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Winter Road Trip - Chicago to Detroit and Back

Discussion in 'Model S' started by elecblue, Jan 27, 2013.

  1. elecblue

    elecblue Member

    Aug 16, 2012
    Singapore (for next 2 years) previously Chicago, I
    Today my wife and I completed our first Tesla Model S Road Trip from Chicago to Detroit and back. The long and short of it is the car performed well. There was only one minor glitch in Pac Blue (see below) but it disappeared quickly. Here's a summary and lessons learned, not in any particular order:

    1. Total distance driven - 580 miles. I didn't set the trip computer so only estimated energy use, but the car consumed approximately 350Wh/mile.
    2. Lesson 1 - ALWAYS CALL AHEAD for charging stations! I noticed that there were several listed within 10 miles of where we stayed (Canton) on Plugshare. Thinking they were all good, I didn't call ahead. Bad move! On Saturday morning my host drove me around for an hour checking out different charging stations. We were 0 for 3. Terrible stats! Here's the deal: [1] 5 stations listed near Canton, MI with DTE. When we looked for them they are located on company property. An employee that we asked very clearly told us that the stations are not for public use, and they were part of an experimental program - a Dodge RAM utility pickup truck that Dodge converted to an EV. They don't even have the truck any longer. Stike 1! [2] Nissan Dealer - noted that all Nissan dealers have J1772 plugs. Not this one! Stike 2! [3] Yazaki corporation - listing 6 Chargepoint stations. We got there and I tested one and it was working. However, the security guard called into the building supervisor and noted that under no circumstances should anyone be using any of the charging stations unless they are Yazaki employees. Swing and a miss! Strike 3! I noted this on the appropriate websites, in order to save the headaches for future EV travelers. So onto more searching: [4] On the way back from the NAIAS, we went to the airport. One parking garage had 2 stations that were being used already - Volt and Leaf. Another parking garage had 2 stations and one was available. Of course, the Model S was back at my host's house charging (120V), and there was no guarantee that we would get the spot when we got back with the car. At the end of the day, we settled on driving to Ann Arbor where there are plenty of parking garages with charging stations. We took the Model S there and found one no problem and charged over Sat. night to full range charge. Bingo!
    3. Charging at friend's house - all that was available was a 120V outlet in an attached garage. We were greatful to get it. However, turn the charger up to 10a, and walla - pop the breaker! I could ony do 7-8 amps. The garage was about 35F at best, so most of the energy was going to warm the batteries. After about 18 hours of being plugged in, we got all of 23 miles of range (in addition to the 7 left after arriving). Total of 30 miles on the pack and enough to get the car to Ann Arbor with some to spare.
    4. Winter driving - running the heater and defroster certainly uses a fair amount of power. I could keep 5-mi. averages under 300Wh/mi. without the heater and it was 350-400 with the heater. In order to make it out there, we had to keep the heater/defroster off most the time. Don't know how the heck we managed to do that! On the return trip, I knew more what to expect, conditions were generally better (no snow storm), and we ran the heater for all but the last 20 miles (we were running low on energy by then).
    5. We stopped after 100 miles on the way there at a friend's summer home (you know who you are - thank you very much!). Only about 2 hours each time (Friday early evening and Sunday afternoon), but he has Teslas (Roadster and Model S) and has a Nema 14-50 for just such an occasion. Best charing yet! (30 mph). This was the only way we got to our distination and returned - without it we would not have made it (290 miles each way).
    6. The charging stations in public parking garages are your best bet. We were about 50 miles from our destination Friday night and found some in Jackson, MI. We stopped there for about 45 min. to pick up extra miles (which it turned out were needed). Easy to find downtown, and they had some bars/rest and coffee houses. Went to Jackson Coffee house and had a good winter warm-up drink and live folk music.
    7. While I'm on the topic of good restaurants, there was a place called Mexican Village 2 miles south of downtown Detroit that was a nice find. Also, in Ann Arbor (Sat night) we went to the Grizzley Peak Brewing Co. near where we dropped off the car for the night - good place as well. Finally, lunch was in Decatur, MI at Hard Times Family Rest. Very authentic and good food for a fair price (Decatur is on the way of the summer house where we charged).
    8. Along I-94 from Chicago to Detroit I've never seen so many billboards for adult entertainment - you name it, they had it. Geesh - my wife and I got tired of seeing all these - but they must all do good business or they couldn't afford billboards! Of course lots of ads for rest, gas stations (what are those?), hotels, and hospitals as well!
    9. Tire pressure - I have a cheap tire gauge, and when I was home last week, I was trying to get a reeading and it kept letting the air out of the driver front tire. On the way out to Detroit on Friday near Jackson we got a low tire pressure warning. I stopped at a TA center which had a 24/7 truck repair shop. The pay airhose did not do any good in the snow and cold and actually let out more air! So the good folks at the TA center had me pull into the truck shop and they filled my tire in no time - I was very obliged!
    10. Now for the main issue for winter driving - we drove mostly through a medium snowfall almost the entire way out there. Trucks were going anywhere from 45-70mph at varying times and the roads were not in good shape. This, more than anything, was the main reason why we were using so much energy to get there. On the way home, roads were clear for the first 2/3 of the trip, but the last 1/3 was sleet/freezing rain in SW MI and NW Indiana. So, same crap - roads in not good conditions wreaked havoc on energy use. However, the Model S performed well - using more energy is the cost of doing business, essentially. Lesson learned? Plan to take more time and plan more charging stops if you can!
    11. The only glitch in the car - about 80% of the way home today, I got a warning message stating that I had to contact Tesla motors - there was some kind of error. It dissappeared as quickly as it appeared within about 1 min. Not sure what that was about. When I got home, I get the software update message - first time I've seen that! I set it to update at 2am tonight. Perhaps TM sent out the software update when we were driving and that's what caused the brief error? Anyway, tomorrow I'll report if the software update worked ok (I'm still on v 1.15 at this point).
    12. Temp - driving to Detroit was about 19F on average. Driving home 28F.

    All in all a good trip and we've learned a lot about the car. Basically it can do everything that you expect it to and more.

    I realize that there are a few road trip threads already, however I don't want this one to get buried on page 12 somewhere. Perhaps the mods could create a 'Road Trip' section and each of these could be a new thread under that?
  2. kcveins

    kcveins delivery 2/7

    Jul 24, 2012
    Thanks for this write up!
    We just did the same trip this weekend - Chicago to Detroit (my inlaws live there; left on Friday and back on Sunday - but fortunately I looked at the weather and we left Detroit by 10:30 and rolled into the driveway just as the freezing rain / sleet started) in my wife's Lexus SUV. We were talking about doing the trip once my MS arrives, but she is a little leary especially since the kids (7, 4) don't have as much patience to make the stops. I am hoping that the superchargers will be well positioned on I-94 somewhere around Kalamazoo (there appear to be a lot of charging stations around there according to PlugShare). I hope they also plan on putting the superchargers on the toll road (I-80)
  3. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

    Feb 6, 2011
    Columbia River Gorge
    Good info - and THANK YOU for updating websites with current information. I wish all EV drivers would do that. Even if it is just the date you used it, with a 'everything was working as advertised' is helpful.
  4. sp4rk

    sp4rk Banned

    Apr 25, 2012
    Schaumburg, IL
    Great write up, mate! ... maybe one of our "group" road trips that we've talked about should be to Michigan in the Spring now that you've tested it for us?
    You drove back into nasty stuff here ... see you soon, cheers.
  5. montgom626

    montgom626 Active Member

    Dec 15, 2012
    Nice post. Thank you.
  6. Daniel Scherer

    Daniel Scherer Junior Member

    Jan 26, 2013
    Monroe, Michigan, United States
    I live in Monroe, MI. You can charge off my 14-50 outlet anytime your in the area. I'd love to see a network list created of all Tesla owners willing to do this as well.
  7. Robert.Boston

    Robert.Boston Model S VIN P01536

    Oct 7, 2011
    Portland, Maine, USA
    No need to reinvent this wheel: PlugShare is a great way of sharing your EVSE. I've used it to find a place to charge up in Portland, Maine at the home of a Volt owner; he was thrilled to see the Model S in person and get a short test drive.
  8. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

    Aug 7, 2012
    Toronto, ON
    I live near Toronto, and would like to be able to road trip to my daughter's in Cary IL, (n/w of Chicago). The drive in an ICE is usually around 8 hours and I generally cross into the US at Port Huron because it is less traveled, but Detroit would be about the same distance. I'd like to see Superchargers along I-94 as well, but would need more than one for that trip.
  9. PattyChuck

    PattyChuck P6703 VIN4080

    Jan 24, 2012
    Valparaiso, Indiana
    Just added a marker to PlugShare. I'm only 10 minutes from the toll road. If anyone is ever passing thru northwest Indiana and you need a quick boost, I'll have an HPWC (as soon as they ship) in my garage. I've also got a 14-50 in a private parking lot in another part of town. If anyone wants to use the 14-50 and I'm available, I'm also happy to shuttle you anywhere in town for a bite to eat (some good restaurants in our downtown area).

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