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Postscript - 2,000 Mile (and Back) Road Trip with Two Kids

Discussion in 'Model 3' started by tezlafor5, Jan 7, 2020.

  1. tezlafor5

    tezlafor5 Supporting Member

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    For those interested, thought that I would share a few comments and takeaways from a road trip that I took with my oldest kids (sons age almost 8 and 6) from Milwaukee, WI to La Quinta, CA and back. For context, I have a 2018, FSD-equipped AWD Model 3 with 18" Aeros (non-Performance, and have not purchased $2,000 acceleration upgrade). My Model 3 is HW 2.5 (hoping for the HW 3.0 upgrade in 1Q20). I am on software version 2019.40.50.7.

    We had post-Christmas plans to meet family in La Quinta, and based on expensive airfare and memories of some fantastic road trips in college (20 years ago, sadly), I decided to drive out with two of our three kids (my wife and 2 year old daughter flew).

    We had to make it to La Quinta in two days on the way out, as our AirBnB was booked before I made the road trip plan and I did not want to leave on Christmas Day. The trip began at 4AM CST on 12/26, with the intention to make it to La Quinta by the evening of 12/27. I used www.abetterrouteplanner.com extensively before the trip to plan the route and estimate how long it should take with charging stops. I also identified two routes (one northern via I-80 through WI, IL, IA, NE, CO, UT, NV and CA) and one southern along the old Route 66 through WI, IL, MO, OK, TX, NM, AZ and CA), and chose to drive out via the southern route for warmer weather (improved battery efficiency). We had almost three days for the return, which afforded the northern route for mountain awesomeness.

    Key takeaways from the trip:
    • The outbound trip entailed ~2,100 miles and 15 supercharger stops (Bolingbrook, IL, Normal, IL, Mehlville, MO, Rolla, MO, Springfield, MO, Joplin, MO, Catoosa, OK, Oklahoma City, OK, Shamrock, TX, Tucumcari, NM, Albuquerque, NM, Gallup, NM, Payson, AZ, Quartzsite, AZ, Ehrenberg, AZ; total supercharging cost: $88.19). The return trip entailed similar mileage and 18 supercharger stops (Twentynine Palms, CA, Las Vegas LINQ, NV, St. George, UT, Beaver, UT, Richfield, UT, Green River, UT, Grand Junction, CO, Glenwood Springs, CO, Silverthorne, CO, Brush, CO, Ogallala, NE, Gothenberg, NE, Grand Island, NE, Lincoln, NE, Shelby, IA, Altoona, IA, Davenport, IA, Rockford, IL; total cost: $140.34). Average efficiency was 307 Wh/mile on the way out; 315 on the way back. I assume that the return trip was less efficient and more expensive due to colder temperatures (with resulting lower efficiency) and potentially lower efficiency in the first half of the trip due to the more significant mountain elevation changes, but would love insights from the TMC community here. Supercharging unit costs were generally lower in the states that we traveled on the return. Both directions entailed roughly 30 hours of driving and 6 hours of en route supercharging.
    • I had AutoPilot engaged for every moment that I could (there were two instances when distraction led AutoPilot to "cut me off", requiring an exit, shift to park and resumption of drive to reengage. I found AutoPilot to be >95% reliable driving on the highway (no scary wheel jerks off the road or on curves), with the only notable issue being an occasional phantom slowdown (probably five times total on trip). On and off-ramp execution was probably closer to 80%, though that is more of a nice to have than a requirement for me until (unless?) AutoPilot can fully handle the transition to local roads from the highway. As noted elsewhere, AutoPilot does sometimes temporarily struggle with wide lanes when on-ramps converge, though it was smooth within lane lines aside from that. AutoPilot handled curvy, mountain driving very well, though it did feel like it would depart from the lane lines occasionally on sharp curves (it did not actually do so, but I had my hands ready in case it did, and occasionally took control proactively). Roads were dry aside from a three hour stretch in Central AZ on the outbound trip, but the Model 3 handled that weather without slippage or other noticeable issue (context: I lived in Portland for a number of years and drove Subarus when I lived there. The Model 3 was much more sure footed in this small bad weather, mountain driving sample).
    • I used Tesla navigation in combination with abetterrouteplanner to determine charging stops. Tesla navigation was generally more conservative than abetterrouteplanner, but neither led me down a range anxiety path. When relying on abetterrouteplanner when it disagreed with Tesla navigation, I made sure to navigate to the supercharger recommended by abetterrouteplanner such that the Model 3 would precondition the battery for supercharging. I also used PlugShare to identify specific tips about each supercharger (good/bad chargers, food options), and occasionally used Tesla website for supercharger amenity information. I also found PlugShare to be invaluable for identifying hotels and other locations with Tesla/EV charging.
    • Most of my charging stops were at 150kW superchargers, which typically delivered 130-135 kW. State of charge upon arrival certainly impacted charging speed. I had to move between charger units at three superchargers due to the perception of poor (sub-100 kW) charging speed, and each time the move improved charging performance (patience at the initial charger unit may have had the same impact - no counterfactual). I utilized two 250kW (V3) superchargers - Ehrenberg, AZ and Las Vegas LINQ - and saw peak charging speeds in the low 200 kWs.
    • Reflecting a particularly nerdy side of my personality, I was generally excited to experience the superchargers, see where they were and what they offered. Aside from a few middle of the night supercharger stops in small towns (no 24 hour gas stations or restaurants) and one located next to a closed hotel that has clearly become a home for local opioid addicts (Joplin, MO), I was very impressed with that which was available while you charged, and the longer than gas stop breaks were legitimately helpful to break up the trip a bit and afford my young boys some run around time. That said, faster charging (more V3) would be welcome (at least for Model 3s), and I could not imagine trying to do such a long trip with lower kW charging options offered for non-Tesla EVs.
    • We spent one (partial) night at a hotel on the way out (Holiday Inn Express in Amarillo, TX) and one on the way back (Best Western in St. George, UT), and both offered free Tesla Destination charging (which, based on PlugShare, seems to be getting more ubiquitous, with one or more options in most towns at this point). I noted that the Tesla Destination Charging site reflects a small subset of hotels offering Tesla charging, and utilized PlugShare exclusively to search for EV-friendly hotels to save a little $ and time.
    • For entertainment, we utilized digital books, podcasts, a bit of Kindle time (we do not let our boys have much (any) screen time at home, so they were very excited for a few multi-hour Kindle stretches in the car), and group iPad viewing via a RAM Mount suction cupped to the inside of the glass roof when on the move. When charging and in the car, we occasionally used Tesla's in car entertainment options (Beach Buggy Racing, Netflix and YouTube), and were thoroughly impressed. The Tesla fart app came in handy a couple of times, as well, to keep things fun.
    • The Model 3 had enough room to be comfortable, but it is a small car and would be tight with larger kids/all five of us. I would love to try the same trip in an S with RFS or a 6/7-seat X, though my perception is that there would be even more charging time due to the relative inefficiency of the much larger S or X.
    Bottom line, I would do this trip again. I am not sure that the pace of the drives would have been possible without AutoPilot's virtual hand on the wheel and resulting, positive impact on my fatigue level. The Model 3 was plenty big for my two young boys and I (plus stuff for my wife and daughter that we transported to and fro). The SuperCharger stops made the trip significantly longer than it would have been in an ICE car, but also offered amenities and stretch/exercise time that kept the extensive car time palatable.

    Some photos from the trip: https://photos.app.goo.gl/2Ybwm42h8v5jLiNeA

    I am sure that I am forgetting details of interest to the TMC community. Happy to answer any questions. On a related note, I made a couple of videos earlier this year about getting three car seats into the back seat:


     
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  2. megant113

    megant113 Member

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    This is awesome.

    The most useful tip I'll take is the idea of the suction cup iPad mount on the roof. I'm working on convincing my husband to take the Model 3 up to Nor Cal instead of the ICE SUV next time we go, but we're spoiled by the built in DVD player in the SUV to entertain the kids. Where did you buy the mount?
     
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  3. tezlafor5

    tezlafor5 Supporting Member

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    Amazon:
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0049U40DK?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07TMZX4YN?ref=ppx_pop_mob_ap_share

    Fantastic product. Highly recommend.
     
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  4. ttdanimal

    ttdanimal Member

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    Great write up. Thanks for sharing.

    We haven't taken a road trip in our 3 yet. It sounds fun and almost adventurous... but also long. That's got to be at least 8+ hours longer right now. And the savings over gas is lower than I would have expected (compared to say a 35 mpg vehicle).
     
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  5. tezlafor5

    tezlafor5 Supporting Member

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    Agreed. I did not buy for the gas savings, but only significant if you compare against lower MPG cars/SUVs. And would still take tens/hundreds of thousands of miles to make up the cost difference. That said, I have never enjoyed driving a car the way I enjoy this Model 3. Helped by the “new” feature allure of software updates, it is a constant, fun adventure.
     
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  6. ivy_

    ivy_ Member

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    OMG. Forgot the joys of long car trips with kids.
     
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  7. KenC

    KenC Active Member

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    Great writeup! Enjoyed reading it.
     
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  8. dmurphy

    dmurphy Woof.

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    Great write up! Thank you.

    One thing I’m honestly surprised about are the 15 and 18 charging stops. Was that being conservative on consumption or genuinely necessary?

    Assuming 315wh/mi x 2100 mi = 661,500 wh.

    80% of the 75kWh battery is 60,000wh

    So in theory, (661500/60000) = 11 charging stops if you’re onloading 80% of the battery capacity.

    Very back of napkin math, but curious if the extra stops were so you could take a break, use the restrooms, let the kids out, etc - in other words, not strictly because of electrons. :)

    How did you find the distance between stops? Too short, too long or just about right?

    Thank you!! Genuinely curious - I haven’t taken a really long road trip yet and I really want to .... thinking about Chicago in April.
     
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  9. smsiegel33

    smsiegel33 Member

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    i am trying to convince my wife to ditch our van and use our 3 to take our two smaller kids to the carolinas this summer. What speeds did you travel and how did any weather impact your initial plans? Did you have any issues with waiting at any superchargers?
     
  10. tezlafor5

    tezlafor5 Supporting Member

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    Do it! I am a 10% over the speed limit guy, and was able to do that with few exceptions. That said, one can make a "game" of temporarily following semi trucks to decrease Wh/mile based on lower wind resistance. Weather only impacted plans to the extent that I decided to take the southern route on the way out; as it turned out, the only weather we hit was in the AZ mountains (on the way out), though the 3 handled that like a champ. It seems that the Supercharger system was built for the lower range Ss and Xs of years past in mind, so it was common to pass Superchargers that I did not need to use with the 3. I had no waits at the superchargers anywhere. Some were busy enough that there was only one unoccupied A/B slot (charging slows on V1 and V2 superchargers if a car is charging on both the A charger and the B charger, so etiquette/logic is to utilize an unpaired charger when possible). Not sure I could ever do a long trip in my 3 with all three of our kids, but with two, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
     
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  11. 2012MS85

    2012MS85 Member

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    @tezlafor5 appears to be my long lost twin (I grew up in Whitewater, WI), based on his same adventurous love of road tripping a la Tesla! Many thanks for sharing all the details with the TMC community about your 4k+ mile trek! Avoiding the cost and hassles of flying, in favor of the joy of a Tesla adventure with family for a mere nickel per mile in SC cost is always my first choice :cool: I’ve enjoyed one long trek in each of my Teslas:

    2017: Quad Cities Area (QCA) to Bristol, TN, and back to QCA with wife and teen daughter in 2012 S85. About 1600 miles round trip with 5 SC stops each way. Great fun driving around the Smokey Mountains roads in a Tesla! :D

    2018: Seattle to QCA with a friend to bring home my “new” 2012 P85 Sig. About 2000 miles with 18 SC stops, in freezing cold temps. Epic journey and gorgeous scenery from the Pacific NW to Big Sky country that I’ll never forget :)

    2019: QCA to the Boston area via Canadian route/Niagara Falls, and back to QCA via PA turnpike in our new 2018 MidRange 3 with wife and teen daughter. About 2300 miles and 16 SC stops, plus Gigafactory2 in Buffalo. o_O This was our first chance to use Navigate on Autopilot, which made the entire drive stress-free!

    2020: ??? :rolleyes:
     
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  12. KenC

    KenC Active Member

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    The best way to understand it is to go into ABRP and put in a trip. The planner's goal isn't to minimize the number of stops, it's to minimize the time charging. Since charging efficiency is higher at lower SOCs, you'll find more stops is more time efficient than fewer stops. The plan tries to show stops when you are at your arrival SOC %age. I use 15%. That way, your charges will be at the highest speed and the most efficient rates. The end result is you find yourself often charging from about your target SOC, 15% in my case, up to somewhere around 60%, before taking off to the next stop. Those stops are 12 to 15mins. Pretty optimal for a family to get out, go to the bathroom, buy a snack and get back on the road.

    I just put in Milwaukee and La Quinta into ABRP and came up with 17 outbound stops, more than the OP. But, remember he charged at a destination charger, so he would need fewer SC stops.
     
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  13. dmurphy

    dmurphy Woof.

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    Sure, and that's basically the genesis of my question. Were the multiple stops designed to reduce total trip time, or was it for convenience? Both are totally valid; one of the things that's changed for me driving a Tesla is that I don't stress on how long it takes to get somewhere. I'm happy to slow down a bit; to stop and smell the roses, as it were.

    Was just curious - ABRP is more time-optimized, while the onboard routing software is more stop minimizing. Was just curious whether the OP found the number of stops optimal or not .... each of us will have different experiences and priorities of course; and as you said, 15-60% is right in the sweet spot for quickest charging. Could probably even stretch it to 70% without falling off the curve too much.
     
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  14. tezlafor5

    tezlafor5 Supporting Member

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    Sorry, @dmurphy, I missed your initial post above. Yes - ABRP is, in my one trip experience, time optimized. Tesla Nav would do fewer stops with longer drives in my experience, while ABRP would optimize for fast (low charge state to mid-charge state) charges that reduce total charging time despite more stops. I did have Destination Charging at the Holiday Inn Express in Amarillo on the way out (replacing a Supercharge stop there); on the way back an asthma issue for my oldest (since resolved fine) led to a sub-optimal "Supercharge before parking car overnight with Tesla Destination charging" experience, so one unnecessary Supercharge on the return. That said, I tended to defer to ABRP, which definitely had more recommended stops than Tesla Nav. Hope that helps.
     
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  15. tezlafor5

    tezlafor5 Supporting Member

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    #15 tezlafor5, Jan 8, 2020
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2020
    A question I have for anyone reading, as I have contemplated replacing my 3 with a 7 seat S or X: Someone told me that pre-Raven Xs typically charge at 120 less SoC, which implies a much average lower charge rate than I tended to experience on this trip with my 3. Is that accurate?
     
  16. SmartElectric

    SmartElectric Active Member

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    Great write up, thanks!

    I was curious how accurate ABRP would be, and shockingly, it was nearly spot on your trip length and charging time! Here is a link with a similar route saved in the tool and just click to see the route is 36 hours with ~6 hours charging time, pretty accurate!
    A Better Routeplanner

    This gives me hope for the trip from Ontario to Manitoba I am planning for a few months from now will also result in accurate times from A Better Route Planner!
     
  17. tezlafor5

    tezlafor5 Supporting Member

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    @SmartElectric: Indeed. I was impressed as well. One thing that ABRP cannot solve for is Supercharger performance, but if you are willing to move to seek a higher charge speed when needed (only needed by me a few times, and not sure whether it was absolutely necessary but it was effective), you can hit the optimal speed that I assume ABRP is using.
     
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  18. SmartElectric

    SmartElectric Active Member

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    Check out Bjorn Nylands latest video of a Model 3 vs Model X 90D 1000 km "race"
     
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  19. buckerine

    buckerine Member

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    I have both a 3 and a pre-Raven X. Estimates are probably a bit conservative, but charging speed is definitely slower than on the 3, which is to be expected.

    That said, I’ve taken many, many trips in the X and would be hesitant to do the same with the 3. The X is amazing for traveling with a family. Very comfortable.
     
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  20. Zcd1

    Zcd1 Member

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    The DM and P Model 3s can charge at up to 250KW, while pre-Raven Model S and Model X are capped at 150KW.

    That's one of the reasons I bought a new Model 3P instead of a used Model S at a similar price...
     

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