2013 Tesla Model S: A Typical Supercharger Dinner
January 17, 2014
We're headed south on the way home from Oregon. The Supercharger at Vacaville, California is dead ahead. We decided against dinner at our last stop, but we're good and hungry now. And we're in the mood for a break.
I back our 2013 Tesla Model S into one of the eight supercharger slots located along one edge of the lot at Vacaville Premium Outlets, hop out and plug in. Electricity begins flowing before everyone else finishes sorting themselves out and exits the car. Time: 7:32 p.m.; remaining range: 13 miles
After a short discussion we decide to eat at Mel's Diner. It's not on the Vacaville Supercharger webpage that my wife consulted in the car on the way in, but Google says it's just behind the narrow strip of outlet stores to our left.
We do an end-around past the row of shops, traverse Mel's parking lot and go inside. The hostess seats us after a brief wait. Our waiter comes by after a couple of minutes and takes our drink orders while we continue to peruse our menus.
Our drinks arrive a couple of minutes later. At this point I decide to see how the car is doing while my wife and kids order food. Then I ask for a patty melt, medium well, with fries and a side salad.
Time: 7:45 p.m. (13 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 77; new range: 90 miles
The salads arrive. No, that one's mine. She had the ranch.
Time: 7:51 p.m. (19 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 107; new range: 120 miles
Our food arrives. Pass the ketchup, please.
Time: 7:58 p.m. (26 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 135; new range: 148 miles
Everyone's chatting and having a good time. The others continue to nibble away as I clean my plate of the last French fry and start eyeing the baggie of uneaten crackers that came with my salad.
Time: 8:17 p.m. (45 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 191; new range: 204 miles
The check arrived a couple of minutes ago after we declined dessert, but now we've decided we're ready to settle the bill and move on. I head to the register while the girls freshen up.
Time: 8:24 p.m. (52 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 205; new range: 218 miles
We head out the door.
Time: 8:28 p.m. (56 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 213; new range: 226 miles
We arrive back at the car. I unlock and unplug while the girls settle in.
Time: 8:32 p.m. (1 hour elapsed) total miles added: 219; new range: 232 miles
Strictly speaking, we didn't need to add this much juice. Our next Supercharger at Gilroy is only 114 miles away. The battery took enough electricity on board by the time our food arrived at the 26-minute mark. We could have eaten across the street at In-N-Out and been fine.
But we were happy to relax and chill out a bit. The car was ready well before we were, but it's nice to know this longer opportunistic charge will only make our next stop that much shorter.
You may have noticed that half of the total amount we added went in during the first 20 minutes. The second half took the next 40 minutes. That's typical. Charging starts off at a rapid pace and gradually tapers off near the end.
The best way to minimize Supercharger downtime — if that's important on a given trip — is to work it out so you arrive with a lowish battery so you're charging on the steep part of the charge-rate curve. And it doesn't pay to fill up any more than necessary to get to the next one. That is, of course, unless you're in the mood for an unhurried dinner like we were.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,779 miles