Mt. Washington Auto Road in an electric vehicle is a beautiful, joyful and thrilling experience!

Posted by Paul Braren on Sep 21 2020 (updated on Oct 20 2020) in
  • Efficiency
  • Review
  • Tesla
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    Electric vehicles are especially-well-suited for climbing and descending large mountains, especially given these unique attributes:

    Model-3-Mount-Washington-NH-on-2020-09-05--TinkerTry
    I think I captured that feeling of being at the top of the world, more like a pilot than a driver. You can probably figure out which model of Tesla this is.
    1. EVs are unaffected by thinner air/less oxygen at altitude, as recently demonstrated at Pike's Peak. Gas cars lose about 3 percent of their power for each 1,000 feet / 305 meters of altitude, so that's 18.9% for Mt. Washington's 6,288 feet above sea level.

    2. Regenerative braking means energy that is usually wasted on heating up your brakes is instead used to recharge your battery.

    3. Regenerative braking also means (mostly) one-pedal driving on the way up AND on the way down, reducing mental and physical effort. My brake pedal/brake calipers were only used roughly 6 times, where I had to stop fairly suddenly to avoid oncoming cars veering well over the yellow line, an example of which is seen near the end of the (mostly-sped-up) video below.

    4. Precise and immediate acceleration/power control, with no lag and instant full torque when you press the accelerator pedal. There's none of that waiting for RPMs to rise before you hit your max power. It's immediate, and it's confidence building in a way that is difficult to explain, go test drive one for yourself.

    5. Extremely low center of gravity for roll-resistance that inspires confidence around tight bends.

    6. Coupled with extremely low coefficient-of-friction, you also get excellent resistance to very strong cross-winds.

    7. The Tesla Model 3 is also the safest car ever tested in the US, Europe, and Australia, should something really bad have happened.

    Bonus! The extremely crush-resistant glass roof happens to work well with GoPro triple-suction-cup industrial strength mounting, so you could go along for the ride with me virtually, in stabilized 4K and a smooth 60 frames per second!

    Video

    TinkerTry - Sep 05 2020 - Mt. Washington Auto Road in an electric vehicle is a beautiful, joyful and thrilling experience!

    Backstory

    In July, I began thinking about a road trip. A safe road tip. One that involves the great outdoors, and ideally one that doesn't involve hotels elevators with lots of humans.

    our-adventure-map
    Click/tap to view route on Google Maps.

    It dawned on me that I'd really like to try driving up Mount Washington in New Hampshire, the tallest peak in the Northeastern US at 6,288 feet / 1,917 meters. It's something I've wanted to do my whole life, but just never got around to. It's only 262 miles / 4 hours and 44 minutes away from our home in Wethersfield, Connecticut. But I honestly couldn't find anybody providing definitive stats on what kind of experience this would be in an EV, specifically, in our 2018 Tesla Model 3 Long Range All Wheel Drive. I needed to try for myself, and it didn't hurt that this is the one area in the Northeastern US where there aren't a lot of Superchargers or major highways. I like a challenge!


    PAUL68544--Tesla-Referral-Program-Paul-Braren-TinkerTry.PNG

    Free Supercharging: If you find this article of value and decide to order a Tesla, please consider using this ts.la/paul68544 referral link when placing your order so you and I both get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging. If you order Solar, it's a $250 award after system activation.

    Disclosure: My family owns no stock in Tesla. Tesla doesn't advertise at TinkerTry, or anywhere else, and this is not a sponsored post. We financed the purchase of two Tesla Model 3s, replacing my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid in December of 2018 and replacing my wife's 2005 Honda Civic EX in December of 2019. These big moves to an all electric household were an expression of our mutual desire to go green, avoid gasoline, be safe, have fun, and save money in the long run. Mostly for my job, I drive a lot, 25,000 miles in 2019 for example, and I thoroughly enjoy sharing what I've learned with you. I hope you can tell!


    map-coronavirus-travel-restrictions-inside-united-states-n1236157
    NBC News Coronavirus travel restrictions by state map.

    By August, COVID-19 related travel restrictions within New England began to lighten up, and once I spotted that there was a safe, mask-only, outdoor-only Tesla convoy on Sunday, September 6 in Portland ME, the trip was happing, the stars were aligning. Nice that it was on Labor Day weekend when we had extra time off from work, now all I needed to do is find a place to stay.

    My wife knew somebody who had a rental home that became available just a week before our get-away adventure, what a great stroke of luck, a lovely place nestled in the woods!

    Nothing more therapeutic than a change of scenery, heading north into very rural areas of New England for a little relief from months at home. I needed this trip, we needed this trip, estimated to be around 800 miles over the 3 night stay weekend. No problem, we've done 1,000 miles with just a 2 nights stay several times before in our 20 month old adventure-mobile that had already seen 33,000 miles.

    Prep

    Until the planned Tesla Supercharger in North Conway, NH opens up just 27 minutes / 20 miles from the base of the mountain, currently the closest Tesla Superchargers is in Lincoln, NH, 1 hour 6 minutes / 56 miles from the base of the mountain.

    If you have no interest how I went about safely L2 charging (240 V / 32 Amp) in a temporary stay at a rental home, please skip ahead to the It was easy section below. In hindsight, I could probably have done fine with L1 overnight charging each of our 3 nights, which is about 5 mph charging off a regular wall outlet on the side of the rental house, using the Mobile Wall Connector that comes with all Model 3 / Model Y EVs.

    I knew the home had an oven range with cooktop, which means it had a 240 Volt NEMA 14-50 outlet. I also knew that the camping grounds anywhere near the White Mountains, to give Camping Mode and my 6" memory foam mattress a try, were booked this holiday long ago. Since campgrounds sometimes have NEMA 14-50 outlets at the sites, an extension cord could provide more flexibility in positioning the Model 3 when on such camping trips in the future.

    Many Google searches later, I quickly discovered that there was one top-rated 50 Amp extension cord that had been widely recommended on many sites for RVers for many years now, with Tesla owners also discussing it way back to 2014. I'd never consider a thinner cheaper gauge wire anyway, safety first. The idea here is that the vehicle won't "see" the voltage drop. This cable is so thick that it mimics what it would be like to have a hard-wired NEMA 14-50 outlet positioned 30 feet from your oven outlet:

    I had a tough time finding this cord online with shipment arrival estimates anywhere near the 1 week I needed it. Given continual Amazon Prime slowdowns lately, Walmart came out on top for my shopping search, featuring a fair price and very fast shipping:

    Testing

    FLIR-image--TinkerTry
    testing-Camco-cord
    Passed my informal tests with flying colors, testing straight wiring to the outlet, versus putting this extension cord in the middle.

    Unlike the Tesla Mobile Connector cord, this extension cord didn't heat up significantly, using my FLIR thermal camera to verify. Voltage didn't drop either, nor did charging speeds. No issue with circuit breaker heating either.

    I feel safe using this cord. Note, officially, Tesla doesn't recommend using any extension cords with the Tesla Mobile Connector that the Model 3 / Model Y comes with. Doing so is at your own risk. I would also advise you to seek an electrician's guidance if you have any concerns over the quality of the wiring of the outlet you're considering plugging into.

    Success

    charging-on-extension-cord
    Notice how much thicker the 50 amp extension cord is compared to the 32 amp max Mobile Connector cord.

    When we arrived at our rental home in the woods on Friday September 4th, I plugged in to the oven outlet via the Camco extension cord let me get to 90% within just a few hours of our arrival, finishing up before we slept. To keep a seal from bugs getting through the window that I ran the cord through, I used some painter's tape I had with me in the frunk, to be sure I left no residue, and to be sure I didn't remove paint from window sills when done. It worked, and I made sure to not crush or damage the cord in any way.

    When we got up on Saturday September 5th, I set the Model 3 to charge to 100%, which worked out nicely, taking about 90 minutes. It finished up just as we were ready to head out on our adventure, perfect.

    charging-rate

    This completely full start to our day also meant that we could drive straight to Mt. Washington Auto Road, which took us 1 hour 34 minutes / 51 miles, with no need to stop and slow charge in North Conway at the Weather Discovery Center. Making a side-trip to Lincoln to charge would have made no sense, lengthening our trip to well over 2 hours, plus charging time.

    It was easy

    TeslaFi-Sep-5-2020-Batter-Level-log--TinkerTry

    I wanted to be sure my wife and I would have zero range anxiety this entire trip, turns out that was rather easy. We left our rental home at 100%, about an hour and a half later arrived at the base with 80% charge, made our climb, then returned to the base of the mountain with our battery now at 72%. It's what happened in between that was so much fun to experience, for later analysis. A lot of data was automatically gathered during those 95 minutes, I have ALL the stats for you below. Gladly, the Model 3's integrated AT&T 4G cellular antenna held up pretty well for TeslaFi to do its thing, auto-logging our adventure via the Tesla API.

    2020-09-21_21-18-14
    No thank you, at least not this time.

    Big kudos to my wife for finding lodging and coming along with me. She's not a fan of heights, so this wasn't exactly the most relaxing trip for her, despite everybody's rather slow (14 mph average) driving on Mt. Washington Auto Road. She did admit later that she trusted me and our Model 3 more than the old Cog Railway, that's good. She even took some pictures during the ride which distracted her a bit, and eventually she got more used to it.

    We drove for hours after this adventure exploring the Lake Winnipesaukee area, yet we still arrived at our rental house with over 40% of battery life left. Yes, range was a non-issue, even a Model 3 SR+ would do fine. Just Supercharge at Lincoln NH before the ascent, or overnight at one of the many destination chargers in North Conway.

    Electrify-America

    If you drive an EV like the Audi e-tron, Polestar 2, Jaguar I-PACE, or soon a VW ID.3, VW ID.4, or Ford Mustang Mach-E, and are looking for some fast DC charging options in this area, I'm afraid the Electrify America locate a charger map shows no chargers in NH or VT at the moment, let's hope they fix that soon. That's a problem for a tourist attraction that is said to have 100,000 visitors per year, on a normal year anyway. Meanwhile, slowish L2 charging at a J1772 public charger in North Conway is likely their best bet for now, with just a few seen on PlugShare's Map.

    Before you go, see:

    So glad it turned out to be a very pleasant day together with minimal traffic, where the biggest challenge actually turned out to be finding ways to safely and enjoyably eats.

    Stats

    Electric climb up Mt. Washington Auto Road, and down again

    TeslaFi-Summary-of-trips-up-and-down--TinkerTry
    Click/tap twice to zoom, 7.42 miles up, 7.43 miles back down again, 14.85 miles/ 23.9 km in all. Most of the data in the stats tables below came from these images.
    TeslaFi-affiliate
    Click/tap to sign-up for TeslaFi trial, extended to 4 weeks with this referral code.

    Yes, I'm a sucker for some stats. Thanks to TeslaFi, most of the data below was automatically collected, with me keeping my hands on the wheel and my eyes on the road. The interior GoPro and the exterior GoPro were set it and forget it before we moved the car, and the OBD stats via tesLax were included on the unused interior footage, but the lighting wasn't ideal for my passenger or the camera to see what the main battery pack was heating up to on the way up or down. From what I recall, it only went up like 10°F / 12°C.

    When parked at the peak for 37 minutes, 4 security cameras were monitoring for motion near the Model 3 (Sentry Mode/Vampire Drain), so it's estimated that roughly 0.03 kWh of battery was used, so it had a neglible effect on the stats below. Idle energy use source, Bjørn Nyland on InsideEVs, see also @BjornNyland and Bjørn Nyland Channel. Previously known as Tesla Bjørn.

    If you have any questions, feel free to drop a question below!

    Weather - Base

    Temperature

    • 62.0°F / 16.7°C (Model 3's indicated outdoor temperature)

    Wind

    • 12.1 mph / 19.5 kph (TeslaFi weather data)

    Weather - Peak

    Temperature

    • 45.0°F / 7.2°C (Model 3s indicated outdoor temperature)

    Wind

    • 41.3 mph / 66.5 kph (TeslaFi weather data)

    Weather - Inside Vehicle

    • Car's HVAC setting was left on Automatic so fan speed varied
    • The set temperature varied just one degree, either 68°F / 20.0°C, or 69°F / 20.6°C

    Ascent (Going Up!)

    TeslaFi-all-stats-on-way-up--TinkerTry
    Ascent map and raw data, click/tap twice to zoom in.
    • 80% battery SOC (Stage Of Charge)
    • 236 mi / 380 km est. range
    • 26 minutes: 11:51am to 12:18pm
    • 7.42 mi / 11.9 km
    • 1,411 Wh/mi used

    Peak (Parked)

    • 64% battery SOC (Stage Of Charge)
    • 191 mi / 307 km est. range
    • 37 minutes: 12:18pm to 12:55pm
    • 0.0 miles / 0.0 km

    Descent (Going Down!)

    TeslaFi-all-stats-on-way-down--TinkerTry
    Descent map and raw data, click/tap twice to zoom in.
    • 72% battery SOC (Stage Of Charge)
    • 210 mi / 338 km est. range
    • 32 minutes: 12:55pm to 01:27pm
    • 7.43 mi / 12.0 km
    • 658 Wh/mi gained

    Battery (75 kWh / 310 mi / 499 km est. rated range when new)

    Imperial:

    • +16 % / +44.9 rated mi / +10.47 kWh /+1,411 Wh/mi used going to top, 16.5% efficiency
    • -08 % / -21.0 rated mi / -04.89 kWh /-0,658 Wh/mi gained going down,-35.5% efficiency
    • +08 % / +23.9 rated mi / +05.58 kWh / + 753 Wh/mi difference (net total used)

    Metric:

    • +16 % / +72.3 rated km / +10.47 kWh / +877 Wh/km used going to top, 16.5% efficiency
    • -08 % / -33.8 rated km / -04.89 kWh / -409 Wh/km gained going down,-35.5% efficiency
    • +08 % / +38.5 rated km / +05.58 kWh / +468 Wh/km difference (net total used)
    TinkerTry-IMG_5515
    Click/tap to zoom in. Yes, we gained 21 miles of range by driving 7.5 miles down a mountain. Nice! I'm so sorry, forgot to clean the screen's many finger prints off before this shot, with edge lighting that really helps highlight the dust too.

    So we regained 1/2 of our climbing battery usage back again on the way down due to regenerative braking, and lost only 8% / 23.9 rated miles of range overall from when we started at the base to when we returned to the base 95 minutes later. With 2 adults and some luggage, that's 4,000 pounds lifted about 9/10ths of mile over about 7.5 miles, then let back down again.

    DISCLAIMER
    Driving up a mountain without guard rails is something you do at your own risk, keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. I wouldn't dream of engaging any kind of steering assist or Autopilot in such a circumstance, nor should you. The manufacturers themselves usually absolve themselves of all blame, you are responsible for your safety. I also would not really recommend doing this drive alone, and I wouldn't recommend this kind of drive at all if you have a fear of temporary bathrooms and/or wearing a mask over your nose and mouth when outdoors. I'll also warn you that you'll want to literally hold on to your glasses or wear one of those bands when walking around the peak, given it has some of worst weather on earth, something I learned the hard way when a 45 mph gust him my head from behind. Oops! Gladly, I did find my glasses among the rocks about 25 feet away. By the way, the line for selfies at the summit sign was long and crowded, so I stayed clear of that area, and all other humans as much as was possible, especially the unmasked ones.

    Photos

    I-Climbed-Mount-Washington-Certificate-front-hires
    I-Climbed-Mount-Washington-Certificate-back-hires
    gas-stations-at-mt-washington--TinkerTry.JPG
    Interesting that Mt Washington has gas pumps at the base, but no EV charging. The Cog Railway runs on Biodiesel.

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