Tesla Model S Road Trip – Day 4

– Back to Tesla Model S Road Trip – Day 3

On our last full day with the Tesla Model S, we started off from our AirBnB at Breil/Brigels with a fully charged battery thanks to our hosts kindly allowing us to charge overnight. This saved us quite a bit of time and meant we had no worries about range as we headed to our first destination. On the way we stopped for breakfast in Chur, where I was able to take advantage of Autopark for the first time…

Alpine Coaster

The beautiful weather continued as we headed up to Churwalden, where we had 3 runs on the alpine coaster at Pradaschier. The run is 3 kilometers long and takes 7 minutes according to the website, but without the brakes it is more like 5 very exciting minutes!

Alpine coaster at Pradaschier, Switzerland
Alpine coaster at Pradaschier, Switzerland

Needless to say, the GoPro came in handy again…

On the road again

Originally we had planned to charge at the Tesla Supercharger in Bad Ragaz, which is the closest supercharger to our AirBnB at Breil/Brigels. In fact we would have had to drive carefully to reach it, as we had arrived the night before with 70km of range remaining, and the distance to the supercharger was almost exactly 70km! This would have left us with no spare range for the detour up to Churwalden for the alpine coaster.

Of course, it’s always wise to have a Plan B and if we had not been able to charge overnight, we could have plugged in for an hour while having breakfast in Chur, where a quick search on the LEMnet site shows several publicly available 22kW chargers:

Public charging points in Chur
Public charging points in Chur

In the event, because we had started the day fully charged, we were able to skip the supercharger entirely and proceed directly to Bregenz, where we stopped for lunch and enjoyed the views of Lake Constance. We even found free parking in town because it was Sunday!

Electric boats on Lake Constance
Electric boats on Lake Constance

Back to Salzburg

Cruising up the A96 Autobahn towards Munich, we reached our first charging stop at Aichstetten, 190km from our starting point in the morning. The Tesla has a handy feature where it will tell you when you have charged enough to continue your trip. I added a bit more charge just in case, until the car projected 14% battery left at our next charging stop in Irschenberg, 175km away. Back on the unrestricted Autobahn with very light traffic, we were soon flying along at about 200 kph…

No speed limit here!
No speed limit here!

Range Anxiety

Unfortunately, it seems that the Tesla estimates the range based on “normal” driving. After some time driving at this high speed, a warning appeared on the dashboard that we should reduce our speed to 110 kph in order to reach our destination, and the trip meter display was a rather worrying sight…

Heading for a flat battery...
Heading for a flat battery…

I reduced speed and the projected range began to creep back up. But cruising at 110 kph on autopilot all the way to Irschenberg was not a very exciting prospect, so I had a look for a closer supercharger. The screen showed a charger at Starnberg, near Munich, so we took a detour off the Autobahn to top up there. After some time we arrived at the location, where there was no supercharger to be seen. On closer inspection, it turned out that it was not a supercharger at all, but a Tesla “destination charger” which was located in a hotel car park and only available to hotel guests! At this point I thought we were completely stuck, but luckily the car estimated we could still reach the Irschenberg supercharger as long as we kept below 105 kph. Phew!

Lesson learned – don’t mistake destination chargers for superchargers, and always charge a bit longer if you want to go fast on the Autobahn! Of course, we could have always found a public charger in Munich, so getting stranded was not really going to happen.

You have reached your destination

At length we reached the Irschenberg supercharger, which we realised was actually the same one we had stopped at first on our way out of Salzburg 4 days earlier. 100km later, we arrived at the Meininger Hotel in Salzburg. It was getting very late by this point and I found that the autopilot really helped towards the end of this long drive on the Autobahn in the dark – I felt much safer cruising along knowing that there was no chance of drifting out of the lane. When used responsibly, the autopilot is a safety feature, not just for convenience.

Journey's end
Journey’s end
Our route on day 4, showing charging stops
Our route on day 4, showing charging stops

So, after 1700km, 4 days and 4 countries, 2 overnight charges and 8 supercharger stops, our time with the Tesla Model S was over. Or so I thought! The car was due to be collected at 10am the next morning, but the man from Greenride had to travel from Vienna, and didn’t get to Salzburg until 2pm. So I had some bonus time to go for a fantastic drive in the Salzburg hills…

Tesla Model S in the Salzburg Hills
Tesla Model S in the Salzburg Hills on day 5

Fully Charged

Back in Salzburg, I gave the car a quick top up at the Salzburg Supercharger before reluctantly heading to the railway station to hand it back to Greenride.

Last top-up in Salzburg
Last top-up in Salzburg

So how would I sum up our 4 days with the Tesla Model S 70D? In a word, amazing! Tesla recently announced their new top-of-the-range P100D version, with a 0-60 mph time of 2.5 seconds and a range of over 300 miles. However, the 70D with its 0-60 time of “only” 5.2 seconds is still a very fast car, with more than enough performance for any day to day situation. The driving experience is really unlike any comparable combustion engined car because of the smooth acceleration and instant response that only electric drive can provide.

We have all become accustomed to the idea of what a car is – that it should have a noisy, vibrating engine and a gearbox, that it should be powered by an expensive, smelly liquid fuel that pollutes the air in our towns and cities. That it should waste 70% of that fuel’s energy as heat, even when it is not moving, or going downhill. Electric motors are clearly a far superior and much more efficient way of powering a vehicle. Tesla is the first company to show that an electric car can do everything a “normal” car can do, and do it better. That’s why the Tesla Model S has won awards including the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year, Automobile magazine’s 2013 Car of the Year, Time Magazine Best 25 Inventions of the Year 2012 award and Consumer Reports’ top-scoring car ever. In 2015, Car and Driver named the Model S the Car of the Century (wikipedia). Oh, and the humble 70D won What Car’s “best electric car” award for 2016 in the UK.

Electric cars are the future. Tesla is bringing us that future, today.