Friday, February 8, 2013

The Not-So EV Life: "Gallons of Sunshine" Run Empty in Mid-January

My first road trip in Brutus 2.0 (my Tesla Model S, named after my previous Brutus, a gas-powered Buick Park Avenue) was quite an adventure.  I'm not sure that I would qualify it as a good adventure, although it was a learning experience.  Here's how it went...

My poor unsuspecting friend and I planned a trip to Rochester, MN to visit a mutual friend and her new family addition.  Normally a trip to and from Rochester with a stop in Dixon each way would take about 16 hours.  Ours took 65.

I had planned stops along the way to charge and researched available charging stations to try to make our trip a little easier (hah!).  In Dixon there is an RV park that has places to plug-in.  I spoke to the RV site and made sure it would be OK if I stopped and charged there for a few hours.  I told them I normally would use a NEMA 14-50 and they said that should work fine.  The plan was to arrive early, charge for a few hours to make up my lost mileage from the trip to Dixon and then be fully charged and ready to go once Rachel got out of work at noon.

What happened instead is that it was negative four degrees outside (-25*F windchill) and I lost a LOT more range on my way to Dixon than I should have -- I arrived with about 80 miles of range, versus the 170 that I was hoping for.  Granted I did drop my fiance off at the airport and run to the bank as well, which likely ate about 30-40 miles.  I left my house at 4am, arriving at the RV park at 7:20am, ready to plug in and take a nap.  Unfortunately someone had other plans in store for me.

The RV site had NEMA TT-30 plugs, which very clearly did not fit the plug that I had brought as it was for the NEMA 14-50 that we had discussed.  Obstacle 1.  I tried plugging into the 110 outlet (like a normal wall plug) while I figured out what to do, but I could clearly see that I was not even getting enough charge to combat the temperature outside and my need for heat inside.  I was losing mileage sitting there.  Fortunately, Dixon has an auto dealership with Chevy and Nissan, both of which now sell EVs and provide places to plug-in at their dealership.  I headed there.

As I pulled into the Chevy side of the dealership, spotting a plug on the wall.  I paused to ask and make sure it was OK I used their plug.  The young tech seemed to not really know or care, so I figured that was enough go ahead; however, as I turned to park by the plug, a leaf pulled ahead of me.  I pulled off on the side and decided to wait.  After a while, another a man who worked at the dealership came over to let me know that the owner of the leaf charges there every morning until about 10:30, so it would likely be a while and I should come in and have some coffee.  I thanked him and went inside to review my options.  Obstacle 2.

I decided to give the dealership a call and see if there was anyone else that could help me out.  After being transferred around a bit, I was sent to the voicemail of the service manager on the Nissan side and left a message explaining my predicament.  He called me back within about 10 minutes and let me know that there is a plug available in the showroom on the Nissan side and I headed over there.  A very nice man inside of the Nissan showroom directed me to either a plug in front of the showroom, or one in the back, which was inside their garage.  As it was still about negative two degrees outside, I opted for the garage.  I tucked my car in with their charger at about 20mph and headed to the lounge area to sit.  At this time it's about 9am and I've already lost two hours of charging, not to mention I'm on a slower charger.  This is where my previous post on the EV life came into play.  Spirits were still high.

After a few hours, Rachel is getting off work and I figure I will grab a taxi over there to kill some time (this becomes a mantra of the trip -- killing time).  We do some facial peels in the derm clinic, look up crochet patterns for the trip and grab lunch at Culvers before heading back to the dealership to take off.  Time for phase two.

We drive to Dubuque, Iowa (State #2!) -- another point on our trip where I had figured we would stop to charge for 2-3 hours.  Eric had talked to the service center at the Chevrolet dealership who had indicated it would be fine to charge there for a few hours.  We found the Chevrolet, plugged in, no problem.  Obstacle 3 -- Their charger is only 15amps and less than 200 volts... We were only getting about 6mph of charge.  At that rate it was going to take all night.  I quickly found a Nissan dealership in the area and we headed over there to try our luck.  Their charger was outside, covered in icicles, clearly not having been used in a while.  Although hesitant, they were willing to help us out and they moved some vehicles out of the way, so we could park by the charger.  Unfortunately, when we put the adapter on the charger, it wouldn't fit.  It was about 1-2mm short of latching and without latching the electrons won't flow.  Obstacle 4.  We tried to enlist some of the techs to help us force it on there, but they were unable.  They shrugged their shoulders stating it was probably the wrong adapter, even though it had worked at the other Nissan dealership a few hours beforehand.  I chalked it up to the fact that it was still barely over zero degrees outside and their charger was sitting outside in ice.  Nevertheless, it wasn't going to work.  We received word Kwiktrip gas stations now had EV charging stations and decided to head over there (a few miles away) to check it out.  Although, I'm proud of them for entertaining the idea -- Kwiktrip at this point has only installed some 110 plugs with an "EV Parking" sign in front of them.  Stating they will update their "chargers" when there is more interest.  As I previously noted, 110 was not going to work.  I also hope Kwiktrip realizes that there will not be "more interest" with a 110 plug.  Likely ever.

So after running around town and wasting our precious mileage, we were back to Bird Chevrolet.  At this point I've realized we are staying the night in Dubuque, Iowa.  Fortunately there is a Fairfield Inn right "across the street" (the street being a four lane highway) from Bird Chevrolet.  We plugged in, tucked the car in, grabbed our luggage and headed out in the freezing temperatures to traverse the busy highway and walk to the hotel.

After checking into the hotel (not much more than a tank of gas would have been), we found a nearby Olive Garden and went back out into the cold to get some dinner.  At least the night was not a bust.  We found a warm bed, a bottle of wine and good food.  We also had stopped at a JoAnn's Fabric on our way back to Bird Chevrolet and picked up some yarn to start our crochet projects, being that we had some time to kill.  I figured it wasn't so bad -- we would have arrived to Rochester late anyway, so instead we will arrive late morning, no big deal...



We had received word later that night that a new parking garage had been constructed with EV parking and charging.  We decided against crossing the highway in the cold that night and decided instead we would check it out in the morning in the hopes that it would be a faster charger to top us off before we head out.  We got going around 8am, packed up our things and walked back to the Chevrolet dealership.  We had gotten to about 200 miles of charge, with a 170 mile trip up to Rochester to go.  I crossed my fingers that it was enough of a buffer and we headed over to the parking garage.  Fail.  There were four clearly marked EV charging spots, each with a shiny new 110 plug.  We headed out.

For the first half of this phase of the trip, I had the cruise control set on 50mph, and later 45mph, thinking that cruise control would be the best way to save energy.  As the trip progressed and the miles were coming off, I realized it wasn't going to cut it.  We were encountering quite a few big hills between Dubuque and Rochester.  I took cruise control off and manually tried to keep the Wh marker beneath 20, as low as I could go, without getting rear-ended.  It made for slow-going, but our average usage came down from about 380-390 Wh/mi to about 310.  A new record for me.  Of note, we also had been driving in 6 to 8 degree weather without the heat on, in order to save energy.  We both were bundled in jackets, gloves, hats and blankets, but still had to turn it on occasionally to defrost the window or prevent the frostbite from eating away my toes.  At this point, the trip was becoming slightly miserable.  And despite all of our efforts, we still weren't going to make it.  We had bout 70 miles left, had been consistently losing mileage and were exactly 70 miles from the next nearest charger in Rochester.  I got on the phone with my fiance.

Eric researched online and found that we were only a few miles away from a nearby "green" sustainable college campus.  What luck!  They even had their own fleet of electric vehicles.  We got on the horn with the security guard at the college who was willing to meet us and show us where their chargers are for their electric vehicles.  We drove into the college, seeing solar panels and a windmill on the way in -- looked promising!  We arrived at their chargers and they use what looked like an 11-30... definitely not going to fit.  Obstacle 5.  The security guard was very helpful though and he led us on a search throughout their maintenance and shop buildings searching for plugs.  We did find two other 220 plugs, neither of which was a 14-50.  At this point we were losing charge and still 70 miles away.  We decided to plug into the 110 and head inside to warm-up.  We had a snack and decided to spend an hour or two crocheting to pass the time and get a few extra miles of buffer.  After more than an hour, I checked on the car and was surprised to see that I was now down to 53 miles of range!  I know it was about 10 degrees outside and likely the battery was getting cold... but thus far I had never see any miles actually get added back to my range when warming the battery.  Quite the opposite actually.  We said eff-it -- clearly we weren't doing any good sitting at this college campus, and headed out.  I drove extremely conservatively, in a freezing car as far as I could to Rochester.  At one point I even got my average Wh/mi over a period of 30 miles down to 265!  It was a mix between feeling pretty proud of myself and feeling pretty disappointed in the whole experience.  Not to mention I couldn't feel my fingers or toes.

About 20 miles out from Rochester, I started getting a little anxious.  Our projected range fluctuated between being a few miles above our miles to go and a few miles below.  I didn't want to run my 100,000 dollar car into the ground, but then again I was in the middle of no-where, freezing and frustrated.  I decided to call Roadside Assistance.  The gentleman on the other side of the line (in 60 degree weather in California no doubt) kindly suggested that I drive conservatively and limit the use of climate control.  At this point I was going 27mph, as I understand that provides for the optimum range, and it was likely 20 degrees inside of my vehicle.  As it was clear I was already doing all I could, we started looking for plan B (or is it plan J by now?).  It is possible that I would have made it to where I was going, but pulling that much energy out of the battery is not good for the vehicle and it was recommended that I stop.  We started looking for a good stopping place, as for miles all I had seen was corn fields and farmhouses.  My roadside assistance man located us and directed me to a BP gas station.  I pulled over with 3 miles left in my rated range.  Luckily we weren't stuck in a freezing vehicle and were able to stand inside the gas station for the next 45 minutes until the tow truck arrived.

The tow truck driver was... tolerable.  After taking about 10 minutes with my key and trying to figure out how the key works and which car he was towing, he told me he had never towed an electric vehicle, let alone a Tesla, and then rolled his eyes when I told him that I don't think he can tow it the same as other cars... we got things straightened out.  Despite some comments about how I should "keep a few gallons of gas under the hood for situations like this", or get a Volt... he was friendly and he got the job done, even waiting around to make sure that we got plugged in okay and our friend arrived to pick us up.  We were towed about 15 miles to a charge station in downtown Rochester, inside of a parking garage.  Being that it was a chargepoint, I figured it had a high likelihood of actually working.  Unfortunately, the powers that be were not in my favor.  Our adapter again did not fit into the plug.  We finally, out of options, had our friend smash the adapter into the cement floor and put all of his weight on it.  SUCCESS!!  He saved the day, we tucked Brutus in and headed back to their house, arriving about 24 hours later than we originally intended.

Adapter Issue
To summarize the way back, we left with 253 miles at full "range mode" charge (because of the cold) and decided to take the route through Madison and Rockford to Dixon.  It was a more established route (read: more chargers) and we could take the interstate and hopefully avoid so much hill climbing.  We barely made it to Madison with 18 miles left and plugged into a Blink charger outside of a Kohl's.  We had picked the location, because there was a mall and a movie theater within walking distance (killing time!).  After activating an account with Blink, we had the same problem with the adapter again, and could not get it to fit despite putting all of our combined weight into it.  We enlisted a passing construction worker, who after a few minutes of pushing with all of his might on the asphalt, the adapter clicked.  *PHWEW.  Got Brutus charging and headed towards the mall, hoping to get back to Dixon in time for dinner.  The charger never got above 17 mph and we ended up not being able to leave until close to midnight, crawling into bed with frozen toes at about 2am.

So, in summary...
We hit a lot of obstacles.  The cold being a huge factor, which no one can help.  It was unbearable to drive without heat, the heat stole a lot of the energy, charging was not as fast in the cold and we were losing electrons it seemed at every corner.  Not to mention it made walking and functioning quite uncomfortable.
Other events that could be improved would be -- not having so many different plugs!  Standardization would be nice.  We've since ordered all of the adapters Tesla has available (along with a replacement for the faulty one that I've been smashing into the ground), but it still doesn't cover everything.
Proper chargers would be nice as well.  Particularly none of this 110 bullshit -- that's just a joke.  I hope they aren't getting any subsidies from the government for that type of thing.  And for the places that are taking advantage of the governmental grants to put in chargers -- the least you could do is 220 volts and 30 amps.  And know what exactly you have so it is less of a guessing game.
The only gripe I have about my actual car is that it was difficult to estimate how much we were losing on range.  It felt as if electrons were just seeping out of everywhere, despite extremely conservative driving (being honked at by passing semi trucks) and turning off the heat.  I'm continually told that I'm not actually losing the energy, that it is just my range changing based on environmental factors, but I call bullshit.  I have not once seen my range go up once the battery has warmed up -- on the other hand, it seems to use energy in order to heat the battery up and cause my range to go down even more quickly.  That being said, I would never expect my laptop to function properly at subzero temperatures, and I understand the obstacles.  I know that we are early adopters and there are lots of hurdles still to be crossed -- socially, economically, electronically and mechanically.  I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of CHAdeMO adapters along with more superchargers.  It would have made all the difference in this trip.

final breakdown after the last leg home (Trip A)
Afterwards I felt pretty defeated.  I had to stay the night at Rachel's house in order to gain enough charge back at the Nissan dealership to make it home.  I was lucky to have such a good friend with me, so I never felt completely down and out and she kept a positive attitude the entire time, never once griping to me about the vehicle that I had suggested we take.  Magically, and somewhat surprising to me, as soon as I got home, into my own parking garage where I don't even think about plugging in and my range rarely every crosses my mind -- it was like I had my old car back.  The car the I love and that makes my hour-plus commute to work everyday a joy.

Perhaps I just won't be making a middle of January road trip anytime soon.


50 comments:

  1. Of note, to put this in perspective, the trip from Dixon, IL to Rochester, MN is about 270 miles exactly. The Tesla Model S, fully charged in "range mode", has a rated range of 270 miles. WHERE DID THOSE MILES GO!?

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  2. Ouch, tough trip. I also had several problems three years ago on my first 3,000-mile EV road trip, and spent a lot of time shivering at campgrounds (the Roadster will not let you run the climate control while charging!). But I have since taken many long trips with no issues at all (including another 3,000 mile trip in January that was also in a Model S). So it gets better.

    One hint if you try a campground again: I found (the hard way) a LOT of confusion whenever I mentioned volts or NEMA. They are used to calling NEMA 14-50 outlets "50 amp" outlets. Ask if they have "50 amp service" and you should get a reliable answer.

    The biggest secret to having better trips was working with other local owners to install 70A 240V chargers at hotels and restaurants every 100 - 150 miles.

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  3. Good story. I can't add much except welcome to the club.
    Most EV'ers get into range trouble once, until they learn their car and the severe impact on range that speed, hills and most of all, cold has on their battery pack. Below zero, you're halving your range IMO. Those miles go to the heater and defroster and the fact that you're battery just can't extract as much energy when cold. You did a lot of stuff right, calling ahead for locations and asking for the right type of plug. Redmond Chad has it right about the RV parks. They understand 50A service, not NEMA-xx. It's gonna get better. Thanks for being a pioneer, and taking the arrows.
    p.s. Sounds like you have a true friend.

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  4. To some degree long distance travel in an EV at this point in time is like the wild west. You can't expect to do all the same trips as an ICE or count on being able to plug in where you planned. Yet. These are early days.

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  5. Yuck. Well, I've been estimating range at 50% of EPA rating in the cold (due mostly to heating). That's what I'd use for planning a road trip: 135 miles.

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  6. Yeah. Lessons learned. I think I did actually end up getting >200 miles/full charge, but of course that was driving extremely conservatively and without much heat. I've heard 177 in a few places as a good estimate for playing it safe.

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  7. As great as EV's can be, even an 85kWh Model S isn't really meant for road trips. Sure you can do them if you plan properly, but in the cold weather like you were driving in, it's still a radical compromise to driving on gas. I've been driving on electric for four years and I simply use a gas car when I'm driving 250 from NJ to Vermont in the winter. I may do it in the summer, but when it's cold I just don't think it's worth it. Use the right tool for the job and you'll be much better off. If you only end up driving your S for 98% of your driving needs, that's pretty good as it is.
    Be well!

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  8. We're all in. We currently have two EVs (motorcycle and car) and we just got rid of our last gas truck. It may take some practice, but we're not going back. It may take a few years before you can go on a road trip without compromise (easily accessible, fast chargers), but we'll get there. As long as Tesla can keep doing what it's doing, the superchargers will make all the difference. And once we get that CHAdeMo adapter... But yes, how often do you really go on road trips anyway. 2% of driving may even be high.

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  9. Unfortunately the critics have found your blog and are posting it everywhere as an example of how EV's don't work in the real world. Might be worth doing a post pointing out how even after this trip you are still quite enthusiastic about EV's, since that message seems to have been lost on some.

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  10. Regina, I'm so sorry to hear about your ordeal. I wouldn't wish such a trip on my worst enemy, and more power to you for finishing the trip. You may get more traffic to your blog as someone on GM-Volt.com has posted a link, and that's how I got here.

    I've had my Volt for 8 months and 13,600 miles, 97% of it in all electric mode (I had 3 road trips that burned some gasoline). This is my second "EV", my first was a 2009 MINI E that I only drove for 2 months and 2,000 miles.

    As I maximize my charge time at free public charging stations all over Southern California, I can relate to your "killing time" comment.

    BTW, if past Elon Musk proclamations are any indication, don't hold your breath waiting for Supercharger stations to roll out in timely fashion. IMO, that was his way of getting more people to plunk down deposits as was the case with Model X and 40kWh and 60kWh options (not letting people know the limitations of the Supercharger compatibility from the start and $2,000 access fee required on 60 kWh option). Best of luck.

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    1. Unfortunately, since you live in the Midwest, you are likely to get your superchargers last. there is just a much more robust EV charging infrastructure on the coasts, and especially the west coast.

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  11. Just a suggestion, but are you familiar with Plugshare.com? It will even show individual homes who share their chargers. It's a nice app to use in conjunction with Chargepoint.net's app.

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    1. there's also Recargo.com and it has a nice app as well.

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  12. Follow up, here: http://andwediditourway.blogspot.com/2013/02/growing-pains.html

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  13. I think the superchargers have been rolling out fairly quickly actually. They are revolutionizing the way we travel and our consumption of gasoline. It isn't an easy process.

    Yes, I'm familiar with plugshare. It's the only app that often tells you amperage/voltage (from customer comments only), which is nice. Recargo needs to get on that.

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  14. Hi Regina, I just want to let you know that I am partly responsible for giving your blog post more traffic, as 'Edju' pointed out. I'm not sure how I found your blog, but as a Volt owner I found the part where the tow truck driver said "or get a Volt" to be just too funny (albeit probably not too funny for you at the time). So I posted a link on GM-Volt.com. Let me say that I am a supporter of Tesla, and EV's in general. And most people on GM-Volt are positive on Tesla too.

    But I have had similar problems finding a plug for my Volt. One example: I went to visit my mother (160 miles away), who lives in an 'independent living' apartment. On other occasions I had used an outside plug at her facility, but I found that the owners had put a locked cover on it. I then remembered my Mother's Church just two blocks from her apartment, and called the Priest to see if he would mind if I plugged into an outside outlet. He said sure - but none of several outside outlets worked. We tried an outlet inside the rectory, and it worked (confirming that my EVSE was working), and the Priest charitably offered to leave the rectory door open enough for me to put the charge cord through it. But I didn't think it a good idea to leave the door open, and ended up not charging at all. I found it really frustrating with all of the electricity relatively close that I couldn't find a simple way to plug in my Volt. But like you say, this will get better over time.

    Of course it's not as much of an issue with my Volt since I just have to use some gas, but who would have thought that finding a plug would be such a problem?

    My wife is also a blogger, writing mostly about her (and now her sister's) breast cancer. Thankfully, they're both cancer-free for over a year now, but my wife has also blogged about my Volt, e.g.: http://leftbreast.blogspot.com/2011/12/biopsy-below-mason-dixon-line.html

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  15. Superchargers or CHAdeMo adapters are the answer. Then the trip would have been easy.

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    1. I too am really hoping that CHAdeMo comes to the model S. The West Coast Electric Highway is all about CHAdeMo DCFC's.

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  16. Properly functioning J plugs would have helped, and the J standard goes up to 70 amps I believe.

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  17. Regina, I applaud your pioneering spirit and am very envious of your ride! :)

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  18. Tesla is just another California computer company that delivers half the performance that it advertises. Too bad about your trip and your $100,000 Tesla trick.

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  19. By the way, you write that the round trip from Rochester to Dixon would normally take 16 hours. It's 540 miles total, which implies an average speed of 34 miles an hour. Either you're a slow driver or you're including an overnight stop.

    To Regina Gasser, who noted that Tesla in range mode has a 270 mile range (actually, the company claims 300 miles), which happens to be the distance from Rochester to Dixon, and asked, "Where did those miles go," I have an answer.

    Regina, the range claim is a lie.

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  20. I looked again, and saw that you live in Elgin, IL (dang that Google). From there to Rochester via Dubuque (scenic route) is 680 miles round trip. And I know that some of those roads, especially Illinois Hwy. 2, are slow going.

    But anyway, that Tesla range claim is still a lie. And you shouldn't charge it in "range" mode. Even Tesla says that'll damage the battery, which is their way of saying, "Do that, and if you have a problem we'll run away from you faster than a cockroach when the light's been turned on."

    Remember, these are computer people. Ever tried to enforce a computer warranty?

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    1. I have. They took care of everything covered under warranty.

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  21. lthank you for your experience! Great reading.

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  22. Placeholder,
    The 265 mile range rating is from the EPA, not Tesla. The 300 mile rating is from Tesla under a specific driving routine. Neither range is guaranteed under any and all conditions, just like EPA mpg ratings.
    Range Charge does not damage the battery, especially when done right before taking a long trip. The technical explanation is that a full charge brings the battery voltage higher, which, over time, can accelerate the degradation of the electrolyte in the cells. If you routinely fully charge the pack in range mode and keep at this higher voltage it will shorten the pack life. If you do it occasionally before a long trip the difference will probably not even be noticeable.

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  23. JP, Tesla's own guidelines say that a "range" charge might harm the battery. Consumer Reports noted this fact, and said that most owners use a "standard" (90%) charge for that reason. Tesla claims a 300-mile range on the full "range" charge, which implies 270 miles on a "standard charge."

    Consumer Reports got 176 miles on the "standard" charge, which is two-thirds of Tesla's advertised claim. Regina drove from Elgin, IL to Dixon, IL, a distance of 73 miles, and another 30-35 miles to the airport, for a total of 108 miles using the midpoint of her estimate. At that point, she had 80 miles showing on Tesla's guess-o-meter. That would be 188 miles.

    She started out on a "range" charge, so she got 63% of the claimed 300 mile range -- and then only if the guess-o-meter was correct. Which, as anyone who owns any EV knows, is a highly debatable proposition. Guess-o-meters usually overestimate the range.

    The bottom line is that the Model S delivers two-thirds of its promise in cold weather, at best. That's just a fact. You can like EVs. I like mine. But there's no need to exaggerate their performance in some cult-like quest to polish Elon Musk's ego.

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  24. I actually don't live in Elgin. I just calculated my trip and with my stop at the bank and the airport, I drove 126 miles. Not that the extra 18 miles makes a ginormous difference. Also, full range charge is 265 and standard charge is 240. Tesla also provides a range calculator that factors in heater, speed, temperature to some extent and gives you a better idea of what range to expect with some of these additional variables -- http://www.teslamotors.com/charging#/calculator.
    I agree with the 2/3 guestimate for cold weather. I don't really think anyone is arguing that. It is something that I hadn't really anticipated before my first road trip, but I also wouldn't say that it was something that was hidden from me.
    Why is there such a public drive to try and demolish Musk or Tesla? They are doing good things and in new and exciting dimensions. And so far no one is forcing an EV on anyone.

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  25. Also, I have actually had great success with computer warranties in the past. Both with Dell and Apple.

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  26. I'm glad you've done well with computer warranties. I usually just throw it away rather than go through the hassle. Just did that a while back with a Nissan digital camera. I suppose it matters a lot how much it costs.

    I don't know about trying to demolish Musk. I look at that one differently. Okay, we know that Musk is an arrogant techie billionaire. But if we demolished every arrogant techie billionaire, we'd be poorer for it. But if we didn't take shots at arrogant techie billionaires, we'd be failing in our duty to keep them minimally honest. Still, in any case, Musk's personality, per se, isn't the issue.

    What's at issue is that, when the New York Times put the company's range claim to the test, Musk didn't simply 'fess up like he should have. If he'd have just popped up and said, "Yup, our claim is a best case scenario if it's a sunny day in San Jose, but if it's winter in Connecticut you'd better back it off by one-third," I'd have had a smug little chuckle and moved on.

    But that's not what he did. The guy accused the reporter of faking his review. And he played some tricks to support that accusation. So, given that back 'n forth, I think it's perfectly fair to meet flamethrower with flamethrower, so to speak. Tesla will survive, and so will the New York Times, and so will you, and so will I.

    In the end, I do think rational people ought to quit any cults and take the cold shower. Which means, come on, just deal with the truth. I mean, your tale here is about your Model S that didn't even come close to delivering on the range claim. (If we re-do it with your numbers, and do Tesla the significant favor of including that 80 miles remaining on the guess-o-meter, you got 206 of the 300 claimed miles, or 69% of the claimed range. Look, we'll all survive, but facts are facts.)

    Tesla is one of a bunch of companies selling basically the same thing: A car powered by lithium-ion batteries. There's Nissan, Chevy, Tesla, Ford, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota doing it, and the performance characteristics are similar enough to call all of this pretty generic.

    Tesla just has a fan club. Like Apple has had. My favorite about Apple is when they sued Microsoft for infringing with Windows, and the trial court pointed out that Apple had stolen its OS from Xerox. Which was par for the course, not just in that industry but in American business in general, and for Steve Jobs in particular, who got his start by selling "black boxes" that people used to steal phone service from AT&T's digital switches.

    If you want to deify these people and fall at their feet for doing such "good things," I can't stop you. But nor will I join you on that. Instead, I'll tell you what I've told lots of people about my little Think car: "Great toy!"

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  27. Sheesh, I just re-read that. Did I say a Nissan digital camera?! Dang fingers! Nikon digital camera.

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  28. Placeholder,
    The only irrational behavior I'm seeing is from you. I explained exactly what Range mode does on a cell level, I don't care what Tesla's warning says, I know the actual physics of lithium ion cell behavior. Tesla is right to limit the use of range mode for reasons I laid out, but that doesn't mean you can never use it. Do you really think they enabled a feature they never intended to be used?
    Actual range will vary with conditions, just as with any car. Simple as that. The only reason Mr. Broder failed to complete his trip is because he never once fully charged the vehicle, he didn't even do a full standard charge at the second stop, and on the third stop he only charged to 28%. That's user error at every stop. Yet for some reason you want to blame Tesla and Elon. Obviously you have an agenda divorced from reality.
    Out of all the companies you listed, only Tesla is doing a long range EV that people are lining up in droves to buy.

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  29. JP, it doesn't matter what range mode does at the cell level. What matters is that Tesla advises people that using it will damage their battery, and that most Tesla users don't use it because of that warning. The nature of the damage is immaterial.

    As for why they enabled the feature, I can only guess. One guess would be that they really wanted to get to 300 miles. Another is they wanted to create an excuse to blame any battery problems on the customer, and then walk away from accountability. But those are only guesses. Who can ever really know someone else's motives?

    As for range varying with conditions, I've owned gas cars for an awfully long time. A couple of Buicks, three Fords, a Nissan, a Pontiac, a Volkswagen, a Toyota. And I think I've rented everything else at least twice. I've yet to have a gas car lose one-third of its range because the temperature fell to eight degrees.

    I see you refer to Elon Musk by his first name. Do you know him? Is he your friend? Or are you just part of a cult? The Model S is not a "long range" EV. Not when it maxes out at 175 miles or so on a normal winter day.

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  30. Shoot, how could I forget my Volvo that just turned 18? Dang it. I've driven that puppy in temps ranging from -10 to +115, and the fuel economy (hence range) has never varied significantly with temperature.

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  31. Oh geez, I also forgot the 1991 Mercedes 560SEL that I totalled when I ran it into a highway barrier. Mileage didn't vary by temperature in that one either. And I don't think the gas tank shrank by a third on a cold night.

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  32. Last comment before any replies.

    Regina, you wrote that the full range charge is 265 miles. Whatever the true number is, Tesla claims 300 miles on their website.

    http://www.teslamotors.com/models/features#/performance

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  33. Placeholder,
    You're a rambling idiot with some sort of agenda trolling a blog comment section. Most Tesla customers that I know, and I know a lot of them, know very well how the different ranges are calculated. I'll not contribute to your madness any further here since it's not my blog.

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  34. Bah, lets all move on to someone else's blog.

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  35. Ah, JP, reduced to hurling personal epithets. Poor you.

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  36. Placeholder,
    If you want perfection....go to heaven.

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  37. Russ, if you want a $100,000 car that takes 65 hours to make a 16-hour trip, and comes from a company whose CEO will send his own personal Scientologists after you if you tell the truth about it, buy a Tesla Model S.

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  38. Was it the University of Northern Iowa that you attempted to charge at?

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  39. REgina Gasser

    Thanks for making the trip. It was educational for the rest of us.

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  40. @Regina Gasser:

    The most illuminating thing about your trip was my previously theorized design defect in the S which you proved, namely the car with 70 miles range, when plugged into a 110 outlet, will later be 53 miles range, in very cold weather.

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    Replies
    1. Bill, that may be a temporary situation since sleep mode has been disabled because some cars weren't waking up properly. Once it's enabled cars sitting idle should use much less energy.

      Delete
  41. You don't actually lose that much energy, the 'rated range' is just adjusted based on the temperature of the battery. As it warms up you get some of that back. There is a "vampire loss" of up to 7-8 miles when sitting idle during a long workday, but that's all. Also, you don't continue to lose miles plugged into 110 - it's just the initial drop as the batter cools down. I've charged overnight on 110 multiple times since then and always awoken with 20-50 more miles than when I when I tugged Brutus in for the night. If you have the heater going hard when you're plugged into 110 though, you will inevitable either lose charge or just consume all of the energy that you are taking in.

    Another point -- I wouldn't call it a defect. It's just a characteristic of electric machines. They don't function as efficiently at extremes of temperature. My old gas car always took a while to warm up when it was cold also. Just in a different way. If you didn't let it warm up all the way the gears would kind of stick and clunk.

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  42. OH Regina I'd definitely call that a defect. While you were charging in your garage it was much much warmer than when you were outside for your road trip. I own a Roadster, and the effect is much less pronounced there. I chalk it up to an uninsulated battery.

    One question: Can you preheat the cabin while plugged in? On the roadster the cabin heater is disabled while the charge port is open.

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  43. I've never charged on 110 in a garage. It's always been outside in the midwest winter. But it has not been below-zero temperatures like it was that weekend. Yes, I can preheat the cabin while plugged in.

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  44. We love the hard work and effort Tesla Motors and Elon Musk have done, way to rock the competition! Tesla and Elon Musk
    www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrzMdoKPPaA


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