Tesla officially became a mass-market automaker this month, as it rolled the first Model 3 vehicle off its California assembly line.
The $35,000 Model 3 was designed to open up Tesla ownership to a much wider range of people than the relatively expensive Model S and Model X.
New Tesla owners will quickly discover than electric cars have one major difference from gas-powered vehicles: they have to be charged up. The Model 3 has a range of 200 miles, superb for an EV, but it will need to be rejuiced, and if you’re used to refueling in five minutes, EV ownership required some advance planning and behavioral changes.
Fortunately, Tesla operates a network of Superchargers that make longer trips possible (the automaker asks owner to do their everyday charging at home). The company has also worked with partners to install even more charging locations that offer slower charging than what’s available at Sueprchargers but provide a gap-filling fallback.
I’ve spent a lot of time driving EVs. In 2015, I drove one of my kids to camp in a BMW i3, an extended-range electric vehicle that at the time was rumored to be a basis for the Apple Car.
The trip went great, so last year I decided to make our annual camp sojourn to the scenic Catskills in upstate New York a regular EV-paloooza. And what better car to serve as our futuristic chariot in 2016 than … the Tesla Model S?
And not just any Model S, but a P90D with Ludicrous Mode — at the time the baddest, fastest, coolest Tesla in all the land (until the P100D arrived in early 2017.)
The idea was to see if this four-door luxury “family car” with supercar-beating acceleration — zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds, claimed — could handle a journey of decent length (about 240 miles round trip) involving two adults, three kids, and gear for a pair of campers for two weeks. Quite a test, eh? And with a few scheduled stops to dine, take in the sights, and recharge the battery.
Our adventure began on a pleasant Sunday in July and all initially went according to plan. Until it didn’t. Read on to learn all about our most excellent misadventure with the world’s most famous electric car.
The pearl-white Tesla, equipped with everything, landed in the driveway of our suburban New Jersey test car HQ.
My Prius was intimidated.
Our Tesla was the Model S sedan …