San Francisco Road Trip, Part Two- 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 Two

August 14, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Just like the first leg of the L.A. to San Francisco road trip, The Tesla would easily make it to the second supercharger stop at Harris Ranch. A mere 116 miles with my 262 estimated range miles.

Right on schedule, we pulled into the supercharger station with 120 miles of range still in the bank. I knew range wasn't an issue again, and drove "normally," squandering 26 miles in more enthusiastic acceleration.

The superchargers are positioned right near the Harris Ranch Restaurant in Coalinga, CA, so our lunch destination was pretty much made for us. As the resident red meat enthusiast at Edmunds, I was please to be greeted by giant slabs of beef roasting right by the entrance. By all accounts, I was in the right place.

As I sat over my plate of beef sawing away with a steak knife (it wasn't very good), I would occasionally take a look at the Tesla app to see how the charge was going. The highest rate shown was 284 miles per hour. Now THAT'S fast.

By the time I gave up on my tri-tip, the charge was right back up to 262 miles. Plenty of range to make the 187-mile leg into San Francisco if I drove conservatively, right?


I was a good boy behind the wheel. I used a featherlight touch on the accelerator the whole way up. I was conscious of the estimated range versus the actual miles. None of that helped. I can't say for sure, but I'm fairly convinced that it's a gradual uphill climb into the Bay Area on the 5 Freeway.

2013 Tesla Model S

We finally pulled into San Francisco with only 27 miles of estimated range left. That was way too close for comfort, and we still weren't at the destination. We had to stop to get the car washed first. Fortunately, the car wash, event and hotel were all within a few miles of each other and we had about 90 minutes before we had to show up.

2013 Tesla Model S

I used the PlugShare app to find a charging station near the event space. It was in a parking structure at the Beacon building and the description noted that if you buy something at the Safeway, you get 90 minutes of parking for free. We got there with 18 miles left. Whew. A little over an hour, the range clawed its way back up to a paltry 37 miles. Good enough, I figured, to leave it on to give a few demos of the car while it was parked and get it to Union Square.

The event went off without a hitch and I became a bit of an ambassador for Tesla, explaining all of the systems and its driving characteristics. After two hours we were set free on the city and I had but one place on my mind: A16, one of my favorite places to eat. We had to stop at the hotel first, to check in and drop off our bags. According to PlugShare, there was a charging station just a block or two away, but just on the outside chance, I asked the valet if he knew of a closer one.

He did, in fact, and it was in the same lot they store their cars, which is under Union Square. I found it easily and plugged in for the night. We cabbed it to and from A16 (it was fantastic, by the way) and I made sure throughout the evening that the car was still charging using the app.

Between the drive, range anxiety, trying to be charming in an interview, the Montepulciano(i), grilled octopus, gnocchi with rabbit, pistachio panna cotta and a beautiful ruby port, I slept like the dead.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 6,979 miles


  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    Congratulations, you made it! 27 miles of range left entering into the city is pushing it. You lost almost 50 miles of rated range on the leg into the city which seems excessive. What was your overall energy consumed for this trip? Should be somewhere around 300 kwh but heading North you are almost always against the wind (cyclists rarely ride from SoCal to NorCal but often ride from NorCal to SoCal due to the wind - I know, I've done it; twice) and uphill. I would imagine you were somewhere around 350 kwh of average energy consumed for the entire trip up. Harris Ranch sucks. We learned that after our 10th trip. For a place with 50,000 head of cattle right outside the door (and the smell to prove it) the meat is mediocre at best. Best to kick back at one of the fast food places. The Central Valley Taco Bells are the best in the country. Will you be hitting he Gilroy SC on the way back? Maybe the 101 on the way back for different experiences at different SCs. I'm interested to hear your experience at the Grand Central Station of SCs.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Huh. On your first charge, after driving fast, it ended up telling you that you had only 75% of its initial predicted range. On the second leg, also driven fast, it ended up telling you that you had 81% of initial predicted range. On the third leg, after driving very conservatively, it ended up telling you that you had...81% of initial predicted range. WTF? What I'm getting from that and your tweet that on the way home you got much better projected range on that same leg, is that even with a couple of updates to the algorithm, it's still just not that good at projecting range and rate of consumption, which is not a positive. Also, from your Twitter feed, I see that you got to SF around 3:20 p.m., after starting at 6:30 a.m. Now, in an ICE car, that's just under a 6-hour drive, which I would expect to extend to 7 with a sit-down meal like you had. So that is a helpful illustration of the time penalty you are going to pay going on a road trip with this car.

  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    Two hours, $81 saved in fuel for the trip, $40 an hour for your time, etc. You could have a couple beers and appetizers at each stop for that money. And if time is that important, by all means fly. If you leave on the 6:45 am out of John Wayne Airport you'll land in SFO at 8am. Problem solved. You don't need a car once you're in the city anyway and BART will take you from the airport to the city.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    Just laying it out there, buddy. This car was $106,000. The target demographic for that car is making around $150,000 a year. So he's making $72 an I would say his time is worth more than $40 an hour. Also, in the ICE car world, somebody making $150k a year, driving from LA to SF, eats at whatever the hell restaurant he wants - he's not choosing between one crappy sit-down place and a Taco Bell. And I don't think he cares about the $81 for gas, although he is saving on cab fare to the restaurant, because his car doesn't have to sit at the gas station refueling for 12 hours so he can make it back to SoCal the next day. Now that's not to say this is the view everyone should adopt...just that there is more than one way of looking at it.

  • dunning15 dunning15 Posts:

    Oh Fordson, I had to do a LOL on that one! I don't care if you make $700K a year and are the CEO of the company, you ain't eating at whatever restaurant you want on the drive from LA to SF taking the I5 freeway. Again, I've done this drive 100 times and last time I checked I don't recall seeing a Ruth's Chris right off the Buttonwillow exit. Harris Ranch is the cream of the crop on the entire drive and it's mediocre. Now if you're taking the 99 that's a different story as is the 101. Both add time and distance to the drive but the restaurant options are plentiful. Also, it doesn't matter what you earn per hour, I'm doing this drive for vacation purposes. Visiting family. If your time is so valuable that eating at a Wendy's and making $45 as you charge your car for an hour is out of the question well then you'll be flying. Rich people don't drive long distances. Period. They fly. Or are driven. Maybe if they open a Morton's next to a SuperCharger things will change.

  • gslippy gslippy Posts:

    @fordson1: Driving an EV uphill eats miles. I doubt the Model S' nav and gas gauge are linked, but it would be nice if it could observe a predicted route and reduce/increase range based on elevation changes.

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    dunning15, you are the one who keeps bringing X$ per hour saved/earned into the discussion, and then when I use the numbers against you, suddenly that metric that you keep citing doesn't matter. Maybe I'm missing something here, but...the elevation of Union Square in SF is 125 feet. The elevation of the Harris Ranch SC is 470 feet. So the idea that he had an elevation gain on the way from Harris Ranch to Union Square is untrue - it's the other way around. Midtown Santa Monica is around 105 feet. Basically the idea that going from the one sea-level city to the other sea-level city you are going uphill or downhill is ridiculous. The headwind/tailwind explanation is much more plausible.

  • sharpend sharpend Posts:

    What's up with all the pissing back and forth around here? Sheesh.

  • 133712 133712 Posts:

    Funny. I live at the Beacon and A16 on Chestnut is also one of my favorite restaurants. Next time, pick me up :)

  • darthbimmer darthbimmer Posts:

    @fordson: I make over $150k and have for several years. Two things about the LA-SF trip, which I do frequently: First, the calculation of whether to fly or drive has many more variables than just the cost of gas and my salary. Second, I usually stop for f

  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    "Rich people don't drive long distances. Period." Ah yes, all rich people do the exact same thing, and then report on what that thing is. You realize that rich people, like any other demographic, are saints, asses, intelligent, not so intelligent, kind, unkind, like driving, get driven, only fly, hate flying, fly first class or by charter, putt putt around in an old pick-up, speed around in a red Ferrari, only eat in the nicest places, or (as above) occasionally stop in fast food joints. I just wanted to point that out. @sharpend: Just people exchanging ideas. Inevitably, those ideas conflict. Hopefully this is an open minded discussion, rather than an argument where we typically close our minds from ideas that differ from our own.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Harris Ranch is the most rancid smelling cow farm I've ever encountered, so it is no surprise at all the food wasn't very good. My friends just moved literally across the street from a big cow farm in Chino, and the smell is agricultural, earthy, but certainly bearable. Harris Ranch, I just have to turn the air on to recirc and break the speed limit to get through it as fast as possible.

  • plazman plazman Posts:

    I find I get about 75% of "rated range" using my normal "spirited" driving. In your example, even though you were driving conservatively, you claim you only got 70%. That's surprising, but like you say, if there's a steady uphill grade, or a strong headwind, I could see that happening. BTW, There's an onboard energy usage app that tracks your average usage over the last 5/15/30 miles and gives you a "real life" range estimation. This can help you decide how conservatively you should drive to reach your destination safely.

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