Sixty miles remaining. That’s what the Tesla Model S is telling me. It’s pouring with rain. The heater is off to preserve charge. The windows are steaming up and it’s freezing in the car.
I wouldn’t mind if we weren’t also restraining ourselves to a truck-flustering 50mph on a 75mph stretch of road. Fifty-nine miles.
Mind you, the last thing I want to do is end up at the side of the road, battery discharged and immobile. We’ve got just 15 miles to go to get to the Eurotunnel on the French side. The problem is that the next Supercharger point is 35 miles from the Folkstone exit. Either way, it’s going to be close. Fifty-eight.
A brief recollection of Apollo 13 flashes through my mind. I shut off the wipers and dipped beams – the weather is clearing a little – in an effort to save every amp. I temper my frustrations, while tearing my eyes off the now amber-lit range indicator, knowing I’ve really only got myself to blame. Fifty-seven.
The brief for the trip was simple. Tesla’s growing network of Supercharger points (which allow you to replenish a battery pack to about 80 per cent in 40 minutes) and the introduction of a new one just off the M20 near Maidstone, Kent, suggested that driving through Europe in a Model S might now be perfectly viable; we wanted to find out if it would be.
So we planned a trip from London’s Westfield Shopping Centre to Amsterdam in the Netherlands and back, the route being based on Supercharger locations. We’d be driving a P85+ variant of the Model S, with a claimed range of 265 miles.
On my arrival, I find the car fully charged, showing an indicated range – based on previous driving data – of 246 miles. Plenty, I think. After all, the round trip is just 650 miles or so.