Friday, April 04, 2014

Our Drive Down the East Coast in An Electric Car - Tesla - Part 1

Jon got a new car, a Tesla S which aside from being a good looking car is also 100% electric. Now, he can tell you all the stats; the 0-60 time, etc, but what I know is that it's a comfortable car that fits our family and he loves it.
Before Jon purchased it, he did his research and found that Tesla has installed superchargers through the country.
Tesla Superchargers Locations 2013
These are public chargers that any Tesla owner can use that will give the car a 250+ mile charge in about 40 minutes. Notice that the red dots signify existing locations and there are three definite paths: one down the East Coast, one across the country and one down the West Coast. Jon thought that we'd take the new car and make a trek to Florida to get away from the cold New Hampshire winter.
He plotted our course and we began. I admit, I was anxious and apprehensive; Would the superchargers be accessible? Would they work? Would they be available when we needed them?
Jon was undeterred by my concerns and since we didn't have small children anymore, I thought we could do it... worst case, we had to call a tow truck, right?
I wish I could say I was more confident, but I wasn't.
I was happily incorrect with my worries!
 After a bit of planning, Jon came up with a route that took us to Florida, stopping 11 times to charge the car. We decided that we'd stop for the night in a hotel, once we were tired/ready or cranky.
Now, we've driven down to Florida in the past, going 24 hours straight, stopping only to fuel up in our gas guzzler, for snack breaks or to switch drivers. We thought that we'd take this trip somewhat more leisurely, as we'd need at least 40 minutes at each stop to charge. We planned to stretch our legs at each stop and take it easy. This was the hardest part for us because we are both very driven people. But, we had a plan.
We started our trip on a Saturday, leaving our home in the morning. It was 40 degrees out, sunny and pleasant for a change. We were hoping for warmer weather along our journey and optimistically, we were looking forward to getting to the Sunshine State where even "bad weather" is in the breezy 60's.
The first leg of our trip took us to our first stop.
 We drove through NH and Massachusetts, finally stopping in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. We used 157 miles of our 250 mile charge. We hit a bit of traffic along the way, but it was sporadic and temporary. We finally arrived at the charging station, which was located in a large shopping plaza. The charging stations were off the side, behind the Walgreens and while there were 7-8 charging spaces, 5 of them were occupied with non-electric vehicles. The spaces were "too good", too convenient for shoppers, I guess. We were lucky that there was a space available to charge. We pulled in and as luck would have it, it was operational.
Seeing non-charging cars in the spaces was a bit unexpected and we didn't know if it were a sign of things to come. Luckily, this was the only instance we encountered.
We left the car to charge and went to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch. We arrived at 12:10 and departed after lunch at 12:50.  Interestingly, when we left another Tesla had taken a space and started to charge their vehicle.
 Departing our first Charging Station.
We continued on our way down the coast, heading to our next charging station, a rest area in Darien, CT. The supercharger was conveniently located near the rest area building, just to the right of the gas pumps. There were no other Teslas when we arrived, but a gas car pulled in to take advantage of the convenient parking. We went inside for a cup of coffee and to chat and when we came out, there was another Tesla charging. The charger was operational and worked well and we arrived at 2:52 and departed with a full charge and belly at 3:40.
We headed south, passing through CT, NY and NJ. We took the George Washington Bridge and as usual, there was traffic, but it was light and moving fairly rapidly, all things considered
Our first night's sunset was in NJ.
We continued into Delaware over the bridge and started to get concerned as the next stop was approaching and our battery was getting low. We made one mistake - we programmed the address into the Tesla, instead of selecting the actual Supercharger from an icon. The GPS took us in circles to try and get to the address and we "winged it" and made our way to the rest area in Delaware.

Just as we were pulling in to the parking space to charge the car, the Tesla beeped a warning, that I hope to never see again. BATTERY LOW! Luckily, we were just moments from charging up, but it made my heart skip a beat, just the same.

We pulled into a charger and another Tesla owner was charging their car two spaces down. He came over and kindly explained that one of the chargers wasn't working (of course it was the one we chose!) But, the problem was easily remedied and we moved over one space and began charging the car. We had 27 miles left on the battery! We went inside the rest area, had dinner and recounted how lucky we were that things worked out so well. We arrived at 6:57 pm and departed Delaware at 7:45 pm.

1 comment:

DamianC said...

I know that exact spot in RI I rented my Tuxes for my wedding from the place in East Greenwich. Laurie and I even ate at the same Ruby Tuesday.
I can't wait for the continuing saga!