Tesla Model 3 road trip view over Ripa

Our Tesla Model 3 road trip – a 5,121 km drive across Europe – Day 1 & 2 (of 15)

Søren Road trip, Tesla Model 3 9 Comments

A few months ago we bought our first electric car, the Tesla Model 3, and decided to make this year’s summer vacation a road trip to Tuscany, Italy, and back. This road trip will be covered in a series of blog posts spanning the 15 days of the total trip, starting in Denmark, across Germany, Switzerland, into Italy and back across the same countries. Before I go into details let me highlight a few thoughts about this car and our motivations for taking this road trip.

If you own a Model 3 or another Tesla vehicle you will recognize many things mentioned in this blog series. If you do not own a Tesla Model 3 but are curious about how it would be to live with a Tesla Model 3 and take it for a road trip, read on for inspiration.

We have a Tesla Model 3 Long Range (75 KWh battery), All Wheel Drive, dual motor, with 19″ rims and we couldn’t wait to experience how this car would perform in the European Alps and Tuscan hills. Going for 19″ rims obviously penalizes range a bit due to the increased friction. Equally there will be a bit more noise in the otherwise pretty quiet cabin compared to the default 18″ rims.

Why take a Tesla Model 3 road trip

We bought our Tesla Model 3 back in January 2019, which means we have free supercharging for 6 months from delivery of the car which was late March. This allowed us to transport ourselves to Tuscany and back without any cost except food and stay-overs at hotels and B&Bs.

As I will describe in this series driving a Tesla Model 3 leaves you a lot less tired and weary after driving for a full day.

This car is so fun to drive. You probably already know something about the qualities of the Tesla Model 3, and what I am talking about.

Regenerative braking for the win. I cannot emphasize enough how cool this feature is. Though not exclusively used by Tesla it is somewhat of a trademark feature. Think of regenerative braking as a way of converting the kinetic energy generated by deceleration into power that is then stored in the car’s batteries. Apart from maximizing range the added benefits are that you can drive almost without using the real brakes, rendering your rims sparkling clean and providing a hassle-free mountain driving experience and in general give you much faster reaction to events that occur, since regenerative braking kicks in as soon as you lift your foot from the accelerator.

Add to this the autopilot features of the Tesla Model 3 and you’ve got a comfortable, relaxing and quiet driving experience.

Day 1 & 2 – From Denmark to Heidelberg, Germany

  • Departure from: Als, Denmark
  • Charging : Twice at supercharger locations Bispingen and Malsfeld, Germany
  • Destination: Heidelberg, Germany
  • Distance: 803 km
  • Duration: 10 hours incl. charging.

First of all, we are not the couple that wants to race through the countries to get to our destination so we we might not be as picky about charging times as other people. We want the entire trip to be an experience. Charging times rock in a Model 3 though. Usually we charge between 30 and 50 minutes. We still like to have around 20 percent (approx. 100 km) left on the battery when arriving at a charging station. Mostly because of the charging speed which is faster between 20% and 80%.

Generally, we just cruised at allowed speed limits, apart from Germany’s crazy autobahn which in many places has no speed limit. This leads to a lot of reckless driving so we just cruised at 110-130 km depending on the situation and traffic density.

Tesla Model 3 road trip part 1 to Italy
Because of heavy traffic in Germany in July we decided to drive during the night. Turned out to be a good decision.

Since we had no experience a road trip this long in an electric vehicle I spent a significant amount of time planning, creating Google maps with Tesla superchargers, hotel destination chargers and so on. I had heard about “range anxiety” but have never experienced it at home, even with not having a charging option at home (read more about that in an upcoming post). It turned out that I did not need to plan at all. With the massive network of Tesla superchargers you just drive, find a charger and charge while you eat, use the restrooms etc.

Because of the heavy vacation traffic in Germany in July we decided to leave Denmark at 22.00 and drive through the night. Highways in Germany were almost free from traffic and the dreaded Elb tunnel in Hamburg was completely free from traffic and during the night we had charging stations to ourselves. In vacation time it is not rare with 10-15 km queues in this area.

Heidelberg, Germany

We chose Heidelberg because of its history. It is a city that has one of the most famous universities in Germany. By driving during the night we would arrive in Heidelberg about 7.30 in the morning and get some sleep at the hotel and then have almost an entire day to spend in the city. Heidelberg is full of atmosphere and I highly recommend it. It is a young city due to the lasting popularity of the university. We enjoyed our stay and got to bed early, ready for day 3 of the Tesla Model 3 road trip which would lead us to our first destination in Italy, Ripa.

Driving and charging at night. We had SuperChargers to ourselves.

Want to read more? Check out Day 3 of our Tesla Model 3 road trip – Crossing the Alps.

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Comments 9

  1. Hi Søren
    I am seriously considering a model 3 long range but missing real life experience to validate the fit to my driving pattern since I am a heavy commuter.
    I have dual workplace one 175km away (165km on motorway @ 130-140km/t) and one 200km away (175km on motorway).
    My fear so far has been the 400km days and the consumption at decent motorway speed since I don’t want to waist even more time on the commute on tailgating trucks or even stopping for charging. And how about winter when battery efficiency is even worse?
    I plan on having a home charger, and if I am lucky I can have one of the few Clever p-spots installed at my workplace. Therefore I am dependent to be sure that the 400km motorway is realistic also during wintertime.
    Ideally a calculation simulation tool exist and you could direct me to it, alternatively I would like real life experience of how many km to expect traveling north on E45 at 140km/t and your general evaluate of the fit of Model 3 LR to my scenario. Thanks

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Peter
      Thanks a lot for your questions.

      I too am curious about the range in winter time. Rain and snow will affect range more than in a ICE vehicle. Remember that a Tesla and other electric vehicles are much more efficient in terms of energy use for actual movement of the vehicle. In an ICE car only around 30-40% of the energy produced by the engine actually makes the car move forward. The rest is used for the internal moving parts in the engine etc. In an EV this is more like 85%. But this also means that an EV seems more affected by change in outer conditions like weather and this is partly why rain and precipitation will affect range. In rain I notice some range decrease. Air with water is heavier and the friction is higher than air without water.

      A home charger seems like a must in your case. We do not have one but our commute is only around 100 km per day.

      It should be possible to have a range of 400 km if you keep the speed limits.

      Regarding the need to stop and charge. I totally understand this would be inconvenient. On the other hand, this is maybe one of the small prices to pay for getting on the sustainability movement. Also, consider that the new V3 SuperChargers that are beginning to roll out will have charging around 250KW. This means you could gain 120 km in a 5 minute charging.
      I am not a fan of tailgating trucks either but I do like to set the autopilot and just cruise at 110-130km/hour.

      I will absolutely share more about range in the winter time once it comes.

      You can try to play around with https://www.abetterrouteplanner.com
      There you can specify the car model and set some parameters to have it calculate the route and charging needs. Like desired State Of Charge when reaching the destination and departure charge level etc.

      Hope this helps!

  2. Hi Søren,
    Thanks for the prompt reply – it is extremely helpful in my current decision process.
    What is your guess on the range I will get if the pilot is set on 130km/t ? (then we could assume that rain would reduce it with 10% and frost with additional 10%).
    The youtubes I can find on M3 range testing is either focused on max range with consistent 90km/t or what a realistic mix looks like. This is not so useful for me in terms of my pattern of motorway being the dominant.
    In terms of the supercharging stops it is ok if it was occasionally – I need to avoid that I extent my daily commute with additional 15 minutes – at best, for a recharge stop. with the risk of waiting for 3 Norwegians to complete their hapsdog & charging.
    Hence I see my self going to EV if it is truly only extraordinary can not get 400km + 10% margin.
    Else I will need to wait for reasonably priced EVs to have a better range before joining the movement 🙂

    1. Post
      Author

      You’re welcome Peter 🙂
      Actually also consider that the default 18″ rims called “Aero” reportedly have 5% better range than 19″ Spot wheels like mine. So that will drag factors on a positive direction.

      Increasing speed increases energy consumption exponentially. I don’t know the formula but for sure a 10km/h increase from 110km/h to 120km/h is less costly than a 10km/h increase from 120km/h to 130km/h.
      I guess what I am saying is: If driving a bit slower is what you need to make that 400km range, it could be worth it 🙂

      My impression from the vacation was that the range spec is reasonably accurate if driving within speed limits.

      Please shoot any other questions you may get.

      1. Ok, I guess I was hoping that you have had some experience with driving 130-140km/t – giving you an idea of Wh/km and hence an idea of the (theorical) range at pure motorway consumption on the 75kWh capacity – or knew where to find trustworthy simulation tools. I understand this is no longer available https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sApR5sNH8tc.
        As I understand from other youtubes the M3 navigation will calcuate your consumption on a route, I guess based on travelling according to the speed limits. So maybe you can check how it calculate consumption on a trip from Als to downtown Århus.
        I really apprecite your feedback & experience 🙂

        1. Post
          Author

          I will check what the Wh consumption is in the car at 140 next time I get on the highway 🙂

          I just tried to plan a route from Hamburg to Haverslev in North Jutland (415km) with a 100% departure charge, reference speed at 120kmh, max speed at 140kmh, and desired range at destination at 5%. I chose the Model 3 with LR AWD and standard wheels. This gets the following result:
          (Check this image on my Onedrive)

          We’re almost there! 🙂

          1. ok, please let me ensure I understand this correctly:
            The 415km trip will give an average consumption of 229wh/km which gives a full range of 327km? (75Kwh/0,229) and hence a 14minute charge (suggested to happen in Hedensted) is needed?
            Ok, this is disappointing since this will not only force me to charge on the way & jeopardize even a one leg of 200km in snow & frost.
            The business case was terrific, but I guess I need to look for the MB C300de coming out shortly or wait for better range EVs like https://www.financialexpress.com/auto/car-news/the-truth-about-tata-evision-electric-sedan-dont-believe-everything-you-read-on-whatsapp-facebook/1238766/ – or get a job closer to home 🙂

          2. Post
            Author

            Or ease off that accelerator 😎 I am sure you can get 400km range in any weather conditions but it depends on speed

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