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While the chances of seeing an electric car in Manchester has gone from unlikely to occasional, and with it a shift in attitude concerning non-internal combustion vehicles, most drivers are not very familiar (and many distrustful) of what holiday travelling would look like.

Tesla is probably the most famous of the electric cars, and the brand seems to be changing (or at least influencing) the way the American public views these vehicles.

Several Teslas can be seen cruising around town, but what happens when owners pack up and hit the open road?

According to the brand’s website, the range on a full charge varies by model from an average of 326-402 miles. As a comparison, my 2011 Pontiac Vibe can get about 300 miles with a tank of gas.

As Southerners, remote locations with long hauls between gas stations are pretty unknown. Most places have a gas station on every corner it seems, so remembering to refuel is not critical.

Planning is more crucial when travelling in an electric. As an experiment, I used the Tesla Go Anywhere tool to plan a trip to Chicago in a Model S in standard range mode.

The 11-hour, 548 mile trip will save me $74 from a gas equivalent, still I may need a few more pit stops than I’d like.

Tesla says that I’ll be stopping in Bowling Green, Ky. (30 minutes charge), Louisville (35 minutes) Indianapolis, Ind. (15 minutes) and then in Lafayette for 35 minutes before arriving. Long range mode cuts an hour off the drive and calls for only three stops.

According to the program, “Supercharging (like the charger here at Dunkin Donut) cost of $0.26 per kilowatt hour. Gasoline cost assumes 21 MPG at $2.85 per gallon. Local costs and real world results may vary.”

Google Maps (also the app that powers Tesla Go Anywhere) says that the drive time alone for Manchester to Chicago is right at 8 hours if I want to pay tolls or add 30 minutes without. The drive is 503-570 miles depending on the route.

Refueling my Nissan Frontier 4x4 (that gets a disappointing 18 miles to the gallon) took 3 minutes, rom parking to drive off when I pay at the pump. In the truck, I’d likely be stopping twice during a trip to Chicago. Those two stops would tack on an additional 6 minutes for minimum of 8 ½ hours drive time.  

What to do with those two hours? Eat. Dunkin Donuts conveniently has electric chargers, and while I’m not much for a carb overload of pastries, the food and facilities there tends to be better than the run-of-the-mill highway gas station.

Car and Driver described the e-fill up experience in a review, “Plugging in at a Supercharger is easy: Just open the car's charge port via the dashboard-mounted 15-inch touchscreen, hop out, grab the charging cable off the charger and plug in.

For the Model 3, they noted, the cost is usually about $0.26 per kilowatt-hour, which is charged directly to the owner’s Tesla account. On a three-stop trip, the review found each charging session ranged from around $7 to $13 and took, on average, about 50 minutes.

My Nissan fill up was $31. Though, I can’t watch Netflix on the dash or do 0-60 in 2.3 seconds.  

 

John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. He covers Lifestyles in addition to handling education reporting and general news assignments.John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

Staff Writer

John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. He is a graduate of THS, Motlow and MTSU. He lives in Tullahoma, and enjoys the outdoors with his wife, Mitsy, and his 17-month-old, Sean.

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