A subset of Tesla Model S drivers has found a novel way to get yet more mileage out of their prestige electric vehicles – by converting them into “a 21st Century tent” for camping under the stars.
The practice, which is not officially – nor otherwise – sanctioned by Tesla, appears nonetheless to be a thing, documented in detail in this piece by Bloomberg’s Tom Randall, as well as on online forums and YouTube videos by the broader Tesla community.
“As the sun set beyond the long-needle pines and emerald waters of Lake Tahoe, I looked across the campfire and laughed out loud. I was about to go ‘camping’ in the back of a $US145,000 electric car,” waxes Randall….
But as the story goes on, it becomes apparent this practice requires some research and commitment and a level of ingenuity – or hacking – on the part of the camper/driver.
First, the Model S rear seats don’t fold completely flat – an comfort problem Randall works around using folded cardboard and a blow-up mattress.
Another potential issue is that measures need to be taken to stop the car from shutting down, as it does automatically when no one is in the driver’s seat.
But in the end, Randall manages to find a way to keep the car in “Camp Mode”, with the air con and filtering systems running while he slept; and all only using about 7 per cent of the car’s battery power.
The upsides? Well, the car will have minimal impact on the environment you chose to camp in, with no noise and no tailpipe emissions, Randall says. And while the LED headlights stay on when the car’s power is on, these can be blacked out manually.
And then there’s the Model S’s panoramic glass roof, says Randall – “no tent can compete with that.”
“There’s also something romantic about the idea that you slide in to a car to enjoy the solitary pleasures of life on the road – and you need to stop only when you, or the car, need to recharge.”
Randall argues that “Camper Mode” could be “a real draw” for the Model 3 Tesla, which will, of course, be much cheaper, and whose rear seats, Tesla advises, do fold flat.
“Tesla is hoping to make at least 500,000 Model 3s a year, beginning in 2018,” he says. “In doing so, it may open up a whole new approach to road tripping for 21st Century Jack Kerouacs.”
For Randall’s step-by-step guide to Model S camping, read the article. And if there are any Australian Tesla Campers out there, drop us a line about your experiences.