Driving To Paradise

Driving To Paradise

Yesterday, in beautiful Pacific Northwest weather, I picked up a good friend -- who is very ill, and needed a lift -- and we drove to Paradise on Mt. Rainier, elevation 5400 feet. The car performed superbly, making the curvy mountain roads smooth and comfortable. We made the 242 mile trip in a single charge, returning home with 18 rated miles to spare. Here are the stats:

Starting rated miles: 266 (range charge)
Outbound distance: 121.8 miles
Outbound energy use: 45.1 kWh
Outbound average energy use: 370 wh/m
Arriving rated miles: 106

Return trip starting rated miles: 104 (i.e., lost 2 miles; software version 4.3)
Ending rated miles: 18
Total distance: 242.0 miles
Total energy use: 68.6 kWh
Overall average energy use: 283

I generally drove at the speed limit. Heavy traffic for part of the trip slowed me down, but I made up for that elsewhere. I used very little climate control. Outside temperatures ranges from 46 F when I left, to 39 F at the top, to 59 F when I returned. Weight payload was about 350 pounds. We stopped a few times in both directions, including some minor detours. Interestingly, we left Paradise with 104 rated miles, but when we stopped to eat at Longmire, 11 miles down the road, we had 110 rated miles.

One interesting thing I will note is that the factor used in computing "rated miles," -- i.e., 308 wh/m -- does not work. Whether you look at each leg of the trip or the trip as a whole, the rated miles I used cannot be accurately computed without using a factor considerably lower than 308 wh/m. At least on this drive, the factor was 282 wh/m on the outbound leg, 273 wh/m on the return leg, and 277 wh/m overall. I think it is possible that, among the changes wrought by software version 4.3, TM has changed the formula for computing Rated Miles.

jjaeger | March 26, 2013

A 242 mile trip with 18 to spare - I'm impressed. Did you have a charge option if need be before you decided to turned around for the trip home?

DouglasR | March 26, 2013

Yes, I knew I could easily make it to the top, and that coming back would be fine as well for the downhill portion. The outbound leg was 120 miles to Paradise. From Paradise to the first convenient charging opportunity is about 65 miles, so I needed to drive about 185 miles (120 + 65), after which there would be lots of stations. Plus there are a number of not-so-convenient charging opportunities that I could seek out in a pinch.

The technique that I've found the most useful is simply to keep an eye on my average consumption since the last charge. So long as it is under about 300 wh/m, I can count on the "rated miles" number to be a reasonable proxy for actual miles. Going up the mountain, of course I exceeded that, but coming back down I quickly got the average down below 300. I really had no range anxiety the entire time.

Brian H | March 26, 2013

As you learn more about the car an how to drive it, the "unknowns" and "anxiety" drop away, clearly. The more times you confirm your expectations, the more the certainty and calmness grow!

Brian H | March 26, 2013

typo: ...the car and how ...

Captain_Zap | March 26, 2013

Was it a leisurely drive or a sporty one?

Which route did you use to get to Paradise?

How deep was the snow?
When I was a kid I went to Paradise after it set a World Record for snow accumulation. I recall being there on the 4th of July and there was at least 20 feet of snow remaining on that warm summer day. I think that Paradise lost the World Record to Mt. Baker a few years ago.

One of the best features of a Model S is the revival of guilt free Sunday drives.

DouglasR | March 26, 2013

@Captain - I'm in Seattle. I picked my friend up in Kirkland, then took I-405 to SR167, through Puyallup, Eatonville, and the Nisqually entrance to the park. The drive was leisurely on the bigger highways, slow through that area around Puyallup (because of the traffic and stop lights), but sporty once we started to climb.

The roads were bare and dry -- beautiful, really -- but snow along the roadside kept getting deeper and deeper until, when we reached the visitor center, it looked to be well over 20 feet!