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First EV Road Trip 700+ Miles Roundtrip - Some Observations

Model3_01.jpeg


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.

Range Anxiety

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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Good observations, especially about range and charging. I’ve gone NY-CA-NY several times, including just this month in the MY. Experienced only a few phantom braking, not around semis (there are plenty on the road), but mostly when there’s an overpass ahead that appears to the AP to be an obstruction. On the interstates with speed limits of 75, its hard to go slow to preserve battery; I found it better just to charge a bit more and go. So many of the chargers are higher voltage, that most charge stops (from ~15% to ~80%) were 20 minutes. Basically, love the car and the software.
 
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.

It's a work in progress. You gotta make sure you have some empty gatorade bottles with you. Maybe buy flavors other than lime so you don't take a sip later lol. There are a couple of SC in TX that are located next to a bakery. Tesla owners get a free drink if they show their key cards.
 
"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."

That sounds like a good idea, but we all know the homeless and thieves would steal them and just drive up costs. Just add squeegee and spare bottle of water to your trip supplies. Do you really generate that much trash on a road trip to need to dump it at every stop? To me, it sounds as if you are being a little cortical of what a charging station should provide.

I do agree that Tesla makes great road trip vehicles, just watch your speed and range.
 
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...

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.

Yes, most sites seem to rely on the local businesses. Some significant exceptions on I-5 between the Bay Area and L.A.

Red Bluff has a big dumpster next to the Supercharger stalls. (The whole site is kind of a dumpster. Looking forward to Cottonwood coming on-line.) Restrooms are a bit of a hike...

Shasta has the grocery store across the parking lot. Restrooms on the right side of the store - through the doorway between the produce department and the deli area.

Corning is a bit of a hike to anything as well.
 
View attachment 792696

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.

Range Anxiety

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.
So overall which did you prefer? Cost savings is nice but we're not all youtubers having fun.

I have a 300+ mile trip coming up to go to DC still need to find out if my hotel has destination chargers and that seems a little sketchy. Most only have a couple so wondering how that would even work in a city when you can't move your car in the garage you have to rely on them.

I'm tempted to just go for it even though I have other ICE options I could use. I just love driving the M3 so taking a 10-15 minute break at a supercharger doesn't really sound to bad. This would be my first extended trip where need to use a super charger to get somewhere or home.
 
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I have a 300+ mile trip coming up to go to DC still need to find out if my hotel has destination chargers and that seems a little sketchy. Most only have a couple so wondering how that would even work in a city when you can't move your car in the garage you have to rely on them.

I'm tempted to just go for it even though I have other ICE options I could use. I just love driving the M3 so taking a 10-15 minute break at a supercharger doesn't really sound to bad. This would be my first extended trip where need to use a super charger to get somewhere or home.
I’m in the same boat - still have an ICE car I can use for trips (RAV 4 Hybrid) but I chose to use the M3 LR to get outside my comfort zone. I don’t regret it. It was a good learning experience that taught me important lessons about range anxiety, and speed management.

I split time between the Bay Area and DC (Shaw to be specific) and know all too well the anxiety you’re facing. The lack of infrastructure out there is the main reason I went with the Tesla over a Polestar. I’d map out your route in A Better Route Planner and see what nets out.

The trip will take longer, but it’ll also help assuage some long term anxieties you may have about the car.
 
"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."

That sounds like a good idea, but we all know the homeless and thieves would steal them and just drive up costs. Just add squeegee and spare bottle of water to your trip supplies. Do you really generate that much trash on a road trip to need to dump it at every stop? To me, it sounds as if you are being a little cortical of what a charging station should provide.

I do agree that Tesla makes great road trip vehicles, just watch your speed and range.
Well if you consider it’s 6+ hours each way. That’s probably one meal, maybe another snack, and some beverages.

In my case I had a banana peel and a few coffee cups cluttering up my cabin. Not the end of the world, but would have been nice to be able to dump them while I was charging.
 
Good observations, especially about range and charging. I’ve gone NY-CA-NY several times, including just this month in the MY. Experienced only a few phantom braking, not around semis (there are plenty on the road), but mostly when there’s an overpass ahead that appears to the AP to be an obstruction. On the interstates with speed limits of 75, its hard to go slow to preserve battery; I found it better just to charge a bit more and go. So many of the chargers are higher voltage, that most charge stops (from ~15% to ~80%) were 20 minutes. Basically, love the car and the software.
I’m planning a trip from SF to DC in the next few months. Been keeping an eye out on weather and it’s seeming that I’ll be better off taking the Southern route. I appreciate any tips you have on your journeys.
 
I’m planning a trip from SF to DC in the next few months. Been keeping an eye out on weather and it’s seeming that I’ll be better off taking the Southern route. I appreciate any tips you have on your journeys.
We drove from Seattle the southern route to Jacksonville FL, then to New England and home through Buffalo & Chicago. A superb trip and really proved the sense of an EV and the joy of driving it. We learned a bit about RA and trip planning then as well, as it was in March of 2015 and there were a total of 182 Superchargers in North America at the time. It's a little easier these days. Enjoy the drive!
 
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When I drove from Jackson CA to Kirkwood, all up hill, it sucked 100 miles range for 50 miles trip.
Then I went back from Kirkwood to Jackson, guess what, it even added 1 mile, so no range change....

I think Tesla should add the factor of uphill and downhill route.
In my experience, the car does that figuring for you. Enter your destination and it’s very accurate projecting your rate of charge (or range) at arrival.
 
Bathrooms were hit and miss at supercharging. On road trips we do find ourselves noticing and stopping at rest stops more than in our ICE car, also gives a good opportunity to throw out any trash, stretch legs, and grab a snack. Aside from the nicer truck stops, most rest stop bathrooms are much better kept than the typical gas station restroom.
 
I really never expected much from the amenities of the superchargers, Though I can't wait for the birth of the EV "gas" stations. I've seen a couple pictures from Europe and I live in hope :)




I've watched a couple of other videos of people driving non tesla's and complaining about where they put other brands chargers, not the safest place to park a 100+ thousand dollar Rivian and Lucid. The limited amount of Superchargers I've seen have always been in safe well lit area's. Granted my sample size is quite small, but it was enough to get me interested.

What's neat for me is that I live in the mountains and go down to the "valley" a good chunk of time. Using regenerative breaking on the way down, to save charge and save on the brakes. On the way back up I "burn" a bit extra going up but it feels to me like that's a fair swap.
 
Bathrooms were hit and miss at supercharging. On road trips we do find ourselves noticing and stopping at rest stops more than in our ICE car, also gives a good opportunity to throw out any trash, stretch legs, and grab a snack. Aside from the nicer truck stops, most rest stop bathrooms are much better kept than the typical gas station restroom.
That is interesting. I had never thought about that, even when using my ICE car. I’ll give that a shot on my upcoming road trip to SoCal and see how that goes.
 
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Well if you consider it’s 6+ hours each way. That’s probably one meal, maybe another snack, and some beverages.

In my case I had a banana peel and a few coffee cups cluttering up my cabin. Not the end of the world, but would have been nice to be able to dump them while I was charging.

I have a Starbucks insullated stainless steel mug with a handle and lid that I have had for more than a decade. Works great to eliminate the used coffee cup clutter. The coffee stays warmer longer as well.
 

livingxl

New Member
Jun 21, 2021
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NJ
So overall which did you prefer? Cost savings is nice but we're not all youtubers having fun.

I have a 300+ mile trip coming up to go to DC still need to find out if my hotel has destination chargers and that seems a little sketchy. Most only have a couple so wondering how that would even work in a city when you can't move your car in the garage you have to rely on them.

I'm tempted to just go for it even though I have other ICE options I could use. I just love driving the M3 so taking a 10-15 minute break at a supercharger doesn't really sound to bad. This would be my first extended trip where need to use a super charger to get somewhere or home.
I would not count on the destination chargers at hotels. As you said, most hotel offers only one or two chargers. It could be iced, could be used by other guests or might be out of service. I would charge to 50%-70% at a supercharger close to the destination. If the destination charger is available when you arrive, it is icing on the cake and you can top off. If not, you have enough to get to a supercharger when you check-out the hotel.

I did a few road trips since I got the model Y last October and the experience is great. Longest trip being NJ to FL and back.
 
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On my recent trip, every hotel that didn’t advertise a destination charger had one, and the one hotel that advertised (on its website) having a destination charger did not actually have one installed. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I agree they should not be counted on and making sure you have enough destination juice to get to a charger is advisable. If they have it - great!
 
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I would not count on the destination chargers at hotels. As you said, most hotel offers only one or two chargers. It could be iced, could be used by other guests or might be out of service. I would charge to 50%-70% at a supercharger close to the destination. If the destination charger is available when you arrive, it is icing on the cake and you can top off. If not, you have enough to get to a supercharger when you check-out the hotel.

I did a few road trips since I got the model Y last October and the experience is great. Longest trip being NJ to FL and back.
Thanks yeah there is a Tesla charger about 20 miles from the hotel I was thinking about just topping off there. It's definitely going to take a bit to get used to. Work or just general use no problem with an even and 350miles is plenty but when you're off somewhere that you can't return home the fear sets in. I definitely need to get some road trips under my belt.
 
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