Supercharged - 2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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


  • quadricycle quadricycle Posts:

    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.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    Wow Tesla is really impressing me with the investment they're putting into this supercharger network. They may be paranoid, but they make a beautiful car and they're serious about addressing the infrastructure issues holding the industry back. Gotta give them props for that.

  • I'm impressed that the Supercharger network is actually useful rather than the gimmick it seemed like when it was first announced. That said, the comment about the 2nd car slower charging speed is pretty [non-permissible content removed]. Why wouldn't the charger automatically up the input when the first car disconnects? It's not like the 2nd car owner would be _disappointed_ to have gotten more range than promised...

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    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.

  • robs8 robs8 Posts:

    You say you were a little apprehensive about making it to Barstow and therefore slowed down up the Cajon pass before arriving at the supercharger? Care to elaborate on how much spare range you had when you arrived, was such a slow down necessary or does it just add a little "range anxiety" innuendo where none actually existed? Seems to me you made a long distance road trip in the Model S with no true sacrifices whatsoever?

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    The tech mis-spoke. From memory, the charger stack is capable of 120kW, shared between two cars. First car gets priority (up to 90ish kW). As that car nears fully charged, its rate goes down and the second car's charge rate ramps up.

  • mayhemm mayhemm Posts:

    @stovt001: I'd be a little paranoid too if I was a startup company building my brand and had a well-circulated media outlet with a reputation for journalistic integrity do what amounted to a hit piece on me. Like the saying goes, "just because you'

  • mayhemm mayhemm Posts:

    @fordson1: Each Supercharger unit controls, at most, two chargers. So even if there are ten charge slots, your speed is determined by only one. I understand why Tesla has to stagger the power draw (limitations of the connection and utility) but I don't

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