After writing about their Tesla Model S running out of juice on the side of the road between Las Vegas and Barstow, CA recently (read about it here), the fine folks at Teslarati figured they had some 'splainin' to do. The brief explanation is headwinds. Yes, headwinds.

A Model S has about 10 miles of range even after it shows a big fat "0" on its dash.

Thankfully, the drivers took notes about what to do if your Model S is about to shut down like C-3PO in A New Hope. Step one is to know that the EV has about 10 miles of range (maybe 20) even after it shows "0" on its dash. Once that distance is used up, it's time to pull the car over, and even then there is enough reserve juice to power the screen for a half hour. After that, all that works are the door handles and the flashers.

So, before everything goes completely dark, it's best to remember to put the car into "tow mode" and get it into neutral so that the EV doesn't have to be jumpstarted just to get it onto a truck. Also, once the Model S has been recharged from empty, it needs to be powered off in order to reset the system and not keep it in "depleted power" mode. Now you know.

The way Teslarati learned all of this was that, after using a Las Vegas supercharger to give their Tesla Model what they thought would be about 240 miles worth of range for the 160-mile drive, the car unfortunately provided them with just 157 before shutting down. The culprit was a sand storm that sent 35-mile-per-hour headwinds (and probably a bit of grit) into the car as it maintained a 75-mph cruising speed. Teslarati also said elevation changes were part of the problem. Las Vegas and Barstow are both about 2,200 feet above sea level, but there are a bunch of hills in between, and we guess the declines giveth less then the inclines taketh away. Happens to the best of us.


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  • 182 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 7 Months Ago
      http://www.windfinder.com/weather-maps/superforecast/usa#8/35.590/-115.903 Tesla's firmware update 6.0 will be a major upgrade to the Nav system and will take into account terrain and traffic. I am not sure about wind... but that can easily be implemented since 6.0 will also have a Dev Kit and allow 3rd party apps.
      jeff
      • 7 Months Ago
      The data has already shown that he was driving much faster than 75mph.... Nothing else to say.....
      GRRRR32
      • 7 Months Ago
      Let's see. H'mmm. Carry a Honda generator in the trunk?
        Joe
        • 7 Months Ago
        @GRRRR32
        Carrying gasoline seems unwise. How about a little mini wind turbine so you can stand out and get sand blasted in the storm?
          Nick Kordich
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Joe
          Regarding carrying gasoline being unwise and folks running out of gas, there's an interesting product on the market that's a half gallon of non-flammable gasoline substitute you can safely keep in your trunk: http://www.amazon.com/Gallon-Extra-Fuel-Emergency-Flammable/dp/B008BLFSWA It likely has even worse MPG, it might not even work at all in a generator, and it's expensive, but for people who seem to keep running out of gas (something that's never happened to me driving ICE or electric vehicles), it might beat sitting in a dead cell zone trying to flag down motorists for a lift into town.
        Willy
        • 7 Months Ago
        @GRRRR32
        Always wondered if you can recharge w a generator?
      lendersmith
      • 7 Months Ago
      Damn whoever suddenly put those hills there and made the wind blow, - they're obviously just anti-Tesla.
        Nick Kordich
        • 7 Months Ago
        @lendersmith
        I assume you're joking, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Westboro Baptist Church at soldiers' funerals with signs saying "God Hates Teslas!" and "Thank God for Dead Batteries!"
          Nick Kordich
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Nick Kordich
          @Teleny411 - The WBC's so extreme, even the KKK has had counter-protests against them. I haven't seen any photos of that, but like to imagine guys in hoods with signs reading "We're not with them" and "Take it down a notch." By the way, to anyone offended by my expectation of the WBC being anti-EVs/Tesla, my apologies. My intent wasn't to paint all EV critics with the same brush, but to point out that there really are people who think 'He who makes the wind blow' (as per Psalms 147:18) does so to punish folks for things like which mucous membranes they rub together or what energy storage medium they use in their cars.
      Avinash Machado
      • 7 Months Ago
      So much hatred for an innovative,American company.
      VL00
      • 7 Months Ago
      Dropping down to 60 or 65 MPH probably would have done the trick. People seem to be oblivious to the fact that aero drag goes up with the square of the velocity.
        CoolWaters
        • 7 Months Ago
        @VL00
        Yes, and the car should have been telling them they were going to have a problem at that speed. Looks like human Override problem.
        A A
        • 7 Months Ago
        @VL00
        if i wanted to go slow i wouldve just bought a bus ticket
          VL00
          • 7 Months Ago
          @A A
          65 is slow? You'd be a on bus because you can't afford a Tesla
        Willy
        • 7 Months Ago
        @VL00
        Not square, it's cube of velocity.
          VL00
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Willy
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_equation Wrong
          Willy
          • 7 Months Ago
          @Willy
          I was waiting for you to dish out your "I'm a aerospace engineer" expertise. And all I got a wiki reference?
      thecommentator2013
      • 7 Months Ago
      EREV anyone? lol
      Nick Kordich
      • 7 Months Ago
      AAA in at least some states does offer roadside charging using a generator. It's not very efficient, either, but if you're only a couple miles from a level 2 charger, putting a few miles worth of charge on the battery beats putting it on a flatbed. On a related now, I'm surprised how some people drive an EV to absolute exhaustion with no charging station in sight. Leave some power on the battery so you can unload it from a flatbed and then pull up to the charger. Without any power, you have to roll it into location where the charging cable will reach it after you've unloaded it.
      Nick Kordich
      • 7 Months Ago
      Yes, but not while driving and it requires a hardware hack, as covered in this video: http://youtu.be/rtTMCs1KoXo Also, as the notes to the video mention, this is very inefficient - you would only get about 13.5 miles back on the battery for a gallon of gas. I suspect the generator emissions are worse per gallon than what you'd see from a car, as well.
      Teleny411
      • 7 Months Ago
      Those Westboro Kooks would burn a Tesla at the stake.
      SpaceGhost
      • 7 Months Ago
      I wonder how many gas stations they passed on this epic fail.
      Alan Dean Foster
      • 7 Months Ago
      Kind of like stepping into an airplane you've never flown before and attempting to make it to your destination without checking the weather en route, possible necessary alterations to the flight, etc. Not to mention first familiarizing yourself with the plane's capabilities and controls. No car is smart enough to compensate for a dumb driver.
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