Range Anxiety in a Tesla?!


We Tesla drivers are so spoiled! 😉 Not only do our cars have a range of around 400km on a single, full charge, Tesla Motors is also setting up a fast-charger network for us, the so called ‘Superchargers’, which let you charge at a speed of up to 600km/hr. This means that most times you’re topping up your charge, you don’t have enough time to finish your coffee before the car is ready to go. We enjoyed both of these aspects of driving an electric car immensely on our 15,000km round trip from Victoria BC to Florida and back. It made that trip fun and super-easy.

Charging in Comox 3

Enough space for us to pull in with trailer at Vancouver Island Visitor Centre – Comox Valley

What a rude awakening we suffered on our test-run last week, going up North on Vancouver Island! Both of those ‘luxury items’ were suddenly taken away from us. Why? Because we we were towing a camping trailer with our Tesla Model X the 265km from Victoria BC to Campbell River and back. How? Because towing a camping trailer pretty much cuts our range down by 50%; and because Vancouver Island doesn’t have any Superchargers (yet).

So, this is what happened: We left Victoria BC around 9:30am and mostly stayed slightly below the speed limit to help extend our range. Got some enthusiastic thumbs-ups and cheering comments from some of the drivers passing us! Thanks, guys! When we reached Nanaimo, we plugged into a 30Amps/208V charger while we were having lunch. We got about 24km/hr (no trailer) or 12km/hr (with trailer) out of that one. Ohoh…that’s about 575km/hr (no trailer) less than what we are used to…! Could we make it all the way to Campbell River with our rather small top-up? Short answer: probably not. Therefore, we stopped again at the Vancouver Island Visitor Centre in Comox. Pretty nice place! Kye loved his dip in the little pond, though that was not part of my plan 😉 Anyway, the one charger was available and we plugged in, started charging at 24km/12km/hr (without/with trailer) and went for a walk. Since it was getting late, our friends and relatives were waiting for us already, we got restless, so we left pretty quickly, giving up on the super-slow charger. Rolf knew there was a destination charger close by, the Wayward Distillation House in Courtney BC, one that could potentially give us a charge of up to 80km/hr, limited by our on-board charger to a maximum of 72km/hr (no trailer). In the end, we charged at 40km/hr. Keep in mind, us pulling a trailer cut that number in half!

Wayward Distillation House

Charging while enjoying a tour and tasting at Wayward Distillation House in Courtney BC

What a great time we had at the Wayward Distillation House! They don’t only have a Tesla wall charger, referred to as ‘destination charger’ since it was put up by a company that supports Tesla drivers visiting their ‘destination’, they also have a regular charger. We got a free tour of their distillery, tasted some espresso & cacao bean liqueur (and ended up buying some, of course! ;-)…) and even met somebody from Royston Roasting Co. & Coffee House, the company that provides the coffee for that particular liqueur. Such ‘spirited’ people! Your honey based vodka and gin rocks. 😉 Thank you, guys, we had a blast, our dog Kye included. No drinks for him, though! 🙂 Thanks for supporting electric cars by providing charging stations!

In the end, we skipped Campbell River and drove directly to Black Creek, Rolf’s brother’s place, which was closer. I cancelled my appointment with my dear friend Lynda, the ‘lady in waiting’ of the Victoria Day Parade, though luckily she came by and we did have a little chat. Not as much as I had hoped for, though. All because it took us so much longer to get to our destination.

Charging in Comox

‘Heart of Gold’ charging

I have to admit that we felt pressed for time for most of this trip. That was just because we knew that people were waiting for us. It’ll be different on our 3-months trip, which started last Saturday. (I will post about our great Send-off from Mile Zero in Victoria BC soon!) We will rarely have people waiting, or if they do, then it will be something we set up last minute at a time when we have way more experience with what it takes to drive an electric car with camping trailer across the continent. This is good, because it’ll make our trip more relaxed and enjoyable.

That said, I firmly believe that a long range and a fast-charging network should not be ‘luxury items’. Both aspects should be available to any and all electric car drivers, be it the Nissan Leaf, Kia Soul, eSmart, … you name it. Tesla Motors has opened up their patents. And they are willing to share their Supercharger network with other car manufacturers. For a price, of course, because they had to pay for it, too. So far, I haven’t heard any news that any of the other car companies are even considering joing Tesla Motors. I hope it’s not a question of pride that keeps them from doing so, some ‘not invented here’ misplaced attitude. It’s high time for the car manufacturers to unite to work together on the best possible system. It’s nice and dandy to stay local and be able to sufficiently charge in your own garage. But once you want to get out there, enjoy the freedom of travelling the country, you’re hooped. Though you know I’m biased, show me a better system than Tesla Motors’, one that let’s you drive further and charge faster. If you can’t, then you know what that means. Time for other car manufacturers and charging companies to admit it and jump on board.

Rolf will put a video together about our test drive, when he finds the time, which will then also feature Wayward Distillation House, of course. At this point, he’s working on the video of our Send-off. As it’s only the two of us doing it all, we’re often pressed for time. But we try our best, so stay tuned!

Charging in Comox 2

Slow-Charging at Vancouver Island Visitor Centre – Comox Valley

16 thoughts on “Range Anxiety in a Tesla?!

  1. Thanks for the post and info. We have been planning a trip through the USA in our 90D X (and thinking about the Safari Condo you have or an Airstream Bambi as our trailer) and have been awaiting reports about the effect of trailering on the range of the X.
    We also recently took our first trip in the X itself and loved the Supercharger experience, but not all areas we want to visit have Superchargers, so your reports on what it is like to travel without them are valuable to us.
    Thanks for your commitment to a sustainable future. Jim


    • Thanks, Jim. Yes, Supercharger-travel is a great experience! We also loved the AutoSteer. Made long-range travel so relaxing! The Superchargers will sure make your trip much easier, for the other chargers you have to bring lots of extra time. You are aware of Tesla’s plans to double the number of Superchargers and quadruple the number of destination chargers worldwide by end of 2017, right? (See Model 3 Unveil Event https://youtu.be/Q4VGQPk2Dl8 at 13:50min)
      We’re glad we didn’t go for a heavier trailer. Not sure what the Airstream Bambi would weigh. Also, we think that the retractable roof on the Alto is a huge advantage. The trailer is quite small when the roof is down. We’ll see how annoying the detaching and reattaching of the trailer will become 😉 The first few times didn’t seem to be a big deal. We’ll keep posting about it. Good luck with your travels!


  2. How charging will work at superchargers with the trailer is what I’m waiting the hear about! Having seen some negative posts recently about someone with a bike rack on their X parking ‘creatively’ to charge, a trailer is going to be more challenging. Something that Tesla needs to consider as they build out the supercharger network… not everyone will be driving a vehicle without a rear bike rack or trailer attached! Especially since the hitch and rack are both OEM equipment!


    • So far, we parked the trailer, detached it, then charged the car, reattached the trailer and continued on. Since we haven’t gone far yet 😉 (we’re still in Vancouver enjoying a visit with family), that process hasn’t become too annoying yet. We will take a video and write about what it’s like to do it several times daily. And any challenges we might run into. We’ll continue our travels on Thursday, so stay tuned. It sure is a topic we will cover.


        • We will be in Kamloops on Thursday, June 16, late afternoon/early evening. We would be excited to meet with you!
          As much as I wish I could coordinate our travels with individuals, it has become more and more obvious that I won’t be able to do so. So sorry! My suggestion instead: Please check in with us on Facebook. I will post our whereabouts and the dates/places/times we hope to meet with people in the event section. Mind you, keeping arrival times accurate will be a challenge and I will have to update while on the go. So best to sign up for an event to receive automatic notifications of changes.
          I will post the Kamloops ‘event’ some time today. But, again, the actual time will be hard to estimate, so please be flexible and keep checking for updates. Thank you!


  3. I am interested to know a couple of statistics since you now have real world experience. Which size battery do you have? How much weight are you pulling (trailer) and how many km have you been able to get on a charge. If you have noticed what the wh/km average is over a certain number of km while towing that would also be interesting to know. It seems hard to find actual numbers on towing distance per kw of battery left from Tesla so hopefully your trip will give us some real insight into this. I understand that range also depends on a lot of factors including wind and elevation but I am looking to know in ideal conditions, what kind of range, on a level road one can expect towing a given amount of weight. Thanks and good luck with the Cross Canada trip. Perhaps we can meet up in Montreal. I am on the board of Club Tesla Quebec which is the local owners club in the province.


    • We only did one test-run so far and then drove to Vancouver, where we still are. Once we have more experience and more data, we’ll sure share that. At this point, all we can say is that range is reduced by about half to about 215km on a full charge with a camping trailer that weighs around 1900lbs. There’s more information to come!


    • Oh no, we did. But there were no CHAdeMO chargers! 😉 Well, almost none. We didn’t use the one in Nanaimo because it’s in an underground parking. Didn’t want to go there with the trailer. The other one in Duncan we tried to use the next day. Different story! 😉 We did get it to work in the end, but that took some time and outside help… 😉 We will use the CHAdeMO adapter extensively on our trip, I’m sure! 🙂


  4. Excellent, informative, well-balanced post. (I haven’t met you two yet; I’m a long-time friend of Andrew D’s, who told me about this. I didn’t know about your sendoff, so I missed it. Curses, Andrew 🙂 )

    I don’t think there’s anything biased in your post at all. There’s nothing wrong with saying Tesla has the best system going for charging stations– it’s true. Tesla has taken a big risk, and paved the way for others. Elon Musk is brilliantly doing what I’d like to see other large corporations do, but I won’t get into detail here. It’s just silly if the others don’t get on board. (This reminds me, I have to see the movie, “Who Killed the Electric Car”. Who was that, I wonder?)

    I also like the fact that your post is truthful here, rather than just trying to sugar-coat it. If there are challenges in your trip across Canada, we really want to hear it. Criticisms can only foster improvement and progress.

    I’m going to be driving possibly across Canada doing a book tour about my photo/historical story book, with slide show presentations about it, leaving Victoria soon. Not by electric though… I have no budget, just a little older truck and camper. How can I reach you by email? Also we should link up on Facebook. I may be able to meet up with you sometime, and would really like to. Camping somewhere maybe?

    Dion Manastyrski
    Ps. Peavy Mart has free charging stations… I think they call it Level two? Maybe the 30A/208V. I heard them on CBC radio, and they support this movement.


    • Thank you, Dion! Your comments made my day 😉 The easiest to follow us is via Facebook. You don’t need a Facebook account to do so, just go to http://www.facebook.com/teslax.canada.5. In the event section, we will often publish ahead of time where we will be for a meet-up. When on the road, we will also publish a link to our Glympse account where you can see our location in real-time. At this point, we know we’ll be in the Calgary/Red Deer area around June 28-July 1. We would love to meet with you! Thanks again!


      • Thanks Silke and Rolf, great to hear. I still haven’t left Victoria, and I won’t have a planned itinerary for much of my trip, so I’ll play it by ear and see if I can catch up with you sometime. Cheers! Dion


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