2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cheap Electricity on the Oregon Coast

January 14, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Dad has plenty of power in his Oregon coast garage. It's more of a shop, really. Beyond the usual hand tools he's got a mill, a lathe, a humungous 6.5-hp air compressor and a nice welder. And he happens to have a NEMA 14-50 "RV" socket, too, and that made it easy to drive our 2013 Tesla Model S every day during our stay.

Sure, a garden-variety 120-volt, 12-amp garage plug would have worked, but the resulting slow charge rate couldn't possibly fill the battery overnight. The Tesla's unique configurable charge cord with its included NEMA 14-50 wall adapter can access 240-volt power at up to 40 amps. Volts times amps equals watts, so that works out to a very healthy maximum delivery rate of 9.6 kilowatts.

And so we awoke to a full battery every morning. We could drive as much as we liked. Good thing, too, because the weather was gorgeous and the stunning viewpoints are numerous.

But it gets better. Dad's electricity rates are low. He pays just 7.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in summer and 7.94 cents in winter. These rates apply at all hours. Taxes and transmission costs are included, too.

2013 Tesla Model S

Dad's place stands on top of a hill at 1,600 feet, just one mile inland from the seashore. The road up is sinuous, narrow, poorly maintained and dotted with the occasional cow. And the steepness kicks up substantially when you turn onto the one-lane road/driveway that eventually leads to his house after first passing five others.

We went up and down this route a dozen times in the course of the 374 miles we covered over our 5-day stay. The car's consumption onboard meter registered a total of 144.8 kW during that period. Assuming a charging loss of 20 percent, Dad's electrical meter would have registered about 174 kW of billable electricity consumption.

At his winter rate of 7.94 cents apiece, that works out to $13.80.

2013 Tesla Model S

The going rate for unleaded in these parts is $3.40 per gallon. Our $13.80 would buy us just 4.06 gallons of the stuff, not even enough to fill a Jerry can. An equivalent gas-powered car would have to be capable of 92 mpg (on this sort of challenging terrain, no less) to cover those 374 miles on that amount of gas.

This 92-mpg figure is what I call mpgc, and it differs from the silly mpge that's on EV window stickers because it's cost-based, not CO2-based. But mpgc varies radically with the local prices of gas and electricity. I pay four times as much as Dad for my electricity at home. Mpgc is too specific to the wildly variable local prices of electricity to be of any use on a window sticker.

2013 Tesla Model S

Here on the Oregon coast, the 2013 Tesla Model S is much more practical than I ever imagined. Cheap electricity makes it easy to run, and the Supercharger network along Interstate 5 is within easy reach. All you need is a NEMA 14-50 RV socket at your home base.

Mom and Dad could easily get to the Costco and Home Depot they frequent in Medford after a brief stop at the Grant's Pass supercharger. From there they could get to Seattle or L.A., but when it comes right down to it the sights are so spectacular here there's not much reason to venture too far afield.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 16,318 miles

Most Recommended Comments

By dunning15
on 01/14/14
7:37 AM PST

There's a reason your last name is Edmunds. You write coherently, your stories are full of useful, pertinent information, they're longer than a short paragraph, pictures are included to give the reader a feel for the locale, etc. Your staff should all be required to read each article you write and follow suit as best they can.

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By dunning15
on 01/14/14
7:44 AM PST

Nicad - Tesla warranties the battery for 8 years and unlimited miles if you purchase the 85kW car. Now you may ask what degradation of the battery is considered normal and I've read a lot of different answers to that question. Seems that somewhere I saw something "official" about the cutoff being 70% - meaning that if your battery lost more than 70% of its original charging capacity over the eight years then it would be replaced. With 265 miles rated that means that you should be guaranteed a 185 mile charging capacity on your 8-year old Tesla Model S which is still fine for 95% of most people's daily driving. Also note that the battery is also warrantied against any fire so if you run over a huge rock on the 101 Freeway and your car catches fire you will also be reimbursed. Lastly, 5 years of battery information recorded on the Tesla Roadster have shown that the batteries are actually holding up far better than even the Tesla Engineering Staff had believed they would and the Roadster has a first-generation inferior battery technology when compared to the Model S. I have 8000 miles on my car in 8 months and have lost one mile of charge which I attribute to a rounding error.

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