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Strategy on Long Drive

How do you approach a long drive using your NAV system?

  • Destination to destination.

    Votes: 35 37.6%
  • Supercharger to supercharger

    Votes: 58 62.4%

  • Total voters
    93

AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
11,176
14,191
San Diego
Lot's of good advise here. However the recommendation to shoot for close to 10% arrival charge is too low from my experience. Partly because of the way I drive and where I drive. On Hwy 5 the average speed is 85 mph. So that significantly cuts into your battery.

I've had 3 instances where Tesla told me I would arrive with between 10-18% and I barely made it. The first time was from Vacaville to Chico and there was a horrible headwind. The 18% estimate dropped to -5% with a 100 miles to go. I ended up drafting behind a semi-truck for the entire drive and arrived with +4% charge.

Recently from SLO to Salinas it initially said I would arrive with 15%, but the car had an extra 1000 lbs in it. So shortly after leaving slow it was showing negative arrival charge. I ended up driving 50 mph for the next 2 hours to arrive with 6%.

Experiences like that are not fun so I now try to always have 25% arrival charge. I went from LA to San Jose this past weekend and I had to add one extra stop to achieve this. It added 15 mins to my trip but I had zero stress.

Oh and ABRP is what I use on all my trips.

You have to adjust based on conditions (car loading, weather, etc.). For example, due to high density altitude and minimal winds, on my last trip, I constantly got to Superchargers way above the estimates (kept arriving at 10-15%), blasting the AC and traveling at 80mph the whole way. Edged up from 7% arrival charge to 15% arrival charge! So, there is no blanket recommendation here: you have to see how you're doing on a particular trip and adjust accordingly. Don't fight it. And look at the headwinds, for sure!

If you're in a rush, it's quite costly to add margin. Obviously if you're not in a rush it is less of an issue. I wanted to make 1070 miles in a day, so it mattered to me - wanted to maximize my time spent charging at 1000 miles per hour.
 
Last edited:

petecrayton

Member
Supporting Member
Apr 26, 2019
86
89
jacksonville, florida USA
I'm going to be driving from Sacramento to Seattle in my M3SR+. I'm wondering what approach people take with their navigation system. I like keeping track of the entire trip so I am tempted to enter the trip from my front door to my destination. On the other hand, I've seen people like Out of Spec Motoring, who seem to go from one SC to the next. Ultimately, I might just try one method on the way up and the other on the way down but I am curious about how the community might approach this. How do you approach a long drive? I know some of the more experienced Tesla drivers will have some good suggestions.
I found this thread very informative. My '17 MS has only a 230 mi. range and is my only :-( with the car, but of course, not so much I am willing to trade up $$$. I would say that the SC network is why Tesla will continue to dominate the sector, but until "range anxiety" is better assuaged EVs will be a hard sell. The suggestions regarding the ABRP and Teslawaze apps were much appreciated. Does anyone know of a concise "destination charger" reference? Given a choice, I would book lodging providing chargers, but few advertise availability on TripAdvisor, etc. and Tesla's list is not organized effectively.
 
Lots of good suggestions & info here. The full trip routing is pretty garbage but is good for an initial overview (and you should review it before starting, so you can see where it is being dumb). Get an ABRP account and get it connected but don't bother trying to use it on the in-car browser (too slow and has to reload every time you switch away from it - it is nearly useless and borderline dangerous when driving) - use the phone app and get live data from the car - ABRP phone app is nice and quick and you can use it while you are stopped to charge.
After that, I would just use the in-car Nav to navigate from Supercharger to Supercharger; don't do the whole trip in the Nav.

- Since you have an SR+, the 250kW Superchargers are going to be less of a bonus for you (otherwise I would strongly recommend them) - though the lack of sharing IS a plus even for an SR+ especially if you are traveling at a busy time (weekends). They also have the benefit of working better. So check out where the 250kW Superchargers are (Williams and Red Bluff - don't know anything about Washington State, but it looks like you'll probably want to hit Kelso). Hit them preferentially whenever you can (but don't do non-optimal stuff to do so). They are awesome (especially for LR vehicles).

- With an SR, you're sometimes going to have to go at a fairly leisurely pace, due to having to charge fairly close to 80% for one of the legs in Oregon (specifically: Grants Pass to Eugene (Springfield), or Klamath to Eugene) . For the other, shorter legs, just adopt a quick hop strategy. Aim to get to the Supercharger at 5% according to the car Nav, but make sure the car tells you it will arrive at greater than 5% (so, 6% is fine) (otherwise it will be hassling you about slowing down to make it to your destination, nearly right away - it's usually wrong in summer time, and usually nothing a little mild drafting at 80mph can't fix). It may still hassle you if you depart at 6% arrival charge, but unless something crazy happens, if you start towards the next Supercharger at 6% or above, you'll almost certainly be fine unless you're driving 85mph or you have a bad headwind (pay attention to this!!!).

While en route or at your current Supercharger (better to do this when stopped but some fiddling when driving is nearly inevitable - don't worry, the car drives itself :p - yes I am kidding), figure out where you want to stop next based on station utilization, then plug it in on the Nav and look at what it tells you you will arrive at. And charge just enough to get there (with whatever margin makes you comfortable).

I drove from San Diego to Portland in a day (4AM-10:45PM) recently in my 3P+, and I had 8 Supercharger stops (Tejon Ranch, Kettleman City, Gustine, Williams, Red Bluff, Shasta, Grants Pass, Springfield). I could have done it with 7 (skip Williams, and charge in Patterson instead of Gustine - they are both 150kW) - I did hit only 7 on the way back (over two days). I had no particular strategy in advance other than to minimize charging time (not what the car does, as mentioned), and I adjusted as needed. But I did make that Gustine mistake. I believe I benefited from very high density altitude on my trip - car was always super pessimistic vs. actual results. I probably could have cut 10-15 minutes of charging off my travel time by cutting things closer.

As others have said, I would just recommend looking at all the Supercharger locations on a map before going so you understand what are all of your options. Note you can also flip over to display Superchargers while in Nav mode (right hand side), and then turn them off again, and it will go back to your prior Nav directions - this wasn't obvious to me on my first road trip. You don't lose your Nav details by clicking on the Supercharger status and location screen. But you can see all the Superchargers along the route that way (with utilization), and even quickly change to navigate to a new one of your choosing if it makes sense. I don't think this is likely for you, since you won't have the high Supercharger location complexity of central California.

Also, especially if you are going at a busy time, I strongly recommend skipping the Grants Pass supercharger and hitting the one in Klamath Falls instead. It's a nicer, more engaging drive (more scenic and more twisty), and it really isn't that much longer. The Grants Pass Supercharger can be a sh**show - half of the stations don't work very well, and it can get very busy even at times that are not busy (I got lucky to get a decent rate there on my way up, and went through Klamath on my way back!). Klamath Falls really isn't all that nice, but at least there are plenty of stalls with less use on them. ABRP recommends Klamath it looks like.

Note that Shasta Supercharger shows as two Superchargers on top of one another - it's kind of confusing. Go to the larger 150kW station - don't even know where the 120kW chargers are located. There's multiple piles of human excrement by the propane tank behind the Superchargers in Shasta, by the way. Might be best to actually use a public restroom if you don't fear the 'rona too much.

Also, if you get a crap charge rate (be familiar with what to expect - print out an approximate taper chart for your vehicle somewhere to refer to), don't be afraid to immediately switch Superchargers. At the 150kW stations, this garbage happens about 25% of the time, in my experience.

Summary: memorize all Superchargers and their capabilities prior to starting your trip. Try to make an optimal plan (maximize time spent charging at low SoC, so try to arrive at 5-10% charge - or lower, if you want to live on the edge - I didn't). Adjust based on utilization and the call of nature if necessary.

Grants Pass was the busiest Supercharger I encountered on my trip (there and back) - with the exception of Santa Clarita on the Friday before Labor Day, I guess (it actually wasn't that bad - no lines - and it was 250kW so it didn't matter much!)

Looking quickly at ABRP, it recommends a stop in Vancouver. I'm not sure whether that is the best - and it likely depends on conditions and how busy things are. You should be able to find out in real time. It might make more sense to make just a quick stop in Springfield rather than a longer one, and then hit Woodburn quickly as well - just enough to get you to Kelso. This is assuming you can't go Eugene to Kelso, which you probably can - but it will cost you in charge time. Under no circumstances hit the 72kW Supercharger at Washington Square Mall (makes no sense).

You also have to plan strategically for your longer stops. If you plan to stop and eat and it might be a while, that's an opportunity to do some non-optimal charging that allows you to skip a Supercharger. As an example, if you eat at the Springfield Supercharger, you might be able to charge for a while there (an additional 10-20 minutes or so), and then be able to easily make 250kW Kelso (skipping 150kW Vancouver). So it's good to think about that sort of thing in advance. Because then that non-optimal charge isn't actually costing you any time - and in a way, it may save you some time - certainly saves some hassle.

By the way, I also saw that Springfield Supercharger got pretty busy - but it was quiet by the time I got there. It seemed to get busy between 4 and 7PM. I think it's probably all the U of O people charging at the end of their day? I have no idea.
Looks like an Agile project management in action.
Tesla is a software company.
I couldn’t agree more regarding using A Better Route Planner (ABRP). We used it last year on a RT from Seattle to Dallas for a wedding and loved it. It’s very accurate and during setup for the route allows you to chose the ARRIVAL SoC which we kept set at 15% for the entire trip, with 10-15% SoC considered the charge speed week spot based on what I’ve read. And we arrived at every supercharger at that exact percentage provided we didn’t overcharge at the previous supercharger, which we did occasionally because we decided to take a long lunch.

ABRP also tells you how long you need to charge in order to get to the next charge point at 15% or whatever SoC you chose for that trip. And the best thing about it is that the charging plan it calculates will result in the shortest overall charging time for that trip.

A sample trip from Redding, CA to Kingman , AZ is shown in the photos below. The reason the first stop at Williams is 53% is because I set my departure % to 90.

I strongly encourage anyone who’s going on a long trip to use ABRP.

6A03CA18-37D7-4A44-AA7D-BA879286E06A.jpeg
5C965E6E-DCC5-465A-98B5-3661909A77FB.jpeg
 

George I

Member
Oct 24, 2017
60
50
Toronto
It is not only the 3 that gets absurd routings. In my 4+ years of Tesla travels, below is the most absurd routing I have ever seen. I got this when planning to travel from Toronto to PEI. This photo is from spring 2018.
On our trip in 2018 we managed not to go south of the border. Chademo helped. By the time we did our trip (Aug/Sep) there was 1 supercharger in the Maritimes (Aulac).
If there is a post in the forums for most absurd routing someone please let me know as I should enter this one.
DSCN6056.JPG
 

wineboy

New Member
May 21, 2020
4
2
California
When I plan my trips on my model S, the computer seems to know fairly accurate what my available range is. By this I mean that even though my Rated Range on my dash might show 200 miles, the computer knows fairly accurately what I will get and whether I will reach a charging station that is 200 miles away, or even 150 miles away. This is obviously a good thing, but it brings up the eternal question of why does the dahboard-displayed Rated Range have to be incorrect? The computer knows exactly how many miles I get per energy used, and could AND SHOULD continuously update this number to make it useful. It is really frustrating when I am told I will not reach a station in 160 miles, even though my dash says 200. I understand that it is always an estimate and changes depending on conditions and driver choices, however the stated number is so inaccurate, that it is a disservice to display it...e especially when the car's computer has a better number that it uses for trip planning. Some of you have talked about planning your own trips, but that is hard to do when the data you are given is exaggerated. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to make this better?
 
I've been doing this for over 6.5 years, since before the Nav even had the ability to pick Superchargers. This "Beta Trip Planner" feature, which tries to pick your Superchargers for you has an awful fatal flaw that has bitten me and several other people, so don't blindly trust it.

The fatal flaw is two-fold:
First, whoever programmed it set the preference to be "fewest stops possible" and all else be damned!! So it will have ridiculously long charging times to go up near 100% full and then driving down into single digit % just to try to skip over Supercharger stops. It's insane and not a good way to travel.

And the second part is that when it has chosen the Superchargers it wants you to use, it HIDES the others along the way off the map! That can really catch people where they don't see any other fallback options in the middle because they are hidden, so they are gritting their teeth and white-knuckling to make a really long stretch happen that didn't need to be that way.

My car gave me the recommendation to charge up to 100% in Grand Junction, CO and drive non-stop to Silverthorne, CO, arriving with 7% left. That would already be crazy to begin with, but it was winter and below freezing and all uphill! So there was me, driving about 50 mph on I-70 with minimal heat to make this work because I didn't think I had any other choice. I only later found out there was a Supercharger halfway in the middle, in Glenwood Springs that the car had hidden from me that would have made it easy.

So I will sometimes plot a whole trip at the start, just to get a look at what the ballpark of the whole thing is going to look like, and sometimes here and there on the route, but if any of the stops look questionable or a charge time over about 40-50 minutes, it's probably doing something wrong, and I will cancel it and zoom out to look at where the Superchargers actually are to see if it's skipping something and making it unnecessarily difficult.


Before I tried that route I studied it carefully because the superchargers were few and far between. I only braved it because they had just added one between Grand Junction and Provo, so I definitely agree these are fatal flaws, both of them.
 

Exscite

Member
Dec 20, 2018
141
177
Los Angeles CA
Lot's of good advise here. However the recommendation to shoot for close to 10% arrival charge is too low from my experience. Partly because of the way I drive and where I drive. On Hwy 5 the average speed is 85 mph. So that significantly cuts into your battery.

I've had 3 instances where Tesla told me I would arrive with between 10-18% and I barely made it. The first time was from Vacaville to Chico and there was a horrible headwind. The 18% estimate dropped to -5% with a 100 miles to go. I ended up drafting behind a semi-truck for the entire drive and arrived with +4% charge.

Recently from SLO to Salinas it initially said I would arrive with 15%, but the car had an extra 1000 lbs in it. So shortly after leaving slow it was showing negative arrival charge. I ended up driving 50 mph for the next 2 hours to arrive with 6%.

Experiences like that are not fun so I now try to always have 25% arrival charge. I went from LA to San Jose this past weekend and I had to add one extra stop to achieve this. It added 15 mins to my trip but I had zero stress.

Oh and ABRP is what I use on all my trips.
Of all the useful advice here- this is my favorite: "Try to have 25%, it adds a little to the trip time, but you'll have zero stress". Tomorrow I am going from LA to Arizona taking those long desert freeways and will certainly practice what I preach....
 

Nuts4MS

Member
Dec 19, 2013
41
49
Virginia
I've been doing this for over 6.5 years, since before the Nav even had the ability to pick Superchargers. This "Beta Trip Planner" feature, which tries to pick your Superchargers for you has an awful fatal flaw that has bitten me and several other people, so don't blindly trust it.

The fatal flaw is two-fold:
First, whoever programmed it set the preference to be "fewest stops possible" and all else be damned!! So it will have ridiculously long charging times to go up near 100% full and then driving down into single digit % just to try to skip over Supercharger stops. It's insane and not a good way to travel.

And the second part is that when it has chosen the Superchargers it wants you to use, it HIDES the others along the way off the map! That can really catch people where they don't see any other fallback options in the middle because they are hidden, so they are gritting their teeth and white-knuckling to make a really long stretch happen that didn't need to be that way.

My car gave me the recommendation to charge up to 100% in Grand Junction, CO and drive non-stop to Silverthorne, CO, arriving with 7% left. That would already be crazy to begin with, but it was winter and below freezing and all uphill! So there was me, driving about 50 mph on I-70 with minimal heat to make this work because I didn't think I had any other choice. I only later found out there was a Supercharger halfway in the middle, in Glenwood Springs that the car had hidden from me that would have made it easy.

So I will sometimes plot a whole trip at the start, just to get a look at what the ballpark of the whole thing is going to look like, and sometimes here and there on the route, but if any of the stops look questionable or a charge time over about 40-50 minutes, it's probably doing something wrong, and I will cancel it and zoom out to look at where the Superchargers actually are to see if it's skipping something and making it unnecessarily difficult.
I end up just plotting my route along the way going from specifically chosen superchargers to the next. That way I can pick what I think works best instead of relying on that trip planner system.
 
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AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
11,176
14,191
San Diego
Of all the useful advice here- this is my favorite: "Try to have 25%, it adds a little to the trip time, but you'll have zero stress". Tomorrow I am going from LA to Arizona taking those long desert freeways and will certainly practice what I preach....

I have zero stress when arriving around 10%. If it drops to 5%, it gets annoying, because it keeps on telling you to slow down! But still, not too stressful. I actually get stressed if I start seeing the arrival charge go *above* 12% or so!

It's all about what your goals are! If you need to travel fast, you can't afford a 25% arrival charge. It will have a very large impact on charge time (especially when in a high density Supercharger environment, which I think I-5 through California and Oregon and Washington qualifies for - like the OP is doing), especially when using 250kW chargers. (Probably at least 50% longer - just a WAG - can be calculated from the taper curves.)

Obviously if weather (or Supercharger closure!!!) is a concern, etc., you must ensure you have margin.
 
Last edited:
@spehanich:
Not seeing any variables, not being able to set any parameters = useless.

already for my first trip (skiing...) I started using ABRP, as I read about it here.
Fiddle with weather, speed, long eating stop, avoid that route because we hate it. It teaches you the influence variables have.
It’s spot on every time afa SOC usage. Somehow we always take longer than planned however.

What do I do?
I used to plan with ABRP, save that and put it on the big screen. Projected SOC vs real-time value! That was great and then Tesla broke the internet.
Now I plan at home, put all stops in my iPhone agenda Inc driving time and charge time + alarm. Car nav picks the next stop every time you get into the car. Works like a charm.
 
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wineboy

New Member
May 21, 2020
4
2
California
I couldn’t agree more regarding using A Better Route Planner (ABRP). We used it last year on a RT from Seattle to Dallas for a wedding and loved it. It’s very accurate and during setup for the route allows you to chose the ARRIVAL SoC which we kept set at 15% for the entire trip, with 10-15% SoC considered the charge speed week spot based on what I’ve read. And we arrived at every supercharger at that exact percentage provided we didn’t overcharge at the previous supercharger, which we did occasionally because we decided to take a long lunch.

ABRP also tells you how long you need to charge in order to get to the next charge point at 15% or whatever SoC you chose for that trip. And the best thing about it is that the charging plan it calculates will result in the shortest overall charging time for that trip.

A sample trip from Redding, CA to Kingman , AZ is shown in the photos below. The reason the first stop at Williams is 53% is because I set my departure % to 90.

I strongly encourage anyone who’s going on a long trip to use ABRP.

View attachment 588868View attachment 588870
Is ABRP a phone ap, or does it work on Tesla's display and with its battery data?
 

RKBA

Member
Jul 22, 2018
31
22
North Texas
Like others, I plot it on the Tesla nav when I first get in the car. Before that, though, I add it to ABRP as a saved trip from my PC and then pull it up in the app on my phone once in the car. When they differ, I change the Tesla nav to go to the SuperCharger that ABRP recommends, and then resume using the default routing once they start to agree again. (I prefer to see the total remaining on the Tesla nav rather than just the time to the next SC.)
 
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Bill_woolf

Member
Jan 18, 2020
41
61
Newnan
On my first road trip (about 400 miles), I just plugged in my destination and started out... (I had 35 miles on my new model Y perf. at the time). Long story short... I made it. With 7 miles left on the battery!!!!! I was truly sweating near the end of that trip... Now I plan my own route with a lot more confidence
 

Darmie

Super Member
Supporting Member
Jan 13, 2016
2,138
1,443
Clear Lake TX.
All good points. The question though, will Tesla fix these flaws. I'm afraid they may look at this as resolved It does work, just with these few flaws. It appears the team is looking at all the small autopilot concerns and may not even have a team on updating the navigation system searching for the best super charger choices. From what I remember reading, the're not even updating the system to accept waypoints. If that was included, then you may be able to select the SC that you felt were worthy of the stop.
 
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Lot's of good advise here. However the recommendation to shoot for close to 10% arrival charge is too low from my experience. Partly because of the way I drive and where I drive. On Hwy 5 the average speed is 85 mph. So that significantly cuts into your battery.

I've had 3 instances where Tesla told me I would arrive with between 10-18% and I barely made it. The first time was from Vacaville to Chico and there was a horrible headwind. The 18% estimate dropped to -5% with a 100 miles to go. I ended up drafting behind a semi-truck for the entire drive and arrived with +4% charge.

Recently from SLO to Salinas it initially said I would arrive with 15%, but the car had an extra 1000 lbs in it. So shortly after leaving slow it was showing negative arrival charge. I ended up driving 50 mph for the next 2 hours to arrive with 6%.

Experiences like that are not fun so I now try to always have 25% arrival charge. I went from LA to San Jose this past weekend and I had to add one extra stop to achieve this. It added 15 mins to my trip but I had zero stress.

Oh and ABRP is what I use on all my trips.
I'm not going to really press for 10% or less. My wife gets really nervous about the charge just like she did in our ICE car when we started to get under a quarter of a tank. I worry about that drafting, even though I do it every once and a while, give the propensity for the M3 to collect paint chips. Already had my windshield chipped when I had the car less than a month. Thanks for the tips.
 

AlanSubie4Life

Efficiency Obsessed Member
Oct 22, 2018
11,176
14,191
San Diego
Is ABRP a phone ap, or does it work on Tesla's display and with its battery data?

It is available on the web at home, on the car browser (super slow and useless), and they also have their own phone app.

You can create an ABPR account and log in (if you want) with your Tesla credentials and get live data from the car (though typically I find that it's a bit laggy to do this and have to press on the car logo on the lower right of the screen in the phone app to get it to sync consistently).

There are LOTS of settings, so make sure to set them appropriately (I set reference speed to 115% - that's the big one I think, but that setting depends on how you drive). Wheels matter a lot, so if you have aftermarket wheels make sure you pick something appropriate to get a good reference consumption.

ABRP is very helpful and much better at planning than the Tesla Nav, but you'll find that once you're familiar with Supercharger locations on long routes, you may not need it anymore. The advantage of the Tesla Nav is that it shows the Supercharger status and how many are broken (which is a huge determinant in where to stop).

I worry about that drafting, even though I do it every once and a while, give the propensity for the M3 to collect paint chips.

I've found that the following distance 7 is plenty close to get a huge benefit from drafting. I would like Tesla to provide the option to have following distances up to 15, actually. 7 is too close for the reason you mention!

Basically, the situation you have to worry about is the one where you have no traffic at all in front of you. At that point if you have limited energy, you may have to slow down. If you're right on the edge (5% arrival charge) you'll see it. Travel at 80mph with no traffic in front and it will start bugging you. Tuck in behind someone traveling 80mph, and it will shortly thereafter stop bugging you. The car doesn't look at your speed alone - it looks at your consumption at your current speed, when giving you the adjusted speed you need to travel.
 
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