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Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 11:01 a.m.

No, not I. Although our Tesla did go on an adventure involving a 100 mile detour earlier this week, I'll recount that later.

A friend of mine is driving from CA to NY to visit family. He's going out to do some work on his parents house and stay for a month or so. He's bringing his wife and the cat, stuff to work from NY (monitor, standing desk) and art supplies. It's a full-on American Road Trip. The goal is not to explore the US but to banzai it. They are doing the longest days they can stand and pounding down the interstates. The longest day is 870 miles.

The plan is for 3.5 days. They're driving a Tesla Model Y which has the advantage of being (I think) the fastest charging EV that can use the largest fast charging network available. It's a Dual Motor Long Range with a rated range of 316 miles. So it's a best case scenario for the trip from that viewpoint - but that's okay. We're not dealing with a megadollar Porsche that comes with a tech team at every stop to make sure the charging station is working, this is 100% consumer grade stuff that's available to everyone.

They are taking advantage of destination chargers, so in theory every day starts with a full battery. I say in theory because...well, keep reading.

Here are a few highlights of what they've come across:

- they ran into a few situations where they couldn't get full charging rate because they were having to share chargers with other cars. Basically, there's only so much power available. This stretched out the charging times a little longer than expected. Then they hit traffic in SLC because that's what happens there and because the Superchargers there are at an old-school style dealership in the middle of town. Day 2 was scheduled to have just under 2 hours of charge time, they estimate it was actually 2.5. The lesson learned there was to charge as much as possible at Superchargers in remote areas instead of busier areas. They never had to wait for a charger, just had a few that were a bit slower.

- at the hotel after day 2, their destination charger was blocked by a guy with a gasoline car. He didn't want to move because he had "valuable things" in his car. So they started day 3 with only about a half charge after having to deal with that. This slowed down day 3 slightly because their first Supercharger stop had to be earlier. This cost them 20-30 minutes.

- the limiting factor at stops has not been charge time, but the human factor. The people have to stop to pee more than the car has to stop to charge, and charging stops need to be planned in advance so you don't end up spending more time dinking around than the car needs. It took most of day 2 to figure this out. They're eating in the car (eww) to limit stopping time. They report that one of their stops was about 10 minutes longer than was required by humans.

- the Tesla display has a "glide path" that shows projected energy use over the course of a trip along with your current trajectory. He used that to dial in cruising speed to make sure there were no unanticipated stops due to high energy use. Using the glide path and planning charging stop tasks meant that on day 3, they were 8 minutes early on their projected ETA. 8 minutes over an 870 mile distance. They basically executed the plan the computer put together for them.

- today's trip is 720 miles and will have less than 90 minutes of charge time. Of course, they'll have to charge overnight the night before and the night after, but that happens while you sleep. Day 2 was 831 miles with 110 minutes of planned charge time.

- when they get where they're going, they'll plug in a mobile charger they brought with them and the car will live off that until they Cannonball back to California.

So, it is possible to do a banzai cross country road trip in an EV today. You can figure this out in theory but these two are actually doing it. Better them than I.

mr2s2000elise
mr2s2000elise SuperDork
8/7/20 11:08 a.m.

Good to hear! Hope they are safe. 

One of our neighbors did it in like 58 hours in his Model S. Was in Local papers and all over Jalopnik in 2015 or so. 

 

This couple did it in the model 3 I believe https://mashable.com/article/tesla-electric-vehicles-road-trips/ (without all the support vehicle my neighbor did with)

 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 11:31 a.m.

It's unlikely this trip will end up being published anywhere but a private Facebook group. Publicity is not a goal. It's been interesting to ride along. Especially given the claims from so many people that they can gas and go in under 5 minutes and how an EV would add hours and hours and hours to a road trip, when the reality is that the limiting factor is two people that have to actually plan their stops in order to get in and out faster than the car does. They're even eating on the move, so it's not like they're leisurely having a fancy dinner at Applebees while the car trickles up to full. My friend is an endurance racer and he has taken the same approach to this trip that he takes to pit stops in Lemons.

First charge stop of the day got moved up because of biological needs :)  They say it's the busiest SC yet, with what looks like 5 cars for 8 stations.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/7/20 11:59 a.m.

I don't think I would want to do 870 miles a day on a road trip in ANY car.  Doing it in an EV just says to me that the car is not the limiting factor.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 12:04 p.m.

I've done days like that, even back to back. It's rough.

An EV might actually be a better choice because there's less ambient noise and vibration, so you stay fresher. But yeah, the limiting factor is not the car. Phillip runs the EV because he's an interesting mix of environmentally aware engineer who also happens to race Lemons. He's the sort of guy who will only do an LS swap if he can run the result on E85. He's not doing this as a stunt, he's using the EV because it's the car he has that's best suited to the trip.

dj06482
dj06482 GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
8/7/20 12:04 p.m.

I would have loved to follow this! Although as someone who's run on generator power all week due to the storm, I think it's always wise to have a gas/diesel powered vehicles around in case of emergency.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 12:06 p.m.

You can charge an EV using a generator ;) Just like you use a generator to pump gas at the gas station.

Tom Suddard
Tom Suddard GRM+ Memberand Director of Marketing & Digital Assets
8/7/20 12:08 p.m.

Yeah, I much prefer my LEAF to my gas powered cars before/during/after a hurricane. 

With the gas cars, it's a constant case of rationing a resource that's incredibly scarce and requires waiting in line to buy more of. Electricity, on the other hand, is delivered to my house. 

With the EV, I can drive around for days while everybody is waiting at stations/prepping, then plug it in before the storm hits for a full charge. Then I run my house off of it while the power's out if I don't want to run my generator.

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/7/20 12:14 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

I've done days like that, even back to back. It's rough.

An EV might actually be a better choice because there's less ambient noise and vibration, so you stay fresher. But yeah, the limiting factor is not the car. Phillip runs the EV because he's an interesting mix of environmentally aware engineer who also happens to race Lemons. He's the sort of guy who will only do an LS swap if he can run the result on E85. He's not doing this as a stunt, he's using the EV because it's the car he has that's best suited to the trip.

Pete. (l33t FS) said:

I don't think I would want to do 870 miles a day on a road trip in ANY car.  Doing it in an EV just says to me that the car is not the limiting factor.

I my longest day ever in a car was 950 miles in my focus ST from the Chicago west suburbs to Fort Worth, TX.

Mazdeuce and Buffalo both did the trip in the opposite direction a few months later, on the day before we started one lap and they were in separate cars because they drove the lexus to Chicago for me. 

That's a 13 hour day and it's ROUGH by yourself.

Thanks for sharing the story Keith! 
 

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
8/7/20 12:15 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Especially given the claims from so many people that they can gas and go in under 5 minutes and how an EV would add hours and hours and hours to a road trip, when the reality is that the limiting factor is two people that have to actually plan their stops in order to get in and out faster than the car does.

Can you explain?  I think the overall message is correct, the car is not the problem.  But what on earth are they doing that it takes them longer at a stop than it takes to recharge?  

I agree that at the end of a (long) day, we are talking about an insignificant amount of time vs. a gas engine.**

Pete. (l33t FS) said:

I don't think I would want to do 870 miles a day on a road trip in ANY car.  Doing it in an EV just says to me that the car is not the limiting factor.

Indeed.

 

**subject to change during travel surges.

Olemiss540
Olemiss540 Reader
8/7/20 12:16 p.m.

Cool hearing real world results. 

I have constant anxiety planning gas station stops as soon as I hit 1/3 of a tank and there are gas stations every 500' on most interstates. I would turn into a ball of emotion driving an EV across the country so I praise their research and results!

alfadriver (Forum Supporter)
alfadriver (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 12:19 p.m.

That's not a drive I would want to do.

Even at 80mph- 870 miles is just about 11 hours of driving.  Add in even 2 hours of charging, or stopping- that's 13 out of 24 hours.

More realistically, 75mph (70 limit), 11.6 hours, and if it's one of those 2.5 hour charge days it's now 14 hours.

For sure, I would require 8 hours of sleeping.  Leaving an hour to wake up, an hour to cool down.

I honestly can't picture doing that.  Ever.  

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UltimaDork
8/7/20 12:54 p.m.

Ive done a cross country trip in 3 days which was around 900 miles a day and it was pretty terrible.

Whats interesting is the math regarding speed vs. gas mileage on a trip of that length.  The difference between 70mph avg and 55mph average is a extra day of driving (and additional hotel stay).

 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/7/20 12:57 p.m.

In reply to spacecadet (Forum Supporter) :

I did 900mi one-day in the RX-7 as a single driver... And I was beat all to hell at the end of the day.  16 hours each way between fuel and food and bathroom stops.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 1:01 p.m.

Total elapsed time for the 870 mile day was 17 hours. Way beyond the DOT hour of service regulations. There are two of them and I know the numbers change if you have a codriver, but still. This is a bit of a death march no matter what your mode of propulsion. I wouldn't want to be doing this either although I'll admit to thousand mile days in my past.

I have asked for a rundown of just what they're doing at a charge stop. Pulling drinks out of coolers, obtaining provisions, offloading fluids and solids I expect. This is all stuff we all do at gas stops that we don't think take any measurable time but does add up faster than you think. I'll probably get a full accounting of every minute :) The stops for today were scheduled to be 30, 15, 20 and 20 minutes.

They're running the battery between 80% and 20%. Charge rates slow down quite a bit as you get past 80%, so they charge to 90% overnight and then don't go beyond that during the day. 

The trick to not getting wound up with range anxiety is to trust the car, I think. They've got a real-time readout about how their energy use matches what's projected and can adjust accordingly. They can even tell how many people are at a Supercharger at any given moment. So if you follow the plan the car lays out, there should be no reason for anxiety. I can't say I'm good at this, we tend to keep a lot of reserve in the battery on road trips. But this trip they're on is fairly low on surprises, no late night snowstorms in the mountains like on my last trip to Denver.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 1:06 p.m.

A note about that first stop today at the busy Supercharger - it was scheduled to be 30 minutes, but when they plugged in the car said it would 50 due to the other cars sharing the power. They just did their business and left. The car rejiggered the schedule accordingly and will not require an extra stop over the course of the day. Based on posting times, that was roughly a 15 minute stop.

buzzboy
buzzboy Dork
8/7/20 1:20 p.m.

A drive I've done(atlantic to pacific) at a pace I've done it. I'm sure the quietness and smoothness of the EV is lovely. There's background noise that I'm sure I don't notice up front but is slowly wearing on me.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/7/20 1:20 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

You can charge an EV using a generator ;) Just like you use a generator to pump gas at the gas station.

That is actually one of the reasons I want an EV.  When storm damage is really bad around here, gas stations are out of action. Or in the case of Sandy - can run out of gas.  Natural Gas service rarely goes out where I am (yes - it can get shut off in some coastal areas).  So an EV charged by a house generator running on NG would be pretty nice in an emergency.  Of course, when there's an emergency like that, I usually don't go anywhere.  Plus, if push comes to shove, either of my diesel vehicles will run fine on the 100 to 250 gallons of heating oil in my basement (although it would need to be an extreme emergency). 

I just remember many of my friends driving and waiting in line for hours to find/buy gasoline for their generators.

It's an 850-mile drive for us to go back "home". I've done it over a dozen times over a 4-year period, driving 5 different vehicles so far, and the comfort of the vehicle I'm driving has had the biggest impact by far in both the overall time and my condition upon arrival. The 2nd most important factor would be having fuel capacity at least as great as your bladder(relative to time/miles, not gallons). :-)

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/7/20 2:13 p.m.

For comparison here on the 870 miles in 17 hours...

About once every 2-4 years I am picked up in Chicago on the way to Ely, MN. My group starts the day in Evansville, IN. That is about 830 miles. It is in an F250 crew cab long bed, gas engine. The whole trip takes about 15 hours, 45 minutes. This is due to gas stops, picking me up, breakfast stop, lunch stop, gear stop (Gander Mountain, probably will be Cabelas the next time), ice cream stop, etc. I don't think that we would be stopping a whole lot less with a more efficient vehicle either. EDIT: 830 miles for the whole trip. I'm only there for 2/3 of it.

 

The one potential problem here that I see with a Tesla in this use case is that I'm unsure of the destination charging on the back end. We could probably plug in at the outfitters, but worst case could probably plan charges in Duluth on either side of it. Well, that and my uncle likes to eat Breakfast at Cracker Barrel and finding a supercharger within a 1/4 mile walk of one may be difficult within the time range that we'd be there. And note that I only used the Tesla superchargers. There may be other networks here that would make it easier. But that is about it. I struggle to think of a realistic use case in the real world that electric vehicles aren't suited for. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/7/20 2:25 p.m.

Destination chargers are almost always attached to hotels. You just pick a hotel that has what you want, kinda like choosing a hotel with free breakfast or free wifi or a pool.

Now, if you're going to a remote hunting camp or something, you'll have to plan. With a 300 mile range, you just need to find appropriate charging within 150 miles. The Cracker Barrel problem will require a little more research :)

They just reported that their stop in Ohio was the first time they'd been to a Supercharger attached to a gas station, and the windshield really needed it. I've commented before on the need for squeegees at charging stations!

mtn (Forum Supporter)
mtn (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/7/20 2:34 p.m.
Keith Tanner said:

Destination chargers are almost always attached to hotels. You just pick a hotel that has what you want, kinda like choosing a hotel with free breakfast or free wifi or a pool.

Now, if you're going to a remote hunting camp or something, you'll have to plan. With a 300 mile range, you just need to find appropriate charging within 150 miles. The Cracker Barrel problem will require a little more research :)\

 

Yeah - we're not talking hotel here, we're talking outfitter. We sleep one night in bunkbeds, then are up at 5AM to get a tow to the border to go into Quetico. It does look like there is a destination charger in town, which would really mean that we would just have to get up an hour earlier and drive 20 minutes. 

Like you said, a little bit more planning. I don't think any of us are getting an electric vehicle in the next 5 years that we'd take up there anyways, simply because most of us are too cheap to buy a new vehicle, and those that aren't legitimately need 3/4 ton pickups. 

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/7/20 2:38 p.m.

In reply to Keith Tanner :

 

Are they at the sheetz in strongsville right off the Cleveland turnpike exit?  Because they have a row of superchargers

 

SVreX (Forum Supporter)
SVreX (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/7/20 2:40 p.m.

This is good info!

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
8/7/20 2:41 p.m.

In reply to Patrick (Forum Supporter) :

That's where I was thinking.  That or the one at the Turnpike/Route 10 exit about one minute from the Batcave.

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