Before we even placed an order our MC Red P85, my wife and I began planning an October road trip from San Francisco to Southern California. Our plan was to head down Highway 1, spend a couple of nights each in Santa Barbara and Santa Monica, and head home via I-5. I have found trip reports to be incredibly helpful, and they ultimately gave me the confidence to make my own purchase. Hopefully my notes will prove useful to someone else who’s in the same boat.
For reference, my car is a P85 with 19” Cyclones, Michelin Primacy tires, and no rear spoiler. On my daily commute via I-280, I consistently achieve 92% efficiency (actual miles traveled / rated miles consumed). For this trip, ambient temperatures were between 55F and 70F headed South, and between 60F and 85F headed North. The car contained two passengers and 2 suitcases for the duration of the trip, except for our drive to Disneyland (where we had 4 passengers).
We departed from the SF Bay Area, and visited Gilroy, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ojai, Santa Monica, and Disneyland. We stopped at the Gilroy, Buellton, Tejon, and Harris Ranch Superchargers.
In Santa Barbara, we stayed at the Canary hotel. Situated just off of State Street, the hotel is in an ideal spot. The rooms are comfortable, and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Best of all, the hotel has a covered parking space right up front with a nearby NEMA 14-50 outlet. The valet staff are all very familiar with the Model S, and I had no concerns entrusting them with the car. The hotel also offers 50% off valet rates for electric vehicles (only $12.50/day, with ins-and-outs allowed). I don’t have any charging options at home, so I was able to experience ‘waking up to full a tank’ for the first time. I could get used to that!
In Santa Monica, we stayed at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. This hotel was also nice, and a just a 5 minute walk from the Santa Monica Pier and Promenade. Parking was expensive at $38.50/day. The hotel has one or two J1772 chargers in its garage, and we were the only car that used them for the duration of our stay. The valet staff know of the existence of the chargers, but I don’t think they’ve used them much. The spots were generally ICEd, but the staff was happy to move the vehicles out of the way whenever we pulled up to the hotel. The staff always let me park the car myself - in fact they suggested it. They would just send someone to along with us to badge us in/out of the garage. There are a couple of poles right next to the chargers, and some ductwork up above. If visiting, be careful backing in, and especially watch out for your trunk lid (it WILL hit when opening). For most of our stay, a Bugatti Veyron with Michigan plates was parked in front of the hotel. I wish I’d gotten a picture of the Model S parked next to it.
We didn’t encounter any range anxiety on our drive South, and thoroughly enjoyed the twisties on Highway 1. About 40 miles out from Cambria, we realized we were doing pretty good on range. We thus decided to skip the Atascadero Supercharger and head straight to Buellton. We ended up rolling in with 23 miles remaining range. It was 55F when we parked, and the car immediately threw up a warning about significantly reduced range if the battery got any colder.
One thing worth mentioning is that Monterey is a bit of a charging wasteland. If you need them, the Intercontinental has a couple of ChargePoint stations in its parking structure ($12/day). There are red cones protecting the parking spaces from ICE-ing, which is nice.
Another thing worth mentioning is that Disneyland has no apparent charging stations (staff were pretty clueless), but there are power outlets available in the Mickey and Friends lot, near the stairwells that go down to the tram. I’ve seen this mentioned in other posts, but confirmed for myself. I didn’t end up using them.
Heading home, we made our way from Santa Monica to I-5. On the Grapevine, we almost became a statistic when a large sofa fell off of a pickup truck that was 2 cars ahead of us. We swerved hard into the left-hand shoulder (at high speed) to avoid it. From Santa Monica to near-the-top of the Grapevine, we achieved 75% efficiency (used 99 miles of range to go 74 miles). FWIW, I was not babying the car by any means. By the time we reached Tejon, we had picked up 2 miles of range for an overall efficiency of 92%.
Tejon to Harris Ranch was uneventful, except for the fact that we drove the car like we stole it. While I drove, my wife streamed the World Series via TuneIn, and pulled up the animated play-by-play on mlb.com using the car’s browser. We were able to do this for the duration of the game with just a couple of brief dropouts. I achieved 84% efficiency (141 miles of range to go 119 miles).
Harris Ranch to Gilroy was a lot more interesting. We got caught up in a wind storm like nothing I’d ever experienced. I’d guess the wind was consistently blowing at 30+ mph, with significant amounts of dust, dirt and debris pummeling the car. The wind was blowing from the NW, and severely affected range. We left Harris Ranch with a buffer of 80 miles, but that dropped precipitously (even as we traveled only 60-70mph). By the time we reached Hwy 152, projected range (based on the last 30 miles) was about equal to the remaining distance, and the wind was now coming from head-on. We had used roughly 120 miles of rated range to go 75 miles. We slowed to 50-55mph for the uphill portions of Hwy 152, and picked up speed on the downhill portions. The wind slowed a bit, and we ultimately reached Gilroy with 53 miles of range remaining. We might have overcompensated, but I’m glad we didn’t push our luck.
Overall, the trip was a huge success, and we can’t wait to head off in another direction soon. With the new Superchargers having just opened up north, we’re already thinking about taking a trip to Seattle.
Miles traveled: 926
Overall Efficiency: 94%
Fastest rate of charge: 286 miles/hr @ Buellton
Dollars spent at gas stations: $17.79 (all on snacks)
Flying sofas avoided: 1
Zebras spotted roadside: 3