Showing posts with label gilroy tesla. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gilroy tesla. Show all posts

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Lessons learned: Long distance driving in an EV- Tesla Model S. The grass is not really green in an EV.

Last weekend, we decided to take Tesla on a trip to San Jose. We started from Simi Valley. The destination was Dolce Hayes Mansion in San Jose where my nephew had a wedding reception.

So far, we had driven Tesla maximum for 200 miles and it was working out fine. The grass was green and we were happy. This time we needed to drive 370 miles one way! We needed to worry about our drive!
I had two alternatives. I could take the most popular, LA to San Francisco route on Freeway 5 or I take scenic Route 101. Both routes have almost same miles for us. 101 is probably 10 miles longer. However, before we bought Tesla, most of the time, we chose to drove on 101 for our trips to northern California.

Freeway 5 has first charge at 122 miles from our home and then next one was at 77 miles. Normally I charge my Tesla up to 215 miles but this time, I intended to charge it to max possible. Not sure what was the max but I set it to 235 miles. Anyway, the first supercharger at 122 miles was too soon and the second supercharger  at Coaling would be at 199 miles which would a sort of risk if we ran out. So the choice was to charge car at Buttonwillow supercharger. Then we had 188 miles to drive before we could charge at Gilroy. This also seemed a kind of risky. We were not ready to make 3 stops during our trip- at each supercharger on the way. On the other hand, on 101 freeway, the supercharger at Atascadero, 174 miles away, made perfect sense. Then Gilroy was 138 miles! This was within our comfort zone. Also, we knew 5 had more traffic. That meant that the superchargers were more likely to be busier. If possible, we intended to avoid waiting at any supercharger. From this perspective too, it made sense to drive on 101 instead of 5 freeway!

Freeway 5
Home  to
20673 Tracy Ave

Buttonwillow, CA 93206
122 miles

To
24557 W Dorris Ave

Coalinga, CA 93210
77 miles (3 hours)

to
Gilroy Premium Outlets
Gilroy, CA 95020
111 miles (1:40 hours)

To
Dolce Hayes Mansion

200 Edenvale Avenue, San Jose, CA 95136
24 miles

To
6701 Amador Plaza Road
Dublin, CA 94568
40 miles

On 101 freeway

6950 El Camino Real
Atascadero, CA 93422
174 miles (3 hours)

to
Gilroy Premium Outlets
Gilroy, CA 95020
138 miles (2 hours)

To
Dolce Hayes Mansion

200 Edenvale Avenue, San Jose, CA 95136
24 miles


However when we started, Tesla kept insisting that we charge our car at Solvang supercharger. However that was a bit too close so we ignored Tesla's advice and kept driving. We had started with charge for 235 miles. After we had drove our car for 174 miles and reached Astacadero , we still had 36 miles of charge left! How accurate was Tesla's mileage estimate? Not perfect but it would work. However to get this much mileage I drove with cruise control set to around 65-70 miles! It seemed slow to both of my sons, and my wife, but my goal was to be safe and to avoid getting stuck somewhere. When we started charging our Tesla, it was around 1 pm. It was time for lunch so we looked for a place to eat in Atascadero. We found Sylvestor's Burgers (http://www.sylvestersburgers.com/). We loved food there. Delicious burgers! It was a bonus for stopping by at this town. In an hour or so, we had our car charged to 210 miles. Our next goal was the Gilroy supercharger. 210 miles charge and 138 miles to drive. This time, I had my son drive the car. Like any kid in early 20s, he started flying Tesla! He drove with the speed of around 80-85 miles with occasional bursts that reached mph in 100 plus! We covered these 138 miles much quicker but we used almost 200 miles worth charge! So first lesson was that the miles range you see on your Tesla depends on several factors. If you are driving uphill, with many stops or changes in speed, or you are driving at or anove 75mph, you may not get what the Tesla dashboard shows in your car!
We had another stop of an hour at Gilroy. Wastage of time! I had no mood to make a stop as we were only 24 miles from our destination. However we needed to charge our car. We needed full charge as there were no superchargers or free chargers around Dolce Hayes Mansion. While car was charging, we roamed around the mall. Bought certain things that we really didn't need! Even though the superchargers were free to use, it was too expensive to spend one hour. So total 2 hours of charging on the way. Most other relatives who started around same time from LA region had reached the Dolce Hayes Mansion faster then us. They were probably in slower cars but they reached the destination earlier than us. So another lesson: Tesla is a fast car but it would not take you to your destination faster than any other regular car! 
At the Dolce Hayes mansion, they have a regular charging port- 110V with 9A! This was the first time, I was charging at a regular 110V regular outlet. After I connected, I found that the car was charging around 3 miles per hour! That is slower than my speed when I walk! Lesson learned: if you have an EV like Tesla, you can't think of charging on regular power outlets. You need faster charging options. At one point during our stay in San Jose, we didn't need car for 20 plus hours so we left it there for charging. We got around 60 miles with this 20 some hours of charging!!

On Sunday, we were coming back from San Ramon after visiting a family. We started around 3pm, Car had 130 miles left. We decided to follow what Tesla had to tell us. It made us stop at supercharger at DUBLIN - AMADOR PLAZA SERVICE PLUS
All charging spots were taken!! We had to wait! After 20-30 some minutes of wait, we got a supercharger port! We charged for around 45-50 minutes! Tesla app notified us that we had enough charge to resume our journey. One more lesson learned: you may have to wait at superchargers! There may be wait when you are in dire need of charge! This can remind you of lines of cars for gas during oil crisis of 1980s! Anyway, once we started driving, it told us to drive on Freeway 5! After 20 minutes of drive on a sort of uphill road towards Livermore, Tesla started telling us to go back to Dublin supercharger! We didn't have enough charge!!  One more lesson: Tesla is not as smart as many of us think ;) We followed what it was telling us! However, I had to ignore the advice of driving back to the same supercharger where it had few minutes ago told me that my car was charged enough! It was quite annoying but we didn't want to go back and stuck in the loop. Simple math in my head showed that we could reach the next supercharger. I reduced my speed from 75 mph to 68 mph. I didn't notice, but Tesla resumed directions to our home. However it told us to go to Fresno, CA supercharger by taking CA 99 freeway! The Colinga supercharger seemed a few miles further away on Freeway 5. I was really tempted to drive on 5. I was puzzled why Tesla didn't want me to drive on 5 though that was a shorter route for me! I thought maybe that supercharger was not working or there could be a super long line with excessive wait time! We couldn't take the risk as if we could not charge there, the next supercharger was 122 miles away! The route 99 was 24 miles longer than route 5! We had no option so we continued on highway 99. At the Fresno supercharger, there were only 2 cars charging. 8 slots were open! We put our car for charging. I made sure it was charging at 330 V with 200 plus Amps! We decided to eat at Pieology pizza place. We spent around an hour hoping that we had enough charge! However when we reached our car, it was charging only at 60 amps. When I was expecting 200 miles worth of charge, we had only 135 miles done! So frustrating! We decided to change spot! Car started charging at 200 amps! Not sure what was the problem there. Considering it as a one off issue, we ignored it. Now, we had another 45 minutes of wait before we could resume our trip! We killed time at Target store nearby. We were tired! I am still not sure why the super charging station dropped the charge speed suddenly? Is it some programming at Tesla's end to slow down frequent chargers? After we had 215 miles worth of charge, we started driving around 8 pm! Our next destination was the superchargers at  TEJON RANCH SUPERCHARGER Petro Shopping Center 5602 Dennis McCarthy Dr Lebec, CA 93243 
As we had enough charge in between, I had my son drive Tesla his way. He drove generally at 85mph. I am sure he enjoyed driving. When we reached at Tejon Ranch, it was all packed. Luckily, one Tesla left within few minutes so we put our car for charging. We went to nearby Yogurtland. We loved Yogurtland in early days when it was around 25 cents per ounce. Here it was $0.47 per ounce! Not worth it!! Our time pass costed $14 and around 40 minutes! When we come back to car, same problem. The car was charging only at 85 Amps. We didn't have enough charge. I disconnected and reconnected but it would not charge above 65 Amps! My son gave me a weird look because he didn't like my disconnecting and connecting again. I knew it was stupid but that was the only thing I could do to solve the problem and have car charge faster! Luckily, one port next to our charging port became available. We moved our car there. It started charging with 180Amps plus!! Not sure what was the problem behind superchargers not charging at fast speed, but it happened twice! So one more lesson learned: Don't assume all superchargers act like superchargers! They are moody and sometimes harass you so watch the charging on your Tesla app like you are dealing with a moody teenager! This particular issue costed us almost 1.5 hours more during our trip!
Anyway, we made fun of Tesla on our way back. We were in a super fast car but most of our relatives had reached home before we did. When we reached home, it was almost midnight!
So many things learned about EV cars and long distance driving, Tesla and its superchargers in one weekend. Though this is not related to our trip but I want to mention one more lesson about Tesla superchargers! There are some owners who take the free charging benefit to ridiculous extent. It is weird when someone spends more than $80k on a car but walks an extra mile to save a buck or two! There are some people who are obsessed with saving money, and some Tesla owners are no exception. They seem to use supercharger as their home charger! One day, I drove around 100 miles to Corona, CA and then was driving back from Corona to Simi Valley. I had little charge left so Tesla wisely took me to Burbank supercharger. Only one spot was open at around 9 pm. In most cars, next to my car were people in PJs and night dresses, surfing on the phones or taking a nap! I was there around half an hour but I was the last one to join them and also the first one to leave!! I assumed they all wanted to charge the car to full capacity! I don't think superchargers are for free charging; they are for the convenience for owners who are driving long distance and need some charge to reach their destination, or reach home in time! One more lesson reinforced: not all man are created equal: not all Tesla owners are reasonable human beings! There are Tesla owners who do not understand the motive behind company's free superchargers correctly ;)