Welcome to Tesla Motors Club
Discuss Tesla's Model S, Model 3, Model X, Model Y, Cybertruck, Roadster and More.
Register
  • Please check out the latest TMC Podcast (#13) where we discussed new Model Y launches, Tesla improving service, nationwide EV charging expansion, and viewer comments from previous episodes YouTube or listen to it on all major podcast networks.

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.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
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!

I had a similar experience with a hotel advertising a destination charger and not having one. I also had an experience at the Carmel Highlands Inn where they have 3 destination chargers but their use was first come first serve and unmanaged. As you might imagine, it was hard to find a free one with all of the Tesla's at the hotel.
 
I had a similar experience with a hotel advertising a destination charger and not having one. I also had an experience at the Carmel Highlands Inn where they have 3 destination chargers but their use was first come first serve and unmanaged. As you might imagine, it was hard to find a free one with all of the Tesla's at the hotel.
It's unfortunate even providing a 120v outlet for more spots would be fantastic. If I could grab 50 some miles while I sleep at least I could make it to a supercharger in the morning.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Graham J
It's unfortunate even providing a 120v outlet for more spots would be fantastic. If I could grab 50 some miles while I sleep at least I could make it to a supercharger in the morning.

Sometimes you can find them around the parking lots. Ask the front desk and/or the maintenance guy. Especially in areas where it is cold in the winter and there are receptacles for engine block heaters. Sometimes they are even 20 amp (5-20), instead of 15 amp (5-15), receptacles. So a 5-20 adapter can be a handy addition to ones charging kit.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Tinkerin
It's unfortunate even providing a 120v outlet for more spots would be fantastic. If I could grab 50 some miles while I sleep at least I could make it to a supercharger in the morning.
Actually I did that the first night using the moile charger. It worked untill some kind soul decided to unplug it around 2:00am. I got 8 miles of range added back in.
 
  • Funny
Reactions: JB from the AZ

smartypnz

Active Member
Supporting Member
Jan 23, 2013
2,333
2,524
Monterey Peninsula
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.
Did 11,000 mile 48 state trip last year. Left from SF area and headed NE via Yellowstone then S Dakota and across N Dakota.. I left in middle of May and had no problem (winter weather wise). Only used Destination Charger in Cody, WY at the Buffalo Bill museum - but I had been there before and knew it was there. i could have avoided by veering thru Montana, but wanted to do that spectacular fun drive from Yellowstone to Sheridan via Greybull on US 14. Also at Pigeon Forge, TN, I arrived about a week before the SC's opened, but plenty of Destination Chargers there if you need.
Practically all my charge stops were under 20 minutes unless longer caused by me.... getting food, talking with locals, bathroom. I believe I only maxed the charge one time - using instead the 'destination distance plus a buffer' method. Made charge stops quicker.
Definitely do not depend on hotel chargers being available. Have fun.
 
  • Like
Reactions: DrGriz
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.
I also live in the mountains of Colorado and have the same experience as markc2. When I reach Loveland, I have more percentage that when I left home. Getting back use more.
 
  • Like
Reactions: markc2

avs007

Active Member
May 14, 2021
1,020
942
PacNW
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.
Check to see if there is a cost associated with the destination charger... The hotel I stayed at in canada had a destination charger, but it wasn't free. I looked at it, and it was more expensive than just using a supercharger... I booked that hotel, becuase I could use my marriot rewards, and there was a SC down the street.
 
  • Like
Reactions: OliverM3

avs007

Active Member
May 14, 2021
1,020
942
PacNW
Also, when I went to LegoLand, they had like 6 free L2 chargers for guests of The Legoland Hotel, but there was a sign saying that you MUST move your car after completing charge. I never saw anyone park in the charging stall, but I did see a few Teslas in the parking lot, so maybe they already charged and re-parked. I'm not sure if the same courtesy is required at other hotels with L2 charging, as I've never used one before/yet.
 

avs007

Active Member
May 14, 2021
1,020
942
PacNW
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.
When we first got our Tesla, we were always charging up to like 80% at SC becuase of range anxiety... Now I just just look at the arrival SoC in the Navi when I select the next stop, and as soon as it's at or just under 20% it's time to go.. (Unless it's the last SC stop of the day). I also found myself looking at the nearby SC and looking at the rates, and trying to see if I could save a couple bucks, lol. I did that on the way up to canada... I was 45 minutes before the rate cutoff, so I juiced it up to 90% to take advantage of 18 cents/kw. I didn't need the charge, but I knew SC in Canada were by the minute isntead of kw, so I figured might as well, since it wasn't busy at the time. That and I knew the google reviews for the SC in Canada that I was planning on using, said it could be busy or have a line, and I didn't want to get stuck with a low state of charge waiting in a queue.
 
The goal is the drive as fast as you are comfortably willing to drive and arrive at the next, reasonable, charger with as little extra energy as you are willing to go. Stopping for 20 minutes every 160 miles going 80mph is going to beat stopping for 45 mins every 240 miles going 65. I will only charge past 80% if I want to skip a particular supercharger. Maybe it is 10+ mins off the freeway, a busy 150kw charger, likely to have a wait, or some combination of those things. Usually leave a charger between 60%-80% charger and pull into the next one between 2-5%.
 
  • Like
Reactions: vanjwilson
Also, when I went to LegoLand, they had like 6 free L2 chargers for guests of The Legoland Hotel, but there was a sign saying that you MUST move your car after completing charge. I never saw anyone park in the charging stall, but I did see a few Teslas in the parking lot, so maybe they already charged and re-parked. I'm not sure if the same courtesy is required at other hotels with L2 charging, as I've never used one before/yet.

I have stayed at several different hotels, on different road trips to different parts of the country. I usually get in later in the evening, and there is rarely another EV charging. (In two different cities in West Virginia, I was the only EV using one of four (!) Level 2 chargers at each hotel.)

I always try to arrive with low SOC, so if there are plenty of chargers, I will just leave it plugged in overnight, and then leave early, or move my car in the morning.

I did spend 3 nights in a hotel in River North in Chicago last winter, and I moved my car after the first night. Plugged back in late on the third night to charge for the trip home. I never did see another EV using any of the three available chargers.

A couple of times, I have send Level 2 chargers at hotels ICEd, so I recommend calling ahead and asking the hotel to put a cone out to block a spot for you.
 
  • Informative
Reactions: avs007
As far as Tesla amenities go...I just got back from a trip on I5 in CA central valley (between LA and SF) and stopped a Kettleman City (about 50 stalls). They have a 24/7 bathroom plus another lounge area with snacks and a bathroom. Both are locked and you need a keycode to enter. You get the keycode by tapping on the supercharger icon on the map.
They also had multiple squeegees to use.
 

bradtem

Robocar consultant
Dec 18, 2018
359
523
Sunnyvale, CA
These are the early days. In the future, my hope is that charging becomes a reservable amenity at all hotels, though if it does, it will probably become a billed amenity unfortunately. Today it's almost always included at no extra charge.

My vision is you can book a "room, with charging stall" same way you can book a room with a view. Ideally the chargers have screens and show "Reserved for XXX" on them so you just pull up and park. But we're not close to that yet. Unlike most of the world, where 3kw is fine for homes and offices, at overnight hotels you often need a fairly full charge which takes 8 hours or so and you need the full 7kw.

Now, if I pick up 50kwh at the hotel, that probably costs them around $5 of electricity. But it saves me $15 or more at the fast charger, and time and battery wear. So if they don't think it's worth it to bring in customers, they will try to charge from $5 (cost) to $25 (value) -- above $25 and they might get people just fast charging instead. But hotels are notorious for high markups, once they decide to do a markup.
 

bradtem

Robocar consultant
Dec 18, 2018
359
523
Sunnyvale, CA
Nahhh..... spread the hotel charge amongst all guests. All amenities available for guests are included in each bill = whether all guests use them or not.
Some hotel amenities are like that. Many things at a hotel are extra. It varies from hotel to hotel. Some hotels include breakfast, others charge. Some charge for wifi, or premium wifi. Motel Sixes used to have a coin operated television. Some customers like bundling, some like unbundling (or rather they like lower prices and not paying for things they don't use) But with an amenity like charging that costs around $10 to provide it's not clear how it will go. Today, it's not that expensive and it gets extra guests. It makes you look green. In the future it could go either way.

In 10 years it will be a must-have for a large fraction of guests. But that doesn't mean must-have-and-free. Parking is a must have, usually free outside cities, often quite expensive within them.
 

avs007

Active Member
May 14, 2021
1,020
942
PacNW
Some hotel amenities are like that. Many things at a hotel are extra. It varies from hotel to hotel. Some hotels include breakfast, others charge. Some charge for wifi, or premium wifi. Motel Sixes used to have a coin operated television. Some customers like bundling, some like unbundling (or rather they like lower prices and not paying for things they don't use) But with an amenity like charging that costs around $10 to provide it's not clear how it will go. Today, it's not that expensive and it gets extra guests. It makes you look green. In the future it could go either way.

In 10 years it will be a must-have for a large fraction of guests. But that doesn't mean must-have-and-free. Parking is a must have, usually free outside cities, often quite expensive within them.
There was a documentary, (I think on CNBC.ca or Netflix, I can't remember) talking about this type of stuff... It was actually an interesting watch. Talking about the different expectations between business travelers and non-business travelers, and how the former make up the vast majority of the revenue stream, with everyone else fighting for the smaller piece of the pie, etc. Was also interesting talking about how business models of what ameneties were offered when hotels switched to the franchise model, instead of owner owned/operated model, etc.
 

bradtem

Robocar consultant
Dec 18, 2018
359
523
Sunnyvale, CA
There was a documentary, (I think on CNBC.ca or Netflix, I can't remember) talking about this type of stuff... It was actually an interesting watch. Talking about the different expectations between business travelers and non-business travelers, and how the former make up the vast majority of the revenue stream, with everyone else fighting for the smaller piece of the pie, etc. Was also interesting talking about how business models of what ameneties were offered when hotels switched to the franchise model, instead of owner owned/operated model, etc.
I have to say that hotel charging is a very valuable amenity to me. It may only give me $5 of electricity, but it does it while I sleep. The alternative is paying $15 at a fast charger, driving 5-10 minutes out of my way to get to it, and spending 40 minutes there (ideally while having dinner the night before, but that may not work out well.) That's worth quite a lot to many people, and the hotels will figure that out, and decide whether to use it to bring in guests or to get revenue.

Right now, when I am driving and start looking for an overnight hotel, I do use plugshare to find the ones with charging. And if they are only $20 more than another hotel without charging, I take it. I probably get a slightly nicer hotel as well. Right now it's pretty much always free. (On some occasions there is a pay charger a short walk from the hotel, and from time to time a pay fast charger, which means I don't have to worry about what to do while charging as I am in the hotel.)

I don't know which way this will go. One problem is I want them to fancy it up, as I described above. I want to be able to reserve time at a charger. I want a guarantee that if it's ICEd they will find the ICE driver and get them to move. I want them to have enough chargers for everybody, or I want to know before I reserve a room that they don't. There is nothing like that now. Every hotel I call asking "can you reserve it for me?" is confused by the question.
 

Products we're discussing on TMC...

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.


SUPPORT TMC
Top