Sunday, November 28, 2021

Travelling on Tesla time – for next to nothing

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Angela Tillier, Denmark Bulletin

We drove our Tesla on a holiday in WA in August and September after buying the Model 3 SR+ – a get to know the car and the charging options.

A Plug Share app shows where to charge and I calculated the distances.

Angela Tillier charging her Tesla
Angela Tillier charges her Tesla at the Tesla destination charger behind the Albany library. Photo: Angela Tillier.

Wanting to see wildflowers and visit some favourite coastal towns, the trip required careful planning as some areas had no chargers.

At the first stop, Kojonup, we had lunch for one and a half hours while the car charged.

When we arrived, there was a Tesla already there but it was gone in 15 minutes.

In September three Superchargers opened at Williams Woolshed, so only a 35-minute stop is necessary.

We did a short detour from the highway to borrow a 3-phase charging cable from the Tesla Owners Club.

A $20 a year club fee provides lots of advice and to borrow some extras.

With the spare tyre on loan, we travelled with a can of tyre foam just in case.

In Perth there are six Superchargers at Karrinyup Shopping Centre and lots of other charging points. At our next stop, Jurien Bay, there is a fast charger run on used cooking oil.

From here we topped up at Three Springs on a 3-phase power outlet.

This allowed us to tour around the wildflower areas of Coalseam National Park, Pindar and Canna and part charge overnight on a normal power point.

We then spent two nights at a Geraldton motel with two Tesla destination chargers so touring was no problem.

But with a fast charger in Geraldton and three other charging options, an overnight stop isn’t necessary.

Next stop Kalbarri, so we had a quick stop at Northampton to check out the location of the Tesla destination charger.

Kalbarri has a destination charger, but we didn’t need it as we plugged into a normal power outlet at our holiday rental and toured around for a few days.

From Kalbarri to Monkey Mia we stopped at the Billabong Roadhouse for one and half hours at the Tesla destination charger they provide.

This will be upgraded to a fast charger when the new government electric highway is finished.

Charging on the new electric highway from Esperance to Kununurra will be much faster with chargers about every 160km.

Monkey Mia Resort has a 3-phase power outlet for guests, and we saw another blue Tesla there.

Our only hiccup on the trip was the next section where we had planned to charge at Wooramel on the way to Carnarvon.

One of the two generators had broken down and we could not use the destination charger.

We drove to Carnarvon at 70kmph so we would not run out of battery.

The car’s navigation screen indicates the speed to travel to reach your destination and gives updates and warnings.

The Carnarvon Motel has two Tesla destination chargers which charge the battery in about seven hours.

We reached Coral Bay without problems and charged over the next couple of days on a 10amp power outlet.

The return trip was easier, going straight to Carnarvon, overnighting and then stopping at Billabong for a charge before arriving in Northampton.

We used the destination charger while having dinner and then plugged into the accommodation venue’s 10amp power outlet.

Leaving Northampton fully charged, we topped up in Geraldton as we were overnighting in Dongara, where again we topped up on a 10amp outlet.

The next night, at the Mingenew Motel, again we topped up on a 10amp outlet and then at Dalwallinu on a 3-phase outlet.

We toured the wildflower areas near Dalwallinu and topped up at a New Norcia garage before heading to Perth.

Overall, the trip was a joy.

When you arrive at your destination you don’t feel as tired as an internal combustion engine car.

It is quiet and a pleasure to drive.

Also stopping more frequently and for longer makes the trip more relaxing and enjoyable.

We drove on gravel roads with no problems though we were aware that the ground clearance of the Model 3 is only 140mm.

Many people are worried about the range in an electric car which depends on speed.

Travelling 110kmph uses more battery so the range in the SR+ reduces to about 330km on the highway.

Travelling 90kmph the range is more like 400km.

We travelled a little less than 5000km and the cost to charge was only $22 overall because most chargers are provided free of charge.

This may change though most accommodation venues are likely to continue to provide charging for free.

At home, I drive about 50km a day and the car uses about 16 per cent battery.

I plug in to recharge when excess solar power is produced or during off peak so it only costs about 20c a kwh.

Synergy has a new EV Plan for electric car owners and a 30 per cent discount is applied to all off-peak power consumption.

The initial cost of buying an electric car is offset over five years because of the lower running and maintenance costs.

A recent study comparing the purchase of a Tesla Model 3 with the Camry Hybrid estimated that after five years the Tesla costs about $4000 less.

Denmark does not have an electric car charger in town.

There are two Tesla destination chargers at Chimes and a 15amp plug at the Shire and Windrose B and B which are slow to charge.

Denmark Bulletin, 25 November 2021

I hope the Shire will install one for visitors to encourage them to tour around town and support local business.

This article appeared in the Denmark Bulletin, 25 November 2021.

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