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Tesla Blog - Ditching Gas - My Tesla Model S Story
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1 Year Down the Road

Tesla Model S

A year goes by pretty quickly. In the case where you own a Tesla Model S, it quick both figuratively and literally. Since I haven’t posted in a while, many of you are probably wondering are we still in bliss with the car Consumers Reports gave its highest rating ever? The answer is a resounding yes.

Overall the car has been fabulous. No recalls other than they are replacing the connector to the wall to prevent issues if you have faulty electric. I believe they are also going to add some strength to the undercarriage to prevent issues if you are struck by something hard. The media grabbed attention of a few accidents that caught fire, but often failed to report the drivers praising their Tesla’s for saving their lives. Of course, the same media outlets neglected to comment about how often internal combustion cars explode or catch fire.

Over the year we drove approximately 15,000 miles. The car handled great in all conditions. Heat, rain, snow, our Tesla handled it all. The active air suspension was particularly helpful parking when there was snow on the ground. We didn’t experience any issues of discomfort like the NY Times reported claimed during his infamous test drive. I even drove it during the polar vortex. I only had one case where I had to drive an internal combustion car because there weren’t superchargers. It was a trip from South Jersey to Columbus, OH. That is non longer the case however with superchargers now installed allowing trips up and down the east coast, from east to west coast as well as up and down the west coast.

Going into the winter we were averaging expending 282 Wh/mile. This was below EPA rating which gives us 269 miles per charge. By the time spring finally arrived, we averaged 306 Wh/mile. So yes, the Tesla like all electric cars, used more energy in the heart of the winter than in the spring/fall (optimum) or summer. In ideal situations we can drive using as low as 225 Wh/mile. At the heart of the vortex, we were using around 450 Wh/mile. So would I recommend a Model S for Antarctica, sadly no. However, for the majority of the US and Europe it will be great. Some may not realize why the Tesla Model S uses more energy in the winter. Many assume it’s to heat the cabin. That certain is part of it. However, it’s also to heat the battery. Tesla protects it’s battery by controlling the “climate” around the battery. This means they heat the battery so the battery isn’t damaged by being used in the extreme cold. It also means they limit the “pull” or “push” to the battery when it’s not warmed up. When the battery is cold, the regeneration is reduced. On a cold morning, the regeneration is only about ½ what it normally is until the battery warms up. On a VERY cold morning, there can be no regeneration at all. This can really shock you once you are used to it. On the flip side, during very cold days, the peak power may be reduced as well. However, since I don’t floor the car, this has never affected me. Another surprise was during the polar vortex, the charging rate was reduced. So it took longer to charge than normal. Typically, I would set the charge timer to be at 2:00 AM. I usually don’t drive before 8:00 AM so I always woke to a charged car. However, one day at the height of the vortex, I got to the car and it was finished charging. It didn’t affect me because I didn’t need a full charge and I simply set the timer to start earlier after that. One last note of charging. While you could max charge every day, Tesla does not recommend it. My understanding is that when you max charge a battery you physically swell the battery a bit and this breaks down the chemical composition. Over time, it leads to a loss of capacity. We do this with our cell phones on a daily basis and that’s partially why they don’t last very long. Therefore, Tesla recommends charging to 90% unless you need it. We charge to 80% which still give us ~200 miles per charge. I think we’ve only max charge 4-5 times over the entire year. Our hope is to get 12 years out of the battery and therefore the car. While I guess you could swap the battery out, I imagine in 12 (ok 11 now) years technology will be vastly improved.

This week, I took my first road trip to a supercharger. To be honest, I don’t know if I took the trip just to test out the super chargers or to get the best bagels (Stuff n Bagels in Oceanside NY) or the best Pizza (La Scalla, Commack, NY). However, the joy of watching our car charge at a rate of 375 miles of range/hour with a belly full of great pizza and bagels was outstanding. One note, as the car approached full, the rate of charge did slow. I stopped the charge around 225 miles of range and it was still charging at 300 miles of range / hour. Our first stop was at the charge in Syosset, NY. Then we drove over to the JFK chargers. I have to say they seem very conveniently placed.


I posted this way after I wrote it. I now have 21,500 miles on our car. Just drove down to Virginia and back with the use of the superchargers. I have to say, getting free electicity while you use the facilities, is a wonderful bonus. After 21,500 miles we've averaged exactly 300 W/hr per mile, which I believe is the EPA rating. So good job Tesla. Even better job, I also just fully recharged and had a rated range of 264 miles. That's 1 mile less that when we bought it. If that rate of degrading continues we will be very happy. Our goal is to get 12 years and 180,000 miles out of the car/battery. It's looking good so far!