– Ben Martens

Electric Vehicles

Estimating Road Trips

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

My big post about our long road trip covered a lot of data, but later, I wondered about our average speed including all the stops. When I planned long trips with the family, I would shoot for 60mph including stops. On my motorcycle, I planned 50mph because I would stop a lot more often. Even with some silly stops where we knew we were being very inefficient just to take things slower, our 2000+ mile road trip averaged out to 58.1mph. So for our family, driving an EV gets us there just as fast as driving a gas car. Your mileage may vary depending on the size and strength of your bladders!

EV Charging Network

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

Over the last few weeks, a flood of car makers and charging networks have stated that they will adopt the NACS charging connector, otherwise known as the Tesla connector. Previously there were two main standards for fast charging: NACS and CCS. There were also a flood of slower chargers.

Having all the automakers in North America adopt the NACS connector means that Tesla will proceed with opening their supercharging network to all electric vehicles as they’ve done in other parts of the globe. That’s great for non-Tesla owners as the Tesla supercharger network is in a different league compared to other networks. It’s extremely rare to pull up to any Tesla charger and find it working. Conversely, it’s rare to pull up to something like Electrify America and find all the chargers working. We just completed a 2500-mile road trip in our Model Y, and while I was confident in the Tesla network, I don’t know that I would have even attempted it with a non-Tesla purely because of the lack of reliability in non-Tesla charging networks.

Having all the networks use the same plug is great, but it doesn’t mean that the other networks are going to be any more reliable. That needs to be a major focus for them in the coming years. The infrastructure needs to be rock solid for people to trust it. They need to not only adopt the charging standard, but the reliability standard that Tesla has set.

As a Tesla owner, I want to see the industry grow and build standards, but it’s a bit of a bummer to have “muggles” at my supercharger. Part of the reason I paid a premium for a Tesla is specifically because of the fantastic charging network. Now it’s more likely that I’ll pull up to a station with no empty chargers. That should be a temporary problem, and with a single standard, we should start to see more people getting creative with their charging stations. I look forward to the day when I can pull into a standard travel plaza on my road trip and charge my car while I use the restroom, get some food, and clean my windshield.

1100 Miles in a Tesla

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

Up until our trip to Moab, we had never done a trip that required multiple charges away from home, but we sure put that behind us with this trip. Our total drive was around 2500 miles there and back. The video at the end of this post covers the drive to Moab.

There are a few things that I didn’t cover in the video:

  • Supercharging is almost irrelevant for daily life. I wrote this whole post and made a video about this because we’ve gone 20,000 miles in our car, and we’ve only used a supercharger a few times. Charging like this is a novel experience for us! I often hear people say, “Oh I can’t get an electric car because there are no chargers around me.” The chargers near you don’t matter. You’ll probably never use a charger within 100 miles of your house because you constantly have a charged car when you wake up (assuming you can charge where you park.) The only time you need a good charger network is if you decide to take your EV on a long road trip, and even then, if you have two cars, you could just drive your gas car. So the “what’s it like to charge an EV?” question is something I thought a lot about before I got the car, and now I hardly think about it at all. My car is always charged and it requires about 5 seconds to plug it in when I get home. It only comes into play when we’re taking a long road trip.
  • Charing at a supercharger is extremely easy. When we stopped to charge, the car was charging before my family even got out of the car. I’d park, hop out, grab the charger, and plug it in. There’s no fumbling with a credit card or an app. The charger communicates with the car and automatically charges the credit card associated with the car. The car knows how far it needs to charge before you’re ready for the next leg of your trip or you can manually set your own limit.
  • Very little of the planning that I show in the video is something a normal Tesla driver would do. You could easily complete this trip while being completely oblivious of all the optimizations that I made. When you punch in your destination, the car tells you where to stop and how long to charge at each stop. It will give you many warnings if you try to leave the charger too soon or if something changes en-route and you’re unlikely to make it. This short video from Tesla explains how that works:

I had a data logger recording every datapoint from our car every few seconds and I took some video during each leg of the trip. I put it all together into a video about the trip along with my thoughts about whether I’d do it the same way again. Enjoy!

Tesla Charging Curve

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

We are back from a 2500-mile road trip with our Model Y. I was collecting data from the whole trip, and I have a couple more posts coming to detail the experience, but while I work on that, I want to start by devoting an entire post to explaining the charging curve of a Tesla.

The key point here is that when you are supercharging, the speed of your charging depends on how full your battery is. The battery can be charged much faster from 10% to 30% than from 70%-90%.

The above chart shows the curve for a 250kW charger. Most superchargers are 150kW max output, but newer ones are 250kW. (A few of them are 70kW but those are rare.) For a 150kW charger, imagine the same curve but it is capped at 150kW. So it’s slower at first, but by the time you hit ~40% charge, the two chargers give you the same speed (…usually. More on this later.)

Imagine you could fill your gas tank faster the emptier it was. You’d only want to put in as much gas as you needed to get to your next fueling stop. So whichever speed you’re using to charge, the key takeaway is that if you’re trying to spend the least amount of time possible at a charger, you want to start at around 10-15% and charge as little as you need to get to the next charger.

This becomes important if you’re trying to optimize the charging stops on a long road trip. There’s a tradeoff between getting enough juice to skip over a charging stop and the slower charging speeds you that give you that extra juice. Thankfully, you don’t have to think about this as most EV trip planners (including the one built into Teslas) take this into account automatically.

Here’s a chart from all the supercharges we’ve done on our Model Y:

Click to open that in a new tab. You should see three basic curves. The top one is 250kW chargers, the second one is 150kW chargers, and the bottom one is from one use of a 70kW charger, but mostly it’s from lower output at a 150kW charger. This is because the older 150kW superchargers are paired. When you pull up to a charger, the stalls are labeled 1A, 1B, 2A, 2B, etc. If you are sharing an A/B with another car, you split the 150kW. As a supercharger gets busier, this means it takes longer to charge causing longer waits to for people to get a stall. Obviously this isn’t ideal so the newer 250kW chargers are all isolated. No matter how busy the charger is, you’ll get the full firehose of electrons shooting into your car.

If this sounds complicated, I assure you that you can happily drive an EV without knowing any of this. In fact, it’s obvious that a lot of Tesla owners are clueless to the differences between chargers and the pairing of the 150kW chargers. I love this stuff and I want to be as efficient as possible so I geek out with all this data. And if you think this was geeky, wait until I detail how I planned our trip in a future post!

Tesla Model Y 20,000 Mile Review

We hit 20,000 miles on our 2022 Tesla Model Y just a few weeks short of the 1-year mark. Let’s take a look at how it’s going so far.


If you remember my very first post about the car, lifetime cost was a major factor in my purchase of the car. I’ve been interested in electric vehicles for years, but I wasn’t willing to pay extra to drive one. We would likely have replaced our last Ford Escape with another Escape so I used that as a baseline to see if an EV was likely to be cost effective. Even taking a pessimistic view towards EVs, I felt like the Model Y was likely to at least break even with the lifetime cost of the Escape in our scenario, so we went for it. I also used 100,000 miles to define “lifetime” because I knew that with a long enough time range, the EV would almost always win and again, I didn’t want to jump into anything just “hoping for the best.”

Based on the price of the Escape we were looking at an the Model Y we purchased, I needed to save $18,000 over the life of the car. This includes sales taxes and delivery fees and also assumes that we would have been able to get the Escape at MSRP. Since I have access to some special Ford plans through family and work, we hopefully could have gotten it under MSRP, but the average person walking in off the street would struggle to get MSRP.

Let’s break down the various factors in the lifetime cost of the car and see how its going. Buckle in. I have lots of data.

This is the cost difference that usually comes to mind first, and we’re really doing well in this category. My “break even” analysis was done with an estimate of gas prices averaging around $3.50 for the life of a car. (Remember I was being pessimistic about EVs so that’s why I picked a low price.) I have an app running on my machine that pulls gas prices from the 6 closest gas stations and I use the average of those prices as in my what-if analysis. The red arrow in the chart below denotes when we took delivery.

It felt pretty good to be driving a brand new electric vehicle when the average gas price as over $5.50!

Every day, I run a calculation that takes the average gas price and the number of miles we drove that day and estimates what our gas price would have been for that day. Obviously this isn’t quite perfect because we wouldn’t fill up every day, but it’s not going to be very far off and it’s way more accurate than using average gas prices over large chunks of time.

Over the last 20,000 miles we have spent $802.56 on electricity versus an estimated $4041.63 on gas for a savings of $3239.07 or $16.15/100 miles. If that keeps up, we’ll have saved over $16,000 on gas by the time we get to 100,000 miles!

Registration Fees
Washington state charges an extra $150 registration fee for all electric vehicles since they aren’t getting gas taxes. In my area, we also have registration, property, and sales taxes related to light rail buildout. The registration tax is based on their estimated value of your car. This year it cost $939.25 to put license plates on our car! It’s hard to compare this to what the Escape would be since my cost to register keeps going up (despite the car value going down) as new taxes are voted in and I’m not going to recalculate them all. But since about 2/3 of the total fee is related to that light rail tax and since the Escape was about 2/3 the cost of the Model Y, I’d estimate that we’re paying an extra $200/year for that light rail tax plus the $150 extra for having an electric vehicle. So that’s $350/year extra that we pay for the Model Y versus the Escape. Hopefully that will decrease over time as the car depreciates… it will be a race between depreciation and our ability to vote in new taxes.

Service Costs
The only service costs up to this point is a leftover bottle of wiper fluid that I’ve been using. We did have a leaky tire but that was patched by Discount Tire for free. There have been some recalls but they’re all handled via software. We’ve never had this car in for service. Our last Escape cost us $4318 in service over 105,000 miles so I’m expecting we’ll come out ahead there too.

Resale Price
How much will we sell the Model Y for? How much would we have sold the Escape for? This is where the comparison falls apart. When we get to that point, I can makes some guesses based on the current market, but it’s hard to predict going forward. But we tend to keep our cars for 7-10 years and I’ll be surprised if gas cars hold their value over that period. Pure electric cars currently make up about 6% of total auto sales and it’s skyrocketing. I’m sure there will still be a market for gas vehicles in 7-10 years, but it seems like EVs will probably be more common by that point. We’ll see.

Cost Summary

So all in all, I think we’re easily on track to save that $18,000 by the time we hit 100,000 miles. We’ll probably get there purely with gas savings so unless this car proves to be very unreliable and we have a lot of service costs, we should break even or come out ahead.

And yes, it is of course true that this is not the most cost effective way to drive around. Fixing our old car, buying a used car, or choosing a different type of car could all have been ways to save more money. My comparison was explicitly between a new Escape and a new Model Y.


  • 6181 feet – Highest elevation reached when we drove to Sunrise Visitor Center on Mt. Rainier. The battery charged 4% on the drive down. We drove 57 minutes before getting back to the same power we departed with.
  • 292 miles – Longest road trip. We drove to the Alsea, OR area.
  • 263 Watt-hours per mile consumed – A single gallon of gasoline contains 33,700 watt-hours of energy so this is the same as 128 mpg.
  • 99% – Charges (by count) that took place at home
  • 96% – Charges (by kWh) that took place at home
  • $77 – Average additional month cost for electricity (for about 1650 miles/month)
  • 24% – Energy lost to charging inefficiencies (heat, etc) and drain while sitting (running the computers, preconditioning the interior, etc.) My cost numbers above include the cost of all these non-driving uses.
  • 20 – Software updates. These have delivered many new features including Disney+, additional games, and the ability to make the car fart from my phone.
  • 18 – Counties visited (map)
  • 16 minutes – Average length of charging stops on road trips
  • 14% – Lowest usable battery reached. This equates to about 45 miles of range before hitting zero and there’s usually another ~20 miles available after that.
  • 6.89 MWh – Total energy consumed which is enough to power the average home in this area for about 6 months.
  • 4.9 metric tons – CO2 emissions avoided. This is equivalent to about 5.9 acres of forest for one year.
  • 1 – Non-Tesla service center visits. (I had a leak repaired by Discount Tire.)
  • 0 – Service center visits
  • 0 – Mobile service visits
  • 0 – Number of times battery died before reaching a charger
  • 0 – Number of brake services or oil changes
  • 0 – Number of times Autopilot killed me

(Thanks to user jonjiv on Reddit for making a similar post that gave me this idea.)

Most of the data above comes from TeslaMate. I’ve been running that data collection software from the first day we got it. The list of stats above is just the beginning. I could go on for a very long time with all the random stats and charts!


If we’re just going to break even, is it worth it? Absolutely! This car is a great fit for us. Here are some of my favorite things other than saving money:

  • Charging at home is so convenient. I think this is a major point that many prospective buyers miss. Sure, stopping at gas station is faster than stopping at a charger, but you know what’s stopping at a gas station? Charging while you sleep! We plug in every night and in the morning we’re full again.
  • It’s fun to drive. We have the slowest Tesla that they make and that means it goes from 0 to 60 in only 4.7 seconds. The instant torque is quite an experience and I can see why people burn through their first set of tires quickly.
  • Getting a new car always feels good because you get rid of all the problems you knew your old car had. Our Escape was always dripping oil and needed a turbo replacement. I love walking into the garage and not smelling anything or having any mystery drips coming out of the engine bay.
  • The charging network is incredible. We’ve never seen a Tesla charger that is out of service. No other charging network comes close and if you’re in the market for an EV, I think this should be a major decision point for you. I feel confident going anywhere in the Tesla because I know I’ll always get a charge easily. I would be extremely hesitant to plan a road trip on another charging network.
  • In contrast to the point above, I’ll also mention that the charging network isn’t as important as it’s made out to be. “I can’t buy an electric vehicle because we don’t have many chargers around my house.” The charging infrastructure around your house is nearly irrelevant assuming you can charge at home. The only time we need supercharging is when we’re far from home on a road trip.
  • The Autopilot feature is incredible. I wrote a full post about it, but in short, it’s still a feature that I use almost every time I drive it. It works everywhere, but I generally use it on the highway when I’m not doing a lot of lane switching. While I know that I’m still responsible for the vehicle, it’s nice to have a robot doing most of the work. I feel much less tired after long drives. You don’t realize how much energy it takes just to stay in your lane until you go an hour or two without doing it!
  • One of the best summaries I can give of the car is that even after a year, I still walk into the garage and smile. I still look forward to driving it.

The car gets an “A”, but there is always room for improvement.

  • I don’t like how long it takes the car to fall asleep. It’s the difference between using a couple hundred watts versus using only a few watts. Once the car is asleep, using the app wakes it back up, even if you just want to check your charge level. Thankfully I run TeslaMate so I can see basic info about the car without waking it up, but I don’t know why this isn’t built into the default software or why it sometimes takes a few hours for the car to fall asleep. In terms of actual money, it hardly matters, but I’m obviously interested in overall efficiency so it bugs me.
  • For the most part, I’m ok with almost all the controls being done through the screen, but I wish there were physical controls for the windshield wipers. About a week ago they added the ability to remap one of the steering wheel buttons to control the wipers but it’s still a combo button press to do something simple.
  • The battery does degrade over time. Tesla says that batteries lose about 5% in the first 25,000 miles on their way to losing 12% over the first 200,000 miles. TeslaMate keeps track of that data too (of course) and our car is at about 2.5% loss. I knew this before I bought it and it doesn’t impact us at all. I think it’s mostly a matter just having confidence that our battery will follow that curve and not die prematurely.
  • The cruise control is a “Traffic Aware Cruise Control.” Most of the time this is great. It means that I set a maximum speed that I’m willing to go and the car will go that speed or follow the car in front at a specified distance. It automatically sets to be x mph above the speed limit and knows when the speed limits changes. BUT, it’s not perfect. Once every few thousand miles, it does brake when I’m not expecting it to and when I can’t figure out a reason for it to brake. I still use it all the time, but this could be better.


If we were making the choice again today but with the added knowledge we’ve gained, it would be a no-brainer to buy it again. Prices have come down since we bought it and there are federal incentives that may or may not apply in various scenarios. I’m pretty confident that this will end up saving us money versus the Escape in the long run, or if not, it will be so close that I’m happy to have paid a few extra bucks for all the convenience and fun that it offers.

EVs are here to stay, but it will take a long time for all use cases to be met by them. I’m just happy that our use case has been nailed!

More Power!

A common soundbite against electric vehicles is that our nation’s power grid is already falling over, and we’ll need massive amounts more power to charge electric cars. A common retort is that we already have enough power or that the decrease in power hungry oil refinement will offset the change. As is usually the case, reality is somewhere in the middle.

If everyone switched over to an electric vehicle today, we’d need about a 25% increase in power production. That’s a lot, but it’s not going to happen overnight or even this decade. This article from the New York Times dives into the topic with a good overview and then there’s even more backing data in a reports from University of Texas at Austin’s Energy Institute and the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Power companies have been planning for this for a while and they have a demand curve to work with as consumers switch over when they’re ready. It’s an issue that needs to be carefully planned for and there will be bumps in the road, but it’s not a non-starter for electric vehicles. It will also be interesting to see what kind of benefits we get from the grid of the future when huge numbers of cars are able to feed power back into the grid as needed.

Fitting a Model Y in a Garage

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

Our garage has a separate garage door for each bay of the garage. It makes for a narrow entrance (95″) and our garage isn’t very deep either (233″). As we were thinking about ordering a Model Y, I wasn’t sure how well it would fit inside.

Our 2013 Ford Escape was 178″ long and 82″ wide with the mirrors extended. There were no automatic side mirrors on it so they were always extended. That car fit fine in the garage and with careful parking, we were able to walk in front of the car and still open the rear hatch even when the garage door was closed. It was tight but it wasn’t bad.

The 2022 Tesla Model Y is 187″ long and 84″ wide with the mirrors extended or 76″ wide with the mirrors folded. So it was 9″ longer and a couple inches wider in a space that was already tight with our Escape. I wasn’t quite sure how we’d be able to get the rear hatch open, but it all worked out for two reasons:

  1. The automatic mirror folding works really well. When we get close to home, the mirrors automatically fold in and stay folded in until we’re backed out of the garage.
  2. We park the car with about 22″ in front and 22″ behind. That leaves plenty of room to open the rear trunk because the pivot point is so much further forward than it was in the Escape. The Model Y rear hatch only needs about 10″ of extra space behind the car to open.

This is probably pretty boring if you’re not in the market for one of this specific car, but hopefully it will help someone else out there who was trying to make the same guesses that we were when we ordered.

Tesla Jack Stands

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

There isn’t much maintenance on an electric vehicle. The manual basically says to put some windshield washer fluid in every once in a while and check the brakes, but even the brakes are hardly ever used since regen braking takes care of most of it. You do still need to rotate tires though, and while I could take it in to a shop or have Tesla come to my house (for $50) to do it, I don’t mind doing this at home.

Jacking up an EV isn’t always the same as a traditional car because things look a lot different under the car. If you look under a Tesla, you’ll see the giant flat area of the battery. There are four jack total points which is fine, but how do you put a jack stand under there? Enter the RennStand jack stands. These jack stands are an arch shape with removable legs. You jack up the car with the cross piece between the jack and the car. Once the car is lifted high enough, you insert the legs into the cross piece and remove the jack. Voila!

RennStand sells various adapters for all different cars so hopefully this is something that will be useful on a lot of my cars in the future… because they aren’t cheap. I bought mine from Teslarati. I bought two but for rotating the tires it turns out that I only need one. Both wheels on one side of our Model Y are lifted off the ground even when resting on a single jack stand.

The jack in the picture is the Arcan XL3000 Heavy Duty All Steel 3.0 Ton Jack. It works well but it took a very long time to get it to hold pressure when I initially unboxed it. There are steps in the manual that amount to raising and lowering it a bunch of times to work any air bubbles out of the system. I had to do it so many times that I almost gave up and returned it.

Is this overkill? Absolutely. I’m not crawling under the car so I could let it rest on the jack while I make the swap, or I could let a tire shop swap my tires. But I do like the convenience of doing it myself at home whenever it fits into my schedule. Plus, I’m also sticking with the recommended 6000-mile rotation schedule so that would be a lot of appointments to schedule. I’ve heard that EV tires don’t last as long, but I don’t know how much of that is due to additional car weight versus people driving them harder because they’re fast. I want to do it by the book for our first set and see if the tire life seems reasonable. If it goes fine, then I’ll be a little lazier on the tire rotations like I have been with our other vehicles.

Tesla Road Trip

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

Yesterday I wrote about our trip to Lincoln Rock State Park. Usually when we go camping, we take the truck, but since we were staying in a cabin and it was such a short trip, I decided to give the Tesla a shot instead.

With the Cascade mountains in between us and the park, it would have been pretty tight to make it all the way there and back without charging. I didn’t know what charging options would be available at the campsite, so on the way out, we paused at the Leavenworth supercharger for a quick hit. That charger is so convenient because it’s in the same parking lot as Dan’s Market which is quickly becoming our favorite grocery store in Leavenworth. We had planned to buy some of our food there anyway instead of lugging a cooler across the state. I actually had to let Tyla finish the shopping because our charging was done before our shopping was.

I had intentionally not topped off the car there in case we could find a way to get free charging at the park. The only easy option was a 110v outlet on the back of our cabin. It was a little too far for our Tesla mobile charger to reach, but I had bought along a beefy 12/3 extension cord. Charging on a standard home outlet is exceedingly slow, but we had time and it was free so why not.

On Saturday, I drove over to an unused RV spot and plugged into their 240v 50amp circuit which charged about 7 times faster than the outlet at our cabin. After a couple hours a ranger stopped by and asked me to move the car though just in case someone happened to have that site reserved. I get that it was the rule and I didn’t put up a fight, but it seemed unlikely that in a park with 100+ empty sites, that specific one would be reserved. In retrospect, I wish I had put a note in the window with a short explanation and my phone number so that I’d at least save them the work of looking up my license plate if they didn’t like it.

I didn’t leave the mobile charger plugged in overnight because I wasn’t sure how waterproof the whole setup was, but by the time we left, we had added about 25% to the battery which meant we could easily make it home without a stop, and it also saved us about $7 versus charging at the supercharger.

Yes, you read that right: $8. I love the challenge of being as frugal as I can with my charging to really milk the most savings we can, but when you look at the work required to save even a few bucks, it really doesn’t pay off unless you’re having fun doing it.

While it was a little tricky to fit Elijah’s bike into the car, all our stuff fit pretty easily. The frunk and the under trunk storage swallow up so much gear. And I was glad we had all wheel drive for the trip through the pass. There was quite a bit of snow over the weekend but thankfully we missed the worst of it. I did have chains along just in case.

All in all I’m glad we took the Tesla instead of the truck. These adventures with the Tesla are helpful in expanding my comfort zone. We’re still hoping to do a long road trip with it this summer!

One Year of Gas Prices

As part of my effort to closely track the cost savings of our Tesla, I wrote a program that uses Gas Buddy to track the prices of the six gas stations closest to our house with the logic being that these are the places we’d be most likely to buy gas from. In reality, we buy almost all our gas at Safeway but for some reason that one doesn’t usually have prices listed on Gas Buddy.

That program started running a year ago and below is the chart of how things have changed. The orange line (the cheapest gas) is usually the Costco near us.

When I was doing the calculations about whether I could save money with a Model Y versus buying another Ford Escape, I had planned on $3.50/gallon. So with the average gas price barely ever dipping below $4/gallon, I’m ahead of my estimated savings mark. But I’ll more on those specific savings numbers when we reach 20,000 miles in a few months.