3 things I learned on a rural Florida road trip in my Tesla Model 3
I recently drove from St. Petersburg, Fla., To Tallahassee, Fla., Then back in my Tesla Model 3. It’s a five hour drive each way, and this was my first real trip on the road. longer road in my EV. Here are three things I learned.
My usual warning when I write about our Tesla Model 3: This is my experience, not universal observation. I really want to hear about your own road trip experiences in the comments below.
How to plan a road trip
It was an easy lesson. For Tesla drivers, you already know how it works.
For those curious about Tesla, you type (or speak) the destination into the car’s navigation screen, and the car does the planning for you. I use navigation all the time in my country, so I know how long it will take me to get to my destination.
For the longer trip, not only did he give me the route, but he also told me where to stop to charge, how long we had to charge and how much range these charging stops would give me, so he there is no need for outreach anxiety.
Our journey took five hours on the road. We stopped at Superchargers in Pinellas Park, Crystal River and Perry, Florida. On the way back we loaded up at Tallahassee and skipped Pinellas Park on the way back.
The Pinellas Park Supercharger is next to a Wawa and has eight stands of 150 kW each, and is available 24/7.
The Crystal River Supercharger is also next to a Wawa, with eight stands of 250 kW each, and is available 24/7.
The Perry Supercharger has eight stands of 250 kW each and is available 24/7. It’s a truck stop, so there’s a huge parking lot, as well as a convenience store, gas station, and restaurant. There was not a lot of parking available for dinner which caused problems. More on that later.
The Tallahassee Supercharger is located at the Village Commons shopping center, which means it is next to a supermarket. There are six stands of 150 kW each, available 24/7.
There is no easy way to report Broken Superchargers
Tesla is able to remotely detect if the Supercharger stalls are having problems. If the chargers disconnect, Tesla is notified and the company sends technicians to fix them.
But here is the fault of this system: the remote monitoring cannot detect all problems.
In Tallahassee, I went to charge, and one of the metal pins on the connector was bent, rendering it unusable. In Crystal River, one of the Supercharger stands had clearly been moved back, as it looked a bit like the Leaning Tower of Pisa (below):
Still, the two were still online – I called Tesla and confirmed this with a customer service rep – so the company wasn’t aware they were down. The only Florida Superchargers that were offline that Tesla was aware of were in Miami Beach (which is a long way from where I drove).
I was clearly not going to try to manually bend this pin in Tallahassee, because hello, electricity. I wasn’t going to use the leaning tower stall either, as I didn’t trust it to be healthy.
When I got home, I searched the Tesla website for how to report Supercharger issues, and couldn’t find anything because there is no easy way to report broken Superchargers. You have to call Tesla and try to get the right person on the phone. It was tedious and tedious and very anti-Tesla.
Tesla is missing out on a very simple opportunity here to rectify this problem: create a “report supercharger issues” in their app (and website). Place, time and day, drop-down menu to report the problem, and you’re done. Because it is impossible for Tesla to detect the charging issues we encountered on our trip, they need their network of drivers ready to report them.
Not everyone likes Tesla … or Superchargers
Pinellas Park, Crystal River, Tallahassee: all simple and easy charging experiences, as one would hope. The Wawas were clean and offered a lot of amenities.
And we learned that, in a fun way, there were other Tesla drivers on the same road trip lane – both out and back – so we were all in some sort of convoy, jumping. from Supercharger to Supercharger. As we all loaded we were all exchanging information about our road trip experiences, the good places to stop and the not so good places to stop, which was very helpful as I learned a lot. A couple of drivers had even tripped on the road across the country. (Tip: Check with your hotels ahead of time to make sure their unique on-site chargers are working and available.)
And that brings me to the town of Perry, 7,000 people.
At first glance, Perry’s Supercharger destination looks OK. As I mentioned, it has a restaurant and a convenience store. But clearly, some residents of Perry aren’t thrilled with the Supercharger’s presence. Because on the way up and back, gasoline cars were parked in two or three charging bays, like this:
I had mixed feelings about this. For one thing, the restaurant was busy the two times we stopped, and despite the huge parking lot, there isn’t a lot of parking at this stop for people who want to eat out. However, would they have parked next to the gas pumps? I think it’s safe to say they wouldn’t.
Then we noticed something else.
Four “Tesla vehicle in charge only” signs had been stolen from their posts. And in their place, as well as on the signs that had not been vandalized, there were Trump stickers (below and in the main photo):
It would be safe to assume that someone in Perry wanted to send a message to Tesla drivers that they perceive the supercharger as a political threat, which is not only ridiculous, but also incredibly sad. Driving electric vehicles is not political, yet it is politicized.
I found myself feeling apprehensive when we approached Perry on our return visit, as the last thing I wanted to do was have someone move their gasoline van so I could charge. Luckily, I didn’t have to, but it’s bad that I felt that way.
The next day I called Roady’s Truck Stops, which runs the Perry site. Roady’s is the largest group of independent truck stops in the United States, and is based in Idaho. Their customer service rep was extremely friendly and proactive, and said he would speak to the manager of Supercharger Perry about the possibility of rectifying these issues quickly.
Maybe the manager could consider doing a little PR work with the residents of Perry on the benefits of having a Supercharger destination in their city, where he or she can also explain to people why it’s not cool. to park in a charging bay – their hostility is not only misguided, but also unfounded due to ignorance.
Read more: I just bought my very first Tesla. Here is what happened
All photos: Michelle Lewis
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