2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Weekend Road Trip to Monterey, Return Trip

October 2, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The reason Tracy and I went to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was simple: We had tickets to the Grand Am race weekend. It's a great event. The racing is excellent and the crowds aren't nearly as intense as they are on a MotoGP weekend. It's easier to get around in town on Cannery Row, too.

Our hotel's Level 2 charger was a decided advantage, a necessity in fact. We needed the extra juice to make it to the track each day. And we needed to replace some of the miles we used getting to the track so we could get far enough down the road to reach the Supercharger network.

2013 Tesla Model S

Each round trip to the track was 23 miles, and we made that journey twice. The first night's full charge would have been enough to cover both track days and the first leg back to the Atascadero Supercharger with a couple dozen miles to spare. And we could have saved a couple dozen additional miles by leaving for home straight from the track on Sunday afternoon.

But we had a room Sunday night, so we were able to top up at the hotel one last time. We'd be heading out Monday morning with a full battery.

2013 Tesla Model S

I'd put the Tesla back into extended range charge mode, so we awoke to find 261 miles of battery to work with.

2013 Tesla Model S

That meant we could do something unexpected. We drove past the Atascadero Supercharger and continued on to the next one in Buellton, which was 80 miles farther down Highway 101. It's nice to have options.

2013 Tesla Model S

Buellton is another of Tesla's newest Supercharger stations. It's been open about a month and it's in the side parking lot of the Marriott hotel, which has a restaurant a few dozen steps away. There's a McDonald's and a movie theater right next door. The famous Pea Soup Andersen's is a half-mile walk on the other side of the freeway. We ate at the Marriott's cafe.

From this point we knew this was going to be a one-stop return trip. My car was in Santa Monica, my original starting point. We were only 134 miles from the end as far as the Model S was concerned.

For me, the exciting part of this trip was that it wasn't exciting at all. Except for the need to secure a hotel with an EV charger, the electric car issues people usually imagine were simply nonexistent thanks to the availability of Superchargers. We pretty much drove the Tesla Model S like any other car, and our stops were about as numerous and as time-consuming as they would have been otherwise.

In fact, our stops were even more relaxing. The typical roadside break is a two-parter: gas, then food. The temptation to drive through and eat on the road is great because you spent so much time at the pump. Here the plug and unplug task is little more than a footnote to the usual parking ritual. It doesn't really feel like you're stopping for fuel at all. Especially since Superchargers don't charge.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 9,406 miles

Most Recommended Comments

By fordson1
on 10/02/13
8:44 AM PST

Yeah, it is nice to have options. For most people, though, a race weekend is just that - a weekend. They have to be back at work Monday; they can't be spending half of Monday driving home. They have to leave the track at the end of racing Sunday afternoon and drive the 311 miles back home. The race started at 2 and took 2:45, so it was over at about 5. Bake in some time leaving with all the race traffic, and you're going to be getting home at about 10-10:30 at night, if you leave with a full tank of gas. But you have the Tesla, so you have to also bake in another hour at the supercharger, when all you want to do is get home and get to bed. None of this is a crippling flaw, but this weekend worked for you only because of all the supercharger locations there and because you could take Monday too, because really driving these LT cars IS PART of your job. I want to take in a race weekend at Watkins Glen - can you direct me to the supercharger I would use en route...from anywhere?

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