Tesla Model S: Driving Long Distance

In my last post I described my experience ordering my Tesla Model S.  In this post I wanted to talk a little about my driving experience with it.

After taking delivery, it wasn’t long before I was able to take a long drive from my home in Wisconsin to a destination in Illinois for work.  Normally I dread the drive.  My plan generally is to find a way to get from point A to point B in the least amount of time with the smallest number of stops.  However, with the Tesla, I was looking forward to the trip!

Because I was traveling about 350 miles in one direction I knew I’d have to stop at a Super Charger on the way.  In fact, I was looking forward to it.  Super Chargers are Tesla specific charging locations that can quickly recharge your vehicle – plus, they are free for life.  Yes, they are 100% free to use for Tesla vehicles.  In addition, unlike a stop at a gas station, I was looking forward to stopping and interacting with other Tesla owners while charging.  It may sound a bit cliche, but everyone I’ve spoken to that owns a Tesla has been very friendly and very willing to discuss their experiences with their vehicle.  So I was really hoping that there were others at the Super Chargers when I stopped.

When planning a trip in a Tesla, you simply input your destination into the Tesla’s navigation and it’ll help determine your route and where and how long you need to stop to charge.  Generally your stops will coincide with your need for a bathroom or a nutrition break.  My first stop was Pleasant Prairie and when I arrived there were no other vehicles charging.  I found the bathroom, spent $6.00 in a mall, and then returned to my vehicle which was charged and ready to continue my trip.  The whole stop was less than 20 minutes. Just enough time to locate the bathrooms, buy some chocolate I really didn’t need, and get on my way.

Chocolate I don't need.
Chocolate I don’t need.

I then traveled to my next Super Charger in Normal, IL.  During this stop there was one other Tesla owner there and I was able to strike up a quick conversation about their experience before wandering off to grab some lunch.  While I was at lunch my car charged – for free – and was ready to continue our trip when I was done eating.

After I arrived at my destination, completed my meetings and overnight stay, I headed back home.  The trip home entailed additional stops to charge.  At one of them – Aurora I believe – I was the only Tesla charging but someone approached me while I was charging and we struck up a conversation about the car.  It was great to be able to share my experience with someone else that was interested in learning more.

Overall, the trip was considerably more enjoyable than it had been in the past.  It felt more like an adventure than a chore.  In fact, instead of trying to stop as little as possible, it was great knowing when you were going to stop for a bathroom and food break.  It was something to look forward to and each new destination felt like an adventure when I arrived because I wasn’t sure what amenities would be found.  As I’ve become more familiar with them I’ve found that I prefer stopping at the Rockford and Normal Super Chargers and avoiding Aurora if at all possible.  This is not only due to how far or close to the highway they are but also due to the amenities that surround them.

Overall, the trips in the Tesla have been so much more enjoyable than a trip in any other vehicle I’ve driven.  Not only that, but with the “next generation” seats and scheduled stops to stretch, I no longer feel like I’m twice my age when I stop and get out of my car.

Charging in Aurora IL
Charging in Aurora IL
IMG_6080
The Tesla mobile app allows you to remotely monitor your charging progress. Notice the charge rate is 334 miles/hour!

Next up: Driving Performance and Features

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