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Help with specific range question!

I do 90% of my driving on weekends, from NYC to the Catskills in upstate NY. I am considering the Model S with 85kwh battery. The car should consistently and comfortably make the trip on a single charge, otherwise I'm afraid it's not much use to me.

The trip is 150 miles. Well within the single-charge range? Or maybe not so much? Especially given:

- My wife and I both tend to drive the flow of traffic, which is 75-80 mph. Call it 80 mph for calculation purposes.
- We drive year round, in Northeast winter temps.
- We have young children in car seats, so we will need to keep the actual cabin temperature comfortable for them (no heated seats option to help with chilly drive.)
- We will occasionally hit traffic, which can turn the 2+ hour trip into 3 or even 3.5 hours. (And see the previous note about heating the cabin for kids.)
- It is a bit of a hilly drive - not terrible, but not flat.

So...without changing our driving behavior, would you think the car is suitable for this use?

And if the answer is "No", which driving behaviors would we have to change? We have another car so we could swap out during the winter, if necessary, without too much heartache. Driving slower would be a tough sacrifice. Can't do much about the traffic, or the cabin temp with the kids, or the hills.

In your case, with 85kwh MS standard fully charged (usually 240 rated miles), you can make one way 150 miles trip but definitely not a round trip (~300 miles). You need to charge the MS again before heading back.

Yes, I'm talking about one way. I can charge at both locations.

You think 150 miles is still a comfortable distance, even with all the caveats of speed, temp, etc?

It also just occurred to me that there will be battery degradation over time. So even if I can do this trip now, what about 3 or 5 years from now?

Again, this is the critical, must-have scenario.

Thanks for your input!

I live in Iowa and make a monthly trip to Wisconsin so weather should be about the same as what you are talking about. My trip is just short of 200 miles one way. I make it with a little range remaining (which varies depending upon the temps and road conditions from about 50 to less than 5). But my maximum speed is around 65-70 and that is about half of trip and the second half is on 55 mph roads. So with my experience I would say that you are good to go as long as you are planning to recharge before returning.

I clocked a run on I95 DC to Richmond, about 110 miles, in the cold with the heater turned up, and hitting 75 at the peaks. I then extrapolated the number and believe on that sort of trip I can get 215 miles, no reserve. This tracks well with the calculator (did you know they have a calculator on the web page under charging?)I have a Perf 85. I would not think the stop and go would hurt much, though with the heater or AC running an extra hour that would be a small tax. What you really need is someone to do the run with the right conditions and measure it. Sounds like it would be fine. Is that 150 each way or round trip. There is currently a small problem of losing some 8 miles a day when not running/charging.

I know slowing down would be tough, but you might only have to do this in extraordinary conditions (e.g., extremely cold), and then only at the point when it becomes clear that your consumption is higher than expected. Driving 70 or 75 for the last few miles might be easier than you think. Also, remember, you can do a range charge for this trip, which will give you an added cushion.

Wonder how I could test it? Anyone want to run a test run from NYC for me, and get a free weekend in the Catskills in the process?

We made a 200 mile r/t Boston to Portland on a single charge in January carrying two kids in booster seats, We did use the range mode on climate controls, but we gave the kids an electric blanket that plugs into the "cigarette lighter" ( search Amazon for auto electric blanket). At 150 miles you should be fine even if you are blasting the heat.

5 yrs. capacity drop might be from 10-30 miles, depending on annual mileage. But by then driver skill will have increased enormously, and ability to manipulate/guesstimate range with it. 5 mph slowing (using CC if necessary) will pay big range dividends at need, in any case.

Driving fast over such distances saves remarkably little time. 150 miles at 80 mph = 1.88 hrs, or 113 minutes. At 70 mph, it is 2.14 hrs, or 128 minutes. A 15 minute difference. But the range payoff is huge.

15 minutes is a lot when the baby and toddler are car sick and crying in the back. And I just prefer to drive at that speed, I feel more comfortable passing cars rather than being passed in blind spots. But yes, I hear what you're saying.

Thanks for the thoughts so far. Hope these predictions are right! A lot of money to spend if for any reason it doesn't work out.

ChadS on Tesla Motors Club has posted a lot information about estimating range, based on extensive experience.

He gives 177 miles as a basic, rule-of-thumb, safe in almost any conditions and any reasonable speed range, given a full-range charge to start out.

So, if he's right, you should be fine.

177 miles sounds really reasonable and very safe for a 85kwh Model S.
we have done several 150 mile legs (Harris Ranch to home) always with AC running, music, some windy mountain roads, some highway at 70+ mph, in cold but not sub-freezing temperature, and have arrived with 50-80 miles range left.
so 150 miles is very safe IMO.

You'll need to learn to live in a world of averages. You mention hills and traffic... it all averages out. We did the Vegas run and after taking it easy the first leg of 150 miles to Barstow, we did speeds of 65-70 our average speed was 51.5. We climbed hills of 4000 feet, but in the end it was a 1300 ft climb point to point. Our Wh/mi was 333 and we consumed 41kW of power.
You'll see that when your average speeds hover around the 55 zone it all lines up like it should. We drove half the rated miles and used half the battery even with the elevation gain.
On the way back I really pushed it, and cruised at 75-85 basically living in the left lane. We hit traffic thru LA and in the end we had an average speed of 61.5, but due to the elevation drop of 1300 ft, even with the ticket inviting speeds, we averaged 295 Wh/mi! Used 38 kW of power.
We have logged 3k miles on our Perf S, our average Wh/mi is 322, so it used to 'project' our range with standard charge at 240 miles with this math. (I miss the projected battery range)
150 miles doesn't scare me anymore! :-P

Some advice:
1. charge to max at least for the first few times, until you are comfortable with the range.
2. on cold days finish charging right before you plan to leave so that the battery is already warm and does not have to consume power that takes from range. I do this daily now by slowing down the overnight charging rate on cold nights. The estimated time to charge is very accurate, works great, easy to configure and with future software updates, I hope they add a finish charging time to make it even easier.

with this two things, you start out with 265 rated miles and no tax to warm the battery. The cabin heat will also consume energy of course but you have plenty of buffer for that. I used 31 rated miles to go 26 miles this morning, 28 degrees out, cabin set at 77 degrees (until I got too warm and turned down to 72) and highway speeds of about 70 most of the way.

Since you seam to be conservative on ending range (a good thing with kids). I would suggest a full charge to give you the full 265 rated miles (instead of standard charge which gives you about 10% less mile range).

For me sitting in traffic with both seat heater on low and cabin heater @ 71 (Yes I'm very un Tesla like, but warm) I loose about 15 miles range per hour. NOTE: This is my best guess... I have never actually clocked the loss.

Another suggestion. Just in case you get uncomfortably low on range.... Get the RV adapter (NEMA 14-50?) for the Model S mobile charger that you get with the car. Catskills have lots of RV parks where you could stop and recharge at 25 miles/hour.

I'm going to come out a little less rosey about this that some of the others here. Be careful taking advice from Californians (even though I do live in CA now).
Most of the time, and in the summer, I'll confidently say that you'll have no trouble at all.
However, under extreme conditions in snow and extreme cold, you will be close on range. I've driven 150 mile round trips in a Model S at temperatures of +15F on 75 mph interstates on dry pavement. I was only able to go at the speed limit for about 3/4 of the trip. I had to slow down a bit as I saw my range-remaining coming too close to my distance-to-destination. I was running low on charge at the end. This was also in relatively flat territory.
Having driven from NJ to the Finger Lakes regularly while I was in College, I know that drive can get a bit dicey in the winter, requiring maximum defroster and slogging through snow. From NYC, you'll be climbing up hill as well. All of these will be significant knock-downs to your range.
Also, remember that RV parks in that region are usually closed in the winter. Looking at, there really aren't any charging opportunities as a backup along that route. The only backup for you will be to slow down.
I've taken a lot of crazy trips of 1000 miles or more in a Roadster, so I have a lot of experience with EVs on the road.
I'll caution you against leaving NYC at 75 mph or more to the Catskills in a Model S with kids if heavy snow or cold rain is expected enroute.
Again, you'll be fine if:
- You go in the spring, summer, and fall at any speed
- There's no snow or winter rain.
- You go slowly (~65 mph)
- You find emergency charging opportunities about 3/4 of your way there
I highly recommend you always do a Range Charge and have your car plugged in before you depart NYC. Key your destination into your NAV and watch your estimated range and your distance-to-destination. If both numbers get too close, slow down.
If you drive smart, not like an NY Times reporter, you'll do ok but smart is key.

I am one of the biggest range message critics, but think you will be fine with 150 miles range in nearly any conditions as long as you start with a full standard charge (generally 230 to 245 rated miles). You would probably be fine up to 175 miles in normal expected range, with 25 miles to spare. For some that might not be enough cushion, and that will disappear as the battery ages. So 85kw is fine for 150 miles, probably ok for 175, and for my planning in the east, 190 is absolute max range for responsible trip planning. 175 is my get in and go number for soft driving at the speed limit.

Thanks for all the responses. Very helpful, and mostly encouraging.

I'm certainly still a bit concerned looking down the road - can the car make the trip in 3 years, 5 years? But for now I'm definitely encouraged.

In 3 to 5 years, there will probably be public chargers, maybe even a supercharger, near the route as a backup to give you safety margin. You should be as well off then as you are now, possibly even better.
Remember, you're probably ok now. You just may not have much safety margin under the worst of conditions.

Another point: Don't enthusiastically burn range at the start. Cautious early, problem-free late should be your motto until you are thoroughly experienced and can "wing it".


Is there no other place "at all" for you to opportunity charge along your planned route? Perhaps a Level II unit somewhere? Why try to operate the car at / to it maximum capability. Stop for lunch? Rest Room break? Take a walk while sipping a few Level II electrons?

That seems to be what these drama seeking journalists are doing, pushing to failure then wondering why. (Not implying you are like them)

You don't drive your ICE like that do you? To continue driving until you are within a mile or two of running out of gas before you look for a filling station?

Not trying to be a smart A$$ but it does seem like your trip could be made comfortably driving however you want if you "plan" just a bit. Range Charge before leaving, opportunity charge along the way? (not sure of the surroundings there) but I DO know outlets are more plentiful than gas stations which have outlets as well "some 240v", You could always charge at one of those lol!!

Good luck !!


It's not that there are no chargers; it's that he doesn't want to stop to charge.

I have an P85KWh, and commute 138 miles round trip. I average 75-85 MPH in the carpool lane, and also hit about 25 to 35 miles the trip of it in bad traffic, running both a/c (and or heat) sound-system, and half of the trip with full headlights (daylight running lights the whole trip). I only charge my MS to 80% capacity (238 miles rate at start), and make it back to my home with 80 miles rate to spare. Thus, you should have NO problems what so ever.

But there's elevation and cold in the mix ...

I live in CA but I think that 150 is do-able with few, if any problems. The only thing I question is your other car. You said that you could take your other car in winter. I think all of us who've taken delivery would agree that we'd rather not go than to leave the Tesla behind. Once you get used to this car, you'll find some excuse to go somewhere, change your plans, make allowances or do anything else to keep driving the S.

@Brian H
If you are starting out with a cold battery which I would not recommend, the battery warming penalty would be less if you are driving enthusiastically. Two things will work synergistically to improve mileage; the higher current draw will cause normal heating of the battery and the reduce time covering the distance will extend range. When the power limit indication goes away from the display it is time to maintain a constant speed and use cruise conttrol until then you should be helping the Model S heat up with your right foot and putting the miles behind you.

DouglasR | FEBRUARY 13, 2013 NEW

"It's not that there are no chargers; it's that he doesn't want to stop to charge."

@ DouglasR

Then he might have to consider driving something else to be SURE and comfortable that he'll make it ( OH THE HORROR! ) I'd probably drive the S anyway and trip plan accordingly, leave sooner etc. But that's just me.. I'm an early adopter. As more of these things hit the main stream we'll have to see. But the "general public" might not be as easy to convince. They seem to want 600 mile range with 5 min. charge times or the electric car is junk!

The public just does not for some reason see how seldom they drive their current ICE to exhaustion. I don't think I've driven 600 miles in a day for at least 4 years. (AZ to MN and back)

My mother is a good example. When I tell her the car can go approx. 200 miles "real world" she is petrified!! and says she could never own a car that could not equal the (one fill range) of her current ICE. Guess what she has not driven the length of her ICE cars range in over 10 years yet she cannot let go the need for a car capable of going 400 miles at one sitting which by that time she would be looking for a hotel/motel anyway if not sooner. "Go Figure"

She and millions like her will be difficult if not impossible to win over lol!!

Has she had a test drive? That usually brings the right perspective!

@ Brian H

No, no test drive as yet. "Demonstration not allowed in AZ stores" yet. I'll need to go to Colorado or SoCal. She will likely not drive one until I have one lol!!

Surely an existing AZ owner can pay you a visit ... For the cause!

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