round trip 2 months ago all interstate at 70 mph. Used all my max charge running A/C , Stereo , no lights , 280 mile range. Made the same trip last night , max charge 267 range, 55 mph 90% of the time had 67 miles left running stereo , lights & heat .

Brian H | October 21, 2013

That works out to approx 25% range difference between travelling at 55 and 70.

redacted | October 21, 2013

You can get an idea of the static load on the battery by sitting with the car in drive and foot off the gas. With the Chicago temps last weekend, I doubt that was much.

I'm guessing the range drop of 10% was the difference in speeds. It's the same physics as with an ICE, but in the latter you don't know and wouldn't care as much.

Further materials in Doug_G's post.

kidheme | October 21, 2013

Redacted and Brian H. Thanks for your responses. I think you are both correct, the more I consider this, the main variable here was speed and even though it was a modest difference, that probably affected my range the most. Elevation change was modest but in my favor heading south (~290 ft difference over about 300 miles). I think my concern wasn't so much for this trip specifically but when I do this again in the real cold at Christmas this might be more of an issue. Also wondering about GenIII and if 200 miles of range, which seems to be one of the number thrown around, will deter many buyers.

bonaire | October 21, 2013

Heater is a big drain for all EVs. They need heat pumps and better seat heating so you don't need cabin heating. Also, get a nice pair of driving gloves and a hat. Both will cut down on needs for cabin heating. Welcome to one of the downfalls of EVs - the low kWh in batteries versus a tank of gas (10 gallon tank = 360 kWh of energy).

bonaire | October 21, 2013

Also, colder air is denser. 60mph in 70*F air verus 60mph in 40*F air is a visible difference in energy consumed. plus, colder air lowers tire presure 1psi per 10*F. Keep tires pumped, speed down and heater off in the winter for the best mileage - or just charge more often.

Tâm | October 22, 2013


You'll learn what your car is like in no time.

Just monitor the GPS miles to destination and your dashboard battery rated mile gauge so you can adjust your speed.

That may mean 72mph luxury may have to be slowed down as needed.

To run fast as in Germany Autobahn, Elon will build closer superchargers.

Brit.l.T | October 22, 2013

For sure check your tire pressure. My tire pressure alert kept going on and off. I went in and had them fill my tires from 35 pounds to 42 and it fixed some of the mileage loss for me.

Tâm | October 22, 2013


Thanks! Very good point! Too much high tech talk about superchargers but the basic air in the tire was totally missed!

2kids10horses | October 22, 2013

I understand that the seat heater uses less energy than running the cabin heater.