Car Tech

Road Trip: 3000km Around Australia In A Tesla Model S

It has been 5 weeks since we received our Tesla Model S and we’ve been fortunate to spend around three weeks with the car (we lost two weeks due to an overseas holiday). During that time we’ve completed one major road trip to Canberra and a few shorter trips of a couple of hundred kilometres. Here’s what it’s like behind the wheel.

Mat Peterson is the founder of Sydney-based app development studio Shiny Things, which makes great education apps for kids aged between 2 and 12. Mat is also one of the very first Tesla Model S owners in Australia. Over the last month, Mat has been driving the Model S around our great nation. Here are his thoughts.

Our first trip was to the Hunter Valley, about 120kms north of Sydney. Using the EVTripplanner website we calculated that we should be able to comfortably complete the return trip but you ultimately don’t know the veracity of a tool until you’ve used it.

Thankfully all was well and the car performed brilliantly, cruising very nicely on the highways, and we arrived home with 330km on the odometer and 50km remaining in the batteries. It definitely whet our appetites for more road trips so we started considering something a bit longer.

Supercharging at Star City Casino – free parking!

Once we arrived home from Japan, we began planning our first trip and immediately encountered an issue: the necessity of charging the car means we must travel somewhere that has either a supercharger or a High-Powered Wall Charger (HPWC), both of which have so far only been installed in Sydney. As we live in Sydney, this isn’t terribly helpful. However, we did hear that Hotel Realm in Canberra had received 2 HPWCs so I called them and asked if they could install them by the following Friday and they said they would. We booked and proceeded down as planned.

Our first stop on the way south was the Capital & Woodlawn Wind Farm. It was the very first time that a pure electric car had visited and the wind decided to put on a show with steady speeds of 60-70km/h allowing the combined 90 turbines to produce electricity at their maximum capacity. The turbines themselves are truly stunning pieces of machinery capable of generating gargantuan amounts of power with seemingly little effort. With all the noise complaints you hear about them I was surprised that, when standing directly underneath one, you could only hear a faint “whoosh” as the blade went past. As you can see by the photo below, the turbines provide a stunning backdrop to the Model S and as someone who buys only renewable electricity, it was great to be able to see where it was being generated. Special thanks to Infigen and Ketan for allowing us to visit.

Due to some heavy traffic outside Sydney, hot weather, headwinds and climbing up to the wind farm, we were starting to run a little low on power so we made a beeline for our hotel to charge up. Upon arriving (with 19km to spare) we discovered that we had the dirtiest Model S in Australia with a nice smattering of bugs on the nose cone and a layer of dust from the dirt roads. Thankfully the chargers were ready and waiting for us and the car settled in for a long charge overnight. As a side note, Hotel Realm is an excellent hotel with spacious and well appointed rooms. We are very happy that they chose to install a charger and will be visiting again soon.

The next day we awoke to a full charge (we received a push notification from the car at around 2am that it had completed charging) and decided to explore Canberra. We dropped in to see a friend (who is also a lucky recipient of a Model S) and then proceeded to the Canberra Deep Space Network (DSN) complex. Upon arriving we were greeted by the sign below…

Please stow your tray table and place your seat in its original upright position

We promptly proceeded to set our phones to Airplane Mode but for the life of us we couldn’t work out how to disable the 3G in our car, which meant it spent around an hour bleeping away in the car park – a stones throw from the telescopes. Oh well.

The drive to the DSN gave us an opportunity to really test out the car on the windy valley roads and it was an interesting experience. Whilst the car proceeded through all corners with ease, it never never felt graceful. I guess there’s only so much you can do with the suspension setup to hide 2.1 tonnes of vehicle. However, it was a joy to blast out of the corners and it ate up the hills with aplomb. Amusingly we were greeted in the carpark by three Lotus Elises, the drivers of which all loved the Model S, and we spent a good 20 minutes discussing the car with them and showing off all the features.

On Sunday we visited the amazing James Turrell exhibition at the National Gallery and then headed back to Sydney. Once again the car was amazing on the highways and over the 280km it took to travel from Canberra to The Star it averaged 181Wh/km, its lowest level ever. We dropped in for a free charge, grabbed some lunch then headed back home. In all we travelled 880km on this trip and spent about $6 on electricity to charge before we left.

Within Without Skyspace by James Turrell

So what’s next?

We will likely make a trip to the Blue Mountains and another trip to the Hunter Valley but for now we are waiting on more charging options. Tesla have stated that they will be supplying a Universal Mobile Adapter (it allows you to plug into a regular 240 volt outlet) soon and they are of course feverishly working on their supercharger network. We’ll keep you posted when we complete future road trips and I’ll be posting a comprehensive review of the Model S soon. But first, the car is off to get tinting and Opticoat, so I’ll be providing some photos of that later in the week.

Read more on Mat’s blog.

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