As you probably know by now, we are on the road in our first ever electric vehicle driving experience. Our round-trip road trip to Salt Lake City is over 2,00 miles.
In order to prepare for our trip, we met with local connections who drive an electric vehicle. Mark and Kathleen Bernick are member-owners of Stearns Electric Association who own their Tesla Model X. In addition to providing us with the top things to know about driving EVs, they shared a story with us about their first time driving cross-country in the Tesla Model X.
We wanted to share a bit of their first cross-country road trip experience with you that they took in December, 2016 to New Orleans. Kathleen says:
“When we left early this morning (before sunrise,) the temperature was two degrees below zero. Even for Minnesota, this is brutally cold. I would be more excited about heading south right now, but New Orleans is relatively cold as well, with a projected high temperature of about 54, better than freezing anyway.
If you aren’t familiar with Tesla’s Superchargers and their network, here’s a short primer. Tesla has over 3,600 Superchargers in North America so far, at about 375 locations, and is adding more daily. (In January, 2018, the number was almost 8,500 at 1,130 locations.) It takes about 45 minutes to get a full charge from a Supercharger, depending on how far the battery has been drained. In addition to the superchargers, there are another 3,700 destination chargers – hotels or restaurants with slower chargers – that allow the traveler to “top off” as needed between Superchargers. Superchargers are primarily located along the major interstates, i.e., I-80, but there are still some Supercharger wastelands, especially in Arkansas, West Virginia and North Dakota.
On our first road trip with a Tesla, we have spent a great deal of time trying to understand how temperature (internal and external,) wind speed and vehicle speed affect the range. When I initially plotted the route, I thought we could count on the erased 250 mile range from a full battery. We quickly learned that cold temperatures have a negative impact. Add a headwind, and it becomes even more negative. At times, we have had to drive significantly slower than the speed limit (which is painful for a driver who likes to go a bit over the limit,) plus lower the temperature inside the vehicle to make it to the next charge station.
At times, our range was reduced by 25-30% and we experienced a fair amount of range anxiety. More than once, we reached the charge station with only about 15 miles to spare. If any of the charging stations had been out of order, we would have been in trouble. We can plug into any electrical outlet but would have to wait a very long time to get enough of a charge. For instance, we plugged in at a residence overnight, and got about 1-2% charge per hour.”
On our way to Salt Lake City, we have already felt this range anxiety to some extent and we are certain it will continue throughout the trip home. Our longest range between Superchargers is between Lusk, Wyoming and Rapid City, South Dakota today, and it’s supposed to rain all day, which can impact charge.
Kathleen maintains her own blog, documenting their travel experiences. Read the full story from this road trip and others on her blog, KCBontheroad.com.