Our First Tesla Road Trip: Victoria, BC to Reno & Back!

Rich with his Tesla Model 3 at a Supercharger

My partner and I purchased our first 100% electric car in September 2023, but until this spring had not been on an extended road trip with it until just a couple of weeks ago in May 2024. The trip was from Victoria, BC, Canada to Reno, Nevada, a distance of about 1,375 KM (or 854 miles), which we drove over two days, stopping in Bend, Oregon on the way down, and then Vancouver, Washington on the way home. We were hoping that our experience fueling up our new Tesla Model 3 with electricity would be good enough that we would be comfortable selling our gas-powered Toyota.

A map of the route our car suggested from Vancouver to Reno.

Charging our Tesla Model 3 RWD at home, which has a maximum range of 438 KM, with our level 2 charger is arguably easier than gassing up our Toyota at a gas station, to say nothing of being much less expensive with our solar panels. That said, we’d few horror stories about others travelling with their electric cars and finding that some of the faster non-Telsa level 3 charging stations that they were planning on stopping at to charge their cars were either at capacity with other cars, leading to sometimes long wait times, or just broken down and unusable. In both cases, their trips were slowed down by unplanned extended stops while they waited for a level 3 charger to free up. That said, I’m happy to report that we had no problems at all at the 5 charging stops that we made in each direction.

At all but one of the stops we made, we were the only vehicle at the charging stations (each with 8-16 chargers available), and at one station about 2/3’s of the chargers were occupied, so we had no problem finding a spot to charge. If we arrived at a Supercharger stop near a meal time we often stayed longer than our Telsa recommended and charged our car closer to 100% which meant that we could make the next Supercharge stop shorter. In either case, our Tesla made sure that we had more than enough get enough electricity in the battery to get us to the next charger (with some buffer for the unexpected). The estimated charge times in the image to the right ended up being overly pessimistic given the way we drove so our charge times were overall shorter than estimated (5 MPH over the speed limit until 70 MPH which we didn’t go over often except to pass slower vehicles).

So, in the end for our whole trip, we spent $157 CAD on electricity at superchargers, compared with the estimated $300+ CAD we would have spent on gas for a similar-sized gas-powered vehicle. I added the “+” because the Airbnb we stayed at had a charging station that we were able to use at no extra cost as you can see in the image to the right (the red bars indicate Supercharging, the grey bars represent free chargers, and the blue bars indicate when we charge at home on solar energy). We ended up saving about 50% on energy costs for the trip, and it didn’t take any longer to travel which is what we were hoping for. A win-win situation!

We ended up saving about 50% on energy costs for the trip, and it didn’t take any longer to travel which is what we were hoping for. A win-win situation!

One important thing to note is that if you are travelling to or through an area without Tesla Superchargers you may not have the same experience that we did. Not that you won’t necessarily be able to charge your Telsa, but you will have to find 3rd party charging station to use, which does not seem as reliable as the Tesla network. Tesla helpfully provides a map of Superchargers around the world so you can see if there are Tesla charging stations on your route, as well as a route planner for the model of Tesla you’re thinking of purchasing.

If you’re considering buying an electric vehicle in 2024 and plan on doing a fair bit of road-tripping, then you should seriously consider how a Tesla and it’s Supercharger network could make your road trips less stressful and more enjoyable. Happy road tripping!

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