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900 mile Supercharger road trip from Northern VA to Orlando

Discussion in 'Mid-Atlantic' started by DFibRL8R, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    #1 DFibRL8R, Jan 30, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
    Despite the challenges winter storm Leon brought to the deep South, I successfully made it from Northern Virginia to Orlando, hitting no less than 7 Superchargers on my way down. I crossed the 20k mile lifetime odometer mark on the way down 5 days before my 1 year anniversary with my Model S. It was a great experience and has given me an appreciation for what this car can do. Though I left yesterday after the snow and ice had stopped falling, the weather was brutal especially for the southeast. Temperatures were frigid, mostly in the teens to low 20s yesterday and today, only getting above freezing once I crossed into Florida. Lots of snow/ice covered roads. Rocky Mount was especially bad once I got off I-95 between the lack of snow clearance and the drivers who aren't used to winter driving. The Tesla map program had me exit one exit too soon onto a small rural 2 lane highway instead of I-64 which made for several treacherous miles on uncleared roads. The highlight was when I was passed by a car on an icy highway that was driving the same direction as me but on the wrong side of a divided 4 lane road!

    Fortunately, the journey was a success and the weather in Florida will actually be warm the next few days. This is by far the longest road trip I have ever taken, I usually prefer to fly. Having taken several long trips in the model S already, it is amazing what the supercharger network can do even in a 60 kWh model. The charging was quick. I only spent 30-60 minutes at each charger except for Savannah where I wanted a range charge to make the longer 172 mile stretch in cold temps. I drove as fast as I normally would (about 8-10mph over the limit) on all legs except Savannah to St Augustine where I drove right around the 70mph speed limit. The 110-120 mile distance between chargers seems good, 172 miles to St Augustine pushed the limits of the 60kWh battery and my own capacity after a thermos full of coffee.

    I only saw one other model S on the trip which was interesting (parked at the Savannah supercharger). I guess there's a large potential market in the southeast!

    I decided to take the Amtrak Autotrain home (also a first) so I'll post on that experience in a few days. I'll also post my detailed stats/data for the trip once I get it all collected.



    .
    Final Supercharge in Port Orange, FL (my son's favorite due to the Chuck E Cheese and non freezing temps)



    tess Port Orange.JPG tess Santee.JPG
    Santee, SC 16 degrees and icy.
     
  2. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    Congratulations!

    On your stops, did you find that you were waiting for the SuperChargers to complete after you were done? Or did the charger wait for you most of the time?

    Did you do this in one day, or did you overnight somewhere in between?
     
  3. andrewket

    andrewket 2014 S P85DL, 2016 X P90DL (soon 100)

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    I'm very curious to hear about your auto train experience.
     
  4. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    It varied depending on the planned event at the stop (bio break only verses stop for a meal). The Savannah Airport stop was the longest since it was the only one I wanted to get a range charge. There's not much to do at the Airport and the last few miles of a range charge really take forever (I gave up after watching the rated range not go up any further for 20 minutes and it never got to 100% full). I only spent 21 minutes charging at Lumberton because it was only 60 miles to our hotel and there is nothing to do there at 10 pm (all restaurants were closed and I didn't see a place to use the restroom at that hour).


    I split the driving between 2 days. I left yesterday at 2:45 (after son got out of school) and stayed the night in Florence, SC where they have a level 2 charger.
     
  5. Kevin Harney

    Kevin Harney Active Member

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    Glad to see that a 60 could make it from Savannah to St A.
     
  6. fryfrye

    fryfrye Member

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    Did you happen to do Disney while there? I'd love to drive for our next cruise / disney stay --- but I need to find a destination charge point/parking to make it 100% a go.
     
  7. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    Stayed at a hotel near Universal Studios instead. There's a thread in the Florida section on disney chargers and it sounds like they will have them in a parking garage soon. Universal also does not have chargers at their parking garages or on site hotels.

    Disney's current position regarding electric chargers
     
  8. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    Mixed experience with the Amtrak Auto Train. Unfortunately, they were still delayed from the ice storm that happened 5 days earlier. The signaling/switching was impacted by the ice apparently. Since there is only one Auto train, if it gets behind schedule it takes a long time to get caught back up. We left about 2.5 hrs late from Florida. It was amusing to see the staff try to drive the car. I realized I should have loaded a web page with valet instructions onto the touch screen to assist especially with off loading since I was not able to give instructions to the crew at that point. It took about 5 minutes for them to finally figure out how to get the Model S moving to unload it from the train.

    We paid for priority off-loading which meant we didn't have to wait when we got to Lorton (takes up to 90 minutes to unload all the cars).

    I forgot how Amtrak is given a lower priority than the freight trains which leads to a long slow trip with many stops to allow other rail traffic to pass. Sad compared to trains in Japan and Europe which in my experience are efficient and punctual. My 9 year old son enjoyed the experience, sleeping car, dining car etc. We made the most of it but I preferred the drive down in the Model S. Interestingly, the drive took 20 hours including charging stops (not including overnight hotel stay) and the train took about 21 hours including the delayed start.

    Here's a pic of unloading in Lorton:
     

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  9. andrewket

    andrewket 2014 S P85DL, 2016 X P90DL (soon 100)

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    Thanks for the summary. I may still try it. In theory it's a great solution.
     
  10. Plug Me In

    Plug Me In Member

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    Thanks for the thread Dfib. The latent entrepreneur in me thinks there should be some money to be made in a chain of supercharger lounge/reading rooms.

    One year later I still have second thoughts of getting the grey vs my blue.
     
  11. jandkw

    jandkw Member

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    @DFibRLBR, great to read about your experience with S60. I also have the S60 and thinking about a trip to Orlando area from Cary, NC. I like your Amtrak Autotrain experience, something I might consider. I wonder do you remember how many miles left on the Savannah to St. A. leg? I am not sure if I can make it coming back travel 172 miles uphill ? I know I didn't make it traveling from home to Glen Allen, VA for 176 miles going uphill while the Lumberton was not available at the time.
     
  12. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    Sorry, I haven't yet had a chance to post the details of the journey from an energy/charging standpoint but I plan to. I left Savannah with 193 miles rated range (almost a full range charge but I gave up waiting after the rated range stayed at 193 for 20 minutes) and I arrived In St Augustine with 22. The outside temps went from 34 degrees at start to 42 degrees at finish and there was a light drizzle the last 20 miles. I preheated the cabin while charging but used minimal cabin heat during the drive. I averaged 66mph over the 172 mile trip (including slow roads in airport area etc). I consumed 49.1kWh and averaged 286 Wh/mile. On I 95, I was driving between 65 and 75 mph most of the time, 70 is the posted speed limit. There was minimal wind at that time. As for uphill, it seems like there's not a lot of elevation change along I 95 so I can't imagine the direction of travel would have a huge impact on energy consumption in calm winds.

    **Full disclosure**For a large portion of the trip, I did follow 2-3 seconds behind a SUV towing a large closed car trailer. Oddly enough it was a Porsche club of America trailer :) This likely gave me a significant boost in range. I have become comfortable with doing this since 2-3 seconds following time is pretty typical (3 second rule) and I assume the massive Brembo brakes on the Model S will stop me quicker than whatever large vehicle I am following. That said, simply decreasing speed 5-10mph (while not very fun) would probably give you similar numbers without "drafting".
     
  13. jandkw

    jandkw Member

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    Thanks, FGibRL8R, 286wh/m is a very good number. I had hard time to get the average of 300wh/m when I traveled to New Jersey last October (temp. in the 50's, did shut down the heat) doing 65mph on cruise control. This is of course mostly uphill. Appreciate you give me this data and I think I have a good chance to make it to Orlando. Coming back is another story.
     
  14. fredtowers

    fredtowers Member

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    I'm thinking of putting my P85 on the AutoTrain for a trip to DC in early May. Can you give me any other tips, and do you know of anyone else who has used the AutoTrain for a Tesla trip? I had a good experiences using this for my previous MBenz cars over the past few years.
     
  15. DFibRL8R

    DFibRL8R Member

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    I haven't read any other accounts of Tesla owners using Auto Train. I would definitely make a cheat sheet for the crew that will be loading and unloading the car with the basics of how to turn it on, put in drive etc. Could also load a web site with this info on the touch screen. I also was glad I had paid extra for priority off loading. If the train is full, the off loading can take almost 2 hrs. Also expect delays. The scheduled departures seem more like suggestions than anything.
     
  16. rrva

    rrva Member

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    We drove our MS85 from Virginia to Florida and took the Auto Train northbound, arriving yesterday morning just a few minutes late. Priority unloading took only 5 minutes. Upon leaving the car with Amtrak staff in Sanford we were told that they had just unloaded a Tesla MS that morning. We left the key fob in the armrest drink holder and had no problems. So we got free charging on our drive South and across sunny Florida, and a restful return back home (to cold weather and snow today).
     
  17. andrewket

    andrewket 2014 S P85DL, 2016 X P90DL (soon 100)

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    What day? That was likely me. We did the opposite; train down and drove back to VA. Took the train dec 24-25th.

    Oops, never mind you said that morning. Wasn't me. Three model S's on the auto train :)
     

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