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Suggestions about Supercharges and range management after a 6,800 mile drive

Discussion in 'Model S' started by artsci, Jul 19, 2015.

  1. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    #1 artsci, Jul 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
    Just returned from a 6,800 mile drive to California and back with my brother for TMC Connect. We stopped at more than 70 Superchargers and were faced with a number of situations when management of range proved critically important. Based on our experiences over the next few days I'm going to post observations, comments, and experiences on the following:


    • The great value of drafting big rigs to conserve energy
    • The inside scoop from the contractor who installs all the Superchargers for Tesla nationwide (they were at the Kansas City SC shooting a film when we were there charging and we had a long conversation)
    • The inadequacy of navigation details for finding the precise location of Superchargers
    • The quality of old versus new Superchargers
    • The plusses and minuses of Supercharger locations
    • The mileage differences between the Supercharger Nav page and the GPS calculations
    • How we managed to avoid a speeding ticket after blowing by a cop at 85 mph (in a 65 mph zone) in St. Louis and getting pulled over
     
  2. mibaro2

    mibaro2 Member

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    Look forward to seeing your posts on the topics.
    Sounds like it was a heck of a road trip!
    I know that drafting big rigs has been discussed extensively on TMC (I think in the hypermiling section), but will be interesting to see your results.
     
  3. sorka

    sorka Active Member

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    I used to do draft semis in my Prius. Awesome way to get 100 MPG if you're willing to get close enough. However, too many close calls convinced me that it's just not worth it. You get more rocks in the windshield. You risk driving over something that can damage your car that won't damage the semi in front of you when it passes directly over it.

    Drafting big rigs saves a minimum of 10 percent range

    Drafting at Highway speed..It works
     
  4. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    Drafting has been discussed in other threads but the truck drivers get really upset if you are too close but believe you still get some benefit if you hang back far enough where you can see their side mirrors (meaning they can see you and feel more comfortable).
     
  5. David99

    David99 Active Member

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    Drafting has been discussed many times here. It's dangerous, illegal and in the end it saves you a little energy but not time.

    I have found the Location info to be very accurate. Sometimes it's not clear which parking lot to enter or it's difficult to see right away at night, but the marker itself is pretty accurate.

    The differences in distance between the list and the actual navigation is logical. The actual distance is only set once you start the navigation system. There might be a different best route from A to B depending on traffic or closed roads or other things. So of course there will always be a difference in distance.
     
  6. RyanT

    RyanT Member

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    It seems like ACC was made for drafting. I saw huge gains coming back from eastern Oregon into a head wind. I put the ACC at 7 for maxium distance 200+ miles and didn't notice any rocks. Is it any worse then using ACC (at 7) to follow any car/truck? Why would it be illegal?
     
  7. TomServo

    TomServo Member

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    Personally I would NEVER draft behind a big rig, too many things could go wrong, and you shouldn't need to do that in the first place.
     
  8. mzpolo

    mzpolo Member

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    I want to know this!!!
     
  9. AEdennis

    AEdennis Active Member

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    @artsci and @mzpolo, I would too, but would guess that it would be in a place that doesn't see Model S everyday, i.e. Not in California. Though, from what I see on the Internet, and my own experience charging at St. Charles, the representation around St Louis seems to be pretty good.
     
  10. treldib

    treldib Member

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    Did they get better or worse? Really curious about this one.
     
  11. S4WRXTTCS

    S4WRXTTCS Active Member

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    I think it's so funny that so many people are so opposed to drafting behind a big-rig. Where they picture someone right on the butt of the big-rig.

    I don't think that's how most of us benefit from being behind a big rig. Instead they're accepting less efficiency gains, but more safety by being at a safe TACC distance from the big rig. Not only is there nothing particularly illegal or unsafe about it, but you're going to be hard pressed to drive the speed limit in the right lane without being behind a big rig. If you're in the right lane odds are that you're trying to conserve energy to have a bigger buffer to your next charging station.

    When I've been behind a big rig for an extensive time my only major concern was running over something he avoided by having enough ground clearance. but, the Tesla is so low to the ground from a viewing perspective that this happens whether its a big rig or a car.

    Sure ideally I don't want to be behind anyone, and I want to use speed as my sole way method of controlling range. It is amazing how much more range a reduction of just 5mph will give you. But, at least where I am if you're doing the speed limit at 2am on I5 you're going to be stuck behind a big rig.

    With all that being said I do think technology wise that as a society we should absolutely improve the technology to allow cars to draft each other, and big rigs. Big rigs should be the front.

    Improving things like the minimum standard on tires for big rigs. too many blow outs.
    TACC technology for the big rig
    Car to car communication
    Scoop for the big rig to brush things out of the way.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Care you share what's logical about it? Where does it get its distance from? Why wouldn't the list get the distance from where I am? What is the distance that it displays?

    What does it think I'm a bird, and I'm just going to fly right to it?

    It's not just Tesla. My Jeep does the same damn thing, but my Jeep isn't a Tesla. The Tesla should be capable of doing on the fly distance calculations in the list from where I am.
     
  12. bhuwan

    bhuwan Active Member

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    The Jammers/RD did not go off?
     
  13. LetsGoFast

    LetsGoFast Active Member

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    Assuming regoapps is reporting things accurately, you can get pretty significant improvements in range even at surprising distances from the back of a big rig.
     
  14. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    #14 artsci, Jul 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
    Let me start with how we avoided a ticket in St. Louis and drafting.

    We were on I-70 east in heavy traffic going about 65 mph, the speed limit. My radar detector was not giving me any signals. I saw an opening in the traffic ahead and did a burst of speed right past a cop in an unmarked white Dodge Challenger in the lane next to us. He immediately lit up and pulled in behind me, so I graciously pulled over to the shoulder and stopped. He came over the right side of the car where my brother was sitting in the passenger seat with his dog, a very cute Cockapoo. I rolled down the window on that side. The cop told me right off that he had clocked me at 85. I responded by saying "I'm guilty." No excuses, no silly stories. He looks over my license and proof of insurance. Then he asks what kind of car I'm driving. I said a Tesla. He responds by saying "Didn't I pull you over for speeding last week?" I said we were driving home to Maryland from California so it must have been another Tesla. Through all of this the dog is demonstrating very cute puppy behavior. The cop asks a few more questions about the car and then acknowledges that it couldn't have been us that he pulled over a week ago. He then tells us to take it slower and get on our way. All in all, it was a very pleasant experience.

    As far as drafting is concerned we used it very successfully on three or four segments when the yellow warning appeared on the navigation panel about slowing down to reach our destination. My strategy was to slow down to about 60-65 mph then wait for a rig pass us going 70-75 mph. I then pulled in about 3-4 car lengths behind. When the trucker wanted to pass another car and put on his turn signal, I immediately pulled into the left lane to give him cover from trailing cars for the lane change, then followed him back into the right lane after his pass. The truckers seemed to appreciate my giving them cover -- in several instances we were given a courtesy flash when we finally sped past them.

    Typically, when we decided to draft, the energy graph was indicating 3-5 percent of charge remaining at destination and was slowly but steadily declining at 70 - 75 mph. Given the distance we were trying to cover I wanted to maintain speed rather than slow down to 60-65 mph. When we were drafting the energy reserve steadily climbed, typically about one percent every 2-3 miles, and the yellow warning bar disappeared after about five miles. When we reached 10 - 15 percent of reserve, I would pass the truck and resume normal speed to the next supercharger, which typically would be 70 - 80 mph (speed limits in some states were 75 or even 80).

    Drafting proved especially effective in the 212 mile run between the Independence, Mo and St Charles Superchargers. I first I was very nervous about this run and even went on this forum to see what I could discover from people who had successfully made this run. Based on several posts I read, we were prepared to stop at the Tiger Hotel in Columbia, MO, which has a HPWC. But with drafting when we reached Columbia (114 miles from Indpendence) we had a 15 percent reserve, and we reached the St Charles SC with 35 miles of range left.

    So for me, drafting proved to be a highly successful strategy for staying close to the speed limit and preserving energy as well. It was a much better option than slowing down, as it had the same impact on preserving energy. There was never a dangerous situation of any kind and only in Nevada was debris kicked up by the truck tires a concern.

    It seems that the giga factory is not the only thing that distinguishes Nevada. I've never seen more fine dirt particles on roads. In fact, my bother quipped, "This is what it must be like to drive through Afghanistan." My car was filthy with the stuff after driving through the state, and because of it drafting was not prudent. In every other state, no problem.
     
  15. FLDarren

    FLDarren Member

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    i bet they flashed the cop. It works every time. :biggrin:
     
  16. bluefuego

    bluefuego Member

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    #16 bluefuego, Jul 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2015
    I swear I wasn't the red S that that cop had pulled over previously! :rolleyes:

    Anyway, glad that you were able to draft your way across Missouri. I have done the STL->KC run several times in decent weather and with some rain (but not cold yet) and have always been able to make it without any problems or in between stops. However, the Columbia supercharger which should begin construction next month will make the trip even easier.
     
  17. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    #17 artsci, Jul 19, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2015
    Yes, one in Columbia will ease range anxiety. Actually the trip planner wanted to route me north way out of the way.

    Regarding the inadequacy of nav details regarding supercharger locations, we had a 50 percent first-try rate, that is we failed to make contact on our first attempt. It would be much better if Tesla added some instructive details regarding visual cues, such as "in the Holiday Inn Express parking lot" or "in the parking lot behind the McDonalds." Having my brother as a spotter was a big help.

    And the new versus old superchargers. The construction firm manager we met at the Kansas City SC told us his company has been responsible for installation of all of the new supercharger versions, which have a red plastic cover on the inside and TESLA ighted in red letters. The old are all white sheet metal and have the Tesla logo painted on, which is already fading and worn looking on many of the SCs we visited. The cosmetics of the new versions will be much more durable and a better representation of the Tesla brand. My guess is that Tesla will replace all of the older versions with the new over time. BTW, the manager was driving a black Model S on loan from Tesla. There was a film crew of about 6 people that arrived just as we were about to leave the SC. They were a very friendly bunch and we chatted with them for about 30 minutes before we departed. They were going to shoot a film of the manager's Tesla backing in to a supercharger and charging up. They had quite sophisticated professional equipment.

    The manager told us that prior to his firm being contracted by Tesla to do all of the supercharger installs around the country, Tesla worked with independent contractors at every SC, creating challenges with management, quality control, and timeliness. He also indicated that the configuration of each supercharger location was driven by local, regional, or even state interests and regulations and often by the owner of the parking lot real estate. For example, he told us that one municipality insisted on the SC's being setting up like gas pumps, so each one could be approached head in. As ridiculous as this sounds, this is some of the craziness Tesla has to deal with as it installs superchargers. And it explains why we often see oddball set ups or locations. He also indicated that Tesla was looking to cut more deals with nationwide chains, even gas stations, for supercharger installs.

    My brother, who is a BMW enthusiast, said to me that if he owned a gas station he'd be installing charging capability right away.
     
  18. artsci

    artsci Sponsor

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    BTW, here's a photo of the decals delanman made for both our cars for the drive to TMC connect. Interestingly enough, many people we encountered thought the signs indicated that we worked for Tesla. BTY, these are old Superchargers
    DSC_6213.jpg
     
  19. eye.surgeon

    eye.surgeon Member

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    Very interesting post, thanks. Especially regarding the installation of and future plans for S/C stations.

    I do wish people would stop promoting so-called drafting behind trucks...I can tell you that most truckers do NOT appreciate it. It's dangerous, arguably ticketable (in fact a thread here somewhere talks about someone being ticketed for it after the trucker radioed the highway patrol), creates ill will towards electric cars with the general public, and it saves literally pennies worth of electricity.
     
  20. TaoJones

    TaoJones Beyond Driven

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    That's great news concerning interest in liaisons with national chains. I've long wondered why Tesla hasn't pursued agreements with one or more regional and national truck stop chains. They have the real estate and, unlike busy shopping malls, do not create an immediate conflict of interest*.

    All in good time. I'll go out of my way (literally) to support independent truck stops (a dying breed with all kinds of nifty Americana and traditions). It would be even better if a few SCs showed up, for example along the so-far neglected Southern route from Tucson east into central Texas - starting with the TTT truck stop and their towering apple pie a la mode. Google for a picture - g'head - g'head.

    Concur with the last mile Nav adventures for SCs - e.g., Oxnard.

    I understand the efficacy of drafting, but there is no way on this earth that I'll risk more rock chips - at least until
    I smarten up and wrap the front end. Picked up my first rock impact in Wyoming and it went right through to exposed aluminum.


    * in case anybody needs that spelled out, attend a ribbon-cutting at the next mall SC opening. It's painful to watch the awkwardness between the Tesla speaker (typically a regional manager type) extolling the virtues of getting in, getting out, and getting on one's way, and the following mall management group's equally if not more senior representative inviting visitors to come in and essentially set a spell (stay awhile). If only they would emphasize the Best Practice of exiting a given stall once the charge is complete, all would be well. Except of course during holiday seasons, when there is nowhere else to park at a mall and ICEing becomes commonplace. In time, one has to believe that SCs at busy malls will be seen as a Bad Idea.
     

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