PHOTO CAPTION: Tesla Model S cruising along the California coastline.

Sacramento-to-Portland Via Tesla Supercharger Network

George Parrott recounts his road trip from West Sacramento, California to Portland, Oregon and back by the family's new Model S.

Published: 16-Dec-2013

There is the equivalent of approximately 34,000 watt hours of electrical power in a gallon of gasoline. I want you to remember that number when you read George Parrott's account of he and his wife's trip up Interstate 5 recently, especially the part where he talks about the energy the car consumed in their 9 hour road trip, not counting stops at the various Tesla Supercharger stations along the way.

Parrot and his wife set off for Portland at 5:30 AM from their home in West Sacramento, California, stopping along the way to recharge the car, have a hearty breakfast, later lunch, potty stops, and then dinner, all done while fast recharging the car. They arrived at their Portland hotel at 7 PM. Fighting headwinds most of the way and rain, they still managed to use just 200 kWh of electric. Several days later, on the return trip, the winds were even stronger and it took 212 kWh. Also by then, Tesla had also issued its over-the-air update raising the suspension of the car after the two Model S fires that occurred when drivers hit metal objects in the road that punctured the battery pack. NHTSA is investigating both. Parrott figures that also reduced their range a bit.

A quick calculation turns that 200 kWh of energy into something the rest of us can understand: miles per gallon. Based on that assumption of 34kWh of energy per gallon of gasoline, the Model S consumed the equivalent of 5.88 gallons of gasoline to drive 600 miles. That's an amazing 102 MPGe (e for equivalent). Try that in your Lexus, hybrid or not.

And the Parrotts weren't piddling along either. They were doing the legal speed limit, at times up to 70 mph, but usually around 65 mph.

What they did discover is headwinds hurt. From Grants Pass, Oregon to Springfield, the longest segment of the trip between Superchargers, which can recharge the car in 30 minutes time, the estimated battery range of 175 miles actually turned out to be 140 miles. They arrived with 30 miles of range to spare.

Parrott sums up their trip this way:

Over our trip of a bit more than 1,200 miles in four days, we didn't spend a dime on electricity. And for that: Thanks, Tesla!

Five Model S Road Trips That Cost Tesla Owners Nothing

Angelo Young, writing for International Business Times, looked at several other road trips like the one the Parrotts took and came up with the following five:

Here are five round-trip, free-fuel road trips that are possible right now. These road trips assume you’re starting with a fully charged Model S with the extended 265-mile range, sticking to main routes. The Supercharger network is still too small in most cases for owners to completely rely on free charging, but these road trips would be technically possible without using any electricity except what is provided by a Tesla Supercharger.

Seattle to Los Angeles, 2,200 miles round trip

This is by far the easiest road trip to take relying solely on the Tesla Supercharger network. There are 15 charging stations all along the West Coast, which gives drivers the greatest amount of latitude to take scenic side trips and still get back to a Supercharger for a free top-off.

Minneapolis to Chicago, 818 miles round trip

There isn’t a Supercharger in Minneapolis yet, but thanks to the one that opened last week in Mauston, Wis., 198 miles away, a Model S can make the trip to Chi-Town and back, though in the 60 kWh Model S (which has a 208-mile range), that trip to and from the nearest station from Minneapolis would be a gamble.

New York City to Raleigh, 1,000 miles round trip

There are six active Supercharger stations between Darien, Conn., 46 miles north of New York City, and Charlotte, N.C. But getting to Charlotte, North Carolina’s southernmost city, is just out of reach for a return to the Supercharger station in Rocky Mount, N.C. But Raleigh and back is 118 miles, leaving more than enough power to get back.

Jacksonville to Miami, 690 miles round trip

Florida has three Supercharger stations, according to Tesla’s latest quick-charger map, enough to traverse much of the East Coast of the Sunshine State. The Supercharger station in Port St. Lucie connects Miami to the state’s border with South Carolina. The station in Fort Meyers on the state’s southern Gulf Coast allows free travel across the peninsula north of Lake Okeechobee.

The Texas Triangle, 710 miles

Five strategically placed Texas Supercharger stations in Waco, Corsicana, Huntsville, San Marcos and Columbus allows easy travel from Dallas to San Antonio to Houston and back to Dallas, covering most of the state’s largest cities. Free-fuel long distance travel is possible around this geographic triangle.

So how much would it cost to drive these 5,418 miles in a gasoline burner? In a Lexus LS -- a comparable gas burning full-sized luxury sedan – it would cost $1,288 worth of fuel, according to the latest estimate of regional average fuel prices by the American Automobile Association.

Five Telsa Model S Supercharger-supported road trips

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