Will this be another one for the record books?
Yesterday a person called only “Sam” who has chosen to not identify as male or female defied odds by completing the first half of a cross-country journey in a 60-kilowatt-hour Tesla Model S using only Tesla’s Supercharger stations.
The successful first half of the trip in progress was estimated by Sam at 3,800 miles. It began in Hawthorne Calif. at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, Mar. 1, and “Sam” arrived at Virginia Beach, Va., 7:45 p.m. Wednesday, Mar. 5. Trip time: 107.25 hours.
Sam then paused for some sleep and is now in process of returning the same way – twittering and interacting with Tesla fans as the challenging journey progresses.
The really tough part is this: Unlike the 85-kwh versions rated at 265 miles range, the 60-kwh Model S is EPA rated at 208 miles meaning it might not have made it given the stretches between some of the stations. Any waste of energy could reduce this estimate, and conversely driving carefully and using as little juice as possible can extend the range.
The full purpose of Sam’s trip is not exactly clear either, other than the stated intent of making it all about Tesla and its Model S.
Although Sam chose not to disclose gender, it’s been guessed Sam’s a man.
Some of the character of “Sam’s” narrative sounds masculine, and in the Tesla Forums Sam did not correct a poster who praised Sam in saying “You are a brave man.”
Sam was called “brave” because Sam is using careful technique that saw the 60-kwh Model S arrive at some destinations along the way with next to no range left in the battery.
“So driving style is what I would describe as hypermile-lite,” explained Sam in the forum post Sam put up to chronicle the trip. “I speed up toward the end so that I arrive with 15 or fewer miles,” wrote Sam. “I’m not keeping detailed notes since that’s been done a lot. But I am taking notes and have some photos posted on twitter @teslaMS60.”
Following is the entire Tesla Forum post that explains the driver’s rationale – to the extent that Sam was willing to divulge.
FIRST SUPERCHARGER-ONLY COAST TO COAST ROAD TRIP IN A TESLA MODEL S 60
SamoSam | FEBRUARY 28, 2014
Call me Sam. I’ll be your driver for the next week (or so). Guy . . . girl. Doesn’t really matter. This story isn’t about me. This is about a Tesla MS60. And the Supercharging Network.
The smallest battery currently offered by the company, the Model S 60 is the bare bones of their line. Starting at $63,070 (with Supercharging enabled & living in CA), you get free long distance travel, for life. Add in HOV and HOT access (solo) and you are able to drive at a reasonable rate of speed in areas (Bay and SoCal) that rank among the worst commutes in the U.S.
Just so happens that my hometown also offers free metered parking as a perk of living in what some derisively call the Republic of Santa Monica.
But this is about the drama. What everyone wants to read and see. Cars on fire, stuck on the side of the road, struggling through adversity. If that’s what you are reading ahead here for, then please close your browser, block my tweets and unfriend me immediately.
This is a story about anyone doing a trip across the country (and back). If you’d consider doing this trip in your gas car at least. Most people never drive cross country. I was going to google the actual percentage, but you can do that yourself. If you care. Which I don’t.
But if you do like to drive, there is no better road warrior that the Model S of any flavor. 14K miles since August 2013 delivery. Cross country is different. A great city car, be it ICE or EV, can turn against you on the open road. Hoses burst and belts snap. Worst of all you run out of fuel. Since the advent of the pure EV, range has been the forbidden five letter word. The MS60 is different.
It has a range of 208 miles which you can extend even beyond that with careful driving. But we’ll come to that later. Can’t get ahead of ourselves. First the route. Hawthorne Supercharger to Virginia Beach VA. And back.
Most people with the 85kWh version (and a range of 265 miles) are over it. They know it can be done. At least it has been twice already. Once by a father and daughter team from NYC to LA. And then a few days after by Tesla Motors team.
This trip isn’t going to break any records for speed or charging. I reckon it’s going to be a bit of a snooze. But if you want to see how an EV works. How the Supercharging Network work. And how, with superfluous laziness, you can still drive cross country for FREE in about 4 days.
There is a purpose to my trip, but I could just as easily have flown. No I’m not telling. Nosy.
This trip is like any other road trip. It’s also the final nail in the coffin of range anxiety when discussing Tesla. Tesla will NEVER have another car that has a shorter range than mine. I can fail. There is no net. I will be posting updates over the next week (or so) and I’ll try to answer as many questions as possible.
I’ll post updates and photos at on Twitter and Instagram: @TeslaMS60
Unknown is whether Sam had to slow down inordinately between some places. In other cases, Sam was able even to skip stations.
To be sure, energy preservation was needed, and anyone who’s seen the movie “Apollo 13″ might grasp this was about not over-using finite battery power on things like cranking up the heat, or speeding.
“I like the seat heaters and they served me well throughout,” wrote Sam.”When I needed a little warm air, I turned on the front defrost to low and it heated the cabin nicely.”
Doing this trip meant also ensuring tire pressures were optimal, and it’s all the more remarkable it was done during winter when cold weather can sap potential range.
“I filled my tires before we left with a nitrogen gas so that they would have keep their car pressure and I also filled them to the max sidewall pressure which is 51 pounds,” wrote Sam. “That seems to done the trick and I haven’t had any issues. My watt hours did drop last night when it was about 6°, but this morning everything seems to be okay.”
Sam is keeping a running dialogue with well-wishing fellow Tesla fans along the way, and commented that while most people would rather fly, the prospect of the American road trip is becoming more feasible in the Model S with no gas to pay for.
I totally agree with your point regarding road trips. The road trip is on its way back especially when there is no incremental cost to take a road trip. I have now currently 15,814 miles on my car in the first five months of ownership because it’s making it fun to drive again.
“I’ve played a bit, but mostly it’s feel. I reduce my speed up the steep climbs if my miles are getting tight. But for the most part I start in the bonus, and I keep my cushion until I know when to step on it. The battery fills fastest from empty to 80% so there’s no need to keep much in reserve. I’ve decided to be a bit more careful from here on out and I arrived in Mitchell, SD and Worthington, MN with 4 and 5 miles, respectively.
When a couple of guys from Louisiana last month drove a Model S out of the country in a far-more sketchy journey to the Panama Canal, Tesla’s media team stood back, and had no comment.
But Sam’s drive is in a Model S on the Supercharger network which last month Tesla itself ran across the country in its own 85-kwh cars to certify to the world that it was ready.
Conspicuously absent in Tesla’s publicity releases is any mention of the ability of 60-kwh versions to make it, but in speaking with Tesla, its representatives have conceded its network could leave people in 60-kwh cars stranded.
Tesla fans also know the score, but fans who are accentuating the positive are less-than-vocal at exposing any potential holes in Tesla’s statements – and to top it off, fan Sam is out to prove it can be done, if not with extra special care.
Another factor making Sam’s trip potentially more time-consuming is the fact that Superchargers normally slow down the rate of charge from 80 percent to 100-percent full.
In a 60-kwh car, topping off the battery is necessary more often than in an 85-kwh car to ensure the car has enough range to make it in the extra long stretches.
That Sam made the 3,800-mile first half of the trip in 107 hours and 15 minutes is remarkable next to Tesla’s 76.5-hour, 3,464.5-mile journey to New York for which it is applying for a Guinness world record.
The trip also beat father and daughter team John and Jill who made the absolute first trip from New York to California in 130 hours and 50 minutes.
Fans of Sam have suggested this latest trip should also apply for a spot in the record book.
In any event, what Sam is doing is rather more adventurous at least for now.
Tesla now lists 78 U.S. Superchargers, and it’s quickly adding more through the country. A year from now if someone makes the trip Sam did, it may be less of a feat, or there may still be some gaps.
Meanwhile, Sam’s journey is only just past the half-way mark, and following is Sam’s post upon arrival yesterday.
The first half of my journey is complete. I arrived in VA Beach tonight at 7:45PM EST. I drove ~3800 miles and charged using nothing but Tesla Supercharging Stations.
I want to thank everyone that gave me hints, suggestions, and made me laugh along the way. Most of all I want to thank Tesla Motors for making the best car I’ve ever seen, driven or owned.
Tesla, you are changing the world one drive at a time.
Everything is possible in this new world. Sustainable transportation. Free Cross Country Travel. Most of all, you are changing heart and minds. Not through advertising and manipulation. But my making an incredible product that sells itself.
I’m going to sleep 12 hours (at least) and then turn around and come home. If anyone is interested if it is possible, twice, I will continue to post here. I don’t have the numbers yet, and likely won’t for another week. For that, I apologize.
If anyone is interested in meeting along the way, please email me and I’ll do my best to let you know the route and timing.
Sam firstname.lastname@example.org @teslaMS60 on twitter and instagram
As of today, Sam is back on the road.
If you want to know more, we’ve linked most of what you’d need to know, or you can contact Sam.