Tesla CEO Elon Musk Will Drive Electric Model S From LA To NY

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Elon Musk signs new 2013 Tesla Model S at Tesla Store opening, Austin, Texas [photo: John Griswell]

Elon Musk signs new 2013 Tesla Model S at Tesla Store opening, Austin, Texas [photo: John Griswell]

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The problem with battery electric cars is that you can't take them on long trips, because they take so long to recharge.

Or so goes the common wisdom, anyhow.

Would a trip from Los Angeles to New York City in an electric car perhaps refute that statement?

That's the idea discussed by CEO Elon Musk at Tuesday's annual shareholder meeting of Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA].

Musk is planning to take a "personal road trip" from one coast to the other in a Tesla Model S, using the company's network of Supercharger quick-charging stations to recharge the battery en route.

The trip is, in part, a publicity stunt to demonstrate that Tesla's electric cars can in fact cover distances longer than their 208-mile and 265-mile rated ranges.

Today, the Supercharger system will recharge a Tesla Model S battery to 80 percent capacity in about 30 minutes.

A charging station upgrade to 120 kilowatts will cut that to about 20 minutes, which Musk said is the length of an average rest stop in a gasoline car.

Today, there are less than a dozen Supercharger stations, but Tesla has ambitious plans to expand its network.

By 2015, it says, it will have hundreds of Supercharger locations, totaling 2,000 to 3,000 individual charging ports.

Among the earlier installations will be a handful of coast-to-coast Interstate corridors.

Musk didn't specify his route, but Tesla has said that by the end of the year, it plans to open a cross-country passage of Supercharger locations, mostly via Interstate-80.

That route would stretch from San Francisco (the western terminus) through Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota, and onwards to New York City.

Musk's timing is simply "by the end of the year," though we wonder if a more southern route might not provide warmer climates, which allow more range from electric-car batteries than colder temperatures.

Tesla Road Trip from MD to CT, Feb 2013 - Tesla Model S cars at Delaware SuperCharger location

Tesla Road Trip from MD to CT, Feb 2013 - Tesla Model S cars at Delaware SuperCharger location

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We envision the trip consisting of a small flotilla of Model Ses, actually, since Musk said he plans to make the trip with his five kids.

As Musk is presently a divorced dad, we suspect there may be a nanny or two involved, traveling in one or more support vehicles.

Since every Supercharger location has several charging ports, that shouldn't be a problem.

Musk's trip via Supercharger quick-charging should actually be easier than a couple of previous coast-to-coast trips in Model S cars, one this past January and one the previous September.

Those trips involved using considerably less powerful 240-Volt Level 2 public charging stations and the adaptor to fit that charging cable to the Tesla's unique charging socket.


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Comments (20)
  1. It is nice that Musk would drive all that way just to meet up with Voelcker in NYC. :)

    But if it is really going to be coast to coast, Musk should come to visit me in Boston.

  2. Better he does it himself than risk some reporter doing another "Broder".

    Great publicity for the Supercharger network of course which is an important part of Tesla's marketing strategy.I have a feeling the MSM don't really pick up as much as they should on the fact that it's really free to use for life. It does sound rather incredible of course and maybe reporters just figure they misunderstood or there is some catch when Tesla tells them about this.

  3. So... for the sake of the kids more than anything, can we have at least one gas-powered support vehicle? Just in case something does happen I don't want to see them out of juice 20 miles away from the nearest charging station.

  4. No way. Elon Musk is a smart guy. I think he can do enough math to determine the amount of charge needed to get to the next Supercharger. They are spacing the Superchargers about 100-150 miles apart. That will be easy for the Model S to handle for range. 265 miles rated. If you drive efficiently, you can do over 300 miles per charge.

    If there is only 150 miles between Superchargers, he could drive stupid (75-80 mph) and still make it with plenty of energy to spare.

  5. @Ben - if you got that idea based on John Broder's NYT article, I really think I'm going to scream. Trust me, this is not going to be like traveling down the Amazon on a raft. The greatest risk will be to Elon having 5 boys in the car with him. Now THAT'S scary.

  6. i wonder if the announce a Tesla Station wagon after this trip or
    a Tesla Taxi with a plexiglass partition between the driver and passengers.

  7. greatest car in the world

  8. I wonder if the "support" vehicle might be a prototype model X...

  9. Tesla is out to prove to the naysayers that an EV can go cross country. For years all the pundits said that electric cars will at best be a marginal product and highly comprised toy of the very rich. I am looking forward to the unveiling of the 3rd Gen Tesla which will be marketed at the heart of the middle class. Tesla will at that time have in place the supercharger network which will allow you to drive from coast to coast if you wish while all other EV makers will be selling lame Polar bear hugging range compromised non stylish low functionality electrics cars that will allow you to drive as far as you want as long as it's with in the automakers agreed upon range of 75 miles. Tesla is out to change they way we get around.

  10. Maybe, but by the time Tesla has their 3rd gen car out I will likely have 100k miles on my short range EV.

  11. ...And I will be sending mine back end of lease!

  12. I wish them all success.

  13. Anyone would think they are traversing the tundra ! It's I-80 not, a vast wilderness. The car is truly amazing, of course it will perform superbly.

  14. That is true, but they would have to make sure there is a good Supercharger station somewhere in the middle of nowhere Nevada, especially after a long climb up through the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

  15. I won't doubt that he will do it...


  16. I think there are some misinformed assumptions in the article. I'm pretty sure he'll be driving the Model X, and will do it alone.
    Why the Model X? Due to be released end of year, and will need some promotion. It's an SUV, plenty of room for Musk + 5 kids (it seats 7) and their luggage (in the front trunk).

    He drives his kids to school so why should he need nanny's and a bunch of support cars? It's a roadtrip, not an expedition to an uncharted area.

  17. Dude this is Elon Musk, for all we know, it could be a preproduction Model X that is secretly up rated to 750 miles of range.

  18. Still - don't stray too far off the beaten path in your pure EV...the key to the future success of EV hardware will be the supporting software / app integration. I want to be able to enter my destination and have my app or onboard software plan my route taking into account ambient conditions (affecting range), charger locations, estimated charging times, charger availability and nearby amenities (can I smell the roses or grab a bite?) all interpolated from a desired arrival time at my destination. Forward thinking petroleum companies would do well to diversify into the solar collecting / rapid charger market. The infrastructure is there - it just needs an upgrade...

  19. I wish Elon all the luck with getting the Supercharger network running nationwide by the end of the year.

    We are in th final throws of planning for the www.AllElectricVehicleRally.org "BC2BC-2013", 1500 miles from Canada to Mexico, June 29 - July 7, 2013. There are 5-7 Superchargers that are exactly on our route, all scheduled to be operational by June 30. While we are t counting on that (and most of the participants don't have a Tesla Model S), it absolutely will help set an electric vehicle record if they are!!!

    Tweet: QCpower #BC2BC

  20. Almost forgot to add that "All Electric Vehicle Rally" will likely host a San Diego to Boston next summer... Details spring 2014.

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