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San Diego to Las Vegas road trip

Took a trip to Vegas last weekend in my Tesla Model S P85. Here’s a summary of the trip and some data points for anyone interested.

Conclusion:
Technically I got stuck in Vegas (although I did plan to leave the car anyway). I didn’t have enough charge to drive back so I took a gas car instead. If I had a home in Vegas with a high power charger I’d be ok, but just getting a convenience charge from various hotel and shopping mall parking did not cut it.

The solution for out-of-town charging is the Tesla Super Charger. I did not mind spending an hr getting a charge as I could watch the progress and was able to relax, listen to internet radio, and browse the web while charging. However, Tesla needs to install one just outside of Vegas and another outside of San Diego. This would have allowed me to charge up once arriving at Vegas and just before departing for San Diego or visa-verse for someone taking a trip in the other direction. Placing these just outside of town would make it less convenient for folks just topping off leaving them open for people that really need it.

All in all the chargers are still somewhat difficult to find, but most attendants seemed to know about them. Google maps worked well navigating me to them, however Tesla’s navigation still needs some work.

Trip Log:
“rr miles” are rated range in miles of battery capacity reported by the car.

4:20pm Leaving San Diego
- 262 rr miles
- 259 rr miles, stopped for gas, err I mean to get some water.

5:17pm Tire Pressure Warning
- 187 rr miles, tire pressure warning
o Called Tesla support (5:17pm Sat), said the sensor was too sensitive (first sw bug) told me to pull over and check, then reset the system to eliminate the warning. Car does not report actual pressure in tires, must check them manually – 42psi expected.
o Was able to reset the system and tire pressure warning went away. This warning came on again later in the trip, but I just ignored it and eventually it went away on its own.
- At this point I became concerned about the range and distance remaining so I slowed down to ~71mph and put the car on cruise control

7:33pm Reached Barstow
- 40 rr miles
- First leg of trip 172.2 miles, 62.2kWh, 361 avg Wh/m (~71mph)
- Couldn’t find the Tesla super charger – Tesla Navigation left me in the middle of the road with no visible signage or clue. I stopped at the In-N-Out and collected my thoughts over a burger and fries. I was extremely nervous about not finding the super charger and using up my remaining range looking for it. Ultimately I used my Android Phone and Google Navigation to get me there.

7:50pm Found Tesla’s Super Charger
- 39 rr miles, Tesla’s super charger was located behind Chile’s in a very inconspicuous spot with no real signage. Once connected I could relax, put the seat back and listen to my internet radio and browse the web. Eventually took a walk to the gas station for a drink, etc.
- The following are some data points taken during the charge:
o 7:50pm, 40 rr miles, 248amp, 362v, 300mph
o 8:34pm, 200 rr miles, 114amp, 390v, 250mph
o 256 rr miles, 55amp, 404v, 196mph
o 9:21pm, 270 rr miles, 20amp, 404v, 168mph

9:21pm Left for Vegas
- 271 rr miles, decided to cruse at 73mph
- One observation, while I can smoke anyone on the road (even motorcycles), gas cars still smoke me on the long hauls. I’m forced to drive slower and more conservatively due to range issues. Watching the Gas guzzlers zip by after a couple hrs put things back in perspective.

11:48pm Arrived in Vegas
- 40 rr miles, and I’m extremely nervous about finding a charger and getting a charge before I run out. Typically I’ve been using almost 2x what’s reported as rated range, so I don’t want to spend my remaining charge looking for chargers.
- Parked the car for the night and met up with my friend.

Sunday - In Vegas
- Didn’t use the car until the next day, down to 32 rr miles now since the car was not plugged in overnight.
- Car was also de-rated meaning that I was losing my top acceleration as the range decreased.
- First charge was at “the Shops Valet”. There was a Volt plugged in when we arrived, and I told the Valet that we needed to get on the charger asap. He told me that their manager knew how to connect the car and would be the one to do it. When we got back we had 70 rr miles. Better, but not comfortable to last the entire weekend. Pretty sure we weren’t on the charger for long – Those damn Volt owners that don’t really need a charge…

Monday – In Vegas
- Next charge was at the Venetian 6th floor parking. We left it there Sunday night (or Monday morning…) From the charger I could see that we got 32kWh in ~5hrs. For an 85kWh battery that’s not enough, so I disconnected and reconnected it again and could see the car continue to charge. The charger connected to the Volt next to me was green which I think must indicated a full charge while mine was still red. I would need at least 260-270 rr miles to make the trip back to Barstow.
The Drive Home
- At this point I borrowed my friends gas car and drove home. Amazingly it took only a half tank of gas and prob around $30 to get home without stopping in Barstow. Again, the gas car wins on the long range trip…

Didn’t see any Leaf’s while I was there…

@brookboot
Did you charge before the trip and at SC Barstow with the max range setting or standard?

Thanks for the info. Here's another plea for a SC in Primm, which would allow you to juice up before hitting LV, you'd have enough to drive around town and get back to Primm for the return trip. You wouldn't have to worry about putting show offs in their place. And there's plenty to do in Primm. Full disclosure, I am neither long nor short Primm stock.

I put the car in Max Range mode the night before and left it there for the entire trip. the fact that I was still charging w/110v at home accounts for the late start Saturday as I wanted to leave with as close to max charge as I could get and 110v was only giving me 2mph in rated range.

Lets See, Only 110v at home, racing people on a "long Range Trip", "Slowing down" to 71mph (how fast were you going),hanging in Vegas with a friend (who has a car) for around 36 Hours without being able to get charged back up!! I will not say anything else ,or some folks might not like what I have to say. You also stated that you planned on leaving the Model S, then implyed that you got stuck...I had better shut up.

Point is what would I do if I didn't have a friend in Vegas? Sure I could have parked at the Venetian for my entire stay, taken cabs, etc. But whats the point of having a hot car and not being able to drive it around, especially in Vegas!

My concern is that the 220v chargers don't replenish fast enough after a long trip, and it appears that some just shut-off after a predetermined charge, so I would have had to keep checking.

What if I wanted to stay somewhere else?

I think blephneiben has it right, this is another plea for a Super Charger to be located just outside of LV. I was realy happy with the charging in Barstow. Not to mention super pleased that this trip was possible at all, even if I do drive erratically.

Just as Broders biggest error was not charging overnight, why did you not charge the first night you were there, had you charged the first night ou would have had a nearly full car to use in Vegas the next day then topped up to full on he 2nd night ready to head back to Barstow.

@brookbot Thanks for sharing.

@brookbot
Very useful information; I'm in L.A. so SD and LV are definitely places I would want to travel to in the S, but won't because of lack of superchargers close to those two cities. Relying on other methods to charge is very inconvenient indeed for long trips...I hope Tesla is listening. They could really sell more cars in SoCal by installing SC in those two locations.
p.s. you didn't see any LEAFs there because they can't make the trip, thus only Volts.

Good write brookbot. My Vegas run was much like yours. I did have trouble finding that pesky Barstow charger. I assumed it was next to In n Out cause everybody talks about it. Once I reached vegas, I had trouble with the Mandalay Shoppes charger. Wasted many hours there. There was another S there two of the days and we totally hogged that charger all day! A volt pulled up and moaned about us being there too long and he needed a charge. I gave up my spot for him since I had enough, but not max charge. He thanked me for being nice. I really wanted to tell him to buy some gas! LOL.
Yeah, recovering 200 miles at 30A is a long time! We plugged in for two days at the shoppes. It's not cheaper than gas to plug in near a massive shopping outlet with the wife for 5 hours! Cha-ching!
I had several dropped/reduced charges there.
Then moved to the Venetian and got more reliable charging. All good tho and got my range up and had no issues the entire trip.
It was really cool not paying for gas the entire 600 miles! Just payed for it at the mall...

For those staying in Las Vegas, consider heading downtown to visit either the Outlet Mall, downtown casinos or other downtown attractions (mob museum, zip line). There are 6 free Charge Point chargers at the county building at 500 S. Grand Central Parkway. It is across the street from the mall and about a 10-15 minute walk to Fremont Street. There are also busses that head to Fremont St from Grand Central between the county building and mall. Downtown is a nice change of pace from the Strip, and the blackjack is better! Have a nice lunch at Triple George on Third St or Le Thai on Fremont east of Las Vegas Blvd, or hit the buffet at Golden Nugget or Main Street Station, and let the car recharge.

Barstow Supercharger - If you use the voice command "Where is Tesla Supercharger Barstow, Barstow, CA", the Google map will drop a location pin on top of it. You can also enter the search manually.

Typo - Only one Barstow :(

So with setting max range it seems you can only charge to 270 rr miles. I was hoping at least to 285. That is not good.

Drive 55mph and you will get your 300 miles.

Good tip steven! I'll have to try that next time. Before, I even tried typing in supercharger and it would find no results... this was on 4.0 software. Used internet and got location from Tesla site and plugged it in google maps. So with 4.2 I should be good now!
Next big trip is from S.D. to S.F.! I'll be needing ALL the SC's then!

1) Planning to find Supercharger:

In the old days, we had to plan our trip first. Nowadays, we drive first with the GPS then plan later!

You could go to maps.google.com and search for "Tesla Supercharger Barstow, Barstow, CA" and see a few pictures, include the one saying to enter at Am/Pm Gas Station:

2) Your own reliable Las Vegas 240V 50A charger:

I set the cruise speed at 70 mph and passed other cars at a temporary higher speed for seconds at a time. I arrived to Las Vegas with 56 rated miles left after a standard charge from Barstow.

I drove for a scenic tour at the Las Vegas strip and China Town and got sleepy and drove to Koa.com at Circus Circus as the battery went down to 40 rated range left.

It's "your own charger" because you pay for it You can pay for a private trailer for $105.75 a night or just charge there and sleep off site for $20 (prices before taxes.)

I woke up in 6 hours and saw on my phone that the standard charge was completed at 241 rated miles and I went back to sleep.

I never felt I was stuck in Las Vegas. I was just too tired, took a nice night sleep and woke up in the morning with a completed standard charge and ready for the day.

Tesla Model S has been an amazing car for me ever since I got it for the past 2 months. I have driven along the southernmost 5 California Superchargers from San Jose to Las Vegas and has clocked 6,400 miles. I have used speed cruiser at 70mph most of the time and have never ran out of battery and nor did I have to sacrifice comfort (light, heat, cold, stereo...)

Hey! 6,400 miles in 2 months! That's a car for frequent road trips for me.

pahlemann;
Use Ideal setting to get 300. The EPA "rr" standard is 10% lower. YMMV.

You cannot go 300 miles with this car driving 55. It simply isn't possible, and I tried. 244 was the max, on flat land, very few stops, never over 55, HVAC off, max range charge, range mode on. That was not a reasonable way to operate the car. And that range will decline with battery age. As others are now noting and acknowledging, the appropriate maximum trip planning range for an 85 kw S is 175 miles, and that may be too much for drivers with a heavy foot.

P_D, your experience differs from other people here. Maybe you really have faulty battery or something in your car. One person not long ago told that car got pretty exactly 300 miles with 55mph set to cruise control.

Timo,

Prove it. Find me one example of a person getting 300 or even 265 miles driving at normal speeds, with traffic, on normal roads. It does not exist. That's not necessarily a bad thing, just real. People need to adjust their expectations and TM needs to adjust its marketing.

Pungoteague_Dave,

Sounds like you have done an actual full battery rundown trial from a max range charge and got 244 miles at constant 55mph on flat terrain. That implies a surprisingly bad 348Wh/mi rate given those driving conditions (unless it was also very cold outside). I haven't tried a full run down test (and won't be doing so) but my experience does not agree with your results.

I don't enjoy going 55 but have tried it for round trips of up 100 miles on somewhat flat terrain and saw average Wh/mi of 290 - 300 in my P85 on normal CA bay area roads. My overall average after just shy of 7 months of driving is 360Wh/mi. Generally I drive much faster on the highway (75-80) and aggressively around town. In my ICE cars it is not uncommon for me to get 20 - 30% lower than EPA rated mileage so I am not surprised by the range I get.

I agree with Timo that it might be worth having your car checked out.

Temperature, Temperature, Temperature...Has a Boatload to do with Battery Performance. In a few weeks when it warms up in the "great white north", their numbers will improve. Why people live in cold climates,(Below 50 degrees F) then bitch about batteries??

Driving the other day at 70mph on I-95 I was seeing c. 300 Wh/mile with just me in the car, 70° ambient, 21" wheels.

@Pungoteague_Dave - On a drive up the TurnPike in FL I expect to get pretty close to ideal miles, as the conditions pretty much match the idea conditions. Obviously with heavy traffic, hills, lower temps you will not get ideal, but they aren't ideal conditions.

Your point is fair that Joe User won't see 300 miles out of a charge. It will be much closer to the 265 EPA. Over 1200 miles I'm averaging 343 Wh/m which is worse than EPA, but the EPA didn't keep doing max-acceleration runs. :-)

On my Vegas jaunt I stayed at the Luxor - there is a J1772 charger between the Luxor and Mandalay Bay at The Shoppes and it is real convenient...was fully charged in the AM free of charge.

Venetian also has one.

You can find my own "Cliff's Notes" (calculations, reference tables, links) at http://hannelconsulting.com/tesla

@Tam
We were in the exact same place on February 14th and 15th. LOVED the Airstream. Posted on TMC and Recargo; we've got photos nearly identical to yours. Your car is beautiful.

On TMC this link should work:
http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/entry.php/61-Phoenix-to-Las-Vegas-and-bac...

@brookbot curious as to why do you leave your car in Vegas? it's not going to charge itself, and who is going to drive it home?

as to finding the superchargers in Barstow, try recharge.com or the app on iphone, the directions were good and there were even photos with arrows showing exactly where to go and I had no problem finding it when I went there. I am pretty paranoid about not finding them and I looked them up to be sure I can find them.

@portia | FEBRUARY 24, 2013: try recharge.com

I think you meant http://www.recargo.com/

Thanks Anthony. Your link above seems not to work. Anyhow, I went to recargo.com and saw your sweet brand new car against the back drop of skyscraper. Great! Thanks for sharing!

Pungoteague_Dave:

The one Model S in Norway (that's not owned by Tesla) completed a trip from Bergen to Hemsedal a couple of weeks ago. They drove 180 miles in 14degF weather, heater at 71, following traffic, going over a 3740 ft mountain pass and ending up with 2100 ft net elevation gain. They had 45 rated miles left when they arrived, for a total range of >220 miles. You'd have to drive stupid fast or in extreme conditions to only get 175 miles.

It's just like riding a horse. One rider feeds a horse correctly and can ride to a destination uneventfully and enjoys a good time.

In contrast, another rider would say that "I have some water and only 4 carrots left for my snack but I'll sacrifice my meal and let my horse be filled" but the log shows that he ate the carrots himself and let the horse died of thirst and starvation on the road then he would complain "what a terrible trip!"

Right now, the car is at the mercy of a driver: many drivers can prove that a long trip is fun and possible while another can just "broder" it to death.


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