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Long title, but I decided we needed a series on this new to us tech and and it is most definitely an adventure. From Phantom braking on interstates to figuring out why enroute navigation changes our next charge point from one point to another that ends up making things much worse and not just a bit out of the way. This being the second installment of documenting our life with the Tesla.

This trip would see us off the interstates and onto old US highways to Sedona, Arizona from our home on the coast of Southern California. We stopped to charge four times, fist was supposed to be at the Outlets at Cabazon, but this was shifted back to the west for some reason part way up the highway from CA-91 to I-10. We had ignored this prompt and of course the car had not prepared itself to charge so wouldn’t. As luck would have it there are new superchargers over near the casino so I selected these as a destination and that worked. Once charged, I drove the short way back to the outlet mall to pick up my wife and daughter. We found some snacks and restrooms. Then back on the road to the next charging stop at Quartzite, Arizona, near Carl’s Jr for lunch. From there Tesla routed us off the interstate via US 60 over to I-17 at New River, where we grab a short charge and dinner for the last leg of the trip into Sedona. At each charge stop the car calculates I can stop charging short of 80%, but I like to let it charge to 85% to give a little more cushion. I have been stopped on I-10 a couple of different times for construction, massive wrecks and one time a motorhome fire. An hour of sitting in the hot desert in an electric car might use up a good amount of charge is my guess.

Thoughts on charge stations: If I were designing these, for along interstates and highways, I’d want to set them up as rest areas. The nearby fast food is a bonus. I’d model these stops after those we see along I-80 through Iowa and Nebraska. Some running around area for kids and pets, some shaded tables and restrooms. Of course the chargers. Something like that seems to me to be an opportunity to align with retailers similar to what are at what they call, “Lay By’s” in Europe and the UK. Even the small efficiency hotels would be welcome.

Each stop saw most of the slots occupied, though the new station near the casino had a larger number of open charge spots over the older station near the McDonalds at the west end of the Outlets. At Sedona there is a charge station, but we never bothered to use it. There was a 120V outlet in the garage of the house we rented. Quite a bit slower, but we had plenty of time. Driving in Sedona is more sitting in traffic than traveling. One road through the canyon means anything that disrupts that one road, anywhere along the path stops all the traffic. Thanks to circumstances we were able to only need to drive to groceries, and within the neighborhood where we stayed. Once in the past we had rented a house on the east side of town, yet the other half the family were all on the west side. That made more than an hour daily commute on our part. I would have been tempted to carry a bicycle with me this trip, but I was just beginning to recover from a cold and really did not feel up to riding. But, a bicycle is a good solution for fit enough folks to get around town.

On the way back we skipped the charge at New River, laying our full faith in both the Tesla navigation and in traffic to cooperate and get us to Quartzite. We made it there after leaving Sedona on 84% charge and parking in the supercharger in Quartzite with 7%. I did turn the climate controls to 75°F for the last fifteen miles. We let the car charge to 85% and headed off to the factory shops for the last stop of the trip on the way home.

While on this trip we used up those initial 1,000 miles of free supercharger credits from using a friends referral number/code. As part of that I finally got into the charge statistics and set up our local electrical rate based on the plan we actually have, rather than the estimated rate. The real rate at the lowest is $.46/kWh from SDG&E from midnight to six. The estimated average was $.23. Bug difference. We are looking into a plan that will drop that overnight rate by a little more than 75% and also lose a third of the lower rate window.

The affect of all this is we now have accurate costs related to operating the car. The trip cost us around $73 total charging including the charge prior to leaving and the charge after we got home. Local fuel is at $6.49 per gallon for premium. This trip was about 1,000 miles. The old Murano would have given us around 26 mpg. That would result in around $200 in fuel costs. My brother’s Prius was returning him 50 mpg, or about twice what our Murano would, and he only had two people in the car most of the time, but had closer to three times the distance to cover. But, still, I’m happy with the electric option versus the ICE. The car we were considering along with the Model Y was the Subaru Outback, Touring. My uncle has the Forester that has the same drivetrain and trim level as what we were looking at. He has been seeing around 40 mpg. His travel distance was similar to ours. But, his average fuel cost per gallon would be less given traveling outside California so a rough guess of around half the fuel cost of our old Murano. Still more than the charge. This is harder to figure exactly because of those free charge miles we had skew the super charger rate. Next trip I hope to remember to set up a “trip” on the car so these metrics can be tracked more accurately. In the end that doesn’t really matter since we won’t be changing from the Tesla back to an ICE or even a hybrid car. Just entertaining.

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