A year ago, I had an epic adventure in a Tesla Model S - here's what happened
We made it home in style, and I returned the Tesla to its Brooklyn home. Let me just state for the record: IT WAS ALL MY FAULT THAT I RAN OUT OF JUICE. Tesla had abundant charging options all along my route, so there was really no excuse. Live and learn!
Tesla makes it abundantly clear how charging its vehicles works. You can look it up ... in the car! We explored — unintentionally — three choices: 120V slow charging, destination partner charging at a faster rate, and Supercharging. My takeaway? ALWAYS START WITH A FULL CHARGE. And then plan to hit a partner charging spot or Supercharger along the way, with some margin for error — say, 50 miles of range.
.. and they used it to make one of these. Really tasty, some of the best I've ever had. This is my new favorite Tesla Supercharger location.
I'm thrilled — and finally relieved. Our excellent adventure had become a misadventure. But the car handled everything fantastically well: It was fast, smooth, quiet, comfortable, roomy, and the navigation was flawless — and the infotainment options kept us entertained.
Some of the route was over unimproved roads, so we saw how the AWD system performed — and it performed just fine.
I couldn't resist messing around with some of the high-tech Easter eggs, including the famous Lotus submarine goof from the James Bond flick "The Spy Who Loved Me" (Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a big Bond fan).
The Tesla, meanwhile, stayed connected to its power supply. Tesla has set up these partner charging sites to provide relatively fast charging in more places and to fill in some of the Supercharger gaps. A Tesla vehicle can find them all using GPS and can calculate the state of its charge at all times so you never end up like unlucky, stupid me. Trust the car!
There's an alluring spread of breads, bagels, fruit, jams, and preserves, as well as heartier breakfast fare.
But this time, we're charging much faster. In a few hours, we'll have enough power to get to the closest Supercharger location.
By the next morning, at a charging rate of 3 miles per hour, we have enough juice to make the closest partner charging location.
I enjoyed a delicious specialty of the house, small Russian dumplings covered in sauteed onions and mushrooms, sprinkled with dill, plus a side of sour cream. Totally hit the spot.
My son Dante had endured a long, rough day. He conked out over a plate of chicken tenders and fries.
A few hours, a few more miles in the battery, and we have enough to head back through the lovely scenery to find lodging — and charging — for the night.
No exactly the most scenic location. We had to ask the camp maintenance staff to find us an outlet that we could use.
There's a cable in the truck of every Tesla that enables you to charge on the fly. But there are no high-speed charging options up here in the middle of nowhere in the Catskills. So we had to resort to the slowest option, good old 120-volt, wall-socket-level rejuicing.
I've screwed up my range calculations. We don't have enough to make the closest partner charging station. The car was warning us of this, but we needed to get the boys dropped off on time. So we took a chance and ended up ALMOST RUNNING OUT OF GAS, er ... ELECTRICITY!
What road trip is complete without a stop at McDonald's? Sadly, this burger has been discontinued by the chain.
Some threatening clouds along the route. Little did I suspect that there was some dramatic foreshadowing afoot.
The Model S when fully charged has 270 miles of range, enough to comfortably make the journey up and back. But we wanted to investigate the charging options along the way, so we didn't top off before departing. Still, almost 200 miles of range! Plenty, right? My plan was to get to camp, then head over to a Tesla destination partner charging site, get enough juice to make a Supercharger station on the return route, and be home by early evening.
In 2015, the BMW i3 got us to our destination, but it did so at a lower sticker price, about $50,000 less than the Model S P90D, and with less cargo space. We only had one camper's gear to deal with for that trip.
And here's what we got into the "frunk," a front trunk that's there because the Model S doesn't have a conventional engine.
But enough about the fancy stuff. Can this ride handle a lot of gear? Well, here's what the rear hatch swallowed up ...
... in P90D trim. The "P" for "performance," the "90" for the 90 kWh battery pack, and the "D" for a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup.