Tesla 3600 mile road trip

I recently went on a 3600+ mile road trip in my long range (310 mile) Model 3.
I collected lots of charging stats for my neighbor who wants to get an EV but is worried about charger availability and time to charge.

To make it interesting I chose to drive to Montana, reportedly the 3rd worst state in terms of chargers per highway mile in the US (behind the Dakotas). Not true, I actually chose this charger desert because of a long planned family reunion the week around July 4.
It wasn’t meant to be a race…we went to numerous places on the way there and back besides the week of family activities.

Hopefully this helps people better understand how battery range and fast DC charging work today for Tesla owners and how other EV brands will in a few years.

In total I went 3658 miles (Bay area to Glacier Nat’l Park then to other Montana cities and back) with stops in Reno and Lake Tahoe on the way there and back.
Driving straight through it would be about 3010 miles…so about 650 miles of side trips.

Superchargers (~55% of miles)

  • 20 stops averaging 17 min; 13 min if I exclude charging during lunch and end of the day stops
  • $193 for 568 kwh
  • Only 3 of the 20 Superchargers were v3 (250 kw) the rest were V2 (150 kw)
    This really doesn’t matter much. Except for lunch breaks, I only waited after a bio break 2 or 3 times for 3 or 4 minutes before leaving

Free hotel destination chargers (~45% of miles)

  • I stayed 6 nights at various Marriott’s with free Tesla destination chargers
    These were all chosen as “free” hotels due to reward points accumulated during COVID
  • two nights at a cabin in Coram (near Kalispell just outside West Glacier) with free Tesla chargers.
    This resort allows reserving their chargers on their web site for $5/hr;
    However, as I drove into the general store parking lot I was directed to the free charger before I had stopped my car and they didn’t yet know I had a cabin reservation.
  • 4 nights in the charger desert of central Montana with family – the hotel had nine 120v outlets for block heaters that they allow for EVs. I saw one other Tesla charging.

Gas comparison
I didn’t pay a lot of attention to gas prices…you just tune it out after driving an EV for a few years.
But checking websites later the price was about $4.25 in Nevada and Idaho and $3.90 in Montana.
So gas would have cost about $500 to $600 in a 30 mpg or 25 mpg gas car.
Paying for all charging would have added ~$160 at the Tesla SC rates ($0.33 to $0.36 were common)
Thus $353 vs $500-$600 or about 30-40% less.

Charger availability
All chargers I stopped at were fully working except one of the two chargers at a Reno hotel was broken.
There were plenty of Superchargers nearby just in case.

One Supercharger location with 8 chargers had half turned off – there was a Tesla worker there doing preventative maintenance. He was inspecting the control cabinets and each individual charger station…he even had a leaf blower to clean out the dust.
I charged for 30 minutes while having lunch and had to hurry back at 30 minutes because there was a sign that said 30 minute limit. He said they don’t really enforce that (with idle fees) unless it is busy. After I unplugged he switched and started cleaning the other 4 chargers and cabinet.

Most locations had 8 charging stalls. Typically I saw 0, 1 or 2 other cars charging. Average = 2.1
One location had 6 stalls all full and I had to wait 15 minutes. There was not a 30 minute limit sign and I suspect some were eating nearby. Another car arrived 10 min after me and only had to wait six minutes because two cars finished about the same time. Five minutes later two more cars finished so it was just bad luck that I had to wait. It was afternoon rush hour and it took 10 minutes to drive 2 miles to a grocery store after charging.
Note: To put wait times in perspective I had to wait for road maintenance 4 or 5 times for 10-15 minutes each time while traffic narrowed to a single lane. And in Glacier NP six or seven miles of road was completely dug up in both directions and driving was <20 mph on gravel.

Miles per day
The longest driving day (in miles not hours): 560 miles.
Three Supercharger stops of 15, 17 and 10 min (including one quick lunch)
I started the day with 268 miles, ended with 103 so I could have charged less since I arrived at a hotel with 3 open Tesla destination chargers.
My backup plan: A supercharger across the street (that was just checked/maintained a week before)
Next longest day: 510 miles

I carefully used the FSD beta 80-90% of the time, no real problems.
I did have GPS Nav issues a couple of times. There was lots of Interstate road maintenance in Nevada, Idaho and Montana.
For example the southbound lanes were closed for paving and both north and south were on the north side, one lane each way with orange poles (delineators) between lanes. Since the north and south lanes were 100-200 ft apart the GPS-Nav kept wanting me to turn off somewhere to get back to the correct lane. It even made up non-existent exits to get turned around on.
The FSD just ignored this and kept on the coned off detour.

Speed and efficiency
Overall driving and efficiency: 251 watt-hrs/mile…or 3.98 m/kwh (I normally get about 210 wh/m around home) This is much better than I thought it would be because the speed limit for >50% of the time was 80 mph and at least 70 mph for most of the rest. The range decrease isn’t surprising since gas cars suffer from the same physics and the A/C was on a lot (mostly highs of upper 80s and 90s and 100F a couple days). And I may have been using 80 mph as a guideline, not a limit. I did find out that FSD won’t allow a setpoint >85 mph.

If I compared miles charged with actual miles driven I was getting ~20% less than the indicated battery number (actually 79.2%) My battery (when new) had a max range of 310 miles so at these speeds you might expect 248 miles. I only did a “full” charge twice on this trip. Once it showed 293 miles and once 299 miles…not bad for a 5 year old battery with 45k miles on it.

Four times I arrived at a Supercharger with only 30-40 miles remaining. 13 times I had 50-99 miles remaining. So I was playing it quite safe. Or put another way, I could have charged up a few minutes less in most case and saved time. This would have been a net time gain since charging an extra 10 or 20 miles with 225+ miles (for example) is much slower than charging them at 20 or 40 miles remaining. Maybe 5x slower. IOW instead of a 20 min charge followed by 10 minutes then on to a hotel I could have done 15 min, 11 min then to a hotel.
But when you are sitting in 90F heat (A/C on) and thinking about potential construction delays 150 miles away you tend to accept the Tesla suggested charge times before continuing to be conservative.
The Tesla energy prediction screen is quite accurate, taking into account distance, speed limit, elevation changes, heating/cooling, battery conditioning, wind speed/direction and other. It even gives you hints and how much they would improve your range. It was always within about 3 or 4%. This is the first time I have used this feature extensively.

In Nevada there are plenty of chargers on I-80 and I only stopped at less than half of them. But in Idaho and Montana I stopped at almost all of them on the route. They are currently building a SC in Kalispell so going to Glacier NP will be much easier very soon.

Still not bad for the #3 (Montana) and #6 (Idaho) worst states for charger density in these early years for EVs.

Maybe next year I’ll try South Dakota (I’ve never been to Mt Rushmore or the Badlands)



Thanks for the first person report. How far away from interstates or major US or state highways did your trip take you? I am asking because a lot of our trips are on minor highways or even county roads.

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It took me one stop at a supercharger to fix my range anxiety. (Which wasn’t much to begin with, as my potential EV usage would have me charging at home about 99% of the time.)

My brother was going to take my son to my brother’s weekly softball game. However, he was driving in from Las Vegas, so I met him at the ball field where we swapped cars. He arrived with about a 6% charge left, so I had to stop at a nearby supercharger. He told me to charge for about 10 minutes or so and that would be plenty.

I did have to wait for a couple minutes to get to a charger. The SC stations around us are always busy, and every time I turn around it seems like another has popped up or an existing one has been expanded. Our area is the opposite of a charging desert.

Anyway, the car was up to perhaps 50% or so in those 10 minutes. But during that time, my brother also called me to let me know two things. The game was cancelled and he left his wallet in his Tesla. So I just sat there for another few minutes letting the car continue to charge while I waited for him to retrieve his wallet. In all, it had between 15 and 20 minutes of charge time and got up to almost 70% in that time.

I’ve come to learn this is right in the sweet spot of charging speed. After getting to that charge level, charging would slow considerably. While it’s not as fast as filling up with liquid fuel, it’s plenty fast for most travel needs.

What annoys me about Tesla fanbois is when they try to twist things to say charging is faster than fueling. They do that by saying you can do something else while charging. That is true, but it doesn’t fool anyone. We all know you’ve got to leave the car plugged in noticeably longer than it takes to fill a tank with processed ancient plants. Far better to deal with actual facts - yes, it’s longer, but not a disastrous amount longer.

As long as you can access fast charging.



All through Glacier on the going-to-the-sun road we were 50-100 miles away from I90 for 2 days.
But we drove almost 500 miles to and around Glacier without seeing an Interstate or Tesla Supercharger.
And then we were 100+ miles away from any charger or Interstate for 4 days (charging with 120v) while driving 350 miles between real chargers.
(I had called the hotel to verify we could use 120v to charge and there were some RV parks as a backup plan)



Do they have something posted to the SC that tells you when it was last maintained?

Thanks very much for your detailed report. When I had seen a couple of Tesla’s on the UP last year (one from LA and one from AZ), I was wondering how the charging infrastructure was doing. They clearly had no anxiety.


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No. This was the charger I had been at a week earlier where I talked to the maintenance guy.
I should have asked how often he checks each charger. I also saw someone at a station a year ago


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Ridiculous! It’s so obviously not faster. An individual EV “filling”, let’s say to add 250 miles of range, at a DC fast charger, takes at least 6 times as long (and likely close to 10 times as long because charging slows down as the battery fills) as refueling an ICE with gasoline. It’s so obviously a false statement. But a true statement would be, that most people who charge at home regularly 95+% of the time, will spend less time over the entire year “refueling” their EV than an ICE can would spend refueling (pretty obvious, since you just park in your normal spot, and spend 5 seconds plugging in).


Outstanding, detailed report! You could consider posting this on r/teslalounge or teslamotorsclub to keep beating back the FUD. This is the best information I’ve ever seen posted online. Well done!



The Captain

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 fully charged!

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