San Francisco Road Trip, Part Three - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: San Francisco Road Trip, Part Three

August 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The drive back to L.A. from San Francisco gave us a lot more freedom than the drive up. We didn't have to be back in town at a scheduled time, so we could take our time. Despite this, we managed to head out of town by 10:00 a.m.

I grabbed the Tesla out of the Union Square garage with 257 miles of range showing. Considering the fact that we eked into town from Harris Ranch with only a 27-mile buffer, I knew to take it easy heading south.

As we arrived at the Harris Ranch supercharger, we had 49 miles of range left, which might lend some credibility to my theory that the northbound 5 Freeway has a slight uphill that sapped power on the way up. Short on choices, we once again had lunch at the Harris Ranch Restaurant, taking care to avoid the beef.

2013 Tesla Model S

When we emerged, we were greeted by another Model S that was charging up, along with some Tesla flyers tucked under the windshield wipers. I assumed the flyers came from the other Tesla owner, but he was nowhere to be found. Knowing that it was a shorter drive to the Tejon Ranch supercharger, I pulled the plug with 244 miles of range in the batteries.

2013 Tesla Model S

We did meet up with that other Tesla owner at Tejon Ranch though, just as we got back from a Starbucks break. We chatted for a bit and it turns out that he didn't slip those flyers on our car, as he had the same thing happen to him. He was a nice fella, just as enamored with his Model S as we are with ours.

We pulled into Edmunds HQ in the early evening, with the sun still out. I think if I were to do it all over, I'd consider taking the 101 instead, as there are three superchargers along that route. With the prospect of coast-to-coast supercharger network within a year, and 90-second battery swaps a distinct possibility, I think a much longer road trip is in the cards.

Got any suggestions?

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 7,360 miles


  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    Wow, I'm jealous of the beautiful places you guys frequent, especially when the bleak fall & winter weather arrives in Pennsylvania. For me, all of your road trips are a photographic treat.

  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    LOL. The drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco taking the I5 freeway is one of the least beautiful drives you could ever take. There might be 5 minutes of interesting things to look at and that's only once you hit The City. Only the drive from LA to Las Vegas is more desolate and depressing. The 101 is a completely different story, however, and I am anxious to hear about a Tesla road trip along one of the most scenic drives in the world. Congratulations on getting from Los Angeles to San Francisco and back without spending a single dollar on gasoline and putting no emmissions into our environment on that particular drive.

  • dunning15, that is a boring soul sucking drive going down I5 to LA. Capped off by horrible traffic as I5 merges over and over into the other freeways once you hit civilization.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Mark, I don't see how with a 470-foot elevation at Harris Ranch and a 125-foot elevation at Union Square, the northbound drive could be uphill. I think you were facing headwinds, as dunning15 speculates. To me, it's troubling that the range estimates from one charge to the next ranged from a low of 75% of the initial estimate up to just under 90% of the initial estimate. My car normally gives a 430-mile range estimate when I fill up. If, after burning three-quarters of a tank driving conservatively on a highway trip, my remaining range+miles-driven total was down to 340 miles, that to me is just wrong. I don't think I recall any ICE car you folks drove that would not actually match or exceed its miles-to-empty figure it gave at fillup. You had a 382-mile trip, with a supercharger location almost exactly at the halfway point (195 miles), and even with initial range estimates of 250-260 miles every time you charged, you still did not feel you could make the trip in two hops with any degree of confidence. On the other hand, I must say that other than the "range thing," the car and the charging infrastructure seem to have performed flawlessly and it was apparently a real pleasure to drive.

  • exnevadan_ exnevadan_ Posts:

    I'm interested in the concept of 90 second battery swaps, even faster than filling a gas tank. might make a low/limited range electric worthy of consideration. Has Edmunds written about them in the past or maybe info is available at the Tesla site? also, are these supercharger sites free of charge to Tesla owners, no mention of swiping a credit card or recharging costs per visit. as for the no emissions comment above - that way of thinking is foolish, there is a power plant churning out emissions somewhere to feed those superchargers. believe CA has more coal/fossil fuel plants than any other relatively clean source of power. while that might change in the future, we're dealing with the here and now, so any electric is still a remote emission emitter.

  • drcomputer drcomputer Posts:

    Supercharger stations are free for life for all Tesla owners. Once the Supercharger network is complete they will all be powered by Solar panels and battery storage systems. The net use of power for the local power company will be close to 0. So the argument that driving an electric car will produce emissions somewhere is not true.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    And by taking the 101, you also avoid Harris Ranch and the Central Valley in general. Bonus!

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Good to know the Superchargers are free for life, but I wonder if that may change eventually for new owners. Charging at a supercharger may not produce emissions, but plugging in at home probably does.

  • klinkerkc klinkerkc Posts:

    "The perfect should not be the enemy of the good"

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