2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Trip Planning Is Key

December 12, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Perhaps unsurprisingly, taking a road trip in an EV like our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S requires planning. I needed to know the Supercharger locations and the distance between them.

I started out on the Supercharger landing page on Tesla's Web site. Strangely, the map there cannot be zoomed, nor are the location markers live. The map is simply an image. To sort out the actual Supercharger locations you scroll down and search the listings for one that sounds like it might be in general vicinity of location you're squinting at on the map. Chances are it's in a town you've never heard of. Good luck.

Click the address and you're taken to the page for that Supercharger location. Click the map embedded there and you go to a Google Maps version of it. One down, many to go. The bottom line is that there's no efficient way to map out a route on Tesla's site, and you have to individually cut and paste the Supercharger addresses into Google Maps.

This was to be a two-day trip: L.A. to Sacramento on day one, then on to Corvallis the next day. I originally planned to start in L.A. with a full charge, skip the Supercharger at Tejon Ranch and then do a full recharge in Coalinga at Harris Ranch (shown above) to be able to push all the way to Sacramento from there. A one-stop strategy.

But skipping Tejon Ranch was inadvisable, Dan Edmunds pointed out to me. The Grapevine is a big battery-sapper of a grade, and the prevailing speed of traffic on this route of about 70-75 mph wouldn't be range-friendly. Better to plan on simply throwing some miles in at Tejon Ranch, he said.

Dan was right. There was no way I'd have made it all the way to Harris Ranch. I ended up stopping at Tejon Ranch, grabbing lunch there while recharging, then stopped again at Harris Ranch where I twiddled my thumbs while, er, the Tesla's tank was brimmed.

While it's nice to have some shops nearby these Superchargers, the built-in catch is that your food/time-sink options are limited to whatever is within walking distance of the parked car. You're at their mercy. Making an additional stop for food (with no electrons being added at the same time) on a long trip would stretch the trip time considerably. Certainly I wasn't going to do that.

Plan on eating a lot of Starbucks and fast food when making road trips in your Model S. Or, since you're into planning ahead, prepare food in advance and bring it with you.

Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor

Most Recommended Comments

By noburgers
on 12/13/13
5:02 AM PST

Looks like road trips aren't this car's forte. The typical wealthy owner is not going to put up with range anxiety, master planning for recharges, and particularly the detours and waiting. They would probably take a gas vehicle and use the Tesla where it makes the most sense--commuting and shorter trips. Oh, the trip is uphill---let me recalculate the range. Not to say that if I were a Leaf or other EV owner I would be willing to put up with that much effort to travel outside a comfort range/zone.

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