Tesla Road Trip 2016

Matthew DeBord/Business Insider

Let’s get charging!

This past summer, I drove my kids to camp in the Catskills. Our chariot for the journey was a Tesla.

And not just any Model S, but a P90D with Ludicrous Mode: the baddest, fastest, coolest Tesla in all the land. 

The idea was to see if this four-door luxury “family car” with supercar-beating acceleration — 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, claimed — could handle a journey of decent length (about 240 miles round trip) involving two adults, three kids, and the gear of a pair of campers for two weeks.

Quite a test, eh? And we decided to put the Model S through its charging paces. All of them — including some we didn’t expect!

Read on to learn about all the different ways you can rejuice this most famous of electric cars.

The pearl white Tesla, equipped with everything, landed in the driveway of our suburban New Jersey test car HQ.

It was a Model S, in P90D trim. The “P” for “performance,” the “90″ for the 90 kWh battery pack, and the “D” for a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive setup.

The trip would cover 117 miles, one-way.

The Model S when fully charged has 270 miles of range, enough to comfortably make the journey up and back. But we wanted to investigate the charging options along the way, so we didn’t top off before departing. Still, almost 200 miles of range! Plenty, right? My plan was to get to camp, then head over to a Tesla destination partner charging site, get enough juice to make a Supercharger station on the return route, and be home by early evening.

And away we go!

We arrive! But there’s just one issue …

I’ve screwed up my range calculations. We don’t have enough to make the closest partner charging station. The car was warning us of this, but we needed to get the boys dropped off on time. So we took a chance and ended up ALMOST RUNNING OUT OF GAS, er … ELECTRICITY!

There’s a cable in the trunk of every Tesla that enables you to charge on the fly. But there are no high-speed charging options up here in the middle of nowhere in the Catskills. So we had to resort to the slowest option, good old 120-volt, wall-socket-level re-juicing.

You plug into this small charging port at the left rear of the Model S.

Not exactly the most scenic location. We had to ask the camp maintenance staff to find us an outlet that we could use.

This one was down by a maintenance shed.

We are charging away …

… but we’ll be getting only 1 mile per hour of charging! That’s mega-slow.

A few hours, a few more miles in the battery, and we have enough to head back through the lovely scenery to find lodging — and charging — for the night.

The Blue Hill Lodge was nearby.

We retired to our quaint, blue-doored room.

And once again plugged into a basic outlet.

By the next morning, at a charging rate of 3 miles per hour, we have enough juice to make the closest charging location — a partner charging site.

Off we go!

The charger was located at the charming Inn at Lake Joseph.


We’re plugged in …

… and drawing power again.

But this time, we’re charging much faster. In a few hours, we’ll have enough power to get to the closest Supercharger location.

Tesla has set up these partner charging sites to provide relatively fast charging in more places and to fill in some of the Supercharger gaps. A Tesla vehicle can find them all using GPS and can calculate the state of its charge at all times so you never end up like unlucky, stupid me. Trust the car!

With 76 miles in the battery, we can comfortably get to the nearest Supercharger.

It’s about 50 miles away, in Newburgh, NY.

Finally! Superchargers!

This is gonna be MUCH FASTER CHARGING.

One hour on a Supercharger will get us a whopping 206 miles of range.

Bzzzzz … electrons in, at high velocity! Go Supercharger, go!

Cosimo’s restaurant is right there, and it’s time for lunch.


When we’ve finished eating, we have almost a full charge for what’s left of the drive.

Tesla makes it abundantly clear how charging its vehicles works. You can look it up … in the car! We explored three choices: 120V slow charging, destination partner charging at a faster rate, and Supercharging. And sure you can guess which is best.

Business Insider » Finance

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