A little while back, I wrote about my learnings only using Lime + Bird for a week in San Diego. The TL;DR: it was awesome — but with plenty of near-term challenges:
My Car-Free Week With Lime and Bird
Recently I spend the better part of a week in San Diego. Pacific Beach and Mission Bay in particular.
I recently did the same with our Model 3 and “Just/Only Supercharging” for a week.
The Model 3 is simply the best gadget and piece of tech I have bought in years. We bought an early Model S in the beginning of 2012, and it was a bit … meh. It was too wide, too big, didn’t have Autopilot, didn’t have any real safety tech, the front seats hurt my back, the kids got nauseous in the back seat and the jump seat, etc.
Fast forward to the Model 3 of 2018–2019, and everything is awesome. Autopilot is amazing, it’s the right size to park and take anywhere, it’s much better built, etc. It’s a 10. Far better than not just any other car, but any other gadget of the year. Sorry, Jibo, Portal, etc.
And most of time, you just drive it home and plug it in every night, like your mobile phone, and that 250+ miles of overnight-charging range gets you everywhere.
But what if you can’t plug it in every night, and have a longer drive every day?
That’s what I did for a week. Commuting 65–100 miles a day in the Model 3, all around the SF Bay Area without charging at home:
That meant basically Supercharging 3 times a week to have a buffer!
What did I learn commuting longer distances without home charging?
- You think about Supercharging all the time when you are driving. This isn’t range-anxiety, per se, but it’s more Supercharger … focus. I was constantly thinking about when and where I would and should Supercharge. Mornings? Evenings? Weekends? When? Tonight, or tomorrow morning? What if I leave work late? How far should I go before Supercharging? Which spots are nicest? Should I try out a new Supercharger spot out?
- It really takes an hour to Supercharge if you are commuting medium distances. Yes, if you are doing a 1 way trip somewhere, you can top off from 30% to say 70% in 20-30 minutes on the way down the 101. But if you are commuting a lot, you’ll want to go from 20% to 90% SOC. That takes an hour with today’s Superchargers. That’s a long time.
- It’s really boring to wait. Waiting an hour to Supercharge is boring. It’s not just stopping off for a coffee. Basically, everyone stops at a Supercharger, gets a quick snack … and then sits in their car for the next 20–50 minutes on their phone.
- An all-the-stalls-are-full Supercharging location is a real bummer when you rely on them. They do get full, especially the ones that are in “downtown” and higher traffic suburban type areas (e.g., San Mateo near Whole Foods). Lines would form. Not the end of the world, and the in-car app does show you which are full and which aren’t. But it sort of adds to your low-level planning stress. Will the Supercharger be full tonight?
- Supercharging at night when it is cold out (and you want to get home), or in the morning before first light, is just not that fun. There probably was really something to be said for full-service gas stations, back in the day.
- A faster charge rate is much, much better. I didn’t get great at figuring out how the pairing works, but when you find a Supercharger that can charge at 80A (or whatever the realistic max is now) vs. 40A, that’s magic. If I spent a year longer-distance commuting, I’d get really, really good at figuring this out.
- 3x week Supercharging is worse than filling up — but yet still better. Yes, going to a gas station would have been easier for longer-distance commuting without home charging. But I’d still rather go electric. There was Supercharger-anxiety. But the whole experience is still pretty nice.
Looking forward to 120A charging!
That’s probably what we really need to make it all work for longer-distance commuting.