1000+ mile NorCal to SoCal Trip Summary

1000+ mile NorCal to SoCal Trip Summary

Since there were many people on this forum who are interested in taking this route, I decided to post this...

I drove my Tesla Model S from SF Bay Area to Southern California over the MLK weekend (drove down Friday and back on Tuesday). I logged a total of 1,025 miles during this trip. I was quite aggressive in my driving, in fact, I’ve never driven an ICE car this aggressive – and I’m a typically aggressive driver (if you know what I mean and if you’ve ever been on I-5 in the California Central Valley). Let’s just say I felt like I was on the Autobahn. I also made sure everyone was comfortable keeping the cabin at the appropriate temperatures using the HVAC system. Four people were in the car (totaling about 560 pounds) and we had our luggage, laptops, etc that added another 80 pounds or so for a total of 640 pounds. Most of the gear was placed in the rear, but a small amount was in the frunk. Generally, weather was cold to cool between supercharger locations (50F to 60F) and it was not particularly windy and no rain (pavement was dry throughout the trip). [Edit on 1/29/13: added Wh/mile for each leg of the trip in parentheses and added average Wh/mile for complete trip as well as total energy used in the summary]

Below is a summary of my experiences during the drive as well as with the SuperChargers along the way. Note that all mileage readings that I mention are “rated miles” as read from my dashboard (unless otherwise noted).

Arrive at Gilroy Outlets with 157 miles of charge remaining (308Wh/mile), did a standard charge for 45 minutes and gained 85 miles of charge. Ending range was 242 miles.

Arrive at Harris Ranch with 93 miles of charge remaining (map shows 111 miles between outlets and Harris), (374Wh/mile). Standard charge for 56 minutes and gained 138 miles of range, unplugged at 231 miles of range. When we arrived at Harris Ranch, there was one MS charging and one more waiting before us. So, we ended up having a nice meal at Harris Ranch while waiting for the only Supercharger to free up. [At a future stop, I spoke to an electrician who is responsible for Tejon Ranch and Harris Ranch superchargers. He said they have plans to start on a 10-bay supercharger at Harris ranch “in a few weeks”. He said they expect this 10-bay supercharger to be functional by early May. He mentioned needing to get the power company to put in 2,000 amp service to the site – that may take a bit of time.]

Arrive at Tejon Ranch with 69 miles of charge remaining (map shows 116 miles between Harris and Tejon), (393Wh/mile). Standard charge for 36 minutes and gained 135 miles of charge to a range of 204 miles. I didn’t count the bays, but believe there are 6, with only 2 activated. When we were there, only the left most one was functional. The second from the left did not work. [on our return trip, the electrician that I mentioned above was out there fixing the second one and bringing on line a few more.]

Arrive at Hawthorne supercharger (near Space X) with 102 miles of charge remaining (map shows 92 miles between Tejon and Hawthorne), (313Wh/mile). Max Range charge for 59 minutes and gained 158 miles of range to 260 total miles of range. There are 5 charging bays at this location, only two were functional. The one on the right only charged at 55A, so I moved to the second one in from the right and got a high amp (>200 amps) charge.

Arrive at our destination in Corona for the night with 190 miles of charge remaining (397Wh/mile). Plugged into the 110V outlet at my friend’s home and got 40 miles of charge overnight (13hrs of 12A charging).

Drove around So Cal for the next few days (about 90 miles, 280Wh/mile) and charged using ChargePoint at the South Coast Plaza (north parking structure – located at the end of the right side aisle as you enter the structure, 1st floor). Got a full standard charge to 240 miles since I was there for 5 hours (dinner at a nice restaurant in the mall and concert at the Segerstrom Concert Hall).

Drove back to Corona for the night with 187 miles remaining (471Wh/mile), charged overnight and got another 36 miles of range added from the 110V outlet. Departing range was 223 miles.

The next few days (Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning), we drove without charging to the following places:
- Corona hills to Best Buy and back = 16 miles
- Corona hills to DoubleTree hotel in Anaheim (about 3 miles south of Disneyland) = 30 miles
- DoubleTree hotel to D-land “Mickey and Friends parking structure (Sunday) and back = 6 miles
- Sunday night lost about 10 miles of charge overnight as the car was parked outside in 45F temp
- DoubleTree hotel to D-land “Mickey and Friends parking structure (Monday) and back = 6 miles)
- Monday night lost about 17 miles of charge overnight
- DoubleTree hotel to UC Irvine = 15 miles
- UC Irvine to Hawthorne Superchargers = 41 miles

Return journey on Tuesday:
Arrived at Hawthorne superchargers with 82 miles of range remaining (337Wh/mile). So, I consumed 141 miles of range between Sunday (in Corona) and Tuesday – just driving around So Cal. Did a standard charge in Hawthorne for 32 minutes and gained 129 miles of range to a final range of 211 miles.

Arrived Tejon Ranch with 88 miles of range remaining (map shows 92 miles between Hawthorne and Tejon), (373Wh/mile). Standard charge for 58 minutes and gained 155 miles of range to a final range of 243 miles. It’s interesting to note that my “projected range” indicator at the top of the Tejon pass (over 4000 ft elevation), just before going downhill to Tejon Ranch, read 88 miles. So, if you are planning to “cut it close” you’ll need to make sure you have enough projected range to get at least to the top of the pass (and add a bit for margin).

Arrived at Harris Ranch with 87 miles of range remaining (map shows 116 miles between Tejon and Harris), (381Wh/mile). Standard charge for 51 minutes and gained 156 miles of range to a final range of 243 miles. No other car was at this charge station so we were able to charge quickly and go. I did notice, however, that the Roadster charger was “out of service”. If that charger is working and there’s a line for the Supercharger, the Roadster charger can be used to charge a MS since it has the plug converter. It tops out at 70A though, so it will take much longer to charge.

Arrived at Gilroy Outlets with 83 miles of range remaining (map shows 111 miles between Harris and outlets), (397Wh/mile). Standard charge for 52 minutes and gained 160 miles of range to a final range of 243 miles.

One other thing….if you are planning to eat during charging at Hawthorne, make sure you are there during the daylight hours. We felt uncomfortable walking the quarter mile to the local eateries at night since that area is somewhat “industrial”. There were quite a few people working at SpaceX, but I just didn’t feel safe walking my family through that area at night. Daytime is perfectly fine. All other supercharger locations have food very close by.

Summary and averages:
Average Supercharger charge rate = 177 miles/hr
Average Supercharger charge time = 48 minutes
Average Supercharger miles added = 140 miles/charge
Overall power used during 1,025 mile trip = 378.4 KWHr
Average energy used during full trip = 369 Wh/Mile
Average driving inefficiency = 131% (rated miles versus map miles)
Worst driving inefficiency = 144% (from Harris Ranch to Gilroy Outlets)

Since I was not being conservative in driving style and HVAC was running, I was burning more charge than the “rated miles” reading after a supercharge. As an example, 240 miles of rated range would actually be 240 divided by 1.31 (131%) or 184 miles on a standard charge.

A safe estimate would be 1.4 or 171 miles on a standard charge since there are environmental affects that I haven’t addressed.

Another note: before embarking on your trip, call Tesla Customer Care to find out whether any of the Superchargers are not operating. Driving conservatively, it's possible to bypass one supercharger and get to the next one (but you'd want to know in advance otherwise you'll find yourself with not enough range to get to the second supercharger location.

Questions or comments, please post!

Happy Trails....

Brian H | 25 Janvier 2013

Great detail. Sounds like the best way to drive and enjoy! I envy you the weekend; any pix to share?

dahtye | 25 Janvier 2013

I took many pix of my dash so I could document and calculate the above numbers when I got back.

But I think the real info here is that traveling long distance is definitely possible with the 85KWHr battery.

Another huge plus is that there will be a 10-bay Supercharger going into Harris Ranch available to use sometime in May (if everything goes well with the install)!!

Mike C | 25 Janvier 2013

Thank you for this - I will be doing the Fremont-SoCal trip in a couple weeks. Glad to hear the Supercharger network is progressing - it will be cool to eventually see a 10-bay operating at full capacity!

nav66 | 25 Janvier 2013

@dahtye, I don't think it is possible to use the Roadster charge port. We tried, during our initial stop there in late December, as SIX Model S's were lined up to wait for the SuperCharger. The plug at the Harris Ranch Roadster port is not compatible with the given adapters. And when we were there in December, the Roadster cable was locked anyway.

Your account of the upcoming 10-bay SC at Harris Ranch checks with what we heard in December. The manager of Harris Ranch actually came out to talk to us and said that they would start construction in February.

Brian H | 25 Janvier 2013

you must have a specific adapter, which was/is made available only to owners of both a Roadster and an MS to purchase (~$650).

DouglasR | 25 Janvier 2013


I had heard that a Roadster-to-S adapter was padlocked to the Roadster charging station at Harris Ranch. Are you saying that it was not usable or that it was not really a Roadster-to-S adapter?

dahtye | 27 Janvier 2013

What I saw was an actual cable that plugged into the Roadster charger cable and at the "car" end of the cable was a Model S connector. I actually plugged it into my car on the way down south and my car registered 70A avaialble. So, this does work and, yes, the adapter cable was padlocked to the charger unit (so it doesn't walk away). The cable was a bit short - I had to park very close to the curb just to make the cable reach my Model S.

One other thing, I mentioned Projected range in my original post (as shown on the dash), but it is acutally "rated range". I'll edit the original post later.

tranhv68 | 27 Janvier 2013


I charged at the Hawthorne supercharger AFTER stopping at the Quizno's for some sandwiches. That way I could eat while the car was charging. I don't know when Quizno's closes but it should be pretty late at night.

Damian | 27 Janvier 2013

Some items of note: One Standard charger for 45 minutes gave you 85 miles (or a little under 2 miles /minute of charge), while another Standard Charger gave you 135 miles for 36 minutes of charge (or a little under 4 miles /1 minute of charge) so the variability in the charge is quite dramatic.

I was wondering where there were 4 cars lined up, was eating dinner or lunch comfortable? I mean how does that work with regards to keeping an eye out for both when it is your turn to move (and is it a creeping move such that you needed to go outside every 30 minutes or so as the other drivers moved up) and simply for making sure no one tries to make off with anything?

jchangyy | 27 Janvier 2013

Is there hours of operation for these superchargers? Or are they operational 24-7?

It's bit concerning to hear you report that some of the bays were non operational.

Dwdnjck@ca | 27 Janvier 2013

How long did each trip take? What was your average speed, including charging and waiting for chargers?

EVTripPlanner | 27 Janvier 2013

My real-world experience has been that with 70-ish mph freeway speeds and a few fun slingshot-passes, I consume about 350-360 wh/mi in "moderate weather". I've used the supercharger in Barstow - and had an issue with it quitting for no apparent reason (then being OK after restarting). Note that charge rate is NOT linear/constant - it charges faster when battery is near empty than when it is fuller. Also: some of the charge times/rates above might include time *after* the battery was "full" (i.e. the charger stopped while you were still finishing dinner) throwing off the average. I've created a quick-reference sheet covering charge rates/times, range, etc at - I've noticed quite a few people downloading it...

dahtye | 27 Janvier 2013

@tran, yes, we could have done that, but I don't allow the kids (or my wife or myself to eat in the car).

@Damian, as Cliff mentioned just previous to this post, charging rate is not linear. Charging rate is much faster when the battery is near depleted and much slower after battery is half full.
I talked to the folks in line and we passed phone numbers. The one in front of me gave me a call when he was finished charging so I could move in after him. Everyone seems very polite about knowing who is next in line without actually keeping the car "in line".

@jchangyy, there are no posted hours of operation. The latest I used the SC on this trip was 9:55pm (at Hawthorne location). Yes, it is somewhat disconcerting that some were non functional, but calling Tesla Customer Support before hand helps. Over time, more will be up and running and if one or two is down, there is a better chance that two or three will still be running.

@dwd, we arrived at Gilroy SC at 12:53 and departed at Hawthorne SC at 21:56. So, roughly 9 hours including all stops. And yes, some stops were actually longer (Harris Ranch for instance since we needed to wait for the charger or locations where charging actually stopped due to achieving standard charge but I didn't leave exactly after charging completed. Average speed varied for each leg of the trip depending on traffic, but most of the time I was driving at a very brisk pace (driving on weekdays helped). The return trip arriving at Hawthorne SC at 11:35 and departing Gilroy SC at 19:58 - so 8hrs 23 minutes.

dahtye | 28 Janvier 2013

I forgot to mention in the original post that I used the Roadster charger at Harris Ranch for a few minutes. This charger had a Model S adapter cable so it worked with my Model S. I saw 204V and 70A on my display while charging - which is over 14KWHr. This means I utilized both chargers in my MS. This might be interesting info if you are considering whether purchasing the second charger unit in your MS.

JZ13 | 28 Janvier 2013

I'm very disappointed with the charge times at the Supercharger stations. Tesla states 150 miles in 30 minutes yet your experiences were FAR slower. And it you were starting your charges with the battery well below 50% charge. I'll be picking my S up at the factory in a few weeks and driving to So. Cal. so I hope they get a few more stations on-line by then.

negarholger | 28 Janvier 2013

@JZ13 - 150miles at 55miles/hr. Four month ago nobody knew about the SCs and now all I read is "it's not fast enough" and "there are not enough SC" etc... please give Tesla some room, permits etc take time. For now just enjoy your new car.

jchangyy | 28 Janvier 2013

Looks like I'll be driving my ICE for trips down to SoCal until Telsa can build up more SCs.

negarholger | 28 Janvier 2013

@jchangyy - flying is the answer if you are in the mood to race. Harris ranch seems to be the choke point right now.

portia | 29 Janvier 2013

here is a link to my siimilar trip back in Nov.

wow, 6 cars at Harris Ranch, good thing Tesla is putting in 10 bays there. Don't forget you can update e dharger status on Recargo for all SC locations, it will be helpful to know they are working and how many are available.

dahtye | 29 Janvier 2013

Thanks for the link Portia. I though I had read this but could not find it again prior to my trip.

dahtye | 30 Janvier 2013

I updated my original post above with Wh/mile for each leg of the trip.

dayoreo | 31 Janvier 2013

The first 1000 mile electric car trip was in Sept.17, 1910!!

Here is the story:

dahtye | 1 février 2013

Great article. Too bad Edison didn't use AC motors. 2.5 hp was just too weak to challenge the powerful ICE.

robkal007 | 1 février 2013

Thanks for the post. For comparison: Drove Long Beach to San Diego yesterday, 202 miles roundtrip leaving with 269 Rated Range miles after MaxCharge and drove with the traffic on the freeway mostly around 70-75 mph. Returned with 50 miles of rated range. No charges, just very smooth driving. Overall Wh/m was 317. Question: is it average speed or acceleration that degrades efficiency more? My impression is driving smoothly is more important than speed, but clearly slowing down and driving smoothly can extend the range a lot.

Regarding the rate of charge at Superchargers: tapers off a lot when charging the top third of the battery. My strategy was to keep the battery in the bottom third or quarter when arriving at the SC and leave with enough extra range to make the next SC. Would like to hear more from folks about other charging strategies.

eltonf | 1 février 2013

@robkal007 in my brief road trip experience smooth driving is most important. Hard acceleration eats into the battery quickly.