San Diego to Las Vegas road trip

San Diego to Las Vegas road trip

Took a trip to Vegas last weekend in my Tesla Model S P85. Here’s a summary of the trip and some data points for anyone interested.

Technically I got stuck in Vegas (although I did plan to leave the car anyway). I didn’t have enough charge to drive back so I took a gas car instead. If I had a home in Vegas with a high power charger I’d be ok, but just getting a convenience charge from various hotel and shopping mall parking did not cut it.

The solution for out-of-town charging is the Tesla Super Charger. I did not mind spending an hr getting a charge as I could watch the progress and was able to relax, listen to internet radio, and browse the web while charging. However, Tesla needs to install one just outside of Vegas and another outside of San Diego. This would have allowed me to charge up once arriving at Vegas and just before departing for San Diego or visa-verse for someone taking a trip in the other direction. Placing these just outside of town would make it less convenient for folks just topping off leaving them open for people that really need it.

All in all the chargers are still somewhat difficult to find, but most attendants seemed to know about them. Google maps worked well navigating me to them, however Tesla’s navigation still needs some work.

Trip Log:
“rr miles” are rated range in miles of battery capacity reported by the car.

4:20pm Leaving San Diego
- 262 rr miles
- 259 rr miles, stopped for gas, err I mean to get some water.

5:17pm Tire Pressure Warning
- 187 rr miles, tire pressure warning
o Called Tesla support (5:17pm Sat), said the sensor was too sensitive (first sw bug) told me to pull over and check, then reset the system to eliminate the warning. Car does not report actual pressure in tires, must check them manually – 42psi expected.
o Was able to reset the system and tire pressure warning went away. This warning came on again later in the trip, but I just ignored it and eventually it went away on its own.
- At this point I became concerned about the range and distance remaining so I slowed down to ~71mph and put the car on cruise control

7:33pm Reached Barstow
- 40 rr miles
- First leg of trip 172.2 miles, 62.2kWh, 361 avg Wh/m (~71mph)
- Couldn’t find the Tesla super charger – Tesla Navigation left me in the middle of the road with no visible signage or clue. I stopped at the In-N-Out and collected my thoughts over a burger and fries. I was extremely nervous about not finding the super charger and using up my remaining range looking for it. Ultimately I used my Android Phone and Google Navigation to get me there.

7:50pm Found Tesla’s Super Charger
- 39 rr miles, Tesla’s super charger was located behind Chile’s in a very inconspicuous spot with no real signage. Once connected I could relax, put the seat back and listen to my internet radio and browse the web. Eventually took a walk to the gas station for a drink, etc.
- The following are some data points taken during the charge:
o 7:50pm, 40 rr miles, 248amp, 362v, 300mph
o 8:34pm, 200 rr miles, 114amp, 390v, 250mph
o 256 rr miles, 55amp, 404v, 196mph
o 9:21pm, 270 rr miles, 20amp, 404v, 168mph

9:21pm Left for Vegas
- 271 rr miles, decided to cruse at 73mph
- One observation, while I can smoke anyone on the road (even motorcycles), gas cars still smoke me on the long hauls. I’m forced to drive slower and more conservatively due to range issues. Watching the Gas guzzlers zip by after a couple hrs put things back in perspective.

11:48pm Arrived in Vegas
- 40 rr miles, and I’m extremely nervous about finding a charger and getting a charge before I run out. Typically I’ve been using almost 2x what’s reported as rated range, so I don’t want to spend my remaining charge looking for chargers.
- Parked the car for the night and met up with my friend.

Sunday - In Vegas
- Didn’t use the car until the next day, down to 32 rr miles now since the car was not plugged in overnight.
- Car was also de-rated meaning that I was losing my top acceleration as the range decreased.
- First charge was at “the Shops Valet”. There was a Volt plugged in when we arrived, and I told the Valet that we needed to get on the charger asap. He told me that their manager knew how to connect the car and would be the one to do it. When we got back we had 70 rr miles. Better, but not comfortable to last the entire weekend. Pretty sure we weren’t on the charger for long – Those damn Volt owners that don’t really need a charge…

Monday – In Vegas
- Next charge was at the Venetian 6th floor parking. We left it there Sunday night (or Monday morning…) From the charger I could see that we got 32kWh in ~5hrs. For an 85kWh battery that’s not enough, so I disconnected and reconnected it again and could see the car continue to charge. The charger connected to the Volt next to me was green which I think must indicated a full charge while mine was still red. I would need at least 260-270 rr miles to make the trip back to Barstow.
The Drive Home
- At this point I borrowed my friends gas car and drove home. Amazingly it took only a half tank of gas and prob around $30 to get home without stopping in Barstow. Again, the gas car wins on the long range trip…

Didn’t see any Leaf’s while I was there…

peahl | 21 februari 2013

Did you charge before the trip and at SC Barstow with the max range setting or standard?

Darmok | 21 februari 2013

Thanks for the info. Here's another plea for a SC in Primm, which would allow you to juice up before hitting LV, you'd have enough to drive around town and get back to Primm for the return trip. You wouldn't have to worry about putting show offs in their place. And there's plenty to do in Primm. Full disclosure, I am neither long nor short Primm stock.

brookbot | 21 februari 2013

I put the car in Max Range mode the night before and left it there for the entire trip. the fact that I was still charging w/110v at home accounts for the late start Saturday as I wanted to leave with as close to max charge as I could get and 110v was only giving me 2mph in rated range.

skymaster | 21 februari 2013

Lets See, Only 110v at home, racing people on a "long Range Trip", "Slowing down" to 71mph (how fast were you going),hanging in Vegas with a friend (who has a car) for around 36 Hours without being able to get charged back up!! I will not say anything else ,or some folks might not like what I have to say. You also stated that you planned on leaving the Model S, then implyed that you got stuck...I had better shut up.

brookbot | 21 februari 2013

Point is what would I do if I didn't have a friend in Vegas? Sure I could have parked at the Venetian for my entire stay, taken cabs, etc. But whats the point of having a hot car and not being able to drive it around, especially in Vegas!

My concern is that the 220v chargers don't replenish fast enough after a long trip, and it appears that some just shut-off after a predetermined charge, so I would have had to keep checking.

What if I wanted to stay somewhere else?

I think blephneiben has it right, this is another plea for a Super Charger to be located just outside of LV. I was realy happy with the charging in Barstow. Not to mention super pleased that this trip was possible at all, even if I do drive erratically.

Docrob | 21 februari 2013

Just as Broders biggest error was not charging overnight, why did you not charge the first night you were there, had you charged the first night ou would have had a nearly full car to use in Vegas the next day then topped up to full on he 2nd night ready to head back to Barstow.

Objective1 | 21 februari 2013

@brookbot Thanks for sharing.

DC@Tesla | 21 februari 2013

Very useful information; I'm in L.A. so SD and LV are definitely places I would want to travel to in the S, but won't because of lack of superchargers close to those two cities. Relying on other methods to charge is very inconvenient indeed for long trips...I hope Tesla is listening. They could really sell more cars in SoCal by installing SC in those two locations.
p.s. you didn't see any LEAFs there because they can't make the trip, thus only Volts.

c.bussert67 | 22 februari 2013

Good write brookbot. My Vegas run was much like yours. I did have trouble finding that pesky Barstow charger. I assumed it was next to In n Out cause everybody talks about it. Once I reached vegas, I had trouble with the Mandalay Shoppes charger. Wasted many hours there. There was another S there two of the days and we totally hogged that charger all day! A volt pulled up and moaned about us being there too long and he needed a charge. I gave up my spot for him since I had enough, but not max charge. He thanked me for being nice. I really wanted to tell him to buy some gas! LOL.
Yeah, recovering 200 miles at 30A is a long time! We plugged in for two days at the shoppes. It's not cheaper than gas to plug in near a massive shopping outlet with the wife for 5 hours! Cha-ching!
I had several dropped/reduced charges there.
Then moved to the Venetian and got more reliable charging. All good tho and got my range up and had no issues the entire trip.
It was really cool not paying for gas the entire 600 miles! Just payed for it at the mall...

Darmok | 22 februari 2013

For those staying in Las Vegas, consider heading downtown to visit either the Outlet Mall, downtown casinos or other downtown attractions (mob museum, zip line). There are 6 free Charge Point chargers at the county building at 500 S. Grand Central Parkway. It is across the street from the mall and about a 10-15 minute walk to Fremont Street. There are also busses that head to Fremont St from Grand Central between the county building and mall. Downtown is a nice change of pace from the Strip, and the blackjack is better! Have a nice lunch at Triple George on Third St or Le Thai on Fremont east of Las Vegas Blvd, or hit the buffet at Golden Nugget or Main Street Station, and let the car recharge.

stevenmaifert | 22 februari 2013

Barstow Supercharger - If you use the voice command "Where is Tesla Supercharger Barstow, Barstow, CA", the Google map will drop a location pin on top of it. You can also enter the search manually.

stevenmaifert | 22 februari 2013

Typo - Only one Barstow :(

peahl | 22 februari 2013

So with setting max range it seems you can only charge to 270 rr miles. I was hoping at least to 285. That is not good.

skymaster | 22 februari 2013

Drive 55mph and you will get your 300 miles.

c.bussert67 | 22 februari 2013

Good tip steven! I'll have to try that next time. Before, I even tried typing in supercharger and it would find no results... this was on 4.0 software. Used internet and got location from Tesla site and plugged it in google maps. So with 4.2 I should be good now!
Next big trip is from S.D. to S.F.! I'll be needing ALL the SC's then!

Tâm | 22 februari 2013

1) Planning to find Supercharger:

In the old days, we had to plan our trip first. Nowadays, we drive first with the GPS then plan later!

You could go to and search for "Tesla Supercharger Barstow, Barstow, CA" and see a few pictures, include the one saying to enter at Am/Pm Gas Station:

2) Your own reliable Las Vegas 240V 50A charger:

I set the cruise speed at 70 mph and passed other cars at a temporary higher speed for seconds at a time. I arrived to Las Vegas with 56 rated miles left after a standard charge from Barstow.

I drove for a scenic tour at the Las Vegas strip and China Town and got sleepy and drove to at Circus Circus as the battery went down to 40 rated range left.

It's "your own charger" because you pay for it You can pay for a private trailer for $105.75 a night or just charge there and sleep off site for $20 (prices before taxes.)

I woke up in 6 hours and saw on my phone that the standard charge was completed at 241 rated miles and I went back to sleep.

I never felt I was stuck in Las Vegas. I was just too tired, took a nice night sleep and woke up in the morning with a completed standard charge and ready for the day.

Tesla Model S has been an amazing car for me ever since I got it for the past 2 months. I have driven along the southernmost 5 California Superchargers from San Jose to Las Vegas and has clocked 6,400 miles. I have used speed cruiser at 70mph most of the time and have never ran out of battery and nor did I have to sacrifice comfort (light, heat, cold, stereo...)

Hey! 6,400 miles in 2 months! That's a car for frequent road trips for me.

Brian H | 22 februari 2013

Use Ideal setting to get 300. The EPA "rr" standard is 10% lower. YMMV.

Pungoteague_Dave | 23 februari 2013

You cannot go 300 miles with this car driving 55. It simply isn't possible, and I tried. 244 was the max, on flat land, very few stops, never over 55, HVAC off, max range charge, range mode on. That was not a reasonable way to operate the car. And that range will decline with battery age. As others are now noting and acknowledging, the appropriate maximum trip planning range for an 85 kw S is 175 miles, and that may be too much for drivers with a heavy foot.

Timo | 24 februari 2013

P_D, your experience differs from other people here. Maybe you really have faulty battery or something in your car. One person not long ago told that car got pretty exactly 300 miles with 55mph set to cruise control.

Pungoteague_Dave | 24 februari 2013


Prove it. Find me one example of a person getting 300 or even 265 miles driving at normal speeds, with traffic, on normal roads. It does not exist. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just real. People need to adjust their expectations and TM needs to adjust its marketing.

gimp_dad | 24 februari 2013


Sounds like you have done an actual full battery rundown trial from a max range charge and got 244 miles at constant 55mph on flat terrain. That implies a surprisingly bad 348Wh/mi rate given those driving conditions (unless it was also very cold outside). I haven't tried a full run down test (and won't be doing so) but my experience does not agree with your results.

I don't enjoy going 55 but have tried it for round trips of up 100 miles on somewhat flat terrain and saw average Wh/mi of 290 - 300 in my P85 on normal CA bay area roads. My overall average after just shy of 7 months of driving is 360Wh/mi. Generally I drive much faster on the highway (75-80) and aggressively around town. In my ICE cars it is not uncommon for me to get 20 - 30% lower than EPA rated mileage so I am not surprised by the range I get.

I agree with Timo that it might be worth having your car checked out.

skymaster | 24 februari 2013

Temperature, Temperature, Temperature...Has a Boatload to do with Battery Performance. In a few weeks when it warms up in the "great white north", their numbers will improve. Why people live in cold climates,(Below 50 degrees F) then bitch about batteries??

nickjhowe | 24 februari 2013

Driving the other day at 70mph on I-95 I was seeing c. 300 Wh/mile with just me in the car, 70° ambient, 21" wheels.

@Pungoteague_Dave - On a drive up the TurnPike in FL I expect to get pretty close to ideal miles, as the conditions pretty much match the idea conditions. Obviously with heavy traffic, hills, lower temps you will not get ideal, but they aren't ideal conditions.

Your point is fair that Joe User won't see 300 miles out of a charge. It will be much closer to the 265 EPA. Over 1200 miles I'm averaging 343 Wh/m which is worse than EPA, but the EPA didn't keep doing max-acceleration runs. :-)

EVTripPlanner | 24 februari 2013

On my Vegas jaunt I stayed at the Luxor - there is a J1772 charger between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay at The Shoppes and it is real convenient...was fully charged in the AM free of charge.

Venetian also has one.

You can find my own "Cliff's Notes" (calculations, reference tables, links) at

Anthony H | 24 februari 2013

We were in the exact same place on February 14th and 15th. LOVED the Airstream. Posted on TMC and Recargo; we've got photos nearly identical to yours. Your car is beautiful.

On TMC this link should work:

portia | 24 februari 2013

@brookbot curious as to why do you leave your car in Vegas? it's not going to charge itself, and who is going to drive it home?

as to finding the superchargers in Barstow, try or the app on iphone, the directions were good and there were even photos with arrows showing exactly where to go and I had no problem finding it when I went there. I am pretty paranoid about not finding them and I looked them up to be sure I can find them.

Alex K | 24 februari 2013

@portia | FEBRUARY 24, 2013: try

I think you meant

Tâm | 24 februari 2013

Thanks Anthony. Your link above seems not to work. Anyhow, I went to and saw your sweet brand new car against the back drop of skyscraper. Great! Thanks for sharing!

jkirkebo | 24 februari 2013


The one Model S in Norway (that's not owned by Tesla) completed a trip from Bergen to Hemsedal a couple of weeks ago. They drove 180 miles in 14degF weather, heater at 71, following traffic, going over a 3740 ft mountain pass and ending up with 2100 ft net elevation gain. They had 45 rated miles left when they arrived, for a total range of >220 miles. You'd have to drive stupid fast or in extreme conditions to only get 175 miles.

Tâm | 25 februari 2013

It's just like riding a horse. One rider feeds a horse correctly and can ride to a destination uneventfully and enjoys a good time.

In contrast, another rider would say that "I have some water and only 4 carrots left for my snack but I'll sacrifice my meal and let my horse be filled" but the log shows that he ate the carrots himself and let the horse died of thirst and starvation on the road then he would complain "what a terrible trip!"

Right now, the car is at the mercy of a driver: many drivers can prove that a long trip is fun and possible while another can just "broder" it to death.

c.bussert67 | 25 februari 2013

Prove it? You have found no evidence of anyone getting rated miles? I have personally posted data from my trips and have no issues hitting rated miles. (which is around 320Wh/mi) I did my entire vegas trip with an average of 322Wh/mi and a GPS recorded avg speed of 61.6. That makes all the calculations correct as I see it.
I recently questioned the Ideal miles of 300, which come in around 285 Wh/mi. My best normal 70 mph freeway round trip to work combined with city at 45 mph nets me around 305Wh/mi. To do the test I skirted the freeway on side roads that have posted speeds of 50-55mph. Guess what? Wh/mi dropped to 287 wh/mi putting me within striking range of 300 ideal miles and Tesla's marketing numbers.
I seem to recall Motor trend proving the S is capable of 265 (or more) miles...
You must respect aerodynamic drag, love the regen and hate the brakes!

brookbot | 25 februari 2013

I think its comical, the suggestions that I should drive at 55mph when the posted speed limit is 70mph most of the way. That said, my original post was not a complaint, just a trip log along with my conclusions. I do LOVE my car. Here are my notes for the return trip.

Still would like to have a Tesla Super Charger either just outside Vegas (not in Primm), or perhaps at the Clark County location (I didn't see any other cars parked there this weekend).

Trip Summary:
12hrs, 45min from 68rm to 268rm (extended range, almost full) on public 30amp, 240v charger. At home I got 6hrs 30min for 60rm to 242rm with my newly installed NEMA 6-50 at 40amp, 230v. 10amps more seems to make a big difference in charge time.

This time I just drove normally (well normal for me behind a Tesla...) Not sure if there is just more down hill from Vegas to San Diego, but I think the traffic played a big role in reducing my average speed and energy consumption. I am getting used to the car, its rated range, and reality. I made the trip just fine this time w/no worries (no tire pressure warning). I was able to keep up with the gas cars this time no problem. In fact, I had a Porsche following me (just trying to keep up) the entire second leg.

11:45pm 68 rm
Picked up the car with 68 rmiles. Found the Clark County Charge Point chargers and used my new Charge Point card.
Noted that Government buildings were closed, no access to restrooms. Walked across the street to the mall, hrs are 10am-9pm, no access to restrooms. Eventually found a Del Taco still open. Next time I'll walk to Fremont St. as suggested.

11:45pm - 68 rm, 30amp, 208v, 11mph
1:00am - 93rm, 30amp, 208v, 12mph - 9hrs 20min remaining
3:05am - 130rm, 30amp, 208v, 12mph - 7hrs 55 min remaining
9:00am - 232rm, 30amp, 209v, 12mph - 2hrs remaining
11:00am - 268rm, 14amp, 213v, 12mph

Note: running climate control, radio, etc. seemed to increase predicted charging time by an hr or so at the start. Also noticed that everything turns off after 15-30min or so just sitting there parked. Either touching the screen or some other control turns everything back on (I found the power off control later)

11:00am - 268rm, Left Vegas
1:22pm - 58rm, arrived in Barstow
159.6miles, 59.0kWh, 370Wh/m (67.5mph avg)

Had lunch at Chiles, no rush. Took my time. Car was technically ready to go when I got out, but I wanted some extra buffer for safety, so I waited another 30min.

2:22pm - 238rm, 80amp, 402v, 145mph
2:45pm - 266rm, 27amp, 404v, 120mph

2:45pm - 266rm, left Barstow
5:07pm - 60rm, arrived at home San Diego
170miles, 56.5kWh, 332Wh/m (72mph avg)

Charged at home w/my new NEMA 6-50 outlet on standard range for 6hrs 35min:
5:15pm - 60rm, 39amp, 230v, 23mph (6hrs 35min remaining)
11:51pm - 242rm, Charging complete

Can't wait for my High Power wall charger, should realy reduce my down time after a long trip. Oh, and It looks like I didn't get charged for using the Clark County chargers which is nice.

c.bussert67 | 26 februari 2013

I like your summaries brookbot. Good info. I agree with you all the way, I don't drive 55 just to meet the numbers. I have done it to test the theory so I know it can be done, but I wouldn't suffer in the right lane on a road trip. Also recovering 200 miles at 30 amps takes some patience and a lot of shopping! LOL
You do lose a bit of elevation from Vegas if your home is less than 2300 Ft elevation. I had awesome 'mileage' on the way home. Pushed it really hard with max speed of 89. Came in at just over 300Wh/mi. I too was chasing a range rover that was determined to pull away from me. He finally gave up!
I am confident that I could do the 270 mile trip from Vegas to my house non-stop if I just did posted speeds. Elevation drop helps on the trip home.

D and K | 26 januari 2014

This thread is somewhat old, but I wanted to share a couple of my observations this weekend driving from downtown San Diego to Las Vegas. I have a 60KW battery, so keep that in mind. I used cruise control almost 100% of the time. Was out of cruise control no more than a few minutes at any given time due to traffic.

1) Range charged at home and left with 201 miles of rated range -- yeah, unlike most, we do not getting 208 or more.

2) Head winds and elevation climb killed our range. We drove 65mph almost the entire way (speed limit once you get out of San Diego is 70mph on the 15/215 North. We pulled into the Barstow Supercharger with 2 miles of rated range. Talk about range anxiety. Range charged again to 201 and made it to The Cosmopolitan (on the Strip) with 8 left.

3) Coming home from Vegas to San Diego was much easier. Not only because there was practically head wind, but also because of the elevation drop. Left the hotel with 201 and made it to Barstow with about 25ish (I forgot to record the exact number). Just to be safe, we range charged again to 202 at the Barstow SC, but didn't need it. Pulled home (downtown San Diego) with 47 miles still remaining. On the way home, we kept the speed at 70mpg for the first left. During the second leg, once we cleared the summit, we felt safe and bumped the speed up to 75mph.

Hope this helps other people planning the trip. Would love to see one more Supercharger somewhere near Temecula or Riverside. Being able to top off before the big ascent through the San Bernardino mountains would really have been nice, not only to go to Barstow, but also to Big Bear.