Model S Nightmare

One of my coworkers, a Mustang owner, seemed impressed with the Tesla Model S a few days ago. It is an impressive car, but I pointed out that the $52K cost often quoted does not buy the 300 mile range often quoted. He pulled the Tesla website up on line and we looked at the three different battery options – which vary from 40 kWh & 165 mile range to 60 kWh & 230 miles range and to 85 kWh & 300 mile range … according to Tesla. EPA estimates are about 40 miles less range for each model. Our Mustang driver found those ranges acceptable. I didn’t get into the whole hot weather/cold weather issue, but I’ll certainly send him this link, in which John Broder describes borrowing the highest range Tesla for a road trip:

Stalled Out on Tesla’s Electric Highway

… as I discovered on a recent test drive of the company’s high-performance Model S sedan, theory can be trumped by reality, especially when Northeast temperatures plunge.

The trip was DC to Boston, on roads I used to drive frequently. After an uneventful first charge in Delaware, he made it to the next stop in Milford CT under a Recharge Now alert.

I spent nearly an hour at the Milford service plaza as the Tesla sucked electrons from the hitching post. When I continued my drive, the display read 185 miles, well beyond the distance I intended to cover before returning to the station the next morning for a recharge and returning to Manhattan.

I drove, slowly, to Stonington, Conn., for dinner and spent the night in Groton, a total distance of 79 miles. When I parked the car, its computer said I had 90 miles of range, twice the 46 miles back to Milford. It was a different story at 8:30 the next morning. The thermometer read 10 degrees and the display showed 25 miles of remaining range — the electrical equivalent of someone having siphoned off more than two-thirds of the fuel that was in the tank when I parked.

Even starter batteries don’t like freezing cold weather, so it should be no surprise that if batteries are your only source of power, you’d better keep them warm. As it turned out, even though he briefly recharged to “warm up” the battery, the Model S ran out of juice short of his next charging stop and had to be dragged onto a flatbed tow truck.

Broder’s article has to be a nightmare for Tesla, If busy, rich New Yorkers read the Times and see that the Tesla is unreliable for jaunts north of the city, then the client base shrinks to busy, rich people in more temperate climates.


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2 responses to “Model S Nightmare”

  1. cmaukonen says :

    Relying on simply batteries as the sole source of power is a fools errand. Any Ham radio operator can tell you that. One needs to have an additional power source.


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