Electric Route 66

John Chapman, June 14, 2016

Plan a test drive Zero emissions. Zero compromises.

We’ve got a Model S 90D on order, which will replace our 2012 P85. We love our Tesla! Here are our lessons learned when driving for extended periods in a Model S P85. We just completed our 60-day, 12,700 mile around the USA, to all the bypassed and forgotten towns with potential on back roads. We called it the Electric Route 66, which was enabled by the Tesla Supercharger and Destination Charger network. I was really amazed at the value the program had on our trip. What a great complementary infrastructure. To experience the real thing, you should create your own road trip.

Surprise lodging

We primarily used Tesla’s Navigation tools on our dashboard. We visited 42 Destination Charging spots. It was like home, when away from home; every morning the car was fully charged. What a strategic fit for B&B’s and forward-looking hotel chains. Most had two level 2 chargers, one being Tesla’s charger. Only 3 times in 60 days did we have two cars charging overnight at once. We never competed for charging spot. We had a full, 243 miles of range, on most days. Our days consisted of a couple fluid exchange stops, a lunch at a Supercharger Station and then an early (3 PM) stop, often at a Destination Charger location – surprise lodging.

Only 3 evenings in 60 days was the Tesla unplugged. One of those was because the Supercharger was only 4 miles away. The next morning we hit that one while we walked along the sunny Cape Cod Canal on a beautiful sunny day.  The Tesla keeps us healthier, it encourages exploration on foot - more steps.

We were surprised how the habit of ‘plugging in’ helped so much. We were plugged into 110V on 8 nights; 13% of our trip! We noticed B&B’s were more supportive and interested in offering a power outlet as well as a hose bib for my hand wash of our black Tesla (the Ghost).

One night we plugged into the same outlet as a Coke machine.

EV education moments

Picking motels required more observation skills. We plugged in to the same outlet as a Coke machine one night. Their handy man, who had never seen an electric car - that just plugs into a regular outlet - even created a trip barrier for us. That overnight charge of 43 miles, allowed us to explore a cute town, have dinner, plan our next day, and eliminated a Supercharger detour, like all gas cars require to refuel today. I was also surprised how we mainly used the ‘Supercharger backbone’ to cover some ground on open sections. Our longest day was 630 miles, it was also the fastest. Like Montana at 85MPH. 80 mph in South Dakota and 85 in Wyoming… What fun!

I would never have felt that confident in a gas car.

This led to one other excellent experience: air resistance! We saw how difficult it is to judge wind direction and speed. The relative wind speed on the nose of the Tesla is the only thing that mattered. As we all know speed matters; it is really WIND speed! We had gusting 50MPH winds through Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota…Normal! I would never have felt that confident in a gas car; I remember it reducing my gas mileage by 20%.  Could we make it to a gas station with the low fuel light on for 70 or so miles, with a big headwind??   The excellent range anxiety reducing power graphs allowed me to arrive with 4 miles to spare on our last leg to our Destination Charging hotel. Unfortunately, we had to slow to 65 in an 80 zone. It was like being on the autobahn, in a VW Bug. I wish my Tesla had an anemometer so one could at least know the nose airspeed as one winds around windy bluffs; 65mph +40mph = 105mph! That would be a great enhancement to the trip computer’s range estimates.

It’s an efficient, smooth driver

Overall, we were plugged in at any of 42 Destination Chargers, 70% of the time, just like at home! Destination charging accommodations vetted by Tesla gave us a complementary 5,500 rated mile boost. We had 72 Supercharger Stops for a 7,900 rated mile boost; shortest was 8 minutes, longest: 58 minutes. Our 8 nights on 115V provided 450 rated mile boost. Our overall rated range and actual range almost matched at 13,850 rated miles providing us with 12,700 driven miles (313 whr/mi from car computer). Also noted was less than normal tire wear, it’s an efficient, smooth driver.

This was the first trip where we had to wait on the Tesla, even though they were our fastest days. What an American Road trip adventure!


Tags: Model S, Road Trip, Supercharger, Destination Charger