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Dallas to Tampa: 2,700 Mile Solo Round Trip Completed in 96 Hours

This past weekend I made a solo round-trip journey from Dallas, TX to Largo, FL (near Tampa) to attend to some unexpected family matters. During this trip I charged solely using Tesla Superchargers and successfully bridged the “Tallahassee gap” twice.

What follows is a detailed summary, some observations, and some stats.

I departed Wednesday afternoon and returned Sunday afternoon and drove a total of 2,700 miles within less than 96 hours. I planned the trip with EV Trip Planner and kept notes to later compare my reality with the planner’s prediction.

At the onset, let me say how much I wish that the autopilot lane keeping had been available for this trip. I understand that Tesla is working hard to address such edge cases as light colored pavement and missing lines and this is the right thing for them to do, considering the biased press that Tesla receives. They can’t afford a single autopilot misstep. That said, I’d be perfectly satisfied if they disallowed all but the most straightforward conditions as a Phase 1 of the roll-out because the troublesome edge cases would have been a rare occurrence on this trip from Dallas to Tampa. As those of you who have driven this area, you know that most of I-10 is so straight and clearly marked that Ronnie Milsap could follow the lines. Lane control, even just for the optimum 80 or 90% of the time, would have been priceless. As it was, just having the TACC was pure awesomeness. I was surprised to see a noticeable energy reduction when I followed an 18-wheeler from the farthest TACC setting of 7. That far back apparently still benefited from the truck’s slipstream and lowered my energy usage.

The nav system was brilliant at times when it routed me around traffic and frustratingly obtuse at other times when it insisted that I return to a Supercharger for zero minutes before continuing my journey. Overall, I’m very glad I had it, though. It helped far more than it annoyed. It was rather easy to recognize and ignore the obtuse suggestions.
Even though it was a round trip, I’ll only show the stats for the return direction, both to minimize redundancy and because I took better notes on the return journey.

Return trip, details by segment:

Brandon, FL Supercharger to Ocala, FL Supercharger

This was the first leg of my return home. Before I go into that, can you Tampa area drivers tell me what’s with the Tesla’s GPS and the Tampa to Largo area? Is it all that construction? The Tampa/Largo stretch was without a doubt the area in which Tesla’s navigation was most confused and the least helpful.

Note: My tables didn't survive the paste from Word, so I'm converting them to plain text. The first value is EVTrip Planner's estimate, the second value is actual.

Elapsed Time: 1:25 (estimated) 1:30 (actual)
Average Speed (mph): 66, 63
Total Distance (miles): 93.5, 94.8
Rated Miles Consumed: 112, 99
Segment Energy Used (kWh): 33, 28.3
Segment Wh/mi: 358, 299

Charging Duration:

Brandon: 9 minutes (rated range increased from 68 to 123)

Ocala: 15 minutes (rated range increased from 24 to 116)

I departed Brandon for home around 1:00 am, so the outside temperatures for much of the Florida portion of the driving were about 10-15 degrees cooler than the 90 degrees I told evtrip planner they would be. In addition, there was some road construction that slowed me down quite a bit, which further lowered energy consumption.

There’s nothing to do at the Ocala Supercharger in the middle of the night! Not even a restroom in close proximity. To get the blood flowing, I walked briskly around the mall parking lot while the car was charging. A security guard in a golf cart yelled hello as she zoomed around the expansive parking lot while making her rounds.

Ocala Supercharger to Lake City Supercharger

Elapsed Time: 1:11 (estimated), 1:20 (actual)
Average Speed (mph): 68, 62
Total Distance (miles): 80.8, 82.3
Rated Miles Consumed: 99, 89
Segment Energy Used (kWh): 30, 25.5
Segment Wh/mi: 369, 310

Lake City charging duration: 1:05 (rated range increased from 27 to 250 in preparation for the Tallahassee gap)

I took advantage of the long charge time in Lake City to walk down to the Waffle House for a 4:00 am breakfast.

Lake City Supercharger to Defuniak Springs Supercharger

Elapsed Time: 3:07 (estimated), 3:49 (actual)
Average Speed (mph): 71, 65
Total Distance (miles): 221.8, 226.3
Rated Miles Consumed: 276, 234
Segment Energy Used (kWh): 83, 63.3
Segment Wh/mi: 373, 280

Defuniak Springs charging duration: 0:35 (rated range increased from 16 to 177)

Bridging the Tallahassee gap wasn’t nearly as worrisome as I had imagined. On the eastbound journey Thursday evening I hit some major thunderstorms. The rain was so intense and visibility was so poor that I couldn’t pull off the road because there was no way to see any cars that might be on the shoulder until I was right on top of them. The best I could do was slow down to 40-45 mph with my flashers on and ride it out. The car didn’t feel unsure in the slightest, however, despite the torrential rain. The weather was clear on my return trip but the reported energy used may be a bit distorted due to a 90 minute nap I took at a rest stop near Tallahassee, during which I kept the car at 70 degrees.

Both of my stops in Defuniak Springs happened to be during the day, early afternoon eastbound and mid morning westbound. On the former I had a burger and a nice chat with the owner of H&M Hot Dogs, who reports that H&M is the second oldest hot dog restaurant in the United States, the first being in Coney Island. On my westbound journey, it was too early for lunch, so I walked a few blocks to the somewhat sad little Thrift Way grocery store and bought some snacks.

Defuniak Springs Supercharger to Mobile, AL Supercharger

Elapsed Time 2:02 (estimated), 2:59 (actual)
Average Speed (mph) 67, 48
Total Distance (miles) 137.3, 142.7
Rated Miles Consumed 165, 140
Segment Energy Used (kWh) 50, 37.8
Segment Wh/mi 362, 265

Mobile, AL charging duration 1:03 (rated range increased from 37 to 254)

The nav system automatically routed me around some significant traffic delays near Mobile, putting me on Route 90 through Seminole and Loxley. Traffic in the suburban area around the Supercharger was quite congested. All in all, it added nearly an hour to this segment. The net effect of the much lower speeds, however, was a significantly lower than expected energy usage.
In Mobile, I didn’t explore much, mainly I just walked around in the Target store near the Supercharger. By this time it was mid afternoon.

Mobile, AL Supercharger to Baton Rouge Supercharger

Elapsed Time 2:52 (estimated), 3:42 (actual)
Average Speed (mph) 68, 57
Total Distance (miles) 195.7, 211.0
Rated Miles Consumed 232, 208
Segment Energy Used (kWh) 70, 57.8
Segment Wh/mi 356, 274

Baton Rouge charging duration 0:35 (rated range increased from 46 to 192)

Again, traffic and thunderstorms were an issue in this segment, adding nearly an hour but reducing the overall energy consumption. The nav system did a great job of helping me avoid the congestion. By this time, I had begun charging slightly in excess of normal, in anticipation of possible weather or traffic issues. After driving since midnight the night before, I got a hotel room in Baton Rouge and slept from dinner time until about 2:00 am.

Baton Rouge Supercharger to Lake Charles Supercharger

Elapsed Time 2:00 (estimated), 2:03 (actual)
Average Speed (mph) 66 , 68
Total Distance (miles) 131.7, 136.8
Rated Miles Consumed 152, 145
Segment Energy Used (kWh) 45, 41
Segment Wh/mi 345, 299

Lake Charles charging duration 0:52 (rated range increased from 47 to 233)

Eastbound, I tried to have a snack in Lake Charles at the Sonic adjacent to the Supercharger, but it was 11:03 when I arrived and they had stopped taking orders three minutes earlier and were quite unresponsive to my growling stomach. Westbound, I charged around 5:00 am, so nothing was open.

Lake Charles Supercharger to Houston Supercharger

Traveling eastbound, I skipped Houston and went east from Huntsville on route 190, turning south on 287 and catching Route 10 in Beaumont. It was a pleasant relaxing drive through the Sam Houston National Forest, except for the speeding ticket I received, courtesy of the speed trap known as Lumberton, TX. Apparently, I missed one of the 2,873 speed limit changes on route 287. On the way back, I skipped the speed traps and stayed on route 10 to 45.

All values are actual.

Elapsed Time 2:03
Average Speed (mph) 68
Total Distance (miles) 136.8
Rated Miles Consumed 145
Segment Energy Used (kWh) 41
Segment Wh/mi 299
Houston charging duration 0:15 (rated range increased from ~80 to 132)

I didn’t need (nor did I plan) to charge in Houston. I just wanted to check out the Houston facility and it looks great: Huge service area, attractive gallery (from what I could see through the window on a Sunday), and an accessible location.

Houston Supercharger to Huntsville Supercharger

All values are actual.

Elapsed Time 0:50
Average Speed (mph) 65
Total Distance (miles) 54.5
Rated Miles Consumed 56
Segment Energy Used (kWh) 16.4
Segment Wh/mi 302
Huntsville charging duration 0:16 (rated range increased from 76 to 154)

Had a nice chat with three employees of the Holiday Inn Express, who were taking their break. They were somewhat familiar with the Model S and were asking the typical questions. After we had been talking for about t10 minutes, one of them asked how long I would need to charge before I could continue my journey and before I could answer, one of the other employees answered slightly disparagingly, “He’ll need to charge about four hours.” I responded, “Actually, in the time we’ve been talking, I’ve charged enough to take me to the next charger in Corsicana.” I may have been off slightly, but I couldn’t resist.

As an aside, during this entire journey, I saw only one other Tesla at a Supercharger and it was in Huntsville at the start of the trip.

Huntsville Supercharger to Corsicana Supercharger

Elapsed Time 1:37 (estimated), 1:38 (actual)
Average Speed (mph) 70, 69
Total Distance (miles) 113.6, 114.9
Rated Miles Consumed 142, 124
Segment Energy Used (kWh) 43, 34.6
Segment Wh/mi 375, 301

Corsicana charging duration 0:25 (rated range increased from 30 to 160)

If there are any private detectives out there, here’s a missing person’s tip for you: If you’re ever searching for anyone in central Texas, wait until lunchtime on a Sunday and you’ll find them at Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana. Not only was every parking space in their lot full, many patrons were taking advantage of the “30 minutes parking” stated on the Supercharger spaces and parking their ICE vehicles there. Fortunately, everyone I saw was doing so to dash in and pick up a carry out order. None of them seemed to be disregarding the parking signs.

Corsicana Supercharger to Home

Elapsed Time 1:29 (estimated), 1:28 (actual)
Average Speed (mph) 59, 61
Total Distance (miles) 87, 90.1
Rated Miles Consumed 93, 81
Segment Energy Used (kWh) 28, 24.1
Segment Wh/mi 320, 267

Trip Summary

Total miles driven: 2,697
Duration of trip: 95 hours, 32 minutes
Electricity cost: $0
Gasoline savings: approximately $300


Traffic aware cruise control: It rocks!
EVTrip Planner: A great planning tool that brings peace of mind to a long trip.
Entertainment system: On a solo trip this long, I would have gone insane without podcasts, books on tape, Slacker radio, etc. I remember trips as a child when FM radio was the pinnacle of mobile entertainment.
Saving money on gas: My gas savings more than paid for the hotel costs
Comfort: I was more comfortable driving the Model S for 2,700 miles than I am driving our SUV for a fraction of that distance.
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What a trip! I have made a good many ICE trips like that, and been destroyed at the end. In teh S, probably not so much. I only worry about speeding violations. So sad that lumberton is still the speed trap champion of Texas. I have one in my memory that happened 40 years or so ago, when I was delivering a new Mercury from Miami to Dallas. Cannot believe I still remember that.
What makes the the most angry is that I'm typically not the most compliant driver yet I've gone 10 years without a ticket. If I were to get a ticket while intentionally speeding, I'm willing to take my lumps. On this trip, however, because I had the very pointed goal of taking it easy and comparing reality with EVTripPlanner's prediction, I made an extreme effort to drive at, or below, the speed limit. The office claims I was speeding but that means both the Tesla and I missed a speed limit change and I'm skeptical that such was the case. Some of the speed limit signs along that stretch were the smallest signs I've ever seen. They appeared to be the size of a normal sheet of paper. It's such a scam.
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Good thing you weren't on I-35. I've heard my Dad tell tales of the "Selma hemorrhoid" from his trips to San Antonio.

I loved the write up, especially the hotel guy saying the supercharger takes 4 hours. It's that kind of disinformation that has to be remedied before people really start thinking electric.
Good thing you weren't on I-35. I've heard my Dad tell tales of the "Selma hemorrhoid" from his trips to San Antonio.

I loved the write up, especially the hotel guy saying the supercharger takes 4 hours. It's that kind of disinformation that has to be remedied before people really start thinking electric.

I live close to Selma and drive through there on my many trips from San Antonio to Austin and back. This town is no joke. Honestly, it must be how they make their revenue. Almost every time I pass through they have police hiding behind something.
Thanks for taking the time to gather the data and post. I live in Sarasota and have a brother in Flower Mound. This is really useful information for me.
One question: Should I take one of the bypasses around Houston as opposed to I10 to I45?
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Glad to see you made the trip.

I took a trip to Jacksonville, FL just last week.

You are right the gap between Lake City, FL to DeFuniak Springs is bothersome. I wish they add another supercharger along that route. I was real close and did not know whether I would make it to Lake City, FL and therefore I stopped for lunch at Tallahassee and used destination charging during my lunch. The manager was really friendly and they let me use destination charging despite me staying there for few minutes.

How did you like DeFuniak Springs supercharger? My kids did not like it because they could not go to rest room and I thought it was a weird location.

I posted some pictures in Plugshare.

My car did stop supercharging at St.Augustine supercharger and I was given a rental while it was fixed at Orlando service center.