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First proper road trip in my blue 85 kWh

Discussion in 'Model S' started by wraithnot, Mar 17, 2013.

  1. wraithnot

    wraithnot Model S VIN #5785

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    I took my first proper road trip in my 85 kWh Model S and I thought I would share my story to help others planning similar trips.

    Yesterday morning, my wife suggested we take a spontaneous wine tasting trip down to the Santa Lucia Highlands (about 120 miles south of us on 101 near Soledad CA). I pulled a up a map, realized we could take the trip in Model S, and quickly agreed :)

    I grabbed my iPhone and started a range charge while we were getting ready. Had the battery almost topped off (263 rated range) by the time we had the dog loaded in the car and were ready to leave. It was the first time I had the battery full enough to get the yellow line on the instrument cluster indicating regen was being limited.

    We made it to the Gilroy supercharger with about 190 miles on the range indicator. Luckily 3 of the 4 charging bays were free (there was a silver P85 charging in the rightmost bay and I’ll refer to this one as #4) so I pulled in to the left most bay (one of the older style superchargers with the ridiculously short cord that I’ll refer to as #1) and was just barely able to plug in without moving the car. I was charging at a healthy 150+ miles per hour when we walked the dog, made a pit stop, and gave the dog some water. We were up to about 240 miles range when we were ready to hit the road again.

    I went with the flow of traffic (or at least the flow of the faster traffic ;-) the whole way and had a very pleasant drive down 101 on the way to our first winery, Talbott. We left the dog in the car and being able to leave the climate control on and monitor the temperature in the car from the iPhone app is just one of many awesome features of the car. My wife even wrote a sign that said “climate control on- dog is fine” just in case any passers by got worried.

    We had a beautiful, scenic drive through the countryside and also made it to Wrath and Scheid before finishing the day off at Hahn (we split tastings and took our time to keep everything safe). Hahn is on the top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the valley below. Even though the car was a bit dusty at this point, the lighting was showing off the blue metallic paint quite well so I couldn’t resist talking a photo.
    hahn.jpg

    It was a little after 5 pm at this point so we pointed the car back to Gilroy and made 8:15 reservations at our favorite restaurant in the east bay (Bellanico in Oakland). We once again went with the flow of traffic in the fast lane and made it back to the Gilroy supercharger with only 39 miles of range left. This is the most depleted I’ve ever had the battery and the first time I’ve gotten the yellow line at the top of the power gauge indicating power was being limited. There was a green Model S charging at the second charger from the left (#2) as well as a while Model S parked nearby so I plugged into the charger on the far right (#4). I knew that two charging bays shared the same stack of chargers and I assumed that the adjacent bays were the ones wired together and left an empty charger in between me and the green MS.

    About a minute later, a silver Model S pulled up and started charging in bay #3 just as my wife and I were heading off on foot for a much needed bathroom break. The car was only drawing 66 A at 338 V and getting 66 mi/hr of range, but I figured it would ramp up over time. When we got back to the car, it was still only getting about 66 mi/hr of range. I thought the charger might be defective, but just then another Model S pulled up and plugged into the last remaining bay (#1) so trying another bay wasn’t an option. But it was cool seeing that many Model S’s congregated in one spot. Counting the white one nearby, four of the five still had dealer plates so the factory must really be churning them out!
    gilroy.jpg

    Getting only 66 mi/hr of range was putting a serious crimp in our plans to make it to our dinner reservation on time, but my wife bravely made the best of it by shopping while I walked the dog. After walking the dog, I went to check up on her and kept one eye on the iPhone app. After a few minutes, I noticed that the charging had stopped and wouldn’t restart from the app so I let her know what was going on and quickly walked back to the car to see what was going on. The red warning light was lit up on the charging port so I unplugged and tried again. This time, I got the yellow light and wiggled the connection until finally it turned green (pulsing VERY quickly). Now I was delighted to see I was pulling over 200 amps and getting over 200 miles of range and hour.

    At this point, the other Model S owners starting coming back their cars and we had an impromptu car club meet up. It turned out that the green MS parked in charging bay #2 had just finished charging and it appears that bays #2 and #4 (and presumably #1 and #3) share the same stacks of chargers rather than adjacent bays. As far as I can tell, the first car to plug into a pair of bays gets 3/4 of the power (up to 90 kW) and the second car only gets 1/4 of the power (up to 30 kW). It also doesn’t appear to gradually shift power to the second car as the first car tapers down. Instead it shifts all at once when the first car is finished (or after the first car is finished and the second charger throws an error).

    By the time my wife was done shopping, we had 170 miles of range but not quite enough time to make it back for our reservation on time. But between driving very aggressively and a quick phone call to the restaurant we made it before they gave our table away. We had a wonderful meal (and checked the temp in the car regularly to make sure the dog was comfy) and then made it home with about 60 miles of range left. The overall stats on the trip were 310.5 mi and 105.5 kWh used.

    In summary (aka TLDR), the Tesla iPhone app is amazingly useful in real life situations, the Model S is a fantastically capable road trip car with a little planning and some superchargers, but the superchargers aren’t quite as super if you are second car sharing the same stack of chargers and it’s not always adjacent charging bays that share stacks of chargers.
     
  2. Wattson

    Wattson Member

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    Wow, neat road trip and a fantastic report! Do you have any pictures of your dog in the Model S that you can post?
     
  3. digitaltim

    digitaltim Sig737 VIN628

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    I have left my dog crated in the rear w/ climate control on - very nice feature for a quick stop where you cannot take the dog along.
     
  4. Trnsl8r

    Trnsl8r Blue 85kwh since 12/8/12

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    Nice write-up. It would be handy to figure out how exactly the bays share power so one would know which bay to pull up to...
     
  5. kendallpb

    kendallpb Model S: P 8061

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    Great write-up, and thanks for going into how the power-sharing works (or doesn't). I'm a little surprised it doesn't ramp down when the other Model S plugs in, ramping it up for the new car. On the other paw, keeping the first one charging as quickly as possible means it'll be done sooner and then hopefully the second one will ramp up high, so in practice it may be better how it works now. I'm hoping your experience of having to plug in again was a fluke, though.
     
  6. wraithnot

    wraithnot Model S VIN #5785

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    We have a small (14 pound) rescue dog named Monkey and the first time we took him in the car he jumped in the center console and started sniffing the touch screen. His wet nose started registering as touches so we decided to keep him in his crate for the road trip to make sure he didn't pop the frunk or open the hatch and escape or something. His crate fit in the back, but we couldn't coax him to jump up there so we ended up putting his crate in the back seat.

    I didn't get any pictures of him in his crate from the road trip. But I'm attaching one I took this morning after I washed all the road trip dust off the car.

    monkey_tesla.jpg
     
  7. Wattson

    Wattson Member

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    Monkey is very cute! Thanks for sharing a photo, and it must be good to have a partner for all the Model S washes ahead!
     
  8. ToddRLockwood

    ToddRLockwood Active Member

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    I'd like to hear from Tesla exactly what's going on here. Since bays 1 & 3 have the 90kW logos on them, one would think that they are the "base" stations and 2 & 4 are the slaves. It seems odd that there would be any variation between bays, though.
     
  9. Daniel Scherer

    Daniel Scherer Junior Member

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    I'm jealous that you get the great California weather, winery trips, high speed chargers and fellow Tesla owners to hang with. Spring is coming to Michigan soon!
     
  10. Velo1

    Velo1 Member

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    Great read, thanks. Maybe it's the camera angle, or my second glass of wine, but your rear wheel looks out of round in the photo.
     
  11. anticitizen13.7

    anticitizen13.7 Enemy of the Status Quo

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    Great writeup on your road trip!

    Using the iPhone app to keep the car temperature in the car comfortable for your dog is pretty cool. Nice info on the Supercharger load balancing, and great pic of all the Model S in the charging stations:smile:
     
  12. wraithnot

    wraithnot Model S VIN #5785

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    Hmm- I see what you mean. I think it's probably a combination of the shadows caused from having the sun so low in the sky (the only way to get the blue to look properly blue) and distortion from the tiny lens in the iPhone 5 I used to take the photo. I'm pretty sure the wheel is actually quite round since the car is silky smooth at 90+ mph :)
     
  13. wraithnot

    wraithnot Model S VIN #5785

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    I was able to find this explanation on the TM forums:

    "Why are two of the stations solid and the other two have holes? Is it just a stylistic thing?

    The solid ones were installed first, and the newer "hole" versions installed about 3 months later in December."

    And this quote from a September 30 2012 NY times article is the most specific info I could find about how the superchargers actually work:

    "The Supercharger is clever in its construction. It starts with the same 10-kilowatt charger that is onboard every Model S. To build the Supercharger, the company strings together 12 of the same units, which were designed from the beginning as building blocks.

    “It’s good modular engineering,” Mr. Straubel said. “We configured all the circuitry, the power and the communications so we can just stack them up.”

    Each Supercharger can serve two cars, and most locations will have three units. With solar panels planned for many locations, operating costs are expected to remain low, perhaps explaining the free recharges."

    From this info, I infer that 120 kW is shared between two cars. I remember reading the 90 kW / 30 kW split on either the TM or TMC forums and this is certainly consistent with my observations on Saturday.
     
  14. SMCModelSFan

    SMCModelSFan Member

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    We had the exact same experience at Gilroy yesterday at 7 AM. Someone was already in #2, and we pulled in to #4 but had low amps. When we moved to #1, it was high, as expected.
     
  15. Jason S

    Jason S Model S Sig Perf (P85)

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    It is the shadows in the picture. And your 2nd glass of wine.

    Ahh, and reading from the other posts -- it appears the 90kw ones are labeled as such but the 30kw ones are not labeled. Choose the appropriate one to your need for speed.
     
  16. Kipernicus

    Kipernicus Model S Res#P1440

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    Same configuration as at Folsom - 1&3 (not see through) are paired together and 2&4 (with the "holes") are paired together.
    If someone is at 1 or 3, park at 2 or 4.
     

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