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Trip to Fort Benning

Posted by SpiceWare, in Tesla 09 February 2019 · 264 views

As you may or may not be aware, I purchased a Tesla Model 3 about 8 months ago.
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Back in October my nephew Brandin graduated from Basic Training at Fort Benning in Georgia.  My folks and I took a road trip to attend.  It's the furthest I've taken my Model 3 so far and from the experience it's a great road trip vehicle (autopilot is awesome).  One nice feature is the car plans the charging stops needed on a trip - Tesla has an online trip planner so you can see how that works out.  These are the stops we made:
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And this is how long was needed at each stop:
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Due to how batteries charge it takes 30-40 minutes to go from near empty to 80% full, and another 30-40 minutes to go from 80% to 100% (rather like filling a glass of water, you slow down as it nears the top).  So most of the time you only charge long enough to make it to the next charger (some buffer space is included in the planning).  The range of the Model 3 is enough that stops coincide with meal breaks, and the car is normally ready to go before you've paid the bill.  Any extra time spent charging means less time at the next stop - for instance we met family friends for lunch in Baton Rouge and ended up staying an hour rather than 25 minutes - that extra time meant we could skip the stop in Slidell, though we ended up stopping for a bio-break (too much tea at lunch!) and "opportunity charged" - you can easily gain 100 miles of range during a brief restroom stop.
We also spent the night in Mobile, which eliminated that 40 minute charge stop as we plugged in at the hotel (no extra cost) and were full when we left in the morning.  This is known as Destination Charging.  Since we left Mobile with a full charge, rather than with just enough to make it to Greenville, our stop in Greenville didn't need to be as long as projected.
Charging costs to get from Houston to Fort Benning was $17.00 for ~730 miles.  
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That was a little less than I expected as the charging was free in Alabama, even on the return trip:
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This turned out to be due to Hurricane Michael as Tesla is in the habit of enabling free charging before & after evacuation events:

Tesla is also enabling free Supercharging in areas that are on Michaels path. Superchargers in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and selected chargers in Alabama such as  Auburn, Greenville, and Mobile and Florida DeFuniak Springs, Lake City, Live Oak, and Tallahassee are free of charge, even for owners whose vehicles do not have free unlimited Supercharging.

Once we arrived we stayed in a chalet at Uchee Creek Campground.  You can only stay there if you're in the military or if you are attending a family day or graduation.
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They said we could use an unused RV site to charge the car.  We tested it to confirm it worked, but found it more convenient to use the dryer outlet at the chalet - it's nice to wake up every morning with a "full tank"!
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My folks with Brandin after graduation.
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My dad was inviting the other grandparents to join in on the photo.
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My brother & sister-in-law with Brandin at dinner the night before.
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Autopilot? Does it mean this car drives by itself?

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No - it's just like autopilot in an airplane:

Autopilots do not replace human operators, but instead they assist them in controlling the aircraft.

in the Tesla autopilot helps you by doing things like these:
  • maintains vehicle speed
  • adjusts vehicle speed in relation to traffic - if car ahead of you slows/stops, the Tesla does as well; when that car resumes moving, the Tesla does as well (this is awesome during rush hour traffic)
  • keeps you in your lane
  • changes lanes, provided it can do so safely, when you signal it to do so.

We've found that when using autopilot we can go twice as far before needing to swap drivers.


Full Self Driving is when the car drives itself.  Tesla is working on this, but it's not out yet.

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Looks like you have to stop up about every 120 miles or say about 2 hours of driving to top up your charge.  That doesn't seem too bad to me; basically have a cup of coffee and stretch your legs every couple of hours.

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The stops are pretty much dictated by the location of the chargers, which in most of the country are spaced to support the shortest range Model S, as well as the locations of the destination chargers.  Checking this Tesla Range chart that'd be the 2014 Model S (Superchargers don't work with the Roadster).



Mine is a 2018 Model 3 LR 18" + Aero which is rated for 310 miles per charge, but speed plays a big factor in how far you can go.  With the speed limit in Texas and Louisiana at 75 for the most part you end up doing at least 80 to keep up with traffic.  At that speed the range chart shows I can go 270 miles (which falls in line with what I've seen).  From my house to Baton Rouge is 288 miles, which means I need to stop at the charger before Baton Rouge, which is in Lake Charles.  Since you don't arrive in Lake Charles near empty, you don't get the fastest charge rate.


As Tesla expands their network they've been infilling.  Since I leave home with a full charge I expect the trip would be like this in the future:

  • drive 3 hours, 235 miles to Lafayette, 40 minute charge to 80% (range 248 miles, really 216 due to speed)
  • drive 2.5 hours, 186 miles to Gulfport - 5-10 minute (only need to add ~40 miles to make it to the hotel)
  • drive 1 hour, 76 miles to Mobile and stay the night.
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That car is OK, but I'd rather have a Fluxliner. :D

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