Camping Mode

Camping in the Model S

Camping in the Model S

On my cross country trip last spring, I camped one night in the Tesla while charging at an RV park.  Last month I met up with some friends who were camping for several nights.  I was on my way to an event and joined them for one evening with the Tesla.

On this trip, I was not in an RV park and had no need to charge so I decided to try the unofficial Tesla “camping mode”.  The camping mode allows you to keep the cabin air at your preferred temperature.  However you cannot charge while in camping mode.

Camping mode is quite simple:

  1. Do not plug your car in
  2. Place the car in Neutral
  3. Manually set the parking brake in the control screen
  4. Dim your lights as much as possible

Northern California has been very warm this fall.  The Pacific Ocean for a reason that is likely unrelated to global warming is 5 degrees warmer than usual.  Our nights have been reasonably warm and this evening in the car was no exception.

I found the light of the touchscreen to be a bit distracting to sleep as I had not dimmed the setting completely before trying to sleep.  Since the night was quite warm and the Tesla cabin is small enough to stay warm, I ended up turning off the climate control completely.

Perhaps I will test this feature out  someday when climate control could be useful and see how much energy I would use, but I doubt I will be sleeping very many nights in the Model S.  Even with a very thick pad and some extra clothing near the change in seat height, the trunk is not particularly comfortable and motels are more appealing.

Don't Forget To Set the Parking Brake

Don’t Forget To Set the Parking Brake

Hypermiling

EV tripplanner data for route from Beaver to Las Vegas

EV tripplanner data for route from Beaver to Las Vegas

A couple of new superchargers were added in Utah recently allowing me to drive home along Interstate 70 and Interstate 15 through Utah and Nevada (including a tiny section of Arizona) instead of the long loop back through Gallup New Mexico.  At this point of the long journey, I was happy to cut both miles and time.

However, one glaring hole existed for charging.  Between Beaver, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada was a total of 223 miles between superchargers.  The weather was also quite warm and the freeway speeds quite high.

EVtripplanner.com lists the journey requiring 268 rated range miles in 82 degree weather.  In between Beaver, Utah and Las Vegas, Nevada were very few charging stations.  A Nissan dealer in St. George, Utah allows Teslas to charge there but the charge rate is slow.  A few RV parks exist along I15, but after calling one I was dismayed to hear it was not possible because they were all booked up for the holiday weekend.

I decided to drive straight to Las Vegas without stopping or charging.  Even if the report listed a requirement of about 270 miles needed, I also noticed a large drop in elevation of -3884 feet, which should enable me to not use very much energy.

I decided to hypermile my way to Las Vegas.  Hypermiling in an electric vehicle can include many techniques but the following are the ones I used:

  1. Drive significantly slower than the 75 and 80 mph hour speed limits.  I decided that I felt safe enough about 20 mph slower than the speed limit if there was plenty of visibility from the rear.
  2. Allow the car to slow down up any small uphills and regain speed on the downhills.
  3. Keep the air conditioner off as much as possible.
  4. Keep the fan off and crack open a window to cool the car.
  5. Enjoy all the other Model S electronics because they run off the 12 Volt battery.
  6. Do not stop and take a break.
  7. Accelerate slowly.
  8. Use the cruise control to maintain a consistent speed.

Other techniques include:

  1. Drafting semi trucks.  I dislike people tailgating me and also did not want a lot of road debris hitting the car, so I decided to not try to save energy by drafting trucks.
  2. Putting the car in neutral and coasting.  I had earlier played with this on some remote roads but I preferred regenerating energy on the downhills instead of coasting.  In some states driving the car in neutral is illegal.

I fortunately had met a couple the day before doing the same trip in their Model S with 19” tires, and texted them to make sure they were successful.  They made it to Las Vegas with plenty to spare.  My exact data for the journey is listed in the table below.  I made it to Las Vegas with 74 miles of rated range in the battery.

When needing to save energy, I prefer to drive conservatively in the beginning and then relax the driving in the second half.  Once I hit St. George, Utah I had only 118 miles left to go and 194 rated range listed.  I pretty much followed the speed limit from that point on and had the A/C on also.  The huge drop in elevation between Cedar City and St. George allowed me to drive between those two cities using only 7.6 kWh.

If I were to drive this route again, I would feel quite comfortable increasing the speed in Utah.

Hypermiling Data from Beaver to Las Vegas

Hypermiling Data from Beaver to Las Vegas

No Cell Coverage

Map Goes Black without Cell Coverage

Map Goes Black without Cell Coverage

I was a bit surprised on a recent trip to Pinnacles National Park, that the navigation map went completely blank when it lost cell phone service.  On my ipad and iphone, once the map is loaded and you lose a connection, you do not lose the actual map.  For some reason, the Tesla map does not even have the last map in memory.  I was quite surprised when I saw a black screen.

I understand that the navigation works with google maps.  I do not expect to ask for a new destination, but I think having a black screen is unacceptable.  The turn by turn direction was still listed on the side.  I actually find turn by turn annoying, and I keep the voice muted unless I am in an unfamiliar congested city.  I have always loved visual maps and often use navigation simply to have an estimate for the number of miles left on the journey, not for the actual directions.

Also, the Tesla app cannot talk to the car without a cell phone signal.  When I configured my car, I was told that there was still a wi-fi connection but this is not true.  I would like to pre-cool my car in many places without cell phone coverage and having the app access the car through wi-fi would be very nice.  I don’t know whether or not there is wi-fi built into the Model S.

A workaround that works pretty well is to open all the doors and windows before arriving at the car to let all the hot air out.  This workaround works well here where it typically gets hot but not super hot.  The key fob works at a pretty far away distance to open all the windows.  I was comfortable opening all the windows in the parking lot at Pinnacles without anything of particular value in the car.  This workaround may not function well in other locations with more people and crime, or in hotter weather.

The drive to Pinnacles is a lovely drive and passing other cars in the Model S almost feels instantaneous.

Pinnacles National Par

Aesthetic Config

I am a bit particular about colors but in the end chose the grey.  I like that it is a medium value color and also that it is a beautiful blue grey.  My favorite part is how it interacts with the chrome and the black interior as in a monochromatic study of black and white.

Grey Car

Grey Car

I also really like it with the black interior leather.  The black leather continues the theme without distracting it with a lighter color.  I am not fond of the two tone treatment of the grey and tan seat color combinations.  All the cars have black trunks and black seat back and black panels on the side.  I find that a bit visually confusing.

I was also a bit concerned about the black interior heating up.  I have preferred cloth to leather on hot days.  Fortunately, it rarely gets really hot here.  I found conflicting information on the web about how much hotter black seats get.  My Tesla representative solved this dilemma.  The upcoming Tesla App on the smart phone will allow you to start the Air Conditioning before you get to the car.  This feature will not require you to have a phone signal, and will use wi-fi to your phone.

I am an environmentalist strong advocate of humane treatment of animals, but I am not a vegan.  I debated cloth vs. leather but also wanted the 2012 prices with heated seats.  I did find out this information in regards to the source of the leather from my Tesla representative.

Nappa leather or Napa leather is a full-grain leather, typically dyed, made from unsplit kid-, lamb- or sheep-skin by tanning with salts of chromium or aluminium sulfate, and noted for softness and durability. It is often used in high-quality leather products such as high-end furniture and vehicles. The tanning process which produces Napa leather was invented by Emanuel Manasse in 1875 while working for the Sawyer Tanning Company in Napa, California.

The Tesla supplier of leather for Model S is Bader.  Bader is a world class supplier of leather who does focus on the environment.  The waste water from leather tanning process can be very harmful to the environment.  Bader claims they use a very modern and environmentally friendly approach and no PVCs are used in the making of the leather.

I spent probably too much time debating the interior trim.  Again, I decided to keep the theme going and in the end chose the piano black.

Black Piano

Piano Black