Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1/3 - 1/6 Aspen, Snowmass, Ashcroft, Rapid City & Onalaska

We left the Best Western Canyonlands (Moab) and took the Route 128 "shortcut" south of Arches NP to Route 70 - a wonderful drive along the Colorado River deep in a canyon.  The car handles amazingly well - not quite up to Lee-Ann's Boxster, but much faster and quieter.

In Glenwood Springs we obtained a full range charge (254 miles) because we planned a side trip into the resorts at Aspen and Snowmass Village for some R&R and snowshoeing.  After two days of fun in the snow (pictures below), we returned to Glenwood Springs, recharged, and turned east toward Denver.

At Denver we had a decision to make.  Tesla is working on four Supercharger routes across the U.S., but so far has completed one, which includes a bit of serpentine routing.  Apparently this is because Elon Musk wanted to re-create his college-age tour of the U.S.  Although the Superchargers on the mid-U.S. route are mostly in place along I-70, there is a major gap in Missouri.  This is supposed to be complete in 2015, but for our trip, we would be required to span the gap using slow private chargers, or turn north and stay on the Supercharger route through South Dakota and across the northern states.  Despite sub-zero temperatures and drifting snow, we decided that would be the faster route, so turned north at Denver, picked up charges in Cheyenne and Lusk, Wyoming, and ended the day at Rapid City, South Dakota, near Mt. Rushmore.

Mt. Rushmore is one of our favorite spots in the U.S., and even though it was dark by the time we arrived at Custer State Park below the monument, decided we had enough range to take the twisty 16A to see the lit-up monument on our way to Rapid City.  Unfortunately I had forgotten how tall the mountain is and the twisty road's added mileage.  Although the drive is nice (I think 16 A in South Dakota is one of the top two motorcycle routes in the country), our range dropped precipitously and we had to reduce speed to 25 mph up the hills in order to align battery range and remaining distance.  We arrived at the Rapid City Best Western with only 2 miles range remaining!  In hindsight we should either have taken the straighter route, or range charged in Lusk, Wyoming (we left there with 214 rated miles with about 150 to go to Rapid City - should have been enough except for our detour and added mountains - a 254-mile full charge would have made it simple).

Today (Jan 6), we left Rapid City early and hit the Superchargers along I-80 eastbound in Murdo, Mitchell, Worthington, Albert Lea, and ended this evening in Onalaska, WI.  Our goal tomorrow is Maumee, Ohio, after which we will head northeast toward our next major stop in Brunswick, Maine this coming Friday, Jan 9.  Although we are doing about 550-700 miles per day, it is a fairly light distance, caused by spending a few hours per day at Superchargers.  Although Superchargers are quite fast, it still means stopping for 45 minutes to an hour several times per day, extending the travel time and reducing daily range, which is often a couple hundred miles longer when we travel by motorcycle.  This is the price for long distance electric vehicle travel.  The offsetting benefit is that we are forced to stop every two or three hours and stretch, sit for meal rather than eating in the car, etc.

We have covered 3,466 miles since picking the car on December 29, just over a week ago.  We have taken two days off out of the eight on this trip, and are now averaging 407 wh/mi for the entire trip.  Two of the days we "hyper-miled", driving below the limit, never over 65.  That was a test to see what we could achieve in terms of maximum range and lowest electrical use.  However, given that it is the coldest part of winter on our route, we still burned up the watts, getting down to a steady state around 380 wh/mi, but only driving blow the limit and being passed by most other traffic.  This compares to 325 lifetime average over 31,000 miles on our prior Tesla S85.  For the past two days we have reverted to "normal" driving - never accelerating hard, but carefully getting up to the limit or 5 mph over the limit - the way we would drive in any other vehicle or on a motorcycle - attempting to increase daily distance by trading off electricity usage.  This is made possible by the fairly close spacing of stations along the completed Supercharger route.

Although Tesla has promised new software that should increase range by 10% or so, at this point we conclude that the car is a 400+ wh/mi beast, with a true real-world range around 180 miles in winter and driving at normal highway speeds (80 in a 75 limit), rather than the 254 that Tesla would have us believe.  Perhaps 254 is achievable, but only with a light load, in 65-degree weather, on flat land, no headwind.  We find that evtripplanner.com has a dead-on estimate of range and electricity usage given our car's specific format and accounting for elevation changes and low temperatures.  It's estimates for each stage are always within a few miles of our actual usage, so confirms that we are not doing anything wrong in terms of driving style, and that the car's performance is truly reflective of what to expect from the P85D in the real world.

The bottom of the post is the spreadsheet of our charging distance and range statistics for each charging leg since leaving Portland , OR.  It is slightly off-kilter due to cut and paste limitations, but the Tesla folks and fanbios following this blog will be able to decipher it.

Following are pictures taken since leaving Arches NP on Jan 2:

 Two Tesla P85D's at one charging station - Glenwood Springs, CO

We both need baths.

Castle Creek Road - the car's four wheel drive handled the snow and ice with sure feet.

Google maps has all the ski runs around Aspen.  We were on the way up Castle Creek road to the dead end at Ashcroft, then a snowshoe climb up through the valley.

No regenerative braking because the battery was cold and needed to warm up.

Ashcroft, an abandoned mining town.

 Lots of climbing, about three miles round trip.  The new heart valve did a nice job despite not being acclimated to 9,600 feet elevation.

Pine Creek Cookhouse for lunch!  The only way in is skis, snowshoes, or snow machine.

It is Aspen, after all.

Lee-Ann and our guide Carrie.

Charging in Murdo (or is it Mitchell?).  We hardly ever see other cars charging since leaving California.

Lots of truck caravans, blowing snow on I-80.

Driven 80 mph along I-80 - our pace pretty much all day long (75 mph limit).

Typical blowing snow on I-80 all day long.

Charging in Albert Lea.  Baby it is cold outside (3 degrees here).  The charging cables are rock-hard and difficult to engage at these temperatures.

Charging Stats
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

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