Putting the Tesla to the long-distance test

JUNE 18, 2019 – I have taken the Tesla around the Bismarck/Mandan area a number of times, but I had never taken it for an extended trip out of town. Last weekend was my first adventure in doing so, as my husband and I headed to Fargo.

We left from the Lignite Energy Council office with 293 miles estimated battery life, which is pretty much the maximum charge.  The trip from the LEC parking lot to our destination charging station at Sanford Medical Center is 181 miles. There are a couple of charging stations along the way in Jamestown that we could utilize if need be, but we figured we had plenty of charge to get to Fargo without stopping.

However, as we headed east, the wind started to pick up and reached gusts between 35 and 50 miles per hour the entire time. Fortunately, the wind was mostly hitting us from the south so we weren’t going directly into it. At times it shifted to a south-southeast wind, which made things more difficult and a little unnerving as we watched the battery life diminish quicker than expected. I kept the cruise control at 70 rather than the speed limit of 75 and that seemed to help preserve the battery, but it was hard to tell because of the varying levels of wind. We did notice significant road and wind noise as well, but again, it was most likely due to the wind force we were up against.

I maintained a pretty steady speed until it came time to pass semi-trucks or high profile vehicles. The wind caused those larger vehicles a lot of swaying and fishtailing. It made me very hesitant and nervous to pass, so timing and getting around them quickly was important. I timed it carefully, accelerated, and blew right past them. That is when I especially appreciated the instantaneous rush of speed you get with the Tesla.

We made it to the Sanford parking lot without any problems and had 51 miles left to spare on the battery life. The Tesla charged overnight and reached 273 charging capacity. I guess there is an over-ride setting that can be selected for charging in prep for long distance, but I wasn’t aware of it at the time.

The morning of our trip back to Bismarck, the weather was still very rainy and windy – this time coming from the west, so we knew we’d be heading right into it on our way back. Given that fact, we wanted to make sure we had the very maximum charge we could, so we drove a few miles down the road to the supercharger in Moorhead, MN. It is located near several restaurants, so were we able to have breakfast while we waited. It only took about 20 minutes and we were back up to a full charge at 289 miles.

Despite the rain, wind, and not ideal driving conditions, the Tesla handled great and we made it back to Bismarck without stopping and with 41 miles left on the battery life.

The “Powered by Coal” window wrap seemed to get added attention. There were heads turning as cars passed by, or I passed other cars, and while in Fargo it sparked some conversation as well. It was a really good opportunity to share with others (that are outside Coal Country) how coal equates to electricity in our region and therefore the Tesla is powered by coal.

Shari Meissner

Communications Specialist


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