2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test - MPG
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2013 Tesla Model S Long-Term Road Test

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2013 Tesla Model S: Five EV Questions

June 4, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

When you drive the 2013 Tesla Model S you'd better be ready for questions. Over the past year driving this EV, and the three years driving my 2011 Nissan Leaf SL, I've fielded hundreds of questions. They almost always come in the same order. The #1 most common question is — you guessed it — "How far will it go on a full charge?"

The #2 most common question might surprise you.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cost of Gas vs. Electricity

June 3, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Americans hate high gas prices. Hate, hate, hate them. Presidencies have been toppled by the inability to provide cheap gas. Just ask Jimmy Carter. So you would think Americans would embrace EVs. Not so. Or at least, not yet. Maybe the problem is no one puts a real dollar sign on the savings.

I decided to look at the fuel cost of driving our 2013 Tesla Model S 23,000 miles compared to driving the BMW 7 Series, (19 mpg combined) over the same distance. Remember, this is fuel cost only.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharger Network Still Growing

May 26, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

The list of far-flung places we can drive our 2013 Tesla Model S continues to grow as more Supercharger stations are added. There are 94 in the Continental US at the moment, which is two more than I saw when I checked this map last week and about 40 more than there were this past New Year's Day.

The latest Supercharger addition that affects us is the new one in San Juan Capistrano, the place with the mission, the swallows and former President Nixon's western White House. This one puts San Diego within easy range for a round trip with no top-up required to get back home.

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2013 Tesla Model S: How Much Range Is Lost When Parked?

February 28, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

One of the frequently asked questions I get about electric vehicles goes like this: "What happens to the battery when the car sits parked? How many miles does is lose just sitting there?"

OK, that was two questions, but still.

A couple of weeks ago I deliberately checked out the 2013 Tesla Model S for a trip I took to Puerto Rico to test the upcoming 2014 Mini Cooper.

The Model S was my ride to the airport, and it sat idle in an LAX parking structure for three days while I flew south for the winter. Tesla's handy iPhone app confirmed it had 204 miles of range as I boarded the Wally Park airport shuttle.

How much would it have when I came back?

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2013 Tesla Model S: A Typical Supercharger Dinner

January 17, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

We're headed south on the way home from Oregon. The Supercharger at Vacaville, California is dead ahead. We decided against dinner at our last stop, but we're good and hungry now. And we're in the mood for a break.

I back our 2013 Tesla Model S into one of the eight supercharger slots located along one edge of the lot at Vacaville Premium Outlets, hop out and plug in. Electricity begins flowing before everyone else finishes sorting themselves out and exits the car. Time: 7:32 p.m.; remaining range: 13 miles

After a short discussion we decide to eat at Mel's Diner. It's not on the Vacaville Supercharger webpage that my wife consulted in the car on the way in, but Google says it's just behind the narrow strip of outlet stores to our left.

We do an end-around past the row of shops, traverse Mel's parking lot and go inside. The hostess seats us after a brief wait. Our waiter comes by after a couple of minutes and takes our drink orders while we continue to peruse our menus.

Our drinks arrive a couple of minutes later. At this point I decide to see how the car is doing while my wife and kids order food. Then I ask for a patty melt, medium well, with fries and a side salad.
Time: 7:45 p.m. (13 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 77; new range: 90 miles

The salads arrive. No, that one's mine. She had the ranch.
Time: 7:51 p.m. (19 minutes elapsed); total miles added: 107; new range: 120 miles

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2013 Tesla Model S: Wall Adapter Replacement Program

January 14, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last Friday, Tesla Motors announced a replacement program for wall charger adapters. Apparently there have been several reports of smoke in the vicinity of the wall plug, and at least one owner was burned when trying to unplug his car when he saw said smoke.

Early media reports were all over the map, with accompanying photos depicting the High Powered Wall Connector (HPWC) or a Tesla Supercharger. Neither is involved. They're fine.

And while the issue is related to the home charge cord that comes with the car, the cord itself is fine, too. The issue is instead related to the use of the NEMA 14-50 wall adapter that can be snapped onto the end of it. That's the part that's being replaced.

That's the adapter I was using at Dad's place in Oregon. In fact, I had a minor charge issue myself while I was there. See the next page for more on that.

Tesla says the adapter isn't really at issue. They instead blame the incidents on substandard or faulty home wiring.

"These are very rare events, but occasionally the wiring isn't done right," CEO Elon Musk said. "We want people to have absolute comfort, so we're going to be providing them with an upgraded adapter."

The upgraded adapter, which will be mailed to Tesla owners in the next two weeks, is functionally identical to the one pictured above, but with a thermal fuse imbedded inside to cut power if overheating is detected.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Cheap Electricity on the Oregon Coast

January 14, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Dad has plenty of power in his Oregon coast garage. It's more of a shop, really. Beyond the usual hand tools he's got a mill, a lathe, a humungous 6.5-hp air compressor and a nice welder. And he happens to have a NEMA 14-50 "RV" socket, too, and that made it easy to drive our 2013 Tesla Model S every day during our stay.

Sure, a garden-variety 120-volt, 12-amp garage plug would have worked, but the resulting slow charge rate couldn't possibly fill the battery overnight. The Tesla's unique configurable charge cord with its included NEMA 14-50 wall adapter can access 240-volt power at up to 40 amps. Volts times amps equals watts, so that works out to a very healthy maximum delivery rate of 9.6 kilowatts.

And so we awoke to a full battery every morning. We could drive as much as we liked. Good thing, too, because the weather was gorgeous and the stunning viewpoints are numerous.

But it gets better. Dad's electricity rates are low. He pays just 7.4 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in summer and 7.94 cents in winter. These rates apply at all hours. Taxes and transmission costs are included, too.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Electric Holiday Road Trip

January 13, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Twice a year my family heads north to Oregon to visit my parents on the spectacular yet remote southern Oregon coast. Each time we take a different car from the long-term fleet, and this time it was the 2103 Tesla Model S sedan.

We couldn't have done this in August because the Tesla Supercharger network hadn't yet been finished north of Sacramento, California. Our long-term 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe was drafted instead.

By November Tesla had added Superchargers all the way north to Canada. Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh beat me to trial-run honors by traveling to Corvallis, Oregon during the Thanksgiving break.

But I was still curious. Would the Tesla Model S and its battery charging requirement significantly alter our usual trip timing, Supercharger network notwithstanding?

There was only one way to find out, but my wife and daughters were not terribly excited about being roped into this experiment. Would I regret this decision after subjecting them to unwanted extra travel time? Would it take forever? Would I never hear the end of it?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Beyond 15,000 Miles

January 1, 2014

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S sailed past the 15,000-mile mark, exactly 10 months to the day since it joined our long-term test fleet.

On the one hand, this lags slightly behind the pace necessary to reach 20,000 miles in one year, our usual stated goal. Its 12-month total is on track to settle in at 18,000 miles if the current mileage accumulation rate persists.

On the other hand, no other electric car we've hosted in our fleet has come even half this close. This current mileage figure is unprecedented in our experience.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Charging at Home With a NEMA 14-50 Outlet

November 22, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last month we posted an update on our 2013 Tesla Model S about charging at an RV park. Basically, we used the Model S's included charge cord adapter to connect and recharge from a NEMA 14-50 receptacle, which is a four-prong, 240-volt outlet (yeah, pretty much a dryer outlet).

In the update Dan Edmunds wrote after successfully charging our Model S at the RV park, "You could even have an electrician install a 240V, 50-amp NEMA 14-50 receptacle in your garage instead of paying a grand or more for an SAE-compliant Level 2 charge station."

Well, I just happen to have exactly that setup at my house.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Making Sense of the Energy Displays

November 18, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

If you've been following the updates on our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S, you've likely seen a few pictures similar to the one above. This displayed squiggly line might look like it's charting Tesla's stock prices, but it's actually showing you real-time tracking of the car's energy consumption.

On one hand, it's easy to just drive the Tesla until you recharge (or run out of juice) and not worry about what your "fuel economy" is. But if you want to know what your Tesla is actually doing, and how your driving style affects it, you need to understand what's being displayed on this screen.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Supercharger Network Now Links San Diego to Vancouver B.C.

November 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Three new supercharger stations that just opened in northern California and southern Oregon now make it possible to drive our 2013 Tesla Model S from Mexico to Canada. I'll settle for Christmas with my parents on the Oregon coast, though. All I need now is a set of winter tires.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Charging at an RV Park

October 17, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Our 2013 Tesla Model S can do many things other EVs can't, and you're looking at one of them. Here it's plugged in to the 240V shore power receptacle at an RV park in a space with full hookups. It's made to do this, which is another sign that Tesla is thinking way outside the box that defines other electric vehicles and their limited capabilities.

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2013 Tesla Model S: How Quickly Does a Supercharger Charge?

October 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A couple of months ago I made a lame attempt to measure how quickly a Tesla Supercharger dumps electricity into a 2013 Tesla Model S battery. I was hoping to figure out how much downtime to expect on a long trip because I'm planning to take our Model S on my annual year-end holiday trip to Oregon as soon as the Supercharger network expands and connects the dots.

But my visit to the Hawthorne Supercharger at Tesla HQ was a spur of the moment decision. I hadn't really worked out a procedure before I arrived. And my results were inconclusive because of the comings and goings of other cars charging in adjacent spots.

Since then I've worked out a simple method, and a couple weeks ago I tried it on a short weekend trip to Monterey. The site was the new Supercharger in Buellton, California, and I was able to get clean data because no other Tesla vehicles were charging while our car was there.

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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.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Weekend Road Trip to Monterey, Part One

October 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

A couple of weekends ago my wife and I dashed out of town to watch the Grand Am races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. And we drove up and back in our 2013 Tesla Model S, the only pure electric vehicle on the market that can make the 750-mile round trip in anything approaching a normal time scale.

Best part: Fuel for the trip cost us exactly zero dollars and zero cents.

Tesla Superchargers at Tejon Ranch and Atascadero got us up there, and the one in Buellton got us home. In between, overnight charges on our hotels' free Level 2 charger kept the Model S topped up for our daily runs to the track.

Here's how it went on the trip north.

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2013 Tesla Model S: San Francisco Road Trip, Part Three

August 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

The drive back to L.A. from San Francisco gave us a lot more freedom than the drive up. We didn't have to be back in town at a scheduled time, so we could take our time. Despite this, we managed to head out of town by 10:00 a.m.

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2013 Tesla Model S: San Francisco Road Trip, Part Two

August 14, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Just like the first leg of the L.A. to San Francisco road trip, The Tesla would easily make it to the second supercharger stop at Harris Ranch. A mere 116 miles with my 262 estimated range miles.

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2013 Tesla Model S: San Francisco Road Trip, Part One

August 13, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I think I'm getting better with road trips. Between the Grand National trip from Memphis and my L.A. to Napa and back in a day, these things are a less of a big deal. Of course, I'm always up for a challenge.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Philosophical Range Anxiety

June 19, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Last Thursday when it was my turn to pick a car for the weekend the Tesla Model S was available. It was the moment I'd been waiting for. I genuinely like this car. I like its speed, styling, the progress it represents and the fact that I can feel genuinely patriotic when I drive it. It's good like that.

But I went home in the Mazda CX-5.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Recharging From an Outdoor Electrical Outlet

May 8, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

After driving our 2013 Tesla Model S home, I snapped this photo and sent it to Director of Vehicle Testing, Dan Edmunds along with "We don't have clearance Clarence. I'll check the garage for a nearby outlet minus cover." To which Dan replied, "If nothing pans out, I guess you'll have to charge without recording."

It turns out our "Kill A Watt EZ" gauge we use to record how much electricity goes into the car's batteries won't mate with my outdoor outlet with the big, flappy rain cover.

Click through to see what my electricity usage looked like after I plugged in the Tesla.

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2013 Tesla Model S: What's Wrong With This Picture?

May 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Only eagle-eyed readers will spot what's wrong with this photo. Can you?

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2013 Tesla Model S: Visiting the Tejon Ranch Supercharger

April 26, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

There I was, taking the long way to Moab, Utah in our 2012 Jeep Wrangler. My first stop was Buttonwillow Raceway to help out at the SCCA road races, but before I got there I peeled off Interstate 5 at Laval Road in Tejon Ranch for some sustenance.

"There's a Tesla Supercharger around here somewhere," I thought to myself.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Real World Range

March 29, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

On Friday afternoon I jumped in our long-term 2013 Tesla Model S and headed home for the weekend. The car was fully charged and its instrument cluster told me it was packing 251 miles of range.

I never plugged it in over the weekend, and on Monday morning the Tesla and I arrived back at Edmunds HQ after 87.6 miles of driving. At this point the car's instrument cluster was telling me it was packing only 65 miles of range, so my 88 miles of driving used 186 miles worth of battery range.

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2013 Tesla Model S: Charging Port

March 15, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

Besides our ongoing troubles with the touchscreen, our Tesla Model S still has a glow about it. Literally.

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2013 Tesla Model S: All-Electric Weekend

March 7, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

I spent the last weekend in the 2013 Tesla Model S and it has quickly become my favorite car in the fleet. It's fast, quiet, high tech, comfortable and looks great from every angle. Here are three things I noticed about the Tesla as I drove it.

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2013 Tesla Model S: First Road Trip

March 1, 2013

2013 Tesla Model S

We pulled our Model S out of the Tesla factory customer delivery center into a light rain with its range reading 249 miles. The Harris Ranch Supercharger, according to the sedan's navigation system, was just 153 miles away.

Range anxiety? Not even a little.

Southbound on Interstate 5 and it's easy to become enamored with Elon Musk's creation. The Model S is comfortable, luxurious and it feels substantial on the road. And it is fast. Like supercar fast. Still, we controlled ourselves and cruised around the 70 mph speed limit.

After 130 relaxed miles we got a warning message, both on the gauge cluster and the large screen center stack: "Service Tire Pressure System Contact Tesla Service."

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