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Traffic: 120 miles in 5 hours. Passed a dozen+ out-of-gas ICE vehicles.

Discussion in 'Model S: Driving Dynamics' started by wk057, May 12, 2015.

  1. wk057

    wk057 Senior Tinkerer

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    #1 wk057, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    So, yesterday I was making my journey back to my home in NC from NJ. All was well, ended up arriving at the Burlington, NC supercharger around 9:30PM. Charged there for about 30 minutes to get enough to get home plus a pretty decent buffer (~50 miles since there was a storm in between), like normal, for the last leg of the trip.

    I set the GPS even though I know where I'm going (~125 miles) and the GPS was giving me some ridiculous route using all crazy back roads and adding 45 minutes to the route. I just assumed it was crazy and turned it off. Not the first time it would have given me some off-the-wall directions. I usually just use it as a progress meter anyway.

    Well... I should have listened to it. 5 miles down the interstate, dead stop. Check the map (had traffic overlay off for some reason)... red for miles, then nothing/no data for miles meaning the highway was closed ahead. Checked Waze, confirmed there was a major accident ~6 miles ahead. Entire westbound side of the highway shutdown. Nearest exit? About 4 miles west. Checked satellite view for any turnarounds or other escapes. Nope. Concrete barrier all the way to the next exit. "F***." Looks like I should have listened to the GPS and saved several hours. Next time I'll take the nav more seriously...

    Creeping along for hours. Was 85F outside (hot night for this time of year IMO), so I was running the A/C the whole time at about 70F. The exit was no saving grace either, since the 1-lane road detour was also backed up for miles as the 4-lanes of interstate tried to funnel into it.

    So, in the hours I spent creeping along I had several ICE vehicles in front or around me die and block the road even more. Why? Out of gas from all of the idling and creeping with no where to go. Me? I used some power while creeping along running the A/C.......... a whopping 2%/5 miles more than I would have had there been no 3+ hour traffic jam. Even with the A/C running I made no appreciable dent in range, yet over a dozen ICE vehicles had run out of gas. At first I thought people were just stopping to rest, until people were getting out to push their cars out of the way after they had died, plus as I pass I usually asked if they were OK and usually got a brief explanation. Several others had overheated from the hours of idling in the car-packed area, presumably with inadequate cooling as evident by plumes of steam from the front of the cars.

    Then, when I finally got off of the exit there was a relatively large gas station (30+ pumps) just at the end of the ramp on the right. Turns out a big holdup to getting going off this ramp was a blockage from a line of dozens of ICE vehicles trying to get into this gas station for a fill. Every pump stall was in use, with a line of cars waiting all the way back to the highway off-ramp! ICE folks frantically trying to recover the gobs of fuel wasted over the past few hours. Still no where to go really, so, had to wait a bit to get past that, then as soon as possible I turned off in the direction opposite to where everyone else was going (didn't care where it went) and got moving again.

    Used my 17" map to come up with my own traffic-free detour (the one everyone was taking was backed up for at least another 90 minutes and included several additional accidents according to Waze). Found a decent route that added about 15 miles to my original route. No biggie. Got back on track within ~20 minutes and drove the remaining 2 hours home.

    So, long story short... I'm glad I drive a Model S. I was chuckling a little at the unfortunate ICE vehicles that ran out of fuel with no where to go or do except be stuck while I had used virtually no fuel for the entire jam up.

    And I thought I was supposed to be the one with range anxiety? :wink:
     
  2. Rockster

    Rockster Active Member

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    I love it! Thank you for the mental image of dozens of ICE vehicles gasping for food.

    There's an important lesson here, too: use the NAV system on road trips, even if one knows where one is going. With all its imperfections, the NAV system has the potential to avoid things like this.
     
  3. techmaven

    techmaven Active Member

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    Awesome story. Of course, if it was cold instead of hot, then it's different.

    I, along with my son's ice hockey team was stuck in a snow storm northwest of D.C. a few years ago. I-70 west of Frederick, MD was completely stopped while a blizzard was raging. Luckily, we were in a chartered coach bus and we had plenty of fuel and a bathroom. In the morning, tow trucks worked their way towards us towing away all the cars that had run out of fuel. We were stuck there for about 7 hours.

    In a Model S, if you had, say 50% of a 60 kWh pack left, you have about 5 hours of full heat and almost no range left. If you know you are going to be there a while, you can use only the seat heaters and occasionally use the main heater. Keeping the car awake might be a challenge, but I guess shivering in the cold helps that.

    The other big thing is that idling that long, the exhaust fumes of an ICE will get into the cabin. There's no way around that.
     
  4. WarpedOne

    WarpedOne Supreme Premier

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    I have difficulties buying into moral of this story.
    I'm not calling you a liar but an ICE idling for an hour drinks about half a litre of gas. 5 hours is 2,5 liters, make that 3. A reserve is at least double that, up to 10 liters or even more.
    Do people regularly drive on reserve so close to empty that such 'miniscule' event wreaks havoc already?
     
  5. benjiejr

    benjiejr Technogeekextraordinaire

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    Great story @wk057! I've also been fooled by the nav taking me some weird route and I didn't listen - just like you, I didn't trust it - but it was right and tried to divert me around a huge traffic mess. I've since been much more careful when it suggests a strange route and I try to understand why to know if I should listen!
     
  6. wk057

    wk057 Senior Tinkerer

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    Well, percentage wise it was probably less than 1% of the ICE vehicles. Keep in mind this is 4 lanes of highway stretched over miles, bumper to bumper the entire way (plus a line of idiots thinking they're special and that using the shoulders might help). That's a lot of total cars. There were bound to be some out of the bunch running close to empty.

    If I get time I'll edit my dash cam footage and make a montage... lol.
     
  7. Johan

    Johan Took a TSLA bear test. Came back negative.

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    Had this on my last drive home from Sweden to Norway: Nav kept saying 1h30 minutes to go the last 80 km... I was thinking something wrong with the system. But alas: construction in a tunnel, several km of slow moving traffic.

    Note to self: Always set nav for longer trips and when time to destination seems to deviate from expections check traffic overlay and reroute.

    I wish the car had suggested a re-route more aggressively in these situations. I've only had it do that once, when I had an appointment in my calender with a destination.
     
  8. aaeverett

    aaeverett Member

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    Thanks for the story, traffic jams have always been a concern of mine even though i know a Tesla will out perform any ICE vehicle in that situation. Its good to have real world proof!
     
  9. wk057

    wk057 Senior Tinkerer

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    Yeah, I agree I may have backtracked to the Burlington supercharger (which was < 10 miles away) to recharge if I had needed to run the heat for 3 hours. However, with ~170 miles of range I don't think I would have had too many any problems staying warm for a few idle hours anyway. Keeping the cabin warm at a near standstill doesn't take nearly as much power as it does while moving in the cold.

    I could see if you were cutting it closer with a smaller buffer perhaps it could be an issue, but, in the cold I always add even more buffer mainly because I want to drive at normal speeds and stay warm at the same time, energy usage be damned. lol.
     
  10. dsm363

    dsm363 Roadster + Sig Model S

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    AAA brings gas to a few hundred people a day who run out and they aren't in traffic so some people don't plan well.
     
  11. Zythryn

    Zythryn MS 70D, MX 90D

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    I wasn't a very good planner.
    It seemed I always needed to stop for gas on my way to work or a meeting, making me late or smelling like gas, or both.
    So much more convenient to have a full tank every morning:biggrin:
     
  12. TomServo

    TomServo Member

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    I don't get the "childish gloating" lives could have been in danger. And it's not like a Tesla (with poor planning) couldn't find them selves in a similar situation. You can't fix stupid and that's apparently what was wrong with the ICE drivers.

    What am I missing?
     
  13. deonb

    deonb Active Member

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    #13 deonb, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    Very different worlds.

    A lot of popular cars in the U.S. can consume somewhere between 0.5 and 1 gallon of fuel per hour while idling. So at 5 hours, that can be up to 4 gallons, or a quarter of a tank.

    I bet these weren't Prius's sitting next to the road.
     
  14. Cyclone

    Cyclone Active Member

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    Assuming the Op was going westbound on I-40, cars abandoned on the side of the road for various reasons is sadly a common sight through Greensboro and Winston-Salem. It honestly surprises me how many cars I see on the side of the road in a NC.
     
  15. wk057

    wk057 Senior Tinkerer

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    lol. That's a bit of a stretch and dramatic. There were no lives in danger with anything I've referred to. (The accident causing the backup happened 5 hours prior and the people involved had already been taken to local hospitals, according to local news at the time.) As I said also, I rolled down a window and politely asked every disabled vehicle I passed if they were OK and if they needed help. All were fine aside from running out of fuel or overheating.

    No need to be dramatic.

    Even a Tesla with poor planning wouldn't have been affected hardly at all by this situation. Like I said, I used 5 miles of my buffer while running the A/C the entire time.

    See the irony in the whole thing since the ICE drivers would be the ones saying that the EVs would be stranded in such a situation when in reality the EVs would be just fine due to near zero idle energy usage.

    - - - Updated - - -

    No Prius's. :p ... Few pickup trucks and the rest random cars. Some old, some new. No real pattern. Just no big rigs, hybrids, or EVs in the stranded bunch.

    Yeah, westbound between Burlington and Greensboro. Definitely see a good amount of abandoned vehicles through here too. It's odd.
     
  16. RiverBrick

    RiverBrick Active Member

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    It might be worth it to pack an electric blanket that plugs into the 12V. One big enough for two people only takes 60W and sells for < 30$.
     
  17. EdA

    EdA Model S P-2540

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    This has been a problem for me too. After a 1,600 mile roadtrip (in the winter) at the last supercharger before home (168 miles away) I failed to check the traffic ahead of me. 60 miles of RED! I ended up taking a side route which was longer, encountered an ice storm,
    had to turn off heat to avoid running out of charge...

    Last thing to do before unplugging the supercharger plug is to review the route ahead!
     
  18. santana338

    santana338 Member

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    I have had the nav reroute me too. As with most others I just thought it was crazy and ignored it. It would be REALLY nice if the nav would give you a window or something to say "Rerouting due to traffic" so you can zoom out and see what the situation is and make a decision to take its advice or not.

    I have also had the nav reroute be due to normal traffic congestion, then, when I was in sight of the exit it wanted me to take, it changed its mind and kept me on the original route. I know this has been discussed before, but if I am going to take a detour, tell me how much time I may save. I want to be able to justify the detour, since driving in Boston, one wrong turn can blow any time savings you have have expected by taking a detour.
     
  19. wk057

    wk057 Senior Tinkerer

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    If you're already en route it and it changes it will pop up on the 17" (assuming you have nav open) saying "rerouting due to traffic time saved X minutes" (or something similar). It's very quick though and if you're not looking at it you'll miss it.

    However, in a case like mine, where it's the initial route it comes up with it doesn't say why it's crazy.
     
  20. GeekGirls

    GeekGirls Kid in Candy Store

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    It's not idling that's the worst of it. It's the start/stop nature of this kind of situation that turns out to be incredibly inefficient, at least for non-hybrids. Combine that with the amount of waste heat an ICE produces and the A/C situation turns out to be a real problem in a hot climate (whereas in a cold climate it turns out to be a huge blessing for ICE vehicles that arguably increases their overall efficiency.) I've been caught in similar situations in the past and have agree that this is among the many forms of range anxiety that I no longer suffer. That and the dreaded "it was raining last night and I'll be late for a meeting this morning if I stop for gas" syndrome that vanished entirely with our Tesla.
     

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