5 Takeaways From a Tesla’s Record-Setting Trip Across America

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Say what you will about Tesla Motors, the automaker has put its money where its mouth is in the electric vehicle game. Perhaps the best evidence is the company’s investment and diligence in establishing its fast-charging network across the United States. Once Tesla made its first cross-country trip across America without any tailpipe emissions (in February 2014), you might say a new era in transport began.

But that was so last year. The Fremont-based EV maker simply wanted to trumpet the existence of a legitimate Supercharger network. With that out of the way, a team from Edmunds made a crazy run (in summer 2014) from sea to shining sea in 67 hours and 21 minutes in the publication’s house Model S. Less than a year later, the continued expansion of Tesla’s fast-charging network gave one California man the idea he could make the cross-country journey in fewer than 60 hours.

In a piece published by Jalopnik, we learn how he assembled a team and ran his Tesla P85D from Los Angeles City Hall to New York City Hall (3,011 miles) in 58 hours and 55 minutes. Though not traveling with a Guinness World Record auditor, the group claims its times can be verified using GPS data as well as numbers Tesla may provide. If the times even remotely hold, the group will have set record for traveling time across the U.S. in an EV and least non-driving (i.e., charging) time for that stretch in history.

Here are five takeaways from this record-setting journey in one fast Tesla.

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1. The Supercharger network keeps growing

According to Jalopnik, Tesla owner Carl Reese had been watching the rollout of Superchargers with an idea he could annihilate the previous records with the help of one strategically located station (in St. Charles, Mo.). Once he saw the St. Charles chargers come online, Reese rounded up his crew and set the plot in motion. Though he noted the specific Missouri Supercharger was not essential to beating the record, it was crucial if he wanted to hammer the previous times. This point tells us how fast the Superchargers are springing up and how much they improve long-distance travel in electric vehicles.

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2. Tesla tech is top-notch

Most people who have followed the rollout of the Model S understand how smart these cars actually are. On the cross-country trip, Jalopnik reports Reese and his team got a taste of Tesla trip management at a pivotal moment. In Utah, they left a charging station without enough juice to reach the next Supercharger. The Model S promptly informed them they didn’t have adequate battery power and should turn around for more charge. All told, the backtracking only cost them 45 minutes, but it could have destroyed their mission without the car’s exquisite tracking system.

Source: Tesla

3. Bad conditions don’t affect EVs much

The group led by Reese drove through rain and snow as well as arid desert conditions in setting the record. Through the various elements encountered, the Tesla kept on track without any major setbacks. In essence, the trip mirrored the other cross-country gambits pulled off by Edmunds and the team from Tesla. Some snarling traffic issues didn’t hold back the P85D much, either, which is what you hope to get from a car with the equivalent of 89 miles per gallon in city driving.

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4. P85D delivers both extreme power and efficiency

Reese and his support driving team did not blow the speed limit to smithereens on their trip, save one occasion when they clocked 123 miles per hour on a considerable expanse of desert. Opting for this 691-horsepower beast means sacrificing a bit of range (17 miles compared to the 85D, to be exact), but the 253 miles available on a full charge was more than enough to make this coast-to-coast trip without a significant hiccup. That tells us how efficient this ferocious Model S can be.

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5. Tesla has eased range anxiety

We questioned how much Tesla truly did to “end range anxiety” with its software update in March, but the display by Reese and his team in the Model S proves how the technology can be your roadmap in an EV. There was only one instance when the range factor hampered the drive, and the car was the first to notify the group (ostensibly, a product of the Trip Planner and Range Assurance improvements Elon Musk touted). Range anxiety is still out there for a Nissan Leaf driver, but we’d go so far as to say it has ended for anyone driving the Model S in 2015.