Took a Tesla M3 on a Ski Trip

April 18, 2023

New York to Vermont.
Yes, it's doable.

I wanted to make sure this pertinent information is on top because we all hate click-baits. 

The kicker: this road trip was a ski trip. 

It was winter. Road conditions were icy. It also rained several times during the round trip. Snowboard and ski gear and a large Rimowa luggage are in the trunk.

Here are some fast facts before retelling the experience.

Car: Tesla Model 3, non-long range
Rental Company: Turo
New York to Vermont: 330 miles / 531 km
Trip doable on electric car: Yes
Need to recharge car NY-VT: Yes--we had to charge the car 3x in one day

The Experience

We have done many road trips in the past and in different countries. "This would be a good chance to try driving a Tesla for the first time!" It sounded like a great idea, so we picked a car off the Turo app.

After all, how difficult could it be?

Google tells me that a non-long range Tesla Model 3 can drive up to 272 miles or 437 kilometres in one charge. Checking the route, there was absolutely no way to miss a Tesla Supercharger along the way. We guessed we would need to charge the car once, maybe when we've reached Vermont.

1:37 PM - Picked up the car in Jersey City. It had 58% battery. 
2:12 PM -  Drove on the George Washington Bridge.
2:45 PM - Stopped over at the Supercharger station in Glenville, Connecticut. Charged for half an hour. 
6:05 PM - Arrived at Brattleboro, Vermont. Fully charged the Tesla while we shopped for snacks.

8:35 PM 
The Good News: Finally arrived at Tälta Lodge in Stowe, Vermont!
The Bad News: Car's battery was at 29%! 

At this point, it was difficult to understand how the battery dropped so fast. We thought since we fully charged in Vermont, we'd be good for the entire trip to the hotel. Anyway, we let it go.

We dropped off our stuff at the hotel and regrouped to see what our options were for dinner. 

It was late so we decided we needed to get something to eat quickly. We drove for 5 minutes and grabbed a quick dinner at the Matterhorn, a pizza place in Stowe that also served sushi, which relative to where we were was actually pretty decent. 

Sushi at the Matterhorn Bar & Grill in Stowe, Vermont. They have a dedicated chef and sous chef just doing the sushi/sashimi orders and poke bowls.

Simple yet delicious thin-crust pizza. I see why this was a big après ski place and they were churning out pizza boxes for delivery nonstop.

We got back to the hotel at 11pm and noticed that the car's battery was down at 17%

This is when we checked out the car's trunk and noticed that the Tesla's car owner forgot to put the home charging kit in the trunk. "Uh-oh!" As both of us were experiencing a Tesla for the first time, we weren't sure how the battery behaved in the wild. The parking lot was outdoors and snow was piling up quickly. If these Tesla batteries are anywhere near the same as other Lithium batteries, the car's battery might also discharge in the cold.

The Good News: We went to the hotel reception to ask if they have an EV charger we can use. They said "Sure, use the ones we have outside in the parking lot." We went to the farther end of the lot and found two charger slots.
The Bad News: It was not a Tesla charger so it required an adapter, which the car did not have in the trunk either.

So there we were, thinking: "Do we sleep this off for tonight?

The Good News: There was a Supercharger at the foot of the mountain / ski resort. 
The Bad News: It was only available for the ski resort's hotel guests. 
The Worst News: The nearest supercharging stations were both 1 hour away on opposite directions.

11:15 PM - We were still debating our options. We saw we could buy an adapter from a hardware store, but they didn't open until the morning. 

11:30 PM - We started driving to the nearest charging station at Berlin, Vermont.
11:43 PM - Still driving, the battery dropped to 9%! This was already in the territory of the car's reserved battery. 

11:48 PM - BATTERY DROPPED TO 5%!!! We were 400 ft away from the station.

We got to the station with the skin of our teeth. It ended up being a good decision to do this, despite how late in the night it was. It would have ruined our first ski day if we decided to sleep on it. 

12:22 AM - The car's battery is full-ish. The -ish is because it never really went to 100% in the three times we have charged it.

1:22 AM - Arrived back at Tälta Lodge

It was late. I went on reddit. The crypto market dipped. I bought the dip. Except it wasn't just a dip. It was the start of the crypto winter in 2022.

Oh, I forgot to mention... 

This trip happened all the way back on January 4, 2022. Every recollection, up to the timestamps and location, were all retrieved from my iPhone's photo album. 

Going through the photos and videos again put me right back into my actual memories of that day and all the strong emotions of uncertainty, doubt, regret, but also brought back the exhilarating feeling of just making it to the station before the car's battery conked out. 

These feelings went on and on every day we had to drive and recharge the car until we got back to New York on January 9, when it was almost zero-visibility due to strong rains for some parts of the drive.

Looking back, it was silly choosing to rent an electric vehicle over a fuel-powered car, especially on a difficult drive with a full trunk and without snow tires during winter. And as a lesson, we both learned that when driving a car that is not our own, ESPECIALLY a car type we have not yet used, to do our research on tools and backup tools. (Read: An adapter is cheap to buy; probably useful to own one in the toolbox in case of emergencies like this. Reminding the car's owner to leave the charging kit in the trunk is even cheaper.)

But also looking back, this ended up being quite a unique, fun trip filled with problem-solving and as a result--we got a story that needs to be told.

Would you drive a Tesla on a ski trip?

This entire story was brought to you by my iPhone's photo album.

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