SF to LA Memorial Day weekend superchargers

SF to LA Memorial Day weekend superchargers

Just got back from the Memorial Day weekend. Convinced my wife that we could not use the ICE car and run fossil fuels, etc. we were worried about a back up at the chargers. We left early on Friday, around 745. We decided to stop at gilroy to top off and see the charger for future use. There are four chargers at gilroy and three were taken. We took the last spot and only got half the charge rate expected. Fortunately we didn't need the charge too badly. One of my kids threw a huge tantrum about getting some junk food, so we packed up and heard for Harris ranch. I have never been to Harris ranch before, and probably wouldn't have if the chargers were not there. We already had breakfast, but they don't serve lunch until11. So we had another breakfast, a decent meal. Most importantly there were 6 chargers and no one there! I was feeling pretty good about taking the tesla now! We attempted a charge on one stall, but could not get it to connect. I then moved over one stall and got full supercharging at 287mi/hr! Amazing to see you battery fill like that. We left with close to full battery and headed for LA. Stopped in Tejon for a break and a quick top off again. No problems here again full charge rate after one MS left. They have 6 chargers and we were the only ones charging again, after one car left. All in all it was rather painless and good experience.

For the return trip we charged max at my parents and skipped Tejon going straight to Harris. I was driving 80 most of the way. Got to Harris with 23 mi rated range. Plugged in and initially got only half supercharge, so moved to another charger. We were the second car. The other MS was gone when we came back. It would have been pretty difficult if we had to charge at half rate, fortunate that I could easily move to another station. We really wanted lunch this time, but again were too early. We waited 20 minutes for the 11 menu. I left Harris with 235 mi rate and drove again around 80 stopping this time in gilroy for a quick shopping. There were four cars charging when we arrived , but one was just leaving! We were fortunate as I saw another MS leave the lot as we pulled in. We charged for about 20 minutes at full charge rate.. When I got back to the car another MS was plugging in to the level 2 charger. I offered my spot in a few minutes as we packed up. As we chatted another MS drive up asking if we were finishing, the other driver was already taking my spot, especially since he only had 4mi rate range left. I couldn't help noticing that the other three MS cars were no longer charging! This could have been a very frustrating experience if I needed the charge and was forced to wait for someone to shop while they were fully charged. I will not rely on the gilroy chargers because of this. There really should be more chargers, and or a way for people to communicate to those that are done to come move out! This was the first time I used the superchargers and was glad that it was easy and painless with little to no waiting! It took use about 7hours for the trip, probably about an extra hour than we would have had. Looks like my ICE car is getting sold! Really don't see any use left! Well maybe Tahoe since it is four wheel drive.

shop | May 27, 2013

Glad you had a great trip. Nice to see no issues on a very busy weekend. I can't wait for the Model X so that we can ditch the SUV as well.

There should indeed be some supercharging etiquette - move your model S when it is done charging please!!!

negarholger | May 27, 2013

glad it worked out for you. hope you had a good time.

dvarien | May 27, 2013

I use the Gilroy Supercharging Stations at least once a week at lunch time.I am leaving my Morgan Hill workplace by 11:30 to be assured a spot. So far so good. But on several occasions I have occupied the 4th spot.
I usually don't need much more than a half charge so after In-n-Out, Chinese or a Salad I'm good. Like everything else I'm sure Tesla knows the usage pattern in Gilroy. I'm thinking their gonna need additional chargers soon.
Is there an alarm on our Tesla app that alerts us to our batteries being full? I'm not aware of it. I would go back to my car and park elsewhere if I had more shopping or eating to do. At this point I am monitoring my charge level via the Tesla app pretty regularly although it may be inconsiderate of my lunch-mate, but if I am distracted maybe a prompt would be good.
I believe ChargePoint does send a text at charging's completion.

jbunn | May 27, 2013

I use the time remaining estimate on the phone app which is pretty accurate for normal charging. Close enough for supercharging.

Seems like the charger could handshake with the car including VIN. Once that's known could be tied to a owner and their contact information. It would be good if the application would text when done.

It's really important to move your car as soon as it's done. Nobody parks in front of a gas pump and goes off to dinner. Same rule applies here.

negarholger | May 28, 2013

It is easy in Gilroy to misjudge the time spend in the shops. If you have one of these smart phones you could set an alarm to remind you to check the charging status.

Bob W | May 28, 2013

Gilroy may be the busiest Supercharger, especially on weekends. I agree that they need to add more capacity there.

In the mean time, as a courtesy, Model S owners should display something like this placard with contact information and expected charging completion time indicated with a paper clip:

(Designed for J1772 connections which can be disconnected, but you get the idea).

I do wonder how many nearby residents are abusing the privilege of "free charging" at Gilroy, when they could quite easily charge at home overnight? I believe Superchargers are intended for those who are passing through, not locals, and such a privilege should not be abused (e.g., doing all your charging at Gilroy, once a day).

How can you tell if a parked Model S is still charging? When you lock the car, eventually the green light dims and the display goes dark, even when it is still charging, right? The Superchargers have no "current flowing" indicators that I am aware of (an oversight they should fix). Hence the need for the placard (which could even be electronic).

I suggest that the charge port should actually unlock itself whenever charging is complete (but only when Supercharging). This would allow others to use the same cable instead of having to wait for someone else to finish shopping and return to the car.

Unfortunately though, the SuperCharger cables are too short to allow the "hose" to reach more than a single vehicle. A 20' SuperCharger cable would be pretty heavy and difficult to handle. They may never be able to fix that issue without some type of "Lazy Susan" station redesign.

In sum, please be courteous to your fellow Model S owners. When the Superchargers are really busy, charge to get what you need, no more. And please move your car as soon as you get what you need, even if you have to interrupt your lunch to do it.

Joel N. Weber II | May 28, 2013

If shopping center Superchargers tend to involve people shopping longer than the car takes to charge, perhaps Tesla should tweak the Supercharger design so that each set of 12 10kw charger modules can feed four Supercharger cables, instead of the current two. That way, when a car that's been topped off is still using a cable, it's not so likely to be tying up any of the charger modules. Adding the extra cables shouldn't require the electric monopoly to do anything the way adding more charger modules might, so if Tesla wanted this in place by July 4, I bet they could make it happen.

(I don't claim that four is necessarily the optimal number to use in the long term, but it might be a good number to try out.)

I also wonder if calling Tesla to report a problem with the Superchargers (namely, that they're full) every time it happens would be worthwhile. Maybe they can identify the owners of the cars that are topped off and blocking access to the Superchargers and call those folks and ask them to move, and in any case, if Tesla gets lots of complaints, they may be more likely to fix this.

One other interesting question is whether adding Superchargers at a nearby highway rest area would be useful. I bet right now, some people react to a long wait for the Supercharger by shopping even more. If the shopping center knew that Supercharger users had a good alternative if they don't provide enough Supercharger bays, they may have more of an incentive to work with Tesla to expand the Superchargers as needed.

negarholger | May 28, 2013

@Joel - agreed on most of your points, but some things to consider
- shopping malls in urban areas are short of parking space and there are not willing to have too many dedicated spots for EV charging. So it is not up to Tesla to just add more spaces.
- super chargers are supposed to be in well lit areas were you feel safe and comfortable to spend 30 min ( e.g. women ). I have been to many gas stations were I thought hanging around for 2 min was way too long ( as a male ).
- Gilroy is a special case... it has to support too many travel paths
(a) Bay Area to LA and Las Vegas via I5
(b) Bay Area travel down 101
(c) Bay Area weekend travel to Monterey / Carmel
(d) Bay Area shopping at Gilroy outlets
- Bay Area has thousands of MSs now and growing fast - I got mine 3/1 first but now my humble neighborhood has seven. All these folks have only one super charger for their longer distance travels south.
- better options to relieve Gilroy would be a second SC on 152 just over the hill there is a large rest area ( for I5 travel ) or at 101/156 intersection ( to support 101 and Monterey travel)

And I all say this as a spoiled brat because we have plenty of SCs in California - lets get some more in the rest of the country first. I absolutely do not mind waiting in Gilroy while others have nothing, zero, nada...

bt77057 | May 29, 2013

Excellent point about moving when completed, or leaving a number to call.

Point of note: after the car is locked, the lights around the charge port go off. I don't think the dash stays lit up either (I am not 100% on this...) but, if I am correct, how would you know if someone else is finished charging?

Vawlkus | May 29, 2013

Hmmm...... Maybe moving forward Tesla should start with a minimum of six stalls instead of four. More initial outlay, but they won't be as likely to need upgrading as quickly. | May 29, 2013

@bt77057 - you're right - there is no visual indication after charging starts and the car is locked, what state it is in (charging or full).

Another recommendation is to confirm you're getting charged before you leave. I've had a couple of cases where it connected, but I was getting no charge after 5 minutes. Even tried unplugging and replugging in. Moved to another spot and all was fine. I think this is rare, but either check before you go or check your app on your phone. Usually you start getting a charge in 30 seconds or so.

Sunday late afternoon can be quite crowded at Gilroy. Had to wait 20 minutes to get in, and 3 more MS showed up after me (and one was already on the adjacent slow J1772 charger) who took my spot after I left. Still, it was a nice place to be if you do have to wait.

Aleksandyr | May 29, 2013

I thought the lights around the charge port stay green when charging and turn off when done. I was assuming this since mine was green, but the doors were unlocked. I would only assume the other cars were done since they were there when I arrived and after I charged for about 20 minutes they were still there. At least one of them had to be full. It would seem that Tesla could change the software to keep the charge port light indicator on when supercharging so we could tell when the cars are done and at least start looking for the owner

carlf9121 | May 29, 2013

As part of the SuperCharger software infrastructure update, all users should register their mobile phone # in the TM database website and when your vehicle is approaching 10 mins before, 5 mins before, 4 mins,....until the battery is full, send a SMS to the owner alerting them of their status so he / she can be courteous enough to return to their vehicle to drive out of the charging bay. Since the MS is full-time 3G, this is possible.

Also, the SuperChargers can be updated with a display, during the final countdown, display the owner's mobile # so the next MS in line can contact the owner as a courtesy reminder.

None of us want to stay at the SC beyond what is needed to refill our battery pack and any means of being more efficient will make use of these SuperChargers a pleasant experience.

Brian H | May 29, 2013

"Done" is overdoing it, anyway. The SCs are designed to get you quickly from maybe 20 to 70%, not to 100%. That last 20% or so can take as much time as the previous 50%; I believe the charge rate drops to 40A or so.

JohnnyMac | May 29, 2013

Once the car locks, the charging indicator lights on the car no longer display. With the standard charging cable, if one presses the button on the connector while it is locked into the car (which one would normally do to open the charger door prior to plugging in) the lights on the car charging port then display temporarily to show you the charging status. Saw this at Santana Row today. Not sure if the same applies to the supercharger connector or not. I would presume so, but others may know.

fibrillation | August 22, 2013


"For the return trip we charged max at my parents and skipped Tejon going straight to Harris."

I am planning a trip to Berkeley from LA this weekend. I was thinking about skipping Tejon, but worry that the I may not make it.

By Google map the distance from LA to Harris Ranch is just under 200 miles. The maximum "real world" mileage I've ever had on my MS was 202 miles. I am concerned that the initial 50 mils of uphill over the pass might significantly reduce the range.

How many miles did you drive from your parents' to Harris Ranch?