2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharged

April 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I felt a little apprehensive when I left my house early on a Sunday morning. I had to reach Tesla's supercharger in Barstow 128 miles away over the Cajon Pass, elevation 4,190 feet. I dialed down the cruise control to 65 mph as I climbed the long grade. But other than that, I cruised at 70 mph.

It was a good thing I read the Tesla forums because there were no signs directing me to the superchargers. They were, as other owners had posted, behind the Chili's restaurant. I pulled in, hooked up and checked the charge screen: jackpot! I was getting 300 miles of charge every hour.

2013 Tesla Model S

I went for a bite to eat at nearby Denny's, occasionally checking the charging level on my Tesla app. In less than the time it took to wolf a bacon avocado breakfast burrito the battery was fully charged.

I'm skipping ahead now, but I wanted to describe the return trip, since it also involved a stop in Barstow. I left Las Vegas with a full charge and cruised at about 75 mph. I was now confident of where the superchargers were and I felt they would be available on a weekday morning. But when I came around the corner of Chili's, I thought, oh crap! A pickup truck was blocking the chargers and three guys had wires spread all over the place. For a horrible second I thought I would be stranded here among chain restaurants and tacky outlet stores. But my anxiety quickly diminished as one of the guys moved the truck and waved me in.

Turned out, they were installing two new superchargers to bring the total to four. One electrician described them as "gen 2" chargers and, in fact, the towers were taller. Also, the electrician told me that if two Teslas charged at the same time, the second one to arrive would do so at a slower rate. When the first one left, the slower rate would continue, unless the owner disconnected and then began charging again.

I left the Tesla charging and went for a quick lunch. When I returned the car was charged and I was ready to head home.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 2,158 miles

Most Recommended Comments

By quadricycle
on 04/19/13
7:39 AM PST

If Tesla and others keep growing the charging network at a steady rate, we really could be one good battery advancement away from electric cars taking a more significant piece of the market pie.

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By fordson1
on 04/19/13
11:47 AM PST

I'm not worried about being the second car getting the slower charge, I'm worried about being the fourth car when there are already three being charged, at a three-station charger. So now in addition to your maybe one-hour charge, you have to add...who the hell knows? Maybe the max charge time is around an hour and the car in front of you is fully charged, but if the driver went off to get some food or shop, he's still gone, and you're still waiting. And while you're waiting, you have to stay with the car to move it into position when a charger opens up. And which car that's already there is going to be done first, so you know which line to get into? To picture the scenario, just imagine being third in line at a gas station, so that your three-minute refill (one-hour recharge) turns into a ten-minute refill (three-hour recharge). There ya go.

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