Tesla Owner Recalls Trip to Yosemite Park, The Never Ending Search for a Charging Outlet


2009 Tesla Roadster         Photo Credit: Rex Roy

2009 Tesla Roadster Photo Credit: Rex Roy

As EVs begin to hit our roads, the questions remain.  Will the charging infrastructure be in place to support such a vehicle?  Without a charging infrastructure, will owners be willing to make certain sacrifices such as hunting down suitable outlet to receive a charge, or sidetracking from their trip to the nearest plug?  An interesting story has been posted over at Tesla's website describing one man's quest to reach Yosemite Park in his Roadster and the hurdles he had to overcome along the way.

What started out as a weekend trip to Yosemite Park for Tesla Roadster owner Bill Arnett, turned into a seemingly unending quest to find that hidden, rare treasure, a 240 volt charging outlet.

Bill Arnett said he made the decision to buy the Roadster was based on a schematic shown by Tesla that outlined how he could travel from his home in the Bay Area to Yosemite National Park on a single charge.  Turns out, that would be as the crow flies and not as the road winds and only if Arnett was willing to push the Tesla to its last drop of juice.  The trip would come in around the 244 mile rating given to the Roadster by the EPA.

Rather than chance running out of juice, Arnett embarked on an even longer quest to Yosemite taking side trips to the nearest charging outlet.  Initially he sought a route that would take him from his house in Redwood City to Yosemite Village.  At a length of 199 miles, this trek would be longer than he had accomplished on a single charge before and included mountainous areas along the way.  Not willing to chance this, Arnett looked for other ways to reach Yosemite.

His new path put him in route for a charging area in Groveland at a local RV park.  At 150 miles, surely he could make it, but Arnett lacked the confidence needed to try for this far off place and instead planned another route.  Now he would set out for San Ramon.  He confirmed that a 240 volt charging outlet was available and headed off to this area on the outskirts on San Francisco.  The San Ramon Conference Center was his first stop and to his delight, a 240 volt 70 amp charger was waiting for him outside of the building.

Now he could head on back to Groveland, now only 120 miles away with his Tesla freshly juiced up.  He was on his way.  He used up considerable juice getting to Groveland, consuming the equivalent of 209 miles of his range to travel just 120 miles, but he arrived at his next charging location.

Arnett called ahead to secure his charge spot at Yosemite Pines RV Resort.  He plugged in for awhile and gratuitously paid $20 to the attendant for their troubles.  Sitting, reading, and waiting Arnett grew impatient.  With only 40 amps of juice, this charger would take awhile.  He headed off on a nature trail and upon returning realized that the circuit breaker had tripped and the charging had stopped.  He flipped the breaker and it was underway again, this time keeping a close eye on the system.

After charging to near capacity, he set out on an 80 mile round trip to Yosemite Valley to be followed by a brief 50 mile trip to Glacier Point.  This short 130 mile trek left Arnett with a margin of error and eased his mind.  He took this drive conservatively to save energy, but the car called out for a hard drive and drive it he did.  After the trip, he swung into Awahnee Lodge for the night.

In search of a 240 volt outlet, Arnett sought out the lodge staff and asked if they could secure one for him.  No luck, he would have to make do with a measly 120 volts for the night.  He plugged in the Tesla and set off to bed.  The low voltage provided only 7kWh of charge overnight, but Arnett set out on his return home.

His trip would not be complete without yet another stop at Yosemite Pines RV Resort.  This stop lasted a mere 4 hours, but he now had all he needed to return home, bypassing the stop in San Ramon this time around.

Arnett loves his Tesla and speaks high praise of it throughout the journey.  At one point even saying, "Unlike a gas guzzler, you never need to worry about power loss at high altitudes."  Apparently he has forgotten about his constant fear of running out of electricity in the mountain ranges.

Arnett's trip was undoubtedly glorious.  The photos really do tell the story of his adventure.  But his words tell a different story.  Without a charging infrastructure, EVs can be downright impractical.  His overall trek took him hundreds of miles out of his way to reach a destination only 200 plus miles from his homes.  Accounting for the countless hours lost while charging and the extended driving times in search of charging areas, Arnett had little time to enjoy the destination of his drive, Yosemite.

For EVs to reach practicality, 15 minute quick charging stations need to be available not only in large west coast cities, but also in the countless other rural areas of this nation that we travel to and from all of the time.

For now, EV owners must faithfully plan ahead, but for EVs to reach stardom planning a road trip should require nothing more than a map.

To view photos of this journey to the park please visit the link below.

Source:  Tesla Motors

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