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5% Battery Left and 1000 miles From Home: TOCNYS President's Round-trip from Rochester, NY to Winnipeg

August 22, 2019 9:27 AM | Joe Moore (Administrator)

The EV charging infrastructure has come a long way in the past 20 years - to the point where many say that range anxiety is a thing of the past. But what about a trip of thousands of miles, including vast stretches through sparsely populated North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada? Also, how well is Tesla's Autopilot coming along - is it ready enough to make a significant difference in how we experience a long drive?

Thanks to TOCNYS President Patrick Ho and his latest trip, we have an opportunity to answer just such questions. And now we turn it over to him...

-Joe M.


Overall Stats

  • Total distance driven: 3,304 miles
  • Total energy used: 1,027.8 kWh
  • Average energy used per mile: 311 Wh
  • Total Paid on charging: $21.07 CDN ($15.94 USD)

Conditions*

  • My Model S has free lifetime charging at Superchargers

  • While on the road, I charged the car enough so that it would have 5% battery power remaining upon arrival at the farthest reachable Supercharger or destination

  • I charged to 100% when charging overnight

  • I used Navigate on Autopilot as much as possible while on the highway (~98% of the time)

  • I set the car to cruise at 10 mph over the speed limit

  • I rigged adjusted the steering wheel for total hands-free driving to allow the car self-drive on Navigate on Autopilot

*This was an observational, rather than a prescriptive experiment. It wasn’t about doing things the right or wrong way, nor was it about what was necessarily good or bad for the car.

Stops


Outgoing

  • Origin Charged 100% Rochester, NY
  • Erie, PA (Supercharger)
  • Maumee, OH (Supercharger)
  • Mishawaka, IN (Supercharger)
  • Overnight in Comfort Inn at O’Hare Airport, Chicago, IL (Destination charger)
  • Mauston, WI (Supercharger)
  • Overnight in Residence Inn in Minneapolis (Destination charger)
  • Clearwater, MN (Supercharger)
  • Moorhead, MN (50kW CHAdeMO charger)
  • Destination Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

While in Winnipeg

  • First went to CHAdeMO charger at Red River Campus (Free) - Not working
  • Went to Polo Park used 50kW Flo CHAdeMO charger - Paid $15.94 USD
  • The rest of the time used level 2 charger at CAA (Canadian Automobile Association), Manitoba (10 minutes’ walk from hotel) - 20A 240V (under 5kW, charging at 8 miles an hour)

Return

  • Origin Charged 100% Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Moorhead, MN (CHAdeMO charger)
  • Clearwater, MN (Supercharger)
  • Overnight in hotel in Minneapolis, MN (Destination charger)
  • Mauston, WI (Supercharger)
  • Overnight in Hotel at O’Hare Airport, Chicago, IL (Destination charger)
  • Maumee, OH (Supercharger)
  • Erie, PA (Supercharger)
  • Destination Rochester, NY


*****

Did you know? Winnipeg is the geographical center of North America!


*****

Charging Experience & Range Anxiety

Along the way there was a sufficient number of Tesla Superchargers for the car/me to choose from. Allowing the car to plan the charging stops (rather than myself) would have actually resulted in many more stops as it seems programmed to keep the battery level from dropping below 20% between Supercharger stops.

This arrangement is not efficient and is time consuming because between taking a detour to charge and “finding” the Superchargers was not easy in HUGE shopping center parking lots and truck stops. The navigation map would only take you to the general area. (Suggestion: It would be nice if Tesla added tall signs at the Supercharger location so they could be seen at a distance.) Also the lower the battery level, the faster the charging rate was.

I experienced none of the dreaded range anxiety until I finished my stay in Minneapolis. The last Tesla Supercharger was in Clearwater MN and from there to Fargo ND/Moorhead MN to Grand Fork ND to Winnipeg MB, there is only one DCFC CHAdeMO charger! There are plenty of level 2 and Tesla Destination chargers along the way, but all of them would have taken many hours, if not overnight, to charge.

*****

CHAdeMO adaptor now available for TOCNYS members to borrow


*****

My anxiety came from not knowing if that lone DCFC CHAdeMO charger would work. (Reading online, they are notoriously unreliable as in the case of the CHAdeMO charger on the Red River College campus in Winnipeg). It didn’t matter to me if it charged a fee or not, as long as it worked.

When I got to the Moorhead CHAdeMO charging station, the charger looked operational. I hooked up the CHAdeMO adapter to the charger and proceeded to insert credit card into the reader as instructed. My heart sank as it came back with a “communication error” and several other credit cards had the same result. As I tried to explore options on the tiny LCD screen, I hit the “Start” button and Voilà! the charger started charging without even processing my credit card! I immediately checked the car to see if current was flowing and it was indeed - at about 45 kW. What a relief from my anxiety…. I used the same CHAdeMO charger on the way back without worry.

Here are pictures of that CHAdeMO charger that saved my trip...

Self-driving Experience

Interventions

  • 5 interventions during road construction

    In one instance where the highway was coned off to direct traffic to the right, Navigate on Autopilot would have run straight into the cones had I not taken over.

    In another instance where the right lane ahead was closed and Navigate on Autopilot would change into the right lane. In both instances I wouldn’t really blame the car because sometimes even humans would make these kinds of mistakes. I can see why it is really really difficult to achieve Full Self Driving without certain exclusions like road constructions and bad weather.

  • 3 interventions from sudden reduction in cruising speed setting

  • 2 interventions with merging traffic

  • 1 highway exchange needed intervention (no lane lines, Autopilot got confused).

Observations

Other than the few situations mentioned above, the car pretty much drove itself, made the decisions when to pass, what lane to stay in, when to slow down, when to accelerate, and to take all the interchanges. I was really impressed in how Navigate on Autopilot took the multiple interchanges outside of Chicago going from I-94 to I-90 from Illinois to Indiana. It did everything from turn signals to change lanes in between other moving vehicles to taking the multiple ramps. I basically sat in the car with my hands crossed and eyes on the road.

On a stretch of highway when traffic was light, I took Navigate on Autopilot to its maximum speed of 80mph. It functioned well and the ride was comfortable. Of course, I didn’t want to do it for too long as it would both reduce the range and increase the chances of getting a speeding ticket!


Potential Improvements

There are several needed improvements that this trip highlighted for me:

  • Better lane merging  Seemingly unseen merging traffic resulted in my car hard braking to allow merging vehicle to enter into my lane.

  • Better exiting to off ramp  The car had a tendency to change to the right lane too early (over one mile in advance), which often put me behind sluggish trucks and other slow-moving vehicles.

  • More appropriate speeds while taking highway interchanges  The car would slow down significantly, to even like 20 to 25 mph. I understand that Tesla might have programmed it for extreme caution but it also could be dangerous when other vehicles were taking the same turns safely at 40 to 50mph.

Conclusions

In summary, this is the MOST relaxed I have EVER been while on an extended road trip (at peak about 650 miles, 10 hours on day 1 to Chicago). I used to dread taking the drive from Rochester to Chicago, but now I wouldn’t even blink taking a trip like that again. I consider this experience a taste of what future Full Self Driving will be like.

Comments

  • August 22, 2019 4:03 PM | Brian Pankey
    I had the same experience with construction zone cones on my drive down to FL from NYC. These were the probably 2' orange cones and autopilot seemingly ignored them and kept the car in the middle of the lane lines...although the cones were inside the lane line.
    Link  •  Reply
  • August 22, 2019 6:18 PM | Stephanie Doba (Administrator)
    Nice travel log, Patrick!
    Link  •  Reply

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