We are currently in Bethel, Maine, after a fairly uneventful trip since the last update. The entire leg was in cold and snow, from Wisconsin, routed below the Great Lakes, across Pennsylvania's "Supercharger no-man's-land," arriving two days ago in Maine, where there are no superchargers, but plenty of resourceful family and friends. The car now has over 5,100 miles on it and has performed flawlessly. There are virtually no items requiring service or repair. We have finally experienced a bunch of "launches" from zero using the car's "Insane" acceleration mode - and cannot get enough. The car has 691 horsepower and four wheel drive with traction control, so can out all the power down, right here, right now. Press the accelerator and you are "gone," with your body pushed into the seat at 1.3 g's. The car magazines have tested the acceleration at 3.0 seconds to 60 mph, and Tesla claims 3.2 seconds. In any case, it is crazy fast, but completely benign, with no wheel spin, noise, or drama. My nieces, nephew, and the rest of cousin Sherry's family and friends drove the car. Our Maine relatives are NASCAR fans, so the EV immediate-torque experience was new, and changed some minds about internal combustion's future.
The trip-to-date charging and range statistics are updated in detail at the bottom of this post - for Tesla fanbois who care about and request such things. We are now driving normally and no longer "hypermiling". Early in the trip we attempted to maximize range and use the least possible wh/mi. That meant driving below the speed limit most of the time. Since South Dakota we have driven either exactly at the speed limit, or a bit over (5 mph max). The three exceptions were the stages from Somerset, PA to Hershey, PA, and from Hershey to Paramus, NJ. The entire stretch from Somerset in western PA to Paramus, NJ is without Superchargers, and we relied on a destination charge in Hershey PA using a Tesla wall charger similar to what we have at home. This takes roughly 5 hours to fully charge, and given the long distances, we were cautious about range. The bottom line is that when trying to gain range, we achieved between 350 and 385 wh/mi. Driving normally at the speed limit, we registered from 420 to 516 wh/mi per leg. Cumulatively, the car has averaged 413 wh/mi over the 5,128 miles driven since new. This compares with 325 wh/mi over the 31,000 miles that we drove our last Tesla, a slower and more practical S85. Despite its relative inefficiency and shorter range, we would not trade the new car for the old one. There is supposedly a software update coming soon that will improve efficiency - close to what the older Model S versions achieved.
Speaking of software updates, the car has received two over-the-air software updates since we took delivery about 12 days ago. The update that we received yesterday while staying with the Schaedlers in Topsham, ME had a lot of new content. Examples of new features that the car has today that were not there two days ago include: automatic dimming for the high beam headlights, automatic emergency braking based on forward radar, rear camera guidelines that curve to show where the car will go in reverse based on steering wheel position, activation of the previously unused proximity sensors for lane changing, and improved front and rear parking sensing, among 21 improvements in that one download.
Our prior Tesla also received many new features in the two years that we owned it. One example was an added location-based smart air suspension function. A Tesla "learns" where its driver requests the suspension to go into high or extra-high mode, at a speed bump, tall driveway entrance, ferry boarding ramp, just to name the places where we need the suspension to provide more clearance almost every week. After it is first raised, the car remembers where to raise the suspension from then on - so when we approach our Maryland house's tall driveway apron where it would otherwise scrape bottom due to temporary depressed paving on the new street, it automatically says "raising suspension" and is ready go before we reach the obstacle. It amazes every time!
I caused some controversy on the Tesla forum website this week after disclosing that we had left the car charging overnight at several Supercharger locations in the west and midwest. Some forum participants consider it bad practice and unethical to leave a Tesla parked at a Supercharger longer than the hour it takes to fully charge the car. However, we developed a pattern of charging twice at each location where there is either low or apparently nonexistent Supercharger demand/use. At Superchargers with six or eight charging stations, we booked a nearby hotel (sometimes a half mile away), left the car around 8-9 PM, set charging to stop at 90%, woke up early (4:30-5:30), and used the Tesla iPhone app from our hotel room to finish the last 10% charge, and warm the battery and car interior while eating breakfast. The weather was single digits to negative 18 degrees (plus wind chill) throughout the last week. At virtually all of the snowy Supercharger parking spaces, there was no evidence of any other usage during our visits, as no other tire tracks were in evidence.
The issue for some Tesla fans who criticized this practice is that we could have blocked or "ICE'd" a needed charging stall after our car was finished charging but still plugged in - while we slept. We understand the need to be courteous at Superchargers and not block anyone, and believe that with added penetration of electric vehicles, such practices may not work. Already in California and some high-volume east coast locations, Superchargers can have waiting lines during the day, and it would NEVER be appropriate to leave a car there unattended. However, in our case, given raging snowstorms, sub-zero weather, and remote charger locations, we believe that our approach was prudent and had virtually no risk of blocking anyone. However, there are now hundreds of posts on the Tesla forum website on both sides of the argument about whether we should or should not have left the car unattended. In conclusion, duly noted here - we stand by our practice on this trip but will never leave a car on charger when it is finished being charged where there is any chance that a convoy of Teslas will could need the space.
This became a raging discussion on the forum because of an issue that I noted one morning - in Maumee, Ohio, we woke at 5:30 AM to start the charge and battery warming process. Every Tesla is wirelessly connected to the web, and owners have a smartphone app that allows starting the car, initiating or terminating a charge, mapping the car and owner's location, and other information and functions, such as honking the horn, venting the roof, flashing lights, etc. When we tried to start the heating function in Maumee, the app returned an error message saying that it could not connect. This went on despite multiple tries until I walked to the car around 7:00AM, in subzero temps acoss unplowed parking lots. Still no app function.
The car was very cold and had only 210 miles of range in the battery. We knew the actual range would be much less due to cold weather and starting out with a cold interior and battery. I did not know how much range this would cost, as we have always pre-conditioned the car before leaving. In this case, our first leg of the day to the next supercharger was only 128.6 miles per the navigation system, so I decided to push off with the 210 miles of theoretical range. However, there was a huge hill just before the exit for the next charging stop at Macedonia, Ohio, and our range dropped precipitously despite reducing our speed to half the 70-mph speed limit. We did make it to the charger, but it was our closest range near-miss event of the trip - rated miles showed 0.0, with 2.5 miles left to travel, and we nervously watched the range indicator saying "Charge Now" until pulling into the welcome charging spot. While enroute, I called Tesla customer support and was told that the Tesla servers that handle app-to-car functions were down, and had been inoperable for hours. I blew some steam at the representative and posted a forum topic about Tesla's fail - it is inexcusable for servers to go down at this stage of dual-backup redundant technology in my opinion. In this case, it occurred just when we most needed the app function. In reality the range issue was also my fault - we could have stayed at Maumee for a half hour and topped up and warmed the battery. On the other hand, we had a long upcoming run to the day's destination in Hershey, PA, so needed to get underway. This was an incorrect judgement call - but I also blame Tesla's server failure for putting us in that position in the first place - to which some Tesla fans watching our trip said that I should never have been parked at the Supercharger in the first place. Whatever, we made it and all is well. Lesson learned.
Pictures of the Wisconsin-to-Maine part of the trip follow with commentary.
Always up for a property tour even in a snow storm, we went a few extra miles to see the center that our partnership purchased a couple months ago.
It is a fairly new property that we bought out of foreclosure from a local bank - with a lot of vacancy and upside.
Gas pump door handles!
Antique gas pumps outside and inside.
Motorcycling & automotive memorabilia throughout.
Because the many planned Superchargers in Pennsylvania's center are either still in permitting or construction, there are no Superchargers available yet in either central PA or central New York state. There is a completed Supercharger route to I-95, but we would have had to drive southeast from Somerset, PA to Hagerstown, MD, and route through the Baltimore area and then to the Newark, Delaware turnpike Supercharger. Our preference was to stay north, as we were headed to Maine. The "Hershey" private charger strategy worked, and we arrived with 27 miles reserve at Hershey, and 34 miles reserve at Paramus, NJ. By the end of 2015 this type of range concern will go away, as the planned 2015 Supercharger map includes several locations that would have removed any anxiety.
|DAVID & LEE-ANN FICK's P85D CHARGING/RANGE RECORD|
|Date||Starting Odometer||Starting Rated Range||Cumulative Average wh/mi||Cumulative Total kWh||Charging Location||Miles Since Last Charge||kWh Since Last Charge||Avg WH/Mi. Since Last Charge||Rated Miles Before Charge||Notes|
|28-Dec||12||159||Tesla Tigard Service Center||New car delivery|
|28-Dec||12||134||410||8.2||Woodburn, OR Supercharger||20.0||8.2||411|
|28-Dec||32||184||413||40.8||Springfield, OR Supercharger||78.8||32.6||413||78|
|28-Dec||111||223||410||98.3||Grant's Pass OR Supercharger||141.0||57.6||408||34|
|28-Dec||252||221||417||149.6||Mt. Shasta CA Supercharger||118.8||51.3||432||53|
|28-Dec||370||223||398||186.4||Corning, CA Supercharger||109.3||36.7||336||103|
|28-Dec||480||202||402||234.1||Vacaville, CA Supercharger||114.1||47.8||419||46|
|28-Dec||594||200||402||267.3||Fremont, CA S/C (factory)||82.8||33.2||401||81|
|30-Dec||671||114||401||295.4||Gilroy, CA Supercharger||71.5||28.1||392||17|
|30-Dec||748||242||396||336.6||Harris Ranch, CA Supercharger||113.3||41.2||364||112|
|30-Dec||862||225||393||380.5||Tejon, CA Supercharger||117.6||43.9||373||83|
|30-Dec||979||208||400||442.0||Barstow, CA Supercharger||137.5||61.4||447||7|
|30-Dec||1,117||245||403||509.6||Trump International, Las Vegas||160.8||67.7||421||31||Car garaged 2 days|
|1-Jan||1,279||244||400||559.4||St. George, UT Supercharger||131.0||49.0||374||87|
|1-Jan||1,409||247||399||625.5||Beaver, UT Supercharger||170.5||66.1||388||26|
|1-Jan||1,580||250||394||692.1||Green River, UT Supercharger||189.6||66.6||351||27||Skipped Richfield S/C - major mistake - range ran negative, maintained 35 mph up mountains in 75 mph zone|
|1-Jan||1,769||154||395||715.2||Moab, UT Supercharger||53.7||23.0||429||79||Best Western Moab - great base camp for hiking|
|2-Jan||1,823||225||395||747.5||Moab, UT Supercharger||80.0||32.3||404||112|
|3-Jan||1,903||239||397||789.6||Grand Junction, CO Supercharger||98.8||42.1||425||97|
|3-Jan||2,002||201||398||828.1||Glenwood Springs, CO Supercharger||93.3||38.6||413||72|
|5-Jan||2,095||254||399||881.0||Glenwood Springs, CO Supercharger||126.2||52.9||419||63||Drove to Aspen, Snowmass (overnight twice), Ashcroft, backtracked to Glenwood Springs for charge & proceeded east|
|5-Jan||2,221||222||401||922.0||Silverthorne, CO Supercharger||93.5||41.6||444||81|
|5-Jan||2,315||134||395||942.2||Denver, CO Supercharger||80.4||19.6||243||67||Downhills are great!|
|5-Jan||2,395||222||396||987.9||Cheyene, WY Supercharger||112.9||45.7||405||69|
|5-Jan||2,508||251||397||1,047.4||Lusk, WY Supercharger||140.0||59.5||425||51||Should have range charged here|
|5-Jan||2,648||214||396||1,110.3||Rapid City, SD Supercharger||165.7||62.9||380||2||Failure to range charge at Lusk - Second major error - had to go 25 mph over mountain before Rapid City|
|6-Jan||2,814||249||399||1,171.8||Murdo, SD Supercharger||136.3||61.6||452||41||Easy cruising at 80 (75 mph limit), single digit temps|
|6-Jan||2,950||216||400||1,231.9||Mitchell, SD Supercharger||141.5||60.1||425||15||Easy cruising at 80 (75 mph limit), single digit temps|
|6-Jan||3,092||229||402||1,291.0||Worthington, MN Supercharger||130.2||59.0||453||31||Easy cruising at 80 (75 mph limit), single digit temps|
|6-Jan||3,222||204||404||1,344.5||Albert Lea, MN Supercharger||116.1||53.5||460||24||Easy cruising at 80 (75 mph limit), single digit temps|
|6-Jan||3,338||228||407||1,406.5||Onalaska, WI Supercharger||127.9||62.1||485||19||2 degrees on arrival, blowing snow|
|7-Jan||3,466||246||410||1,471.1||Madison, WI Supercharger||134.1||64.6||482||27|
|7-Jan||3,588||182||410||1,502.0||Rockford, IL Supercharger||72.6||30.8||425||79|
|7-Jan||3,661||195||410||1,540.6||Country Club Hills, IL, Supercharger||95.2||38.7||406||66|
|7-Jan||3,756||250||411||1,583.7||Mishawaka IN, Supercharger||94.8||43.1||455||105|
|7-Jan||3,863||210||413||1,646.8||Maumee, OH Supercharger||140.5||63.1||449||1||Yes, 1 mile range left|
|8-Jan||4,003||210||416||1,713.2||Macedonia, OH Supercharger||128.6||66.4||516||-2.5||Tesla App Server was down - therefore did not top up or pre-warm battery - major mistake & Tesla fail|
|8-Jan||4,132||250||417||1,757.0||Cranberry, PA Supercharger||97.4||43.7||449||106|
|8-Jan||4,229||239||417||1,796.4||Somerset, PA Supercharger||85.5||39.4||461||106|
|8-Jan||4,378||249||415||1,851.4||Hershey, PA Antique Auto Club of America HPWC||149.0||55.0||349||27|
|9-Jan||4,524||248||414||1,915.9||Paramus, NJ Supercharger||171.2||64.5||377||34|
|9-Jan||4,640||240||414||1,963.1||West Hartford, CT Supercharger||115.8||47.2||408||81|
|9-Jan||4,756||220||414||1,990.5||Auburn, MA Supercharger||65.1||27.4||421||127|
|9-Jan||4,821||253||412||2,053.1||Topsham, ME jury-rig charge||174.1||62.6||359||46|
|10-Jan||4,995||252||413||2,083.7||Topsham, ME jury-rig charge #2||174.1||30.6||508||60||Did a bunch of "family" launches in P85D Insane mode this day|
|11-Jan||5,128||250||413||2,114.9||Mt. Abrams Family Resort, Maine - Level 2 Charge||133.0||31.2||495||1||Did two "family" launches in P85D Insane mode|