2013 Tesla Model S: When to Choose Max Charge
April 15, 2014
For the past two and a half years I've been driving a 2011 Nissan Leaf SL and I'm sold on electric cars. But as the months go by, I feel more and more restricted by the range. There are several places I routinely want to go that are about 80 miles away, 160 round trip. So we're not talking full-on road trip, just too far for the Leaf. That's why, when I saw the 2013 Tesla Model S was available, I decided to stay electric but push beyond my normal boundaries. Still, I wanted every bit of security I could get.
Sunday night I set the charger for 100-percent charge. It hurt to do this, because filling it to max reduces the battery's recharge capacity. Over the time I've driven the Leaf I've seen its range diminish. When it was new I could squeeze 85 miles out of the battery without trouble. Now I'm lucky to get 70 miles on a single charge, and then I'm watching the range and driving without climate control.
Setting the Tesla's charge limit was easy because I didn't have to wade through multiple menus. It was just a matter of sliding the charge limit needle to max. I did need to allow more time for a full charge so I left it connected all night. In the morning I was met with the welcome sight of 265 miles of range. I could reach my destination, return to the Edmunds' offices, and still have plenty of range for the next driver.
My Leaf has been a reliable and pleasant commuter car. But next time around, I'd like more useable range. Maybe there is a sweet spot for electric cars that is somewhere between my Leaf and the pricy Tesla.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 20,425 mile