A Tesla Model 3 Road Trip

by Roderick W. Smith, rodsmith@rodsbooks.com

Originally written: June 10, 2019

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Introduction

This page exists to document my experiences driving a long-distance (1831 miles, round trip) road trip in a Long Range (LR) Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) Tesla Model 3. Many people who are new to electric vehicles (EVs) have qualms about the vehicles' ability to handle such trips. In some cases, those reservations are well justified. In other cases, though, an EV can handle road trips just fine. Having done it once in my Tesla, I can say with certainty that my Model 3, with an official EPA range of 325 miles, falls into the latter category, at least for me.

Before proceeding further, some caveats are in order. For one thing, I'm a relatively new EV owner. Although I leased a Chevy Volt before buying my Tesla Model 3, the Volt is a plug-in hybrid, so I could drive it on road trips much like any other car. Thus, my experience with full EV ownership, and especially driving road trips in an EV, is still quite limited. Most importantly, my road trip covered several eastern states of the United States; but I hear that Superchargers are much more crowded in California, which would impact their availability there. Superchargers are also rare to nonexistent in some areas, with North Dakota being a big gap in the continental United States, although Tesla claims several sites are planned to open in that state soon. Also, my road trip occurred in late May of 2019. EVs aren't as efficient in cold weather, which would impact the charging speed and driving energy efficiency. Another caveat is that my car is an LR RWD Tesla Model 3 with the 18-inch aero wheels. This configuration has a theoretical range of 325 miles, which is the longest-range Model 3. Like all Teslas, it can use Tesla's Supercharger network, which makes it one of the best EVs (perhaps the best EV) for driving a road trip like mine. Few non-Tesla EVs will work as well for road trips, although some may be adequate, as I describe near the end of this page.

Understanding Terminology

Before proceeding further, it's worth reviewing some terminology. If you're already familiar with EVs and the terms used to describe them and their charging infrastructure, feel free to skip this section.

For the most part, DC fast charging standards are incompatible — that is, you can't charge a Chevy Bolt (which uses CCS) on a CHAdeMO or Tesla DC fast charger. There are some exceptions, though. In Europe, Tesla is converting to the European version of CCS. European Model 3s are delivered with the European variant of CCS, Tesla is planning to release a European CCS adapter for their Model S and X, and new European Superchargers have both Tesla and CCS plugs. (Many Tesla owners hope Tesla will release a North American variant of their CCS adapter, but to the best of my knowledge, Tesla has announced no plans to do so.) Tesla also makes a CHAdeMO adapter to enable Teslas to charge on CHAdeMO equipment; however, this adapter is expensive ($450), and it does not yet work with the Model 3, although Tesla claims that it will "soon."

Tesla developed its Supercharger network explicitly to enable inter-city travel. The CCS and CHAdeMO networks, by contrast, have been developed in a more haphazard manner, and initially with the intent of providing owners of relatively short-range (ca. 100 miles) EVs a means to get a quick boost if they needed a bit more range in a long day of local driving. Thus, CCS and CHAdeMO aren't as well-suited to inter-city travel. That said, Tesla is now deploying more urban Superchargers, and the CCS and CHAdeMO networks are expanding to better support inter-city travel. Enabling such travel is one of the goals of Electrify America.

Planning the Trip

A road trip from Woonsocket RI, to Oberlin OH, to Cincinnati OH, to Woonsocket RI

Figure 1: A road trip from Woonsocket RI, to Oberlin OH, to Cincinnati OH, to Woonsocket RI. This map, from A Better Route Planner, shows Tesla Superchargers along the route, with ones in red being the recommended stops. The leg in red allegedly requires a maximum speed of 68 mph to arrive with over 10% charge; but I arrived with 25% charge, so A Better Route Planner was very conservative on that leg.

The purpose of my trip was two-fold: To attend an Oberlin College reunion in northern Ohio; and to visit my sister in Cincinnati, Ohio. Thus, my trip involved three legs: From my house in Woonsocket, RI to Oberlin, OH (664 miles); Oberlin, OH to Cincinnati, OH (219 miles); and Cincinnati, OH to Woonsocket, RI (837 miles). The theoretical trip distance is therefore 1720 miles; but I did some driving at each of the major stops, plus took some wrong turns, which turned the trip into an 1831-mile journey. The overall trip is shown in Figure 1.

The year 2019 is still fairly early days in the EV world, so EV owners are well-advised to do some planning before embarking on a road trip like mine. As I do trips like this fairly often, I did this planning before even buying my Model 3, so I was confident that the car would be able to handle the task. Challenges that can face EV owners, but that are rare for internal combusion engine (ICE) cars, include:

To help plan a trip, several tools are useful, including:

I took advantage of all of these resources when planning my trip; however, Tesla's Supercharger network is dense enough along my route that I decided to not slavishly follow a pre-planned schedule of stops. Instead, as I approached a point where I knew I'd want to stop for my own needs, such as eating, I used the Tesla's navigation system to find the next Supercharger on my route, and went there. I also used PlugShare to locate overnight Level 2 charging spots, and sometimes to plan a subsequent meal stop at a Supercharger.

Although I'm comfortable driving the 656 miles from Woonsocket to Oberlin in one day, I took that leg in two days, simply because of scheduling reasons. This had the side effect of giving me the opportunity to do a Level 2 overnight charge at a hotel. The 218 miles from Oberlin to Cincinnati is an easy one-day trip that did not even require a charge stop, although I added one for reasons described shortly. The 833 miles from Cincinnati to Woonsocket can be done in one day, but it's long enough that I prefer to break it into two days, even in a gas-powered car.

To understand an EV road trip and its charging needs, consider this: When you start, the car is likely to be fully charged, and can drive its range before needing a charge. For my Model 3, that's 325 miles. Any distance travelled in a day beyond that range must be done on DC fast charging. For a long day's driving of, say, 650 miles in a Model 3, that means 325 miles on the original charge and 325 miles on Supercharging. If an overnight stop can take advantage of a Level 2 EVSE, the process repeats the next day. For a Tesla Model 3 with a 75kWh battery pack, if we assume an average DC fast charge rate of 75kW, that means a total daily stop time of one hour to travel 650 miles (half on the original charge and half on Supercharging). This rough analysis omits a margin for safety in the range calculation and is very approximate in terms of the charge rate, but it gives some understanding of how a long road trip can be possible in an EV. Driving 650 miles at 65 miles per hour takes 10 hours, so a Tesla Model 3 adds one hour to that time (or less — maybe half an hour, if charging is restricted to the optimal period of the charge curve) — but I, for one, require more than that time to eat, use the bathroom, and rest. The upcoming section, Speculating About Other EVs, covers these issues for non-Tesla EVs. In brief, most non-Tesla EVs are less optimized for road trips than is the Model 3, but for the best of them, road trips are still possible with little or no extra time added, depending on the route and your preferences of when and how long to stop.

Summarizing the Stops

In practice, my road trip involved several stops to charge:

In addition to these stops, I made a few shorter stops to use the bathroom, and in one case (on my final leg home) to each lunch, without charging at all. Note that most of my stops did not fully charge the car. This is unlike how I, and I expect most people, would fuel an ICE vehicle on a road trip. Because the rate of charging an EV on a DC fast charger tapers off over time, attempting to charge past a certain point ends up wasting time. Instead, the driver should charge until there's enough charge to reach the next charge point (plus a margin for safety) and until the driver is done with whatever other tasks, such as eating, exist at the current stop. In my case, I never really needed to wait for my car to reach a given charge point, although I did so twice out of caution. I stopped at Strongsville, OH to be sure I'd have sufficient charge should the EVSE at Oberlin be unavailable during my visit. This proved not to be an issue, so I wasted some time and money on that stop. I stopped at the Cincinnati Supercharger because I knew I'd be able to charge only at Level 1 rates at my sister's house, and I wouldn't be there for long enough to fully charge. Thus, I wanted to have enough charge upon arrival. In both cases, the stops were not solely for charging purposes, though; I rested and ate snacks at those stops.

The remaining charging stops were all motivated by my own needs for food or rest as much as for anything else, so I would have made similar stops had I been driving an ICE vehicle. These stops would not have been identical, though; in an ICE car, I would likely have used service areas on the NY Thruway or stopped at whatever exit was convenient or had a restaurant at which I'd have wanted to eat. On this road trip, I was constrained by the locations of Tesla Superchargers. This wasn't a problem; most of the Superchargers had at least two restaurants within easy walking distance. I did end up walking a bit further to eat than I would have in a gas car, though — about a block or so, on average. For the most part this wasn't a problem for me, but it was pouring rain at the Harrisburg, PA stop, so I got a bit wet at that stop. If you're dead set on eating a particular restaurant's food, your best bet might be to get the food to go before reaching the Supercharger, then eat it there, either in the car or outside, weather permitting.

Dividing the total Supercharger charges (243kWh) by their charge times (177 minutes, or 2.95 hours) yields an average charge rate of 82kW. That's significantly less than the 150kW maximum charge rate of the current v2 Superchargers, but it's more than you'll get in most non-Tesla EVs available in 2019, even under optimal conditions. No doubt the average charge rate was brought down by the fact that it took me longer to eat than I needed to charge. Had I left after a shorter period, on average, the charge rate would be a bit higher. There would have been little point to this, though, as I needed the time to eat.

I was rather conservative on this trip about driving the state of charge of my battery pack too low. In theory, I could have driven from home to the Ramada in East Syracuse on one charge, which would have saved me some money, if not time, since I still needed to eat; but if that hotel's one EVSE had been occupied, I might have been in trouble. Likewise, stopping for a bit longer in Somerset PA would have given me enough range to reach the hotel in New Jersey without charging in Harrisburg PA. I wasn't certain how long I'd want to drive for the rest of the day when I stopped at Somerset, though.

In total, I spent 35:41 on the road on this trip, of which 30:29 was actual drive time and the remaining 5:12 was time spent stopped. (These figures do not include overnight stays or time I spent driving at my destination points.) Of this 5:12 stopped, 2:57 was spent charging — but during that charging time, I also ate, used the bathroom, and so on; I did not spend that time tapping my foot waiting for the car to charge, as I would when fueling a gas-powered car. In sum, then, driving my Tesla Model 3 altered the details of my road trip stops compared to driving an ICE vehicle, but the broad outlines remained the same, and the total time spent on the trip did not change much, if at all.

Calculating the Costs

The preceding section notes the costs of my various charges. These can be broken down into three categories:

Adding up all of the above, I paid $55.16 for 447kWh of electricity, for an average rate of $0.12/kWh. That electricity propelled me 1831 miles, for a cost of $0.030/mile in "fuel." For comparison, a car that delivers 30 mpg would have cost $0.094/mile, or $172, for my trip, at the national average gas price of $2.825/gallon; and a Toyota Prius Eco's 53 mpg highway would have cost $0.053/mile, or $98, for my trip. Of course, it would take a lot of road trips like this to cover the extra cost of a Tesla Model 3 vs. a Toyota Prius! Also, I picked hotels that offered Level 2 EVSEs. These may have been more expensive than the hotels I might have used had I been driving an ICE vehicle.

Experiencing the Drive

Of course, there's more to a road trip than where you stop to fuel up or how much it costs to do so. Teslas are renowned as high-tech driving machines, and some Tesla features seem like they'd shine on a long road trip. Do they?

My experience is generally positive, but not without caveats. My car has all the high-tech "goodies" — both Autopilot, which is Tesla's brand of adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist; and Full Self-Driving (FSD), which adds the ability to handle interchanges and to suggest lane changes, a feature that Tesla calls Navigate on Autopilot (NoA). (FSD does a few other things that aren't relevant to this page, and Tesla claims it will eventually do much more, but for now, it's still limited in what it adds.) Autopilot is indeed a useful tool for highway cruising between cities. I drove with Autopilot active from Woonsocket to Oberlin and then on to Cincinnati, and it was quite helpful. Autopilot requires that the driver apply light torque to the steering wheel. Without that input, it will complain and then eventually shut off and bring the car to a halt. Resting a hand on the wheel is sufficient to avoid these complaints. As a driver assistance package, Autopilot should not be used as a substitute for human attention, but it can make for a less fatiguing experience. Unlike some similar systems, Autopilot can change lanes when you tell it to do so (by using the turn-signal lever). This process usually works fine, but it can be a bit slow and overly-cautious in moderate to heavy traffic.

One problem of Autopilot is "phantom braking" — the car will slow suddenly and for no good reason. This often happens when a truck is passing, or when passing a truck. It can also happen when traffic is merging. The latter might be a case of the car being overly "polite," but more often than not, doing nothing or accelerating slightly would be the better choice.

I'm less happy with Navigate on Autopilot. This feature tends to suggest unnecessary lane changes and is very bad at anticipating when a lane change might be optimally timed. It may suggest a merge into a faster lane despite the fact that a car is rapidly approaching in that lane, making such a lane change unsafe. Although NoA can handle most highway interchanges, it does so quite slowly and jerkily. It also shifts into the exit ramp lane very suddenly — much more suddenly than it handles ordinary lane changes, and without asking for confirmation, even when it's configured to require confirmation for lane changes. Overall, my experience, both on this road trip and in my day-to-day driving, is that NoA adds to the stress of driving, rather than reducing it. I prefer to drive with NoA inactive, although I made a point of testing it out for most of the Cincinnati-to-Woonsocket leg of my trip.

In heavy rain, Navigate on Autopilot deactivates, but Autopilot generally continues to work until visibility gets very bad.

A big caveat about Autopilot and Tesla's FSD suite is that they must be used responsibly. The media is eager to report crashes while Teslas are operating with Autopilot active, which tends to exaggerate the severity of the problem, since non-Autopilot crashes receive less attention, overall. Still, Autopilot is not perfect, and driver overconfidence in the system's abilities can be fatal — literally. Used as intended, Autopilot can be a boon; but it's not yet good enough to let you relax your attention to what's happening on the road.

One of Tesla's biggest advantages is that the company delivers software updates over the air, and these updates both improve existing features and add new ones. I have no doubt that NoA will be greatly improved in half a year or a year, and there are likely to be more driver assistance features. Tesla is promising the ability to drive on city streets without human intervention in a matter of months to a year or two. The company and its CEO, Elon Musk, have a reputation for offering timelines that prove to be optimistic, but they do usually deliver on their promises eventually.

In a more mundane realm, Tesla's in-dash navigation system has generally worked well for me. It links to the owner's cell phone via an app, and it's possible to throw an address from another app to the car by telling the cell phone to use the Tesla app as a map program. This was very handy for me on my road trip, since I could send the address of a charge station from the PlugShare app to my car, or to send my sister's address to the car via my phone's address book. One problem with the navigation system, though, is that it sometimes doesn't give explicit instructions on which fork to take when the highway splits in two. Twice on my return journey, I had to guess about which fork to take. Once, I was on Navigate on Autopilot, and that system seemed indecisive; it was driving straight down the middle of the fork until I took control and picked one fork (the wrong one, as it happened).

One less high-tech issue is that, because I didn't pull into a single gas station on this entire trip, I had no chance to clear the bugs from my windshield. I encountered enough rain that the rain and my windshield wipers cleared most of the bug corpses from time to time, but there was still considerable buildup between rainfalls. Buying a squeegee, window cleaning fluid, and a towel is likely to be a worthwhile investment for road trips. Likewise, because EVs have much smaller front grilles than most cars, their front ends become bug graveyards rather rapidly, and this takes a little extra attention when washing the car after returning home.

Like all EVs, the Model 3 generates no engine noise, since there is no engine. The electric motor does produce some noise, but it's much quieter than an ICE, particularly when accelerating. This makes for a more pleasant driving experience. On the other hand, wind noise at highway speeds is louder in the Model 3 than in many other cars. When cruising at a steady highway speed on level ground, the Model 3 is louder than my previous car, a Chevy Volt, for this reason; however, when accelerating or going uphill on gas power, the Volt's ICE was much louder than the Model 3's wind noise. Overall, I'd give the nod to the Model 3 as being a quieter car than the Volt for a road trip, but not by much.

Such details will differ depending on the brand and model of EV you're driving. Tesla's systems are famously (or notoriously, depending on your opinion) different from other automakers', so driving a Tesla anywhere is a somewhat unusual experience. Actual on-the-road time with most non-Tesla EVs will be quite similar to the driving experience in a similar ICE vehicle, with the exception of the lack of engine noise and some differences in acceleration and handling. The biggest differences between a road trip in, say, a Hyundai Kona EV vs. a gas-powered Kona will be in when, where, and how long you stop.

Speculating About Other EVs

Although I've written this page to document my experiences with a Tesla Model 3, it may be helpful to owners (or potential owners) of other EVs. Broadly speaking, the experience of driving any EV on a long-distance trip should be similar to mine on this trip; however, the details will differ depending on the car, the route taken, the weather, and so on. Your personal preferences for time spent stopped to time spent on the road will be critical in determining whether a given EV will meet your needs.

Some figures from the preceding description are informative: I spent a total of 35:41 on the road, of which 30:29 was drive time and 5:12 was time spent stopped. Of the time stopped, 2:57 was charge time (during which I also did things I'd do on any road trip), and 2:15 was time stopped but not charging. This means that for every hour I spent driving, I spent an additional 10 minutes, or 17%, of my on-the-road, wheels-spinning drive time, stopped. This is actually less time than I've spent stopped on some previous road trips; I spent an extra 20% of the time stopped on my previous most recent visit to my sister, for instance.

Consulting A Better Route Planner, my trip, when entered into this tool, suggests a travel plan with 1:59 spent Supercharging, with one fewer Supercharger stop than I actually took (but one more on the big 615-mile leg from Cincinnati to the hotel in New Jersey). It also reports a total trip time of 28:17, which is less than I took, presumably because of my weak human needs and insufficient allowances for traffic jams. This tool optimizes for the car's needs, not human needs, and so may not create an optimal plan unless you explicitly add meal stops. Nonetheless, it's a useful tool for considering what's possible with a variety of EVs....

Consider another vehicle: A Hyundai Kona EV. This car is capable of charging at about 75kW in the real world, compared to twice that for the Model 3; and it has 258 miles of range, compared to 325 for the Model 3 Long Range. The Kona is also a little less energy efficient than the Model 3, particularly at highway speeds. Fed the same waypoints as in my trip, including the Level 2 charging stops, A Better Route Planner builds a trip that includes 5:12 of DC fast charging and 32:07 of total trip time for a Kona. 5:12 happens to be exactly the amount of time I actually spent stopped on this trip, and 32:07 is less than my actual drive time, so A Better Route Planner may be optimistic about real-world driving conditions, such as traffic jams and wrong turns. Given that A Better Route Planner can't predict when you'll need to take a bathroom break, chances are the Kona would actually be a bit slower than a Model 3 (or a gas-powered car) on this trip, but not by much.

A Chevy Bolt is a bit less capable than a Kona. Although the Bolt has 238 miles of range, which is close to the 258 miles of the Kona, the Bolt's real-world DC fast charge rate is a bit more limited; it tops out at about 52kW, according to online real-world accounts. Thus, A Better Route Planner builds a route that includes 7:25 of DC fast charging and a total travel time of 34:31. Of course, that extra two hours of charge time is spread across five driving days (albeit more concentrated in some days than in others), so it's not as bad as it sounds. (Note that the total estimated trip time for the Bolt is slightly less than I actually spent in my Model 3 — but some of my time was spent in traffic and correcting for wrong turns.)

My road trip from Woonsocket RI, to Oberlin OH, to Cincinnati OH, to Woonsocket RI, as calculated for a Nissan Leaf with 151-mile range

Figure 2: My road trip from Woonsocket RI, to Oberlin OH, to Cincinnati OH, to Woonsocket RI, as calculated for a Nissan Leaf with 151-mile range.

Finally, consider the 40kWh (151-mile) Nissan Leaf. A Better Route Planner builds a route that requires a whopping 13:04 of charge time and 46:30 total travel time. This route is also quite awkward and long because of a dearth of CHAdeMO DC fast chargers along I-90 in New York State. Thus, A Better Route Planner builds a crazy convoluted route, as shown in Figure 2, which adds about 170 miles to the trip. (The Kona and Bolt can manage this gap in I-90 DC fast charger coverage because of their extra ~100 miles of range.) Segments shown in red in Figure 2 require driving at slow speed to reach the destination; however, there are CHAdeMO chargers along some of these segments, so faster speeds could be used if those chargers were employed. This would add time for the charging, though.

A variant road trip from Woonsocket RI, to Oberlin OH, to Cincinnati OH, to Woonsocket RI, as calculated for a Nissan Leaf with 151-mile range

Figure 3: A variant road trip from Woonsocket RI, to Oberlin OH, to Cincinnati OH, to Woonsocket RI, as calculated for a Nissan Leaf with 151-mile range.

Removing the hotel stop in East Syracuse results in a route with "only" 11:36 in DC fast charging time and a total duration of 41:38 because A Better Route Planner routes through Pennsylvania to avoid the I-90 CHAdeMO "desert," as shown in Figure 3. To better emulate the original intent, I added in a stop at the same hotel I used on the return trip. This cut the CHAdeMO charge time to 10:38 and the total trip time to 40:42. That's still about three times the Tesla's charge time and twice the time I actually spent stopped on my road trip. (This route adds about 50 miles to the trip distance, but most of the extra charge and travel times are due to charging effects, not the extra distance.)

In practice, the 151-mile Nissan Leaf would likely require adding at least one more travel day to this trip, and with that, another hotel stop and overnight Level 2 charge. This would likely reduce the travel (driving and charging) time compared to what I've computed; but I haven't tried to figure out where the extra overnight stop(s) should be placed.

Keep in mind that new DC fast charging stations are being deployed at a fairly rapid clip, for all three DC fast charging systems (Tesla Supercharger, CCS, and CHAdeMO). As my road trip demonstrates, Tesla's network is already adequate for many trips in the Model 3 Long Range. On paper, CCS and CHAdeMO seem to be adequate for some cars and some trips, but just barely unless you're rather leisurely in your road trip habits. An EV with under 200 miles of range will likely have problems with some routes — even some heavily-traveled ones like I-90 in New York State. As gaps in these routes are filled, even existing EVs will become better able to handle long-distance travel, but there will still be limits based on the cars' ranges and DC fast charge rates. As new models improve their ranges and DC fast charging rates, they'll become better able to make such trips than their predecessors.

When considering how capable a car is of road trips, both range and DC fast charging are important. Every mile of extra range is one more mile that you don't have to cover using a DC fast charger, once you exceed the car's range. Extra range will also help you reach the next DC fast charger, if they're far apart. A car with a faster DC fast charging rate will reduce the time spent at fast chargers. Which factor is more important depends on your trip and your personal preferences. If your trip is 200 miles, then the extra range of a car with 200 or more miles range vs. a lower-range car may be more important than charge rate; but on a cross-country journey, a car with the best DC fast charging rate may be the most critical factor. In practice, both factors tend to improve in lockstep. Beyond a certain point, though, extra DC fast charging speed doesn't gain you much — I spent more time stopped than I did Supercharging, so faster Supercharging would not have benefitted me on this trip. Note also that energy efficiency can play a role; at the same rate of charge, a Tesla Model 3 will acquire more miles of range than the much heavier and less energy-efficient Tesla Model X, for instance. In this rather long YouTube video, a long-distance race between a Model X and a Hyundai Kona resulted in a virtual tie, despite the Kona's much slower charge rate (in kW).

I don't mean to pooh-pooh the idea of driving a road trip in a car like a Kona, Bolt, or even a 151-mile Leaf. On paper, the extra time required to charge these cars compared to my Model 3 may seem like a big deal; but that time is spread across a road trip with a lot of miles driven over quite a few hours. If you must spend an extra half hour stopped two or three times a day, is that really so awful? That's extra time to rest, which may improve your safety. You'll be able to do interesting or productive things, too, like read a book, check your Facebook feed, plan where to go next, etc. If you only do one or two road trips a year, an extra few hours on the road each year may be a small price to pay compared to the extra $10,000 or $20,000 that a Tesla Model 3 would cost.

One more consideration is that the cost to use Tesla's Superchargers is currently less than the cost to use most CCS and CHAdeMO fast chargers. (There are exceptions to this rule, though.) Tesla offers promotions that can further reduce fast charging costs. Currently, using a promotion code earns both the buyer and referrer 1,000 miles of free Supercharging. (Tesla periodically changes details of its referral program. See the program's official page for details. My code is roderick45041, if you care to take advantage of this offer using my code.) Of course, Teslas are more expensive than most other EVs, so it would take a lot of DC fast charging to make this factor important.

Coming to Conclusions

In 2019, one of the best EVs for road trips is the Tesla Model 3. The Tesla Supercharger network enables long-distance travel with no time penalty compared to an ICE vehicle, at least in moderate weather and when the driver expects to spend roughly 10% or more of the on-highway, wheels-spinning time spent stopped to fulfill human biological needs like eating. In addition to being able to handle road trips without slowing down the driver, Teslas offer a slew of advanced driver assistance features, some of which help reduce fatigue and may improve safety, at least if used properly.

Other EVs are beginning to enter the realm where they can be useful road-trip vehicles, too. The best of them may be able to match a Tesla in real-world road-trip travel speed, given that a person is likely to need more time stopped to eat and use the facilities than a Tesla does to charge. Under less-than-optimal conditions, though, such as in cold weather, most non-Tesla EVs will slow down a driver who expects to spend no more than about 20% of on-road, wheel-spinning time stopped. Even under ideal conditions, many non-Tesla EVs will slow down a road trip. Using A Better Route Planner prior to purchasing a car will help you evaluate its suitability for your roads trips. Using the same tool prior to embarking on a road trip will help you figure out an optimum route and identify good places to stop and charge.

One notable caveat is that I have yet to attempt this road trip in cold weather, which will reduce both the car's energy efficiency and the DC fast charging rate. Given the extent to which my Model 3 exceeded my charging speed needs on this trip in May, I expect it will be able to handle a similar trip in the winter without problems. I'm less certain that most other current EVs, such as the Hyundai Kona, would work as well in the winter. As both EV charging infrastructure and the cars' charging systems improve, though, non-Tesla EVs will become quite capable of long-distance travel even in the winter.

Accessing Outside Resources

I've referred to several resources in the preceding discussion. This section summarizes the most important of these, and some others that may be helpful.


copyright © 2019 by Roderick W. Smith

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