Supercharged: Travelling From Sydney To Melbourne For Free In A Tesla Model S

Back in April, our road trip from Sydney to Melbourne took around 30 hours, and involved an overnight charge in Canberra and a four-hour charge on three-phase in Wodonga. Today, we did that entire trip in less than 12 hours -- thanks to the recent installation of Tesla’s superchargers, all of which have gone live within the last two weeks.

This post originally appeared on the Tesla Model S Australia blog.

Mat Peterson is the founder of Shiny Things, which makes great education apps for kids aged between two and 12. He was one of the very first Tesla Model S owners in Australia, and takes every opportunity to use his electric supercar to its fullest. Mat's wife Pia runs Evoke, a Sydney luxury chauffeur service that exclusively uses Tesla Model S cars and produces zero emissions while moving you around in style.

First Stop

Unlike our earlier trip, we departed Sydney without needing to give the car a range charge (it was only charged to 83 per cent -- a mistake) and we made a beeline for Goulburn, our first charging stop. We ran into the usual Sydney traffic, even though it was 5.30am, and the weather was pretty bad with a southerly wind, cold temperatures and rain for most of the first hour. None of those things are conducive to getting the most out of a battery, but that isn’t something we need to worry about anymore. We departed Sydney with around 334km and used 212.7km, a piece of cake for the car.

Goulburn supercharger -- 8 bays -- the largest in the Southern Hemisphere!

Upon arrival we needed to charge the car to 100 per cent to complete the next leg, as the total distance was 367km (plus the weather issues). This meant a break of about 70mins, so we wandered off into town to find some coffee and snacks for the rest of the day. When you’re waiting for an hour you really want amenities nearby and thankfully within 500m of the station are a half-dozen cafes, eateries and even a shopping centre that contains a Coles and Kmart. It’s a great location. Once recharged we proceeded south to Wodonga.

Entering Victoria

This leg, whilst the longest and the tightest in terms of energy usage, ended up going perfectly fine. With only the smallest amount of nursing we arrived with 15km remaining -- something we are now completely used to doing. In hindsight I simply should have driven faster...

As you might remember, last time we were in Wodonga we had to charge via three-phase and at that time Wodonga TAFE was kind enough to arrange the use of one of their welding bays, which was about 30mins walk from the town centre. Tesla’s new supercharger is handily located a block from the main strip and is surrounded by almost brand new council buildings, one of which contains a cafe. Fittingly, Tesla have designed the supercharger cabinet enclosure to match the surrounding architecture, a nice touch.

Wodonga supercharger (still under construction) -- 6 bays.

We could have easily charged to 90 per cent and completed the journey to Melbourne with ease, but instead we decided to test out what the future will be like. Overseas, Tesla install a station ever 200km, which allows you to either skip charging stations, or do short stops. The latter is possible because of the way the batteries charge - if they are at a low state of charge then they can be rapidly filled but as they fill up you need to ramp down the charging rate.

In fact, when it nears 100 per cent it is basically trickle charged. In a nutshell, charging from 0-50% takes around 15min, from 50-90 per cent takes 35min and from 90-100% takes 30min - hence the long wait in Goulburn. So, when we arrived in Wodonga we decided to charge only enough to get us to the next stop. We needed 180km and this took less than 15mins.

Who Needs Petrol?

Mat's Model S from an earlier trip around the country.

Our next stop was Euroa at what appears to be a temporary supercharger (as you can see from the photo it can be moved by a forklift). It was located at the Shell Service Centre and it was rather odd to be charging our car at a petrol station. However, this didn’t bother us too much and we grabbed the remaining 200km that we required in 20mins.

Euroa supercharger -- 2 bays.

Melbourne

Our trip into Melbourne was smooth with only a minimal amount of peak-hour traffic (yay for school holidays!). We decided to make one more stop -- the Tesla showroom in Richmond. Upon plugging into the supercharger located out front, Ampy has now visited every station that’s open in Australia. Of course, that won’t be the case for much longer as Tesla have announced a Gundagai station, which I imagine will open by the end of the year.

The Verdict

With the advent of Tesla’s intercity superchargers, travel between Sydney and Melbourne is now completely normalised. Tesla appear to have done an excellent job of situating the chargers and they should be commended for the pace of their roll-out. Oh, did I mention the whole trip was free?

Richmond supercharger -- 4 bays.

What’s Next?

We are spending a day in Melbourne to have some meetings, and then proceeding to Adelaide. Unfortunately there are no superchargers on that route so we will be dragging along our three-phase charger. We will also be driving the car further than it has ever gone before.

Geeky Stuff

Today we drove 913.1km and used 196.4kWh of energy. Surprisingly this isn’t an Australian record for a Model S in a single day, that was set by Marc Talloen -- check out his adventures here. Our average speed was around 75km/h -- including charging. I think this could get as high as 95km/h once the Gundagai supercharger is opened.

Gizmodo is going to get hands-on with Tesla's first rural Supercharger, in Goulburn, next week. Stay tuned for our coverage of the official launch.

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