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Pushing a Tesla Motors Model S to the edge of its range

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Paul Sakuma/AP/File

(Read caption) A Model S drives outside the Tesla Motors factory in Fremont, Calif.

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In the eight months I've owned my 60-kWh Tesla Model S, I've never had occasion to drive it more than 120 miles, comfortably within the car's  EPA-rated 208-mile range. The phrase "range anxiety" was not in my lexicon.

But last week, I got an invitation from Don Sherman, Technical Director of Car & Driver magazine, to meet him in Danville, Pennsylvania. It's 168 miles from my home in New York's Hudson Valley.

Sherman was making a dry run for an upcoming article about a 700-mile cross-country race in a Model S--and Danville, just off Interstate-80, was going to be a charging stop.  We'd e-mailed back and forth about Model S driving and charging strategies, and this would be a chance to meet and compare notes.

The journey seemed short enough to be eminently doable--yet long enough to engender, if not range anxiety, then at least acute range awareness

Fast and hilly

Although I supposedly had a 40-mile cushion in the 208-mile EPA range, I knew very well that my mileage may vary. 

I was planning to drive fast, from 70 to 75 mph along the Interstates that made up most of the route. The terrain was hilly. There would be a prevailing headwind. And the advancing fall season promised cooler temperatures.

All of these factors would eat into range.

100-percent charge

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