2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Trip Planning

March 25, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I knew that when I signed out our Tesla Model S, I had a lot of weekend traveling in front of me. I left the office with 240 miles showing on the projected range, but I was confident the Tesla wouldn't hinder my plans.

I headed about 9 miles east to Riswick's house for a quick little hangout. It also gave traffic a chance (albeit slim) to die down for a later destination. After shooting the breeze there, I headed home to feed the pet and pack for the night. I pointed the car north to Valencia to spend the night with the girlfriend. Without traffic, it's a 45-minute trek. But it was Friday night, just before St. Patrick's Day, and a sobriety checkpoint brought traffic flow through Hollywood to a crawl.

I finally got on the highway and up to speed, then more traffic. Ugh. I had traveled about 20 miles, but the range was showing that I've used up 30 miles worth of charge and there was still a big hill to climb. This was not how I thought it'd go.

The next afternoon I drove back home and the range was estimating 140 miles left, with actual miles coming to about 95. A couple of smaller trips to a taco stand on Sunset and the Petersen Automotive Museum kept chipping away at the range.

I wouldn't call it range anxiety, maybe range awareness by the time Sunday morning rolled around. The L.A. Marathon kept me from making my direct route back up to Valencia, so I had to drive through Downtown to head north. Luckily, Ikea was on my weekend to-do list and they just so happened to have a charging station nearby.

With 80 miles of range showing, I parked and plugged in as we headed into Ikea in Burbank, or as I like to call it, "the place where couples go to fight." We had no such disagreements in the store so we resorted to fabricating an argument about curtain rods to keep our sanity in the rat maze. We were out of there in only 30 minutes, which wasn't nearly enough time to get a decent charge. It was close enough to lunchtime, so I proposed we grab a bite in the dreaded mall food court.

As we ate, I texted Magrath to get an update on the charging. He has the Tesla app and I don't. He said I was at 105 miles of range, then asked how Burbank was. It's creepy having someone with the ability to shadow me, so I shut the remote access feature off as soon as I got back in the car.

A quick stop in Valencia and then back to L.A. The range was down to the 50s so I had the girlfriend look up charging stations in my neighborhood. There was one just a mile away in Beverly Hills, so she hopped in her car and followed me over. Another plug-in and we left in her car for a few hours. Honestly, this last charge was probably unnecessary, but I wanted more than 25 miles of a buffer zone to get back to work Monday morning.

We picked up the Tesla just before dinner, then swung by my sister's place a few miles south and dragged her kids to dinner in West L.A. Back up to my place to pick up out iPads and then back to my sister's to keep the kids from burning the house down for at least a few hours. When we finally got back to CasaHashi, I had 50 miles left on the range. Good enough for the 7-mile drive to Santa Monica in the morning.

Now that I've thoroughly bored you with what a Takahashi weekend is like, there's a moral to the story. The Tesla was able to handle the many destinations with ease. In L.A., there are plenty of charging stations to facilitate buzzing all over the county, and I'm sure more stations are on the way.

If I owned this car, and I didn't have to log every time I charged-up, I'd probably charge at every available station (movie theatres, supermarkets, Home Depot, etc.) whether or not I really needed to. A few miles added here or there give me that added security and, hey, you get rockstar parking in front! Then there's the cool factor. Once you get out of L.A.'s westside, Teslas are a rarity. I spotted a lot of people stopping to check out the car as it charged and there was no shortage of looks while on the road.

Yup. I like it. The Tesla Model S represents the first electric car that I consider aspirational. At some point, I'll take it into the canyons to see if it's inspirational, too.

Mark Takahashi, Automotive Editor @ 1,641 miles


  • jpwhitehome jpwhitehome Posts:

    Couldn't tell from your article. Did you plug in overnight at either of your stopovers? Even a lowly 120v outlet can add quite a few miles if plugged in overnight. Easily 80 miles for two evening stopovers, which would have dealt with the need to charge on the go.

  • zhangrenhou zhangrenhou Posts:

    You sure do a lot of driving!

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    You were fortunate that Ikea had a charging station, and even so, you had to extend your planned stay there to allow the car to charge. Then later you had to leave the Tesla to charge and use a conventional car for a few hours. And this is just local running around. Once you're outside the southern California electric car playpen, there are just so few places to plug in a car in this giant country...I'm sorry; I just don't see it. An interesting thought exercise would have been to have Oldham and Erin Riches install the Tesla app on their phones prior to their trips to Mount Rushmore and Manhattan, and just to pass the time, see how many charging locations there are outside of SoCal.

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    Mark had to charge at Ikea because he couldn't (or chose not to) charge the Model S at *home* Saturday evening like an actual owner would. He also did not do a Range charge Friday before starting out for whatever reason, leaving 25 potential miles behind. There are >11,000 charging stations listed on the ChargePoint site at this time. And, of course, you can plug it into any wall outlet (~40 miles over night) or dryer outlet (~100 miles over night). A Model S is probably a poor choice for a roadtrip to Mount Rushmore. I would suggest not buying one if that's a regular use case.

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    As an aside, the fixation with a charger on every corner is dumb once you're talking about a Model S. How many public gas stations would we need if everyone had one in their garage?

  • fordson1 fordson1 Posts:

    But all the other 415-hp, $100,000 sedans ARE a good choice for a trip to Mount Rushmore. And they are not a bad choice for the running around Edmunds did over the past weekend. I get the case for a Nissan Leaf. If I had one, my $40/week gasoline bill would probably drop to around $7 if my math is correct. For a commuter car that recharges in my garage 365 nights a year and costs me $30k, that's great. I just don't understand the logic of a 415-hp, $100,000 puddle-jumper.

  • mfennell mfennell Posts:

    While they probably are great choices for a 2600 mile RT from LA, in my (anecdotal, granted) experience, people who actually buy $100k cars are not road tripping college students/automotive journalists.

  • johng33 johng33 Posts:

    Mark: What you are missing with the way you and the other editors are testing is that your only "regular" charging station is at work, but you're driving it around on weekends. If you purchased a car (and owned a house), you would install a plug in your garage or driveway. All you need is a NEMA 14-50 (240 volt round plug), you don't need the High Power Wall Charger. What most owners do is plug in at night when we get out and unplug in the morning. It is just like my smart phone - charge it up every single night. Weekends if I'm running around in and out, I plug in when I'm home but I probably don't need to. I drive most days 50-100 miles a day. I think I've only run below 100 Rated miles remaining maybe 2-3 times, and I've got 6000 miles and 6 months with the car. I have a couple of public charges in my parking garage at work, but other than testing it once for an hour, have never needed it or used it. Your scenario where you charge up at work and then make it through the weekend with various public chargers is "inverted" from the way most of us use the car for daily/weekend driving. I'm just pointing this out because, to give it a fair shake, you really should think about how most people use it and how your "evaluation" scenario isn't quite the same. In any event, you've certainly made it work well for all of you and it's neat to read how well you guys like the car! So do we!

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