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Charging on road trips, it's aginst common sense

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by David99, Apr 12, 2015.

  1. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    When it comes to road trips we have to think about charging and it becomes a part of the planning. I went on many road trips by myself and always planned it out, looking for chargers and adding up drive time and charge time and possible detours and so on. This is unique to an EV as with an ICE car you don't plan, you still just drive and fill up when needed.

    One of the most fundamental things I leaned on a recent 4k mile road trip with the entire family was the concept of charging time vs drive time vs total time. Or should I say lack of understanding. I myself am very familiar with EVs and charging technology and optimizing it. To my family it was in some cases counter intuitive and made them feel frustrated. While I tried to minimize charge times by running on a lower level state of charge, they always wanted me to charge all the way (to be safe) and suggested to skip charging stations on the way. In their mind driving longer and skipping a charging stations would make it faster. Every stop feels like a delay to them, making things longer ("Why are we stopping again? Can't you just charge all the way?"). I tried to explain that the battery charges faster when empty and slower when it gets fuller, resulting on more stops yet still overall shorter trip time. But it's just such an odd concept that works against common sense and what we have learned driving ICE cars.

    The new trip planning feature supposedly helps by telling you exactly how much time you need to charge and notifies you when you are good to go. Unfortunately the system is far off and works very poorly overall. It even is counter productive in the same sense that is rather wants you to charge longer and skip a Supercharger on the way, even though doing so it adds more total time. In many cases it underestimated energy usage by so much that we were forced to drive significantly below the speed limit just to make it to the next station. We didn't even have bad weather, not even rain. It was just way off. It added to my family's frustration when I said to charge less to optimize time only to find out we had to slow down to make it because the prediction was so far off.

    I think there is still a lot to be done in terms of educating EV drivers and what a good charging strategy is on road trips. Most people are not familiar with battery technology and don't want to learn. The significant change in charge speed depending on state of charge and it's consequences are too complicated of a concept for the majority. I really hope Tesla will be able to fix this drawback to a degree. Their solution right now, the trip planning software, does a terrible job. Not only does it favor longer charge times into higher state of charge, it also has some serious bugs. It sometimes wants you to go <em>back</em> to the Supercharger that you just left! When you plug in and leave the car and then come back, the navigation and trip energy graph are gone. It's stuck in a "calculating' state. You have to cancel the trip and start over.

    The lack of a database of public charging stations in an EV's navigation system is simply inexcusable as well, but sightly OT here.
     
  2. billarnett

    billarnett Member

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    The trip planner in 6.2 is BETA. That means it's EXPECTED to have bugs. If you find one, report it and feel GOOD about it : you've just helped to improve the final product. But for goodness sake don't depend on a beta level product for anything you really care about (eg getting to your destination :)
     
  3. dirkhh

    dirkhh Middle-aged Member

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    Interesting title... I never had that problem... but then the trips were well planned out, the next charge stop was always programed into the Nav just as we left a charger and there was never any anxiety.
    Yes, the trip planner in 6.2 is early alpha quality (Tesla uses the confusing term "Beta" for it - not realizing that that's the state of most everything else in their firmware). These are still early days for Tesla, as much as the 60k sold cars might confuse you about that. After Apple had 60k iPhones sold their software was still an utter joke - so Tesla is doing pretty well. The challenge is that they are creating expectations that are hard to live up to. And the trip planner isn't necessarily helping them in its current state :=(
     
  4. MsElectric

    MsElectric Active Member

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    I expect very similar issue so what OP posted. I think the only real solution to this is a battery wit ha 350-400 mile range. As it is for extended road trips. it is going to be a hassle to get the charging stops planned in advance without even knowing if someone the charging stops are even in service. Superchargers will solve this but at least along the East Coat their coverage is so limited. The entire state of Virginia has only 2 superchargers and they are both close to I-95. Move away and you are on your own with very limited options.
     
  5. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    I've worked to educate my immiediate family, two grown sons and wife, that we will all have to make some personal sacrifices if we want to live in a sustainable world. That includes taking some additional time on trips to charge the Model S, which they now all believe is a small sacrifice to make to avoid putting all that carbon into the atmosphere.

    I'll do the same with my 7 month old granddaughter when she's old enough to understand.
     
  6. iadbound

    iadbound Member

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    Hey -- We've got three superchargers in VA :rolleyes:. Supposedly, we are due to get more, but they can't come soon enough.
     
  7. Jaff

    Jaff Active Member

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    This ^^^^

    Battery improvements will come in the future...just takes time...
     
  8. hiroshiy

    hiroshiy Active Member

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    I agree with David99 that we need to have a better software for this problem. Tesla will be in the best position to solve. They also need to consider using non SCs when appropriate. Like in Japan we always use public CHAdeMOs to travel.

    Re artsci's comment, I always wonder what else is similar to EVs, in that we need to do a small sacrifice to use a new product and/or service... Most new products come with no compromises and just better. I try to explain EVs to my friends and I wanted to say, yeah, it's like xx; so you need to plan in advance. That's a compromise you will take.
     
  9. dirkhh

    dirkhh Middle-aged Member

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    And in order for all of us to be successful in getting to a more sustainable world, those sacrifices will have to become smaller and smaller.
    Much as I did NOT buy a Tesla to save the environment (I bought the most amazing car available and the most fun to drive car I've ever been in - the rest is icing on the cake), I do see that my purchase(s) help get us closer to that feature. And much as I poke fun at the sad state of the current software, it's getting better all the time and a year from now I am certain that Tesla will have a very impressive Trip Planner that does, indeed, make this child's play and makes buying an EV even more of a no-brainer. This is definitely a must have requirement for the Model 3. So us being the large community of alpha (and hopefully soon, with a few more improvements beta-) testers of the software stack for the Model 3 is just fine with me.
     
  10. sorka

    sorka Active Member

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    Whenever we go on trips before the Tesla, stops and bathroom breaks were frequent and still are. My wife and daughter can't get through a stop in less than 25 minutes even if all they're doing is running into the use the bathroom. For me, a bathroom break is less than a minute and I'm in and out.

    So the prospect of stopping every 2.5 to 3 hours to charge and take a bathroom stop, get our diet sodas, or even longer for a meal means that the only real compromise we have with the Tesla is the stops are all defined and there are a lot fewer choices.
     
  11. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    I think everyone is fine making extra stops to charge knowing it's a small sacrifice for saving a lot of gas and doing the right thing in terms of ending big oil and all it's negative aspects. The only issue was the misconception about having to charge more often than people think it would make sense.
     
  12. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    I don't see the road trip charge time as a sacrifice for living in a sustainable world. I see it as a tradeoff for not having to go to the gas station weekly.

    Being able to always leave at a moment's notice and never being late for a meeting due to a forced gas station stop, or conversely, having to stop off on the way home from the office when I'm beyond tired and just want to relax, is worth much more to me than all of those untimely coffee stops during road trips.

    Even if the Model S had 120% the carbon emissions of a BMW, I wouldn't go back, just because of this.
     
  13. green1

    green1 Active Member

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    More often is even a misnomer, I would say it's more about how long and where rather than how often. Very few people can avoid a bathroom/munchy break long enough to exhaust the range of the car, however a charge session, while about the same length as a sit-down lunch, is longer than fast food or a quick washroom break. There are also a limited selection of superchargers to choose from to decide where to stop.

    It's worth it, and the locations will improve as more superchargers are added, but it isn't yet quite as convenient for long road trips as a gasoline vehicle (though it is cheaper, nicer, etc, and the vast majority of the time you save time by charging at home, so non road-trips save more time than the occasional road trip will eat up)
     
  14. invisik

    invisik Member

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    We find the spacing of the stops to be quite good--we'd be stopping at about that interval (or possibly more frequently) anyway for bathroom breaks, etc. Even while driving by myself, it's about my limit too.

    But I agree there is more to have to think about as you have only one shot to charge at many locations. It really is the nature of the beast at this point in time. I love messing around with early-adopter stuff so we like it--not everyone does and that's ok. Give it 5-10 more years and it will be a completely different environment. (and at least drive a plug-in hybrid for now..)

    -m
     
  15. Terra117

    Terra117 Member

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    We're with you.

    We can go 3 hours, maybe 3-1/2 on occasion, before we need a bathroom, stretch and beverge break.

    I never got how people could be so upset that the max range isn't 400+ miles. Thats over 6 hours @ 65mph.

    Are these people endurance atheletes or professional cross-country truckers?

    I know EVs are different than ICE vehicles, so comparisions are tenous, but my M5 with it's maybe 20mpg (if being extremely gentle) at highway speeds and small tank could barely get past 3-1/2 hours before needing a fuel stop. A typical stop between waiting for a pump, fueling, restroom, perhaps checking a map, buying a cold beverage and waiting in line behind 5 to 15 people to pay for it, would take 15 minutes or more (especially in rural areas where the cashier chit-chats with every customer).

    20 minutes at a SuperCharger costs me a 2.5% time penalty over a "fuel" run. That is less than getting stuck behind someone who takes 15 miles to pass a semi truck would cost.
     

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