First, i’ll confess that it’s still another 12 hours until I take delivery of my Tesla Model S, but certainly range concerns are the first thing most people consider and think about when considering an all-electric car. When discussing my purchase with friends and family range is always the first question I get asked about. For me there are two answers to this.
For my everyday life range is not a concern. I drive a lot with an average of 100 miles a day and peaks up to 175 miles or so in a given day. With the 85 kWh battery pack rated at 265 miles I can easily do my normal driving without concern. Tesla does recommend charging to less than 100% on a daily basis. At a charge of 90% thats 239 miles of range. In cold weather you could lose up to 25% of range and end up with only 179 miles of range on the largest battery which is a far cry from the sometimes-quoted 300 miles or the specified 265 miles. So on really cold days where I plan on driving my maximum I need to be careful. There are strategies for this including warming up the car while plugged in, keeping speed lower to reduce the air drag etc. In the end the math works and plenty of people have confirmed the math and behavior that I have no concerns on this front.
Long trips are a different story and I have all sorts of range anxiety there. Several times a year I take trips to family in central NJ and western PA from my home in central MA. At either end of those trips my family members don’t have any charging infrastructure beyond the standard 110V outlets most homes have. On the NJ route there are a few superchargers along the route which I could probably use to make the trip work and i’ve been inspired by the epic 12,000 mile trip by the Recargo folks to want to try.
For the PA trip my route is usually along US route 80 which has zero superchargers and even the gas stations are few and far between so alternative charging solutions are somewhat unlikely too. I could change the PA route to go south and along the PA turnpike but thats out of the way. Regardless of what I end up doing, I know I have to plan and think a lot more about taking these longer trips and plan my stops, charging and time. The temptation will be to just use one of my other vehicles and skip the whole process but I also see it as an adventure and challenge to take some day.
The greatest fear is when you judge poorly and things don’t work out and you end up on the side of the road with a dead car. In a gas car that means calling a friend or AAA and getting them bring some gas. In an EV it means an expensive tow and some long embarrassing wait times for charging — there are no “quick fill” or “top off” options with an EV out of juice on the side of the road.
I’m used to driving with a lot of buffer in my gas tank and I fill up long before I have only 50 miles to go. With the Tesla Model S i’m going to have to get a lot better about understanding my range and a lot more comfortable driving with low numbers of miles left on the charge. Until then I will have some range anxiety.
This article first appeared on Teslarati.