Do new Tesla owners suffer from ‘range anxiety’?

Exploring range anxiety with the Tesla Model S

Range concern is the most common thing most people think about when considering purchase of an all-electric vehicle for the first time. This is no different even among people who don’t intend on buying an EV as made evident when discussing my Tesla Model S purchase with friends and family; range is always the first question I get asked.

I drive a lot and average 100 miles per day with peak driving as high as 175 miles in a given day. Luckily with the 85 kWh Model S, rated at 265 miles, I can easily achieve my normal driving without much concern. Tesla recommends charging to less than 100% on a daily basis, but even at a 90% state of charge, I’m still getting nearly 239 miles of range.

Driving in cold weather could consume up to 25% more in energy due to battery warming and in-cabin heating. There are strategies that can help with maximizing range by warming up the vehicle while it’s still plugged in and driving at a slower rate of speed to reduce energy consumption  wind resistance.

“as a brand new Model S owner … I have all sorts of range anxiety”

Long trips on the other hand are a whole different story. I’m well aware of the fact that the Tesla Model S is capable of cross-country journeys using nothing but the Tesla Superchargers, but as a brand new Model S owner and not knowing what to expect, I have all sorts of range anxiety.

I take family trips several times a year and visit central NJ and western PA from my home town in Massachusetts. At either end of those trips, I won’t have have access to any charging infrastructure other than my family’s standard 110v home outlet. I’ve been inspired by the epic 12,000 mile trip taken by the Recargo folks and know that there are a few superchargers along the NJ route which I’m excited about using.

Tesla Road Trip Eliminates Range Anxiety

My PA trip along US route 80 will be the ultimate range test since there’s zero superchargers along my path. Even gas stations are few and far between and it’s highly unlikely that there will be EV charging solutions along the way. I could potentially alter my route and take a longer path that has guaranteed EV charging access, but the point is, I have to plan and think a lot more now before embarking on long road trips. The temptation to skip the Tesla and use one of my other ICE vehicles for long road trips will always be there, but that’s just a behavioral shift that I’ll need to get used to. I also see it as an exciting adventure and challenge that I can’t wait to take one day.

The greatest fear is when you make a poor judgment call and things don’t work out, leaving you on the side of the road with a dead vehicle. In a gas car, the solution’s easy; call a friend or AAA and have them bring you some gas in a jug. In an EV, it may mean an expensive tow trip or perhaps a long and embarrassing wait at the charging station. There’s unfortunately no “quick fill” or “top off” options when you’re on the side of a road with an EV that’s out of juice.

I’m used to driving with a lot of buffer in my gas tank and I fill up well before I even reach my 1/4 tank mark. With the Tesla Model S I’ll need to really study my driving habits and understand all impacts on range before I become comfortable driving with a low number of miles left on the charge. Until then I will have some range anxiety.


Photo Credit: Recargo

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