For the past 20 years or so I’ve done the drive from the San Francisco Bay Area to Southern Oregon twice a year. Last weekend I did this trip in an EV for the first time, I thought I’d share some observations for those who have concerns about taking their first roadtrip in a Model 3 Long Range. In short, it was great and I can’t wait to take my next roadtrip.
The trip is 360 miles each direction and contains several thousand feet of elevation gain, notably on the back end. I used a variety of different tools to research my route, plan Super Charging stops etc. I decided to use the built-in Tesla navigation for the way up, and A Better Route Planner for the way down. Of these two, ABRP is far better at keeping you on the road. It’ll guide you to a few 5-10 minute “top offs” while the car seemed to index for 20+ minute stops. Either way - I say trust the process. The car knows when it needs to be charged, and it’ll direct you to do so.
Speed is Key
I’ve seen a lot of conversations here about “optimum speed” and while I normally would fall into the “whatever gets you to your destination fastest” I have to deviate when it comes to two major variables - cold weather and high altitude. At the back end of the drive the mountains hit 4000 ft elevation and about 20-30 degrees Fahrenheit. When going 70 mph I went from averaging about 3+ miles for each % down to 1 mile each %. It was definitely eye opening; if I had to do it over again I’d slow down a bit and eek out extra range.
Super Chargers Could Use Some Amenities
When you take an ICE car your fill ups also give you a chance to throw out drinks/food, take bathroom breaks, and clean the windshield. I was surprised to see that none of the Super Charger stations I stopped at (Red Bluff, Medford, Mount Shasta, Corning) had rubbish bins, restrooms, or squeegees. For the first two, it seems that Tesla offloads those responsibilities to local businesses such as Starbucks. The third one - I was SoL. I asked a few other folks what they did and some of them carry their own squeegee with them. Understandable, but seems like this should be offered by Tesla.
Autopilot and Adaptive Cruise Control Subpar On Routes with Lots of Semis
I have played around with AP and the normal Cruise Control function during my commutes on major highways, but it was completely defeated by the conditions presented on the I-5. Phantom braking would occur about 1 out of every 5 times I’d pass a semi. And if you’ve been on I-5 that pretty much means 1 out of every 5 vehicles. It was enough to cause a bit of motion sickness.
EV Savings Are Real
I used to do the trip in an Audi A3 2.0, which would average 25-ish MPG on 91. In California that runs about $6.40 a gallon. When doing the comparison in Tessie my electric cost is about $61.43 vs. $240.80 in gasoline. That’s a massive delta - much more than I expected.
Featured Image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.
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