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Published on August 19th, 2016 | by James Ayre


Camping In A Tesla Model S, Or Tesla Model 3?

August 19th, 2016 by  

Given the large size of the Tesla Model S, it’s all-electric nature, and the option of a generous panoramic roof, it shouldn’t be too surprising that some owners have taken to occasionally using their car as a mobile tent/hotel pod.

After all, why not? The battery packs are large enough that you can leave the climate control on all night, the car is long enough to allow for decent legroom while sleeping, there’s no engine noise when it’s on at night (of course), the energy used is essentially free since you’ll be topping up at a Supercharger afterwards, and, if you have a Model S with a panoramic roof, then you also get a fantastic view of the sky at night.

Camping In A Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S camping

Photographer: Tom Randall

That all sounds quite nice, but what’s the actual experience of doing something like? Bloomberg recently published an interesting first-hand account on the matter, as well as an interesting discussion of the viability of doing something similar in a Model 3.

Here are some highlights from that coverage:

“After a meal of brats and beans, roasted marshmallows, and a few nips of bourbon before bed, it was time for me to put camping mode to the real test. The campground was still noisy with late arrivers and late-night revelers, but when I closed the doors, all was silenced. I stretched out on my Tesla bed and realized for the first time that I was in a room of windows, with a panoramic view of the mountains and trees and the stars beyond.

“It took a century of human technology to create this fully connected pod of an electric camper. Tesla’s Autopilot removes the physical stresses of long-haul driving, and the large-screen maps and integrated Supercharger navigation leave the traveler to think about the bigger picture. The great American road tripper, Jack Kerouac, drove a 1949 Hudson Commodore made by a scrappy US car company and priced a step above the average car at the time. If he were alive today, he’d probably be checking out a Model 3.

“Sometime after midnight, I awoke in a climate-controlled sleep bubble beneath a view of the Milky Way. New to electric driving, I had a bit of range anxiety and checked the battery gauge. The car was barely sipping juice, confirming what a Tesla salesperson once told me when I asked how long the car could keep me comfortable in gridlock. His response, which I now believe: ‘Days.'”

There was a bit of jerry-rigging required for this apparently very pleasant experience, as the 2016 “next-generation” rear seats don’t fold completely flat as earlier seats did — leaving a bump breaking up the evenness of the floor. The writer addressed this issue by laying out some flattened cardboard boxes on the floor to smooth things out — before then laying out a sleeping pad and blankets.

So, how much of the battery charge was sapped by the overnight climate controlled sleep session? Around 7%. Presumably, this figure would vary a great deal based upon the preferences of the “camper” — someone who doesn’t get hot or cold easily is of course likely to use less charge than someone who wants to be “perfectly comfortable” all of the time.

Tesla Model 3 — “Inside Info”

One of the most interesting bits in the article, though, was this blurb right here:

“The Model 3 seats will fold flat, and the storage well at the bottom of the trunk will have a leveling cover, similar to the setup on the Model S, according to the person familiar with the final design. However, the flat bed on the compact Model 3 is long enough to accommodate only someone who is about 5 1/2 feet long, stretched out. Anyone much taller than that would need to bend their knees or sleep at an angle.”

Intriguing. It doesn’t sound at first as though it’d be too comfortable for anyone with any real height to them, but I’ll wait to make up my mind on the matter.

Are any reservation holders reading this going to give it a try?

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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