From my basecamp in southeastern Missouri, I set out for the Nashville supercharger, some 205 road miles away. Tesla’s navigation software let me know that this route was a questionable endeavor if driven at normal speed.
For such a distance, I planned to use a slow driving speed to extend my range, but soon I came across a massive electric vehicle under transport, and it occurred to me that if I were ever to try drafting, now was the time.
Typically, I burn about 289watt-hours of power per mile when driving at 65 mph on flat terrain, but take a look at what happened when I started drafting behind this big truck.
Although I started drafting fairly close to the vehicle in front, with an adaptive-cruise-control setting of “2” I discovered I could back off to “5” or even further without a substantial loss in drafting. My energy burn dropped from 270 wh/mile to 245 wh/mile. At this rate, I could keep up my 65 mph speed all the way to Nashville. We finished the route with about 15% of energy remaining in our battery.
I lost the massive electric vehicle at a fork in the road but then caught sight of another likely target and started drafting again.
Truly spoiled in the drafting world, I tried a run-of-the-mill semi-truck and found the drafting advantages were nearly as good. Since drafting can be accomplished from a safe distance behind, I think it is a safer alternative to stretching range than slow driving on highways with significant traffic. More recently, I have discovered substantial range improvements when moving with a flow of dense traffic. I call this “traffic drafting”. I’m very keen to quantify my findings and post in the other tabs as soon as I have more to share.
The Nashville supercharger is located at the Nashville sales and service facility. It is a beautiful building with friendly employees and it was quite busy with getting vehicles prepped for delivery when I arrived. A young man in the showroom had just pulled the trigger on a Model S and I offered my congratulations.
Only 90 miles south of Nashville stands Huntsville, Alabama, the location where Von Braun and America’s other rocket scientists developed the space vehicles that would take us to the moon. It is now known as the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. With a full charge, Iceman and I set off for this location. An RV park right next to the space museum awaited us, but it did not offer 50 amp charging. Here is a perfect example of why you want to carry the right 30-TT charging adapter with you when roadtripping in a Model S.
After parking the Tesla and beginning the charge, Iceman and I walked over to the museum. What a sight: a full-scale replica Saturn V awaited! For those of you who weren’t around in 1969, this is the rocket that carried our Apollo astronauts to the moon.
I have been both a space and aviation nut since childhood, and the sight of this rocket gave me chicken-skin. Wow. Imagine watching this thing launch and feeling the ground shake! The Saturn V put out 7.5 million lbs. of thrust at liftoff, more than any other rocket in history. To put things into perspective, when SpaceX introduces the Falcon Heavy, it will carry more than double the load into orbit than the Space Shuttle could, but the Falcon Heavy does so with 4.5 million lbs. of liftoff thrust. To offer a baseball analogy, the Saturn 5 is the Babe Ruth of rockets.
The next day, Iceman settled into air-conditioned comfort in the back seat of the Tesla while I headed off for the museum. I parked in a shady spot but all the same checked on temperature and air-conditioning performance frequently from my smart phone. The primary museum building offered many fascinating displays and it was evident that the U.S. Space Camp was in full swing with scores of youngsters involved in activities here. I had even seen a dozen of them launching their model rockets near the RV park.
Step outside, and you’re in the rocket park. Here stand actual and the occasional replica of important rockets in the development of space travel. You soon learn that America’s space program really was an offshoot from the primary business of designing long-distance missiles for the military.
The real crown jewels of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center reside within the Saturn V building. Here, on it’s side is an actual Saturn V rocket, split into three stages for your viewing pleasure. Since major events were underway in this building, my ability to visit was questionable, but by asking nicely and expressing my sincere interest, I was allowed in.
Here’s an F-1 engine that was the type used in the first stage of the Saturn V. Development of this engine begin way back in the year 1960. Are there parallels here with the lead that Tesla has achieved in the EV world? We’ll see.
Reunited with the Tesla and Iceman after the tour, we set off for Nashville, Chattanooga, and then Knoxville before calling it a day. Ah, the joys of being back on the supercharger network!