Le vendredi soir à 22 heures dans le Dakota du Sud, où les températures sont nettement en-dessous de zéro, l'équipe qui a entrepris la traversée du pays a connu sa première panne de véhicule.
But it wasn't a Model S. Instead, one of the team's sleeper vans took on a mysterious illness. As it climbed a hill outside the city of Mitchell after a Supercharger stop, the van started to sputter. Even with the foot to the floor, it would only get to 60mph. Soon, it started cutting out completely.
Just a few miles out of Mitchell and well behind the rally convoy, the team members on board were forced to consider a different way to advance along the coast to coast route. Taking to their laptops and phones, they coordinated with Tesla staff in Palo Alto to find flights from Sioux Falls, SD, to Chicago, where they could meet up with the rest of the team as the Model S cars made their way to the Superchargers in Highland Park, IL. By 6am Saturday, they were on the flight. At 9.30am, they were waiting at Tesla's Highland Park service center with hot coffees and breakfast sandwiches.
By that point, the Model S sedans had found themselves in their second snow storm, this time in Wisconsin and Illinois. Unlike in Colorado, however, they were able to negotiate this one in daylight, and on highways that had been recently plowed. Again, the wild conditions were no problem for the cars, which have consistently performed without fault throughout trip, despite two snow storms, a sand storm, icy roads, and minimal times spent at the charging posts in an effort to break a speed record for electric cars traveling across the United States.
By normal standards, most people would have considered the conditions that the Model S cars faced for the rest of Day Three as extreme. Heavy snowfall turned to sleet; morning ice gave way to afternoon slush; fog restricted visibility. In Ohio, the cars sped on in driving rain. In all cases, the Model S prevailed with ease, as did the newly installed Superchargers along the way in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Ohio. Since getting through the storms of Colorado, the cars have met all their time goals and have never been short on charge. They have continued to drive across the country for free.
The two cars are now on the final stretch of the trip, headed for the finish line of New York's City Hall. As of late evening Eastern Standard Time, they looked on track for an early Sunday morning arrival. They will bring with them a team of Tesla employees badly in need of dry socks and a warm bed. The cars, on the other hand, just need a hose down.