View Full Version : Against the clock

14-11-2015, 09:50 PM
Lands End to John O'Groats - setting the electric record.

The LEJOG journey began by bicycle. One if Dads retirement plans to raise money for Alzheimer's Society, which was completed over a period of 30 days and no mean feat in itself for a casual cyclist. Whilst he was unlikely to challenge any records on two wheels, he/we could take the electric record in the Tesla, at the time it was on order/ being built. Dad did a recce in his electric Mitsubishi iMiev, another electric car, to see what was possible. This trip was to end near Dundee due to inoperative normal electric chargers.

The electric record was obtainable due to the Tesla's range being superior to other electric cars and through the use of Tesla Superchargers. These are extremely fast (and free!) charger in an ever expanding network solely for Tesla vehicles. Dad was looking at an attempt in Spring 2016, until a pair of committed gentleman in a Nissan PR UK supplied Leaf, with assistance from Ecotricity, shortened the record considerably just as his car arrived.


Dads obsession with setting the record had begun, and thankfully, he asked me to drive with him and set it.

Just two weeks after the Tesla's arrival, we headed south, to Penzance, our stop for the night. The target had been reduced significantly, but we knew we had a huge advantage in range/charge time. It was also the perfect opportunity to learn about the car and become familiar with it, particularly for me as I had only done a handful of miles previously.


On the journey down from the Midlands, we stopped at various Tesla Superchargers, to get familiar with the positioning and assess charge rates. These vary slightly and can vary dependant on the charger position (A/B) or with other cars charging. We would need to avoid congestion, get lucky with the weather and be well drilled at changing over/charge stops generally.


We both know from following Le Mans 24hours that races are so often won and lost in the pits! With this mentality, we focused on reducing fatigue, setting steering to comfort, utilising the superb radar cruise control, getting used to the automatic lights (including main beam!), wipers and speed limit recognition signs. Autopilot wasn't yet available to download sadly, however I am certain it would have been another superb addition for the trip.

I took the drive from Penzance to Lands End, ahead of the start of the record run, partly because I insisted, but partly because I knew what roads awaited me. Narrow and bumpy Cornish roads with unfamiliar corners versus two tonnes of electric car with the ability to do 0-60 in a YouTube renowned 3.1 seconds. The car's ability is astonishing. Not only in the composure, or the sheer pace, or the absolute confidence but the pleasure it gives you. The superb drivetrain leads to a different sort of driving pleasure, there is an elasticity to the acceleration, braking and cornering. The car just flows, unpunctuated by unnecessary gear changes, analog drivetrain jolts or delays in torque. The instant response leads to a very different and addictive experience.

Once at Lands End, we stopped for a quick (slow) charge and some photos. Our best shot for the record was an afternoon start time, avoiding traffic near bigger cities whilst getting us to Edinburgh early the next day if all went to plan.




More tomorrow! :veryhappy::racing:

14-11-2015, 11:42 PM
At 15:05 we set off.

I had the first stint, one that would take us to the Tesla supercharger in Exeter, the first of many stops. According to the sat nav - which utilises google maps and traffic, we would need five or more stops along the way. The car recommended short sharp bursts of charging, rather than longer charges and longer stints. Initially we ignored this, more on that later... Exeter was the first stop, regardless of strategy, we knew it had a good charge rate, and on a Sunday beyond 4pm, chances are it would be quiet/empty.

A re-run of the earlier trip led to an even quicker run through the winding roads - great fun although as we were sharing data for the record, we made a very conscious effort to stay within all speed limits unless safety dictated otherwise. One safety critical point that the Tesla is particularly impressive is its overtaking ability - getting past dawdles and tractors could be done in the blink of an eye, avoiding too much time on the wrong side of the road and allowing for indecent, uninterrupted progress even when the roads aren't conducive to it at first glance.


Here we swapped over, and Dad took the next stint up to Hopwood services, our second Tesla supercharger and Dad's local. This run is mainly motorway and quite dull, it would be one of the more challenging stretches on the way back down... Yep, we did JOGLE too.. Every charge meant a driver change, on the way back down, we would do the opposite of the journey up. That way, we had both covered every mile of the journey in one direction or the other, keeping things fair and equal.

I did not envy the M5 journey, although as painfully dull as it is, the adaptive radar cruise and automatic headlights started to come into their own. Unlike normal cruise control, which can let dads drift behind or ahead of the set speed through gravity influences and such, the Tesla stays resolutely to 60, regenerating charge on each downhill fluctuation and keeping its speed perfectly without noticeable change uphill. This has two strange outcomes - the data from our trip is very flat when at the speed limit - no real fluctuations and also the car masks how hard it has to work to get up hills. You would swear the road was flat, yet see from the energy graphs that you'd driven through undulating hills. Another attribute to effortlessly effective cruising.

Aside from a 20minute delay near Bristol due to what looked like a topgear production (several disintegrated caravans southbound) the trip was on course. Charging at Hopwood, we started to wonder if the car had the right idea for charging strategy.


Whilst the car charges very very quickly from lower battery, once nearly full it tails off quite a bit... A quick change of plan was made, I took over and my next stop would be a splash and dash at a supercharger in Warrington. With darkness upon us, the motorway disappeared past at a deceptive rate, if I hadn't got lost trying to find the supercharger, it wouldn't have really registered as part of the trip in my memory. Here we ran into our first two Tesla charging situation, which would slow the charge rate down slightly.. He was only there for ten mins though and we both headed for a toilet break in the hotel next to it.


Time to head for the border, from Warrington to Gretna Superchargers, Dad would have another dull motorway run. As a nervous passenger generally, this was my opportunity for some sleep, an opportunity I nearly took, despite dad playing folk music through the Internet radio. Still, a little bit of shut eye had me feeling ready at Gretna and the quieter motorway had given us our first glimpse of the exceptionally judged automatic main beam.


This was the first time I had seen a charger that acknowledged just how large a car it is. The spaces are enlarged fir the charging bays!


Notice the frost on the 'frunk' - the front boot - no internal combustion engine heat waste here! We didn't actually use the frunk throughout thinking about it, the rear boot (electric opening and shutting) is so big, easy to use and traditional, the thought hadn't actually occurred to me. The cars practicality is something that just escapes you most of the time. Everything is so well thought out, so well done, well put together, it becomes a real Jekyll and hide proposition. There are moments when you're terrifying passengers that you completely forget it's an extremely comfortable five seater with all cons. Just as easily, you can forget that it's capable of such devastating speed when you're unloading a weeks worth of shopping for six into half f the available rear boot space. Brilliant car!

The trip from Gretna to Edinburgh was again a chance to exploit the car's ability to cover ground at great pace. Once you're finished with the A/M74, you head across some fantastic roads through the lower part of Scotland. It's an area I know reasonably well due to my profession (logistics, formerly specialising in the North/Scotland) - however I had never driven the roads/appreciated them from maps. My other geeky work side came out as I passed many of my customers forecourts, a strange way to see them thinking about it, from an electric car!



Edinburgh airport was the next stop and a crucial one... It is the last supercharger heading North. We stopped for coffee and a rest. I did not realise at the time, but the next stop beyond the Superchargers would be pivotal to the record.

I was concerned by a number of things; punctures, getting lost, a breakdown (this is both a new car and unfamiliar technology to what I am personally used to) - Dad had just one real fear, Tain's slow charger. This small Scottish town was an unknown quantity. Dad failed to mention this to me until we were there, but he wasn't even sure if it actually existed, let alone worked... Needless to say, from Edinburgh, he continued on, with me sitting blissfully unaware soon to be watching the sun come up.

Heading up toward Inverness, we passed several snow gates, had a little bit of rain and continued to avoid traffic. I know the route well as it is a key route we send our trucks on to a site in Inverness, it was interesting to see where/when it would be shut in the event of snow. There are poles either side of the road with markers for snow depth and I was surprised at some of the energy peaks (hills!) in places. As we were still in darkness, all we could see was the road ahead, the car flicking between dip and main beam quicker than human would in most cases. I amused myself by trying to react with it and was surprised how ,uch concentration it took from the passenger seat alone. A very impressive bit of tech...

As we headed past Inverness, the sun began to rise, again - sitting in an electric car driving past oil rigs seemed bizarre. It seemed so odd that we were travelling in something so advanced next to these representations of more typical automotive propulsion.



Next stop, Tain, Scottish hospitality, range anxiety, stopping the clock and sleep!

Will update again later...

14-11-2015, 11:51 PM
Great idea for a road trip, and the car sounds impressive.

How many miles between charges?
How long for each charge?
How much coal/oil/nuclear energy is used for each charge?

15-11-2015, 05:48 AM
Does having the main beam, cruise rather than your foot on the accelerator affect the charge rate much, or is it negligible ?

I gather you drove `spiritedly` along the nice roads, was that simply because you could, or do the supercharger stations charge so quickly that if they are available, it really doesn`t matter if you`ve used a bit more electric getting there ?

I am enjoying this ! :thumb:

Gary Kinghorn
15-11-2015, 06:00 AM
Good work so far.

15-11-2015, 09:08 AM
Tain was our last stop and the only 'fast' (slow) charger we were reliant on. Normal 'fast' chargers are actually quite common in most areas, they are ones you will have seen in shopping centre car parks, dotted around city centres etc etc... In the north of Scotland, these appear to be less common. Tain was en-route and looked to be the only one for miles. On a publicly shared map (zap maps?) it was showing as fault free, although we questioned how often it had been used. Sadly many of these chargers are neglected and have faults, particularly if they're not used often.

Initial signs were not good, Dad pulled into a car park only to find there was no charger. I took over the driving whilst he had another look at the map. Whilst Superchargers are marked almost exactly on the sat nav, the normal chargers aren't... After a few minutes of faffing around, we found it in the corner of another small car park - unoccupied (one fear done) and in seemingly good shape..


For this charger, we use a very bulky adapter. Again, aside from one use at Lands End, we were not that sure it would work... It did. :thumb: you can see it is the dark grey thing with a handle in this shot, very heavy and double the connections/ chance of not working.


This was going to be a longer charge, about 50mins in total. We headed into the town by foot to find a place to grab breakfast/ sign our time sheets (something we had to do at every stop to help verify our claim with the end to end club!)

It was still quite early at this point, so the only place of note that was open was a hotel. Not only were they kind enough to let us use the toilet, they got us breakfast before they were due to open for it. On getting the signature, we asked for the bill... No charge. What lovely people, instead, we placed a donation on their behalf to cover the costs. They could not have been more friendly and wished us well on our record. With what we calculated to be the bear minimum of charge, we hit the road again.

We were now on the final stint. I took the wheel again and headed north along some spectacular roads. I was tired at this point, very tired, but the shot of adrenalin was enough for me not to request a driver change. I held the pace to a less intense 6/10ths, smirking in the knowledge that this would be as quick as I'd ever get the old TVR t350 along the same stretch! Keeping radar cruise on, we kept our average up to near enough NSL throughout, dipping only to deal with little towns at 30.

19 hours 46minutes since the start, we arrived here;



Ignore the Basil Fawlty hair, it was ridiculously windy/cold and I had been up in total for 24hours+, most of those concentrating!

At John O'Groats, we had just one charger listed nearby, some 6 miles away. At this point. We had seen red as a battery indication of range for the first time, from memory that happens at 15miles estimated range remaining. For the duration of the trip, we had been well within green, we took a gamble it's the last leg only... It was a record attempt after all. On arrival eat the charge point in Gills Bay, the Tain concern was realised - it was knackered. Back in the car, we resumed a 30mph cruise to our hotel maintaining charge so we could hook it up to a slow charge and just leave it overnight/ approximately 15hours!

This was the only point of range anxiety throughout really, and sure enough, we ran low;


On slow charger


After an hour or so on the slow charger, the weather picked up, so we headed down to the sign to get more photos... There isn't much else to do up there and even the car struggles for Internet/ reception. Our room wouldn't be ready for another hour either.

Whilst asking someone to take a photo of us with the car, we spotted something that had not been on the map...

A 'fast' charger! Relief!


We were the second to ever use it apparently, the first being the Ecotricity sponsored leaf drivers... It's now been added to the public map of charge points!

More later, and I'll try to answer a few questions shortly.

15-11-2015, 09:17 AM
Great idea for a road trip, and the car sounds impressive.

How many miles between charges?
How long for each charge?
How much coal/oil/nuclear energy is used for each charge?

Varied dependant on energy consumption and charge strategy. Typical around 220 at normal battery limits, 240 at full (rare to charge to that though.). For this trip, we were doing between 100-180miles a stint, six charging stops excluding the initial one ahead of the start. Each charge was between 20 and 50mins on a supercharger, I think it was just under an hour on the slow 'fast' charger.

We've applied to the Guinness world records for the lowest charge time for the total trip at 3 hours 39minutes total. Beating the current record for efficiency whilst setting the record for speed (which GWR want nothing to do with as it advocates speed and driving tired, understandable.

The energy question is a valid one and something I'm not sure I can fully answer. Elon Musk owns Solar City as well as Tesla, so I believe there is some trading of clean energy in his home market to offset some of the dirty stuff in ours, but cannot confirm for certain. As you may have gathered from Dads car history, he is not a sandle wearing lentil eater, the green credentials were not a factor in the cars purchase. However the innovation was and I do believe it will help the pursuit of better energy sources longer term, particularly once the mass market model 3 is available. Our car is fuelled at home purely on solar if it helps, these were fitted because it is now free/paid for and made financial sense rather than the green side of things...

15-11-2015, 09:27 AM
Does having the main beam, cruise rather than your foot on the accelerator affect the charge rate much, or is it negligible ?

I gather you drove `spiritedly` along the nice roads, was that simply because you could, or do the supercharger stations charge so quickly that if they are available, it really doesn`t matter if you`ve used a bit more electric getting there ?

I am enjoying this ! :thumb:

The idea of the trip was to approach it as a normal drive with a record in mind. We knew the charging capability and range would allow us to do the trip as we would in a normal car, so we made few compromises. We kept to the speed limit throughout unless a situation meant it was safer to exceed it - an overtake for example. The spirited drive was on the way to LE and in parts maintaining NSL on the run itself... An enjoyable thing in itself.

The chargers work so quickly there was little point in conserving speed/ energy. It's more efficient than a normal car in terms of energy use, so the mad acceleration makes less of an impact than a normal car, we didn't really give it a second thought. For comfort the car had 'range mode' on with aircon used quite often to keep screens clear and it was in 'sport' mode rather than 'insane'. In hindsight, we wouldn't have sullied our principles with such a decision and left it fully insane. :lol:

In terms of the other systems, I have no idea. Whilst it may have used more energy, it would be negligible and more importantly, it saved our own energy/ avoided fatigue. I do not believe there is another car available that would make the same trip so effortlessly in terms of driving, especially as there is now the full autopilot option.

15-11-2015, 10:45 AM
Great read Ben :thumb:

15-11-2015, 11:15 AM
Thanks Ben, this is a fascinating read,
Thoroughly enjoying it, and looking forward to more. :thumb:

15-11-2015, 11:17 AM
I THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading that. :veryhappy:

I see the Tesla, whilst expensive as a windows into what future electric cars could be like. Good range, fast charging, epic performance. Obviously, there will be the `city` cars that don`t need that level of performance or range, but I reckon it will open up their use to more people.

Neil Mac
15-11-2015, 08:38 PM
Excellent stuff, Ben :thumb:

15-11-2015, 09:26 PM
Good read. We had these on test drive at work a year back. Astonishing thing's. The way it accelerates is unreal, like a golf buggy on roids. It's the first electric car that I could see being viable on a range basis, for me. Only issues is it's too big, and too expensive. The quality doesn't match the price tag. Smacks of an American car for interior quality. The leather isn't all that and it was a 2K option.

40K and 3 series size it's a winner.

Do the chargers lock into place. I can imagine for the drunken it would pose as a great laugh to unplug them on the walk home from the pub. Only for the owner to find he couldn't get to work in the morning!

15-11-2015, 10:49 PM
Great read! Thanks for posting!

15-11-2015, 11:06 PM
Fantastic read :-) really enjoyed that,mucho's gratzi!

16-11-2015, 08:14 AM
This. Well done to the pair of you :thumb:

16-11-2015, 08:44 AM
Great read, what was the previous fastest time?

16-11-2015, 08:56 AM
Interesting read and hopefully you will get the record verified :thumb:

I sat in one with my BIL. He had a test drive booked. Not sure on the 100k price tag though.

16-11-2015, 04:42 PM
Only issues is it's too big, and too expensive. The quality doesn't match the price tag. Smacks of an American car for interior quality. The leather isn't all that and it was a 2K option.

40K and 3 series size it's a winner.

Do the chargers lock into place. I can imagine for the drunken it would pose as a great laugh to unplug them on the walk home from the pub. Only for the owner to find he couldn't get to work in the morning!

We believe over 8 years or less it will work out cheaper to run including the purchase price than our TVRs, such is the maintaimance and fuel costs by comparison, especially considering the mileage - it did 4K miles in the first 4 weeks!! :lol: total fuel cost? Zero!

40k/ 3 series size is due in 2017 - I will be mightily tempted myself!

Yep. The chargers lock in place, the car locks it in. :thumb:

16-11-2015, 04:50 PM
Great read, what was the previous fastest time?

From the bbc link earlier;

"Jonathan Porterfield, from Orkney, and Chris Ramsey, who lives in Aberdeen, completed the journey on Wednesday evening in 27 hours and 46 minutes.
Earlier in the week, the duo drove from John O'Groats to Land's End in 28 hours and 38 minutes."

Ours was 19hours 46mins LEJOG
And 18hours 53mins JOGLE


This brings me nicely on to the return trip, which I will report later or tomorrow... It'll be shorter due to the obvious route repetition, however there was a slight scare and I'll add in some touristy bits from after the trip. It's hard to take photos/ keep track of what's around you when you're trying for a record/ trying to get rest or driving! :lol:

16-11-2015, 05:27 PM
Great read Ben, thanks.

I wonder at what point of popular uptake the charging stations will no longer be free to use? I can understand why it's currently free, but there will come a level of demand where they will have to start charging for charging. Also, can the national grid cope with the demand if a significant number of people decide to go fully electric?

16-11-2015, 05:47 PM
Great read Ben, thanks.

I wonder at what point of popular uptake the charging stations will no longer be free to use? I can understand why it's currently free, but there will come a level of demand where they will have to start charging for charging. Also, can the national grid cope with the demand if a significant number of people decide to go fully electric?

Tesla Superchargers will be free for the life of the car. I suspect the model 3 (cheaper one) will have some sort of subscription. They're expanding the network to cope with increased demand/ cars per location.. In Norway they're extremely popular, the chargers have increased in numbers too. As we often charge end of trip through solar and the range is so good, you only really use them for longer trips.

As for the grid, who knows... That's a question for the big energy producers. My employers may have a different take on things. I work for an oil company. :lol:

I'm actually trying to get the company to collaborate with Tesla to help expand the network, as you can imagine, it's taking some convincing. :wink:

17-11-2015, 09:16 PM
Great stuff Ben. Really good write up and read. Glad you are enjoying your new car (Sorry, your Dad's car).

Still waiting for my test drive!

18-11-2015, 10:15 PM
"It'll be quicker on the way back, it's all downhill"

A comment echoed by many amateur comedians...

The way back was to begin just one hour earlier than the previous attempt the following day. It would give us the best shot at avoiding key traffic areas, however we would also be driving with the weather against us this time.

After an overnight stay at John O'Groats we set off back to the charger to make sure the car had 100%. Here I engaged a different driver profile, each one with specific driving, seat and steering wheel settings saved...



I should also state that in the far north of Scotland, you learn to appreciate little things like a heated steering wheel rather a lot! :thumb:



We set off into heavy rain, the first stint with Dad driving - we would do the opposite of stints on the way up. Whilst the weather was against us, we were confident we could save time with a revised charging strategy and having to spend less time on the slow charger at Tain. We also knew that the hold up near Bristol on the way up was worth 20mins, although you would be foolish to expect a clear run over 870odd miles...

We soon arrived in Tain, following an uneventful, sure footed and comfortable trip across some ace roads. I cannot stress enough how much confidence the car's drivetrain gives you! The carpark was busier now, but the good people of Scotland are a considerate bunch, the charger was clear and the record still on!


My first drive of the day seemed went a blur;


If I'm honest, I was more concerned about getting sufficient rest this time after the gruelling concentration of the trip up towards the end, for the both of us. I drove as relaxed as I could and switched off the internet radio. Aside from an irritating wiper knock from the wiper sliding below the screen - currently being fixed and only an issue in extreme downpours - the eerie silence belies the cars effortless pace.

A swap again at Edinburgh was met with a quick charge and a hello from a Tesla forum member who had followed our progress on the live gps tracker... He told us a road was closed on our route in Biggar, a concern, but having driven through the road works on the way up, I was confident we would be OK. Dad didn't quite get to enjoy this so much as it was a little busier than when I attacked it before, although it didn't seem like long before we were close to the border at Gretna again. Now in darkness, the real test began as we started to work against our body clocks.

The uneventful stretch down to Warrington was a breeze and we were making good progress. Safe in the knowledge of where the charge point was this time, we barely had time to check our progress against our time projections before unhooking the charger. We were ahead, we were past Manchester and Birmingham in the earliest hours is a green glow on the superb google maps and traffic sat nav, what could possibly go wrong...


Yup, my photography skills.

Oh and also an M6 closure for a few junctions. Woo hoo.. I love how we handle such simple things in this country. Fiddlesticks, or similar, may have been muttered.


Diamond Hell
27-01-2016, 11:21 AM
Hey, what happened to the end of this? I was reminded of the story as there was a Tesla on the ferry last night.

27-01-2016, 11:43 AM
Whoops, apologies, have had a lot on personally.

I'll get back to this later in the week... :shame:

27-01-2016, 12:33 PM
I missed this first time round, cracking good read.
I'm very impressed by the Tesla.

Diamond Hell
27-01-2016, 03:29 PM
Whoops, apologies, have had a lot on personally.

No worries - it's just it didn't feel *quite* finished and it was so epic. Have you posted it anywhere publicly? Someone like Robert Llewellyn would probably love to promote the story :thumb:

27-01-2016, 06:46 PM
Whoops, apologies, have had a lot on



Darren Langeveld
25-02-2016, 11:50 AM
Tesla will be present at this year's Coventry Motofest :thumb: