In a nutshell, I will come out and say that the existing infrastructure in the US supports a cross country EV trip right now! And it’s only going to get easier. RV parks, your best source of high amperage electricity, are abundant enough that you could repeat our trip with a much smaller battery. And on the flip side, you’d spend less time charging and have the option to use other types of charging stations (30A, Public Stations, and a 110V standard outlet if you must)
In talking with other Model S Reservation Owners, we met 3 others who are incorporating an extended road trip into their delivery process. I wish them a successful journey and look forward to hearing about their adventures. I’m very curious to hear about their charging experiences, to see what improvements (on the car and with the charging infrastructure) are made in the few short months between our trip and theirs. Because EVs are very close cousins with computers, perhaps even Moore’s law applies to improvements in charging infrastructure
How fitting that Tesla unveiled it’s Supercharger Network yesterday. I can imagine doing this again where 150 miles of range is available within 30 minutes. This is a game changer in regards to the speed limitations of 55-60mph, sitting in a field for 6 hours, or having to walk to the nearest gas station to find something to “eat.”
Let’s be honest, to those of us who’ve never driven EVs, range anxiety is a real thing. Like other things in this car, it takes some getting used to. I’m not a psychologist or sociologist, but I think most humans have a preservation instinct that kicks in when there’s uncertainty surrounding whether or not they’ll reach their intended destination or be stranded somewhere unknown. On the night that I pulled into the campsite with 9 miles of charge left, I was about to crap my pants. I’ve never driven so gingerly in my life. But now I know that the car will still function at 9 miles, my range anxiety threshold has been lowered. I’ve also talked with long time EV owners, who have been below this range, and know what happens when you run below this, or when you run out of charge, and it seems like they’ve all lived to tell about it. It’s something that’s going to take some getting used to, but certainly not a deal breaker when it comes to the decision on whether or not to purchase an EV.
And as a side effect of range anxiety, I found myself paying more attention to the road, to the trip at hand to ensure that I did have the mileage left in the batteries to make it to the destination. Based on the projected and rated range, I was able to drive slower and more conservatively to adjust the range to meet the target. I also find that because of all the data available, I’m more aware of how to conserve ‘fuel’ and will attempt to take many of these lessons back to driving my internal combustion car.
I have never had such a positive service experience when owning any other brand of car. With the minor things that did go wrong with the car, and even with general feedback, Tesla Service folks in Fremont, Chicago, and Washington DC, provided nothing but the best possible level of service. Their prompt responses to our service calls, genuine interest in our feedback on the car, and overall commitment to excellence bodes well for the necessary scale-up that Tesla will have to do to support and service the Model S vehicles and beyond.
I’m really looking forward to remaining engaged with the service folks and seeing what types of over-the-air updates they’re able to roll out with both the feedback from our trip and other Tesla owners.
Hello Blog Readers,
A big thank you to each and every one of you for following our journey. Your questions, positive comments and overall interest in what we were doing certainly helped us push through the harder times of the journey, the late nights, early arrivals and imminent zombie-like state that can easily overwhelm anyone taking a cross country road trip.
As I sit on the plane on the way back to real life in Los Angeles, I will attempt to capture some of the lasting impressions of the trip in subsequent posts.
On the Model S (I’ll leave the real road tests to the automotive mags):
- The car is a superb grand tourer if there ever was one. It’s a large car, by design, but the way that it’s constructed, with the weight down low, makes much more nimble than you’d think. Once you get used to the heft, you can dart in and out of traffic, take on/off ramps at speed, and defend your spot in the lane with ease.
- Steering is precise, but a little light for my tastes, even on ‘sport’ mode.
- Many of you are curious about the seats. My final word on them is that they were comfortable for up to 300 miles at a time, for me. Your results may vary.
- Accelerator response takes a little getting used to for ultimate precision needed for parallel parking, but once you know how things are going to react, it responds predictably. I recently got in a ‘normal’ car and was surprised at how sluggish it felt.
- The braking transition between regen and real brakes is super smooth. There’s no abrupt transition between regen and real brakes, like one would find on a Prius.
- It’s also easy to drive. My mother, who normally drives a Honda Accord, hopped in the car last night and, with minimal coaching on the operating controls, was able to successfully pilot the car down the road and she enjoyed herself. I can’t say that she shared the same opinion after driving the roadster. From my time at the helm, the ride is butter smooth, even with the 21″ wheels, allowing us to put 2800+ miles on the car without feeling beat up. When trying to maximize your range, cruise control is your best friend, and in tandem with the regen braking, keeps your speed exactly. Trucks and other vehicles on the road hate you for this, but it’s very exact.
- It’s a gorgeous car. Pictures don’t do it justice and often times I found my gaze drifting back to the car, just observing it’s curves, watching it silently charge. Occasionally, a cooling fan would kick on to regulate the battery temperature, but, Tesla has done a good job of minimizing the disturbance from cooling fans. They must have gotten some negative feedback from the charging noises of the roadster.
For anyone in the DC area, come on down to National Plug In Day in front of the Capitol Building, from 10-4 today.
We’ll be there, along with a host of other EVs, their owners, and Plug In America folks.
Come on out and show your support, and see that the “future” is here now.
If you’re not from around DC, you can also search for your local even here.
Still a lot of sandwiches to eat! Come join us at Tesla Motors in Washington DC until 5pm today. They’ve got a brown one in the showroom too.
Day 8 began in a fairly disappointing manner. Jesse woke around 10:30 and went to check on the car to find that it had only accumulated 110 miles (plus the 9 we had left over) over night before the breaker blew. This put us behind our intended schedule for the day, but actually ended up working out for the better. While the car continued it’s standard charge up to the 250 mile range, we took advantage of another beautiful day to catch up on emails, find some coffee (KOA Madison has a Keurig in the camp store).
From Madison, we headed towards Hagerstown, MD to show the car to some friends there. We checked into the Jellystone RV Park in Williamsport, MD and had a very interesting discussion there with the staff about the possibility of offering different rates to EV owners who are just looking to stop and charge for the day.
While their current policies didn’t allow for anything other than paying for a full reservation of a site, they at least said they’d look into this further. Further discussion with the owner of the park said that EV owners have also made a blip on the RV Park Owners Association of America (or something like that) and they’re currently deciding how best to accommodate EV owners in the future. If anyone knows of this type of governing organization, it might be worth reaching out to them to see if we can’t help them gather facts to make an informed decision. In my opinion, RV parks have a crucial role to play in making EV travel a reality in the short to mid-term future.
Our friends met us at the RV park and brought a picnic dinner to share while we waited to accumulate enough mileage to make it to the final destination for the evening, northern MD.
Tomorrow is a big day, with two events: a showing at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore, at 9am, followed by the Tesla Showroom Event starting at 1 tomorrow in DC. Hope to see some of you there!
Goodnight, for now: Steve