Elon Musk Takes Tesla Model S on Cross Country Road Trip

Tesla modelSI think we all know that the sooner we can get the market saturated with electric vehicles, the better off our carbon footprint will be, especially as we continue to retire more coal plants and replace them with natural gas or renewables.

So what is standing in the way of that happening? Probably the first thing is cost. Most people feel that an EV is out of their price range right now. GM took a major step to address that last month when they announced that they were reducing the price of their 2014 Chevy Volt plug-in electric by $5,000. Coming in below $28,000 does not exactly make it a bargain, but it will bring it down into a lot more people’s price range.

After sticker price, probably the next obstacle is what has come to be known as range anxiety. That is the concern that drivers have that they could get stranded out on the road, unable to find a place to charge up their car when the battery is depleted. One way to deal with range anxiety is to do what Chevy has done with the Volt and add a gas tank to their electric car so the gas can be used to charge the battery, should it run down in the middle of nowhere. After all, one of the reasons we like cars is that they can take us into the middle of nowhere, something no bus, or train, or airplane can do.

All-electric cars do not have that option. They must rely on the good sense and planning of their drivers and, of course, the growing availability of EV charging infrastructure. So how do they deal with range anxiety among their potential customers?

If you’re Elon Musk, the mind behind Tesla Motors, SpaceX and Solar City, you’re in the habit of meeting challenges head on and taking matters into your own hands, and often setting an example along the way. Musk will set an example for range-anxious drivers by taking one of his Tesla Model S sedans on a cross country drive, from LA to NY, with no fears of getting stranded along the way.

In a tweet he sent out last week, he said that he had just finalized his route. The six day, 3200 mile journey would only spend a total of nine hours charging. That works out to only an hour and a half per day, as he mentioned in a second tweet, “we will only ever need to charge when stopping anyway to eat or sightsee, never just for charging itself.”

As to where he will charge up, that appears to be no problem at all.

When Musk first described the trip, back in May, he send he intended to pass through Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, the Four Corners, Wyoming, Mount Rushmore, Chicago, and Philadelphia along the way. When the folks at Business Insider superimposed that route on a map of Tesla’s Supercharger Network, it was clear that he would be within driving distance of a charging stations at all times.

The announcement was originally made at the end of May, coincident with the announcement that Tesla would dramatically expand its charging network. At the time he joked, “It might end up being like some Chevy Chase movie.”

He plans to bring his five young sons along in the car, which seats seven, though he needn’t worry about their safety. The Tesla Model S was recently rated the safest car of all time.

What he might have to worry about though, is voices coming from the back seat asking, “Dad, are we almost there yet?”

[Image credit: nvidia.corporation: Flickr Creative Commons]


RP Siegel, PE, is an inventor, consultant and author. He co-wrote the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water in an exciting and entertaining romp that is currently being adapted for the big screen. Now available on Kindle.

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RP Siegel

RP Siegel, author and inventor, shines a powerful light on numerous environmental and technological topics. His work has appeared in Triple Pundit, GreenBiz, Justmeans, CSRWire, Sustainable Brands, PolicyInnovations, Social Earth, 3BL Media, ThomasNet, Huffington Post, Strategy+Business, Mechanical Engineering, and engineering.com among others . He is the co-author, with Roger Saillant, of Vapor Trails, an adventure novel that shows climate change from a human perspective. RP is a professional engineer - a prolific inventor with 52 patents and President of Rain Mountain LLC a an independent product development group. RP recently returned from Abu Dhabi where he traveled as the winner of the 2015 Sustainability Week blogging competition.Contact: bobolink52@gmail.com

7 responses

  1. Really, really looking forward to seeing the upcoming Model E in the $35K-$55K price range. At a price like that I could afford to buy one especially since where I live the price per Kw/h is only about 9.5 cents that’s only $8.07 to charge a fully depleted 85kw battery. Always having a full battery when I leave the house with 300 miles of range and a super charger network that should be more established by then, that will allow me to drive almost anywhere super cheap. I can afford a bigger payment if I barely have to pay for fuel… err… energy in a super fun to drive electric car.

  2. People really need to do their math with the Chevy Volt. The average Volt owner gets 900 mpg. If you spend $200 a month on gas (quite common), and suddenly cut that bill to $40 a month, you can afford a monthly car bill of $160 more. It’s actually very economical and can save you a lot money. The advantages are convenience (waking up to a full charge every morning); smooth, quiet, effortless, seamless Torque available instantly, anytime; and you don’t have to use gas if you don’t want to.

    I’ve tested both the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt (and a few other EVs and hybrids). The Nissan Leaf is very quick from 0-40 which is what I need. The Chevy Volt is also very quick, a little slower than the Leaf from 0-30, but it maintains its torque up to a higher speed. With 273 torque on tap, it’s actually quite fun.

  3. An easy way to figure the cost difference between EV and ICE is this. That the forthcoming (a wait of torture…4 to 5 years depending where you live in the world)
    MODEL E will sell for 35K. That 35K Tesla will be cheaper than a 20K ICE…a lot !
    Most cars are bought on monthly payments anyway so its the difference between
    car payments plus same or more on gasoline/petrol more here in Europe versus a
    TESLA Model E. That will cost $5 to fully home charge from nearly flat to full. No extra
    at all if you already have solar on your house.

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