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Tesla-driving tourists set a coast-to-coast record, but lose it a few days later

An ordinary family vacation turned into an electrifying, record-breaking jaunt across the United States for a Swiss trio. After re-importing their Tesla Model 3 to America, the Thomsen family drove from the Red Ball Garage in New York City to the Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach, next to Los Angeles, in 48 hours and 10 minutes, beating the previous electric car record by two hours and six minutes. Their time didn’t stand long, though; another, quicker Model 3 driven by Kyle Conner and Matthew Davis completed the trip in 45 hours and 16 minutes just a few days later, setting the record that still stands today.

Driving across the United States from east to west (or vice versa) is known as a Cannonball Run. Speedy, cop-savvy motorists have taken turns breaking each other’s records for decades. While Conner and Davis didn’t come anywhere close to beating the all-time record of 28 hours and 50 minutes set in 2013 by Ed Bolian in a Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG, their Model 3 became the quickest electric car ever to drive across the country.

Details about the run made by Conner and Davis are still few and far between. The Thomsens, however, filmed and meticulously documented every part of their cross-country trip. They averaged precisely 58.9 mph, and made 19 stops for electricity at Supercharger stations scattered across the United States. They spent $136.26 on 832 kilowatt-hours of juice, and kept the range-sapping air conditioning on full-blast the whole way. The 2,835-mile trip took them through several states including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before reaching California.

Lars Thomsen, his wife Betty Legler, and their 18-year old daughter Robin Jedi Thomsen (who got her license two weeks before the trip) took turns driving. The trio wrote they used Tesla’s Navigate on Autopilot semi-autonomous technology for an overwhelming majority of the trip. The feature doesn’t make the Model 3 autonomous, but it allows it to navigate on-ramps and off-ramps. It also suggests lane changes, though the driver still needs to confirm that it’s safe to move over.

The car in question isn’t hot-rodded or modified in any way. It’s a regular 2018 Model 3 built to long-range, rear-wheel drive specifications. It had an interesting story to tell even before it embarked on a coast-to-coast rally. Lars Thomsen purchased it new in the United States and imported it to Switzerland about a year before Tesla started selling its entry-level model in Europe. It’s still fitted with the stock 19-inch alloy wheels and the tires installed at the California factory it was built in.

The Model 3 driven by Conner and Davis was also a long-range, rear-wheel drive variant but it wasn’t fully stock. It was lowered for improved aerodynamics, according to The Drive. The duo rarely used Tesla’s Autopilot technology during the trip. While they’re thrilled to have set the now-prevailing electric car record, they believe they can shave a few more hours from their time as charging times improve, and battery technology becomes more advanced.

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