Written by Nat Young, Clinical Hypno-Psychotherapist and Yoga and Pilates Teacher.
Woah, hold up! This is a wellbeing blog right? So what do Tesla, an electric car company, and wellbeing have in common? Well the answer to that is simple; bear with me. Tesla’s strategy is “To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport and electric technology,” introducing cleaner travel to a growing consumer market. CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, also famously said that he hopes to change the world and humanity for the better. That sounds a lot like looking after the wellbeing of humans don’t you think? Less pollution, cleaner air, sustainable travel and better wellbeing for us all.
The keen-eyed of you who attend my yoga and pilates classes may have noticed that I took delivery of my Tesla Model 3 Performance earlier this year. I love my car to pieces but the thing I particularly like is how interested people are in it. They always ask about it and it seems to make many people smile (and I love that because my Model 3 makes me smile too!) A common question I’ve had since taking delivery is what the range is on a full charge and how easy it is to travel long distances. So to answer that, we took my car on the road trip of all road trips – from North Swindon in the South West of England, all the way up to a tiny village in one of the remotest parts of North West Scotland; Achiltibuie. Here’s the diary of our journey…
An early start
We started out at 5:29am with 306 miles of range, which is a full charge. Normally we would only charge up to 70% of the range for daily usage as this keeps the battery well conditioned but today we need the extra range as we’ll be travelling just over 600 miles. We’re travelling to a place called Achiltibuie on the North West coast of Scotland, about 25 miles north of Ullapool. We put Achiltibuie into the car’s navigation system and while working out our route, it showed supercharge stops at Charnock Richard on the M6 (a 20 min charge with a forecast of 18% battery remaining), a stop at Gretna Green on the M74 for 25 mins and a stop at Perth for 30 mins. We had looked up where the superchargers were along our route beforehand and as it would happen, these were also the ones we identified ourselves, bar Perth. We had thought we would stop at Aviemore a bit further up so we arrive at our destination with more battery but it’s a long distance between Gretna and Aviemore so I think we’ll have to take that under advisement. This morning the weather is really rubbish so there’s lots of spray and our visibility is limited. The car reports things back in real time so we had quite a few warnings about blind spot detection and lane departure assist being limited. I wasn’t surprised – the conditions were a bit horrendous. That said, Autopilot handled the weather mostly but turned itself off a couple of times when there was lots of spray. (NB: Autopilot is the car’s super cool and clever cruise control system which will keep you in your lane and automatically slow down and speed up in line with the speed you set and traffic conditions.) At this current time, Autopilot also won’t function in roadworks when there is no solid white line on the side of the road (which we knew). This will change with time though as Tesla issue regular software updates!
We stopped at Charnock Richard services with 33 miles remaining and we’re now supercharging at 574 mph. That’s fast! We ended up charging up fully as we took longer to sort ourselves out than the car’s suggested 20 minute stop. Still, this gave us some leeway on our range. The time it took to fully charge was exactly enough time to have a toilet stop, eat a breakfast sub at Subway and grab a takeaway coffee at Starbucks. We had a notification in the Tesla app to say that charging was nearly complete while we were in the coffee queue so we didn’t have to wait around at all. The only downside was that there was so much water on the path from the rain that my shoes got a soaking as I kicked a puddle on my way back to the car – d’oh! The Gretna range forecast is that we’ll have 48% battery remaining when we stop.
Next stop – Gretna
We arrived at Gretna with 44% battery remaining, thanks to our full charge at Charnock Richard. That’s pretty accurate. We needed a toilet break anyway so it was no hassle to stop. A Model S and Model X were already at the chargers (obviously a popular stop!) so that left 1 charger remaining after we plugged in. The drivers of the other Teslas were friendly, smiling and nodding at us as we walked into the services. We also overheard the little boy from the Model S say, “Wow, that’s a Model 3!” It made me smile. The weather has now cleared up a bit too. It’s chillier up here but at least it’s not raining. We had enough time for our toilet break and to show our youngest son the new Star Wars trailer (on the car’s screen of course) before getting on our way. I’d call this charge a ‘splash and dash’ in traditional fuel terms! Our next supercharge stop will be at Perth with a predicted 18% charge remaining. We’ll decide whether to do an additional stop at Aviemore when we finish charging at Perth and see our predicted range for Achiltibuie.
On the way to Perth
On the M74 we’re noticing that the watts per mile are reducing and our battery forecast for Perth is improving. We’ve been using Autopilot more, the traffic has got better and the weather has got better; albeit cold. A coincidence??
We arrived at the Perth supercharger with above forecasted range of 21%. We plugged in and went to the Harvester across the road for lunch. We ate quickly but even so, ended up with a fully charged battery just before we had finished eating. There’s a risk of being charged idle fees at Tesla chargers if you don’t move the car within 5 minutes of being charged but our app reported that the chargers were quiet so we didn’t have to worry on this occasion. We got back in the car and got on our way with a 310 mile range (I thought full range was 306 so that surprised me!) If we drove straight to Achiltibuie from here, we’d apparently get there with 32% battery left. As we’ll probably need another toilet stop anyway, we’ve decided to stop at the Aviemore supercharger to do that. We’re driving on little roads all the way from Aviemore to Achiltibuie and I expect this to affect our range. We’ll also need to stop in Ullapool to grab some shopping and there’s a public charger here if we need it. If we can’t charge at the Achiltibuie house for whatever reason, this is our closest charger (25 miles from Achiltibuie) so it will be good to know where it is and how to use it.
We definitely don’t need to stop but did it anyway to boost range. We stopped for a Costa coffee and a toilet break before making our way over to the supercharger. Unfortunately the food outlets aren’t nearby this time as the Aviemore supercharger is located at The Macdonald Resort. The supercharger here is also slow! I’m not sure if this is because we don’t really need the charge or because it’s actually slow. The charger is delivering about 250 miles per hour of charge (55kw) so it’s less than half the speed of the last two. There’s only one other Tesla here at the other end of the charging bays so I can’t even blame it on that. While we were charging, we watched an episode of animated Star Trek on Netflix while we drank our coffee and got on our way with 283 miles of charge. Plenty! Spotify has kept going so far too. I’ve been pleasantly surprised as the mobile signal can be a bit flaky up here and that obviously prevents internet music streaming from working. In fact, I’ve only noticed one black spot the whole way so far and that was in quite a remote area on the A9. It’s more likely to drop out further down the road though when we’ll probably drop onto a GPRS signal, or no signal at all! Still, I can use downloaded Spotify music on my phone if need be.
Ullapool for shopping
We need to grab some food from the shop so we found the Charge Your Car public charger in the big car park. There’s only one charger here and two charging bays, but the charger has three different connections. We can use either the CCS or Type 2 cables with my Model 3. Out of preference, the CCS is better as it’s faster. There are only two public chargers in Ullapool and the other one is at the Ullapool ferry terminal. Since we were in Ullapool, we figured we’d check out the charger nearest to the shop. It was free to use but sadly didn’t work on Type 2 or CCS, refusing to connect to the Change Your Car server through the associated app. There was a number we could have phoned but we decided to give it up as a bad job and check out the charger by the harbour after we had grabbed some shopping. This one worked on the slower Type 2 cable but not on CCS. The harbour charger costs 20p per kWh with a minimum £1 fee whereas the charger in the big car park is free. Still, at least it’s somewhere to charge up, albeit slower on Type 2 (about 40 miles per hour of charge). Spotify dropped out a few miles back but we do have a signal now so we’ll try it again when we head off.
Just over 600 miles of travel and we’re here with 111 miles of charge left. We plugged the car in on the 3 pin plug at the house (easy to trail the trickle charging cable through the closed window) and we’re very happy to see the car charging away at 8 miles per hour of charge. This means we shouldn’t need to use the public charger in Ullapool until we go home in a week’s time when we need the extra range. Overall it hasn’t taken much longer to travel up here than it would have done if we’d taken Nick’s petrol Mercedes. We needed to stop for the toilet and/or food when the car needed to charge anyway and we spent time messing about with chargers in Ullapool and finding the charger in Aviemore, which obviously added time this time but we won’t need to do this next time. Overall, I’m really pleased (tired, but pleased!) At the time of writing it’s now 8:30pm and it has been a very long day! Now to cook dinner and settle in for the week…
After a gorgeous week of walking and fresh air (and equally great weather for this time of year), we started our journey with 302m range, which the app reported as a full charge. None of us want to leave and I’m convinced it gets harder to go each time we have to. We increased the battery range on the car last night and topped up at the Ullapool harbour charger while eating at the Seaforth pub. (Note: The Seaforth is a great pub if you’re ever up this way!) A small overnight charge on the 3 pin after coming back from Ullapool meant we had full battery again when going out this morning. After putting ‘home’ into the nav, the car says our first stop will be at Perth with 26% battery remaining. The weather is rubbish again too!
That’s not Perth, I hear you say! We chickened out at Aviemore (or rather, I chickened out at Aviemore). We all needed a toilet stop and a coffee anyway. I’d been monitoring the battery forecast for Perth and as we were going along the tiny roads, we were losing range. The forecast was hovering between 5-6% remaining at Perth, some way off the original 26%, and the car kept flashing up warnings along the A9 to keep the speed below 65mph to make our destination. My range anxiety wasn’t brave enough to risk it, although Nick was up for it! At Aviemore we’re the only car on the charger, we’re parked on an end charger and we’re still only getting 360 miles per hour of charge or around 80-90kw. This charger is obviously just slow! It’s supposed to be 120kw. 10 minutes later and our battery forecast is now 20% remaining when we get to Perth. That’s better!
We arrived in Perth with 87 miles remaining and we’ll supercharge to full as we’re stopping for lunch again. As it turns out, we probably would have got here with 25 miles remaining. Yes Nick, you were right, I know! We should now arrive in Gretna with 45% battery. Another splash and dash!
Back at Gretna
We arrived in Gretna with 40% charge left and this time the car flashed up a message to say it was preconditioning the battery ready for supercharging. I guess this must be because we still had a fair bit of range left (and maybe because it was cold?) We had a toilet stop and grabbed a takeaway coffee, watched Star Trek for 10 minutes and then away we went. Our last stop before home will be at Keele on the M6 this time, and hopefully with 19% battery remaining.
We arrived at Keele with a comfortable 48 miles remaining (17%). The battery estimate was much more consistent this time, probably because our driving was on motorways. We only needed a 20 minute charge to get home but we needed to grab something for dinner so we ended up stopping longer. We ended up making a picnic with bits from Waitrose and watching the other half of Star Trek that we had started watching at Gretna. The battery forecast for home (North Swindon) is now 44%. Our ETA is 10:09pm which will make our total travel time (including stops) about 13 hours for the just over 600 mile journey. That’s pretty reasonable…
We didn’t hold back the horses on the way home to North Swindon. There’s always something about that final leg of the journey – it takes ages and it’s so boring, especially in the dark! We still got home with 36% charge remaining, despite increased speed along the motorway (within speed limits of course – ahem!) Our remaining range is 110 miles and the time is 10:02pm, so we even knocked a few minutes off our forecasted journey time. Time to unpack the car and then get ready for bed I think.
I imagine most people will be interested in knowing what the differences are between travelling long distances in a BEV (battery electric vehicle) versus an ICE (internal combustion engine) car, so here are a few pointers.
You do need to plan a little more thoroughly for a long journey as it’s good to know where the chargers are in case you get caught short. In remote areas such as North West Scotland, you would have to do that with petrol stations anyway as there aren’t very many. If you’re not a natural planner, you’ll need to get used to this, unless you feel 100% comfortable trusting the technology!
The car will route you via the appropriate chargers but I prefer to air on the side of caution as I don’t want to get caught short (as you can see from our unscheduled stop in Aviemore on the way back!) If you want to plan ahead, you can see where all the Tesla chargers are on the Tesla website. There are two different types; superchargers and destination chargers. Superchargers are quick and these are the ones you want really but destination chargers are useful if you’re stopping somewhere that has one; for example, a hotel or a restaurant.
There are other non-Tesla chargers about as well (like the Ullapool one that we used) and I recommend the ZapMap app to find these. Some chargers require subscriptions before you can use them though so it’s best to do your homework beforehand.
It might be an obvious point, but it’s also good to make sure you’ve got your charging cables in an accessible location and not in the boot, underneath all the luggage! I put mine in the frunk (front trunk).
Overall the journey was easy, albeit long (but then 600 miles is a long way!) What’s even better is that this trip hasn’t cost a penny as I’m still using my free supercharging miles that I got from using a referral code when I ordered my car. Result! In terms of the cost when compared with fuel, we charged up 341kWh in total, so at the average price of 24p per kWh at superchargers (the cost can vary by location) plus the £7 of charging we did at Ullapool, it would have cost £88.84 for all the charging we did. This is a couple of pounds more then one tank of petrol is for Nick’s car which would take him about 400 miles. We did over 1200 miles to get there and back so the journey was therefore a lot cheaper than a petrol-powered journey. We obviously trickle charged at the house on the 3 pin plug when we needed to as well but we didn’t use the car much during the week so this wouldn’t have cost a lot. The cost of domestic electricity is also a lot cheaper than superchargers (the UK average is around 16p per kWh at the time of writing).
Comfort and driving
The seats in the Model 3 are really comfortable. I think they feel a lot like sitting on marshmallows. Soft for comfort but supportive in the places that they need to be. I suffer with back pain and I used to arrive at my destination after a long journey feeling very stiff and immobile (yes, yoga and pilates teachers are human and we still seize up!) I found I arrived feeling much better this time, even after being in the car for over 600 miles. If you like the feel of race seats, you might be disappointed though as the seats in the Model 3 are nowhere near as firm. Personally I wouldn’t find race seats comfortable on a long journey!
Driving-wise, the Model 3 is so easy to drive. It’s 4-wheel drive so handles like it’s on rails when you want it to and keeps you comfy when you’re cruising. You’ll have to get used to the immediate acceleration as you press the accelerator and the equally immediate power loss as you depress the accelerator though. It feels quite different to a regular car, and you notice it especially when you’ve been driving a Tesla for weeks and then get back in a petrol Mercedes! The great thing is that when you’re not on the accelerator in a Model 3, you’re not using power and this means that the battery is charging as you go (this is called regenerative braking). It’s fair to say that I barely use the brakes these days, which is great news for my brake pads and there’s less brake dust to clean off the wheels.
The fully adjustable steering wheel is small so it has a sporty feel about it and you can also adjust the feel of the steering from ‘chill’ to ‘sport’. Sport steering is quite heavy and for a long journey I tend to leave it in the middle. You can also adjust the acceleration in the same way; if it’s in ‘chill’ the accelerator becomes less responsive in favour of range. Personally I wouldn’t have bought a performance car if I didn’t want the performance so I tend to leave this alone! Speaking of performance, this is another thing that makes me smile (a lot). Model 3 Performance is very quick and I love the little whooshing sound of the electric motor as I put my foot down (yes, I’m a child).
Model 3 has far too much technology to mention in one post – it’s absolutely full of it! If you’re a bit of a technology geek like me, you’ll love it. From the safety aids which detect what’s going on around you and brake and steer you out of harm’s way, to the intelligent Autopilot and Autosteer, Spotify integration, the advanced security features of Sentry Mode (basically CCTV for your car), the playful arcade games and whoopee cushions, it’s all absolutely amazing. Nick has often said that when he steps out of my car, his Mercedes feels ‘old-school’ (it’s only 2 years old so it’s not even old!) As I mentioned earlier, Tesla issue regular software updates so once you’ve got the car, its functionality only gets better. You get new features as they’re released, all delivered to your car over WiFi or the car’s inbuilt LTE connection. As an example, the v10 update that I got a few weeks ago gave me Tesla Theatre which includes Netflix, Caraoke (karaoke for the car!) and YouTube, updates to Tesla Arcade (yes, I can now play Cuphead in the car!) as well as updates to the nav for finding places to eat and visit. There were also some updates for sentry mode and the dashcam.
Outside the car, you’ve got the app which allows you to control many of the car’s features from your phone. No more defrosting the car on a frosty day – just click a button on your phone and the car’s ready to go when you are. The app also allows you to see exactly what your car is doing and where it is at a given moment in time; for example, you can see whether it’s driving or parked, what the temperature is inside, how fast it’s going and how much range it has left. The app also doubles up as a key if you have the phone key enabled. Model 3 also doesn’t have a traditional key, it’s a key card.
Electric != difficult
So now that you’ve read about our Tesla adventure and how great the Model 3 is, maybe you’d like to consider owning one yourself. If you’ve been holding off going electric because you think it’s difficult, think again. The future is electric!
Want to order a Tesla?
Use my referral link when you order a new Tesla and we’ll both get 1000 free supercharger miles. You can then do your own road trip for free to see how great owning a Tesla is for yourself!