I was a bit worried about driving a Tesla in an area with a lot of wildlife.
What would happen when there was no engine noise or odor to announce the arrival of a gasoline powered vehicle?
The majority of animals have stopped- looked up- and walked on. Maybe they can sense the 800 lbs of batteries in the car. Maybe the minimal noise the Tesla makes is something which inspires curiosity instead of a flight response. I have no idea. All I know is that the wildlife reaction so far is to stop, look, and then walk away…. with the exception of that fox who ran in front of the car at the Castle Creek bridge… fast fox… excellent Tesla brakes… run foxy run.
Every time a rider asks that question I pause and think. “How can I explain this easily?” Riders may think they’re taking a test ride in a Tesla but really I’m testing my ability to explain what electric car ownership in the mountains really means.
Here’s the deal, there are summer miles and there are winter miles. Winter miles are harder on the batteries- by a long shot.
Here’s a pic I took of the dash yesterday afternoon. The battery is showing 211 miles left in the charge. In summer this would be true. In fact in summer I could probably get a bit more mileage out of that charge.
But there is another graph to watch which predicts how much range you have at your current energy usage. This is the real mileage estimate given the last 30 miles of driving. This is what the “watts per mile” gauge with projected range on the touch screen says at the same time the battery is reading 211 miles:
That’s 117 miles vs 211 miles.
So, what are the factors which contribute to this? First off, batteries hate cold. Even when I’m storing the Tesla overnight in the studio plugged in the cold still sucks life out of the battery.
There is less regenerative charging when the batteries are cold. There is a lot of up and down in the mountains and during summer I can use that to my advantage. Every time I go downhill I put juice into the batteries… but not so much in winter. Tesla has a safety feature when the batteries are cold which limits regenerative braking.
Friction. Snow tires are soft, winter roads are bumpy, the wheel wells fill up with snow easily and need to be power washed. All of these factors add friction which reduces efficiency.
If the batteries are cold, so am I. Yes, I’m running the heat in the car. Tesla will remind you that it uses less energy to warm your seat than your entire car but that does not keep the frost off the windows. Running the “climate” control on high and turning the fan down is the only way I’ve found to keep the windscreen clear.
“How far can you go on a charge?”
“Well, that depends, on summer miles or winter miles…”
“This is the nicest Uber I’ve ever been in…wow a Tesla” Yep, those were the first words from almost every one of my 59 rides last week. I have to agree. I love my Tesla. I love to share that love with my riders.
Summing up the first week as an Uber driver in Aspen… well, it ain’t New York. FYI, yes, I did drive a cab in New York in the 80’s and some things are the same and some things are very different.
The riders have been terrific (especially Cabo the Cocker Spaniel- what a cutie- sorry- no pix Cabo is shy). They’ve been a diverse crowd and that’s what we expect in Aspen. Riders came from 5 Continents China, Colombia, France, Pakistan, Australia, Canada …
…. visitors from all over the USA, Floridians escaping the snowbirds, Texas Oil Company guys checking out the electric car, Los Angelenos doing the last minute round trip to LA before Christmas , and many from my old stomping grounds- folks from NYC (“Have you eaten at Red Farm on Hudson?” “Yes!” “The oysters with Myer Lemon!” followed by a moment of silence as we both remember that appetizer.. which I tell you…is … oh my.)
So wait- what about the Tesla in the snow you say? My 2013 Model S isn’t all wheel and the roads have been pretty darn slick. Yep, I need to channel my 1960’s driving style and slow down a bit and use a little more caution but this is by far the best rear wheel drive vehicle I’ve ever driven. In fact that’s a quote from one of my riders as we were driving on Owl Creek road “This is the best rear wheel drive car I’ve ever been in.” That it is.
The major difference between driving in NYC and Aspen? Well, while the car is recharging at the Rio Grande garage I can ride the gondola for a top to bottom on Ajax with a quick stop to grab a coffee and strudel at Bonnies and then go back to driving.
Look for the Z3RO-G plates – your Uber Tesla in Aspen.
We had a little of the fluffy stuff yesterday and more today.
That meant some of our flights out of Aspen Airport were grounded. That meant two round trips to the Eagle/Vail airport yesterday.
The first trip was fine with the charge on the batteries but the second round trip needed a recharge. Fortunately for the Tesla there is a supercharger in Glenwood Springs (40 miles from Aspen) which makes this type of range in the winter possible. The supercharger can cycle up to 95 amps which means recharging the batteries at over 230 miles in an hour. Translation- recharge in 50 minutes which is perfect for a snack at one of the restaurants on Market Street.
So yes, Tesla does do winter even if it means driving a little slower and stopping for snacks.