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The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Tesla Model S P85D Road Trip (caranddriver.com)
42 points by woobar on July 10, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 80 comments



As recently as four years ago, the rhetoric was "there's no infrastructure for electric cars, building one is totally infeasible, therefore elextric cars will never work."

Now the rhetoric is "waaah, the charging stations are kind of inconvenient."

Anyone who writes this kind of article without looking at dsituation/dt is being dumb.


Did you read the same article I did? His complaints didn't seem to be "charging is inconvenient" as much as "the navigation/trip optimization system caused me drive an extra 5 hours and make 4 extra stops that were totally unnecessary".


Pretty sure "extra time" falls under the "charging stations are not convenient" header.


I'd imagine that more infrastructure (in the form of more charging stations) would make route planning and navigation a much less painful affair. If there was a charger in every town over (x) population, you wouldn't need to take those much longer routes or deal with drastic detours and backtracking if the range needs to be recalculated due to changing circumstances (air conditioning use, ambient temp, driving speed, etc.)


But time wasted due to bad/unneccessary directions is not the inconvenience of the charging stations, it's just bad directions.


Not to mention that they test it with a road trip... how often do we do road trips? 98% of our driving is done within a few miles from our homes.


That doesn't mean the other 2% can be ignored. On the contrary, those are the times when you want the least amount of trouble.


If you have to drive a state or two out of your way, the infrastructure isn't really there yet.


> Of course the Model S can be road-tripped. Whether it can be accomplished with the sort of ease we assume buyers of a $140,000 luxury sedan expect, well, that depends on your planning.

On the other hand he paid $0 for energy, which would be very different had he brought along a comparable gasoline-powered car (Audi RS6?).

In my experience taking long road trips in expensive cars is a fools errand, electric or not. Expensive cars are either fast, heavy, or both, and get horrible milage. Sure, an Audi RS6 would have had fewer stops which also would have been quicker, but you'd be there in the same amount of time at a quarter of the cost in a Miata, which would have been a lot of fun at the race track, too.


Are fuel costs actually a realistic concern for people buying $140k cars? Even at 5 MPG you'd have to go on a lot of road trips for it to add up to even a small fraction of the cost of the car, so I'd expect general wear-and-tear to be a bigger expense.


No. I have two fairly expensive cars (not $140k), and I honestly don't care even a tiny bit about fuel costs. It doesn't even cross my mind. It's not a factor when I choose to take a trip, and it's definitely not a factor when I buy a car. I don't think I'm unique in this...


OTOH, I have a couple of small aircraft, and I care quite a bit about fuel costs. One gets 9-12 mpg and the other 4-6 mpg with the normal range of head/tail winds. I shop for fuel prices, and will (sometimes) make a fuel stop and/or tanker fuel based on fuel prices. I will also prefer the smaller aircraft for its better fuel efficiency, and the smaller, less capable airplane is MORE expensive in the market in part due to economy concerns.

It seems among small aircraft pilots that we're split about 50/50; some care about fuel costs and some don't.

Airplane ownership has also allowed me to switch my daily driver to a Nissan LEAF, since the overwhelming majority of moderate to long range travel is done by airplane rather than my daily driver.


Spoken like someone who has never done a long road trip in a Miata. :)

I have owned two Miatas, most recently a 2008 PRHT Grand Touring, which is about the most "luxury" Miata you can buy. I also have a 2015 Mercedes-Benz C400, which I've done 3 long road trips in since buying it in Oct. 2014.

The Miata and the Benz actually get comparable gas mileage (Miata: 29mpg; Benz: 26mpg) on the highway, so the difference there is negligible.

The huge difference is how you feel after having sat in each car for several hours. Miata seats are great for short road trips or the track, but absolutely horrifying after about 3-4 hours on the road. Plus, you can barely stuff any luggage in it!

As someone who owned and used 2 Miatas as daily drivers (and each one being my only car!) from the year 2000 to 2014, you won't find a bigger Miata fan than me, but you have to be realistic--5 straight hours in that thing is enough to make anyone beg for mercy. The Benz is so much better equipped (OMG Bluetooth!), and so much more comfortable, that there is no comparison.

Also, the C400 is pretty zippy. It's not a Miata, but it's a nice sporty feel.


This is one of the reasons I went with a Subaru WRX STI - just as fun as the Miata in my opinion, but comfier seats and I can fit a ton of stuff in the hatchback...


So, doing the math... a quick look around the web for the Audi RS6 says 15mpg city/22 hwy. This is a road trip, so let's say something conservative like 18mpg. Let's even say they take the same route as the Tesla. Also, the RS6 takes Premium gas, which was $3.29/gal in Boston just this morning when I drove past a major gas station.

759 mi/(18 mi/gal) = 42.17 gal

42.17 gal*(3.29 USD/gal) = USD 138.74

That's still not a hell of a lot of money, especially if you're driving something that costs three orders of magnitude more.


What size is the tank on an Audi RS6 ? An owner may not be too bothered about the cost of fuel but how often do they have to stop compared to the Tesla.

I remember reading a report of a fast road trip on a superbike, the author had to stop every 30 minutes to fill up.


I think you're on to something there. Poor range is the complaint I hear from many owners of sports sedans/coupes. Chris Harris (a well respected automotive journalist) listed this as a chief complaint about his E92 M3 (the V8 powered car). I just drove my E92 M3 on a 2,000 mile road trip from Florida to Virginia, and I can empathize. The car managed 23 MPG on the highway, but I had to stop every 300 miles or so in order to fill up to avoid the anxiety of running out of fuel in heavy traffic where the car would average closer to 19 MPG. That still bests the Tesla's range by a reasonable margin, but it's enough to make M3 owners complain, so I could see it being an issue for potential Tesla buyers.


You only need to stop every 30 min if you are doing 200-250 km/h, which is hardly an issue, since such speed wears you down a lot Source:been there done that


This is a good point, but you also have to assume that people who drive cars that cost more than a modest house are probably not overly concerned about the cost of gasoline. Even if it were a car attainable by normal middle-class drivers, I believe most people would rather be confident that they can reach their destination safely than fret over a hundred bucks of gasoline (and a tow costs at least $75).

Maybe the moral of the story is that all Tesla owners doing long-range driving should invest in a AAA membership for the inevitable occasion when the battery jumps down to -22% before reaching the next charging station.


It's likely that no Tesla owners have AAA, because the car comes with roadside service, including towing.

I know people on HN love to discuss things they aren't personally familiar with, but this is really getting out of hand!


It was a quip. Relax.

It doesn't really matter if they get included roadside service or not, since they'll still have to sit around, wait for a tow truck to show up and rescue them from the middle of nowhere, ride in the truck's cab or possibly have to get a separate taxi to wherever the car is being towed, and wait to get charged. This has to happen whether one uses Tesla, AAA, or any other entity (including themselves) to coordinate the tow. It doesn't materially change the argument.


> It's likely that no Tesla owners have AAA, because the car comes with roadside service, including towing.

That assumes the Tesla is that person's only car. I own 3 cars and have AAA. If I bought a Tesla I would still have at least one additional car. (Simply because my wife needs a car at the same time I do so we are pretty much a 2+ car family.) I would still have AAA.


That doesn't happen. There's a trip energy graph which shows your projected remaining charge when you reach your destination, and compares it with the actual usage. Energy use is strongly dependent on speed, so if you find yourself using more than projected, you can slow down a bit (5MPH is generally plenty) and get back on track. If you use more than expected you can see this happening with plenty of time to spare and take appropriate actions without any worries.

One of the nice things about an electric car is that the measure of remaining capacity is really accurate. In a typical gas car, anything below ~50 miles of range is basically a crapshoot. In an electric car, if it says you can make it 5 more miles, that might actually be 4, or 6, but it won't be zero.

I don't know what happened with the author, but given the total lack of discussion of the trip energy use graph in the article, I suspect he was not using all the tools available to him and misinterpreted something. That's not to make excuses for Tesla; they seriously need to improve their trip planner to stop being so stupid. However, if you take five minutes to familiarize yourself with the car and the tools it provides you, then there is no worry about the battery suddenly jumping to -22% and leaving you stranded. It's certainly not an "inevitable occasion."


The title seems to be a little overboard considering the actual content of the article. It didn't seem that vehemently bad.


The title seems to be a play on the title of a book "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day"


Is that a well known book? Because I had the same impression. Since I'm not familiar with the book, I thought their headline was way too much link bait.


> Is that a well known book?

That, and, over the years, an HBO animated special, a musical stage production, a non-musical stage production, and, most recently, a box-office success as a movie last year. The title has been a fairly frequent pop culture reference with the "Alexander" at the beginning and the "day" at the end replaced with other things, e.g, on the Daily Show, etc.


Ahh I had no idea, thanks.


I thought it was pretty well known. I gave a good chuckle before I clicked on the link, and after reading the article, I thought it was actually pretty accurate. My reaction was, "well there's $140,000 that's going to stay in my bank account". :-)


Nothing surprising here. People don't buy Teslas because they want the same thing as those who buy an expensive gas-powered luxury car. They buy them because they want to be early adopters of cool new stuff. If I bought one I would not expect the ease of road tripping afforded by gas -- at least not today and not for a while -- and thus would not be disappointed for not getting what I never expected to get.

The review seemed gratuitously negative. Fact is that almost everyone in the traditional car industry wants Tesla to fail. I know some folks "back home" who are into cars, and when they talk about electrics it's like mockery mixed with a tinge of dread.

If you're a CS/software person, imagine if a new computer came out that is far superior to existing computers but has almost nothing in common. The way you program it is alien to anything you're accustomed to. That's the situation car people will find themselves in if things go electric... not to mention the waves upon waves upon waves of bankruptcies as entire swaths of the economy find themselves obsolete. Electric vehicles are armageddon to what probably accounts for a double-digit fraction of our economy.


> The review seemed gratuitously negative.

I disagree. I think Teslas are interesting, and I never tend to road trip so it's an edge use case for me.

But the descriptions of the navigation system are just flat out baffling. That's a horrible fault in a car that can't be easily/quickly charged at tens of thousands of gas stations.

A navigation system should never have you drive FURTHER BACK to the PLACE YOU CAME FROM rather than the SHORTER distance to the NEXT supercharger. That's insane.

And having him get off the highway to stop at a supercharger where he needed "0 minutes" of charging? Why wasn't that cut from the route?

I understand him losing mileage to the A/C, but it's a connected car. If it knows where it is, where you're going, and can access it weather it should be able to predict you'll probably end up using the A/C and adjust the expected range accordingly. That should't have been a surprise either.

At the end of the article he said he could do the trip in about 12 hours if he planned by hand with 3 stops instead of 6-8 stops and 17 hours if he let the Tesla software plan it. That's a disaster.

This sounds like one of those cases where bad software ruins (or significantly detracts from) an experience that shouldn't otherwise be that bad.

This article is an indictment of the navigation system.

I'll also say it sounds odd that you can set the car up to control the heat and sunroof and such with the phone app when the car is driving. If it's moving, why allow that? If you're driving or in the car you already have access to the controls. Sounds ripe for abuse/pranks (as happened in the article).


"This article is an indictment of the navigation system."

Yep, for sure. But note that that's all it is. It's not an indictment of Tesla overall, or the Model S's ability to road trip. The trip planner does need some serious work. But if you ignore it, road trips can be a joy.

As far as remote access while the car is driving, why not allow it? That means that, for example, somebody in the back seat can adjust the controls using their phone instead of bothering the driver to do it for them. It's only ripe for abuse if you give your account credentials to someone you shouldn't trust. And why would you do that? It's pretty much on the same level as giving your car keys to your coworkers and then complaining when they prank you by moving your car to a different parking lot behind your back. Don't give them your keys!


> It's only ripe for abuse if you give your account credentials to someone you shouldn't trust.

That assumes perfect security. I'm more worried about someone external hacking in to the Tesla site via a security vulnerability (or even just username/password dump from another site) to do such things to random cars than little Billy in the back seat.


Saying "don't allow remote control of this stuff while driving" also assumes perfect security.

We can discuss the plusses and minuses of various intentional access points, or we can discuss security. But they're different topics.


> If I bought one I would not expect the ease of road tripping afforded by gas -- at least not today and not for a while -- and thus would not be disappointed for not getting what I never expected to get.

Exactly. I'm bullish on electric cars, and the next time I car shop I'll probably get one, though at the moment they are better suited as town/station cars. The typical person doesn't need much range day to day, but it can be pretty difficult to take a long trip in one. If I got a BMW i3, for example, I couldn't take it for a weekend trip down the shore because I'd run the battery down halfway home, and there are no public charges near the beach I go to.


Another Philadelphia area resident, I see!


The great thing about the Model S is that, unlike other electric cars, it's a great car, period. It happens to be an electric car, but it stands on its own merits. You don't need to be an enthusiast or an environmentalist or anything like that. Lots of Tesla owners were in the market for a similarly-priced Audi or BMW or Mercedes and chose the Tesla because they thought it was better.

If we want electric cars to catch on, they need to be better. They can't be crapboxes that you justify with "at least it doesn't pollute so much." They need to be, "I want that awesome car!" Tesla has achieved this, and a big part of that is the supercharger network and the ease of long-distance travel with their cars.

The experience described in this article is surprising and definitely should not happen at this point. Fortunately the problems were due more to bad choices on the part of the driver than anything to do with the car. The car's trip planner certainly had problem here, but the driver could and should have ignored it when it was being dumb.


What's security like at Tesla Supercharger stations? Some of the pictures make it seem like they're a bit isolated and unpopulated. Needing to wait for half an hour or whatever with your car plugged in (non-operable) would seem to make one a possible crime target. Plus, it'd be a safe assumption that you have money, given what you're driving around in.


I've never been the only car charging at a supercharger, and I see lots of women traveling solo, even when I'm there late in the evening. Tesla's webpage has this to say:

"Stations are strategically placed to minimize stops during long distance travel and are conveniently located near restaurants, shopping centers, and WiFi hot spots."

http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

From the sounds of it, this answer won't make you happy, but that's fine: Tesla is at market share of << 1%.


I don't have feelings one way or the other about the answer, and don't appreciate being told how I should feel. In Atlanta, the only two Superchargers I'm aware of (also the only two on the map) are at the Tesla dealer and at a large work/live/play location (Atlantic Station). Neither is at all convenient if you're driving through the area. I get that things are probably great in California, but from what I can see from the article and around town things are different in the Midwest and on the east coast.

Edit: and what the hell are you trying to imply with "women traveling solo"?


> Plus, it'd be a safe assumption that you have money, given what you're driving around in.

Money in the bank, sure, but cash money? I'm not sure about the typical habits of a Tesla owner, but I haven't regularly carried cash, or my ATM card, around in years.


That's not a real concern. They're normally right off an interstate next to places to eat.


I assure you, my question is sincere and I don't appreciate being dismissed like that.

From the article:

  the Tesla predicts 40 minutes of charging is required to 
  juice the battery to its 230-mile-ish “daily limit”—and no 
  meal coinciding with the stop, I’m left to pace around an 
  empty Hobby Lobby parking lot.
I can't say either way, but that doesn't sound near an interstate exit with places to eat (but I'll grant that enthusiast press often embellishes for effect, could have been right next to a Waffle House). Compared with a gas station, an empty parking lot seems to be a riskier place to be waiting around.


It would be stupid to steal a Tesla for anything other than a joy ride and unless you're talking a hostage scenario I don't know what about a Tesla driver suggests they have a large amount of cash on them.

As for the specific place they author was at, it's directly off the interstate and other than the Hobby Lobby there is an Outback Steakhouse and a bank directly by the charger. As well as a Home Depot, a movie theatre, McDonalds, Wendy's, Best Buy and tons of other stuff. It sounds like an awful suburban strip mall, but not a place where you should be worried about a car jacking.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Tesla+Supercharger/@41.313...


> It would be stupid to steal a Tesla for anything other than a joy ride and unless you're talking a hostage scenario I don't know what about a Tesla driver suggests they have a large amount of cash on them.

I agree. But driving around in a very expensive car is a great way to signal you have other very expensive things like fancy phones, laptops, watches, etc., that can be quickly disposed of for cash.

> It sounds like an awful suburban strip mall, but not a place where you should be worried about a car jacking.

Violent crimes of all sorts happen in suburban strip malls all the time. Guess it never happened for you. Didn't find any crime maps available for the area. I would expect Tesla to locate stations in good areas based solely on good business sense.

I get that Teslas are interesting cars and their owners like to defend them, but to pretend there are no personal security considerations for Supercharger stations strikes me as irrational.


I don't have a Tesla and don't care if someone who has a Tesla gets robbed any more than I do if someone in any other make of car gets robbed. The bottom line is that the charging station in question was in a safe populated area with plenty of dining an entertainment options near by.

If the author decided instead to stand by the car looking rich and vulnerable that is no fault to Tesla. You can also be robbed at a gas station, which are places unlike superchargers that require you to have money.


> that doesn't sound near an interstate exit with places to eat

I think you've misunderstood the author. He just ate lunch at previous station, that's why there are no meal coinciding with this stop. Not the lack of places to eat.


I can't say much about stations in general, but the Macedonia station is on the far end of large parking lot full of big box stores. Hobby Lobby, Lowes, etc. I would feel safe, if also bored, hanging out there.


One thing I don't understand is the requirement to use superchargers. From what I can tell, paid charging stations are much more prolific and while not offering the same convenience, will keep you from traveling via a flatbed...


Paid charging stations are common, but they are generally 6 or 10 kW charge rate, compared to a supercharger's 80 kW, so they're an overnight proposition.


So many of these complaints seem to focus on edge cases, what proportion of car journeys would really trigger 'range anxiety'? Even in the US I imagine such long trips are the exception for the majority of car owners.


Any proportion that includes a trip in excess of 200 miles? The report clearly details the Tesla tripping all over itself. I know I would be pretty worried after seeing the Tesla suddenly recalculate its route and politely inform me that the previously planned stop will now put my battery at -22% and that I ought to "drive slowly" to make sure I make it; I would probably not trust it the rest of the trip, and waste a lot of time making sure the battery never fell below 50%.

I understand that the issues faced by the author of the article were probably due to changing atmospheric conditions, but the Tesla should know how to include the effect of these in its calculations with reasonable accuracy, since they're a constant in all long-distance driving; weather is not going to be same 200, 400, or 1000 miles away from the starting point. I wonder if this is a learning issue, where the Tesla rates its battery based on the atmospheric conditions where it is most used, after sampling atmospheric data and combining that with battery learn data.

While other luxury cars may not be intended for long-haul drives, at least you can be assured that you'll get to your destination as long as you stop at a gas station when your car indicates that it's getting low. It doesn't seem one can trust the Tesla to know when it's going to need to be refilled.


In the US, the overwhelming majority of long trips have a lot better supercharger coverage than this particular one.


I didn't read the frustration as coming from lack of supercharger access as from the inability of the Tesla's guidance system to plot a coherent, logical course from one supercharger to the next. It was constantly telling the author to double back to superchargers he'd already passed (80 miles ago, in one case), telling him he needed to stop and charge when he really didn't, and predicting he'd run out of charge before reaching the next supercharger when he really wouldn't. If superchargers were as widely available as gas stations that wouldn't be a big deal, because you could just take the Tesla's instructions with a grain of salt. But when superchargers are few and far between, it's got to be nerve-wracking to never really be sure if you can make the next one if you skip the current one.

The good news is that this is the sort of problem that can be fixed with better software. The bad news is that Tesla's software isn't good enough to answer questions like "how far will my current battery charge get me" reliably already.


I'm not so sure this is actually the case. If you look at the supercharger map:

http://www.teslamotors.com/findus#/bounds/49.38,-66.94,25.82...

you'll notice major corridors like I-64 from Lexington to St. Louis have no intermediate chargers, and from St. Louis to Kansas City on I-70 is similarly devoid. It would look like if you don't live on the north east coast or out in California, you'd be in real trouble. The chargers probably don't have to have the same ubiquity as gas stations, but having 400-500 miles of _interstate_ (god forbid you need to go somewhere like Ithaca, NY where no interstates run) without any way to refuel the vehicle still would certainly make me nervous driving it cross country.


From the St. Louis supercharger to the one in Kansas City is 213 miles. No problem in an 85kWh Tesla. Lexington to St. Louis is not doable on superchargers, and you'd either have to go by way of Indianapolis, or find a friendly CHAdeMO charger in between.

Ithaca would depend on where you're coming from and where you're going. It's well within range of the supercharger at Paramus, NY or Syracuse. Coming from Pittsburg you'd have to detour through Buffalo.


I guess it just goes to show that Tesla (or whoever ends up betting the farm on electric cars) still have a lot of way to go before we see something approaching critical mass. All of the chargers are placed OK assuming you don't leave the interstate, but I think we're going to need to see some serious infrastructure upgrades before electric cars become totally viable alternatives (for some of us that often go cross country, anyways).


I think you're right. It will never be a 100% thing (nothing is, gas cars included) but it needs to get a bit farther before "everyone" can use them.

However, the infrastructure is not that tough to build out. At the start of 2014 there were 50 superchargers in North American. Today there are 217. That's one company, funding them with the profits from selling cars. Give it another couple of years and the network should be nearly ubiquitous.


I might be wrong, but it seems silly to try to get a lot of mileage out of an purely electric vehicle.

I mean... Most trips (probably over 90% of the distance ran) are very short, for city people. It seems that you could get pretty much all the enviromnental benefit, and nearly all the savings, using a smaller battery pack. And authonomy would come from an ICE to rechange the pack

So, maybe the volt (or at least the idea behind it) is more resonable than tesla?


The Volt itself doesn't really compare. Only four seats compared to 5+2 in the Tesla, and terrible cargo space. I loved the idea of the Volt but when I actually thought about getting one, it was just not practical for me.

How about the idea of a plug-in hybrid, but done better? Maybe. But you're talking about two separate drivetrains, which is going to inherently hurt things like cargo space.

There's nothing silly about road tripping in a Tesla. The charging infrastructure is great and road trips are smooth. The author just didn't do his very well.


I believe the 2016 volt will be a 5 seater.

I have a '14 and the storage space seems fine to me. No kids though. I did put 14 large bags of mulch in the back once...

The Volt also does a really great job with range vs. the driving habits of it's owners. According to Chevy[1], 80% of volt trips don't use any gas. Could be some confirmation bias there, but my personal rate is somewhere in the 70% of trips don't us gas.

[1] http://www.cheatsheet.com/automobiles/2016-chevy-volt-may-be...


Individual needs will, of course, vary. But if you need more space, the Tesla will give it to you. The Volt's trunk volume is only about 10ft^3, whereas the Tesla has 26ft^3 in the trunk and another 5 or so in the front.

I'm leaving on a small road trip tomorrow, taking four adults, two children, and luggage for an overnight stay. Total driving will be about 350 miles. All electric, obviously. I should only need one charging stop, at a supercharger, but may take advantage of public chargers in garages and such while I'm parked, just for convenience.

Obviously a lot of that difference is just because the cars are different in general, and not the drivetrains specifically. But the Volt does sacrifice a lot of volume because of the need to support two entire drivetrains at once.


To get the question really interesting, we could try to weight the pollution of the bigger battery pack (production and discarding) versus the pollution of the (relatively few) trips with more that 50 kms...


It's interesting to compare the single data point in this article to a more global measure: [1]

"Tesla Motors Inc. drivers were more likely than Porsche owners -- or anyone else -- to say they’d buy their cars again in this year’s edition of the closely-watched Consumer Reports buyer survey.

"Tesla’s Model S luxury electric sedan topped the U.S. survey a second year in a row, scoring 98 out of a possible 100. The No. 2 brand, Porsche, scored an average of 87 out of 100 across its model lines."

1: http://www.autonews.com/article/20141203/RETAIL03/141209918/...


Yes, and Tesla owners forums like Tesla Motors Club are full of stories about road trips which fall into one of two categories. Either they say "Taking the Tesla was awesome and I never want to deal with a gas car on a road trip again" or they say "I had to take the gas car because I was going through one of the few remaining supercharger deserts and it was awful and I hope I never have to do that again."

Road tripping a Tesla does require a bit more forethought. You can't depend on the trip planner at this point and get good results. That is a serious flaw and I hope Tesla improves their trip planner soon, because it can be terribly stupid. But if you can apply that extra forethought and you're taking a trip within the charging network, it's a fantastic road trip vehicle.


You should also factor in the fact that if you're an electric car enthusiast, you probably want a Tesla and have no other high-class options, plus a lot of Tesla owners are electric car enthusiasts.


The point of this post is simply to (anectodally) measure the usefulness of the Tesla as a road trip vehicle in July, 2015. One year from now, the experience will be different, and likely different enough to move a percentage of prospective owners from waiting to buying.


I doubt Car and Drive gets a lot of electric car advertising.


Perhaps he should do it again once the planned superchargers for 2015 are in play. From the perspective of a non-owner who doesn't live near Ohio/Virginia, it appears to me that there are a lot more scheduled for install before the end of this year: http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger


This was more about the pains of learning driving habits for a Tesla, and also building confidence in the distance one can go in a Tesla. Gas-powered cars require little such planning, as there are many gas stations, so a lead-foot isn't a big deal.

He noted at the end that he thinks he could get the same road trip down in a pretty reasonable time.


I'm a huge Tesla fan but I have to admit that the Tesla doesn't seem great for such a road trip. 15 hours instead of 9 is a big deal. Of course most Tesla owners keep a gasoline car too. So everyone already knew that.


The trip planning feature sucks as currently implemented. It is just plain stupid. It will keep you from running out of charge if you obey it, but it may give you terrible routing within that constraint. I saw a photo the other day from somebody who was driving ~150 miles in Alabama, well within range of a single charge, and the trip planner gave him an epic 4,000 journey across the US connecting the supercharger dots to get from A to B.

However, if you're wiling to do a bit of your own thinking and the supercharger network accommodates your trip well (which it mostly will at this point, there are some holes but most people won't have trouble), the Tesla is a fantastic road trip vehicle. It's quiet, smooth, and comfortable, which means you won't be as fatigued. Superchargers are located at convenient locations so you can get a snack or a meal while you charge. My experience so far is limited, but range anxiety for me has been less, not more, because I know in advance exactly where I'm going to stop, rather than trying to search for a gas station in just the right spot, trying to find a cheaper price, etc. And of course paying $0 and not being bombarded with carcinogens is a big bonus.

I don't know if most Tesla owners keep a gas car. I didn't, and not keeping one seems pretty common. Unless you plan to take trips into the relatively few supercharging deserts, you really don't need it.


I'm a huge kayak fan but I have to admit that they don't seem great for transatlantic voyages.

What the article talks about is 100% expected due to the target market of the Tesla and the current state (still building infrastructure) of the charging stations.


Actually it's not expected, as evidenced by the fact that kayak^WTesla owners routinely take transatlantic^Wcross country voyages right now with no fuss and a great deal of enjoyment.

There are some destinations which are inconvenient right now, but most road trips can be done easily. Much of the trouble the author had was avoidable with a bit more forethought.


When/if superchargers are as common as gas stations (which, to be fair, is a completely realistic expectation for a point where electric cars are common) this will be a non-issue.

Early adopters have early adopter difficulties. This article is a no-op.


Everything is impressive about Tesla. I am sure it will get better in the future, but I would go crazy having to wait 40+ minutes for my car to charge during a road trip.


On an eight hour trip that gives you time to eat.


Interesting... would it be possible to charge from the outlet at regular gas stations? Assuming you carry an electricity meter to be able to pay for the energy you take. Alternatively, what about a small generator that you fill with gas in the event you need to top up and there's only a gas station nearby?


There's already a standard EV charging port, called J1772, and the Tesla Model S comes with a J1772 adapter.

A Tesla Supercharger has a maximum output of 100 kW (400V, 250A).

J1772 level 2 has a maximum output of 19.2 kW (240V, 80A) but I believe most don't put out the maximum amps.

If you have an EV with a small battery and you're trying to get around town, a J1772 stop might be useful. For a Tesla on a long distance trip, a J1772 stop won't be worthwhile on its own unless you're desperate. (If you're stopping anyway for some other reason, you might as well plug in if it's convenient.)


Former GM employee here: Michigan's Big3 and their Media partners hate change. And change is coming: electrification, self-driving car-as-service, direct sales, diminishing per-capita car miles. Tighten your seat-belts Big3.




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