Steve Wozniak: Me and My Tesla

Tesla Model S Steve Wozniak

Here’s Steve Wozniak on his Tesla Model S and the challenges he had this week getting it home from Yellowstone. As related to Gina Smith of aNewDomain …

Special to aNewDomainby Steve Wozniak:

Elon (Musk) was disappointed when, after waiting on the list for six months, my wife and I got cold feet and cancelled our Tesla order.Steve Wozniak with his Tesla and Janet Wozniak

It was the week they would have delivered it. We bought a Mercedes instead.

The Mercedes we bought had 30 technologies to help the car drive and be driven and cost $40K less. I’d been worried about having (my wife) Janet on the road if something broke down. I’d had Google friends who bought the first Teslas and said they’d never buy an electric vehicle (EV) again. Things were breaking down (at the computer level) and were unfixable, they said. Even by Tesla. I worried that, if that happened, Janet wouldn’t know what to do.

So I was sure this was the right decision. When I make a decision like this, I stick with it. Janet quizzed me later as to whether I really had wanted the Tesla, but I’d tell the truth: that we bought the right car for our family. I believed that inside, too. I would never try to make Janet feel guilty about depriving me of something.

But then, one night, Janet came into my office and out of the blue said that, if I really wanted a Tesla, I could order one.

So we bought the Model S …

I knew exactly what I wanted from visiting so many of the supercharger sites to see them. We bought the Model S, and upgraded to the Dual motor version when it was available, for the 4WD.

Tesla Model S Steve Wozniak

Play Springsteen, Tesla.

The Tesla Model S was created by Elon (Musk) for his own family. Like the Mercedes S-Class, it is a large family-sized sedan. You get rear and front trunks as well. It’s physically beautiful with simple lines, inside and out.

And the business model is more high tech. You get a large flat touch screen (good output but a hell of an input device). You buy the car with free charging for the life of the car on the road, using Tesla superchargers. You also get free cellular Internet to the car without any accounts you have to set up.

We press the button and say, “Play Springsteen.”And it happens through Internet radio.

You have probably heard about the highest safety ratings for any car ever. Elon wrote me that he had designed it for the safety of his own children.

Like many owners, we love it the most of all our cars  — ever. But I think the Model 3 that Tesla talks about will be the big one. It may cost as little as $35K and get 200 miles range, which matches the existing supercharger network very well.

Trying to Get My Tesla Out of Yellowstone

I drove the Prius hybrid for 10 years but no EV (electric vehicle) was good enough for me. Now we drive our Tesla Model S everywhere. We totally love it. The Tesla superchargers on the roads are free. There are 200 superchargers and you can go anywhere in the country.

Yellowstone Park road steve wozniak tesla anewdomain

Almost.

Yellowstone, with three and a half million visitors a year, is off the grid.

Oh, you can get there from Bozeman’s supercharger, but that Northern route adds a day for us Californians. So we took a Southern route past the supercharger grid. After the last supercharger in Tremonton, UT, we got to Idaho Falls but, with a normal EV charger there, it takes all night to charge a Tesla battery (85 KWH).

Then we made it SLOWLY to Yellowstone with enough juice to get back out to West Yellowstone. There’s no EV charger in West Yellowstone and, if we get permission somewhere to plug into a wall socket, it takes five days to fully charge the Tesla. In Yellowstone there was an RV park that had normal RV 240v, 50A chargers. Those can charge a Tesla in maybe seven hours. On the way we called them, and we managed to get a reservation for one night there. Then we managed to get two nights reserved.

We kept changing our hotel reservations in the park since this charge location was near the Lake Hotel. Our plan was to charge it one night and then drive around Yellowstone the next day in our car.

But Janet was too tired to move the car that second night, so we stayed in the Old Faithful Inn, planning to move our car the next morning. At 8 p.m. we got a message that we couldn’t charge our car there at the RV park.

I had no idea why at the time. But later we found out it was because someone thought you charged EV’s (Tesla) on 110v, which they didn’t have.They are getting better instruction now, I assure you : )

But, with our charging plan shot, we had to find another alternative. We talked to the Old Faithful Inn manager, and he allowed us to drive around to a maintenance shed and plug into 110v. He would have let us have the 240v there but our cord wasn’t long enough.

On the trip I’d shopped at a Walmart and Lowes for a 240v extension cord without success. Okay, we figured that with 110v we could add enough juice to make it to Bozeman (supercharger) or back to Idaho Falls (normal EV charger, which is overnight for a Tesla). We also switched hotels for our last night there, so we could stay where we were. The hotel manager was essential for that.

And they kept unplugging our car! So we barely got the charge we needed, and we even had to depart a few hours later.

Our last morning some loud alarm went off at 4 or 5 a.m. and everyone had to go outside and wait an hour for the source of the alarm to be identified. We didn’t get much sleep, net. We walked over and saw that our car had not charged that night and got them to plug it back in for a few more “Tesla miles.”

We did make it back to Idaho Falls for a night of charging there before finally getting to Reno in a day on superchargers, and that is where we are now. Our hotel in Idaho Falls is right near the EV charger there, and we used our Segways in between. We had wanted to go to Famous Dave’s BBQ for dinner there but, by surprise, our hotel had a local catering outfit serving BBQ right at the hotel. And it was good.

Tomorrow we drive home.

For aNewDomain, I’m Steve Wozniak.

As told to Gina Smith.

Cover image and inset: Steve Wozniak with wife, Janet, in front of their new Tesla EV, 2014.

Tesla Model S image: By jurvetson (Steve Jurvetson) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Yellowstone road image: Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National Park (7780101180)” by InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA – Grand Loop Road, Yellowstone National ParkUploaded by russavia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

About the author

Gina Smith

Gina Smith is a New York Times bestselling author and an award-winning journalist. A former correspondent for ABC News, Gina is the co-founder and editorial director of aNewDomain Media. Email Gina at gina@anewdomain.net and find her on Twitter @ginasmith888

3 Comments

  • Great article. Im sure the surroundings at Yellowstone helped relieve some of the stress involved and smart move staying over in Idaho Falls cause that drive from Yellowstone to Reno straight through is a long haul.

  • Really nuts that Yellowstone has no charging stations, it’s 2015 already. This has meant my aunt and uncle can’t take their Tesla from Jackson (Hoback) up through the park.

  • I’d have gone ballistic the first time they unplugged my car. You obviously need to carry a shotgun.