You hear it all the time – can’t go anywhere in an EV, they’ll never work in Australia, takes too long to charge. However, last week I drove 1635km in a single day in my Tesla. Yes that’s right naysayers: 1015 miles.
Tesla’s expanding supercharger network opened another charger recently in Cooma, NSW, opening up the Snowy Mountains. Given I’d charged at every Tesla supercharger in the country I thought I’d whip down the road and check out Cooma. The plan was to leave home in Creswick, Vic, head over to Euroa supercharger for a quick stop, then on to Wodonga for a full charge and then head the 310km across the top of the Snowy’s and in to Cooma. About 600km all up. Then reverse the route the next day and head home.
So around 10-00am I headed off. Around three hours later I found myself in Wodonga with an hour to kill as the car was being fully charged for the mountains (driving over mountains and freezing temperatures do eat into your range). A quick pop into the local police station to check road conditions brought some bad news – it was snowing up high and chains were being fitted. Hmmm, what to do. Being a 4wd meant I didn’t legally need to fit chains in NSW; however, the thought of wrestling a 2100kg car on ice was not very appealing (yeah, I’m a wuss). So it was head to Cooma via Tumut or head home. So north I drove. Given the distance from Wodonga to Cooma via Tumut is nearly 400km and over that mountain range, I decided I’d play it safe and head a little further into Gundagai where I could hop on a supercharger again. Then it was on to Cooma where I arrived at around 8-00pm.
The plan was to spend the night at Cooma and head into Thredbo the next day and then back home. A check of the weather app brought more unappealing news – more snow fall and potential white-outs. Bugger. So I decided I’d head into Canberra for the night. Arriving in Canberra around 10-30 and all I see are ‘no vacancy’ signs. Still feeling quite alert I decided I’d continue on to Yass – same again, ‘no vacancy’ signs. So that was it, I continued on to Gundagai to charge up. This time I grabbed close to an hour’s sleep as the car charged – charging far more than necessary so I could get some kip. I did the same again at Wodonga and Euroa superchargers. After Euroa, with the sun starting to climb I decided not to head directly home to Creswick; instead, to avoid ‘roos and stay on better roads I went home via the freeways and the ring road, arriving around 9-30am.
By far the furthest I’ve driven in a day for a very long time! And I could not have done it were it not for the Autopilot doing almost all of the driving except some tighter bits on the Snowy Mountains Hwy. The reduction in concentration requirements means you don’t get anywhere near as tired.
The other advantage is ironically the need for charging. In a petrol car we tend to push on a bit because we have the range to do so. Unfortunately, this leads to fatigue and increases risk. In an EV you’ll stop every two hours or so for around 20 minutes, just like the road safety folk say you should. Getting out of the car, having a chat to other travelers, walking around, or having a snooze.
Without doubt, in my mind, a Tesla is the best and safest long-distance tourer on the market today, and with the expanding supercharger network the possibilities keep opening up.