2015-03-13: First 200+ Miles 3 Day Trip (Austin/Dallas)

Spring Break 2015
My family decided to drive to Dallas and catch up with a couple of friends on a 3 day trip during Spring break. This being my family’s first electric car drive out of the city, about 200+ miles one way, especially with 3 kids, I definitely had to do some planning before the trip!

Preparation/Planning for Journey
On the way to Dallas, I planned to take a break at the Waco Tesla Super Charging (SC) station and make use of the free charging over there. Since Waco is about 90 miles, about 1/2 the journey distance, to begin with, I charged the battery at home to only about 80% (212 miles rated range). I hate to charge the battery to 100% and have never done that so far and I also am not planning to do it in future, atleast for now. Even during my last month’s short trip to Brenham, which was my first 100+ one-way miles trip, I had charged Saara to only 95% (253 miles rated range). Just like any battery, I expect Tesla’s standard Panasonic NCR18650A 3100mAh battery too to go down on the efficiency through its lifetime as it goes though its various charge and discharge cycles. Based on the experience of the now-discontinued Tesla Roadster’s owners (Roadster was produced from 2008-2012 and not anymore), the life of their cars’ 53kWh battery has been really good and better than many industry experts predicted, so I would assume Tesla might have again bettered and exceeded the battery efficiency in the Model S as well. But anyways, IMO, to be on the safer side, it is better to charge the battery to not more than 90% if really unnecessary.

During my stay in Dallas, I have to have enough charge in my car to drive around the city for my 3 day stay over there. I looked for any available EV charging stations in and around the place where we were going to stay in Dallad. One the three primary approaches are: (1) pay-as-you-go, (2) monthly subscriptions, and (3) free. Obviously, if given the opportunity, it makes sense to grab a free charge, even for a relatively short period of time. If you are located nearby a Tesla service center or a Tesla gallery, you can always charge for free, but I wasn’t that lucky. I found a bunch of Chargepoint, Blink and EvGo charging stations nearby. ChargePoint is the biggest charging network in the country, so it’s a must for nearly all EV drivers who often travel out of town. I became a member of Chargepoint a couple of weeks before the journey and received 2 Chargepoint cards that I can use at their stations. Some of the Chargepoint stations around the place where I was looking for were free to charge. I also called a nearby Nissan dealership and checked with them if I can charge my car at their place and they obliged without any hesitation, even after I notified them about my car being a non-Nissan car! It is nice to know how helpful and cooperative the EV community is!

Last but not the least, I packed all the 3 adapters (110V, 240V and J1772 (public charging station)) and the Universal Mobile Connector (UMC) that came along with the car when purchased.

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110V
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240V
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J1772 (public charging station)
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Bag with UMC and 240V adapter

I always had the 110V and J1772 adapters in the side pockets of the inside of the glove box and packed the 240V adapter and UMC in the small black bag that came with the car during the purchase.

Route
35N, 35E N

1st leg of journey (Austin to Waco)
We packed the 26.3 cu.ft rear cargo space with luggage (I did not find the necessity to load the frunk’s 5.3 cu ft cargo space) and left Austin at around 6pm and reached Waco after about 2 hours.

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It was a heavy stop n go traffic on I35, so I employed the Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) which was a true blessing which made the drive a pleasurable one even with the bad traffic. We reached Waco with remaining 43% charge and 115 rated range miles.

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Since the beginning of the journey, 37% battery and 97mi were consumed, and as per the car’s trip stats:

Total miles driven: 93.2
Energy consumed: 26.9kWh (31.64%)
Wh/mi: 289

The SC was located in the parking lot of a Collins Street Bakery. There was one other Model S that was charging over there when we pulled over and there were a total of 8 charging stations, so no worries there. I plugged Saara into a station and we went and had dinner at the nearby Denny’s which was a 5 min walk from there.

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The weather was nice, so why not a 5 min walk after a 2 hr journey?!

2nd leg of journey (Waco to Dallas)
For the 2nd leg, I decided to charge Saara to 90% as opposed to the 80% during the 1st leg. The reason that I hiked up the limit by 10% was to avoid any unexpected “range anxiety” later in the night, especially with family around you! After about 30 mins, I noticed that the car was charged to the preset 90% with 238 rated miles on it. The SC’s initial charging rate normally is very high at around 300 mph until it reaches 70%-80% when the rate of charge decreases gradually.

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We resumed our journey after our dinner and again faced heavy traffic for sometime before we reached our destination at around midnight. Even though the supposed-to-be 3hr journey took twice as much longer due to heavy traffic, the Model S’s smooth ride definitely made up for it. On the way, we listened to music, talk shows, news and even India-Zimbabwe world cup oneday cricket match commentary via the car’s Slacker and Tunein internet radio channels. The internet radio is one of the best features that I started to appreciate more as the journey progressed.

We reached Waco with remaining 36% charge and 98 rated range miles.

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Since the begnining of the journey, 54% battery and 140mi were consumed, and as per the car’s trip stats:

Total miles driven: 122.1
Energy consumed: 39kWh (45.88%)
Wh/mi: 320

Austin to Dallas:
Total miles driven: 215.4
Energy consumed: 66kWh (77.64%)
Wh/mi: 306

Going by the above stats, I could have charged the car to 100% and driven 277.43 miles without any charging on the way, which is a good sign for long drives!

Stay in Dallas
Day 1
Since we reached Dallas with just 98 miles remaining on the battery, to begin with, I decided to charge the car the following day at a nearby Chargepoint station so that it can take us around the city for the 1st day. My friend initially took me to a Chargepoint station at his workplace but we realised that the station over there had access to only folks working at that place, no wonder it did not show up on the Chargepoint or the Plugshare app. Next, I drove to another nearby Chargepoint station that was free to charge. There were a total of 4 stations over there and I used one of them.

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That was the 1st time when I had to use my J1772 public charging station adapter and the charging rate there was 20 mph. I left the car there and went back home and came back after a few hours and picked up the car. I drove about 50 miles for the remainder of the day with about 100 miles more left on the battery before I came back home for the night stay. During the 2nd night, I decided to test the 110V charging for the 1st time on my Saara. I plugged it at around 1130pm and left it to charge overnight.

Day 2
Since we did not have any plans for most of Day 2, I just let the car continously charge for about 20hrs and added 30% and 80 miles to it before driving off for the day’s outing. That night, I again charged it on the 110V outlet in the garage and added 18% and 48 miles in 12 hrs.

Day 3
Left for Waco/Austin with 71%/190 miles and reached Waco with 27%/73mi on it.

1st leg of journey (Dallas to Waco)
Total miles driven: 106
Energy consumed: 32.7kWh (38.47%)
Wh/mi: 309

Again, there were 7 stations available out of the total 8. I plugged Saara into one of them and set it up to charge it to 80%. We took a 1hr+ lunch break at the Collin’s State Bakery, came back and resumed our way back home.

2nd leg of journey (Waco to Austin)
Total miles driven: 101.3
Energy consumed: 33.3kWh (39.17%)
Wh/mi: 329

Dallas to Austin
Total miles driven: 207.3
Energy consumed: 66kWh (77.64%)
Wh/mi: 318.37

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Summary
Total miles driven: 523.6
Total energy consumed (kWh): 164.4
Total energy charged at home: 68kWh
At $0.098/kWh, total paid: $6.66

So, the total travel cost for a 500+ mile 3 day trip for a family of 5 came to < $7!!! What more can you ask for?! 🙂

On the whole, it was an amazing and great trip to go in an EV and looking forward to go on more!

Tips
Use Model S’s powerful Navigation app, Plugshare app and any EV charging company apps and plan your trip well to avoid Range Anxiety (RA)…and eventually you will get used to this and will such trips will become a part and parcel of your life 🙂

A few weeks after this trip, Tesla totally killed RA forever 🙂 These features called as Range Assurance and Trip Planner were pushed to all Model Ss via software upgrades as V6.2.

Yes, right, as my car gets older, it will get newer features and they are all for FREE!!!

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