Picked up the Model S from Fremont on Friday. The factory tour is quite worth it if you are local. You can see how they are working on scaling out production. It's definitely not an easy task. The folks there are cranking them out at about 200 to 250 cars a week.
What surprised me a bit were the number of folks from outside the Bay Area making the journey and driving back. Many of them were from places outside the charging network - Albuquerque, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Portland. They had plotted a route that included the superchargers and camping grounds (KOA) for the RV plugs and charging stations.
On my end, I decided to take the trip to LA same day. This run is normally a 5 hour or less trip going 90+ miles an hour in my ICE, I can tell you it takes some planning if you are going to go long.
The Supercharger network is a life saver, especially if you have my lead foot and this car. We hit 4 of supercharging stations - Gilroy, Harris Ranch, Tejon Ranch, and Hawthorne stations in that order. The faster you go, the lower the mileage. In this case, there are few life lines. On one route, we tried going 100+ and we barely got 120 per full charge. We limped into Harris Ranch with 2 miles to go. That was scary. The other approach was to do 75 and you do get about 220 on your 85kw battery. The challenge is really keeping from having a lead foot.. and that's not easy to do. At 160 w/h you are going 0 to 60 in 5 and that is exhilarating. You can basically pass anyone. We went head on w/ a 911 and that was easy. Sadly, on that long stretch of I-5, you'll be passed again while you wait to charge up.
The charging stations are the Achilles heal of this grand experiment in EV's. While in the Bay Area, we can easily find a charge and supply and demand for charging stations isn't too bad, I can imagine a day where there will be a line as folks go longer distances. At Harris Ranch, there was only one charging station, hidden in the back with a very small sign. At Tejon Ranch, they were putting in 6 bays. Those are key as crossing the pass into LA south bound takes up a lot of energy, even if you are going down hill the other way. If EV's are going to make it, this network will have to match demand or exceed it for awhile. Superchargers are a key technology and right now, there aren't enough of them for all the owners who will want to take their Tesla's beyond local driving. I'm hoping that day comes soon but for now, take the time to plan the route. It'll take at least 2X longer than you expect.
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