I’ve noticed a lot of drivers recently tell how they turn off the air conditioner to gain extra range, this stems from a misunderstanding of how much energy a Tesla HVAC system (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioner) consumes under various conditions. It’s only if you’re driving in areas north of Geraldton or east of Merredin that you should be concerned with energy consumption (or if you’re paying insanely high electricity prices). In the city and suburbs crank up the cooling or heating and enjoy that car.
As virtually all country areas in Western Australia that may
require some energy conservation are warmer areas, I’ll stick to discussing
So why not turn off the HVAC cooling or open the windows?
Driving an aerodynamic vehicle with the windows open above
40-50kmh is a backward step, more energy will be consumed from poor
aerodynamics than an air conditioner would normally consume, the faster you
drive the bigger the difference.
Driving a long distance in a car with a hot interior is not
worth it unless the situation is desperate, besides the safety risk of possibly
losing concentration, you’re also reducing the enjoyment of driving a Tesla.
When cooling the amount of energy the HVAC consumes depends
on a couple of factors; how low a temperature the HVAC is set too, the interior
and outside air temperature and often lastly but often overlooked; how long the
car has been sitting in the full sun before switching on the HVAC, a
significant part of the heat absorbed by the cars bodywork will transfer
through to the interior adding to the task of cooling the inside air.
How to get the best range while still using the HVAC cooling.
Try and park the car under shade before departure, this could save 10-15kms of range over a 350km trip.
Pre cool the interior whilst the car is still charging, on AC charging this may reduce the charge speed but getting extra distance covered is more important than the few extra minutes it may take.
Set the thermostat higher, you may enjoy being spoilt with a 20C interior around the city but 23C over a long drive is better than no cooling at all.
Drop 5kmh- If the choice is drive at 100kmh with no HVAC cooling or 95kmh with cooling the 95kmh journey is going to be far more enjoyable, besides driving at 95kmh only makes the 350km trip 11 minutes slower.
Over the long term as DC fast chargers are installed in WA
country areas reducing most trips to below 250kms the above advice will no
longer be applicable, but in the meantime stay cool and enjoy that car.
Article by Andrew Harvey, TOCEVA Racing and TOCWA committee member.
The newly formed TOCEVA Racing is a group of EV enthusiasts
who come from the Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia and the Australian
Electric Vehicle Association. The TOCEVA
plated 2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance, driven by Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann has
placed 4th overall and fastest in the Targa Cup class of Round 2 of
the Shannons Targa Rallysprint Series, ahead of a tough field of almost 80
Jurgen piloted the TOCEVA Racing Model 3 under Helens calm
guidance through four runs around the Perth Motorplex course for a total time
of just over 9 minutes. The field is
separated by type of car and engine capacity, something that is hard to define
for the Tesla, but there are two main classes.
The Rallysprint cars are heavily modified racing cars while the Targa
Cup cars must adhere to strict rules governing Targa racing.
The TOCEVA Racing Model 3 is effectively a standard Tesla
Performance Model 3 with the only upgrades being racing brake pads, racing
tyres (on standard 18in wheels) and this was the first race with the recently
(as in last week!) installed roll cage.
The TOCEVA Racing team led by Jon Edwards worked through the holiday
break to strip the interior ready for the roll cage, then painstakingly
replaced, altered and fabricated new parts for the interior to get the car
ready for today’s race.
Another Tesla Model 3 Performance competed, Nigel Ball
driving his everyday car (with racing brake pads, wheels and tyres but no roll
cage) impressively coming in 9th place overall.
Coming off a tremendous 4th place overall in
last season’s Targa Cup (competing in the Targa 130 class speed limited to
130km/h) this is the first of many races for 2021 for TOCEVA Racing, competing
in the open class of the Targa Cup for the first time.
We are looking forward to the next round on the 28th
January again at the Perth Motorplex.
Spectator entry is free so come down and watch some great motorsport. Where else can you see a Tesla quietly
showing the racing fraternity what electric really can do?
These two sets of chargers are 5kms apart not far from the
Forrest highway 160kms south of Perth, they’re are both excellent charging
facilities that provide a welcome link for drivers heading to the south west
corner of the state.
Treendale consists of 2 charging outlets with a maximum charge rate of 350kw, although currently there are no electric vehicles in Australia that can accept that power output. As of today (28/12/2020) the cost is 40 cents per kWh with no connection fee via the Chargefox network. In addition to the reasonable cost per unit the ability for 2019 onward Tesla’s to charge at rates as high as 190kw makes the Treendale charger an attractive alternative.
The Eaton Superchargers are part of the Tesla network, the
bank of 6 charging outlets have a maximum charge rate of 135kw, for those
without access to free supercharging credits the 52 cents per kWh cost can
appear excessive compared to charging at home but is acceptable for a top up
every few weeks.
The clear advantage of the Tesla supercharger is the
convenience of the set up, firstly you can detour into Eaton with the surety
that at least one of the 6 charging bays will be available to use, having the
ability to check via the Tesla app how many chargers are occupied before
arrival is an added bonus, but best of all the “plug in and walk off”
set up is so much better than opening a phone app and waiting for a connection
as often occurs with most other non Tesla chargers.
In summary, if you have a newer Tesla with the ability to
charge at higher rates the Treendale chargers are the better alternative, the
downside is you run the risk that eventually both charge bays will be occupied
on arrival. If your not concerned about saving a few minutes and a few dollars
the Eaton superchargers are the best option, park up, plug in, walk off
completely hassle free.
Tesla Owners Club Western Australia (TOCWA) has doubled the reach of fast DC chargers north of Perth by installing a 50kW Tritium charger at Geraldton – Western Australia’s third largest city. This world first Owners Club initiative serves to open the mid-west region of Western Australia to all EV owners wishing to travel to tourist hotspots such as Kalbarri and Monkey Mia. It also drastically shortens the transit time of EVs pressing further north to destinations such as Carnarvon and Coral Bay.
Their policy states that the State Government will “invest up to $20 million to support the creation of an electric vehicle charging infrastructure network facilitating travel north from Perth to Kununurra, along the south‑west coast to Esperance and east to Kalgoorlie.“
If you think that’s an overblown headline it’s best you read
on, the fact is I doubt there will ever be an electric vehicle charger
installed in WA that will have a bigger impact. It may only be a 50kw charger
but it’s going to power up more than just electric vehicles.
Most of the EV driving I’ve done has been in country areas, especially locations with limited charging options across every state and territory of Australia. Charging downtime using AC power provides a unique opportunity to discuss electric vehicles with the general public, many can’t tell the difference between an EV and a traditional vehicle until they see you plugging in to a power source, it then doesn’t take long for a conversation to start. No matter what some media outlets attempt to portray the general public are intrigued by electric vehicles, they may not know much about the technology but many Australian drivers are keen for their next vehicle to be electric, their biggest concern is almost always charging speeds on long journeys.
The Albany highway between Perth and Albany is possibly the busiest WA country road outside of the Perth to Margaret River corridor, at 415kms, most petrol or diesel vehicle drivers knock the trip off in 4 to 5 hours. Up until now an electric vehicle needed 450kms of real range to cover the same journey in a 4 to 5 hour time frame, the Albany highway is a fairly harsh surface that increases energy use, it’s also not a road that can be driven slowly. For the most part the highway contains 110kmh zones with insufficient overtaking lanes, anyone driving at less than 90kmh during the day will become a nuisance to other road users. For those adventurous types a 2 hour AC top up at Williams or Kojonup has been part of the bigger picture, for those looking at a transition from petrol to electric a two hour delay on a 4 hour trip is not acceptable and never will be, DC charging is the only solution. For the thousands of passenger vehicles that drive the Albany highway every week DC charging will bring a positive change in thinking.
I would confidentially guess that less than 10% of Western Australia’s electric vehicle drivers have even considered driving to Albany, this is mostly due to the lack of DC charging. Now that Kojonup DC is in place even a car with 350kms range will only require a 20-30 minute top up, expect to see many more electric vehicles travel the Albany highway during the Summer of 2020-21. This will eventually provide an incentive for other towns and businesses along the highway to install DC charging, very few like to take the lead but none wish to miss out.
I have no doubt that multiple locations along the Albany highway will have banks of DC chargers far more powerful than 50kw within the next 5 years, Kojonup DC will be the one that kick started it all.
Footnote: The Chargepod DC installed at Arthur River in mid 2019 was the instigator to getting the first grid connected DC charger along this major Perth to Albany route, thanks to the efforts of a community minded individual for making it possible.
On occasions you’ll plug into a destination charger that
doesn’t appear to work, a small number of these public chargers are becoming
unreliable mostly due to the cable getting mistreated, to add some confusion
the same charger will not work for one car and then work first time for the
following car on the same day, the Williams Woolshed destination charger is a
To make the Tesla experience a bit easier here are the steps to work through that will hopefully get a Tesla destination unit to charge:
If there’s no Green or Red light strip light on the front
check that power is switched on at the meter box, some premises keep it
switched off for various reason, this will be often noted on the Plugshare app.
If you’ve established that the unit is powered up but a Red
light is showing check that the cable is not twisted or stretched in any form,
also check the cable is not pulled out from the bottom of the charging unit,
that is you can see each individual colored cable rather than the black insulation.
Once the above steps are done locate the Red reset button on the side of the unit, using your thumb press it in and hold until all lights go off and wait until the Red/Orange light on the front turns Green, this will take between 5 and 30 seconds, if all goes to plan the Green light will start moving and the car will charge. If it doesn’t work the first time give it another go, also try unplugging and plugging back in before attempting a third reset, once again make sure the cable is not unduly stressed. If the charging doesn’t start after 4 resets the chances of it working at all on your car are very low.
If you do get charging started don’t rush off, hang around for a minute until the cars charging at full amps, if the unit has a fault it is likely to trip off within the first minute, if it does trip off it’s best to no longer attempt charging and report the issue. If you have no other choice and desperately need to charge try dropping the amps down via the cars touchscreen, keep in mind this is an absolute last resort. As an extra precaution if you walk away from the car to visit the shops or cafe check the phone app after 15 minutes, it’s very likely charging is still okay but there’s no harm making sure.