In cold weather, not (EV)ery mile is equal, Part II

The Arrival – and Return

(This blog post is a continuation of the Power Moves team’s journey from Indianapolis to Perryville, Mo. in a Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Click here to read Part I – The Departure.)

By Laura Matney
Energy Efficiency Programs Manager
Wabash Valley Power Alliance

We were excited to plan for our inaugural multistate trip in our Tesla 3 Long Range (M3LR). While we had taken into account our destination, vehicle range (306 miles), and available electric vehicle (EV) chargers along the way, our experience indicated just how much the chilly temperatures (24 degrees Fahrenheit while driving into a headwind when we left Indianapolis) would impact our battery range, and require some makeshift planning on the fly.

Reaching our Destination

Our arrival at Citizens Electric in Perryville, Mo., left us with 158 miles of range. The final 85-mile leg of our trip consumed 148 miles worth of battery power for ideal weather conditions (306 miles range in ideal conditions – 158 miles range remaining = 148 miles of battery power consumed). The weather was still cold, the wind was still blowing, and the roads in that area are hilly and curvy.

Our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, was kind enough to let us plug in overnight to an outdoor 110-volt outlet. Our purpose was not so much to add range to the car, but not lose range overnight since the low was forecast to be bitterly cold at 9 degrees Fahrenheit. (Reality check: charging the battery to full using a 110v outlet at 9 degrees would have taken longer than 24 hours!)

Day Two – The Return

As anticipated, we woke up the next morning to only 5 miles of range added (as opposed to several weeks before when 50 miles of range had been added while charging in my 45-degree garage). We chose to revisit the Supercharger in Mount Vernon, Ill., rather than visit an unknown charger in Festus, Ill. Leaving Perryville, we had 139 miles of range to travel the 85 miles back to Mount Vernon. We pulled in to the Supercharger with 23 miles “in the tank.” It also was time for lunch, so while the car filled up for an hour, so did we.

Our intention for the last leg was to go from Mount Vernon to our Indianapolis office, a distance of 213 miles. By the time we reached Terre Haute, Ind., we decided to stop at a nearby Meijer, which featured a Tesla Supercharger. We charged for another 10 minutes while visiting the facilities. We pulled into our office with 9 miles of range left to spare!  (Reality Check: I’ve done the same in my gas powered car, although I try to not make it a habit)

Lessons Learned

We learned that proper planning is essential to driving an EV on long trips. Fortunately, in addition to the Tesla’s navigation informing us of available Superchargers, additional apps such as Plug Share and Charge Point can be invaluable. You can enter details about your EV model and trip, and it can provide perspective on available routes and chargers along the way. Our Plug Share app, which also incorporates weather information into its calculations, was incredibly accurate at projecting how many miles of range we actually had compared to the range shown by the battery icon on the M3LR’s screen. Our inaugural Midwestern trip in our Tesla 3 provided some great learning lessons. It also proved that you can take long trips in an EV to pretty much anywhere! Just as with a gasoline-powered vehicle, proper planning in advance can be beneficial and minimize the risks of a snag – such as weather – unexpectedly freezing your plans.

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