Zero-Emission Road Trippers (ZERTs)
When we arrived in San Francisco, we were surprised to discover that there was not a single Tesla Supercharger in the North (San Francisco) Bay (neither San Francisco, nor Berkeley, nor Alameda, nor Oakland). However, according to the map, many are “coming soon.” Currently, the nearest to the North is in Petaluma, the nearest to the East is in Concord (Northeast) or Dublin (Southeast) and the nearest to the South is in San Mateo. There are other public charging networks we could use, however.
Long-distance, interstate electric road tripping did not become a thing until Tesla launched the Model S and its international network of fast-charging Superchargers. Tesla has completely disrupted the auto industry and since then, consumer demand for zero-emission Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) has auto manufacturers from Munich to Detroit in a tizzy, being dragged kicking and screaming into high-capacity electric motoring. Consumers want BEVs to be able to go anywhere.
For zero-emission road trippers (ZERTs) like us, range (how far one can travel on a fully charged battery) and charge rate (how fast the car charges from zero to 80%) are key factors in determining the ability to do-the-route in a time-efficient manner.
For a comparative list of BEVs currently on the market, see: The Electric Vehicle List.
For charging, there are generally four levels of chargers (three levels for public charging and Tesla’s proprietary Supercharger network):
- Level 1 chargers are standard 120V outlets like what you would find at home. These are the slowest at 8 to 15 hours for a full charge from an empty battery, giving you time to play a round of golf (up to 18 holes) and sleep overnight before you are on your way the next morning—obviously not recommended for a long day of driving.
- Level 2 chargers are most commonly SAE J1772 connectors a.k.a. “J Plug,” but also can be NEMA 14-50 (found at RV centers such as KOA Campgrounds). These can be used with an adaptor. These will charge a standard 30 kWh EV battery in 4 hours, perfect for lunch and perhaps a movie on the road or overnight at a hotel or campground.
- Level 2 Tesla HPWC Chargers (available in a variety of kWh) are found at Tesla Destination Charging locations, primarily at hotels where one can spend the night.
- Level 3 Fast Chargers are known by CHADdeMO and DCFC. They charge typically at 40 miles of range for every 10 minutes until 80% is reached, at which point it slows considerably. Level 3 is the standard for long-distance road trips. So, depending on your range, you will have time for a snack or lunch.
- Tesla Superchargers charge Tesla Model S, Model X and Model 3 to 80% in 30 minutes, at which point it slows significantly, just enough time for a cup of coffee and a bathroom break and longer if you wish to stop for lunch.
A Note about Tesla Superchargers: Tesla Superchargers are proprietary and will only charge registered Tesla vehicles. Furthermore, there are usually sufficient Tesla Superchargers to get you where you want to go in a series of 80% or less charges to keep you moving. Each Tesla’s onboard mapping system knows where the Superchargers are and how many of the chargers are available at a particular time and so will route you to the appropriate Supercharger and let you know how long to charge to get you to your destination most efficiently and most expediently. A smart phone app will notify you when your Tesla is sufficiently charged to be on your way.
For complete charging information and public charging networks, see: Electric Vehicle Charging Guide