First Supercharger-Only Coast to Coast Road Trip in a Tesla Model S 60

First Supercharger-Only Coast to Coast Road Trip in a Tesla Model S 60

Call me Sam. I’ll be your driver for the next week (or so). Guy . . . girl. Doesn’t really matter. This story isn’t about me. This is about a Tesla MS60. And the Supercharging Network.

The smallest battery currently offered by the company, the Model S 60 is the bare bones of their line. Starting at $63,070 (with Supercharging enabled & living in CA), you get free long distance travel, for life. Add in HOV and HOT access (solo) and you are able to drive at a reasonable rate of speed in areas (Bay and SoCal) that rank among the worst commutes in the U.S.

Just so happens that my hometown also offers free metered parking as a perk of living in what some derisively call the Republic of Santa Monica.


But this is about the drama. What everyone wants to read and see. Cars on fire, stuck on the side of the road, struggling through adversity. If that’s what you are reading ahead here for, then please close your browser, block my tweets and unfriend me immediately.

This is a story about anyone doing a trip across the country (and back). If you’d consider doing this trip in your gas car at least. Most people never drive cross country. I was going to google the actual percentage, but you can do that yourself. If you care. Which I don’t.

But if you do like to drive, there is no better road warrior that the Model S of any flavor. 14K miles since August 2013 delivery.
Cross country is different. A great city car, be it ICE or EV, can turn against you on the open road. Hoses burst and belts snap. Worst of all you run out of fuel. Since the advent of the pure EV, range has been the forbidden five letter word. The MS60 is different.

It has a range of 208 miles which you can extend even beyond that with careful driving. But we’ll come to that later. Can’t get ahead of ourselves. First the route. Hawthorne Supercharger to Virginia Beach VA. And back.

Most people with the 85kWh version (and a range of 265 miles) are over it. They know it can be done. At least it has been twice already. Once by a father and daughter team from NYC to LA. And then a few days after by Tesla Motors team.

This trip isn’t going to break any records for speed or charging. I reckon it’s going to be a bit of a snooze. But if you want to see how an EV works. How the Supercharging Network work. And how, with superfluous laziness, you can still drive cross country for FREE in about 4 days.

There is a purpose to my trip, but I could just as easily have flown. No I’m not telling. Nosy.

This trip is like any other road trip. It’s also the final nail in the coffin of range anxiety when discussing Tesla. Tesla will NEVER have another car that has a shorter range than mine. I can fail. There is no net. I will be posting updates over the next week (or so) and I’ll try to answer as many questions as possible.

I’ll post updates and photos at on Twitter and Instagram: @TeslaMS60


The first half of my journey is complete. I arrived in VA Beach tonight at 7:45PM EST. I drove ~3800 miles and charged using nothing but Tesla Supercharging Stations.

I want to thank everyone that gave me hints, suggestions, and made me laugh along the way. Most of all I want to thank Tesla Motors for making the best car I’ve ever seen, driven or owned.

Tesla, you are changing the world one drive at a time.

Everything is possible in this new world. Sustainable transportation. Free Cross Country Travel. Most of all, you are changing heart and minds. Not through advertising and manipulation. But my making an incredible product that sells itself.

I’m going to sleep 12 hours (at least) and then turn around and come home. If anyone is interested if it is possible, twice, I will continue to post here. I don’t have the numbers yet, and likely won’t for another week. For that, I apologize.

If anyone is interested in meeting along the way, please email me and I’ll do my best to let you know the route and timing.

@teslaMS60 on twitter and instagram


Wrap Up: So made it back, 7700 miles round trip, from Los Angeles to Virginia and back to Los Angeles. I learned so much about driving the Model S 60 that I don't think I could have learned any other way.

I experienced almost every single driving condition imaginable:

Heavy rains in Arizona (2 inches/hour)
Heavy winds in Minnesota (50+mph that caused a big-rig to jackknife)
Heavy snow in Colorado
Extreme cold in Wyoming and South Dakota (4-8F)
Big elevation changes (5000ft climb from Denver via the Eisenhower pass)

I also made many mistakes along the way. Fortunately, I was cautious with my speed and kept an eye on my range whenever there was a longer distance that needed to be traversed.

I nearly shot myself in the foot once: heavy rains on the climb to Flagstaff coupled with failing to do a range charge taught me the lesson to only leave with at least 25% buffer.

I also learned to pick my spots. Slowing down on a climb and then allowing myself to go +5-10 over the speed limit on the downhill resulted in significant increase in range without reducing my average speed. If the hill was steep enough, I coasted until I reached a designated speed, and then engaged the motor for engine braking and regeneration.

On the topic of regeneration, it is always more efficient to coast. Unless you start to reach an unsafe speed, and then use regeneration.

I think anyone can make the drive I made in an MS60. But it would also be easy to run out of electrons, too. Try to drive from Cheyenne to Silverthorne at 75mph. Even in an 85, that might be tough.

I called the MS60 a road warrior and nothing I've seen over the past 10 days and 7700 miles changed my opinion. I now have a grand total of 22,000 miles since Fremont pickup in August and I look forward to the next 100,000 with alacrity.

I wouldn't trade my car in for any other model in the world. Not an exotic. Not a classic. And not a collector car.

I've been driving for 25 years and I've never experience the sheer joy of being on the road. It's my hope that the feeling of piloting what I affectionately call the "spaceship" never ends.

IndyMS | February 28, 2014

Good luck and safe travels! Getting my 60 in about 2 weeks and will anxiously follow your trip!

GeekEV | February 28, 2014

Happy travels! I also have an S60 and have contemplated such a drive...

Jamon | February 28, 2014

Go Sam, Go! We'll all be cheering you on. Looking forward to the adventure!

akikiki | February 28, 2014

Go Go Go Sam. Best to you. We will be watching for your updates.
May the wind be at your back.

SamO | February 28, 2014

Still haven't left and can't sleep. Setting the for 5am.

SamO | February 28, 2014


ChasF | February 28, 2014

Good luck Sam! I am looking forward to finally having anecdotal evidence to point to the next time I have to hear "get the brainer!"

DieAbetic | February 28, 2014

Looking forward to it!

Jamon | March 1, 2014

Your Twitter followers have increased by 33% in the last hour! :-)

SamO | March 1, 2014

Never had twitter before. But up 33% sounds like TSLA stock ;-)

Tâm | March 1, 2014


How are you going to get from Flagstaff, AZ to Blanding, UT, with the distance of 249 miles?

Tâm | March 1, 2014


How do you deal with winter driving? Winter tires or tire chains/cables?

hademarco | March 1, 2014

Brave soul. Good Luck!

Nicoletta | March 1, 2014

Good luck Sam, will be anxiously awaiting every update.

kenj | March 1, 2014

You go Sam!

.... all of us with MS 60s are pulling for you.

I think to be fair to OPs that suggest an 85 is a no brainer, the thinking is to get the biggest range you can afford. Get more Range instead of comfort options. You make the logical refinement, if the average total daily drive is less than 150 miles you just do not need to trade comfort for range.

amitb00 | March 1, 2014

Go Sam Go!!! Best wishes and looking forward to updates.

SamO | March 1, 2014

@TeslaMS60: Topping off @TeslaMotors Hawthorne Design Studio, getting ready to #supercharger cross country.

SamO | March 1, 2014


Chains are packed securely.

RedShift | March 1, 2014

Good luck Sam!

J.T. | March 1, 2014

Best of Luck. Kind of wish you were stopping off at JFK Supercharger so I could say hello. Look forward to your trip updates.

Bighorn | March 1, 2014

I couldn't get my consumption under 400 Wh/m in 3F temps. Hope for modest temps and maybe we'll cross paths as I return home from Denver tomorrow might. Good luck!

Bonlaw | March 1, 2014

Make me stop regretting I got a 60 instead of an 85!

Kling | March 1, 2014

No need to regret, think about it... HOW often will you actually need that extra mileage?
If you commute 200 miles in a day there is some serious issue with how far you need to drive. I am pretty sure that with a home 15-40 outlet or charging station probably 99% of the country (nigh, the world!) can get as far as they will ever need to go. Superchargers are awesome, don't get me wrong... But really how often will we NEED them (not want, I want them everywhere so I can stop, read for 30 minutes, and move on)?

You want to feel good about your S60? OK, borrow my Smart Electric with its 62 mile range and drive it for a few days. It gets me to work and back (just barely) and charges on 110v overnight. 200 miles with 1/6th the charging time.. the S60 is all you need.

I'm not bagging on the 85 folks, some folks like the extra security or just want the "best of the best" (my ICE is a Ferrari, so I get it) but the S60 folks have to realize.... you'll probably never need that extra 50-ish miles.

SamO | March 1, 2014

Just stopped at Barstow. Thanks to everyone here supporting sustainable transportation. Heavy rains and 4800 foot climb just chewed through the miles but arrived without worry.

tes-s | March 1, 2014

Everyone will have a time when they wished they had more rang. Makes no difference if it is a Smart Electric, Leaf, MS60, MS85, or MS120.

dbg | March 1, 2014

How many range miles lost by your climb of 4800 ft?
Have a good trip!

Trekker56 | March 1, 2014


SamO | March 1, 2014


About 30 miles lost.

mal42north | March 1, 2014

Best of luck, breaking out of CA, seems to be the most tricky spot.

Windsurfer | March 1, 2014

Good luck Sam! Wish I had the time to do a trip like yours.

Brian H | March 1, 2014

The guessitmate of 7 miles per 1000' would have predicted 33.6 mi., so pretty close.

Drdon220 | March 1, 2014

Best of luck to you! I'd have no worries doing this trip during the summer months. I've traveled many times between Seattle area and Salem, Oregon with about a 15% loss off of rated miles (70mph and 45 degrees), but have found wind and heavy rain at the same temp to double the loss. So, watch the weather.
Love my Tesla S 60! No regrets.

CraigW | March 1, 2014

I have a 60 and 1)drove it home from Fremont to LA in JAN 13, 2) drove it to my son's in Napa, CA, 3) drove it to Las Vegas, 4) drove it to Phoenix, AZ.

The key run was between Barstow and Kingman, AZ. I am curious about your energy usage from Needles to Kingman. Tesla support says an 85 owner was able to run out of energy 2 mi from Kingman on this leg, but they reached speeds up to 90mph.

Good luck!

SamO | March 1, 2014


Decided to stop in Vegas and then jump over to kingman. Had a great lunch at the container mall Las Vegas and taking a driving break while I post.

diegoPasadena | March 1, 2014

This will be a fun trip to follow. Good luck, Sam. You are our pioneer!

diegoPasadena | March 1, 2014

Could you post some details, i.e. driving style, miles left when arriving at the superchargers, perhaps temps? I'm sure you are taking detailed notes. You are, after all, a Tesla-geek like the rest of us, aren't you? It will be great to read it in a final write-up of the trip, but some details will make following you in real time even more entertaining.

SamO | March 1, 2014

So driving style is what I would describe as hypermile-lite. I speed up toward the end so that I arrive with 15 or fewer miles.

I'm not keeping detailed notes since that's been done a lot. But I am taking notes and have some photos posted on twitter @teslaMS60.

Just stopped in Kingman and am up to 184 miles ideal range. Set to leave in 10 minutes for flagstaff which is 149 miles away.

NKYTA | March 1, 2014

Good luck Samo, I love hearing about the adventure in the play-by-play format! Kinda like what you do for the quarterly announcements. :-)

Travel safely!

SamO | March 1, 2014

Just arrived in flagstaff. Snow starting to come down and one mile of range. Check out the pic:

CalDreamin | March 1, 2014

Wow, that's cutting it close.
Good luck Sam :-)

Shesmyne2 | March 1, 2014

Enjoy the ride & be safe out there SamoSam!
Love hearing about the trip

Still Grinning ;-)

RVC | March 1, 2014

Another pioneer! Good luck and stay safe!

SamO | March 1, 2014

Arrived safely in Holbrook with 73 miles. Just resting and catching up.

Bighorn | March 1, 2014

Fortunately temps in WY and SD will warm up around 50 degrees very soon. About -18F today--no way you could get from Cheyenne to Lusk or Lusk to Rapid City in those temps, best I can tell. Consumption runs up around 600Wh/m when it's that cold. Battery heater works overtime. Climate needs to run full speed to keep the windows from frosting over. Fortunately, the roads are less traveled and you can safely slow down without too much imposition on other drivers.

Bighorn | March 1, 2014

Don't know your itinerary, but I was looking at CO and I don't know if you can make Silverthorne to Cheyenne, WY (163 miles). Fortunately, Lone Tree (Denver area) opened this week which should make it much less stressful, though it adds a few miles.

MLS | March 1, 2014

You can do it Sam,
As a 60 owner that has driven from SF to Portland and SF to Palm Springs I believe 60's are all you really need. You will make it to the east coast just fine.

SamO | March 1, 2014

Thanks @bighorn for the advice. I may stop on the way to Cheyenne anyway.

I'm going to sleep in Gallup NM. Up early tomorrow.

CraigW | March 1, 2014

The 60s would seem to be a bit more efficient than the 85s - or so Tesla Support will admit - but it always pays to be careful. I will be continually checking this thread and planning my own trips. Thanks for all the 60s information about our Supercharger network.

SamO | March 2, 2014


I've had several 85s as loaners and I could not get the W/h as low as in my 60.

Barring monsoon rain, I am able to get in the low 220Wh/m during long flat stretches.

sbeggs | March 2, 2014

@SamoSam, that's impressive! Good luck and a trailing wind!