First Road Trip - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: First Road Trip

March 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We pulled our Model S out of the Tesla factory customer delivery center into a light rain with its range reading 249 miles. The Harris Ranch Supercharger, according to the sedan's navigation system, was just 153 miles away.

Range anxiety? Not even a little.

Southbound on Interstate 5 and it's easy to become enamored with Elon Musk's creation. The Model S is comfortable, luxurious and it feels substantial on the road. And it is fast. Like supercar fast. Still, we controlled ourselves and cruised around the 70 mph speed limit.

After 130 relaxed miles we got a warning message, both on the gauge cluster and the large screen center stack: "Service Tire Pressure System Contact Tesla Service."

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S

With the Supercharger just 23 miles away and the car feeling fine we pressed on and arrived at Harris Ranch without issue and with 43 miles of range left. We plugged into the ugly large white box, ate lunch and unplugged 60 minutes later. The car's computer said the range was up to 238 miles. Impressive in such a short time. By the way, the weather was now a dry and windy 55 degrees.

Oh, and the tire warning message was now gone. We got back on the road and soon realized how much the Model S does not like crosswinds. For several miles, keeping the sedan true in the lane was difficult. Nothing severe, but not the kind of dynamic flaw you find in a Mercedes S Class or a Porsche Panamera.

With our Santa Monica office about 150 miles away we decided to take the conservative approach and charge up again at Tejon Ranch at the base of the Grapevine, a severe climb through the mountains we were sure would accelerate our range consumption.

We reached the charger with 68 miles of range after a total drive of 269.4 miles. Far larger and more majestic than the unit at Harris Ranch, this Tejon Ranch Supercharger looks like a high-tech car port from a futuristic sci-fi movie. It's also solar powered and it can handle five cars at once, while the Harris Ranch facility is a solo.

We plugged in for 50 minutes while we snacked at Yogurtland and emerged with a slight dairy coma and 231 miles of range, way more than enough to make it home.

After 359 total miles of driving we arrived at Edmunds HQ in Santa Monica with 121 miles of range left over. That's just enough to make us question the need for the second charge at Tejon, but better safe than sorry.

Overall the drive was a very positive experience. The car is comfortable, even after hours of driving, and the Superchargers performed as advertised. The tire warning message never returned, but we're keeping an eye on our tire pressures just the same. Some staffers are already planning more road trips in the Model S, so stay tuned.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief


  • mk40 mk40 Posts:

    Looking forward to this long term test. All the short term tests we see from journalists on this car are always road trips since the journalist only has the car for a few days and then range anxiety comes into play in every story... makes the car look bad. In reality the car 95% of the time will have enough range on 1 charge for the entire day for the way most owners will use it... not trying to get in as much seat time as possible like a journalist who only has the car for few days. On the vast majority of days range anxiety won't even be an issue for owners.. they might put 80 miles/day and just plug in at night into the 220v at home. With it's ample instant torque and plenty of range on a typical daily driving day I'm looking forward to hearing about how responsive the car is around town and how easily it pulls away from a stop light and quickly and smoothly gets back up to speed. This car is ideal for S CA since it's RWD and it hardly has to use the heaters which use lots of energy. Why should they even have to "control themselves" for the sake of saving energy, in a luxury sports sedan like this.. that's quicker off the line than an M5. Use it as a daily driver and use it as the performance sedan it was meant to be. Unlike the hybrids this thing can be driven as hard as possible and it still won't produce any emissions if the energy is produced by solar, wind or hydro etc. This is what green performance is all about.. you can drive as heavy on the accelerator as you want without any emissions. It makes sense for the wealthy who are environmentally conscious to have one of these in their garage as a daily local driver in addition to their ICE vehicles, if it turns out to be reliable. I wouldn't worry to much around the range... if it can easily do 150miles per charge that's good enough for these owners... they have other vehicles.

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    "Some staffers are already planning more road trips in the Model S, so stay tuned." If I worked there, I would be the first to sign up!

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    So it told you you had 249 miles of range, and then at Mile 153 it had revised that down to 196...and since it was revising down all along, it probably wouldn't even have gone 196 - ? Then it told you it had 238 miles of range, but at Mile 116.4, it had revised that down to 184.4, then it told you it had 231 miles of range, but at Mile 89.6, it had revised that down to 210.6. So basically on a 70 mph highway trip it's going to tell you it has around 240 miles of range but if you were to at that point drive it until it dies you are going to get like 175-180 miles...and this is somehow acceptable, either in terms of absolute range or in terms of how accurate its range-estimate algorithm is?

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @mk40: I never realized you worked for Tesla!

  • ariusj ariusj Posts:

    Like what fordson1 said, the car essentially has at best 80% of its rated range when driving normally on I-5 at 70mph. A popular Tesla owners forum has a sticky guide that says plan to recharge at 66% of rated range to be safe. I like that it's a performance car but I hate having to live with the fact that on long trips like SF to LA, the cars I've blown away will be way ahead of me because I have to make TWO near 1-hr stops. It'll be worse for SF to Sacramento because round-trip is too much and there's no Supercharger.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Some of this is just wilful self-deception. They arrived at Tejon Ranch with 68 miles of range showing (probably around 55-60 miles, in reality). They still had 110 miles of driving to get home, but Scott Oldham is saying they might have been able to make it without recharging there. Blow out the candles and make a wish, basically. Are we supposed to take this seriously?

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