My daily commute is only one mile, but I’ve managed to put more than 46,000 miles on my Tesla since I bought it in September 2013.
So, given that many potential Tesla buyers still suffer from range anxiety—that uneasy feeling that your car’s battery will die before you get where you’re going—I’m presenting this account of my latest road trip, in which my wife and I not only got where we were going but enjoyed some fringe benefits from driving an electric car, too!
We started with a 3-hour drive from Salem, Massachusetts to New Haven Connecticut, where we had lunch at “The Study at Yale”, a hotel/restaurant that not only provided free valet parking to patrons but also had a Tesla High Power Wall Charger (HPWC). The result: after a good lunch and a visit to both of the college’s museums, we had plenty of power to drive first to JFK Airport, where we dropped my son off for a flight to Tokyo, and then to the 1 Hotel in the up-and-coming Brooklyn Heights neighborhood (braving the Van Wyck Expressway both ways).
Valet parking at the hotel normally costs $50 (Manhattan prices have crept into Brooklyn), but in support of Green living, it was free to us—as was the overnight charge on the HPWC.
Across the street, by the way, was the Watchtower Building, with a big digital clock on top. Long owned and occupied by the Jehovah’s Witnesses, the building was recently sold to Jared Kushner, who has been actively investing in the neighborhood.
The next day we drove to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, the amazing botanical garden developed by Pierre S. DuPont and well maintained since thanks to a very healthy endowment. Comprising more than 1,000 acres of land, the garden last year completed a $93-million upgrade of the fountains area. Parking at Longwood Gardens is free for everyone, but electric cars get a preferred spot, as well as free charging.
And that night, our B&B also offered free charging, leaving us well prepared for the next day, as we drove down to Maryland to visit relatives, and then into Washington, DC for a publishing conference and a three-night stay. Parking at the Donovan, normally $50 per night, was half price for electric cars. The charging was free.
Three days later it was down to the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, where we paid the full $20 parking rate (for two nights), and once again got free charging between seeing the sights. These included the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Hollywood Cemetery (where Presidents Tyler and Monroe are buried as well as Jefferson Davis) and this mural from mid-2016.
The first day heading back north took us to Annapolis for lunch and then to the Eastern Shore of Maryland to the beautiful Brampton B&B in Chestertown. Parking was free for all, and charging was free for me.
And the final day, a 4oo-mile-plus drive, brought our first use of Superchargers, the free chargers made available by Tesla at strategic places around the country. While an ordinary household 110V outlet (a Level 1 charger in electric car lingo) will charge my car at perhaps 3 MPH, and a Level 2 charger (Tesla’s HPWC or other brands that support other electric cars) will charge at between 20 and 40 MPH, Tesla’s Superchargers (Level 3) will often charge at more than 300 MPH, if the car can handle it!
Our first supercharger of the day (after 137 miles) was at the Joyce Kilmer Service area on the New Jersey Turnpike. We plugged in (in the far corner of the parking lot), took a quick bathroom break, stretched for a minute or two, and then hopped back in the car, with enough charge to get to our planned lunch stop, 90 miles away.
But as we were exiting the service area, we noticed the lines at the gas pumps! In New Jersey, it’s illegal to pump your own gas, and these were the lines on Saturday near noon.
So we avoided that. And we also avoided the congestion of Manhattan, instead taking the Garden State Parkway up to the Tappan Zee Bridge and across the Hudson River to the Tarrytown Sheraton, which has twelve recently installed Tesla Superchargers. I plugged in, saw that the charging speed was an astounding 379 MPH, and we had a bathroom break and lunch, while enjoying the sideshow of a wedding in the hotel.
After lunch came the familiar drive up Route 84 to West Hartford, Connecticut, where we plugged into the Supercharger and did a little shopping at Trader Joe’s.
And then came the final leg, 125 miles to home. We arrived with 20 miles to spare, a comfortable margin.
The total mileage for the day was 428 miles, with no real waiting for charging, as we used every bit of our charging time productively.
And the total mileage for the whole trip was 1349 miles.
If my car burned premium gasoline (like my previous one) and got, say 25 miles per gallon and I paid $2.94 per gallon (the average cost in the Central Atlantic states recently), the trip would have used nearly 54 gallons, costing $158.
Instead, I spent nothing on fuel. I dirtied the air less than other drivers. And instead of spending $240 on parking in New York, Washington DC and Richmond, I spent $115.
Thus, road-tripping in the Tesla is not only smooth and enjoyable (providing you plan ahead), it’s also a great way to save money!