Just finished round trip weekend San Jose, CA to Las Vegas, NV

Just finished round trip weekend San Jose, CA to Las Vegas, NV

Making the trip in my 85 was mostly uneventful. Here are the highlights:

We arrived at the Harris Ranch supercharger (we skipped Gilroy) at around 8:30 with 65 miles remaining. We were lucky and there was no one there when we arrived. There is only a single supercharger here as well as a single much slower Roadster charger (with Model S adapter). About 5 minutes after we arrived another Model S pulled in and plugged in to the slower charger to wait. We spent 20 minutes charging while hanging out with the other driver. As we left a third Model S pulled in. Thankfully Tesla is adding 6 more superchargers here;it's a big bottleneck. The new ones are built but not yet live. They LOOK finished, but that just makes their taunting all the more insidious. :-)

We pulled into Tejon Ranch at around 10:30 with 42 miles remaining. There are 6 bays here and there was a steady stream of cars the entire 50 minutes we were there. It peaked with 5 cars charging. We spent the time grabbing brunch at Chipotle and chatting with other drivers.

The Barstow station only has 2 bays and they're a bit hard to find tucked in behind a Chili's. There was 1 car there that was just leaving when we arrived. The chargers are a bit slower if there are other cars loading the system. Since we were the only one charging, it only took about 30 minutes to get the range we needed to reach Vegas (charged to 220 rated). We wandered the nearby outlet mall for a bit and grabbed some drinks.

There was heavy traffic from Barstow to Vegas and it was warmish (85F). We kicked the AC into ECO mode for a few on the way out of Barstow since we weren't sure how long were were going to be in stop&go and didn't want to use up our buffer on AC. In the end, the extra caution was unneeded and we arrived at the Venetian with 70 miles to spare.

I was a bit frustrated to find the Venetian's 2 chargers blocked by a Volt and a Plug-in Prius. These cars don't NEED to charge, especially the Prius where the plug-in capability is mostly a gimmick. It's a bit rude to take the last charger for a car that doesn't need it. Thankfully by the time we finished check-in the Prius had moved and we were able to plug in. I tried to avoid blocking a charger at high traffic times. They were pretty busy all weekend. A place as big as the Venetian really needs a few more chargers. I'm going to drop them a nice note to let them know that the ability to charge was the main reason we stayed there and suggest putting in more.

In the end, it probably took about an extra hour over what an ICE car would take. Much of the time we spent charging replaced time we would have taken on bio-breaks, leg stretching, & stopping for gas. I actually felt less tired than I usually do on a trip this long. I suspect the extra time stopped forced me to recharge myself as well as the car. We lost more time than that to traffic.

The return trip was mostly a mirror of the first day. Reversed terrain plus a gnarly headwind caused us to use a lot more power from Vegas to Barstow and Barstow to Tejon than we did going. I'm glad we started with a full standard charge at each. We just did a quick 20 minute charge at Tejon. We had to wait behind another car at Harris Ranch, so we decided to cut that short as well and stopped at Gilroy for dinner and a full standard charge. Probably an extra 2 hours longer than it would have taken in an ICE car thanks to the wait at Harris.

Total was just over 1200 miles (including driving in and around Vegas) and 400 kwh. All but about 10 kwh was provided either by Tesla or the Venetian.

There's certainly some extra planning required for a trip like this. The car was flawless, but the ability to charge on the road is still in early days. It's getting there though!

Brian H | April 2, 2013

Nice, detailed write-up.

RedShift | April 2, 2013

Naaah, 85 and SJ to Las Vegas? So boring. Try that in a 60 and we will talk.

Kidding. Good write up.

NKYTA | April 2, 2013

@ Albert B, just curious if you decided you couldn't go direct from Harris to Barstow because of range?
Cliff's EVTripPlanner shows 231 miles and 77kWh at .9 on the speed multiplier.
Perhaps you just didn't want to do a full range charge?
We are going to go from the Peninsula to Vegas this weekend and were thinking of attempting to skip Tejon (and definitely skip the brodering!).

carlk | April 2, 2013

Thanks for the nice write up. One question is did you try limit your speed or just follow the traffic flow? Traffic on I5 can be pretty fast.

EVTripPlanner | April 2, 2013

Just an FYI on the route planner at - while it is pretty accurate in most cases, it doesn't integrate weather (wind) yet and we're still tuning the algorithm. I would leave a 10% buffer and also check out the "weather sensitivity" chart.

Darmok | April 2, 2013

Nice trip. We did it in a 60 in February, driving home from the factory, and it also was no problem. We too looked at the stops as opportunities rather than impediments. I wouldn't hesitate to drive back to the Bay Area, especially when the new Harris Ranch chargers are operational.

Albert B | April 2, 2013

@NKYTA full range charge at Harris is tough since there's only 1 charger and I didn't want to block other people from charging. There's also a mountain in the way on that route, I try to avoid range charges, and I like to drive fast. :-) Tejon is also an easy stop since they have 6 stations. I did end up using a lot less charge than I expected on that section of the run though.

@carlk I drove like I would in an ICE, about 5-10 over the speed limit. Slightly slower than a lot of other traffic on the 5, but not crawling. I think I hit 90 once passing a truck, but I usually avoid driving that fast.

@Darmok Wow! I could see doing that in a 60 but it'd cut things a lot closer. I assume you had to do range charges?

NKYTA | April 2, 2013

Point taken on EVTripPlanner.

@Albert B
Your point about blocking others from charging is valid. I'm going to play it by ear, but likely this trip will just hit Tejon.

Darmok | April 2, 2013

@Albert B, we did a range charge in Barstow for the leg home, otherwise standard charging was sufficient.