Day 8 started easy enough with a simple goal, make it to a friends New Years Eve Party in Austin.
By day 8, we have really started to relax our charging planning. After getting nearly a full charge over night at the local RV park in Clovis NM, we headed out with a simple plan; Drive until we have only 30 or so miles left of range, find an RV park, and charge once more. That would take us to the mid-point of our drive, from there it’s just one more leg to Austin and we should just make it into town with time to freshen up, and start the party with everyone at about 10pm.
Everything was perfectly on plan, we drove we where down to 10′s of miles, found an RV Park, where we started charging up. We watched everything for some time, and with everything looking perfect we decided to take the three quarter mile walk to the local rest stop and sit down for a good meal while we waited for the car to charge. We checked what time the car would be finished, and timed our meal to finish just before the car was done. Of course you know what happened; About an hour and a half before we returned to the car, the circuit breaker on the outlet at the RV park had tripped (well below it’s rated current limit). Because of the use and exposure of these circuit breakers, this seems to be a semi-normal occurrence. Quick calculations were done and it looked like it would be close, but we might still be able to make it to the party before the stroke of midnight. The circuit was reset, and we watched the miles slowly add on. We carefully calculated out the amount of margin miles we wanted for the trip, and triple checked the distance and we concluded just what we originally had, we would need a full range charge for this leg. Finally the charge current slowed as we reached full, we disconnected, collected all of our cables, and we were off.
For those that have not driven and EV, and speak of “range anxiety”, I want to be clear that there never has been a point that we have been driving that any of us were concerned about getting stranded. Everywhere I go there are thousands of outlets everywhere, any of which I can plug into. Some are great, such as a 240V 14-50R at campgrounds, and some are slow like the lamp socket in your house, but all of them will work. Another thing that takes some getting use to when driving an EV, it’s generally very easy to stretch your mileage and go further than the “Rated Range” you have left, all you have to do is SLOW DOWN. This was clearly shown when another Tesla Model S was driven a good bit past 400 miles on a single charge, through not at highway speeds http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1081000_how-far-will-a-tesla-model-s-go-one-owner-did-405-miles.
What was left for us was an optimization problem (perfect for me!), go slow enough that our single charge would take us all the way to Austin without needing to stop and recharge, yet go fast enough to make it there before midnight.
As we rode along we closely watched out energy usage screens, the number of “Rated Miles” left in the battery (similar to a gas gauge on a car but much more precise), and the number of miles left till Austin. Every few minutes adjustments where made depending on terrain, rain, and time. Every time we we hit a patch of rain that slowed us down we began to doubt we would make it in time but then the shower would pass and then suddenly a large downhill would come where we made back the time and energy that the rain had taken from us. As the miles ticked down things really started looking up, we were going to make it! Makeup was applied, comments were made about the visors not being up to the task, and even though in the last few miles the rain really began to pour down, we had the margin to spare and we pushed on. 20 miles, 10 miles, 5 miles… Finally we cheered our own arrival just as the sky really opened up on us, with 15 minutes to spare, and 11 “Rated Miles” still in the tank we walked into the party and the Electric Road Trip S team celebrated the New Year with friends like we hadn’t done in almost a decade