I drove from my home in central Virginia to Stamford, Connecticut, (through New York) and back this past weekend. I want to share my EV charging experience.
My 3-year-old Tesla Model 3 Long Range (Tesla lets you name your car; mine is “Last Gas”) has about 5% battery degradation, so the EPA range of 315 miles is now an even 300. I set Last Gas to charge to 100% at home, timed for my morning departure, and set off. The trip was around 390 miles, but the car recommended I charge twice along the way, the first for only 10 minutes.
That first stop was in Springfield, Virginia, at a shopping mall. By the time I got there I was totally in need of a personal stop, so I plugged in at the Tesla Supercharger and walked into the mall. By the time I had finished my personal business and returned to the car, its short charge was done and the car ready to go.
Last Gas said the next stop would be at 1:04 PM, but as noon approached, I got hungry. I had hoped to charge while I had lunch, but I decided to pull into a service area in Maryland where they had food. I pulled in, parked and I was walking towards the facility when I noticed a row of Tesla Superchargers! So I plugged in and enjoyed some Pizza Hut Express. Last Gas was more than ready by the time I got back to it.
I also stopped at another service area in New Jersey for personal reasons, and there were Tesla Superchargers there too. I didn’t need to charge.
The worst part of the trip, which had nothing to do with the model of car I drive, was the New York Friday rush hour traffic. I was traveling at 8 miles per hour for much of it. If I were in a gasoline car with limited gas, I might have been concerned, but an EV is more efficient at those low speeds, so instead of arriving with less charge than planned, I got there with more.
So far, I haven’t spent any extra time charging on the trip, but for the return trip home, I couldn’t start with a full charge just plugging in at home. I had to charge somewhere. In this case I found that there were two Supercharger locations in Stamford, and I selected the closest one, at a mall in an underground parking garage. These were Tesla’s urban chargers. Twelve were available.
Urban chargers differ from other Superchargers in that they do not share the power between two cars. Each one stands alone and provides 72 kW. I brought my dinner with me and ate in the car, listening to NPR. I got interested in the program and between eating and listening, the charging session seemed to go quickly. There were 5 Teslas charging there off and on. I should add that there were non-Tesla charging stations there and at the service areas — mostly unused. There were 2 Audi e-trons charging in Stamford. That’s the only instance I recall of non-Teslas charging.
Again on the way back, I stopped at a service area on I-95 in Newark, Delaware, to charge
The final top off was supposed to be in Falls Church, Virginia, where was a Whole Foods store. I bought sushi and by the time I finished eating, the car was long past ready to go. I made it home with about 50% charge remaining.
I saw lots of Teslas, by the way on this trip, particularly in the DC area, and at my destination of Stamford. I even saw an auto carrier truck with around a dozen of them loaded up.
On my trip I found no fewer than four Supercharger locations at places where I happened to be, not ones I sought out, but ones that just happened to be where I was for some other reason. That’s amazing! That’s convenient! On this trip I worried about hotel reservations, and I worried about confusing road signs, and I worried about traffic. I didn’t have to worry about charging.
I have one final comment about energy consumption. According to the EPA, my car’s rated consumption is 260 Watt-hours per mile, measured from the wall. I assume an 8% charging loss (estimates vary), which means the car should show 240 consumption from the battery. And in fact, over the three years I’ve owned the car, 240 wH per mile is exactly my average consumption. For this trip along the I-95 corridor on the east coast of the US, my consumption was only 229 Wh, or about 249 from the wall. That equates to 135 MPGe. I don’t miss my Prius one bit.