All-Electric Weekend - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test
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2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: All-Electric Weekend

March 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I spent the last weekend in the 2013 Tesla Model S and it has quickly become my favorite car in the fleet. It's fast, quiet, high tech, comfortable and looks great from every angle. Here are three things I noticed about the Tesla as I drove it.

Size
This is a big car. As someone who has a small hatchback as a daily driver, it took me some time to get used to the Tesla's size. The Model S is 195.9 inches long and 77.3 inches wide. This is roughly the size of a new BMW 7 Series. I made my right turns a bit wider because I didn't yet have a feel for the corners of the car. And I'd park on the far end of parking lots to make sure I found a large enough space. I have a small single-car garage at home and the Tesla just fit with inches to spare in the front and back. It was such a tight fit that I had to have my wife direct me as I inched the car into the garage.

Charging at Home
I didn't leave the office Friday with a full charge, which would be about 265 miles of range. I drove home, went to dinner with my wife and had about 183 miles of range remaining. I wanted to "top off" the car for the following day. I wasn't sure where my day would take me and I also wanted to get a feel for what it was like to charge the car.

The handy Tesla iPhone app told me that I was charging at a rate of three miles of range per hour on a standard 120-volt plug. This is about six times slower than if it were plugged in at our 240-volt charger at work.

I plugged in at 9:18 p.m. and didn't unplug until 2:25 p.m. the following day. The 17 hours of charging wasn't enough to fill the battery. It still needed another 30 minutes. That charge consumed 27.7 kilowatts of electricity, which was about $4.16 at my rate of electricity. This was more than enough charge to last me the weekend and I didn't charge the Tesla again until I returned to the office on Monday Morning.

This car was obviously designed with the 240-volt plug in mind. We've ordered Tesla's charging station and when installed, it will charge the Model S at a rate of 60 miles of range per hour.

Presence
The Tesla gets a lot of attention from people on the street. Some are drawn to its looks, while others are trying to figure out what it is. A woman driving a late-model Camry rolled her window down and said "Your car is beautiful! What is it?"

"Thanks. It's a Tesla Model S," I replied. She was still confused, and I said "It's an electric car from a new company," though I'm not sure if that helped any.

The following day, I had the car parked in the driveway and I noticed some teenagers walking around it and peeking inside.

Finally, on the way to work on Monday, I got a thumbs-up from a fellow Model S driver. I was driving behind a Chevrolet Volt and passed a Nissan Leaf earlier that morning. I didn't get a thumbs-up from either of them. Maybe they were silently approving.

Ronald Montoya, Consumer Advice Editor @ 1,027 miles


Comments

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    "Maybe they were silently approving." Silently being jealous of you would make more sense.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    OK, so 3 miles of range per hour on 120, 18 miles on 240 and the Tesla charging station will do 60? That's 2 50-amp 240V circuits. An ICE long-term car has no refueling infrastructure - it's just how many gallons times the cost per gallon. At the end of your 20k miles with this car (I suspect it will actually be lower than that, because it can't really go on long trips that pile on the miles), you will have to take your power cost (your home-charge basically worked out to $4.08 per 50 miles), plus the cost of the Tesla charger ($1,200) plus whatever it cost you to install it. Your Jaguar, at 15,000 miles, at 15 mpg, at $5 a gallon, will cost you $5,000 for gas. The Tesla, citing the rate you paid for your electricity, would cost $1,524 to go that far. There are two things we don't know - how much you will use the free Superchargers and the like rather than pay for electricity, and how much the charger installation will cost you.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Oh - and your car has the $1,500 twin charger option that allows you to use the $1,200 high power charger. So there's that too. This will be interesting.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @fordson1: Sometimes its not about saving money, but using less. Granted we don't know what went into the manufacturing of this vehicle, but I think the main concern- the battery, is relatively friendly towards the environment. I actually think most peopl

  • robs249_ robs249_ Posts:

    I finally saw one (red) last week near my apartment in Queens, and a second time (grey) the other day when walking to the subway, but that one was on a tow truck! hmm, dead battery perhaps? They are GORGEOUS vehicles.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    quadricycle, the Jaguar, the Carerra the SLS - none of those are about saving money, either...but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in capturing what they cost to run in the course of the long-term test. I would imagine this car will cost about the same to refuel during the time they have it as will the Jaguar or similar car. Now, once the cost of the internal high-capacity charger, the high-capacity connector and its installation are amortized, it will of course become much less expensive to refuel. I am also interested in how reliable it will be - it has already given them a false low-tire-pressure message and has had the touchscreen replaced before it reached 700 miles...but it seems a pretty high-quality piece subjectively. We'll just have to see.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    quadricycle, the Jaguar, the Carerra the SLS - none of those are about saving money, either...but that doesn't mean I'm not interested in capturing what they cost to run in the course of the long-term test. I would imagine this car will cost about the same to refuel during the time they have it as will the Jaguar or similar car. Now, once the cost of the internal high-capacity charger, the high-capacity connector and its installation are amortized, it will of course become much less expensive to refuel. I am also interested in how reliable it will be - it has already given them a false low-tire-pressure message and has had the touchscreen replaced before it reached 700 miles...but it seems a pretty high-quality piece subjectively. We'll just have to see.

  • noburgers_ noburgers_ Posts:

    so it only cost about $4 for 80 miles of range--impressive! And that's 80 miles of range in a kick-butt performance ride, not some weenie iMiev. Doubly impressive. And to be a favorite in a fleet with a SLS and 911 either it is that good or you are exaggerating. I'd like a little more follow up on that comment, please

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Three miles of range per hour times 17 hours (for $4.16 worth of electricity) is 51 miles, not 80.

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @fordson1 again: I didn't mean to de-value the operating costs, and their importance in car ownership. The point I was briefly trying to make was that a Tesla owner used about $1,500 of electricity, versus 1000 Gallons of gasoline ($5000) in the Jaguar. T

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Three miles of range per hour times 17 hours (for $4.16 worth of electricity) is 51 miles, not 80.

  • noburgers_ noburgers_ Posts:

    so it only cost about $4 for 80 miles of range--impressive! And that's 80 miles of range in a kick-butt performance ride, not some weenie iMiev. Doubly impressive. And to be a favorite in a fleet with a SLS and 911 either it is that good or you are exaggerating. I'd like a little more follow up on that comment, please

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    @fordson1 again: I didn't mean to de-value the operating costs, and their importance in car ownership. The point I was briefly trying to make was that a Tesla owner used about $1,500 of electricity, versus 1000 Gallons of gasoline ($5000) in the Jaguar. T

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Understood, quadricycle - good points for sure and no offense taken. The environmental benefits are undeniable, depending upon how me make the electricity. Hopefully more from renewables. Folks, I just spent some time on the Tesla website, using their calculator, and Ron's numbers are a little fuzzy - if he was indeed charging at the rate of 3 miles of range per hour, then he did not get 27.7 kWh in 17 hours - more like 14 kWh. If the total he got, 27.7 kWh, is correct, then he was charging at 3 miles of range per HALF hour. In that case (and we don't know for sure) 15A on 110V would get him that total amount in 17 hours, but getting 15A on a 15A circuit is problematic (a steady 12A is more typical). He probably had 15A from a 20A circuit. In any event, according to Tesla, 27.7 kWh is enough to take you 98 miles and change, not 51. Bottom line is Ron's numbers are inconclusive - we don't know if his cost and charge totals are right, or his miles of range.

  • lmbvette lmbvette Posts:

    I was sitting in my Volt waiting for my wife to come out of the grocery store with my flashers on next to the curb when a silver Tesla passed by me, twice. I gave him a "thumbs-up" twice and the dude never noticed or responded. Silent acknowledgement, perhaps? ;-)

  • jeffhre jeffhre Posts:

    "but that one was on a tow truck! hmm, dead battery perhaps? They are GORGEOUS vehicles." Hi Robs249, that is often how Tesla delivers new vehicles to customers.

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