Tag Archives: Tesla Motors

Tesla Service Is On Another Level and Continues to Improve

Originally published on CleanTechnica

The Model 3 is going to level up Tesla’s game in many ways, with the first and foremost being the lower price point. Bringing a Tesla to market that is on par with the average sales price of a new car in the US changes everything and truly opens up the brand to the mass market for the first time in its existence.

Ushering in hundreds of thousands of customers per year allows for a scale previously unseen for electric vehicles and comes with a suite of new challenges for the brand. One of the big challenges is related to service. Customers just learning about Tesla and perhaps just learning about electric vehicles will have their eyes opened to many benefits of EVs, and one that will surely be communicated to them at some point is the lack of service requirements of EVs. That said, there will still be service requirements for many Tesla drivers, and its service process is a key piece of the new customer education process.

Tesla launched a new video today that highlights the key differentiators with Tesla’s service compared to the service drivers are used to receiving. The video spotlights Tesla’s over-the-air software updates that are pushed down to Tesla’s vehicles remotely — enabling new functionality, fixing bugs, improving vehicle performance, and all while eliminating the need for customers to come into a service center for these updates.

The over-the-air (OTA) functionality also highlights the connected nature of Tesla’s vehicles, which unlocks perhaps the biggest feature — Tesla remotely monitors its vehicles, resulting in 90% of issues being identified remotely, proactively. I experienced this firsthand with my Model S when Tesla asked me if they could fix a switch in my vehicle’s battery pack without it ever causing an issue. To replace the switch, Tesla sent a driver out with a loaner Tesla, picked up my Tesla, and repaired the issue that same day. In total, it took all of 20 minutes of my time from the initial phone call to the swapping of vehicles (2 times). The ability to remotely identify, triage, and proactively repair vehicles is something I have never experienced and it was amazing.

Stacked on top of proactive monitoring is Tesla’s ranger service. Tesla Rangers are a team of remote technicians who come out to your location – home, work, Starbucks, whatever – and repair your vehicle there. Tesla sent one of its Rangers out to my house to repair the door handles on my Tesla Model S when a few of them were having intermittent issues. The repair happened in my garage after I returned from work and took about an hour while I sat in the comfort of my living room on my laptop.

→ Related: Tesla Model S Service Screens Exposed

It was a breeze and took far less time than it would have if I would have had to book an appointment to come into a dealership or service center and wait for the repair, not to mention the coffee wasn’t burned and the WiFi was much better.

Tesla is also scaling up its service operations in preparation for Model 3, much as it is doing with its Supercharging network. Having visibility into the exact geographic locations where its customers will be (from the massive stack of Model 3 reservations) gives Tesla the data it needs to proactively build out Supercharging and Service Centers exactly where the most customers will be. It’s another brilliant component of the strategy of taking reservations for the vehicle in advance of the move to production.

Tesla is specifically adding 100+ new service centers, 350 mobile service vehicles, and 1,400 service technicians, which all told represents a tripling of its global service capacity. Check out the video below, which was posted to Tesla’s official Facebook and YouTube channels earlier today.

Photos by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

New App “Co-pilot for Tesla” Adds Much Needed Alerts To Tesla’s Autopilot

Originally published on CleanTechnica

New smartphone app Co-pilot for Tesla* aims to leverage crowdsourced data to fill in the safety gaps in Tesla’s current autopilot solution.

Where did the idea for Tesla Co-pilot come from?

The idea for Co-pilot for Tesla app came about as a result of founder Jeff’s experiences using Autopilot in his Tesla. He loved the convenience of using Autopilot / auto-steer and was hooked on using it. A few weeks into using Autopilot, however, he had a few close calls with it around town where it responded inappropriately to temporary traffic flow changes that could have ended terribly. The near misses with Autopilot scared him to the point where he was not comfortable using it for quite a few months which kickstarted an innovative period for him.

Jeff’s experiences are not isolated, with many users in the Tesla Motors Club forums posting similar experiences with Autopilot. Consumer Reports even went so far as to demand that Tesla make sweeping changes to Autopilot in response to a fatality that occurred while a driver was using the system.

While taking time away from Autopilot, Jeff started thinking about what could be done to fix the times when Autopilot misreads, misinterprets or fails to react to a situation in such a way that it results in a dangerous situation. Autopilot asking a driver to take the wheel on very short notice in the middle of a complicated traffic situation does not ensure that the situation will end well.

Jeff saw the potential in Autopilot and had an idea about how he could take it to the next level. After months of working through a few options, he created the solution in the form of a smartphone app he called “Co-pilot for Tesla.”

What is the Co-pilot app?

Co-pilot for Tesla is a crowdsourced, GPS-powered app that allows users to flag areas where the Tesla Autopilot system has failed for them. These alerts allow users to take control of the vehicle or at least closely monitor the situation to confirm their vehicle handles the potentially risky situation appropriately. With the downside of an Autopilot fail having the potential to be a life-altering event, advance warning of the locations where the system has failed can literally be a lifesaver.

Users can opt to simply sit on the receiving end of the app and take advantage of the alerts or to actively contribute to the app and enter the instances where autopilot has failed for them. Importantly, the ability for the solution to gather vast amounts of user-generated, real-life data about Autopilot system bugs has the potential to drive improvements in the system with Tesla as well as just provide data to Autopilot users.

How does the Co-pilot app work?

The fundamentals of the app, predictably, make use of the crowdsourced user data combined with the GPS location from the smartphone, but it does much more than that to achieve a higher degree of accuracy and functionality.

The app starts with a solid underpinning of map layers that it merges with crowdsourced insights as the foundational components of the app’s intelligence. To intelligently create Autopilot events, the app utilizes the mic on the smartphone to detect when Autopilot is turned on or off by recognizing the engage/disengage chimes.

It is worth mentioning that the audio from the mic is not sent to the cloud nor is it stored. It simply listens for the Autopilot on/off tones and triggers the start and end of Autopilot events accordingly. In the event that the start or end of a trip is missed, Co-pilot intelligently determines which portions of the trip are valid, if any.

Co-pilot kicks that up to the next level by connecting to the user’s myTesla account, which enables it to pull vehicle data directly from the Tesla Application Program Interface (API). The Tesla API is essentially a way for the app to listen to and talk back to the car using specific predetermined commands.

What can Co-pilot do today?

Today, Co-pilot provides alerts to users for known risky areas based on crowdsourced data from other users. The alerts are overlaid on a map showing the roads in the area where other users are using Autopilot to help users see which routes have fewer issues than others.

Users can also enter their own alerts to contribute to the pool, making the app function better for everyone. It works like unpaid Amazon reviews where the more alerts a single area gets, the higher the likelihood that all users will experience issues in the area. Conversely, one-off alerts can then also be identified and dismissed.

Because Co-pilot has access to data from the car through the Tesla API, it is also able to compile statistics for all trips in the vehicle. From these trips, the app automagically creates detailed charts with all the data for each including route information (distance, time, route), autosteer info, energy consumption, and battery charge. Additional graphs are displayed when swiped for battery range level, a graph showing speed, and a graph showing elevation.

How can I get my hands on Co-pilot?

Co-pilot for Tesla is available for iOS devices today for free. Just click the App Store Download button below to pull it up. The Co-pilot team is working on an Android version for release in the near future. For more information about the app and to stay apprised of its progress, head over to the Co-pilot website or email your questions, concerns, or excitement to Jeff directly.

*This post was featured on CleanTechnica as a sponsored article.

Tesla Model 3 Production On Track as Tesla Ramps Up Supporting Infrastructure

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Tesla announced earnings for the first quarter of 2017 today and the message is loud and clear about the Model 3 — Tesla is on track for the move to production and ramping up its infrastructure across the board in support of the launch.

Model 3

Starting with the most foundational of Model 3 activities, Model 3 production is on track with all production-ready manufacturing equipment set to start working in July for honest-to-goodness manufacturing:

“Model 3 activities related to vehicle development, manufacturing equipment installation and supplier readiness remain on plan to start production in July.”

The letter continues by unpacking the work Tesla is doing to improve its overall geographic footprint across the globe.

“We are significantly expanding our infrastructure to support Tesla owners by increasing the density and geographic footprint of our presence.”

This comes on the heels of Tesla’s focused announcement that the Tesla Supercharger network will be doubling in 2017.

All signs point to Tesla’s gamble on installing production-capable manufacturing equipment right off the bat vs installing special, essentially disposable equipment and then upgrading to full-volume equipment after the release candidate vehicles are validated. The release candidate vehicles have been built so that improvements can be taken back to the manufacturing process to ensure it is capable of supporting Model 3 production at scale — at quality targets.

As the world has already seen, release candidates are also getting out in public for real-world road testing as part of the validation process.

Digging into the details of the manufacturing lines, Tesla has brought its latest Schuler press line up and has started the commissioning process for it in preparation for Model 3 production. This timing is in-line with the planned Model 3 ramp and allows “sufficient time to install and tune die sets ahead of volume production.”

Work continues across the Fremont factory, with the paint shop getting an overhaul as well as upgrades in the new Model 3 body welding process and general assembly lines, with Tesla noting that these are all on track.

On the supplier front, Tesla is also pounding on the upstream suppliers to ensure it doesn’t hit any roadblocks like those encountered with the Model X production ramp, which had serious issues with the components required for the second-row seats, supersplendulous windshield, and falcon-wing doors.

Service Improvements

Beyond just physical service centers, Tesla has moved forward with mobile service teams and is ramping up from the pilot of just a single mobile service vehicle to a fleet of over 100 mobile service vehicles by the end of Q2 2017. Tesla notes that it has built its vehicles to be largely serviceable without the need for a lift, which means mobile service is much easier to accomplish at the home or business of a customer, which saves the customer the time and effort of traveling to and from a service center (SC) as well as the non-value-add logistics associated with a SC visit.

I personally found the Ranger Service to be extremely user-friendly when a tech came to my home to swap out a door handle on my Model S while I made dinner for my family in the next room.

Tesla has also done work to continue to drive service times down. Specifically, it has continued to leverage proactive and reactive remote diagnostics to identify and flag service items before they leave a driver stranded on the side of a road. This has the potential to drive the uptime of Tesla vehicles up higher than any other competitor, as no other automotive manufacturer has or is using this type of advanced, remote diagnostic capabilities today. The work done to drive service times down this year has resulted in reductions of repair times by 35% this year alone.

A 30% increase in physical footprint density is also in the works for this year, with over 100 new retail, delivery, and service locations globally in parallel to the previously communicated doubling of the Supercharger network in 2017 to 10,000 stations and a 4-fold increase in the destination charger network density to 15,000.

Tesla is also moving into the body shop business, which is a part of the service model that it has historically outsourced. Body work has been a source of significant headaches and delays for users, with the rear quarter panels being a known constraint that regularly cause delays of several months due to their complexity, lead time for parts ordering, and the sheer effort required to remove and rebuild that section of the vehicle.

On the investors call, which CleanTechnica joined, the Tesla team noted that there has been a significant ramp in the number of loaners the company is keeping ready to ensure owners have a Tesla to borrow when their vehicle is in for service. The company noted that it is stocking well-equipped vehicles to give owners the best experience and to make service a positive experience to the point where they will be sad when it’s over. If a fleet of loaner Model X P100Ds are sitting at the ready, Tesla may see an increase in service requests from owners. 🙂

That positive experience could also lead to more upgrades and Model X or S sales. As reported in our freshly released second-annual EV report, the largest percentage of current EV drivers in Europe and North America plan to next buy a Tesla Model 3, but another large portion of initial EV drivers plan to buy a Model S or X next. In fact, among current Tesla drivers, approximately 26% plan to next buy a/another Model S and 10–11% plan to next buy a/another Model X.


The Tesla Supercharging Crisis On The Horizon

Originally published on CleanTechnica

With several affordable vehicles on the horizon that will be capable of 200 miles or more of all-electric range, the last major problem for EVs and EV manufacturers to truly solve is super fast public charging, or what we have dubbed Level 4 charging.

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Image courtesy Redditor Dakujem

Tesla is currently the only automaker to offer reasonable long-distance charging with its Superchargers running at ~135 kW, but that infrastructure is about to be pounded into the ground by hundreds of thousands of Tesla Model 3 owners unless something changes.

In the Model 3 unveiling last week, Elon Musk shared that Supercharging would be included with the Model 3 but stopped short of claiming that it would include free Supercharging, as has been the case with the Model S and X. This is a divergence from previous statements that Supercharging would be free for the Model 3.

Tragedy of the Commons

Looking at Supercharging, one of the key challenges is that it’s free. When humans can get something for free, even when it’s just a few bucks worth of power, we act irrationally and selfishly, which is a behavior captured in a theory call the “tragedy of the commons.” Per Wikipedia, the tragedy of the commons is:

“an economic theory of a situation within a shared-resource system where individual users acting independently and rationally according to their own self-interest behave contrary to the common good of all users by depleting that resource.”

Stories of wealthy Tesla drivers using Superchargers every day as their main charging solutions are on the forums and are evidence of this behavior. Spending 30 minutes every day to sit around to save $3 in electricity at home is not a logical behavior for someone driving a $100,000 car, and results in charging stations being unavailable for long-distance drivers.

Tesla has already reached out to frequent … excessive … abusive … and even some infrequent Supercharging users, asking them to take it easy … and this is just with the Model S putting load on the Supercharging network. Imagine when we have 2 more years of full production volume of the S and the X weighing down on  it… Tesla Superchargers could be in for a world of hurt in no time, as defined by long lines and general unreliability of the Supercharging network.

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Supercharging in Redondo Beach | Image Credit: Kyle Field

Why Supercharging

Fixing Supercharging doesn’t mean that all of a sudden everyone has to pay for Supercharging. Stepping back from the problem to look at why Supercharging exists in the first place helps us to understand what levers can be pulled to improve the system.

Tesla developed and deployed Supercharging to fill a functionality gap for EVs and to enable long-distance travel. That’s the base use case and in these early days of Level 4 infrastructure deployment, the key reason for Level 4 chargers. This is not saying that Superchargers are not great for a quick topup or for filling up after a long day of driving around town … but that’s not what Tesla built them for.

As Supercharging networks continue to grow, there will be a natural evolution of the system to support additional use cases, but in the meantime, there is an opportunity to leverage system controls to optimize system availability. Long-distance travel and fast charging become much more relevant considerations as EVs with more than 200 miles range become the norm — as long-distance travel with sub-100 mile range EVs is painful in most scenarios anyway.

The Radius Model

Finding the sweet spot in keeping the system functional while also assuring availability is a delicate balance but is not unsolvable. Implementing a system wherein charging closer to home is not free provides an incentive for EV owners to charge at home and lightens the load on the distributed public charging network that otherwise becomes clogged by the tragedy of the commons effect we typically see with free charging.

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Great availability, low utilization | Image Credit: Kyle Field

For local charging within 50 miles of home, it is critical to bill for EV charging, as this is where 90%+ of all driving takes place. When local charging is not regulated, EV drivers gravitate towards utilizing public charging stations instead of home charging, which consumes charging spaces that could otherwise be useful for long-distance travelers. A healthy price point for local charging would be to use peak electricity rates.

For mid-range charging at ranges of 50–100 miles from home, an EV driver can still round-trip a destination on a single charge, so public charging at these distances is not absolutely required. Charging pass-through rates for power at mid-range charging stations strikes a balance that allows EV drivers to charge remotely without a penalty but clearly removes the incentive to “convenience charge.”

For long-range charging over 100 miles from the home, Level 4 charging can remain free as this is the intended use-case.

Implementing a radius model to govern charging ensures that chargers are available for the base use case while also giving EV drivers the freedom to utilize public super fast charging stations if needed, with minimal penalty. For EV drivers without home chargers, workplace chargers provide the best balance between cost, availability, and charging time.

As the Level 4 charging network catches up with EV sales growth, models can be adjusted to strike the right balance between cost, availability, and charging time. Currently, the balance is tenuous at best, but with Tesla being the only EV manufacturer to truly invest in a Level 4 charging network and ensure integration with its fleet of EVs, the balance is sure to deteriorate as Model 3 comes online.

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Tesla Model 3 on the test track | Image Credit: Kyle Field

At the Model 3 unveiling last week, Tesla shared plans to double the Supercharging network by the end of 2017, and a parallel effort to improve the destination charging program with a planned four-fold increase in the same timing.

Building and managing Level 4 public charging is a key step to ensuring robust EV charging that meets the needs of EV drivers, but with Model 3 on the horizon, it is at a critical junction as EV adoption moves from the Early Adopters to the Early Majority and the volume of EVs on the road ramps up significantly. Left unmanaged, the volume of vehicles would quickly overwhelm the current and planned super fast charging network and render it effectively unusable.

EV Charging — The Time For A Single Fast-Charging Standard Is Now!

Originally posted on CleanTechnica

The EV charging network is the gas station network for EV owners — the only place to fill up and top off when out on the town, driving around the fringes of an EV’s range. What’s more, charging up an EV takes longer than fueling up an ICE vehicle, so the quantity and availability of charging stations makes a huge impact on the functionality of EVs. To further complicate matters, the growing fleet of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) that don’t have the same “need” to charger can frequently be found charging at public EV charging locations, blocking out battery electric vehicle (BEV) drivers that, as a result, might not be able to get the charge they need to continue to their destination.

As BEVs and PHEVs increase in popularity, the current public EV charging infrastructure will also need to be scaled up to support the fleet. The lack of an EV fast charging standard further complicates the landscape, fragmenting the already struggling infrastructure with several standards competing for dominance, and manufacturers are drawing lines in the sand and picking teams to determine which standard will reign supreme.

Where We Came From — Level 2 Charging

With the initial deployment of EVs, what we now call Level 2 chargers were deployed far and wide to incentivize the public to purchase electric vehicles. These chargers provide charging rates of 6.6 kilowatt-hours for each hour of charging. In a Leaf, that equates to around 24 miles of range per hour of charging. These chargers were a fantastic start at developing a public charging network and gave early adopters the confidence to purchase a $30,000 vehicle with a reduced range.

Level 2 public chargers allowed people to extend the practical range of their EVs with just a few hours of charging required to top off their charge before heading on to another destination. Level 2 chargers are now installed in garages of many EV owners and the public network of chargers has only continued to grow as EV adoption has increased.

Building a Better System — Early DC Fast Charging

To complement these chargers, Level 3 chargers — or DC fast chargers — have started popping up. Level 3 chargers brought a significant advantage to the table in terms of charging speed and were able to push ~19 kWhs in a 30-minute session, equating to the addition of roughly 80% of the charge or an extra 76 miles of range. Charging rates slow as the battery nears the 90% full range, so, your mileage may vary.

DC fast chargers have grown into the gas stations of the EV charging network in most areas, as they allow ~80% charge in the time it takes to enjoy a cup of coffee or grab a bite to eat.

Similar to early Level 2 chargers, Level 3 chargers are expensive, with installations requiring significant electrical infrastructure in addition to a hardware cost upwards of $100,000 each in the US. Due to the high capital cost required to install Level 3 chargers, early installations have been slower and mostly implemented by companies dedicated to charging infrastructure likeNRG EVgo and ChargePoint. These chargers started popping up in major cities, then made their way into smaller cities across the nation.

DC Fast Charging Today

Which brings us to today. In the southwestern United States, we have a healthy network of Level 2 chargers supported by a sprinkling of Level 3 DC fast chargers. On top of this mature network, EV sales have ramped up and are weighing heavily on our primarily Level 2 charging network. Many modern EVs are equipped with fast charging capability, with many supporting higher speeds than the current networks even provide. As we approach the next step change in EVs — with ranges of 200 miles requiring batteries of 60 kilowatt-hours and more — we are again approaching a point where even our fastest chargers today will not meet the needs of the masses.

CHAdeMO

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Kia Soul EV CHAdeMO Adapter (on right) | Image Credit: Kyle Field

CHAdeMO plugs are the size of a large firehose, making its charging cables unwieldy, and it is the fast charging adapter of choice for the Kia Soul EV, Citroen, Mitsubishi EVs, Peugots, and of course, Nissan and the established Leaf (as an option). CHAdeMO offers charging speeds of up to 70 kW, with real-life 30-minute charging sessions delivering just over 19 kWh of charge or around 75 miles of extra range (on a Nissan Leaf). CHAdeMO is seeing extremely rapid adoption in Japan, with around 5,500 stations deployed today (crazy considering how small Japan is!). The US — specifically, California — is ramping up deployment of CHAdeMO stations quickly as well, where over 1,300 stations have been deployed.

SAE Combined Charging Solution

Competing with CHAdeMO for the DC fast charging crown is the newer SAE Combined Charging Solution (aka SAE Combo, or CCS), which is a standard J1772 plug with 2 additional DC fast charging ports below it (hence the combo moniker). This newer standard is the fast charging standard of choice for Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen. Most notably, this port can be found on the BMW i3, the Chevrolet Spark EV, and the Volkswagen eGolf. Combo adapters are similar in size to CHAdeMO, though due to the utilization of the existing J1772 plug, only require a single port on the car, whereas CHAdeMO requires 2 separate on-vehicle ports.

These Combo plugs offer maximum speeds of up to 90 kW (DC Level 2) with theoretical speeds of up to 240 kW. In real life, SAE Combo charge rates are comparable to CHAdeMO, delivering roughly 80% of the range of ~100 mile EVS in a 30-minute fast charging session.

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Tesla Supercharger in Oxnard, CA | Image Credit: Kyle Field

Supercharged

Finally, the Tesla charging format supports all charging levels from Level 1 (normal wall outlets at 110 volts) up to the Tesla-only DC Supercharging network which boasts the fastest broadly available charging speeds, cranking up to 400 miles of range per hour (design rate) with a real-world miles delivered in 30 minutes of Supercharging sitting at 170 miles. This does not scale up linearly (170 x 2 = 340 miles of range delivered per hour), as charging slows when the battery approaches capacity — but it’s still extremely impressive and much faster than any other fast charging standard with a substantial deployed footprint.

The Tesla charging standard is also much more compact than the other standards and can be used for all charging speeds — from 110v wall charging @ 15 amps all the way up to Supercharging.

The Road to the Future

Where to from here? Ultimately, the market will decide which manufacturer and, thus, which standard prevails. Manufacturers are realizing the negative sales impact the current, scattered public charging network is having and building out branded charging networks. Much like the VHS vs Beta or the HD-DVD vs Blu-Ray battles of the past, fragmented landscapes rarely last for long. We will likely converge on a single standard, but the longer the transition is drawn out, the more consumers — and EV adoption rates — will suffer. We need a fast charging standard now to give manufacturers and consumers confidence in EVs long into the future.

Several clear paths exist — though, with sides having already been chosen, no option will be pain-free. An NGO or charging alliance could be formed as a neutral self-governing body to select a dominant standard moving forward. Though, this is challenging as these organizations cost money and offer little financial upside for participants. Government mandates can also create results and that feels like what may be required to unify manufacturers as an effort to protect consumers from non-value-added infrastructure fragmentation.

Whatever the path forward, the time for action is now. Consumers are calling out for a single EV fast charging standard to carry us several decades into the future….

My Epic Tesla Road Trip

Originally published on CleanTechnica

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Upon rolling out of the Tesla Dealership… er… Service Center in Columbus, Ohio, a few things hit me right off the bat: The new-car feeling, realizing that this was my car. The realization that now I really was pretty much on the other side of the country and actually had to drive back across the ~3,700 kilometers at around 33 hours of driving. The fact that I only had one room booked between Ohio and Vegas … and what the heck, I just bought a Tesla!?!

I wanted to take off like a bat of hell and drive 120 miles an hour down the road, tearing up the asphalt… but I’ve been there and done that and tickets (and accidents!) are expensive no matter what state you’re in. So I calmed myself down, took a sip of the coffee CJ had so generously hooked me up with, set the cruise control for 65, and pointed the wheels to the west.

The next day, after a few hours of rest, several stops at Superchargers, hundreds of miles, and too many cups of coffee, I had a good feel for the car and how it worked on long road trips. While the car generally met my expectations, a few things stuck out to me about the car that I hadn’t expected.

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Supercharging in Columbia, MO

Automagic Unlocking

Locking the car, for one. The Model S automagically locks (it’s an optional setting) when the driver walks away with the key fob. At first, I would nervously look out at the car from the gas station, coffee shop, or lunch stop to confirm that the handles were in, lights were off, and all that. After several stops, I realized that it just works. Put it in park, get out, walk away, and you’re good. It’s awesome. No parking brake, no locking or unlocking the car… easy.

Power at Your Fingertips

The power of the car is also amazing. With a single-motor, non-performance version of the Model S, I was not expecting amazing performance, but it blows me away. I used to have a ’97 Pontiac Trans Am, which I had done some work on, so I’m familiar with performance cars, but the smooth, torquey power of the Model S is a different beast altogether, and a lot more fun in my opinion.

Going 30 but want to go 65? Done. Going 65 and want to pass the smoggy diesel pickup in front of you? No problem. It’s something I’m still working on dampening, as it just begs to go faster than most laws allow. My favorite is pounding the pedal while cruising at around 20–30 miles per hour. It jumps like nothing else… okay, except may be a P90D with Ludicrous Mode :D.

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Supercharging in Colorado

Supercharging

I will go into more detail about Supercharging in a separate article, but suffice it to say that it blows the competition away. Triple the speed of the next fastest charger, predictable, built into the navigation, and easy to use. It’s great. I loved being able to punch in whatever destination I wanted, however far away, with the confidence that the car would navigate to the nearest charger automatically.

Most of the Superchargers were located at hotels, gas stations (of all places!), shopping plazas, and otherwise near facilities that could occupy 30 minutes of a day, which was nice. A few stops required a bit more creativity to answer the calls of nature or get a bite of food. I found the ability of the car to keep the heating on while charging to be a great feature that I took advantage of extensively on my journey.

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My favorite Supercharger — at a BP gas station in Effington, IL

Indecisive Navigation

One glitch that I noticed in the navigation is that, after topping up at a Supercharger then heading down the highway, the navigation would occasionally try to route me back to the charger I had just left (after charging for the amount of time it told me to charge for).

This even happened a few times after I was 20 minutes down the road like it suddenly realized I needed more capacity to make the next charger. It did not make sense to me, as I typically had 50–80 miles of “spare” range above and beyond what was required to get to the next charger. It was not a deal breaker and I was able to manually navigate through it by turning off charging stop recommendations, but it seems like a bug in the logic that could be corrected.

Navigation Range Estimation

Along similar lines, the navigation is conservative, but with caveats. First — it is conservative as it tries to ensure that you have WAY more charge than needed to get to the next destination. If I’m going 65 miles to the next charger, it wants me to have at least 110 miles of range to move on.supercharging

The caveat to the estimated range is that external factors like elevation gains, climate controls (heating/cooling), driving speeds, and outside weather can (and did!) have large impacts on range. It was not clear if the navigation was actively taking those factors into account — or at least for the static, predictable factors — but it seems like it could more accurately describe why it wants more charge at certain times.

On my trip, I drove over the Rocky Mountains (very steep, cold mountains in the Western United States), drove in sub-zero temperatures, and as a result, used the cabin heating frequently. I was aware of the impacts these would have, but an unfamiliar driver, not realizing the interrelationships between these factors could easily end up stranded in their Tesla. These factors are also present in gasmobiles, but with gas stations on every corner and most freeway exits, it is less of an issue. Growing pains…

The video below details some of my jumbled learnings from the road. I was happy to find that the speedometer display was the right angle to capture this specific angle with my phone, making it easy to record videos and video chat with my kids while out on the road. Technology is amazing.

All images and videos by Kyle Field