We arrived last night from our big Alps trip in the Tesla Model S. Awesome!
2815kms, 4 full days plus an evening and a morning, 3 big climbs (sea level to 1500m twice, and sea level to 2100m once), 2 snow storms requiring snow chains and 1 puncture!
I couldn’t post during the return trip due to very poor data coverage and very little spare time, so here is a summary of the main events:
We left at 7pm from the Alps in a snow storm that had started that afternoon. We had the classic metal snow chains on the car ready to go and took it easy going down the mountain in case they were damaging the car (they made a lot of noise). At about 1500m the snow had turned to rain so we took the chains off. The sound of escaping air from one wheel sounded ominous.
It rained heavily all the way to Grenoble where we stayed with good Italian/French friends and recharged in a regular 13A outlet.
The suspicions of a slow puncture at the start of the trip were justified – we had a flat rear right tyre. On these trips with slow drives and long recharge stops there isn’t much time for changes to the plan but we had to make a 1 hour stop in the Grenoble “Speedy” store to get the puncture repaired – it was a screw stuck right in the centre of the tread.
So by the time we arrived at Montpellier IKEA it was 3pm. The charge point there still was not working so we asked permission to use the same Red 32A 5-pin outlet as before. This worked excellently and by 8pm we were on the road again.
This next stage was a worry however. We had a full charge and it was only 306kms to the Parador at Seu d’Urgell but it involved a 1500m climb and a heavy storm was brewing all around the mountains. I figured we should make a detour after 100kms to a 22kW charge point on the coast that the “Charge Map” app said was “Verified”. It had photos of the charge point so as long as it worked we would be able to go up the mountains with plenty of charge.
So when we arrived at the port town of Gruissan with a gale blowing (not like in the photo) we went to the exact location of the charge point…. and found nothing!
We then spent the next hour and a half running around the stormy town showing the picture to the locals in case it was somewhere else. By 11.30pm we had concluded that the photo was staged and that they hadn’t actually installed the device. Why they did this and why app says “Verified” is perplexing, and caused is a lot of hassle frankly. I appreciate the charge points Nissan are installing but would ask that they don’t post false photos or say things are verified if they aren’t. It destroys Charge Map’s credibility for me at least.
So we had to do the climb with the charge we had (having lost 30kms with this detour).
At 2am we closed in on the 1500m mountain pass, a few kms from Andorra. The snow got heavy, the temperature went negative and, as we were the only car doing the climb, the road got whiter and whiter. The ramps and hairpins are steep on that pass but the Model S with 21″ summer tyres handled it excellently.
Not wanting to take too many chances I figured it was time to stop and put the snow socks on the rear wheels (easier and quicker to fit).
Also by this stage we had about 70kms to go and about 50kms of Rated (Ideal) range left!
It wasn’t as bad as it looked however. The Parador is at about 650m altitude so as we dropped down we gained range back. I took off the snow socks, drove steadily and by about 3am we had arrived with 1km of battery left.
Once in the Parador everything was fantastic. The car was charging in the underground car park, and we could get a good rest.
The drive on Sunday was comparatively straight-forward. We drove down to Zaragoza as planned, charged in the Hotel Rein Petronilas at 22kW, spent the day in the city centre, and then drove back to Madrid with no major issues.
Conclusions for this trip for me are:
1. Big trips with heavy loads (we had both trunk and frunk full plus the 5 of us) are not much different to regular trips, even where there are climbs.
2. Trips must be planned well and no stage should be longer than 340kms. 300kms is a better limit.
3. Charge points must be verified by other drivers or you are likely to have a surprise.
4. If the charge points are 22kW don’t try to do more than 600kms per day and count on a long lunch stop where you will want to do something for a few hours.
5. Snow and mountain passes are no problem for the Model S as long as you keep about 7kms of Rated Range per 100m of climbing
6. Next year we hope there will be Superchargers between Madrid – Barcelona – Montpellier – Valence and maybe even Lyon which will allow us to go as fast as other traffic and do the trip in 2 days with no worries.