Range Anxiety Is Real!

Range Anxiety Is Real!

I'll try to make this brief, since most don't want to read long posts:

- Picked up my Model S P in Chicago on 3/2/13
- Garaged it in the city and charged overnight (admittedly with standard charging)
- Range read 240 miles and it's 243 to my home in Toledo
- Stopped in South Bend Indiana off I80/90, about 100 miles from Chicago with ~100 miles range remaining. I Drove around 65-70mph for the trip.
- Charged at Chargepoint for approx 4.5 hours and only got ~75 miles of range.
- Drove home at about 55-60mph with heat and seat heaters off! Everyone was passing me on the highway, and I mean everyone.
- Reached home (~145 miles away) with only 20 miles left on range meter and seriously COLD! (I had to wear my hat and gloves the whole time!)

Lessons learned:

- I should have used max charge in Chicago, which may have given me another 30 miles of range.
- Current charging network is not practical for long distance driving, especially if you want to charge and go.
- Super chargers are badly needed along I80/90 from Chicago heading east to make this trip feasible and more enjoyable.
- Overall the trip was pretty miserable; however...
- Most important: I LOVE the car, and want to see the brand succeed.

ChristianG | March 5, 2013

- Charging an EV anywhere else then the place you stay sucks.
- With a supercharger it sucks less but it still does. For long
- Trip more time and more planning is needed.
- That the Range Anxiety is gone only means that for most trips for ost people that's true, long range travel still has its drawbacks.

dbfish | March 5, 2013

I would suggest for road trips before Superchargers are built out, looking for RV parks to recharge instead of J1772 public charging stations. You can charge at 50amps from the 14-50 adapter at any RV park, while most public stations are slower at 30amps.

There are also TONS of RV parks along major routes in the midwest. Try, look for "50 amp" service, and always call ahead!

jemartin | March 5, 2013

I drove almost the same distance: 250 miles exactly between DC and New York, with a supercharger at mile 120. I drove as fast as traffic (70mph+). I can't remember a 250 mile trip that left me more relaxed and less fatigued than this one. Had time for a 45min lunch on the way there and a 25 min coffee on the 250 mile return trip. I used standard charge. I had between 90 to 105 miles left at both destinations and at both stops at the supercharger. Only anxiety was parking in NYC.

I look forward to my next long trip. 265 miles south to the North Carolina beaches. I plan on using max charge and a 14-50 RV plug in VA Beach over a quick run + lunch on the beach.

shop | March 5, 2013

Supercharging does not suck less. It doesn't suck at all. I used the California supercharger network on a 430 mile trip and I didn't wait at all for charging. Just did whatever I had to at the rest stop, like have lunch or take a nature break, and then drove on at 80 mph or so when traffic would allow. But please, whenever doing an intercity trip, do a max charge before leaving! And yes, the US needs more superchargers...

jat | March 5, 2013

@drjain06 - yes, slow chargers are really only useful where you are going to park your car for a while. Even a stop for a long meal or shopping only gets you a relatively small amount of range added.

@dbfish - you can only get 40A from a 14-50 adapter (it is derated by 25% for continuous load), but that is still faster than a 30A charger.

Alex K | March 5, 2013

@dbfish | MARCH 5, 2013: You can charge at 50amps from the 14-50 adapter at any RV park, while most public stations are slower at 30amps.

The public stations are even worst than you think because most 30A public chargers are at 208V: RV Park 40A*240V=9.6kW; Public charging 30A*208V=6.24kW

Noah.S | March 5, 2013

"Range read 240 miles and it's 243 to my home in Toledo"

Unfortunately, it sounds like this is your problem. If there were any headwinds, or you use heat, or anything, your range will decrease. This is basically what happened with the NYT article.

With respect to an ICE, it'd be like saying 'my care gets 50MPG and I have 200 miles to go' and then leaving with 4 gallons in the tank. Most people would definitely have a little extra in there, just in case. People just seem to pay closer attention to range in an electric vehicle.

Did you drive round trip only adding 75 miles in Chicago? Does that mean you did the 486mile trip with a total readout of 315 miles? (the original 240, plus the 75)
I'm impressed with your energy-conserving driving skills! Glad you made the trip!

Brian H | March 5, 2013

Go slo' to go mo'.

bradslee | March 5, 2013


Congratulations on your new ownership of MS and your first long driving experience with your MS (though it was a cold experience-:)). For any long range trip, one should always use Max charging to reach 271 rated miles, not the standard charging reaching 241 rated miles. If you did that plus your additional 75 rated miles charged at the J1772 public charger, you would have a total of 346 rated miles. Even with the cold weather, you would have a comfortable and joyful (I.e., no range anxiety) 243 one way home trip. In your own words of lessons learned, you correctly point out what you should do before your long range trip. Hope other new MS owners learn from your experience.

Noah.S | March 5, 2013

Oops, misunderstood the original post (thanks Bradslee...)

Please ignore mine, thanks.

drjain06 | March 5, 2013

Thanks for the advice and suggestions, everyone. I still stick to my claim that the current charging system is impractical. While stopping at a camp site would allow for faster charging, what would I do for the 2-3 hours during charging, especially if I have my 4 month old son? What we midwestern travelers are looking for is the ability to charge and go, and unfortunately, the current grid of chargers is not built for that. That is why I love the super charging concept of charging in a place where you don't mind spending down time, such as a mall and then going. Can't wait for the midwest super chargers to open up. Loving the car!

Carmine | March 5, 2013

NNT - And you know that because you own the car and live in the NE? ----And the answers are - NO & probably NO. My answer to the same questions are Yes & Yes. There is only minimal decrease in range with cold weather. If you don't have first hand experience with the MS in cold weather in the NE please keep your subjective opinions to yourself.

drp | March 5, 2013


What do you mean by Northeast? What do you mean by really cold? What do you mean by "really sucks"?.

DouglasR | March 5, 2013

@drp - What do you mean by Nick?

Carmine | March 5, 2013

DouglasR - drp & I were responding to nickniketown whose comment that "the MS sucks in the cold NE" was marked as inappropriate and removed from the thread before you checked it out.

drp | March 5, 2013

I haven't seen -12 Fahrenheit in five years! When that occurred it was for about two hours.

drp | March 5, 2013

I don't understand your gibberish Nick, What?

drp | March 5, 2013


It sounds like you answered your own question during your question above. I agree, there has to be a supercharger between Chicago and Detroit/Toledo but I believe that is coming very soon! I need to get to Detroit, really, Flint but this charging system is not useful right now. You can't drive 70 mph if you want to make it from Chicago to Toledo and that Probably was not a wise move on your part. I drove the car almost that far but I stuck at 56 mph. I don't really care if people passed me. That has nothing to do with my motivation for this particular car so you may have to modify your mentality. Not to scold you, But I've driving a little Honda insight for the past four years and figured out how to make it go 55 Miles per gallon. I just drink my latte and eat my bagel and listen to Sirius satellite radio.

drp | March 5, 2013

By the way, I talked to Tesla about a charger in southern Michigan and I think that it will be at 80/90 where it meets 69.

drp | March 5, 2013

Sorry Nick, I still don't understand, who is "He" with regard to when you say "when he gets really cold".

jbunn | March 5, 2013

Bye Nick....

jbunn | March 5, 2013

Hi nick

village33 | March 6, 2013

@drjain06, sorry about you troubles but this has all been covered as it relates to try to run any car down to "fumes." The heading should have been "User Error/Failure to Do Homework is Real!" It was 28 degrees in Chicago that morning with a 12mph wind from the North (i.e. no headwind) with no altitude difference between Chicago and Toledo. While for 98% of Tesla driving it does not matter, but if you specifically want to seek to run out of fuel then please refer to the tables on range vs temp vs speed (also wind/hills) and note that there is a big difference on the fuel consumption of any car between 65, 70 and 75. Notwithstanding that, if you did standard charge at night, set to extended charge two hours before you left on NEMA 14-50 plus set heat to 70 degrees for the two hours to get to 270 miles of range (I do this on the app from bed, more than two hours with less juice), set car to extended range mode, then drove normally to highway and set cruise control so 5mi average energy usage = rated (eg about 69mph with normal hills/no altitude bias and normal breeze), no extended stops, set your GPS to home, watched the difference between the lower of projected and rated miles and compared to GPS remaining miles with necessary adjustments you would have made it no problem without recharge. I've done this method and it works no problem and is fun, relaxing and warm when one insists on driving long distances. If I have more than a 20mi buffer over GPS in the last third I even usually gun it and go nutty and still make it with 20mi to spare. Do your homework and execute properly and you'll have no problems! Enjoy

drjain06 | March 6, 2013

@village33. Thanks for the (a bit harsh) advice. I agree that I should have set the charge to maximum and that may have saved me some anxiety. However, I did plan the trip before hand and expected to stop and charge for an extended amount of time (4.5 hours!) knowing that my trip would be cutting it close.

So, of course, shame on me; however, my main gripe is more with the current charging network that is advertised by many car companies, including Tesla (they sent me an email with the location of this charging station). The station was advertised to give 21 miles of range per hour of charge, but only gave ~14. This difference of 7 miles of charge per hour resulted in ~32 miles less range on the car than I expected over the 4.5 hours. That 32 extra miles of range would have made a huge difference in my driving anxiety, and likely would have kept me a little warmer.

My original post was to alert new owners as well as Tesla to the challenges that currently exist for long distance drivers who drive in the real world. I love the car and want to see the brand succeed. One way to make this a reality is for the company to help make driving an EV as similar (not exactly the same) to driving an ICE as possible, a major component to which is range. I think the super charging network will help do exactly that. But if they can't make the driving experience less cerebral and planning oriented, I worry that not enough people will buy into what I believe to be the future of automotive technology.

David Trushin | March 6, 2013

We all know the infrastructure is tenuous and I don't think the Tesla is more guilty of painting a rosy picture than the car company that told me my SUV would get 26 mpg highway and 21 city. For a little perspective on this issue, try googling "first cross country automobile trip" and read one of those. It's a miracle the ICE survived.

GeirT | March 6, 2013

Nick-that-is-not-Nick - you have already posted this in another thread.
Go away!

nickjhowe | March 6, 2013

Every time I see "Nick..." I get very confused. :-(

Brian H | March 6, 2013

Howe so? | March 6, 2013

It's unfortunate that your evil twin "chose" the same name.

Spyder34 | March 6, 2013

drj - thanks for a helpful and informational review.

Village - I have been reading the TM forums for several months, and I always enjoy reading honest write-ups from owners-- no need to insult them (which admittedly yours was mild but others I have read are far more unnecessarily scathing), which will dissuade others from reporting their experiences. Like reality shows, -- the real life stories are far more interesting than reading a manual for most.

I don't know if you're an investor or not, but I'd say it's safe to say that a large % of owners/potential owners never pick up a manual and certainly don't go through the mathematical gymnastics that you are suggesting (though like you, I happen to as well).

If we want Tesla to succeed as a company, then as it grows exponentially, exchanging real life stories will pay far more dividends than bashing people who didn't "read the manual". Most people just won't. They will learn from others and their own experience.

drjain06 | March 7, 2013

@Spyder34. Thanks for sticking up for me. I completely agree with you. The only way the company can improve the product is to hear real life stories about how the car is being used. It makes no sense for us to be defensive and anything less than transparent about the car/chargers/software. If we continue to bury our heads in the sand, how will the car improve over time?