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(Marian Cheney for The Globe and Mail)
(Marian Cheney for The Globe and Mail)

Electric Road Trip: Day 2

On the road: Tesla takes on the Hollywood Hills with power to spare Add to ...

Globe Drive's Peter Cheney is driving from San Diego, California to Whistler, B.C. in a Tesla Model S, which is powered only by electricity. This is the second day of his journey.

The Series:

Day 1: Electric Tesla on its way from San Diego to B.C.

Introduction: Can our writer make it from San Diego to Whistler in a Tesla?

Peter Cheney

My previous experiences with electric cars left me battle-scarred – range anxiety is no fun – but my first day in the Tesla Model S went surprisingly well. After charging in L.A. yesterday afternoon, I headed into the Hollywood Hills to shoot photos and videos, wondering whether the steep grades would affect the battery.

I had to make it up the coast to Santa Barbara, where I planned to plug the car in overnight at the Four Seasons hotel. The chain is one of several that caters to guests with electric vehicles.

Santa Barbara was over 175 kilometres from where I was in Hollywood, and running through the curves up on Mulholland Drive had burned up some of the charge I put in the car yesterday afternoon at the LA Supercharger station. Did I have enough left? The Model S’s systems said yes, but as I’ve learned, the numbers are based on a lot of variables – a long, full throttle burst of acceleration can kill a lot of range.

Marian Cheney

The Model S has digital tracking and planning systems that would do justice to a B-1 bomber. I’ve learned to split the Model S’s gigantic display screen into two areas – one shows the GPS map, the other displays the energy readout, a graph that charts power usage and estimates range.

Peter Cheney

Despite the range I squandered up in the Hollywood Hills, making it to Santa Barbara was easy - I pulled into the hotel with about 170 kilometres of range left. I was impressed. The Model S is the first electric car I’ve driven that has the range you need for a real trip. And it’s also a genuinely excellent car. The P85 model I’m driving, which has the biggest battery you can get plus a host of performance features, costs over $140,000.

The plan today is to go to San Francisco, a 588 kilometre drive according to Google Maps. We’ll make three charging stops. The first will be at a Tesla Supercharger station in Atascadero. Then it’s on to Post Ranch, where there’s a restaurant with a high-amperage plug-in. The final charge before San Francisco will be at Gilroy, where Tesla has a Supercharger.

Marian Cheney

Although I created a spreadsheet to map out my trip up the West Coast from San Diego to Whistler, I let the Model S take care of the details each day – its systems are far more accurate than Google Maps, and its predictive capabilities are amazing. Some smart engineers obviously put a lot of time into writing the algorithms that track the energy going in and out of its massive battery. In a car like the Tesla, software is king.

Tesla's Backup Camera

Follow on Twitter: @cheneydrive