A Tesla Voyage Without Carbon — #CleanTechnica Exclusive

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He started nearly a year ago, pushing the Tesla Supercharger network to its limits and attempting to answer questions about what it means to experience all-electric transportation. Arthur Driessen embarked on a Tesla voyage without carbon as a way to determine if, indeed, the advent of electronic vehicles is upon us and what it would take to explore the US through Supercharging.

To do so, he needed to figure out the practicality of trying to explore the US in a Tesla without worrying about running out of fuel. Equipped with his Tesla Model 3, a Sony PCM-d100, an iPhone, and a MacBook, Arthur has tried his best to go as far away from a Supercharger as possible. Using only samples from his journeys and sound design through modern audio technology, he’s in the process of creating a fully functional library of instruments to document his travels.

Here’s his story.

“April in Alabama and a Tesla,” by Arthur Driessen.

Tell us a bit about your Tesla.

“I’m driving a Tesla Model 3 Long Range Single Motor. A big reason I bought a Tesla was because of the brand recognition. When I say brand recognition, I am referring to their recognition as leaders in the EV field opposed to your average person knowing what a Tesla is. I had started seeing the Model S around LA in 2012 and was immediately interested in them. They were cool, sleek, and sexy, but what really got me excited about them was the driver assist technology.

“When the X was in development, my boss asked me to go research it for him, which really started my love for the brand. I fell in love with the entire philosophy around them of pushing technology into the automotive industry for the betterment of our society opposed to profit. I bought some stock as I couldn’t afford the car and started looking forward to the day the ‘third phase’ of Elon’s master plan would happen.”

“Well-Preserved Ancient Wupatki National Monument in Arizona,” by Arthur Driessen.

When and why did you purchase your Tesla Model 3, and why did you choose it over other EVs?

“To be honest, I didn’t really think about getting another brand of EV. They seemed more like compliance cars than actual cars a brand would be proud of. I lived in an apartment so I wanted as much range as possible and, most importantly, they didn’t have Autopilot, which was my number one reason of wanting a Tesla.

“That brings us to the announcement of the Model 3. I had been looking at new cars, knowing that my current 2010 Honda Civic had 160,000 miles on it. After watching the announcement, I realized that its release fit up perfectly with the timeline of my car biting the dust.

“Furthermore, I could start putting payments on it right away, effectively giving me a huge head start in the year that I had to wait. I put my $1000 deposit down and awaited anxiously. 2 years to the day of placing my reservation, I received my car.”

“Tesla at the Flaming Gorge, Sweetwater County, WY,” by Arthur Dreissen

How has the Tesla Model 3 responded on the road during your Tesla voyage without carbon?

“On the road, after 86,000 miles (just passed 86 the other day!) it still drives as if I picked it up last month. I have never been happier with a purchase. I have only had to have one repair, which was something to do with a tire squeaking, and Tesla fixed it for free. I go through tires fairly quickly though due to the battery weight, needing to replace them every 20,000 miles. With the complete lack of other maintenance, I don’t mind though.

“The car itself drives beautifully in all types of weather. I was in both the Rockies and Yellowstone during snow storms and was never worried. I’ve gotten ‘stuck’ in snow or sand a couple of times, but with the ‘slip start’ option in the computer, I have gotten out each time on my own.

“The range is amazing. I almost never worry about range. The only times I’ve worried are driving through extremely remote places like down to the Rio Grande at the Mexico/Texas border or up to International Falls on the Canada/Minnesota border. They are far and few up here but around enough to where, with a little planning, all anxiety leaves. Furthermore, I’ve been able to push the car a bit on range. The most I’ve gotten was 354 miles from a full battery, and that was before the latest update that upped the range a little.”

Tesla Voyage without Carbon
“Remembering Road Trips Before — the Jack Kerouac House and a Tesla,” by Arthur Dreissen.

What were some highlights from your trip? Why did these stand out over others?

“The first things that pop into mind are places I’ve gone, like Yellowstone in Wyoming or Acadia in Maine. This country is so vast that being able to see all the corners of it has caused me to really fall in love with it. There really is everything one can imagine somewhere in this country, so whether you want to see deserts, or rain forests, or snow capped mountains, it’s all there and it’s all breathtaking.

“The second thing is being able to educate people about EVs. This is such a new technology, and there really isn’t that much information out there about it. It’s downright difficult to find someone who owns an EV to be able to ask questions, and this leads to a lot of ignorance about the tech. Sometimes, just sitting at a charging station for a day and answering questions to anyone who asks is my best day of the week.

“My favorite story about this was when I was in Florida. I was sitting at a charger, and a young woman knocked on my window. She told me that she had her father with her, and he was visiting from Africa. He was 93 years old and had taken a trip to America to visit his daughters and grandchildren. He still lived in a small tribal community, and she was wondering if it was okay if she showed him my car. I was absolutely delighted to talk to him about it and to see his amazement for how far the world had come since he was a little boy in his tribe — it was awe inspiring.

“This leads me perfectly into my third highlight, which is the growth I have been able to find in myself by getting out and exploring the country — to realize how small I am and how small my bubble is. To meet new people every day who have completely different upbringings, who have completely different communities and ways of life, to be able to connect with all of them over this technology, and to be able to be share the excitement of where this technology will bring us.

“It has been enlightening and humbling.”

“Awed by Rocky Mountain National Park,” by Arthur Dreissen.

Why is driving a Tesla important to you?

“Driving a Tesla is pretty important to me — important enough to revolve my life around it, which is pretty important, I guess.

“They are the only company that I know of that is putting everything on the line to push a better future for humanity. Every part of the company revolves around that goal, from utilizing sustainable energy, to energy storage, to Autopilot.

“That last part I think is extremely important and an overlooked aspect of the positive affects of the company’s technology. The ability to let your car be on edge, and for you to be a supervisor, eliminates more stress than I can convey. Being a part of this disruption is just downright cool, too. I mean, who doesn’t want to be a part of changing the world?”

“Great Smokey Mountain National Park,” by Arthur Dreissen.

What words of advice might you offer to others about Tesla and the Model 3?

“There are so many words of advice I could have for people who would want to go on a huge trip like this in an electric vehicle.

“The first would be that, with a little planning, there should be no worry. The speed of the charging is the main thing holding most EV road trips back right now, not the amount of chargers. Of course, I would never complain about more chargers.

“The second piece of advice would be slow down. I’ve realized that the amount of energy efficiency lost between 60 mph and 80 mph is extreme. The car’s computer plans its routes based on the speed limit, so speeding will cut into that drastically. On top of that, everything uses the battery, so if you are on low battery, blasting the heat, and speeding by 20 mph, you’ll end up on the side of the road pretty quickly.

“A great solution I’ve come up with is to always set my battery display to % opposed to miles. The car can’t really predict how much heat you will be using, so 20 miles ’til empty can be abstract, but 10% is always 10%.”

“Watching Washington, DC in a Tesla,” by Arthur Dreissen.

Final Thoughts

Arthur Dreissen came up with the idea to take a Tesla voyage without carbon last summer when he piloted two separate road trips. Since then, he quit his job and decided to “go for it full time.”

His voyage has brought him across the US and back. He’s traveled from the Rio Grande to the northernmost reaches of Minnesota. He’s meandered from Illinois to Memphis, up into Kentucky, and through Virginia into Maryland, stopping by DC along the way and for some crab at Chesapeake Bay. His route has taken him into New York and Niagra Falls, through Massachusetts to Cape Ann, and up the New England coast into Maine, where he is right now. From there, he’s headed into New Hampshire and Vermont, then down to Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Throughout it all, Arthur has written a blog that is sorted alphabetically so it will be easily searchable by users “looking for cool places to go around chargers.” Each state drops down to specific towns, and each one listed has a Tesla Supercharger in it, with most having J1772s as well for non-Tesla drivers. Specific posts are linked to and categorized by those charging locations. That way, even when he has stopped writing, individuals who are on similar road trips can know which chargers they will have to stop at and can easily find interesting things to do in the area.

His end goal is to have a living database, “kind of like a combination of supercharge.info and www.atlasobscura.com.”

He’s spent a lot of time on the road listening to biographies of past presidents, “relearning our national history in a more in depth way than public school could ever teach someone.” His Tesla voyage without carbon has allowed him the opportunity to meet people and experience the US in a way that’s been invigorating, illuminating, and transformative.

Thanks, Arthur, for sharing your experience with our readers at CleanTechnica. Happy travels!

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

Carolyn Fortuna has 1247 posts and counting. See all posts by Carolyn Fortuna