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1700 mile Road trip, S85

1700 mile Road trip, S85

Just completed a 1703.8 road trip: Phoenix-Anaheim; then Anaheim-North Oakland; then N Oakland-Tejon Tanch, and then to Phoenix. Great car on the highway, of course, but a few things stand out:

1. Charge time adds 40-50% to ICE drive time. If you stretch out the charges to the max distance to a supercharger [150-200 miles], it takes a l-o-o-o-n-g time, 1hr 20 minutes to charge to full at each stop. Phx-Anaheim took 9.5 hours, of which 2’45” was charging. That ratio was a bit higher on the next two long legs of the trip. And you can’t drive 75-80 MPH, which is 5 miles over, consistently, as it eats too much battery.

2. OR you can follow Trip Planner recommendations, which have you charge for 30 minutes or less, or just enough to get to the very next Supercharger, which might only be 50 miles away. But if you do this, you will make more stops. It comes out about the same.

3. The TP recommendations seem to assume about 330 wpm, or about 60 mph, in my experience. Coming home, I left Quartzite with 150 miles in the battery and 98 miles to the Buckeye Supercharger [note: if I charge to full at Quartzite, I could be home in 151 miles. Charging to 150 miles only took 25 minutes; charging to full would have taken 1’20”]. Leaving Quartzite, I immediately sped up to 80 mph, and TP instantly changed my next stop from Buckeye, 98 miles away, to Wickenburg, 92 miles away. But the road to Wickenburg is on 2 lane US 60 with much slower mph driving speeds than on I-10. Distance home was the same. Go figure. I had a similar experience driving from Oakland. I left with 250 miles in the battery, plenty for the 178 miles to Harris Ranch, IN THEORY; but it’s uphill. So trip planner took me only 25 miles to Dublin, recharge for 36 minutes, and then to the next supercharger at Manteca, only 41 miles, to charge for 43 minutes to go to 132 miles to Harris Ranch. There I had a leisurely lunch in its terrific restaurant and charged for 60 minutes for the 118 mile run to Tejon Ranch.

4. Sticking to trip planner recommendations for superchargers can add significantly to journey time. The google maps round trip ICE driving distance for this itinerary is 1546 miles. I was taken on several strange detours by TP which added 157 miles to the trip. This is 2+ hours, which is not de minimis.

5. If you are driving a completely unfamiliar route for the first time, as I was, you spend almost every minute monitoring your watts per mile, the estimated remaining miles, and miles showing left in the battery. This does not make for a stress free trip, at least not for me.

Bottom line: you can’t drive at speed, which is very frustrating in this beast, and you must expect to take a lot of time for charging. IMHO, there are serious compromises to taking this car on a very long trip.

Mozap | 9 februari 2016

I just completed a 3,000 mile road trip from atlanta to the bay area and back. I'm retired so waiting time for charging didn’t bother me. I always added 50-70 miles of charge to whatever distance the gps said i needed to get to the next supercharger i wanted to drive to. I never had fewer than 20 miles of range left when i got to the next supercharger. I drove at a somewhat aggressive pace most of the time. Never really experienced range anxiety using this practice.

5thumbs | 9 februari 2016

Did a slightly shorter trip from SF to Palm Springs to Anaheim and back. I used evtripplanner and I also had a clip board to record the actual miles/energy used at Gilroy, Harris, Tejon, Rancho, and Cabazon. EVTRIPLANNER was very accurate. But yes, I did "overcharge" at each Supercharger and it did take a little longer to charge than I expected (adding at least 2 hours on to drive down to Palm Springs). I figure I would have had to stop at least once for gas and to eat so maybe an extra hour or 90 minutes for the trip from SF to Palm Springs. BTW, when I got to Palm Springs it was like a sand storm in the middle east. All I could think was this is going to mess up the paint on my Tesla. Sand snuck into my frunk!

buickguy | 9 februari 2016

I recently completed a slightly longer trip from San Jose to Portland and back (with two major side excursions) for about 1,900 miles in my 2014 S85. No worries, but I drove freeways at slightly above CA and OR speed limits which put me at 70-75 almost all the time. Use was about 315 wpm. Good weather allowed me to supercharge to only about 20% more than I would need to get to the next supercharger (except for two range charges for off of I-5 excursions where I charged to 90+%). Therefore, my charge times were just long enough for a stretch, restroom break, and phone calls. I didn't experience any range anxiety nor long charge times (except for the two noted above). My experience says that 80 MPH eats electrons; try 70-75.

Haggy | 9 februari 2016

I haven't made that particular trip, but my experience on at least part of it has been quite different in terms of how much extra time I spend because of charging. If I leave the Fremont area with a full charge (i.e. leave home at 100%) then when I get to Harris Ranch, the battery level won't be very relevant if I'm planning to eat. By the time I finish my meal, I'll be at 100%. The last time I made that trip, Buttonwillow wasn't open yet and neither was Burbank, so that meant stopping at Tejon Ranch for about 15 minutes for a trip with a final destination in Orange county. What I found was that by the time I was ready to leave TR, my wife usually hadn't yet returned from the restroom or wherever she went to grab a snack or whatever else. So if I had been planning to stop to eat anyway and also planned to stop for a snack or restroom break, then no time was lost. Arguably, I would have saved time by not stopping at gas stations, since I would have parked at a restaurant anyway, but might have substituted a gas station stop for TR, unless my wife really wanted frozen yogurt in which case the walk was shorter with the supercharger.

But that's the best case scenario, not the worst case scenario. Since I don't live in OC and won't start a return trip with a 100% charge, I would need at least one more stop on the way home. On recent trips, I generally had breakfast near Fountain Valley, which didn't leave me at 100% by the time I left town. And Burbank hadn't opened yet. So it most likely meant charging somewhere else in the area, meaning a freeway detour, and with traffic in that area it probably meant wasting 20-30 minutes in traffic. The next SC stop could be combined with a meal, in which case HR wouldn't be. But TR was still needed in between and the last time I was there, there was a 15 minute wait for a charger. Any stop at a SC without something to do is idle time.

All this has changed now that I could go from home to Buttonwillow to OC with a single stop, and if I spend enough time eating there, it would mean a single stop. On the way back, I'd pass by Burbank anyway, but from what I understand, I'm not likely to find it empty and might have to wait or be paired up. I've had times when the car simply took longer to charge at certain SCs with no explanation.

So in an ideal case, it might not take any more time and might even be marginally faster. But in any event, the amount of time I save overall by never needing gas on a day to day basis more than makes up for it. But in the worst case, it could add hours to my trip.

Small stops at 30 minutes or less won't come out to be more or less the same as fewer long stops. The last 10% of the charge takes considerably longer, and leaving earlier but spending the same time as you would have for that 10%, but somewhere else where the battery is low, will give you far more miles of range. If that last 10% took a half hour, but a charge somewhere else for half an hour would have given you 155 miles of range instead of 26, then the long charge would have been a waste of time unless you were dining while you charged.

NOLEK SUM | 9 februari 2016

Mozap: agree. It is no problem if you don't mind the extra time. But you MUST add 40-50% to the drive time. IF you do better that is a bonus, but if you expect significantly better, you will be disappointed.

georgehawley.fl.us | 9 februari 2016

Best strategy seems to be to plot your trip from SC to SC with, ideally, something like 150 miles+/- between stops. If you drive at 70-75 mph, you will maximize the overall mph average (50-55 mph). This approach appears to minimize range anxiety and reduce dependence on the suspect nav. system. But, as the OP says, the trip will take longer than with an ICEV by 15-20%.

NOLEK SUM | 9 februari 2016

I tried that strategy on the trip home. Oakland-Indio 11.5 hours total, 4 of charging. 6 SC stops, 600 miles.

Bighorn | 9 februari 2016

I average between 50 and 55 MPH over long Tesla trips. Maybe 62 MPH in an ICE so nowhere near a 40-50% penalty for me. More like 20%, which I'm fine with.

Mike83 | 9 februari 2016

I save time driving my Tesla and avoid oily and smelly gas stations. I like stopping at a SC and can work on the internet either at a Starbucks or other establishment. Getting a meal or even doing a little exercise allows my journeys to be relaxing and I can accomplish much more. Also arriving at a destination I am rested and can really enjoy the my visits. Much more fun. ;-)

georgehawley.fl.us | 9 februari 2016

@Gadfly: obviously you were smart enough to figure it out on the way home and averaged about 52 mph, consistent with the math and the experience of seasoned road trippers. This relative low average speed is the one major weakness of EVs today compared to ICEVs for those road trippers who like to push it. It is probably why Toyota decided to go the HFC route. Over time ( probably more than I have :-)) ) I expect the gap to narrow. This will require automobiles fabricated with much lighter materials without sacrificing safety (BMW is pressing ahead with carbon fiber.). Think a model S that weighs 1/3 less. It will require battery packs with about 135 kWh capacity without adding weight (Think 50% more efficient.). It will help to bump the SC power to 150 kW. When those things are pulled off at a competitive price maybe over the next 10 years or so, ICEVs will be obsolete. For now they are merely obsolescent.

muddy | 9 februari 2016

We drove 5500 miles in 17 days last summer: Tacoma WA area to Rapid City, Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, St Louis, KC MO, Denver, Cheyenne, Billings, Home. Our time penalty for all the extra charging stops was more like Bighorn's: 20%. Our Speed was pretty consistently 5-9 mph over the limit. Formerly we did our road trips in a Jag with a big tank and 500 mile range. But we rather enjoyed the more frequent charging stops required for our Model S. We made it a point to stretch our legs along with the dog's, spend a little money at businesses near the SCs, chat with the locals and with Tesla owners at the SCs when ever possible. Yes the road trip took longer. But more fun and more refreshed when arriving at the destination.

Silver2K | 10 februari 2016

In the past, you just look out the window to enjoy the different areas you drive. While supercharging you actually get out and enjoy where you are.

to me, that's a huge benefit.

ps: bring chloroform if you're taking your wife to save money on shopping.

bp | 10 februari 2016

While the extra time to stop at the superchargers increases drive time, we've found the breaks are nice to have. Getting out of the car for a few minutes, walking around, hitting the restrooms, and getting something to eat or drink. And spacing the superchargers roughly 2 hours apart works well - giving us periodic breaks during the drive.

But the current Trip Planner doesn't eliminate range anxiety. On our last trip, during one segment, even though we had charged more than TP had recommended, we still had to reduce our speed by 20 MPH for most of that segment to get to the next supercharger.

At least for our trips, TP's recommendation on charging level at each supercharger are consistently low - and we end up carefully monitoring our energy consumption most of the time so we can take corrective action as soon as possible - and try to avoid driving significantly below the posted speed.

The TP software is a good start - and it's correctly labelled as "beta". Hopefully Tesla is collecting enough data from actual TP usage to improve the software's prediction algorithms and provide owners more settings to customize the planning for how they plan to drive, in addition to taking advantage of all of the available data impacting energy consumption (traffic conditions, elevation changes, temperature, rain/snow, speed relative to posted, ...).

fskohler | 12 februari 2016

My bladder tells me when it is time to recharge.

ram1901 | 12 februari 2016

Sounds like I should have gotten the bigger battery..

CraigW | 12 februari 2016

Bighorn!

+1

Why the rush to get there? If that is such a big problem, then fly!

Cripes, my wife complains because I take too much time to talk to the other Tesla owners and by the time I stop, my car is at 100%.

tjhappel | 12 februari 2016

I love my car but for road trips it could seriously use a way larger battery. 350 miles of real range would be a godsend. With two little kids and a two day weekend it every minute counts.

NKYTA | 12 februari 2016

@gadfly, swat.

While the best I've been able to do on a long road trip is avg 56mph including charging, 40% is bunk. 50% laughable.

Try again.

NKYTA | 12 februari 2016

Learn your cars capabilities.

NKYTA | 12 februari 2016

It isn't just EVs.

teslaliving | 15 februari 2016

With our ICE cars we drove for a long time and then took a longish stop for gas/food. Now we grab quick snacks at the supercharger stops if we're in a rush. So rather than an hour sit down meal, grab a quick bite at Chipolte or something for 20-30 mins and get back on the road. That helps offset some of the lost time.

Also one thing I always did was over-charge -- add more miles than I needed. Now I tend to follow the charge recommendations from the app to get to the next stop/charger. In the summer I cut that shorter (less margin) but in the winter I go with the 20% margin it wants.