2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Las Vegas Road Trip

April 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I was psyched to get the chance to be the first Edmunds editor to drive our Model S to Las Vegas. But then reality set in.

Las Vegas is 275 miles from my house. The Tesla only goes 265 miles max, and probably more like 240. Okay, I'll stop in Barstow for an hour to juice up at one of the super chargers. But what if they're full? And what happens when I get to Vegas and need to charge? And what about valets driving this quirky luxury car?

Lots of questions. Some anxiety. But I'm going anyway and I'll embrace the adventure.

Then I hit my first problem.

2012 Jaguar XF Supercharged

I'm leasing a 2012 Nissan Leaf so I have a 240-volt charging station at my house. I drove home two nights ago, plugged in and then checked the Tesla app: "Charging stopped." What the -- ? Turns out, my SPX charger isn't compatible with the Tesla even with the adapter on the cord.

In a panic, I emailed William Korthof, owner of Sustainable Solutions Partners and the guy who installed my charger to see what I could do. He got right back to me and said that SPX was going to do a software upgrade to fix the problem. He offered to temporarily install a compatible charger. But, I needed one right away so I could leave for Las Vegas with a fully charged battery.

I used Plugshare.com to locate the closest charger and found it in the parking garage at California State University Long Beach. Nearby was this sign saying the chargers were dedicated to Doug Korthof, an EV proponent who turned out to be William's father. He passed away last year at 68.

Anyway, checking on my Tesla app I was able to see when the battery was charged. I went back over to the campus and drove the car back to my house, ready for an early morning departure. There's a lot of desert to cover between here and Las Vegas, and a lot of mountains to climb. Wish me luck.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 2,267 miles

Comments

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    Good luck. I hope you plan to drive it like a normal car. A/C on if needed, radio, lights etc. I am curoius what the real world mileage is with accessories on.

  • exnevadan_ exnevadan_ Posts:

    have no fear, most tow trucks run on fossil fuel might be easier to download an online gam(bl)ing app for the Tesla's center stack, I presume that remains functional while the car is charging

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    Good luck! Have fun!

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Charger standardization should be the EV industry's first priority. Get that established early on and things are easier for everyone.

  • greenpony greenpony Posts:

    You're in a panic and you choose to *email* rather than *call*? I guess it's a different world...

  • I'm not specifically criticizing Edmunds here, but why is it when media outlets get an EV of any kind, the first thing they try to do is take it on an extended road trip? Yes, the Model S has longer range than previous EV's, but the whole point of an EV is to act as an efficient *short distance* vehicle. Guess what: I KNOW IT DOESN'T HAVE THE RANGE OF MY CURRENT CAR. Test the tool for its intended purpose! Does any reviewer ever get a Porsche 911 and focus entirely on how it performs during a rush-hour freeway slog?

  • hybris hybris Posts:

    Please do yourself a favor and have a actual survival kit with water and such because if this thing goes south then you very well maybe in the desert with a Telsa with no charge or name.

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    @stov001: There certainly IS a standard. SAE J1772. That SPX has a firmware patch coming suggests they didn't fully adhere to it.

  • toto_48313 toto_48313 Posts:

    good luck... I'm confident you'll make it !

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    Please don't drive it at 80 mph like all the other Edmunds cars, and then complain about its range/MPGe.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    The Tesla's introduction was 2/21/13, and it now has under 2,300 miles on it. The Mazda CX-5 introduction was 2/27/13. It has just under 5,000 miles on it. At this rate, they will be lucky to get 14,000 miles on their Tesla by year's end, rather than the 20,000+ they shoot for with their LT cars. Test the tool for its intended purpose? Bottom line is fewer staffers reach for the keys to this car, because too often it's a tool that does not serve THEIR intended purpose. I can see a $30,000 city car, with the tax credit. $100k? No way.

  • throwback throwback Posts:

    misterfusion, Tesla promotes the Model S as being able to do road trips due to their supercharger network. Shouldn't reviewers test the theory?

  • tokyorush tokyorush Posts:

    I am a Model S owner and I agree with Throwback - you should be able to go to Vegas (with a supercharger stop) with no problem. I take my car to NYC from my house (a 200 mile loop) every other week with no problems at all (except for the paparazzi following me). Having said that, I do think you have certain expectations of different cars. For example, my old Mercedes SL was a great car for day trips, but you wouldn't want to take it, for example, from Boston to Chicago. Too cramped, loud, uncomfortable for long drives. Whereas, our Buick Enclave is a great distance car, but 0% fun and won't pass a gas station. One of the challenges with the Tesla is that it fits into a category that is a little strange - A hi end GT with 5 usable seats. Not worrying about range, you would probably use it like an M5 or Panamera S which is to say not for many cross-country trips, but for some decent regional driving. Where I live you can easily drive to Boston or NYC, or up to Vermont for a ski weekend and have no range worries. If you live in TX or Kansas though, you would really need to plan your travel (usually around RV parks, where they have 50A power). That's unnatural for us until superchargers are the norm (with the higher amperage that will be announced soon). In any case, it's the perfect car for me. Fits everyone, fast, beautiful and very useful for all our driving except twice-yearly drives to grandma's house.

  • duck87 duck87 Posts:

    @misterfusion: By that kind of logic, the Model S becomes a toy, not a tool. What use is a $100k car that you can't use for getting out of the city?

  • tecnamtwin tecnamtwin Posts:

    It is interesting that they always want to focus on the one thing that an EVs are inherently not good at. The Model S is an exceptional car for pretty much everything. Tell us about the times you blow past sports cars at stop lights, jump into that spot in traffic, listen to the sound of quiet, nature, and music as you are propelled as if on a magic carpet down the road. Tell us how much stuff you can fit in the Tesla. What's it like to drive in the early morning with the sunroof down? Where's the typical comments that you would make of an Audi A8 or Bentley Mulsanne? These reviews seem to ignore the day to day awesomeness and convenience of owning a Tesla Model S.

  • Until there are more chargers to charge this car I would not by this car. Also it takes a long time to charge this car. I will stick with Hybrid Performance cars for now.......

  • theaustin theaustin Posts:

    misterfusion, I'm going to have to go ahead and sort of disagree with you there...One of the revolutionary things about the Model S (specifically when outfitted with the 85kWh battery pack) is that it is capable of making road trips, sometimes even extended roadtrips (although I feel that is more of a review of the Tesla Supercharger network and/or other EV charging networks than a review of the car)...Of course, taking an extended roadtrip in any EV is going to require a bit more planning than an gasoline-powered car...But if you are able to do so, there is definitely a sense of satisfaction, and maybe even a bit of a thrill that you were able to figure out how to do it, and that you were able to do so at a fraction of the cost of gasoline-powered car, if not completely free. I don't think the lack of ability of a Model S to make certain long-distance roadtrips is necessarily a condemnation of the car at all, as there are many, many other reasons why it's an amazing car...However, to most nay-sayers, range is often the biggest criticism...So if you can take range out of the equation, there's not much left to criticize.

  • theaustin theaustin Posts:

    hybris, you could say the same thing about a gas-powered car driving through the desert. There's been many a car that's run out of gas on a long stretch of desert road between gas stations. Running out of charge isn't necessarily a new problem, it's an old problem with a different name, and a different set of parameters. Sure, it takes longer to charge than fill up...But if you're smart and plan your trips with a minimum amount of effort before-hand, you can charge at night while you sleep, at restaurants while you eat, at rest-stops while you, uh...rest?...And all for a fraction of the cost of gas, and sometimes even free (via Tesla's Superchargers). Sure, it's different than what most people are used to right now...But, cost aside, most people could swap their gas-powered car for a Model S today and, with minimal planning, continue on about their lives without much impact. The EV charging network is usable now, and is only expanding, so things are going to get easier in terms of where people will be able to charge. And as for the cost, Tesla has been very clear that the Roadster, Model S and Model X are just part of the transition (technologically, logistically, and financially) to the production of a 30K sedan, planned for 2016-2017. I can certainly understand that some people will want to wait for then. But as a Model S owner, I can saw that I have not been limited or inconvenienced once since I've had my car.

  • mayhemm mayhemm Posts:

    @misterfusion: I'm sorry, dude, but I think you missed the point. The Model S is supposed to be a car you can use LIKE A CAR. I think your view of EVs was accurate in the past, but is now outdated. Usable range is considered to be a weakness of Model

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