After writing about their Tesla Model S running out of juice on the side of the road between Las Vegas and Barstow, CA recently (read about it here), the fine folks at Teslarati figured they had some 'splainin' to do. The brief explanation is headwinds. Yes, headwinds.
Thankfully, the drivers took notes about what to do if your Model S is about to shut down like C-3PO in A New Hope. Step one is to know that the EV has about 10 miles of range (maybe 20) even after it shows "0" on its dash. Once that distance is used up, it's time to pull the car over, and even then there is enough reserve juice to power the screen for a half hour. After that, all that works are the door handles and the flashers.
A Model S has about 10 miles of range even after it shows a big fat "0" on its dash.
So, before everything goes completely dark, it's best to remember to put the car into "tow mode" and get it into neutral so that the EV doesn't have to be jumpstarted just to get it onto a truck. Also, once the Model S has been recharged from empty, it needs to be powered off in order to reset the system and not keep it in "depleted power" mode. Now you know.
The way Teslarati learned all of this was that, after using a Las Vegas supercharger to give their Tesla Model what they thought would be about 240 miles worth of range for the 160-mile drive, the car unfortunately provided them with just 157 before shutting down. The culprit was a sand storm that sent 35-mile-per-hour headwinds (and probably a bit of grit) into the car as it maintained a 75-mph cruising speed. Teslarati also said elevation changes were part of the problem. Las Vegas and Barstow are both about 2,200 feet above sea level, but there are a bunch of hills in between, and we guess the declines giveth less then the inclines taketh away. Happens to the best of us.