This trip is our longest drive trip so far since we bought the Tesla: 4000+ miles roundtrip. Being a hardcore tennis fan, I always wanted to go watch some high-class tennis at a Grand Slam. Since we now own an EV which is perfectly designed for long drives, I decided to take it all the way to NY and enjoy the zero emission cross-country journey. On the way, my wife and I also planned to catch up on several of our friends who we have not met for more than a decade. The whole trip involved crossing 13 states: TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, SC, NC, VA, MD, DE, PA, NJ and NY.
Total Payload (700lbs)
– 2 adults
– 3 kids – ages 10, 7 and 7
– 1 huge suitcase
– 2 cabin luggage
– several small bags
– a duffel bag
– a cooler
I used only my trunk’s 26.3 cu.ft rear cargo space for the whole trip (I did not use the frunk at all)
An ICE car’s trip from my home in Austin, TX to the hotel in Flushing, NY would have been 1750 miles whereas Tesla’s Nav app’s calculation came to 2032 miles which was 282 miles more. Below listed are the superchargers route with a total of 15 stops along with distance between each of those stops:
Most of the above suggested route was fine except for the one between Auburn and Glen Allen. The distance from Auburn to Glen Allen via 85N and 95N via Atlanta/Charlotte is just 650 miles, but the the distance suggested by Tesla’s Nav app was 775 miles and 2 hrs more driving distance. Given a payload of 700lbs, the 250 mile stretch between Atlanta and Charlotte without a charge was too much to handle for the S85, so I looked for alternatives on that route and found a CHAdeMO charging option at Greensville, SC where I would need to pay a $2 parking fee but $0 for juicing up the car. I also planned to stay at a hotel in Durham, NC that offered free CHAdeMO charging for patrons. Please note that to use the CHAdeMO charging station, you have to have a CHAdeMO adapter that you can buy as an accessory from Tesla. The final route that I decided to take had 14 supercharger and 2 CHAdeMO stops:
Highways on Route
71E, 10E, 12E, 10E, 65N, 85N, 95N, 495E
The whole trip comprised of 2 overnight stays on the way – one in Alabama and one in North Carolina – both the ways. On the way, we met some friends of mine. At New York, we had a great experience in watching world-class players like Federer, Djokovic, Hingis, Mirza, Pannetta and Vinci – my highlight was watching my idol Federer play. I did almost 90% of the drive on Autopilot and TACC (Traffic Aware Cruise Control) which was a pleasure and a joy during the 4100+ mile long trip. The smooth acceleration and deceleration during the Autopilot/TACC mode just amazed me on how much effort Tesla had put in to make the ride a joy ride.
I consolidated the details of the whole trip into a spreadsheet format: Austin to New York Trip Details. This spreadsheet has 2 sections – Onward Journey and Return Journey. Each section has details on each leg of the journey along with start and end locations and distance between them, start and end times, remaining battery charge at start and end times and comments.
Below are some pictures that were taken during the trip.
Total miles driven:4112.4
Total energy consumed (kWh): 1327.7
Average energy consumed (Wh/mi): 323
Total amount paid during trip for charging: $0.00
Toll fees (starting from north of Maryland to until New York and the same during return journey): $100
Since this was my first long drive with a couple of 200 mile stretches between supercharging and as I was also traveling with my family, I had to be a little more conservative and did have range anxiety during our onward journey and could not trust Tesla’s Navigation/Energy app’s estimation/prediction of remaining charge on the battery (for each leg of the journey), so I had to do some intermediate charging at places between superchargers. But, on the way back, I totally got adapted to trust the car’s prediction which made our return journey much smoother and relaxing than my onward one. The longest 2 stretches between superchargers during our onward journey were 141 and 156 whereas the longest 2 stretches on the way back were 200 and 215 – shows that I got more comfortable and started trusting the car’s Navigation/Energy apps during the return journey.
Based on this trip’s experience, given a payload of about 700lbs on the car, driving within 5-10mph above the highway speed limit, Model S can drive comfortably up to 235 miles on a full charge and one can totally trust the car’s Navigation/Energy app in doing its job! While charging whenever the Navigation app was on with the next destination on it, the Charging app pops up a message like “you have enough energy to continue on your trip” as soon as the car determines that the current charge on the battery is enough to make it to the next destination.
Whenever the above message popped up, I did not immediately continue the journey, but waited until the estimated remaining charge on the battery went up to atleast 10%. The least remaining charge that I waited before I resumed my journey was 12% (during the longest leg of 215 miles between superchargers in Lake Charles, LA and Columbus, TX).
Based on this trip’s experience with S85 so far, one with family and kids can cover at the rate of 50mph (500 miles in 10 hours) including all breaks – charging, lunch, restrooms, etc. which is not bad for long trips like this, if planned well.