Road Trip to Montreal

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Tom Hudson

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#1
We took delivery of our Silver RWD Model 3 on July 11, far earlier than we had imagined in June, and since my wife and I had planned to take a trip to Montreal to see the international fireworks competition there, we decided to do it in the 3 as a shakedown cruise.

We live in Wisconsin and the best way to get to Michigan is via the Lake Express ferry, which runs between Milwaukee WI and Muskegon, MI. So we booked a spot on the ferry and made hotel reservations in Montreal, deciding to kind of wing it on where we stopped in between.

After an overnight charge to 100%, we drove the 30 or so miles down to the ferry at 4:30am on the 25th, two weeks after taking delivery. The longest trip we had taken up to that point was the 90-mile drive up from Chicago on the day we picked up the car, so we had never used a supercharger or charged anywhere but the home wall charger. The ferry left at 6am, getting us to Michigan at around 8:30. We rolled off the ferry and headed east.

After a stop at the Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, we continued east. We had to ship a couple of packages so we figured we'd find a post office in Lansing, where there was a supercharger. We charged for about 20 minutes just to try out supercharging, which was amazing. While charging, we used the navigation system to locate a post office, then dropped off the packages and continued on.

The first major charging stop was at the Port Huron Supercharger, located just before the bridge to Canada. We charged there for a while, getting a pretty good rate of around 400 miles per hour. There was no cost for charging here. While we were charging, a Model S stopped for about 15 minutes and took off. Shortly after they left, we resumed our trip, crossing the border and heading into Ontario.

We consulted some EV charging resources and decided to stay at a Best Western in Woodstock, Ontario because it had two Tesla destination chargers. We got there and it turned out there were two Tesla units outside and a third charger available as well. We unloaded the car and I plugged us in using one of the Tesla units -- and nothing happened. There was a green light on the front indicator of the wall unit, but the car didn't respond -- the connector didn't lock or anything. So I tried the other unit. When I plugged it into the car, there was a click so I figured we were in business -- but a few seconds later there was another click and no charging occurred. Hmm. I tried a few more times, but got the same result. Looking at that charger's connector, there was some white corrosion residue on the lower three pins -- probably the connector shouldn't have been left out in the elements -- I'm guessing the corrosion interfered with communication with the car.

So with the Tesla units out of order, I figured I'd try the other unit. Opening our zippered charging accessory bag, I got out the little adapter and it fit right on to the other charger. Looking at the plate on the unit, it was rated for 48A continuous -- I plugged in and it started charging at 48A. Good enough -- I went in to unwind in the hotel room for a bit.

It didn't take long (about 10 minutes) before my Tesla app notified me that "Charging Has Stopped". Hmm... Went out and yes, charging had stopped. The power indicator on the 3rd party charger was off. Well, that was annoying -- I had double-checked that my car wasn't pulling more than 48A, but I'm guessing the charger wasn't actually hooked to a 60A breaker. I let the guy at the front desk know that the chargers weren't working and we went to dinner a short distance away. I wasn't desperate for charging but would have preferred to have a full charge overnight. At dinner, I checked my phone and realized that there is a supercharger location literally two minutes from the hotel -- so after dinner we drove there and charged to about 80%, then went back to the hotel for the night.

The next day we headed out and I was interested to see how bad it would be to go through Toronto. As it turned out, the navigation system routed us around the worst of the congestion and on roads that were mostly free of heavy traffic. It was great! We had enough power that we didn't have to charge until we hit Belleville, where we took a nice break and had lunch while supercharging. Honestly, if I had a business, I'd love to have a supercharger installation nearby, because it's an almost guaranteed way to get customers.

The navigation system showed that we'd arrive at our Montreal destination with about 20% power -- but with no destination charger at our hotel, I figured we should charge up a bit for the occasional driving we might do over the next few days -- so we stopped at the Pointe Claire supercharger for a little while, grabbing a couple of sodas from the nearby mall.

We spent three days in Montreal, taking the car various places -- The navigation system performed pretty much flawlessly. We got to use Valet Mode at our hotel, which was nice. The valets had dealt with Model S's before but ours was their first Model 3. They liked the car a lot, and I think they enjoyed being able to drive it. The night before we headed home, we stopped at the Montreal Tesla Service Center to get a little top-off charge prior to leaving. Had a nice chat with one of the staff -- the other two people working were showing a red Model 3 to some customers on the showroom floor.

The trip home was uneventful -- The only "interesting" part was that on the trip around Toronto, the trip planner had us set to stop at the Woodstock supercharger, with a somewhat worrying 5% predicted to be remaining when we arrived there. As I drove, that predicted value fluctuated between 3-7%, and as it hit the lower end of the range, it warned that we needed to keep our speed below 100km/h. Given that there were other superchargers available before Woodstock, I was kind of surprised that it didn't just adjust the trip to stop an earlier charging point rather than warn about trying to reach one that was marginal. I manually set it to stop one supercharger earlier, at Cambridge, ON. My wife and I started laughing about "range anxiety," quoting an episode of "Futurama" where Amy and Fry are in her space car at Mercury:

"It's hot in here -- turn on the air conditioning!"
"Now it's too cold -- turn on the heater!"
and
"We're slowing down! I'll hit the Fuel Guzzler!"

We were howling -- It really is amazing to have a car that goes this far on a charge -- and to have so many nicely-spaced charging locations -- that you can joke about range anxiety.

At the Cambridge supercharger we finally saw our first Model 3's -- A Midnight Silver Metallic, a red and black. But we didn't get to talk to any of their owners. I did talk to a Model X owner who was thinking of replacing his Honda Accord with a Model 3.

Some observations about the trip:

- The Trip Planner in the Model 3 (Beta) is amazing. It computes where you're going and based on your battery level it tells you where you should stop and charge along the way. If they tweak it so that it adaptively adjusts the charging stops if you use more energy than initially predicted, that would make it nearly perfect.

- Having two dead destination chargers at the Best Western in Woodstock was a real disappointment. That's up to the Best Western franchise owner, not Tesla, so it might be tough to get them to maintain them -- but they need to know it's important to their customers. Luckily, I wasn't really depending on them to continue my trip.

- Valet mode is great, it lets you hand the car off while controlling certain aspects such as top speed and access to the frun k and glove box.

- I was really surprised and disappointed that we didn't get to talk to any Model 3 owners, and that we only saw three others.

- Supercharging is so fast that in several instances we hardly had time to eat lunch before charging was complete!

- All in all, the car performed PERFECTLY. We were kind of expecting to have issues with charging, but other than the hotel hiccup, we had no problems. The total trip was just over 1700 miles and our average energy usage was 236 Wh/mi, which was pretty good. This is with mixed 65mph (Canada) and 75mph (Michigan) driving and air conditioning in use.

I never imagined we'd be able to take this kind of long-distance road trip in an EV, where the car would navigate and find charging spots where you could recharge in under an hour.

The Model 3 has completely exceeded all my expectations!
 

Sumiguchi

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#2
I recently took a trip into Saskatchewan (a supercharger dead-zone at the moment) and came across a very disappointing EV charger at a Peavy Mart. Backing into the charging spot looked risky (bits and pieces of smashed up pallets) and then a really gross looking charger... didn't even want to plug in my adapter to it!
 

JWardell

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#3
What a great experience! I can't wait to go on a road trip. I guess I will have to toss a wire brush in my trunk toolkit, for emergency contact cleaning :)

Also, this:

Honestly, if I had a business, I'd love to have a supercharger installation nearby, because it's an almost guaranteed way to get customers.
 
Joined
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#4
I recently took a trip into Saskatchewan (a supercharger dead-zone at the moment) and came across a very disappointing EV charger at a Peavy Mart. Backing into the charging spot looked risky (bits and pieces of smashed up pallets) and then a really gross looking charger... didn't even want to plug in my adapter to it!
We need someone to come up with a third party charger condom adapter so that you can protect against all of these dirty contacts! :)
 

Gavyne

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#6
Lovely story, enjoyed the read!

It's funny Like Tesla on Youtube just uploaded a video of their trip to Montreal! So watching and reading about two trips to Montreal in one day, makes me wanna visit there, seems like a lovely city. Based on the video, Montreal is a city that the oil industries and American politicians here fight very hard against. They have chargers everywhere, with solar and hydro representing a big part of their energy generation.
 
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Mad Hungarian

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#7
Lovely story, enjoyed the read!

It's funny Like Tesla on Youtube just uploaded a video of their trip to Montreal! So watching and reading about two trips to Montreal in one day, makes me wanna visit there, seems like a lovely city. Based on the video, Montreal is a city that the oil industries and American politicians here fight very hard against. They have chargers everywhere, with solar and hydro representing a big part of their energy generation.
We are indeed blessed, I just hope we don't lose all the great infrastructure and policy momentum that we've built in the last few years in our next provincial election. The fact that we have a grid that's 99% renewable means we have a moral imperative to be EV leaders.
We actually need to do a better job of advertising to the rest of the continent how EV friendly we are, seems to me we're missing out on a cool tourism opportunity here.
 

Tom Hudson

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Port Washington, Wisconsin
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#9
Some photos from the trip:

First Supercharge, Lansing MI:

Port Huron Supercharge:

Chargers at the Woodstock, Ontario Best Western:

The bad plug on one of the Tesla chargers in Woodstock:

On the return trip, charging at Cambridge, Ontario:
 

Tom Hudson

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Port Washington, Wisconsin
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#10
I almost forgot -- the Supercharging on this trip cost $78.05 for roughly 1700 miles of travel. I wanted to see how this compared to what we would have paid for gasoline. So I took all the Supercharging fees for the USA and figured how many gallons that would be at USA prices (3.6 gallons) and did the same for Canadian charging (13.47 gallons). When you divide the total miles of 1700 by the total of 17.06 gallons, you get 99.64 MPG. Nice!