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Road Trip secret strategies

jplanaux

Member
Aug 13, 2019
22
20
Destrehan, Louisiana
IMG_00881.jpg
I just completed my first road trip (New Orleans to Colorado and back). I have a dual motor long-range Model 3. I have returned excited, yet I still do not understand the limitations of the car when traveling long distances.

The car was magnificent on the road. I enjoyed the frequent stops and slower pace. I do not have the words to describe Autopilot on the open road or in congested traffic. I found the car very comfortable. My longest daily travel was in the 12-hour range.

Background - I had never supercharged previously, had range anxiety, had supercharger availability anxiety. I was skeptical about everything. I laid out a non-aggressive itinerary. I bought a blank notebook to jot down data at every charge along the way. I was recording mileage, ambient temp, battery percentage, average speed, etc. The night before I charged up to 100%. I had no trust so I used the strategy of never passing up a supercharger and filling up to 90%. I navigated from supercharger to supercharger. I did not deviate from this strategy from NOLA to Denver. In the moderate climates, the range of an SC -> SC trip matched what was projected. As the air temp dropped and the wind picked up I did experience up to a 10% loss in predicted battery level (range). The best trick that I learned was to find an 18 wheeler that was traveling the desired speed and let autopilot draft behind the truck.

What I found: I never had to wait for a charge. A few SC's were broken. Some were in wonderful locations, others were in dreadful locations. I like superchargers. Telsa people mostly keep to themselves. Tesla people like to be buried in their smartphones.

On the way home, Since the biggest variation in percentage I had experienced was 10%, I decided to charge up to a level where I would arrive at my next SC with a 20% predicted charge (10% error, and 10% safety). When I got out of the colder temps, I reduced this to 15%. I also started trusting the car to skip superchargers if possible.

My question is what strategy do you employ to charge up with the least amount of time (energy) and have extra juice in the battery as a safety factor, when you are traveling from SC -> SC? What is your safety factor? Do you top off the night before or the morning of?
 

ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
6,546
12,292
California
15% buffer unless crazy weather. Work the bottom of the battery as much as possible. You are likely to find that two 15-60% stops are a good deal quicker than one 15-90% stop.

Other than that, I just drive.
 

wws

Member
Aug 11, 2014
958
975
Northern California
First and foremost:

A Better Routeplanner

Your trip is long enough that you'd be spending at least one night on the road. Useful to look for a hotel/motel that either has overnight Tesla or J1772 L2 destination charging, or even some 120V receptacles around the parking lot that can be used. (Ask the front desk to ask their maintenance guy where they are.) Plugshare can help by enabling the appropriate filters. Oftentimes the 120V receptacles are 20 amp receptacles - so carrying a 5-20 adapter in your charging kit can help get a few more mph during the overnight charge over the 5-15 adapter.
 

Tummy

Member
Dec 25, 2016
224
279
Atlanta
I’ve found that in the beginning, owners at Superchargers were much more chatty. Lately, nobody talk to anyone anymore.

In winter, we found our ‘worst case scenario” is 65% efficiency of the rated range in our 3 LR RWD and about 75% in our S. So I always do my own calculations and compare to what the nav tells us. We also drive about 10 mph over the limit and feel comfortable with a 15% buffer in case of traffic or detours. In 7 years since we got an EV, we have never had any problems, but I’m a detailed planner.

We have shifted to preferring staying at hotels with destination changers and charge to 90-95% overnight and set it to 100% and heat the cabin an hour or so before we check out. The 80amp charger on our S is nice for hotels that put in full power wall connectors but the new timed departure is also very handy.

Over Thanksgiving we stopped at our first v3 station in Nashville. If you arrive with a low state of charge, it cuts the time almost in half. 10-80% is about 25 minutes, peaked at 220 kw. We got 49 kWh in 22 minutes or 205 rated miles.
 
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Richt

Just traveling down the road...
Dec 20, 2017
122
52
Seattle
Reiterating both pieces of advice s as nd for the true power nerd:

1. Sign Up for Teslafi.com to record your consumption.
2. Use this to tune abetterrouteplanner.com. The key parameters are the weather and your consumption at 65mph. This varies for many people. Ours for instance is 245w/mi which is quite different than the defaults. Plan your trip and it is way better than the built in Tesla charge thingy.
3. In general you will bounce between 15-65% because the battery charges much faster in that range. It really slows above 80%
4. Put abetterrouteplanner.com onto your browser in the car. It will tell you how I do between actual and projected. We’ve been able to get to within 1% of the projections by tuning.
5. When ur fine with your trip compare each leg with Teslafi.com measurements and tune your parameters.
 
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srs5694

Active Member
Jan 15, 2019
1,024
1,148
Woonsocket, RI
The night before I charged up to 100%. I had no trust so I used the strategy of never passing up a supercharger and filling up to 90%. I navigated from supercharger to supercharger.
....
My question is what strategy do you employ to charge up with the least amount of time (energy) and have extra juice in the battery as a safety factor, when you are traveling from SC -> SC? What is your safety factor? Do you top off the night before or the morning of?

The strategy you laid out early in your post is the wrong one, at least if your goal is to travel quickly. Like most EVs, Teslas charge fastest at low battery state of charge (SoC), so to minimize overall travel time (drive time + time stopped), you should let the battery SoC drop to as low as you feel comfortable with, then charge the minimum amount required to reach your next desired stop, plus whatever safety margin you feel is appropriate. (Charging to 100% before departure is fine, though, particularly if you want to drive for several hours straight before your first stop.)

That said, for me personally, I spend enough time stopped on road trips (even in an ICE vehicle) that the time required to charge is likely to be less than this amount. Thus, I end up charging higher than necessary and I tend not to drop as low as this optimal strategy suggests I "should" -- but that's fine, since the limiting factor for me has been my own needs to eat, use the restrooms, and rest. Others may prefer to stop less (or more) than I do. Factors like faster driving or driving in cold weather may also close the gap and make it more worthwhile to follow the generic advice for an "optimized" EV road trip. (I've owned my Model 3 since late March, so I have yet to take it on a winter road trip. I expect to be driving from Rhode Island to Cincinnati to visit my sister for Christmas, though, so that will change soon.)

You can use A Better Route Planner to plan your route; but I wouldn't slavishly stick to its recommendations. Instead, I suggest stopping when and where you think it's appropriate, using your Tesla's navigation to find Superchargers when you feel like stopping. On a multi-day trip, augment this with PlugShare to find hotels with Level 2 charging for overnight stays. (The Web site has a filter for amenities, so you can find hotels with EVSEs pretty easily.) The single most important factor on a road trip is safety. If you're feeling tired or hungry, pull over. If a Supercharger (or even a Level 2 charge station) is nearby, you can charge there, whether or not it's on ABRP's itinerary. If you have the charge to skip a Supercharger in favor of a later one, and if you don't feel the need to stop, then by all means do so.

FWIW, I wrote up my experiences on my first Model 3 road trip, so you can check that out if you care to do so.
 
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AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
9,735
11,725
San Diego
Do you top off the night before or the morning of?

Especially when cold, best to charge the night before, unless it is a significant time or distance impact.


Seems like you converged on the right strategy on the return. Good to get experience before pushing things - which is the strategy you used.


yet I still do not understand the limitations of the car when traveling long distances.

There aren’t really any significant ones, unless Superchargers are busy, or non-functional, or otherwise unavailable.

I don’t think it is necessary to use anything other than the Energy -> Trip page and using the Navigation when doing a trip. If cellular access is lacking it can be in error, but overall it is pretty good if your car is close to stock and the wheels selection is correctly configured. I charge to 10% above what it recommends typically and increase speed the closer I get to the destination. (People with more efficient vehicles may be able to select 19” or 20” wheels to get the Trip planner to add some extra margin automatically (these tires are deemed to be less efficient and it will include some margin for that as far as I can tell - worth experimenting with it to see if it is helpful for you).

There is no substitute for the neural net on your shoulders to sanity checking the projections and adjusting for difficult conditions.

And neither ABRP nor the in-car navigation are perfect at optimizing Supercharger stops. So your built-in neural net is key for making those adjustments too. I do run ABRP on the in-car browser and give it live data sometimes, but it is not really necessary. Just provides some flexibility not available with the in-car Nav.
 

KenC

Active Member
Sep 4, 2018
3,554
3,223
Maine
The more you drive, the more you'll understand how to drive the car most efficiently with minimal anxiety. Your first trip already accomplished alot of that.

Like others, I use ABRP, and plan on stopping at 15%, give or take 5%. That's my buffer. It's more efficient to charge at 15% up to 60%, and back, than to charge all the way up to 90%.
 
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joebruin77

Active Member
Dec 23, 2018
1,072
927
Encino, CA
My 3 additional suggestions when taking a road trip:

1) Keep an air pump with a built-in tire pressure gauge in the trunk or frunk. Low tire pressure can reduce your range, esp in cold temps. Monitor and add air as necessary, esp if you have a heavier than usual load with multiple passesngers and luggage. I personally keep a good old fashioned bicylce pump in my trunk and it works great.

2) The only major limitation that I found on a round trip is if you run into a dead cell area, this can cause major disruptions in your navigation. I took historic highway 1 on my way to Big Sur, CA. I found out the hard way that there is a major dead cell signal area along the coast between Cambria and Big Sur. My navigation went out completely and the car kept telling me make turns that led to nowhere.

3) If you park in an underground garage, or if you valet the car at a hotel and the valet parks it in an underground garage, your LTE signal may go out and not reconnect. I had this problem in Vegas. My navigation was in "off line" mode for several hours. I have since found out that soft reset will most likely fix this issue.
 
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eCharcoal

Member
Aug 31, 2017
271
262
Chicagoland
I also just completed my first long road trip with the Model 3. Chicago to Toronto. I did spend a bit of time with ABRP before the trip but I ended up mostly following the in car navigation.
I only used ABRP along the way for reference. To check things like how many miles to the next SC stop and how much range I’d have left when there etc. I’d just charge my car an extra 80 to 100 miles to give it some buffer. Like actual distance 98 miles, I’d charge to 190 miles. I’ve done this trip a lot of times with my ICE and it’s take about 9 hours one way. With the Model 3, it took me 9.5 hours. Not bad at all.
 
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VinnyS

Member
Nov 15, 2019
31
45
Whispering Pines, NC
When traveling from SC to SC be mindful of the weather, mainly heavy rain which can shorten your range due to the extra effort required to drive through water on the roads. I learned this back in October traveling from Little Rock, AR to Memphis TN. I left LIT with 15% extra and barely made it to the SC in Memphis and that is after turning off the heat and staying behind slow trucks. It was raining hard in Little Rock and never let up all the way to Memphis. I am guessing but think driving through snow would have a similar effect.
 
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Big Earl

bnkwupt
Jul 12, 2017
5,298
9,772
Springfield, VA
When traveling from SC to SC be mindful of the weather, mainly heavy rain which can shorten your range due to the extra effort required to drive through water on the roads. I learned this back in October traveling from Little Rock, AR to Memphis TN. I left LIT with 15% extra and barely made it to the SC in Memphis and that is after turning off the heat and staying behind slow trucks. It was raining hard in Little Rock and never let up all the way to Memphis. I am guessing but think driving through snow would have a similar effect.

Always keep an eye on the weather and the wind forecasts. A strong headwind can have a significant impact on your range - eating up a 15% buffer pretty quickly. Knowledge is power; be informed.
 
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duanra

Active Member
Dec 14, 2018
1,247
709
Montreal
Always keep an eye on the weather and the wind forecasts. A strong headwind can have a significant impact on your range - eating up a 15% buffer pretty quickly. Knowledge is power; be informed.

I totally agree about the wind. One can play with the wind in abetterroute planner. Just add a head wind of 5 ms which is about 20 kmh and you will see a big difference indeed ! The good news, of course, is that an equally strong tail wind...:)
 

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