Range Anxiety

I had 44 miles of range and 52 miles to go.

I have witnessed a Tesla S model come into the supercharging station on a roll back tow truck. As if done before, the tow driver backed his truck up to the charger and then plugged in the car. After about 10 minutes he unplugged and pulled forward. He then off loaded the car, backed it into the space and plugged it back in.

I asked myself, “Who would let their charge get that low?” I relived that scene as I pulled into the barn for 2 hours of work. I found a 110 volt 15 amp outlet and plugged in. I estimated at least 3 hours of charging to add 9 miles. That would leave me 1 mile left at the SC.

Wind And Cold

My text when I discovered my plight.

I drove up the long drive to the barn and plotted my route to the next supercharger. This is when I realized my mistake. High winds and a temperature drop of about 20 degrees came with the storm I was driving through. I had zoned out during my driving and had not watched the energy meter on my dash.

Wind and cold temperatures had driven up my energy use to over 450 watts per mile. On the interstate with higher speeds and therefore more wind resistance I used about 525. For comparison, in flat Florida my average highway use is about 350.

The barn work was done. The barn was dark and the people gone. I sat waiting for the miles to read 54. The rain and thunder continued and I was getting cold without the heat on.

My hotel that night was closer than the supercharger by a few miles and it had a destination charger so I felt that 54 miles would get me there. I unplugged and kept my speed at 54 or less even on the interstate. There was no traffic that night which really helped. The heat was off and my feet begged for me to turn it on.

I arrived with 4 miles left and I was very grateful I had made it and the charger was working.

4 miles left as I plug into the destination charger


Tesla owners living in the cold know they have to watch the gauge but for travelers where weather conditions change, I recommend 3 things.

  1. Multiply the distance you are traveling between charge points and multiply by 1.5. Charge your vehicle to that number.
  2. If you use the navigation system, call up the energy app and click the tab for “Trip.” This will give you an accurate assessment of what you will have at the end of your trip in a percent value. Watch that value and adjust your speed or climate settings if the end point dips to 3% or less. I am comfortable in the 4 to 9% range.
  3. If you have the dash energy widget (Model 3’s don’t have this), watch the watts per mile for the past 5 minutes. If it is 450 or more you may be using an excessive amount of energy and you may run out.

Other cold weather advice is to charge at the endU of your trip and not the next morning when the batteries are cold. You may need to wait up to an hour before they are warm enough to charge. Also remember that regenerative braking is reduced or absent when it is very cold as is true when the batteries are fully charged.

One more thought. Do you find it fascinating how the news media blames the car for someone’s death in an accident? “Tesla Crash Kills Driver”. With all the traffic fatalities, I have yet to see a “Volkswagen Beetle Kills Driver” headline. We are a minority and looked at as odd balls. But if I crash my Tesla, it will be my own fault and not the car.