Tesla Range Thoughts

So one of the biggest issues with owning an electric car is its range. It can take a long time to recharge batteries. I’ve been thinking more and more about the Model 3 and how it would fit into the lifestyle that Annie and I have. Would it be able to get us everywhere we want to go in a reasonable amount of time? Here are some “simulations”, of a sort, that I’ve run using the range per charge tool for the Model S on Tesla’s website.

tesla-range-tool2

The base Tesla Model S has a range of around 620 KMs when moving at 70 kph with an outside temperature of thirty degrees celsius and the A/C off. The range is reduced when the temperature is lower, you need to run the internal heat or air conditioning, or your travel speed is higher. The Model 3 is projected to have a base range of around 340 KMs. This is approximately 55% of the base Model S, and the ratio I’ll be using when estimating range in various projected models below.

Home in Guelph to Annie’s work and then to my own and back again
It is just under 50 kilometers to do the whole run, one way, so we are doing around 100 KM per day to get to work and back. At an approximate average speed of 70 kph, an outside temperature of -10 degrees celsius with the cabin heat on, the car would likely have a range of 240 KMs, so our trips to work and back would require us to charge up every other day. The Model 3 will still be ideal for this kind of driving, and leave us plenty of range to run errands around town after work.

Home in Guelph to church in Georgetown and back again.
This trip is actually shorter than our daily work commute at only 90 KMs meaning the Model 3 would have no issues doing this once a week, even if we decided to visit family or friends in nearby communities. If the outside temperature was 20 degrees, we were running the air conditioning and we had an average speed of 80 kph, the expected range would be around 266 KMs.

Visiting Annie’s family in Ontario
There is no one outside of 100 kilometers away, so visiting anyone in Annie’s family during nearly all conditions wouldn’t cause any range anxiety issues. Of course, this is all based on idealized numbers. I’d be very interested to see what three or five-year range estimates on the batteries look like, as well as how they’d handle -30 or even -40 degrees celsius.

Visiting my family in Kingston
With a distance of around 340 kilometers, the trip to Kingston or back again starts to make me sweat a little. Under ideal circumstances with 340 KMs of range, the Tesla Model 3 can just make it. With a short stop at a charging station along the way and eating a meal, the car should be able to make it without issue, but there are very few ideal driving days in Ontario.

At an average speed of 100 kph, the Model 3, based on the 55% methodology above, can go 186 kilometers if the temperature is -10 degrees celsius and the heat is on in the car. This means we would have to charge up, almost completely during the journey. While there is a Telsa Supercharging station in Port Hope with eight available slots, we would likely have to stay there for around an hour to get a nearly full charge to be able to carry on our journey.

Typically, we do eat dinner in Port Hope on our drive to Kingston, so this wouldn’t be a large inconvenience.

The charger would have to give us 160 kilometers of range to complete our journey, and I’m still unsure of how much range per hour the Supercharger would be able to provide. It gives around 270 KM per thirty minutes to the Model S and X in ideal circumstances and I hope it would do around the same for the Model 3, but we will see.

Visiting Kelowna
Last summer, Annie and I went to Kelowna to visit some of her family. We decided to drive across Canada. We both admit that we did the trip too quickly, so having a bit of a range limit might not be the worst thing in the world, but at an idealized 340 kilometers per day, what would that trip look like?

Including detours, mistakes, finding hotels, and trips for food, the drive out to Kelowna was around 4400 KM. That means if we could get 340 KMs of driving in per day, we’d need thirteen days to do the trip. That might be a little too long.

superchargers-destinationchargers

Interestingly enough, if we were to go through the USA, we could follow the I-90 which has a number of Supercharging stations along its route. This would mean that we could potentially do twice as much driving per day, giving us an idealized range of 680 kilometers per day, or completing the trip in around seven days, a much more reasonable speed that also has the added benefit of avoiding going up and over the great lakes in Ontario, which seemed to take forever!

The options also open up later this year and into 2017, as more Superchargers are being added to both Canada and the USA, providing more options for travel around North America.

Conclusion
In the end, we don’t know exactly how the Model 3’s range is going to be affected by different conditions. We don’t know how long it will take to charge at a Supercharger station, and we don’t know what the final range numbers for different versions will look like. There is around a twenty percent difference in range between the Model S 70 and the 90D. If there is a similar difference in the Model 3, we could see an upper tier version with a range of around 410 kilometers or approximately 220 KMs on the highway, in below freezing temperatures with the heater on.

Range anxiety won’t be completely gone with the Model 3, but I feel like we are quickly getting to the point where it could be a thing of the past. If you want to read more of my thoughts on this subject, check out a recent post I wrote entitled, Why Buy an Electric Vehicle.

testla-model3-side

As for if I want to still purchase a Tesla Model 3 around 2018 or 2019, I still think that is a goal for my wife and I. I’m in love with the Tesla platform and design.

I will admit to being a bit shocked at how much temperature and speed can affect range, as well as how much range is lost due to heating or cooling systems, but for most of our daily driving, the Telsa Model 3 will suit our needs. The only time I would have any major concerns is taking a trip somewhere like Kelowna where a major component of the trip would have to be focused on the range of the vehicle and what that means for scheduling meals, sleep, and stretch breaks.

What do you think, could you live with a car that would potentially take 30-90 minutes to fill up and had a range that was so heavily affected by the weather and your traveling speed? Let me know!

Please note that I’m not an engineer, and I don’t have any facts to back up my statements. This was mostly just a thought experiment to see how the car could potentially fit into my family’s life.

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