A Most Un-Peculiar Road Trip
A few weeks ago, we decided that we’d take advantage of the long weekend to drive down from the Bay Area to Los Angeles to see friends and family. The notion of driving down (v. flying) was made infinitely more appealing by the thought of taking our Tesla Model S.
In the intervening time, the +The New York Times +Elon Musk kerfuffle unfolded. I must say, it gave me a moment of pause about whether taking the Tesla was actually a good idea.
But I’ve already got more than 3000 miles on the car, and have learned to trust it. So off we went. And I started out by resetting the trip odometer, staying acutely aware of my energy consumption, etc. But as the trip progressed (with another adult and two kids), we settled into the usual road trip rhythm of songs, games, and “Are we there yet? How much longer?!” It became clear that the fact that this was an electric car was a non-issue. And so I stopped any notions of meticulous logging and just had fun and stayed present. So this post is not in anyway intended as a rebuttal, filled with facts, figures, points and counterpoints. Just one happy Model S owner’s experience, on one particularly well-supported route.
We trip was ordinary in the best possible sense. We had the air-conditioner going when it was hot (toward LA), the heater on when it was cold (back here), and we drove like we like to drive. The car handled the steep grades on the path like a champ. In fact the only thing missing was the roar of an engine struggling to make it up the hill. ;-)
Per the attached map below, we stopped twice, breaking the trip into thirds. This gave us an opportunity to eat, switch drivers, refresh… and of course recharge. In a gas-powered car, at least one of these stops would have been “optional” for me… maybe we’d have broken the trip into halves instead of thirds. But we’d have still stopped to eat, and additionally I’d have definitely needed at least one bio-break and stand-and-stretch. So in reality, there was a bit of a compromise. For our second stop, what might have been a 15 minute pit-stop ended up being longer (by about 40 minutes.) We put the time to good use, and it didn’t feel burdensome.
I heard a couple of NPR Marketplace correspondents last week describe this tradeoff well. The first said (I paraphrase), “It’s not always appropriate to judge a new, disruptive technology against an incumbent across every dimension. For instance, landlines almost never ‘drop calls.’ Cell phones do… a lot. By that measure alone, you’d think that cell phones would fail. But the added convenience of portability has trumped every other disadvantage.” Another Marketplace reporter said (again paraphrasing), “I’m sure when gas-powered cars were first introduced some folks were dubious… since most of the oat-feeding stations in our national transportation network did not yet support gasoline pumps. But that of course changed.” ;-)
Here are some other random observations:
- One thing missing from the Supercharger stations – squeegees to clean the windshield of bugs! (+Tesla Motors help us out here!)
- This was my first experience using a Supercharger, and it’s pretty stunning how quickly it pours range back into the car.
- Lots of tumbleweeds blowing across I5. Really big ones that folks had to brake for.
- Cost of travel for four to LA and back: $0 (thanks +Tesla Motors!) versus approx. $1000 for the flights we wanted.
Here’s a map of our route: http://goo.gl/maps/wpKpE
Palo Alto -> Harris Ranch Supercharger: 158mi
Harris Ranch Supercharger -> Tejon Ranch: 116mi
Tejon Ranch -> Koreatown (LA): 80mi
Total Distance: 354mi
Note that I actually passed a Supercharger in Gilroy, simply because I didn’t need it. That was fun. ;-)Collapse this post