A short while ago I planned and made my first road trip. I had another one I needed to take a week later to the Pittsburgh, PA area and wanted to take my Model S on the longer trip and drive some of the cool hills and country on the way there and in that area. After some research I decided that its not really feasible to make the trip in my Model S.
I live in central Massachusetts and my destination was about 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. We usually take I-84 East, to I-81 South, to I-80 West then come down through State College on I-99 South then west on route 22. Google puts this at about 8.5 hours of driving and 533 miles. The trip usually takes us closer to 10 hours with stops for meals, etc.
None of the roads above in the normal routing have Superchargers on them. To get to Pittsburgh from MA through Superchargers you have to go back down the I-95 corridor like I did on the way to NJ, stopping first at the Darien, CT supercharger. Next would be a stop at the Hamilton, NJ supercharger, then to the Newark, DE supercharger, then on to the Hagerstown, MD supercharger, then to the Somerset, PA supercharger and then finally to the destination.
The image below is thanks to EvTripPlanner.com:
Visually you can see how inefficient this Supercharged route is next to the initial route. The total mileage for this route is 630 miles and it goes through some much more populated areas with lots of traffic and congestion. Estimated drive time is 10 hours 18 minutes and 5 Supercharger stops with about 30 minutes each.
Taking the Tesla would add almost 2 hours of driving time, 100 extra miles, and 2.5 hours of stops for charging. The 8.5 hour trip turned into a 12.5 hour trip when Superchargers were required.
I couldn’t pitch this to the family. We ended up taking our ML-350 blutec (diesel). It gets 29 MPG for us and has about 700 miles of range on a full tank. The ML-350 is a nice car but I sure missed my Tesla. At least the steering wheel stalks were the same :p
Tesla claims that by the end of 2014 they will provide Supercharger coverage for 80% of the US population and parts of Canada. But the fine print (not included) is that the routes they come up with for you to get from point A to point B may be very inconvenient.
If your goal is record setting leisurely trips across the country, or one of the few optimized routes then you’re in luck. If you have more specific destinations that don’t align well with Supercharger placement you may experience Tesla Road Trip Refusal.