Final weekend, I set out on my longest Tesla highway journey but, and I got here to the conclusion that Mannequin three is the very best highway journey car on the market for a number of causes — however the principle ones are Supercharging and Autopilot.
Like many individuals typically do in Los Angeles in the course of the fourth of July weekend, my girlfriend and I made a decision to go to Las Vegas.
There are a number of low-cost flights between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, however I believed it could be enjoyable to drive by the desert in a Tesla car. With the recent Supercharger upgrade enabling up to 150 kW of charging on V2 Supercharger stations, I figured it could be an awesome alternative to expertise the influence of the upgraded charging capability on a long-distance journey.
I rented a Mannequin three Lengthy-Vary RWD on Turo. It was my first expertise with Turo, and I used to be pleasantly shocked by how seamless and straightforward it was from begin to end.
We rented the automobile from a Tesla proprietor named James who has two Mannequin 3s, and he lists them each on Turo, which helps pay for the month-to-month funds, and he can drive considered one of them when it’s not being rented out.
We picked up considered one of James’s Model 3s in Santa Monica at 10 a.m. on Friday and left for Vegas.
Now, to be honest, the Los Angeles to Las Vegas route is without doubt one of the best-covered routes by Tesla’s Supercharger community, with six stations alongside the way in which.
The Mannequin three Lengthy-Vary RWD has an EPA-rated vary of 310 miles, nevertheless it wasn’t totally charged after we picked it up.
It had about 235 miles of vary, nevertheless it was lots for us, regardless that it’s virtually a 300-mile journey:
We deliberate to drive to Tesla’s Supercharger station in Baker and cease to cost and eat earlier than persevering with on to Las Vegas.
Nevertheless, it turned out that we wanted to cease to make use of the restroom at round Barstow, and that ended up being good to optimize our charging time.
We stopped on the Yermo Supercharger station simply outdoors of Bartow, and we plugged in for about 15 minutes whereas we went inside to make use of the restroom and purchase some iced tea.
The Mannequin three shortly hit a 143 kW cost price:
By the point we returned to the automobile, it had already added over 100 miles of vary, which might have been sufficient to get to Las Vegas, however we deliberate to cease in Baker anyway to get one thing to eat.
However we needed to cease in Baker regardless, as a result of we ended up hitting an exploded tire at 65 mph simply earlier than the exit.
I used to be driving on Autopilot in the suitable lane in full site visitors once I noticed a car two automobiles forward do a bizarre transfer.
Earlier than I totally realized what was occurring, the automobile forward of us ran over a big truck tire that exploded, and with all of the site visitors round us, I didn’t really feel like I may safely keep away from it because the automobile forward did.
We ran over it. The hit was fairly sturdy on the entrance finish, and we felt the Mannequin three raise when the tire went beneath us.
Because of the sturdy influence, I feared that the injury to the bumper can be dangerous, however we pulled over and it solely had a couple of scratches on the entrance lip:
These are fairly deep scratches, however I truthfully thought it could be rather a lot worse than this.
When the tire went beneath the automobile, it additionally banged on the underbody panels and made a couple of plastic screws fall out, ensuing within the panels hanging low:
We had been capable of push the principle underbody panel again in place beneath the entrance lip with out an excessive amount of situation.
As for the felt-like panel behind the principle panel, it wasn’t as huge of a deal as the principle one for security and effectivity, however we nonetheless managed to repair it up with tape (by “we,” I imply principally my girlfriend, who’s sufficiently small to get beneath the automobile — thanks Frances!) to be able to assist with the airflow beneath the Mannequin three.
The tape fell off a couple of instances beneath the warmth and driving, nevertheless it didn’t have an effect on the driving expertise a lot.
Total, I used to be impressed by how the Mannequin three fared within the accident. I anticipated a lot worse injury once I received out of the automobile.
As for the charging, Tesla’s Baker Supercharger is nice. It’s one of many largest, and it’s lined by photo voltaic panels, which is a good supply of energy and shade within the 100F desert warmth.
We ended up charging for a few half hour whereas consuming and fixing the automobile’s underbody, and the battery pack was 90% full, which is overkill for the lower than 100 miles left to get to Las Vegas.
On the final leg of the journey, we received a superb reminder that regardless of media headlines, not solely electrical automobiles catch on hearth:
Additionally, you get to see a number of renewable power when driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
A number of photo voltaic farms are seen from the freeway, together with a fantastic molten salt thermal solar energy plant, the biggest on this planet:
We made it to Las Vegas. We had been staying on the Bellagio the place they’ve a number of charging stations, together with a Tesla destination charging station.
It assured that we’d have 100% cost when leaving, which we did on Sunday… concurrently tens of 1000’s of different folks, which created an unimaginable quantity of site visitors.
We may have simply made it again to Los Angeles with out charging, however we needed to cease anyway as a result of the site visitors elevated the drive time to 6 hours.
As an alternative of sitting in site visitors all day, we determined to take an extended, extra scenic route that resulted in an identical drive time:
On the way in which again, we ended up stopping at Tesla’s Barstow Supercharger station.
With the quantity of site visitors, I used to be anticipating the Supercharger to be busy, and that we’d even have to attend to get a spot.
It was full after we arrived, however a couple of folks had been beginning to go away so we didn’t have to attend. Nevertheless, we had been sharing the 150 kW energy with one other Mannequin three for the reason that station was full.
The Mannequin three system confirmed 40 minutes for a 90% cost, however after three and a half hours of driving, we wanted to cease to eat anyway.
We had been out and in of Chili’s in about 30 minutes, and by the point we made it again to the automobile, a number of Tesla homeowners had left the station, together with the particular person we had been sharing a Supercharger with, which resulted in our Mannequin three already being charged to 90%, so we left instantly.
One other three hours later, we had been again to Los Angeles with over 100 miles left.
Total, we drove on Autopilot for about 10 hours with fewer than a dozen driver interventions, and we waited for charging for a complete of zero minutes.
This was an superior and eventful journey.
On high of hitting the tire, a couple of hours after arriving in Las Vegas, we skilled the 6.9 magnitude earthquake from the 26th-floor of the Bellagio tower:
The constructing was swinging backwards and forwards a lot that we thought it was about to break down. Between that and hitting the tire with the Mannequin three, we received a reasonably good dose of adrenaline for a single day.
At the least we received to chill out the following day by going to the Grand Canyon and taking part in with horses:
However even with all these enjoyable actions, taking the Mannequin three on a highway journey like that’s nonetheless a spotlight of the weekend and a superb EV studying expertise.
With long-distance highway journeys in electrical automobiles, I feel folks focus an excessive amount of on charging time. How a lot time did you spend charging? In the event you actually wish to know, for this journey, it was simply over an hour for greater than 600 miles.
Nevertheless, the time spent ready for the car to cost is a extra necessary metric than cost time in my view as a result of it’s important to cease anyway.
So long as the charging time is just not longer than an affordable cease and the stations are positioned subsequent to the wanted facilities, which is usually the case for Tesla’s Supercharger community, you will have a seamless expertise.
Tesla’s main DC fast-charging functionality mixed with the intensive Supercharger community makes its electrical automobiles nearly as good and even higher than gasoline automobiles for long-distance journey.
Then you definately add Autopilot to the combo and Tesla’s automobiles blow the whole lot else out of the water.
I had put 1000’s of miles and dozens of hours on Autopilot earlier than this journey and I favored it, however you actually recognize it greater than ever if you drive for nearly 5 hours straight.
In fact, you continue to must maintain your arms on the wheel and listen in any respect time, however Autosteer and Site visitors-Conscious Cruise Management actually take away a number of the stress out of driving, particularly in cease and go site visitors, which we hit a bunch of instances.
I did must intervene about 10 instances in 600 miles, nevertheless it was by no means scary – other than the tire, however that wasn’t Autopilot’s fault since I used to be able to intervene and I couldn’t do it both.
Though it could be good for Autopilot to finally be capable of detect and react safely to mess on the highway.
We aren’t fairly there but, however I develop extra impressed by Autopilot after each few updates. I nonetheless assume that full self-driving by the top of subsequent yr is simply too formidable, however I can see the way it’s not too far-off both.
In brief, take a Mannequin three on a highway journey. You gained’t remorse it.
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