Can you do that – get around Bulgaria in Tesla Model S when there's no charging infrastructure along the way? Absolutely, and there's actually a trip like that taking place right now. The car is still somewhere in the country, but we already have some trip details to share with you...
The car in question is the same that spent some time here eCars.bg's home page – most likely the first Model S in Bulgaria. And you'll hardly find a better sticker for a car like that – nezavisim.bg actually means INDEPENDENT. The man behind the wheel is Victor Papazov, who is now running in the 2014 European Parliament election.
We wish him make it and if you want to know more just go take a look at his website linked above. Our job here is to talk about the EVs, though, so let's get into the trip details. They come to you courtesy of Victor and our friend (he also drives Renault Twizy like us), Niki Ivanov.
Niki met Victor in Bourgas which was on his Model S route. Victor started with a small team from Sofia and already stopped at Pleven, Veliko Tarnovo, Rousse, Shumen, and Varna. His last stop is going to be at Plovdid, before the team gets back to Sofia.
Being the only EV with a long range like that for now (400-500 km on a single charge) on the market, we guess you're most qurious about the real range, right? So here what Victor says about it:
Model S usually gives me around 350 km on a single charge. My longest run so far was 400 km.
Well, it's less than what we know Model S is capable of (the record is 681 km on a charge), but it depends on your driving style and the road conditions.
Niki adds something new and very interesting here. The car was fully charged at Varna and he saw it show like 150 km remaining range in Bourgas. If you don't know the road between Varna and Bourgas, there's rather hilly sections and the distance is around 130 km. Well, now you know what Model S is capable of. What you (and we) don't know is how the car was driven during this stage.
About the Model S, Victor says he is very happy with the car – including the dynamics, the handling and the performance. Naturally, he had some issues, it's a machine. And though it's not a topic to discuss in this blog, we'd like to be objective and share them with you.
After some time with the car Victor noticed it started to pull right when accelerating. He emailed the service center in Vienna and couple of days later they responded, asking him to bring the car to a local repair shop for diagnostics.
There they discovered the issue – loosen bolts on the rear right lower arm and sway bar which we believe could be a manufacturing defect. Bolts were tightened, but couple of days later same issue reappeared and it was now obvious it needs more than tightening.
Victor did a video, emailed it to the team in Vienna and they asked him to bring the car over so for repair. A service truck was sent to Sofia and they even offered Victor replacement Model S. He denied and couple of weeks later his Model S arrived in some luxurius truck (covered) with all but shock absorbers replaced under warranty. He was not reqired to pay anything including the transportation costs.
Sounds like a top notch service to us and we know why they're providing it. We've being told in person that, "Because for now we're unable to launch service centers everywhere, but want every Model S owner to be happy, we cover the transportation costs."
So with almost all the rear suspension fixed, everything's perfect now. It was interesting for us to know Tesla's service center manager in Vienna is from Macedonia. Victor says he's a cool guy and they just got along – the guy's name is Sasha Stefanovski and he knows English, German, and, of course, Macedonian, which is very close to Bulgarian.
Another accident was a tire punctured in a pot hole in Sofia. With no tire repair kit onboard, luckily there was a tire shop nearby. Later Victor purchased an inflation kit.
And one last thing before we move on to the super important charging question. After yesterday's software update the the navigation map just disappeared. So does the 3G connection, only WiFi was OK. Today they restarted twice, but it didn't help. From forum posts we know Tesla usually sorts out such problems fast, so this should be resolved soon.
how did they charge this model s around bulgaria?
First to mention here is despite the nice inscription on the car, you're of course not totally independent. But you have a lot more charging possibilities. You can charge it even if you're in the mountains. You just need an electricity and it's available up there on the hills.
Victor says the car charges at 9-12 km per hour from a standart household socket. This means you'll get a hundred km for an all night long charge. Slow, isn't it, but three phases comes handy here at 50 km per hour of charge. So we have:
- 220V charging – 10 km of range per 1 hour;
- 380V charging – 50 km of range per 1 hour.
And knowing Victor had a free charge along the way here and there reminds us of the thing we called "Charging your EV at friends's place". Niki told us, today (April 12) they are going to charge at his friends' place where the Model S team will spend the night. There's three phase installation outside at the parking lot. It's actually a rural tourisma farm in Drachevo.
They just have the good old BG three phase four pin socket in place, and Victor ordered and adapter (pictured above), so charging will be flawless. There was an issue on a trip to Turkey though (yes, the has been there as well) when the socket melted a bit so now the car needs a new one.
Otherwise the team had a couple of 220V and 380V charges along the way, topping up on every stop. People were happy to provide a free charge for Model S and there was no charging issues enroute.
AND SOMETHING ABOUT THE INTERIOR
Victor says, for its price Model S is inferior in quality inside compared to the german top trio. We've heard it before and we can't totally disagree. One specific Model S issue is when opening front door, part of the trim stretches and you can easily get your pocket torn apart. The upholstery in turn gets some tears as well.
in conclusion about this model s trip around bulgaria
With just one stop to go (Plovdiv) we're happy to say we had our first dedicated Bulgarian Model S round trip – 4000 km that cost around €50 to charge the car. Thanks to Victor and Niki for the details and pictures and it will be awesome to get more Bulgarian Model S reviews soon. We invite you to share you impressions of the car here at eCars.bg :).