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Road trip range anxiety is still a thing?

Happy road tripping and thanks to anyone who shares their trips, experiences, and observations.

I was meandering around TMC looking for info on the CCS1 charge adapter after an interestingly inefficient charge situation in Pueblo, CO, and the forum kept suggesting all these road trip threads to read. I thought by now "electric road trip" would be as relevant as "road trip in my Prius" but I digress. I have about 400k miles across 5 Teslas in 6 years. If you accept that there is a minimum 20% time premium paid to road trip with Teslas then your expectations will be met with warm and fuzzy feelings. In all of my driving I have run out of juice twice and it was on the same trip. I was towing a trailer with a vehicle on it (about 3700lbs total) in 15°F with winds. If I was smart, I could have dropped the trailer and come back for it after charging. I fell short by 6 miles, and by about 100 yds. Not too many things more embarrassing as getting towed across a parking lot to the charger for $100.

Here's my quick list:
  • Plugshare is a must.
  • Hypermiling to skip chargers is a waste of time. At best you are probably averaging 80mph, whereas the SC can put miles back on your car at up to 400mph.
  • Don't draft trucks unless you are stuck in situations where wind has dramatically affected your range. Otherwise all you are doing is eating road debris. It irks your competitive nature and desire to "just get there," but just slow down to 55-60mph, put it in autopilot, and be that old guy in the right lane.
  • Follow the "20 minutes remaining to continue on your trip" messages and you'll be fine.
  • In order of things that affect your range the most: wind, cold, and speeding. Wind is the worst because it is the most unpredictable and cannot be accounted for in any of Teslas crowd sourced range information. Cold is all but overcome with the latest battery warming algorithms on highway driving, except for under 15°F and local driving where the battery never gets to warm up. Speeding is obviously controllable by the driver, and the car does its best to tell you how fast you can go to reach your destination. Mountains are interesting depending on your destination but I live in CO and if you adhere to the "what goes up must come down" theory you'll be fine. There is a stretch of road from RMNF down into Boulder that is approximately 30+ miles of solid downhill. Not only do you travel that distance you end up with about 13-17 miles of range more than when you left the mountain.
  • If you are going "off grid" or your destination is nowhere near a supercharger, you MUST carry a charge cable. I purchased a spare that stays with the car, but I have adapters for several 30A plugs (campground 30A and old 10-30 for dryers). I usually plug into the 50A dryer plug with family or friends. When really off the path, pick areas that have campgrounds with a 14-50 50A drop within 20 miles of wherever you are going to be. I've rented RV spots just to charge overnight while staying with family (they drive me there and back). I've taken naps at free community camp grounds if things get bad enough. If you want to really get into campground electric road tripping, download RV Parky and search for 50A drops and free local community RV parking. I've also parked at free J1772 chargers and Uber'd to a movie theater while in Canada to watch a movie while grabbin' miles.
The vehicles that got me around:
  • 2016 MX 90D [Current]- this vehicle has the most miles with around 190k+ miles with probably 50k+ miles towing. I towed a popup around for cheap vacations for a family of 4 (free supercharging!). Still going strong, but the range can't really tow for road trips anymore. I'd say the range is around 200 miles down from 257 miles rated at purchase. Those first 90kWh batteries are the worst for road trips, but free supercharging so there's some upside. At the time we started road tripping, SCs were always open (except in CA) and a lot of the time I'd pull into the end charger without unhooking the camper. Now there's so many cars, I'd allocate time for taking the trailer on and off. It's seen nearly every SC in the lower 48 and has been as far north as Jasper, BC as far west as the end of Vancouver Island, east as Boston, MA, and as far south as Key West, FL. Still a great Tesla and the free supercharging never gets old.
  • 2016 MS P90D [sold] - owned at the same time as the 2016 MX 90D, it landed at around 145k+ when I got rid of it. It had travelled the same routes, but the range had dropped from 272 miles rated, down to about 227 miles. Again those gen1 90kWh batteries had their issues, though not relevant in the grand scheme of things. Just significantly slowed down charge times at SCs because you'd have to go 95%+ to make it to the next charger. Not as much of a problem now with the volume of chargers that exist, but again... free supercharging!
  • 2017 MX P100D Used [Current] - This was purchased with about 56k miles, now sitting on 74k nine months later. It started out as a road trip machine, but I wasn't used to paying for supercharging, and the MX isn't as efficient as all the other Teslas so this vehicle has the highest road trip costs of any Tesla on the road. Still better than gas, but hard to swallow when you have 4 years and 300k miles of free supercharging under your belt.
  • 2020 P3D+ [sold]- with about 36k miles when I turned it in. I was happy to see the higher charging speeds, quicker SC stops, etc and this was a stop gap until the Cybertruck was supposed to arrive. Ultimately because of the Cybertruck delays, I returned it (early lease termination) because the market value resulted in an early termination cost of $0 even while turning it in a year early. And unlike the MS and MX I could not camp in the back of it. I carry a self inflating full size mattress in the rear under-trunk area of all cars except this one. Blast to drive though.
  • 2016 MS 90D Used [Current] - Back to bliss... with 86k miles at purchase, now sporting 101k miles, this is now the road trip car of choice. It enjoys the longest range of the free supercharging cars, unless you find one of the unicorn 100Ds but the premium of those over the 90D is about $20k which buys you either a new battery or 25 years of supercharging fees. Chargers are so close that even the longest range Tesla @ 400+ miles can only net about 5 hours driving across the country non-stop. You'll waste more time than that eating or sleeping over the course of those 30 hours of driving unless you are going from Seattle, WA to Key West, FL in as fast as time allows, you won't need it. The MS 90D is ready for camping, and the range is still 280 of 294 even with the 21" wheels. I've thought about procuring some Tempest wheels to see what it adds, but prices are high for those still and as mentioned before, supercharging is free. Upgraded infotainment unit ices the cake. Costs $10-20k less than the 3/Y, and I don't care what anyone says about AP1... Except for cresting hills where it absolutely fails, it still performs better than Tesla Vision in about 70% of situations and you get the lane changing and summon included. Automatic brights don't behave erratically and the wipers are operating off a rain sensor instead of just the camera. No phantom braking. Obviously it is as good as it will ever be, and the ceiling for Tesla Vision is vastly higher as improvements are made but right now AP1 is king in my opinion.
Hope this helps with anyone still experiencing lingering range anxiety for road trips. I don't frequent this forum much, but I'll try to answer any questions that happen. Hopefully there are none and everyone just hits the road! Cheers!
 

bradtem

Robocar consultant
Dec 18, 2018
359
524
Sunnyvale, CA
I find you don't need to take 20% more time at all. That's because I almost always arrange to charge while eating, or at my motel. If I can't do that, I try to find a charger with a big store (Target/Walmart/Costco/etc.) or big grocery store and get in some shopping.

If you do this, you charge only while stopped for something you were already going to stop for. That means no time used up charging. Close to zero.

Tricks:
  • Yes, it involves some compromises on certain meals. In time, this will diminish. But I find you can usually find one decent restaurant that's not a chain fast food.
  • If you can't, find good take-out on the way to the charger. Order it ahead, grab it and go to the charger. Carry a small portable chair and table in the car, and eat the take-out while charging. Not too fancy, but it works.
  • I have not tried this, but if you have a small battery kickscooter in the trunk, drop off family at restaurant and have them order. Go to charger, and kickscooter to the restaurant. Somebody takes the scooter back to get the car when charging finishes. Lets you go to restaurants beyond walking distance.
  • Of course have the CHAdeMO adapter or the new CCS adapter. Not to use them that often, but to give you more options when you change your mind, and more range because the DC Fast is 25 miles closer than the supercharger along the way. Though you will probably wait while topping up at that charger to get you to the supercharger where you plan your meal.
  • Carry a small 12v compressor fridge. Well, sort of, you need to give it a battery or ice backup for when the Tesla sleeps. You can tell the Tesla not to sleep but that eats a fair bit of power in the night. OK if you are plugged in at night.
  • It's worth an extra $20 to find a hotel with charging, so try that first on plugshare. Some day a site will combine plugshare with a hotel search to let you do hotel search with hotels-with-chargers highlighted in red.
  • Yup on the RV parks. Now 30A RV only gains you 100 miles in a night but it's still nice. There are often RV parks with cabins, and you can stay in those and charge, if they have a spare 50a.
 
...
  • It's worth an extra $20 to find a hotel with charging, so try that first on plugshare. Some day a site will combine plugshare with a hotel search to let you do hotel search with hotels-with-chargers highlighted in red...

Hotels.com already has a filter for Electric Car Charging Station. It's under the Amenities section of the Filters. (You have to click See More to get to it.)
Screen Shot 2022-05-08 at 12.23.02 PM.png
 
My range anxiety has diminished to the point that I am cutting much closer than I did years ago almost to the point of running out of juice. Since the emotional fear of running out electrons is so much less I have had to develop smarter travel planning by using the techniques mentioned above. I agree that attempting to hypermile accomplishes nothing and that going slower is the best plan sooner rather than later if things are looking marginal. Miles long traffic jams are the great unknown and the biggest reason to not cut it too close.
 

bradtem

Robocar consultant
Dec 18, 2018
359
524
Sunnyvale, CA
Hotels.com already has a filter for Electric Car Charging Station. It's under the Amenities section of the Filters. (You have to click See More to get to it.)
View attachment 801807
Excellent. This was not the case when I last looked (which was a while ago.) Or rather, I think it may have been the case but the database was quite incomplete, missing not just hotels with chargers but also hotels with charging within a short walk. There plugshare has an edge, in that it has lat/long for each charger and also for hotels. Now, obviously hotel with charger at the hotel is best (and most common) but if I can't get it, I sometimes have used a charger a 5 minute walk away, even 10 minute. Surprisingly, sometimes even free.

I have talked to plugshare and they said (a year ago) they had plans to improve things -- I told them this was an obvious way to make money since they can get a cut of hotel bookings if they partner with a hotel site or become one -- but still not there.

Airbnb has a way to search for chargers with airbnbs but you have to kludge it and enter a numeric code!
 

Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
7,977
10,102
Boise, ID
I thought by now "electric road trip" would be as relevant as "road trip in my Prius" but I digress.
Well, if it's a route that is on interstate highways that DO have Supercharger coverage, then yeah, I don't even think about it or need to plan ahead, so a general look at the map at supercharge.info is sufficient to say yeah. But there are some routes I go around Idaho/Oregon that are on state or U.S. highways that do not have Supercharger coverage for 200 or 300+ miles, and that gets a little nervous and needs some figuring to see what I am going to do to get across there or have some charging arranged right there at the destination.

That's kind of my frustration with Supercharger build out right now. I feel like Tesla has declared connecting routes as "done" and has switched over to just added capacity building. And that irritates me every time I have to drive to Winnemucca or Reno and have to figure out that difficult 250+ mile gap that Tesla has neglected on U.S. 95. And that's definitely not the only secondary highway that still needs coverage.
 

bradtem

Robocar consultant
Dec 18, 2018
359
524
Sunnyvale, CA
Well, if it's a route that is on interstate highways that DO have Supercharger coverage, then yeah, I don't even think about it or need to plan ahead, so a general look at the map at supercharge.info is sufficient to say yeah. But there are some routes I go around Idaho/Oregon that are on state or U.S. highways that do not have Supercharger coverage for 200 or 300+ miles, and that gets a little nervous and needs some figuring to see what I am going to do to get across there or have some charging arranged right there at the destination.

That's kind of my frustration with Supercharger build out right now. I feel like Tesla has declared connecting routes as "done" and has switched over to just added capacity building. And that irritates me every time I have to drive to Winnemucca or Reno and have to figure out that difficult 250+ mile gap that Tesla has neglected on U.S. 95. And that's definitely not the only secondary highway that still needs coverage.
You bet. I have been able to do 95 but how about:
  • The Alaska highway
  • Southern Utah national parks
  • SW New Mexico
  • Large areas of Idaho and Eastern Oregon
The answer, btw is to get together with the DC Fast networks like EA, and give them CHAdeMO adapters to put at their stations (or CCS adapters once those are out and everybody can get the controller upgrade.)

No need for a big supercharger station in sparse places. More small stations along the great rural driving routes!
 

Rocky_H

Well-Known Member
Feb 19, 2015
7,977
10,102
Boise, ID
No need for a big supercharger station in sparse places. More small stations along the great rural driving routes!
I never claimed it needed "big" stations. But they need to be Supercharger (TM) brand ones, because most Tesla owners don't have adapters to the other things. Tesla has the Supercharger on a pallet ones already that have the cabinet and two stalls. Those are fairly easy to set up and is all that would be needed for some of these lesser routes.
 
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bradtem

Robocar consultant
Dec 18, 2018
359
524
Sunnyvale, CA
I never claimed it needed "big" stations. But they need to be Supercharger (TM) brand ones, because most Tesla owners don't have adapters to the other things. Tesla has the Supercharger on a pallet ones already that have the cabinet and two stalls. Those are fairly easy to set up and is all that would be needed for some of these lesser routes.
Most owners don't have one, but I believe they are a nearly essential bit of kit for any road trip that diverges from the popular routes. The CCS adapter will probably be $200 -- no brainer. The CdM was $400 which is a bit more pricey. I bought one for a road trip, sold it for $1050 after so that wasn't too hard to handle, but I wish I had it back. You can get it again for $380 in Korea and I might do so since Tesla may not have charge controller upgrades for some time, sadly.

The adapter is important even if you never use it. Because it erases a lot of your range anxiety, because there is a DC Fast station 30 miles closer than the supercharger. So you know that you can stop there if you don't have 30 miles left when you pass it. You usually do have those miles left, so you don't use it, but you didn't have to worry. You also were allowed to take that 30 mile side trip you wanted to do on a whim.

Get it. Trust me. I mean especially when it's $200 and you have a car that will use the CCS adapter as is.
 
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Most owners don't have one, but I believe they are a nearly essential bit of kit for any road trip that diverges from the popular routes. The CCS adapter will probably be $200 -- no brainer. The CdM was $400 which is a bit more pricey. I bought one for a road trip, sold it for $1050 after so that wasn't too hard to handle, but I wish I had it back. You can get it again for $380 in Korea and I might do so since Tesla may not have charge controller upgrades for some time, sadly.

The adapter is important even if you never use it. Because it erases a lot of your range anxiety, because there is a DC Fast station 30 miles closer than the supercharger. So you know that you can stop there if you don't have 30 miles left when you pass it. You usually do have those miles left, so you don't use it, but you didn't have to worry. You also were allowed to take that 30 mile side trip you wanted to do on a whim.

Get it. Trust me. I mean especially when it's $200 and you have a car that will use the CCS adapter as is.
Been waiting for a CCS adapter.
 

cpa

Active Member
May 17, 2014
3,457
4,896
Central Valley
Eighty-five thousand miles in our 2014 S85. Road trips from California to Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Minneapolis, SE British Columbia, Denver, and other places.

Things are significantly better than eight years ago. The first couple of trips I had to be very careful and find nonce charging spots en route for back up plans or to augment the SOC by plugging in at a campground for an hour to add 6kWh or so.

Three years ago, Tesla reduced the charge rate on these dinosaurs by about 20%. A charge from ~15% to 65% will average out to be 1kWh per minute assuming no external factors like a cold battery or sharing a V2 SC. If out of necessity, one needs to charge to >85%, the average addition per minute drops to ~.85 kWh per minute or lower. The car will charge at 30kW when 70% full. If my aging memory recalls, the rate prior to three years ago was around 35-40kWh at 70%.

These prolonged charge stops have led me (albeit somewhat foolishly) to unplug when the navigation says that I will arrive at the next spot with 12-15%, which is generally in my tolerance. There are still dozens of interstate and other major highway stretches that are >80 miles apart; in some cases like Traver to Mojave or Needles to Barstow that are over 150 miles. Generally, these locations have next to nothing. Maybe a fast food joint. Maybe a convenience store.

So, when the SC stops are 60-100 miles apart, it is not much of an issue to charge for 30 minutes or less and then hit the road. As those distances increase, the corresponding increase in charging time increases a lot more.

In addition, the battery indicator seems a little wonky of late, since Tesla foisted a software-capped battery maximum, then slowly restored it about nine months later. For example, the battery level seems to decrease as expected until the level is <20%. As the level drops closer to 10%, sometimes I lose a percentage point in one mile. Yesterday I was heading to the Traver SC. Eight miles south of the site, the battery was at 14%, and the navigation said I would arrive with about 12%. This has seemed about right, averaging about 310Wh/mile. By the time I reached the SC, the battery was at 9%.

So, I have this nagging fear in my head that if I cut it too close, and shoot for a 5% arrival percentage, that I might be too optimistic!
 
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Tinkerin

Member
Supporting Member
Mar 3, 2022
28
77
Seattle
anybody bother buying a spare tire/wheel to toss in the back on road trips?
Sprung for the ModernSpare kit and am in the middle of my first road trip - glad its in the rear trunk. Especially for the upcoming trips this summer where I will be off the interstates and likely quite a distance from Tesla service. Call me old school even if I never need to use it.
 
Well, if it's a route that is on interstate highways that DO have Supercharger coverage, then yeah, I don't even think about it or need to plan ahead, so a general look at the map at supercharge.info is sufficient to say yeah. But there are some routes I go around Idaho/Oregon that are on state or U.S. highways that do not have Supercharger coverage for 200 or 300+ miles, and that gets a little nervous and needs some figuring to see what I am going to do to get across there or have some charging arranged right there at the destination.

That's kind of my frustration with Supercharger build out right now. I feel like Tesla has declared connecting routes as "done" and has switched over to just added capacity building. And that irritates me every time I have to drive to Winnemucca or Reno and have to figure out that difficult 250+ mile gap that Tesla has neglected on U.S. 95. And that's definitely not the only secondary highway that still needs coverage.
Can agree with this. I have family in Northern Idaho and the highway from Baker City, OR to Lewiston can be annoying but I make it in all but extreme weather. Usually I'll just take on the 45 mins and go to Pendleton if I'm worried. I do agree that something in the middle of Idaho around McCall/New Meadows would be nice.

Cheers!
 
I find you don't need to take 20% more time at all. That's because I almost always arrange to charge while eating, or at my motel. If I can't do that, I try to find a charger with a big store (Target/Walmart/Costco/etc.) or big grocery store and get in some shopping.

If you do this, you charge only while stopped for something you were already going to stop for. That means no time used up charging. Close to zero.

Tricks:
  • Yes, it involves some compromises on certain meals. In time, this will diminish. But I find you can usually find one decent restaurant that's not a chain fast food.
  • If you can't, find good take-out on the way to the charger. Order it ahead, grab it and go to the charger. Carry a small portable chair and table in the car, and eat the take-out while charging. Not too fancy, but it works.
  • I have not tried this, but if you have a small battery kickscooter in the trunk, drop off family at restaurant and have them order. Go to charger, and kickscooter to the restaurant. Somebody takes the scooter back to get the car when charging finishes. Lets you go to restaurants beyond walking distance.
  • Of course have the CHAdeMO adapter or the new CCS adapter. Not to use them that often, but to give you more options when you change your mind, and more range because the DC Fast is 25 miles closer than the supercharger along the way. Though you will probably wait while topping up at that charger to get you to the supercharger where you plan your meal.
  • Carry a small 12v compressor fridge. Well, sort of, you need to give it a battery or ice backup for when the Tesla sleeps. You can tell the Tesla not to sleep but that eats a fair bit of power in the night. OK if you are plugged in at night.
  • It's worth an extra $20 to find a hotel with charging, so try that first on plugshare. Some day a site will combine plugshare with a hotel search to let you do hotel search with hotels-with-chargers highlighted in red.
  • Yup on the RV parks. Now 30A RV only gains you 100 miles in a night but it's still nice. There are often RV parks with cabins, and you can stay in those and charge, if they have a spare 50a.
Great suggestions. The 20% to which I refer is the 20% over whatever Google says a trip might take in drive time. Apologies for the lack of clarity. It definitely doesn't compare the time one might add compared to an ICE car (snacks, food stops, etc) as it isn't really relevant to me anymore. Great tips!

Cheers!
 

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