Getting good range around the city is not really a problem but on country trips it’s necessary until the fast charger network improves across the whole country, below are the best methods of getting the best range, a lot of these are very obvious and are also applicable to petrol vehicles.
Tyres – this has the number one effect on range, correct tyre pressure is critical, not just for reducing rolling resistance but also for vehicle handling, safety and tyre lifespan. Model S 19 inch wheels have a pressure setting of 45psi (3.0 bar) model S with 21 inch wheels have a setting of 42psi (2.9 bar), these are cold tyre pressures, after 20 minutes of freeway driving the pressure will increase 2-5psi, that’s perfectly normal operation.
All Tesla’s have a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS), the display can be brought up on the driver instrument screen.
Cruising speed– this is pretty straight forward, the faster you drive the more energy per kilometre gets used, hypermiling Tesla drivers have found that 40kmh is the best driving range but no one wants to drive at 40kmh in a 100kmh zone, if you’re in a 110 kmh zone with no traffic around dropping it back to 100kmh makes a big improvement in range.
Aircon – Generally the effect on range goes unnoticed because warm weather improves the cars efficiency, although if you want to get improved range on a hot day setting the air-conditioner at 22 is far better than 19.
Heater – this can kill the range by 10-15%, it doesn’t really matter around town but on a long trip where every kilometre could be important it’s probably better to turn off the climate control and wear a jacket, if you still need some heat the seat warmers set on 1 are a better option than the fan heater.
Pre heat or cool the car – 10 minutes before leaving on a long trip prepare the inside air temp while still plugged in, it may only add 3-4kms to the range but it’s nice to get into a comfy vehicle.
Drive off straight after charging – if you’re planning on leaving on a long trip at 7.00am set charging to finish at that time, on cooler mornings this provides a bit of extra heat in the battery pack. If the car is being charged to 100% expect some trial and error on the charge finishing time calculation.
Regen braking – To get the most benefit from regen back off the accelerator gently, the motors have a limit to how much they can put back in to the battery pack, backing off hard turns some energy into heat, besides there really is no point racing up to a set of red traffic lights and breathing in all the fumes belching out of the car exhaust in front of you.
What not to do – Tailgating trucks, yes this does improve range by a significant margin but it leaves your car open to all sorts of damage from stones and all sorts of roadkill that you won’t see in time, a semi trailer can straddle a bloated kangaroo carcass, a passenger car won’t. If you don’t want to pass the truck, sit back 200 metres and let it clear the road for you.
Unavoidable effects on range
Wind direction – Tesla’s are very aerodynamic but head winds and cross winds will reduce the range almost as much as any other car, on the other hand a strong tailwind can be very handy.
Road surface – a perfect example is driving to Jurien Bay, the smooth freeway North of Perth will provide good economy, under the same weather conditions and average speed the very course surface of the Indian Ocean drive North of Yanchep will increase the energy consumed by over 10%.
Wet roads – depending on your tyres and the amount of water on the road the extra energy used could be up to 10%, this is not often noticed though because traffic normally slows down slightly in wet conditions.