Life with Tesla Model S: coast to coast in a new 100D (and how it differed from my old 85)

One of the reasons I traded in my 2013 Tesla Model S 85 last summer for a new Model S 100D was to get extra range. 

The newer car’s 100-kilowatt-hour battery gives it an EPA-rated range of 335 miles—70 miles more than the old car’s rating of 265 miles.

Over four-plus years and 76,000 miles of driving, the 85-kwh battery in my first car had lost about 7 percent of its capacity, eroding my actual range to about 245 miles.

DON’T MISS: Life with Tesla Model S: assessing my new 100D vs old 2013 electric car

Moreover, the new car would have Tesla’s Navigation app, which not only directs you to the destination, but also picks which Superchargers to use along the route to minimize total charging time.

My wife Lisa and I make an annual coast-to-coast trip from our home in New York’s Hudson Valley to a winter getaway in Carpinteria, California, and back again (she flies, I drive).

So I figured the 90 miles of extra range—and the new app— would make that trip a bit quicker.

2013 Tesla Model S, in July 2017 [photo: David Noland]

2013 Tesla Model S, in July 2017 [photo: David Noland]

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I was wrong. The 100D made the trip a lot quicker. 

So quick, in fact, that I arrived a day ahead of schedule, and had to scrounge a place to sleep with friends in Los Angeles before our rental in Carpinteria was ready.

Longer, warmer route

To escape the winter weather sooner, I typically head straight south from New York for a couple of days, then turn west on I-20 or !-10, depending how far south the polar vortex has penetrated.

CHECK OUT: Life with Tesla Model S: out with the old, in with the new

Due to a dearth of Superchargers along I-10 and I-20 through west Texas and New Mexico, in past years I’ve had to cut back north to Oklahoma City and continue west on I-40, hoping the snow wouldn’t catch me in Albuquerque or Flagstaff.

In December, however, Tesla filled in the last Supercharger gap along I-20 and I-10, adding one in Willcox, Arizona. This year it would be the warmer, more southerly route all the way to the Coast.

Door to door, it worked out to 3,285 miles.

The first three days on the road, I stayed with friends in Baltimore, Chapel Hill, NC, and Asheville, NC.  


2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

2017 Tesla Model S 100D [photo: David Noland, owner]

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My daily driving distances were only 240, 310, and 220 miles. Because I stayed at private homes, I started the next day with less-than-full batteries, so I had to make a Supercharging stop each day in any case.

So on Days 1 through 3, I couldn’t test the 100D’s range-stretching abilities.  

On Day 4, with temperatures in the 40s and 50s forecast along the route,  I decided to cut the corner from Asheville  to Dallas and take I-40 west and then I-30 southwest instead  of continuing south to pick up I-20.

A Supercharger skipped

I left Asheville at 10 am with about 90 percent charge .The first Supercharger along I-40 was in Knoxville, 120 miles distant. The app recommended skipping on to the next one, in Cookeville, Tennessee, still within comfortable range at 216 miles. I concurred.

Already, score one for the 100D. With 90 percent battery and 40ish temperatures, covering 216 miles wouldn’t have been at all comfortable in the old 85, and I would have stopped in Knoxville.

But the 100D flew right by and I finally landed in Cooksville with range to spare, just in time for a late lunch.

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