UPDATE – TRIP COMPLETE: Tesla Model S Coast-to-Coast Road Rally Play-by-Play Update

FEB 1 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 27

These continually updated road rallies are rather difficult to comprehensively cover, so we’ve created this post as a landing page.

The Send Off

The Send Off

All of the info released by Tesla in regards to the Tesla Model S coast-to-coast road rally will be found here.

This post will be updated as additional information is received, so check back often.  We’ll try to include as many images from Tesla as possible.

*Information will be posted in oldest to newest order, beginning with Tesla’s first blog entry announcing the journey.  All Tesla blog entry are written by Lead Writer for Tesla Motors.

January 29:

At midnight tonight, a Tesla Motors team will depart Los Angeles en route to New York City in two Model S sedans to mark the completion of the first cross country Supercharger route. We’re aiming to complete the journey within about three days and set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS achievement for lowest charge time for an electric vehicle traveling across the United States.

We energized the final Supercharger in the cross country route last week, marking the completion of a network that spans more than 3,400 miles. There are now more than 70 Supercharger sites around the US, at which Model S owners can charge for free. A Supercharger takes as little as 20 minutes to replenish half a charge.

The Cross Country Rally team will gather tonight at the Tesla design studio in Hawthorne, Los Angeles, for a launch event, before starting the drive at 12.01am on Thursday. The trip will take the cars through mid-winter conditions across the middle of the country, with stops only at Superchargers.

We’ll be posting daily updates to our blog so you can follow the team’s progress as we attempt to set the record. Stay tuned!

The Team

The Team

January 30:

At 5.30am on Thursday, January 30, an email came in from JB Straubel, co-founder and chief technical officer of Tesla Motors.

“It looks like the send off was exciting,” he wrote. “Go go go!”

Five and a half hours earlier, hundreds of electric vehicle enthusiasts had gathered at the Tesla design studio in Hawthorne, CA, to send off a Tesla team in two Model S sedans attempting to set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS achievement for least non-drive time for an electric vehicle traveling across the United States. The plan: drive all the way to New York City in about three days, stopping only to charge at Superchargers, and for as little time as possible. And, of course, don’t pay a cent for gas.

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Model S Sedans grabbing a Charge in Rapid City

Now, heeding Straubel’s advice, they were off in pursuit of the record. By 5.30am Pacific Time, the Tesla drivers were already approaching the Supercharger site in Kingman, AZ, where they were greeted by a sunrise that toasted the edges of the Hualapai Mountains. Here, at the second stop on a 3,400 mile journey, everything was working according to schedule.

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Screen Shot From One Model S While Charging in Rapid City

Down the road from Kingman, heading towards the high plains near Flagstaff, AZ, the news got even better. The Model S drivers looked at their dashboards and found they had more energy to spare than expected. They turned to the walkie talkies.

“How about some tune-age?” asked Dan Priestley, chief organizer of the Cross Country Rally, sitting in the front passenger seat of a Model S that the team christened “Thunder”.

“What, you mean tune the speed up?” responded Christ Ford, a member of Tesla’s Supercharger team, from the other car, which, naturally, had been given the name “Lightning”.

“No, I mean, like, music.”

In an effort to keep the cars’ energy use as efficient as possible, the drivers had turned off all the vehicles’ extraneous features. But now was time to spend their energy profit.

“Okay, we’re on it,” came Ford’s response. “Time to rock out.”

The cars, and the support vehicles in which resting drivers catch up on sleep, had been on the road about seven hours by the time they pulled into the Superchargers in Flagstaff, where they’d charge for the longest leg of the drive. Then came a phone call. Priestley, the man in charge of the trip, looked concerned. Soon, the cars would be driving through a sand storm close to the Utah border, but that wouldn’t slow them down. Instead, they had a different kind of storm to worry about.

tesla-snow-500x375

Snow Pounds the Tesla Model S Road Rally Team

Snow in Colorado. Lots of it.

The team began the rally expecting fine weather. The forecast had said as much. But now they were hearing that there could be as much as 15 inches of snow near Grand Junction that evening. Portions of I-70 were reportedly being closed and other roads might follow suit. Chains would be a necessity.

Well, no one thought traversing the country in mid-winter conditions in the space of three days would be easy.

January 31:

A headline from this morning’s Denver Post: “Winter storm pounds Front Range overnight.”

Tesla’s Cross Country Rally team can attest to the veracity of the report. Last night, the crew members and two Model S sedans were subjected to a good old fashioned Colorado dumping. More than 12 inches of snow. Winds up to 60 mph. White-out conditions. Interstate 70 over Vail Pass was closed, then re-opened, then closed again.

“I’ve been on a lot of ski trips, perhaps a hundred times to Lake Tahoe, and those were the most treacherous conditions I have ever been in,” said Christ Ford, a member of the Supercharger team, who would end up pulling a 12-hour shift behind the wheel of one of the Model S’s last night.

Grabbing More Juice

Grabbing More Juice

But as Tesla owners who drive in sub-zero temperatures know well, Model S takes conditions like these in stride. The traction control system in Lightning and Thunder performed flawlessly as the team pressed on. I-70 was opened just in time for the two cars to attempt a crossing of the pass, starting from about 10pm.

The temperature dropped to 9 degrees. Fat snowflakes flew at the windshield like flat bullets. Big rigs slid off the slick surface. Traffic crept up, and then down, the mountain at 30mph. Lightning and Thunder didn’t seem to mind, however. They drove on as if it were a Sunday outing on the Pacific coast. At each Supercharger, they still had plenty of energy to spare. Parking lots filled with half a foot or more of unplowed snow were navigated without incident. The Tesla team emerged from the mountains with their hopes of earning a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS achievement for least non-drive time for an electric vehicle traveling across the U.S. still intact.

And then they found that the major highway to their next stop was closed.

Interstate 25 from Fort Collins to Cheyenne, Wyoming, was icy, and numerous accidents had kept it closed for six hours by the time the Model S cars approached. Scrambling to find an alternate route, the team called traffic hotlines, scoured local news websites, and pried apart the pixels on Google Maps. They found there was one open, but still icy, alternative: US 85.

In fair weather conditions with minimal traffic, the original route from Grand Junction, CO, to Cheyenne, was calculated to take six hours and 20 minutes, measured from time of arrival at the Superchargers at each end. Instead, 12 hours and 40 minutes after leaving Grand Junction, the team arrived in Cheyenne. The drivers on this leg of the journey had just done double overtime shifts.

The rally team had implemented a system to help minimize any ill effects of over-tired drivers while still being able to complete the trip in record time. The team members had been working in shifts: eight hours driving; then eight hours in the passenger seat, navigating and keeping the driver company; then, eight hours sleeping in one of the two support vans — or as much as can be done on a thin mattress in the back of a fast moving vehicle with two unwashed bodies pressed in close beside you.

But as the cars progressed into Wyoming, the sun came out and the thaw set in. The roads opened up, and Wyoming showed off its best cowboy country: weather-beaten grasses; barren hills with crumbling crowns; wide open skies. It stayed cold, but the sky and the roads stayed clear. By nightfall, the team was deep into South Dakota. Next will be Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois.

Road closures, detours and traffic delays as a result of the snow storm ended up costing the Tesla team a total of eight hours. Instead of getting to New York on Saturday evening, they’re now looking at early Sunday. If everything goes smoothly from now on, they’ll still make that world record achievement. But there’s a lot of work to be done.

In the mid-afternoon, as Lightning and Thunder dashed across the South Dakota plains, an email from Tesla’s Palo Alto headquarters arrived. Another winter storm warning. This time in Illinois, on Saturday morning – right about the time the Tesla team expects to be passing through.

February 1:

At 10pm on Friday night, with temperatures in the middle of South Dakota kissing zero, the Coast to Coast Rally team experienced its first vehicle breakdown.

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.

Tesla Coast to Coast Road Rally

Tesla Coast to Coast Road Rally

Facebook updates provided by Tesla Motors:

Teslas on the Road

Teslas on the Road

January 30:

We’re off!

First stop: Los Angeles City Hall where the clock officially starts!

January 30:

The sun is just starting to rise over our Kingman, AZ #Supercharger. After a stop at Barstow, CA earlier, the team is making good time so far!

January 31:

Through the night a snowstorm made the Silverthorne, CO to Cheyenne, WY leg challenging, but we stayed safe and cars are performing great in the snow!

The team is in high spirits, roads are open and with 1,300 miles already covered, we’re on to Lusk, WY!

The Entire Crew

The Entire Crew

January 31:

Just finished Supercharging in Rapid City. We’re making great time across South Dakota!

For those curious about stats on the drive thus far: 1605 miles; 538kWh (all from Superchargers); and $0 on gas.

January 31:

We’ve reached the halfway mark! Combined, the two cars have traveled 3,400 miles and charged over a MEGAWATT hour!

Cruising Now

Cruising Now

February 1:

We are crossing through Illinois after more than 2,500 miles traveled and 860kWh charged!

February 1:

We are crossing through Illinois after more than 2,500 miles traveled and 860kWh charged!

February 1:

Hello Ohio!

We’re on our way through the Buckeye State and the team is in great spirits!

Link to Tesla’s Instagram video on the rally’s progress

Tesla Motors Twitter updates here

UPDATE: Trip is complete

Trip Complete

Trip Complete

 

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Leave a Reply

27 Comments on "UPDATE – TRIP COMPLETE: Tesla Model S Coast-to-Coast Road Rally Play-by-Play Update"

newest oldest most voted
GeorgeS

I’m surprised at their low energy consumption in this cold weather. It comes out pretty better than EPA sticker.
1605 mi/538 kwh=2.98 mi/kwh
102 MPGe

Bonaire

They appear to have used grid power to heat while at the SCs and drove without climate controls on heat. Of course, why wouldn’t they do this for the record.

Anon

Thanks for making an Update / Landing page! 🙂

ffbj

Saw the video, pretty cool. I think the mixture of heavy snows will make a good commercial.
I was watching the weather channel Friday morning and it looked to me like they were heading into some possibly heavy weather. l was surprised that they said they did not expect heavy snows as I was predicting. The system came up quicker and moved further east than expected. Well they weathered it.

Anon

Video? I can haz link, plz??

So they sleep in a support van… which means that John and Jill Glenney’s record for an unsupported SC trip with normal stationary night sleeps, will likely hold on for a few more months…

Come summer, both records will be shattered anyway.

But it’s not a bad way to keep Tesla in the headlines with positive news. Hopefully they arrive safely!

Mikael

True. The records will be shattered in summer. And even more so when more direct routes open up.

These two things are expected to happen roughly at the same time…

ffbj
Anon

Oooh, danke! 🙂

Love seeing the Model S in all those different locations / weather conditions.

Even a video this short lets you know; the Model S is not your father’s compliance city-only EV. 😉

ffbj

Sure thing. FYI it is same one posted at the bottom of the above article. I did not notice it either, pulled it from the site, looked back at the article and realized it was the same one. In the interest of full disclosure.

Kosh

I can’t help but wonder just how much payola it costs to get a closed highway opened “just in time” for your road rally to go through…… 😉

(yes, having lived in Denver and driven that pass a few times during ski season, I realize that they are usually just waiting for the plows to clean up, but it does seem a little coincidental…)

Anthony

Tesla announced one of their cars won’t be making it to the end of the rally.

It was one of their gasoline powered support vans. The Tesla’s are fine so far.

Rick

You just scare me Athony I though it was a MS.

Anon

Guess Tesla needs to make a reliable electric van. They can base it off their upcoming F150 Truck Killer. 🙂

Mark H

I hate to admit that I enjoyed that maybe a wee bit too much. ICEs have decades left to serve, but clearly we are witnessing the beginning of the age of the EV.

ffbj

Fly By..as opposed to a Drive By.
http://instagram.com/p/j5LQ-IQJ4u/

Anon

Nice. Was this shot from one of Elon’s Hovering Spacecraft? 😉

Bonaire

They should stop by the NY Times building in mid town and slap a note on the door addressed to John Broder and say “hey, John, we made it!”

Anon

+1

abhishekifmr

+100

Anon

Congrats to the Tesla Rally Team! Any word if they set a record, even with the bad weather?

ffbj

Rally team manage the trip from Los Angeles to New York City in just 76 and a half hours, it also recorded the lowest charge time for an electric vehicle traveling across the country – a feat that is now being assessed for recognition as a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS achievement.

I think the video was shot from a re-purposed experimental google hover vehicle, loaned to Tesla.

ffbj

Enhanced super-charger map:
http://www.teslawiki.net/supercharger/

Fabian

Yeah!!!

dddfort

You went on rt 550 in the winter? YIKES!!! that stretch of road scares me in summer. Great job!

dddfort

Sorry. I misread silverthorn as Silverton. Still Very impressive feat for Tesla.