Tesla Model S: NY-To-FL Trip, Day 3, South Carolina To Florida (BLOG)

The third day of my New York-to-Florida electric-car road trip, using the newly completed string of Supercharger stations along the East Coast, brought me almost to my destination in Florida.

Here’s how the most recent leg of my journey went.

DAY 3: Santee, South Carolina, to Ormond Beach, Florida


I awake at 6:30 to check the weather forecast on local television. The Polar Vortex is pushing far south–chasing me, it seems. Sleet, freezing rain, ice and 4 inches of snow are forecast for  Santee, starting in the late morning.

A day and a half of driving for this?

MORE: Tesla Model S: NY-To-FL Trip, Days 1-2: From Home To South Carolina

If I leave immediately, I can get far enough south, out of the freezing zone, before the storm hits. I’m at the wheel and away before 7, without breakfast, but with a full battery for the short 110-mile leg to Savannah. The temperature is 36 degrees.

Fat with juice, I push as fast as I dare, 75 mph or so, through occasional light rain. Arrive at Savannah with almost 100 miles in the bank.

The Savannah Supercharger is located in the long-term parking garage at the Savannah Airport. I arrive to find three Tesla employees setting up a lectern and microphone for the initial ribbon-cutting.

We talk Tesla for 45 minutes, while the car charges to near 100 percent for the next leg, a 175-miler to St. Augustine, Florida. (Remembering my overconfidence before my initial leg to Newark,   I want to pack in every last watt-hour).

I’m tempted to stay for the ceremony, but I’m in a race with the Polar Vortex, which waits for no man.

  • Miles: 109.7
  • kWh: 42.6
  • Wh/mi:  344
  • Cushion: 96 miles


2013 Tesla Model S in Florida, during New York to Florida road trip [photo: David Noland]


The light rain continues, which reminds me how much I hate the so-called “smart” wiper system, which is supposed to wipe automatically when the rain on the windshield reaches a certain intensity.

It seems to operate entirely at random, sometimes wiping constantly in the barest of sprinkles, and on other occasions letting the water build up to semi-opaque levels. I long for the old-fashioned manual intermittent settings.

On the other hand, I love the car’s Internet connection, which allows me to listen to my favorite radio station, WBGO in Newark (New Jersey, not Delaware) way down here. It’s especially nice to hear the temperature back home is 14 degrees.

I initially set a speed/cabin temp of 70 mph/70 degrees F.  I figure the leg is 175 miles, and I want a cushion of about 25 miles, so total “real” miles required will be 200.

With a rated range of 250, I need the rated range discount to be no more than 20 percent.  From previous experience, I’ve learned that at 75 mph, the discount is more like 30 percent. So I try 70 mph.

Once consumption settles down, I do my now-standard comparison of rated mileage decay vs real mileage traveled, and find it’s right at 20 percent. Seventy should do it.

But the temperature begins to climb, allowing me to gradually bump up the speed. I finish strong at 75 mph with 58 miles remaining. Temp at St. Augustine is 61 degrees.


2013 Tesla Model S in Florida, during New York to Florida road trip [photo: David Noland]2013 Tesla Model S in Florida, during New York to Florida road trip [photo: David Noland]

The St.Augustine Supercharger is the most pleasant setting of any I’ve seen so far: in a high-end mall, shaded by trees, next to a small lake.

It’s also the first Supercharger I’ve visited that had another Tesla charging, a blue 85-kWh model with Pennsylvania plates.

The owner also hit the Newark Supercharger first and worked his way down, as I did–but he’s been here several days already.

So my hopes of being the very first East Coast Supercharger traveler from New York to Florida have just been snuffed out.

  • Miles: 171.3
  • kWh: 56.9
  • Wh/mi: 332
  • Cushion:  58 miles


After a brief lunch in the mall food court (which is surprisingly low-end considering its lush setting), I set out toward Tesla’s next  link in the East Coast Supercharger chain, in Port Orange, Florida–just 63 miles down I-95.

My old pilot buddy Robin and his wife Rosie live in Ormond Beach, about 15 miles short of the Port Orange Supercharger, so I pull in at their house for the night without charging up.

I let Robin, a former race car driver, take a spin in the Tesla, and he plugs me in to his 120v house current overnight. I’m hoping to pick up 60 miles, enough to get me to the final link in the East Coast Supercharger chain, at Port St. Lucie, and then 20 miles to see my childhood pest pal in Stuart.

We’ll see.

via: Green Car Reports

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Written by Lewis Shaw

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