Several people have asked about our car. When we found out that we could take an electric car on road trips, we were intrigued. We are not early-adopters, but this seemed to be the future, here, now.
Unlike other electric cars, the Tesla will go about 250 miles between charges. And at what Tesla calls superchargers, it can charge at rate of about 170 miles in a half-hour. This makes long-distance travel feasible.
An electric car is a ‘chicken and egg’ thing — you need the chargers to have the cars, but you need the cars to make installing the chargers worthwhile. So far, there are only three ways to get across the central US: I-90 across Montana and South Dakota; I-70 across Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri; and I-40 to Oklahoma City, then down to Houston to pick up I-10. There are plans for more routes, but so far that is all that there are. We considered all this before we bought the car, but we thought it would be an interesting challenge to travel this way.
In addition to the superchargers, there are what Tesla calls destination chargers. These are similar to what you might install in your garage. These are primarily at hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts. There are two at La Posada, where we stayed in Winslow, Arizona. Most of these are only for the use of patrons of the businesses, while the superchargers are available to all Teslas, 24/7. The destination chargers charge at about 25 to 50 miles per hour, so they are really for a top-off or to plug in overnight.
All of these chargers are free. You can find a map of the superchargers (and drill down to the destination chargers) at https://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger.
There are other chargers, too, for Leafs and Chevy Volts, etc. I know of three at Clackamas Town Center, near our home. These require a credit card and charge the car at a much slower rate than the superchargers. We can use one of these with adapters that came with our car.
Information about the superchargers is available to us on the internet, on an app on our phones, and on the car’s navigation system. On the car’s navigation system, we can put in our destination and it will tell us the route, including where we need to stop to recharge, and how long it estimates each charge will take. On this trip, we start each day by putting in the next hotel. The navigation system plots the route and shows us where to stop to charge.
We can usually go about 250 miles between charges, but just like a gasoline car it depends on conditions. Cruising down the interstate in good weather we can go more than 300 miles. Around town with the heater and defroster and wipers going in stop-and-go traffic, we probably can’t go even 200 miles. In most cases the superchargers are about every 100 miles, although there will be some places on this trip where they will be over 150 miles apart.
We had ‘range anxiety’ when we bought the car. After all, if you run out of juice, you can’t just walk down the road for a can of electricity. In most places in the US, you are always within 50 miles of a gas station. You drive until it gets to about a quarter of a tank, and then you look for a place to refuel. With the Tesla, we have to be much more deliberate about our route and refueling.
We have been anxious about getting from one supercharger to the next. But with more experience, and talking with other drivers at the superchargers, we are becoming more comfortable with this new rhythm of travel.
We still have to stop at gas stations, though, to wash the windshield and get road food.