Tesla Time

I now  have a red, P85 Tesla Model S. I picked it up at the Denver Tesla Service Center on May 3, 2013.  After slightly more than a week of ownership, I am still extremely happy. It is incredibly quick (0-60 in 4.0 seconds), it handles well, and it has great Brembo brakes. It has a very smooth, comfortable ride, and it is very quiet while you are driving it.

It also has a lot of useful, high-tech features, such as a 17” touch screen and built-in 3G connectivity (so you have web access and can receive over the air firmware updates). This allows Tesla to add new functionality to the car without even having to physically touch the car.

The Tesla Model S is a battery electric vehicle (BEV).  That means it is not a hybrid, there is no gasoline engine. There is no drive tunnel in the center of the car, and there is a second trunk (called a frunk) where an internal combustion engine would be in most cars. There is a hatchback in the rear, and the rear seats fold down, so you have as much storage space as many SUVs.

My Model S has the larger, 85KwH lithium-ion battery pack that has an EPA-rated range of 265 miles. Your actual range depends on how fast you drive, your elevation change, the outside temperature, and whether there are headwinds or cross-winds. This gives you more than enough range for normal day-to-day driving.

The current weak point of the Tesla Model S is the proverbial “road trip”, the one that everyone talks about, but very rarely actually does. Right now, it is possible to drive a Tesla Model S anywhere you want to go, with some planning and extra patience. The current high-speed, public EV charging infrastructure is still somewhat lacking.

If you need to do a complete charge of an 85KWh battery, it will take some time, unless you can use a Tesla SuperCharger (which is free). Right now, there are only a relatively small number of Tesla SuperChargers in California and in New England, but Tesla will adding many more SuperChargers around the country over the next year.

There are also some pretty strong rumors and hints (from Elon Musk) about faster SuperChargers, a faster SuperCharger network build-out, and some form of battery swapping option in the very near future.

In the meantime, Table 1 shows the charge times and charge rates for various power sources.

Power Available Charge Time Charge Rate
110V  12A > 60 hours < 4 miles per hour
220V 12A 27-37 hours 8 miles per hour
220V 24A 13-19 hours 17 miles per hour
220V 30A 11-15 hours 21 miles per hour
220V 40A 8-10 hours 28 miles per hour
220V 60A (dual chargers) 5-6 hours 42 miles per hour
220V 80A (dual chargers) 4-5 hours 56 miles per hour
Tesla SuperCharger 1 hour 270 miles per hour

Table 1: 85KWh Charging Time Table

It is pretty common and relatively easy and inexpensive to get a 240V, 50A, NEMA 14-50 outlet installed in your garage that will completely charge an 85KWh battery overnight. This is more than sufficient for day to day use, especially since you are very unlikely to completely run down your battery during normal daily usage. You will have a full battery every morning, with no trips to a gas station, ever. It costs about $9.00 in electricity to fully charge the 85KWh battery, which is about 25% of the equivalent gasoline cost.

The Tesla Model S is an amazing, game-changing automobile. Not just an amazing electric vehicle, but an amazing vehicle, period. It was awarded Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2013. It was also awarded Automobile Magazine 2013 Automobile of the Year.

More recently, Consumer Reports gave the Tesla Model S the highest test rating (99/100) they have given any car since 2007.

Here are a number of other reviews:

2012 Tesla Model S: Riding Shotgun

2013 Tesla Model S

2013 Tesla Model S Review

Tesla Model S first drive: Quiet satisfaction

Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S Review

Tesla Model S review

In case you are wondering, “Tesla Time” is a term among Tesla owners that refers to the time that we typically spend answering questions and showing the Model S to curious, but generally interested and enthusiastic people. It is extremely common for people to approach you with lots of questions about the Tesla and EVs in general whenever you get in or out of one. This is something we generally don’t mind…

On the other hand, I am perfectly aware that there is a lot of anti-EV hostility, primarily from the conservative side of the political spectrum. There is a pretty predictable set of talking points that you will see trotted out in the comments for any mainstream story on the Internet about Tesla or EVs. There is not much I can do about that, except to accurately relate my experiences and try to address some of the more glaring misconceptions about EVs.

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24 Responses to Tesla Time

  1. Craig says:

    Good to hear you’re happy with it. I wish the Telsa was available in New Zealand. I’ve got an electric Yike Bike (yikebike.com) which is awesome too.

  2. Kalman Toth says:

    I have 3 concerns:
    1. Why doesn’t the Tesla have a 10HP or so generator so the driver does not have to worry about running out of “juice”?

    2. Can a startup actually manufacture a real automobile like Nissan Leaf, or it has to limit itself to expensive limited edition manufacturing?

    3. What happens if you have to operate air conditioner or heater, how much mileage do you loose? I suspect range may half for heavy duty cooling/heating.

    • Glenn Berry says:

      Having an onboard generator would not be practical, for a number of reasons, not to mention it would not be efficient. Tesla acquired the old GM/Toyota NUMMI plant and its equipment, so they have the capability to manufacture at least 21,000 vehicles per year with one production line. Using the heater will reduce the range, but using the AC does not have much effect. There are seat heaters, which reduce the need to use the heater.

  3. Rick says:

    Cool. What I am curious about is battery degredation during ownership and performance at low temperatures. EV sure is great in city travel (cleaner air!), and with plenty of charging locations with superfast charging, great for long distance travel as well. One drawback I see is: how are we going to provide enough electricity when more and more people get EVs, especially with the drawbacks to nuclear and fossil fuel… But for now: enjoy your Tesla!

    • Glenn Berry says:

      Most people will charge their EVs at night (when the load on the electrical grid is lowest). Tesla has an eight-year, unlimited mileage, unconditional guarantee on the battery pack. They have previous experience with the Tesla Roadster, that shows that battery degradation over time is minimal. They take special care to control the temperature of the cells (with liquid heating and cooling) to prolong the life of the batteries.

  4. Kalman Toth says:

    >the drawbacks to nuclear and fossil fuel
    The future of electric cars is married to nuclear energy, abundant & clean, albeit dangerous if handled negligently.
    Fossil fuels are turning into bigger and bigger environmental disasters for the Earth. The so-called “green” is flaky and not “green” at all. Wind turbine blades (tips at 170 mph) for example killing birds like eagles and other raptors.

    The United States needs 200 new nuclear reactors to stay ahead of China. Unfortunately, the political leadership is missing to build a new generations of nuclear reactors.

  5. Jim Berry says:

    I’m Glenn’s dad, and a retired engineer and gearhead. Agree with Mr. Toth that the cheap energy the world needs will come from nuclear sources, and the US will be following rather than leading in that effort. We are hearing about Thorium reactors, and how much better that path would have been than the Uranium path that was chosen. So much politics. Still, just the huge need for desalinated water will necessitate nuclear power in the future.

    Tesla is breaking new ground is many ways, yet the truism of over a hundred years remains; it’s the batteries, stupid. Sure hope those Lithium batteries are up to the task.

    • Hi Jim,

      Can you elaborate on your comments?

      I googled a bit to try to piece together and understand your comments. Are you suggesting molten salt reactors solve both an energy problem and a need for desalinated water? I don’t understand how molten salt reactors work, so I really don’t understand how you are connecting these two ideas, only guessing, based on some articles about molten salt reactors on The Motherboard Blog.


      • Jim Berry says:

        Hi John,
        I was referring to several things I’ve seen on the internet about how there were some scientists back in the 40’s, at Oak Ridge, who were in favor of Thorium over Uranium. But Thorium wouldn’t be good for bomb technology so Uranium won the day. One scientist at Oak Ridge was sacked over his support for Thorium, if I remember correctly. They did build at least one Thorium reactor there however.

        Today’s proponents claim that Thorium reactors offer many advantages, and that there is much more of the stuff to be mined. Missouri is supposed to have a bunch.

        Unfortunately, vested interests have become very strong, while the American public has dumbed-down to the point of hysteria at the mention of any nuclear process. That is why I said we’ll likely be following rather than leading. Hope I’m wrong, since massive cheap energy will be needed if humanity is to progress. I’ve been a fan of fusion technology, but things aren’t looking so good there.

        Jim Berry

  6. Kalman Toth says:

    More questions:
    1. What is protected proprietary technology in the Tesla car? Can Toyota just design a similar car in no time?
    2. Who manufactures the brakes? Seatbelts? Airbags? Same quality as Mercedes?
    3. Computer touch screens are fine, makes me feel like a 747 cockpit. Nonetheless, on the practical side, how does the car perform in potholes (there are plenty in NYC metro area)? I mean real potholes, the kind I lost 2 passenger side wheels of by BMW?
    4. How about accidents? Do I have to worry about burned battery liquid burning me?

    I am thinking of Nissan Leaf as a second drive for local driving.

  7. Brent Ozar says:

    Congrats on the new wheels! It sounds like such a groundbreaking car, and the ones I’ve seen here in Chicago are really attractive to boot. I’d love to get one myself, but no charging capabilities in our condo building’s garage. (sigh)

    • Glenn Berry says:

      I know that Tesla has some resources for working with condo associations, plus I know that there are many Tesla owners in the Tesla Motor Club who have figured out how to get charging taken care of in urban garage situations.

  8. Kalman Toth says:

    You would think Israel is the ideal country for electric vehicles.

    Trailblazing Israeli electric car company to close

    • Jim Berry says:

      Their scheme reminds me of the LP bottle trade-in so common today. But many of us have an aversion to trading the clean shiny empty tank we “own” for a full one that is a little rusty. Has to do with ownership mentality; some of us want to own rather than rent.

      Right now Tesla seems to be the only one with a strong positive trend. Musk says he will work hard to bring a more affordable car to market. If he can, it may break the dam. All the hybrids involve two power trains, and that is always going to cost more than one or the other. So if Musk can do a full electric at $35 k, with 200 mile range, that might just do it.

  9. Kalman Toth says:

    I would add a 20HP or so generator to Tesla. That would eliminate the range anxiety. While at work, the batteries can recharge from the generator. If you get into a long LA jam, you just turn on the generator. Going on a long trip? Turn on the generator as soon as you start. You are good to go 500 miles without worries. Fill-up at a gas-station, sleep in a motel and run the generator. Next day another 500 miles.

    I don’t think battery swapping is practical. When you have a new Tesla with new batteries, do you want to swap them for 6 year old batteries of unknown condition?

    Amish have range anxiety also. Horse with a buggy can make it around 20 miles on flat terrain at a speed of 10 mph. Then they have to stop at a fellow Amish farm an swap horses. The point is though, on the way back, they get their horse back. Not the same with swapped batteries.

  10. Kalman Toth says:

    Is this for real? Free recharges on solar power? Maybe in Nevada but not in Seattle. “Buy a Model S and Tesla promises that in six months you’ll be able to drive from Los Angeles to New York without paying a dime to top up your batteries.

    That’s just one part of an ambitious plan to expand Tesla’s Supercharger network, a series of solar-powered charging stations that will stretch from coast to coast by next year and allow Model S owners to recharge their rides in 20 to 30 minutes. For free. Forever.” ( http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/05/tesla-supercharger-expansion/ )

    It appears that Tesla is moving into fantasy land. The promise of Communism was also free everything forever.

    It may be time for management change at Tesla. A new CEO who is real good with Excel!

  11. Jim Berry says:

    Old Elon is way out there on this adventure. If he fails it will make Solandra look like a minor political blip. Trouble is, so many “green” advocates can’t see the big picture. They truly think that separating glass from paper, and driving a Prius, makes a big difference. But few are willing to ride a bicycle and live in a 1,000 sq. ft. house (Al Gore for example).

    Modern civilization is based on cheap energy, starting with steam from coal. We will need cheap energy for the forseeable future, and there is no getting around it. It will not be surprising if the pragmatic Chinese end up the winner here.

  12. Pingback: Speaking in Denver and Boulder in June | Glenn Berry's SQL Server Performance

  13. Justin Randall says:

    I have read a few articles that raise questions about the ultimate disposal of the batteries in EVs. The claim is that these batteries present an environmental problem (some say disaster) of their own, in terms of disposal, and to a lesser degree manufacturing and transport. Also claim there are significant economic disincentives as well. Anyone here better informed on these topics than I?

    • Glenn Berry says:

      There is a LOT of anti-EV FUD being put out there by various different groups of people for many different reasons. Some of the resistance is political and some of it is economically based (people worried about protecting the status quo).

  14. Pingback: Speaking at Boulder SQL Server User’s Group on June 18 - Glenn Berry

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