– Back to Tesla Model S Road Trip – Day 2
It was a beautiful sunny day in Switzerland when we awoke on day 3 in Wilderswil, near Interlaken. After a complementary hotel breakfast we headed for our first destination at Alpnachstad. We had not charged overnight, but had plenty of range left for the 56km drive along a surprisingly twisty and fun road.
Mountain of Dragons
At Alpnachstad, our plan was to leave the Tesla for a while and take an excursion to Mount Pilatus on the Pilatusbahn railway, which with gradients of up to 48% is the steepest cog railway in the world. The Pilatusbahn uses a unique mechanism whereby 2 horizontal cog wheels mesh into the rack from each side. This feat of Swiss engineering was not to be missed! Of course, I had the GoPro ready as always…
The ride on the Pilatusbahn was spectacular and it was nice to stretch our legs with a walk at the summit, enjoying panoramic views in the summer sunshine…
For more photos, check out my full photo album from the trip.
The Tesla Supercharger at Beckenried in Switzerland enjoys a very nice location on the edge of Lake Lucerne. We stopped here as planned, in order to charge the car and have lunch. As we had over 200 km (124 miles) of driving through the Swiss Alps ahead of us, we needed to charge to 100%. This is not something one would normally do at a supercharger, as the rate of charge tapers off quite a lot after 80%. So to charge to 100% takes quite a while. However, there was a problem because when we arrived, all the supercharger stalls were in use!
There was also a public charging point for other electric cars at the site, so we plugged in there using the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter. However, this only gave us a rate of 70km of range added per hour, which would have taken 4 and a half hours to fill the battery! Luckily, a few minutes later a supercharger stall became available, so we plugged in there and the car said it would be fully charged in 1 hour and 20 minutes. So off we went to relax by Lake Lucerne with a healthy lunch…
Back at the supercharger, we found we were the only car left and we had a nice full battery.
At Beckenried, we had seen Teslas from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Norway. It seems that Tesla owners love taking road trips!
The Swiss Alps
The time had come to venture away from the Supercharger network and take on the famous alpine passes in the Tesla Model S. First up was the Susten Pass. Starting from Wassen in the east, it’s an ascent of 1308 metres to the summit at 2264m above sea level. The drive was a breeze and the views were spectacular…
Of course, driving up such an ascent uses a lot of energy and the battery is consumed more rapidly than it would be driving on level ground. But what goes up must come down! When going uphill, a car gains potential energy. In a petrol or diesel car, going down the hill this energy is wasted as heat through the brakes. However in an electric car the motors are able to act as generators, recapturing this energy and putting it back into the battery. This is known as regenerative braking and means that not only is range regained when going downhill, but wear and tear on the brakes is reduced. In fact, it is rare to actually use the brakes in a Tesla because regenerative braking takes effect whenever you lift off the accelerator, so you can just drive with one pedal most of the time.
Soon we were on to the Grimsel Pass. The twisting ascent up to 2164m leads through a barren lunar-like landscape of granite cliffs, dams and reservoirs.
Driving up a mountain pass with no engine noise is a surprisingly enjoyable experience! Going round hairpin bends, the only sound was a faint whine from the motors and an occasional squeal from the tyres. But the power of the Tesla Model S 70D was more than ample and the dual motor all-wheel drive really came into its own. Having no engine at the front, and a heavy battery pack in the floor, the Tesla has perfect weight distribution and a very low centre of gravity, leading to amazing roadholding and no body roll when cornering.
The Furka Pass is considered one of Europe’s most spectacular drives, and was immortalised by the Aston Martin DB5 / Ford Mustang car chase in James Bond’s Goldfinger. The hairpin bends were great fun and the descent on the other side was narrow and very twisty.
Soon we were heading down through the valley via Andermatt towards our AirBnB at Breil/Brigels. There was one last climb to reach our destination, which was a farmhouse enjoying fantastic views of the valley below.
We had 70km of range left after driving 209km. This would only be just enough to reach the next supercharger in the morning, but our hosts were happy to let us charge the car overnight from a 3-phase industrial outlet, so we were fully charged the next morning at no cost!
For more views of the stunning scenery as well as Mount Pilatus, be sure to check out part 2 of my road trip video…
– On to Tesla Model S Road Trip – Day 4