Consumer Reports Road Trip Proves That Tesla Model S is Unmatched


“We have been itching to take our Tesla Model S on a long trip, and the opportunity finally arrived when it became our Washington, D.C., office’s turn to experience the car.”

Tail-Out Action

Tail-Out Action

“Last time we brought a car down for the Consumer’s Union advocates to experience green-car living, we had to trailer our Nissan LEAF. This time was much different: we simply drove.”

Those are the words of Consumer Reports and what we see here is that the ultimate difference between the Tesla Model S and Nissan LEAF can be conveyed in one word: range.

We’re not saying that the LEAF and Model S are even remotely similar.  Surely they are not.  But one can road trip, the other can’t…Or at least isn’t designed to.

Moving on.

Consumer Reports says this:

“The Tesla, with its 200-plus mile range and (so-far small) network of Supercharger DC fast-charge stations along highways is the first electric capable of making such a trip. And, to be honest, we’d been skeptical of reports of other media having trouble making the trip between the necessary Supercharger stops, so we wanted to try it ourselves.”

And try he did.

Eric Evarts of Consumer Reports was the man behind the wheel of the Model S for this road trip.  It’s a bit tricky to describe the trip accurately, so allow us to now turn it over to Evarts:

Tesla Model S is Best Car Ever Tested by Consumer Reports

Tesla Model S is Best Car Ever Tested by Consumer Reports

“Even as capable as the Tesla is, making such a long trip—285 miles—requires more planning and preparation than driving a “normal” car. For starters, there’s covering that extra 85 miles. As I was combining the delivery trip with a visit to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, I had a 2 p.m. deadline to arrive in Washington. To accomplish this goal, I had to arrive at Tesla’s Newark, Del., Supercharger station early enough to allow replenishing the battery pack and complete the trip.”

“The problem is that Supercharger is 192 miles from my house. A full charge in our Tesla Model S lately has been showing about 232 miles. That doesn’t sound like a problem in theory, but I know from driving it that I usually go through an additional 20 percent as I’m driving the car at highway speeds, whether its from going over hills, running the air conditioner, or just keeping up with traffic. Adding 20 percent to the 192 mile trip put me right at 230 miles, which felt way too close for comfort with my deadline. I could try setting the cruise control at 60 mph and staying in the right lane for the whole trip, but even that didn’t seem like it would guarantee I’d make it.”

“Fortunately, Tesla recently opened another Supercharger station about 30 miles from my house, in Darien, Conn. So I planned to drive to Darien and charge up, even though I’d still have a good 200 miles showing on the battery and it would take me on a circuitous route using New York City’s Cross Bronx Expressway—not my preference.”

“Another problem is that DC fast chargers only work at maximum speed when the battery is below about ¾ full. So I didn’t know how long it would really take me to replenish the 30 miles I’d driven to get to Darien, or how long I’d need to charge in Delaware. So I started my adventure at 5 a.m. to give me enough time.”

“The drive to Darien took about 20 miles of range and got me 23 miles closer to Washington. Charging back up took 13 minutes – just long enough to grab breakfast.”

Full battery…Check.  It’s time to truly hit the road.

The rest of the trip was uneventful with Evarts arriving in Delaware with 47 miles left in reserve.  Evarts hit up the Supercharger there and gobbled down enough juice to add 185 more miles of range in 70 minutes.  He then headed to D.C. to complete the journey without incident.

Here’s how Evarts sums up the the Model S road trip:

“When driving an electric car, top up the charge at every reasonable opportunity –they don’t come along often. Should something unexpected occur, like traffic congestion or a construction detour, you don’t want to stress over being stranded. And leave early to allow extra time for charging, although perhaps not as early as I left.”

“Electric-car travel is getting easier. It is hard to believe that just a couple years ago we towed the LEAF, and now the only practical inconvenience is that we had to pause a couple times on our trip, as we would anyhow for meals and a pit stop.”

“As long as your travel takes you along the right routes, it’s about as easy as a gas car—and a lot cheaper!”

So, plan ahead…drive…and enjoy.  It’s now that simple, at least it is when you’re behind the wheel of a Model S.

Source: Consumer Reports

Categories: Tesla

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12 Comments on "Consumer Reports Road Trip Proves That Tesla Model S is Unmatched"

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I’m glad someone mentioned the progress EV’s are making instead of just trying to shoot them down. In another 5-10 years, I think we’ll be laughing at some of the statements that have been made about plugin cars. (some of us are laughing now)

I remember once having a debate in 2007 about what we would do in a oil running out situation about how we would take a trip from Virginia to Pennsylvania or Virginia to Illinois in a EV with only 60 miles range. The conclusion was that it would take a week to do something like this. But this was before the Tesla and Tesla supercharger was invented or DC fast charging was invented for the Nissan leaf. Now it sounds like as long as their is a Tesla Supercharger station in between you and your hotel or home on a 300 mile trip or three superchargers on a 600 mile trip you should be able to drive normally in that it’s rare for someone to sit down and drive 200 miles in one sitting. The only catch I see with this is that if you are going to drive to a rural backwater area you might have problems in that the Tesla Superchargers most likely won’t get into the more rural areas for at least another five to ten years and they are still going to need thousands of them if they start selling hundreds of thousands of cars a… Read more »

“and now the only practical inconvenience is that we had to pause a couple times on our trip, as we would anyhow for meals and a pit stop.”

Sort of disingenuous to call normal stops an inconvenience, seems to me.

Seemed fair to me.

Normal-stops can be done nearly anywhere and for any length of time. Recharge-stops can only be done at a few locations that may be undesired or out of your way, and they may take longer than you prefer. Hence less convenient… for now.

I suppose what’s “normal” for one person/trip is an “inconvenience” for another. Stopping often and for long periods of time is normal when my mom is among the road trippers, or on a leisurely vacation. Whizzing through the trip in one uninterrupted block or with minimal restroom and driver swap pauses is normal for me, or for business trips with tight schedules and no hotel stay, and makes the required recharging stops an “inconvenience”.

“Evarts hit up the Supercharger there and gobbled down enough juice to add 185 more miles of range in 10 minutes.”

In the source article is was “one hour 10 minutes” (70 minutes). I saw that and thought – no way that could happen in 10 minutes, that’s 300-400kW of charging capacity.

Fixing now…Thanks Anthony

I thought that seemed a bit fast when I first read it too. On Tesla’s site they list 200 miles in 30 minutes 🙂

I still do not understand why CS did not switch to “full range” charge for such a road trip? We get 275 miles of range when we use that option.

Good point. That is exactly the situation for using “full range”.

“Plan… Drive… Enjoy”

That sounds like the same methodology I use when I’m on my bike.

Sorry, just seeing this post now…..

George, I did consider using the max-range mode, but Tesla acknowledges that it saps some life out of the battery. And with a company car that we expect to sell eventually and get good money for, I wanted to avoid that if I could. With this plan, it turned out it wasn’t so hard to avoid.