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.

Comments 10

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      It isn’t the car for everyone. But I am a geek and have always been on the cutting edge of technology. And it was a cost cutting measure for the business (high mileage and no fuel or maintenance)

    1. Post

      Living on the edge in the safest car with no ongoing pollution plus a delight to drive in the autonomous mode. Look! No hands!

      Thanks for reading, commenting and sharing. Doc T

  1. It’s a very pretty car ………… at least the part of it in the picture at the barn . I’d like a pic of the entire car . Sally G.

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  2. Out where I live (southern Ontario) we have charging stations at all the GO Train parking lots, plus at most of the bigger parking lots at the university and other public places. And a lot of people drive the car and really enjoy it. I personally will be moving in that direction when I get my next vehicle, Good for you for the advice though, I think a lot of people would forget about the temperature and KM’s to travel.

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      Thanks Chris – I’ll bet you know cold. Sometimes the weather changes just sneak up on you disrupting best laid plans. If you have any questions about the Teslas before you get one, drop me a lone. I have the X and the 3 and both are used in high mileage work. However I can tell you right now with our experience (80,000 miles on the X and 30,000 on the 3), get one. They aren’t perfect but I’m driving a rented Jeep Grand Cherokee and I miss the feel and the autonomous functions – terribly.

  3. how much does it cost to buy a tesla? i only have a silverado 2500HD for a daily driver and while i work at home, drives to town and back take a quarter of a tank of gas.

    also, does tesla make a model that can pull a two-horse trailer?

    1. Post

      I need to start of by saying this. The Tesla car is an amazing machine because 1) it is the safest vehicle of all vehicles tested by the US government, 2) they are very dependable 3) they have little maintenance (tires and wiper blades), 4) they are very powerful with the fastest acceleration of almost every stock car and 5) they automate many of the driving tasks (maintain vehicle separation on cruise control, keeps vehicle within the traffic lane with autopilot, automatically changes to a faster lane of travel on multilane roads, etc). And above all of this it does not produce as much carbon as an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.

      I traded in my 2500HD diesel 4 door with 8 foot bed at 519,000 miles for my Tesla X model and I have 92,000 miles on it in less than 2 years. I have saved a lot of money in maintenance and also fuel costs. The Tesla Model 3 that Melissa drives has replaced her 3500 dually and that has cut our cost in half. From a money standpoint, the Tesla cars are safe and are saving us money. But we drive a lot. For a commute to town, you would need to get the Model 3 or the coming soon Model Y. You will be able to get these for about $40,000 basic. The cost of charging is basically your electric use compared to the cost of gas. Tesla says that electric is about half the cost of gas but gas prices vary at least $1 per gallon as I travel about the country.

      In a nutshell, the Tesla would cost a lot less to fuel and to maintain than your 2500HD and the cost of getting a new truck would be about the same. The cost of being safe in a crash is priceless….

      Now for the bad news. Towing anything adds wind resistance which is the biggest factor in battery range. The Model X could tow it but you would need to stop a lot for charging. And then you would need to detach the trailer each time you go to a supercharger so the cord could reach the plug. And you would need to charge for about 20 minutes at the new superchargers coming in the next year or 40 minutes now.

      Later this year Tesla will be coming out with a pickup truck. The range should be over 400 miles and will have more power and capability than (they say) an F-150. Will this mean big enough brakes and suspension for a 5th wheel? And if you go to a show 200 miles away will you be able to charge your truck while at a show? So I don’t think Tesla is ready yet for pulling horses except locally. It is why I still own a 3500HD.

      Thanks for reading my blogs! Use my code when you get yours and receive 1000 charging miles free at any supercharger. Also the federal tax credit goes from $3750 down to half of this on June 30th. (I got the full $7500 x 2 tax credit because I purchased before Jan 1st, 2019).

Your thoughts are important for all to hear and may help others to learn from your experiences. Take the time to add to the discussion. However due to time limitations I will probably not answer direct questions to me. Thanks, Doc T

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