TMC is an independent, primarily volunteer organization that relies on ad revenue to cover its operating costs. Please consider whitelisting TMC on your ad blocker and becoming a Supporting Member. For more info: Support TMC

Don't try this at home...

Discussion in 'New England' started by PeterK, Dec 2, 2013.

  1. PeterK

    PeterK Model X Owner

    Jan 17, 2013
    Cambridge, MA
    #1 PeterK, Dec 2, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2013
    I've previously posted about my 240+ mile drive to the Eastern Adirondacks (near Willsboro, NY, across Lake Champlain from Burlington VT), a trip I made twice over the summer with stops for L2 charging and a leisurely meal in Montpelier. New New England Supercharger Locations - Page 4

    Last week four daughters ages 4-15 and I did the trip up for Thanksgiving, which was a little more challenging. I previously picked up about 20 miles in Montpelier, and arrived with about 20 miles left after setting cruise control for 68 much of the way. So I figured if I drove more conservatively and added an hour of charging time I'd be fine. Plan was to leave Cambridge around 1pm, get to Montpelier (180 miles away) between 4 and 4:30, have an early dinner until about 6:30, then catch the last ferry of the day from Charlotte VT (50 miles from Montpelier) to Essex NY at 8pm, with another 10 miles to my NY destination.

    Unfortunately we left about a half hour late and then hit traffic on 93 north, and as we proceeded north the temperature dropped from about 60 to the low 30s and started snowing pretty heavily in Vermont. So it was after 5pm when we plugged in in Montpelier. At the restaurant I started calculating needed range vs. charging rate vs. when we had to leave for the ferry, developing a Plan B of charging longer and then heading for the Grand Isle Ferry (which runs until late at night but is a significantly longer drive), or Plan C of just giving up on driving in the snow (I don't have winter tires yet) and finding a hotel for the night in Montpelier. I was flipping between Tesla, Plugshare, Maps and Tripadvisor apps trying to determine the best option...

    On Plugshare I found two Model S owners with HPWCs, Andy in Shelburne near the Charlotte-Essex Ferry, and Bill a little north of I-89, closer to the Grand Isle route. I messaged both and left a voicemail at Andy's number. I decided to proceed with Plan A with the backup of spending the night at a hotel in the Burlington area, and fortunately just as we got to the car at 6:30, Andy called back offering the use of his HPWC. I expected to get to his place around 7:20, charge for 20 minutes then drive the remaining 7 miles to the 8pm ferry - tight but doable. Unfortunately I made the mistake of taking unplowed back roads for the last few miles to his place, slowing us down - I-189 to Rt. 7 south would have been the smarter route - and we arrived at 7:30, immediately plugging in to add to our 15 miles of range remaining. Losing that extra 5-10 minutes of charging was painful.

    Andy and Barb and their three girls welcomed us warmly, served up a yogurt for our littlest one, and the girls played together during our brief visit. Concerned we wouldn't make it, they offered to lend us their ICE for the night, or have us spend the night at their place - a wonderful example of Tesla owner community spirit. But I was determined to get to my mother's place that night, and after cutting it as close as I could we left at 7:45 and made it to the ferry at 7:58 with 13 miles left - and a 10 mile trip on the other side.

    I asked about and parked by a 12A outlet on the ferry, and quickly plugged in for the 25 minute trip, adding perhaps 1-2 miles of rated range and avoiding a cold battery decline. We drove off the ferry with 14 miles on the display and maintained that buffer until we hit what I had dreaded - a steep climb up the mountain as Rt 22 leaves Willsboro. As we climbed slowly the buffer started dropping. At 4 miles to go we had 6 miles of range, then 5, then 4. As the road leveled off with about 2 miles to go we hit 0 range, with a red "charge now" warning a half mile later. We still had a mile and a half to the house, but fortunately a little less than a mile on mostly flat or declining ground to a shared barn/maintenance building. I knew there was some reserve in the battery, but not how much. So we called ahead for my brother to pick up the girls while I charged at the barn, and fortunately got plugged into 110v before the car shut down. Even better, I quickly found a welder plug for which I had the 6-50 adapter, and by the time my brothers arrived with a six-pack we were charging at 30A. A beer's worth of charging was more than enough to drive to the 50A 14-50 in my mother's driveway, and I called Andy to let him know we had made it - then prepared for lots of battery jokes from relatives...

    The way home Saturday afternoon/evening was less eventful but still a challenge. I had five kids in the car including our 18 year old son and the 9 year old in the rear jump seat with luggage piled next to her. Temperatures ranged from 20 to 35, and we arrived in Montpelier for an early dinner with 175 rated miles and 178 miles to home. On top of that, the City Hall charger was occupied by a PHV Fusion, so I had to go to the State Capitol charger a half mile away. We took our time eating and then stopped in a bookstore but after more than 90 minutes the kids wanted to get going. So we left with 195 rated miles and I quickly developed my hypermiling techniques to avoid having to stop for another Level 2 charge near Concord NH. I drove like a semi, slowing to under 50 mph on big climbs in the right lane with flashers on and then coasting at up to 85 in neutral on the downhills. Our son kept the heater off most of the time, only turning it on to clear the windshield periodically - but with 6 people in coats we were never cold. Our 17 mlle buffer quickly dropped as low as -2 before the hypermiling began having an effect, and the average wh/mile dropped from 410 to 300s and then below 350 as the buffer started to go positive and grew back to 7. What Google Maps projected at 178 miles and 2:45 driving time wound up being 180.5 miles and taking 3:30 at an average consumption of 302 wh/mile - far better than my lifetime average of 362 or the 390 average on the trip up. And we arrived with a whopping 5 miles of range to spare!

    Top 10 takeaways:
    10. Always leave more buffer than you think you need - and don't get boxed in with constraints on distance, charging rate, and arrival time (last ferry)
    9. Fogged windows aren't a big problem on an empty highway at night - and a fogged rear window actually helps diffuse headlights coming up behind you :wink:
    8. Six humans give off a lot of heat - cycling between 66 degrees in eco mode and off, with an occasional blast of defroster, never got uncomfortably cold
    7. It's embarrassing to be limping up mountains at 50 mph in a Model S - reminds me of an old Subaru back in college that couldn't manage much faster than that
    6. Charging at 110v on a ferry is also embarrassing, but I'm happy to embarrass myself to get where I need to go
    5. I need to get a set of winter tires very soon - Nokian R2s? (would love the winter/all-season WR-G3s but they're not available in 245/45R19)
    4. Until we get a Supercharger on that route (Hooksett is no longer on the map, West Lebanon is now 2014, only option is Albany "coming soon" on the I-90/I-87 way), I'm taking the ICE in winter
    3. Worrying about range and hypermiling keep a driver more awake and alert than a gallon of coffee
    2. Plugshare Model S/HPWC owners like Andy and family are great - thank you again!
    1. The experience of owning and driving a Model S far outweighs these temporary challenges - I wouldn't trade it for any other car!
  2. SCW-Greg

    SCW-Greg Active Member

    Jun 13, 2012
    Beaverton, OR
    Excellent story, thank you for sharing.
    And hats off to the graciousness of Andy and family... Way to represent for the community. Makes me want to step up and share our 14-50 on PlugShare (even if we're only 15 minutes from the TM store and HPWC).
  3. JohnQ

    JohnQ Active Member

    Jan 1, 2012
    Redding, CT
    Wholeheartedly agree with this. My uphill run from Burlington, NC to Asheville 23F weather was a constant exercise in calculating how quickly my buffer was dropping and how much I needed for the final climb of the day. Glad you had multiple contingencies and were able to use one. The Tesla community is strong.
  4. Kalud

    Kalud Active Member

    May 7, 2013
    Montreal, QC
    #4 Kalud, Dec 3, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
    Thanks for sharing! I did something similar already within 2 days of ownership... I went 16km (10mi) past the 0mi left. I really needed to get home at 2am in 8F temperature... You could have made it to the 50A 14-50 at your mother's driveway ;) Still good to know next time, but avoiding "next time" is still better. Learning the hard way :)

  5. David Rhee

    David Rhee Member

    Aug 11, 2013
    Boston, Massachusetts, United States
    What an entertaining story! I didn't know whether to laugh or cry with such a close call, especially with 4 girl in tow!
  6. PeterK

    PeterK Model X Owner

    Jan 17, 2013
    Cambridge, MA
    Just back from another trip there for New Year's with three daughters but had to take the ICE minivan due to lack of superchargers. While gone I had to let our 18 year old son drive my S to a doctor's appointment in Concord MA as a result but I didn't have much choice.

    Since I'm normally the only driver it was cool to watch his drive out Rte 2 from 250 miles away, though unnerving when he got over the speed limit. He was afraid to put it in and out of the garage so it stayed outside for three days, unsuccessfully charging off a 120v outlet after the charger decided it didn't like the power quality.


Share This Page

  • About Us

    Formed in 2006, Tesla Motors Club (TMC) was the first independent online Tesla community. Today it remains the largest and most dynamic community of Tesla enthusiasts. Learn more.
  • Do you value your experience at TMC? Consider becoming a Supporting Member of Tesla Motors Club. As a thank you for your contribution, you'll get nearly no ads in the Community and Groups sections. Additional perks are available depending on the level of contribution. Please visit the Account Upgrades page for more details.