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Tesla Road Trip

June 3rd, 2018 · 3 Comments

We drove to Southern California in my new Tesla Model 3 to attend my niece’s wedding. The trip was more interesting than usual because of some of the unique features of the car. Here are a couple of notes.

Charging:
I was surprised how easy and non-disruptive it was to charge the car, not significantly worse than gassing up a “normal” car. For the 378 miles we stopped twice to recharge, taking 15 minutes the first time in Quartzsite, and about 20 the second time in Indio. In both cases, the car was ready before we were. (We could have made it with a single charge in Indio, but it would have been very close and until I am more familiar with charging and range I don’t want to take any chances.)

The hotel had free charging, so we got to top off the battery there.

On the way back we stopped at the Outlet Mall in Cabazon and while we were shopping we got warned that we were going to be charged idle fees since more than half the chargers were occupied and our car’s charging was complete. I think I got back in time to avoid the idle fees, and I don’t mind the policy. It should make it more likely that a charger will be available when I need one.

We were going to stop and eat at Carl’s Jr in Quarzsite again, but decided to go upscale at Denny’s in Blythe. But we still needed to charge again in Quartzsite, so we sat in the car a few minutes, then went in to use the bathroom and bought a cup of coffee.

So in summary, two charges each way of 15 – 20 minutes each, at convenient places to take a break.

Auto Pilot
Auto Pilot worked well, most of the time. I didn’t trust it too much in heavy traffic, or with sharp curves, but on the open highway it made driving a lot more relaxing. I got pretty relaxed and depended on it to keep me in the lane and a safe distance from the car in front. It will even change lanes automatically if you turn on the turn signal. That sounds like a small thing, but it means you don’t have to disable AP, change lanes, then re-enable it. One simple step instead of 3.

When I first got the car, it felt like it pulled wide, almost over the line, on curves. That behavior is much better now, and it stays centered in the lane even on pretty tight curves.

I am looking forward to continual improvements and enhancements to the capability. At some point it should look at the navigation system, for example, and determine which lane it should be in, and transition from one freeway to another. I haven’t had a chance to try self-parking yet, but that’s supposed to work pretty well right now.

I caught some interest on the trip, mostly from Gisele’s friends and family, and her brother’s neighbor who came over to see it while we were getting ready to leave this morning. I saw lots of other Teslas at the charging stations, but didn’t see a single other Model 3. They are still rare enough that people are interested.

There’s something about an electric car that just seems right. Low maintenance, no pollution (other than at the power plant…), cheap operation, excellent handling and performance. It’s just a lot of fun to drive. I’m sure that as I get used to it, the drive to LA will again become boring and tedious, but for now it is interesting.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dale // Jun 3, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Nice summary of the trip. Looks like electric cars are the wave of the future with extended range and charging stations springing up all over the country. Sounds like you and Gisele had fun on the first long trip in your high-tech vehicle.

  • 2 Donna // Jun 4, 2018 at 7:49 pm

    Boy, was I wishing for an auto piloted Model 3 while driving my Honda to CA. So many trucks on I-10 and my car doesn’t adapt to cruise. Good recap, but you forgot to mention your and Don’s drag race on the California streets! ;^)

  • 3 Don // Jun 12, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I loved driving your car! Once I retire I’m thinking I will trade for a Tesla but It’s likely I will go for a Model S. I do love yours though.

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