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Old 08-08-2020, 01:50 PM   #1
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Our Tesla Experiment

In December we picked up a Tesla Model 3 to start experimenting with electric cars. My plan at the time was to use it to tow to the Rally in Denver and then do a trip a across Colorado but due to covid that could not happen. So hopefully next summer.

This is an article I wrote for RV Lifestyle earlier this year that explains a fair bit about it and our rational for how it can work.

https://rvlifemag.com/the-tesla-experiment/

Here is a summary of our first real world trip with the Tesla.

I finally got a chance this weekend to take an actual real world trip with the Tesla and the 27í Tommy Bahama we are customizing to mate with it. The roof is finished along with the tire and wheel change but we still have the awning arms, LP cover and undercarriage left to optimize. When Covid hit we pulled it out of the shop, customers units have been more urgent than mine.
We took it on a trip 148 miles from home to a boondocking spot 70 miles from a supercharger.
We left Saturday morning and headed east out of London into a 12 mph headwind driving 55 MPH I had an 80% charge since I was only going 78 miles to the supercharger. 25 miles out though the screen showed we would only have 10 mile reserve. No problem we stopped in Woodstock at the supercharger and in 12 minutes added 40 miles of reserve.
In Waterloo we had stopped again. This was an expensive stop because there was a shoe store across the street and Heather has been on months of shopping withdrawal. 2 pairs of shoes later the car was charged and we headed north to our destination.
There was no way I would make it to our destination and then back to Waterloo on a charge but part way there was a ChargePoint station where I planned to top up but alas it was out of order. So no problem 18 miles past our destination was another supercharger I would just run up there over the weekend and charge it. However we met the farmer across the road and he let me just plug it in there for a couple of days. So when we left to head back to Waterloo we had an 75% charge.
Driving back to Waterloo we went through an hour of thunderstorms with lots of wind and heavy downpours. With the Tesla there is absolutely no feel like a gas engine as to how hard the car is working I was watching what I could see of the road not the screen. Between the wind and driving through the rain and running defogger we used more power than I expected but still made it to Waterloo with 15 miles of leeway.
At Waterloo I thought I wonít make it 80 miles home in these conditions so Iíll just pop in 80% and plan to top up in Woodstock again. However the wind was calm and the 80% charge took us all the way home with 30 miles of range left over.
This Tommy is considerably heavier than the 22í Bambi we towed to shows in February but the weight difference is impossible to perceive towing. There is just so much power you simply canít tell.
Easily the most stable solid on the road vehicle I have towed just a delight to drive even in sideways rain, nothing just totally planted.
I canít get over how much I love this car. Hopefully weíll get some more mods done to the trailer before a longer trip in September.
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Old 08-08-2020, 02:09 PM   #2
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Hi Andy, it looks like you are lightening the load by removing the AC and other items from the roof. Did you add some sort of AC system to the interior to cool things off?

What's your target weight for the trailer once you are done with your customizing?

I like those full cover wheel skins, very retro looking!
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Old 08-08-2020, 02:51 PM   #3
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Thanks for the post and article link.

FEI -- The Tesla 3 owner's manual:

https://www.tesla.com/sites/default/...america_en.pdf

At the top of p. 209 [PDF p. 212/259] it says:
_________________________________________

"Towing a Trailer

WARNING: Do not use Model 3 for towing purposes. Model 3 does not currently support towing. Towing can cause damage and increase the risk of a collision.

CAUTION:Using Model 3 for towing before Tesla-approved towing components and accessories are available may void the warranty."
_______________________________________________

This does seem to imply that Tesla will be approving towing for this model IMO. Has Tesla indicated this to you?

Further down on the same page, roof racks also appear to be in the works. How about an air spoiler up there, like big trucks use, to increase the already amazing efficiency of this drive train?

Looking forward to further updates from you, including trailer weight capacity, about which Peter has just inquired. Has Tesla announced a towing weight capacity to Beta developers like you?

We test drove a Model X in 2017, details of which [including the Airstream Tesla was showing around] are here.

The future is upon us.
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Old 08-08-2020, 03:14 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by PB_NB View Post
Hi Andy, it looks like you are lightening the load by removing the AC and other items from the roof. Did you add some sort of AC system to the interior to cool things off?

What's your target weight for the trailer once you are done with your customizing?

I like those full cover wheel skins, very retro looking!
Hi Peter

The goal is not so much about weight as it is about reducing air drag. Weight means very little when towing. Especially with the Tesla since you recapture the energy you used to accelerate the weight.

We rarely use AC in an Airstream so removing it for our own use was no big deal and honestly I've never liked the look of that turnip on the roof. Down the road we can likely develop a split system for customers but that is a project for another day.

The wheels are 16" and have a narrower lower rolling resistance tire.

Andy
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Old 08-08-2020, 07:28 PM   #5
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Hi Peter

The goal is not so much about weight as it is about reducing air drag. Weight means very little when towing. Especially with the Tesla since you recapture the energy you used to accelerate the weight.

We rarely use AC in an Airstream so removing it for our own use was no big deal and honestly I've never liked the look of that turnip on the roof. Down the road we can likely develop a split system for customers but that is a project for another day.

The wheels are 16" and have a narrower lower rolling resistance tire.

Andy
That makes sense, Given the shape of the Airstream there are some advantages that lean towards aero. I think the a little tail fin near the top of the trailer (could be incorporated into the rear window awning) would help by creating some air disturbance at the radius above the rear window. Sort along the same premise that round cars have a rear deck spoiler. This has been proven to increase mileage. What sort of speeds would you be travelling at?

I hear you on the AC, we have only used ours once for 10 minutes just to test it. We took the unit off our other trailer but haven't considered doing it to the Airstream yet. It does effect several metrics such as CG, GVW, Clearance, etc...

Our BMW electric runs 20" tires from Bridgestone called Ecopia and they offer minimal rolling resistance. I know that Michelin has some low rolling resistance tires as well but not too sure who has the best low rolling resistance LT or ST tire.

This looks like a great project and I hope that it can get to a point where you find improvements in the range of the Tesla while towing.
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:15 PM   #6
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hi amdy

what model of 3?
std, long range, or performance.

My spouse is looking to get a 3 LR next year as she wants 300-400 km range with no twing

BTW, can you run an average compassion test of range with the 22 and 25 and with no AS?
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Old 08-08-2020, 10:26 PM   #7
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No thanks.
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Old 08-09-2020, 05:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by PB_NB View Post
Hi Andy, it looks like you are lightening the load by removing the AC and other items from the roof.
And 20 lb propane tanks instead of the 30's? that it did have.

Looks like camping "stuff" is at best minimalist or none in the trunk.
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Old 08-09-2020, 05:48 AM   #9
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And 20 lb propane tanks instead of the 30's? that it did have.

Looks like camping "stuff" is at best minimalist or none in the trunk.
I agree. As interesting an exercise as it is, having the limits of something like 100 miles(?) in good conditions is enough to relegate it to the mistake department.

There is a 24’ Bowlus trailer that is owned and towed around the country by Tesla. That is a much lighter, more aerodynamic trailer that has air conditioning and propane.

Maybe all electric vehicles are coming. Maybe Airstream will have to adapt their designs to that world as it happens. For now, I am happy having the range and the air conditioning that fossil fuels allow...
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Old 08-09-2020, 06:13 AM   #10
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One of the changes to the trailer was to turn the bed sideways so we have a large side storage compartment underneath. We like not having our head under the large windows and larger bedroom in the 27 gives more room to walk around than it has in a 25. Iíll post a picture when I get a chance.

The trunk on the Model 3 is large and there is the front trunk as well so we had plenty of storage for our usual gear.

Switching to 20 tanks was to reduce hitch weight and get them closer to the Airstream. I havenít gotten a chance to design a cover yet.

Andy
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Old 08-09-2020, 06:25 AM   #11
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One of the changes to the trailer was to turn the bed sideways so we have a large side storage compartment underneath. We like not having our head under the large windows and larger bedroom in the 27 gives more room to walk around than it has in a 25. Iíll post a picture when I get a chance.

The trunk on the Model 3 is large and there is the front trunk as well so we had plenty of storage for our usual gear.

Switching to 20 tanks was to reduce hitch weight and get them closer to the Airstream. I havenít gotten a chance to design a cover yet.

Andy
The sideways bed appeals to me. Now if that could be stretched to the normal queen length of 80Ē ...

Out of curiosity, do you have to replace the flooring after a modification like that?
There must be holes where the original bed was attached...?
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Old 08-09-2020, 07:45 AM   #12
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Greetings from the Florida Panhandle

Hi Andy. Thank you so much for posting this information We have a Rivian SUV preorder in place. We were hoping that this could work for towing Lucy. Our long trips would not be suitable for any EV at this point in time, but we are hoping that the Rivian could work for shorter journeys.

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Old 08-09-2020, 08:25 AM   #13
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Hi Andy. Thank you so much for posting this information We have a Rivian SUV preorder in place. We were hoping that this could work for towing Lucy. Our long trips would not be suitable for any EV at this point in time, but we are hoping that the Rivian could work for shorter journeys.

Brian
I hope I am not coming off as overly critical here but I am curious as to why the Rivian? I love the performance attributes of electric vehicles and Iíd consider a Tesla or a Rivian or any of the many platforms that are beginning to come out for anything but towing...
Just curious...
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Old 08-09-2020, 09:09 AM   #14
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Hi Andy. Thank you so much for posting this information We have a Rivian SUV preorder in place. We were hoping that this could work for towing Lucy. Our long trips would not be suitable for any EV at this point in time, but we are hoping that the Rivian could work for shorter journeys.



Brian


I am thinking it work for long trips as well. Hopefully Iíll try it in September.
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Old 08-09-2020, 09:11 AM   #15
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I hope I am not coming off as overly critical here but I am curious as to why the Rivian? I love the performance attributes of electric vehicles and Iíd consider a Tesla or a Rivian or any of the many platforms that are beginning to come out for anything but towing...

Just curious...


Hi Bruce

Once you get used to driving these you just donít want anything else. Amazing how little Iíve driven the Jaguar this year.

Andy
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Old 08-09-2020, 09:14 AM   #16
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Hi Bruce

Once you get used to driving these you just donít want anything else. Amazing how little Iíve driven the Jaguar this year.

Andy
This is what other people say too...
I am typically wrong when it comes to predicting the future so Iíll have to watch this and try to learn...
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Old 08-09-2020, 09:16 AM   #17
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The sideways bed appeals to me. Now if that could be stretched to the normal queen length of 80Ē ...



Out of curiosity, do you have to replace the flooring after a modification like that?

There must be holes where the original bed was attached...?

There are only a couple and they are barely noticeable once the vinyl weld is done. Youíll see indents but those go away on their own.

Andy
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Old 08-13-2020, 03:59 AM   #18
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Interesting experiment. Thank you for sharing. How much total time did the one-way journey take?
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Old 08-13-2020, 06:24 AM   #19
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In December we picked up a Tesla Model 3 to start experimenting with electric cars. My plan at the time was to use it to tow to the Rally in Denver and then do a trip a across Colorado but due to covid that could not happen. So hopefully next summer.

This is an article I wrote for RV Lifestyle earlier this year that explains a fair bit about it and our rational for how it can work.

https://rvlifemag.com/the-tesla-experiment/

Here is a summary of our first real world trip with the Tesla.

I finally got a chance this weekend to take an actual real world trip with the Tesla and the 27í Tommy Bahama we are customizing to mate with it. The roof is finished along with the tire and wheel change but we still have the awning arms, LP cover and undercarriage left to optimize. When Covid hit we pulled it out of the shop, customers units have been more urgent than mine.
We took it on a trip 148 miles from home to a boondocking spot 70 miles from a supercharger.
We left Saturday morning and headed east out of London into a 12 mph headwind driving 55 MPH I had an 80% charge since I was only going 78 miles to the supercharger. 25 miles out though the screen showed we would only have 10 mile reserve. No problem we stopped in Woodstock at the supercharger and in 12 minutes added 40 miles of reserve.
In Waterloo we had stopped again. This was an expensive stop because there was a shoe store across the street and Heather has been on months of shopping withdrawal. 2 pairs of shoes later the car was charged and we headed north to our destination.
There was no way I would make it to our destination and then back to Waterloo on a charge but part way there was a ChargePoint station where I planned to top up but alas it was out of order. So no problem 18 miles past our destination was another supercharger I would just run up there over the weekend and charge it. However we met the farmer across the road and he let me just plug it in there for a couple of days. So when we left to head back to Waterloo we had an 75% charge.
Driving back to Waterloo we went through an hour of thunderstorms with lots of wind and heavy downpours. With the Tesla there is absolutely no feel like a gas engine as to how hard the car is working I was watching what I could see of the road not the screen. Between the wind and driving through the rain and running defogger we used more power than I expected but still made it to Waterloo with 15 miles of leeway.
At Waterloo I thought I wonít make it 80 miles home in these conditions so Iíll just pop in 80% and plan to top up in Woodstock again. However the wind was calm and the 80% charge took us all the way home with 30 miles of range left over.
This Tommy is considerably heavier than the 22í Bambi we towed to shows in February but the weight difference is impossible to perceive towing. There is just so much power you simply canít tell.
Easily the most stable solid on the road vehicle I have towed just a delight to drive even in sideways rain, nothing just totally planted.
I canít get over how much I love this car. Hopefully weíll get some more mods done to the trailer before a longer trip in September.
Andy what are you using for A/C on the Tommy because it has been hot this summer?
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Old 08-13-2020, 07:19 AM   #20
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I hope I am not coming off as overly critical here but I am curious as to why the Rivian? I love the performance attributes of electric vehicles and Iíd consider a Tesla or a Rivian or any of the many platforms that are beginning to come out for anything but towing...
Just curious...
Hi Bruce. We have been interested in the Rivian vs. the Tesla and others mainly be cause of its SUV/Station Wagon configuration.

Brian
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