Above all else, I love this car. Get one. Then drive it a lot and learn what the engineers were thinking and adapt your driving. Think of this period like when you, as a parent, watched your child drive for the first time in traffic on the interstate. A nail biting experience that over time, you became more comfortable with as your confidence grew in your child’s ability to make decisions. And be forgiving. It helps.
I am 6 feet 2 inches tall without my cowboy hat and 220 lb (188 cm and 100 kg). I have spent hours in the driver’s seat, the passenger seat and the second row seat. I have zero complaints for leg room or comfort. Melissa drove the last 1000 miles and she doesn’t like the driver’s seat. Her gold standard is the Dodge Ram pick up truck seat which I’ll admit is comfortable. Maybe there is a little cheek pinch in the X.
Autosteer update since the last blog: Read the owner’s manual again about this feature. Use it within the parameters and you will like it a lot more. In addition, and I may be crazy, but selecting “comfort” for the steering mode seems to make auto steer less of a fight and more successful at its job. I also think it is learning as I drive. Or maybe I am, but it works great on the 3 lane interstate.
The following analysis of Tesla features are divided into 3 groups: absolutely must have forever, needs improvement, and absolute dislikes.
Electric Motors – I will never go back to my ICE diesel. The elegance and shear power of this ultra smooth power source is unquestionably the future of all transportation. No grade of incline is a challenge. The incredible acceleration is a safety feature unto itself – and it’s a grin maker. My 90 year old father in law was warned but even then burst into a hugh grin saying, “Holy shit! That must be what the astronauts feel!” No lie.
Decide today to convert to an EV as soon as you think it will work logistically for you. The purpose of this blog is to help business owners who travel the country decide if the Tesla EV with its long range is a viable logistic option. If it is for you then this motor will bring a huge grin to your face because: 1) simplicity and 2) unlimited mile warranty. I am confident in its service longevity with minimal service cost.
Regenerative Braking – Once you get used to RB you will not be able to live without it. It reminds me of a silent diesel exhaust brake (ie, Jake brake, Jacobs engine brake). Easing off the accelerator produces a profound reduction in speed. Gentle increments allows for approaching curves without the need for brakes or down shifting. Plus on long downhill grades, energy is placed back in the battery.
Traffic Aware Cruise Control (TACC) – This is worth the price of the car during any situation in your driving day. Wide open interstate to in-town traffic, just set the speed and watch the magic occur as traffic ahead of you starts to slow down. (see the video in my previous blog here)
Be aware that you are still responsible for when the guy in front of you runs a red light or stop sign. The car is dumb and will follow the car ahead of you off a cliff. But you all knew that, right?
By the way, TACC does recognize a single motorcycle in front of me. No worries there.
Sun visor – This is a brilliant design for the expansive windshield but how to use it is not obvious. The only spot it doesn’t cover is the side window for the early morning east coast sunrise as I head south. Move it anywhere over the windshield and it will cover about 90% of the sun’s rays (see picture). Don’t let the small size fool you.
Cargo Space – The X with the seats folded down becomes a cave into which a lot can be placed. I have the 5 seat configuration and there are 2 compartments under the floor boards to stow things securely.
WOULD LIKE IMPROVED:
Phone Contacts – this is limited to 4000 (or maybe 5000) contacts. I have 6572 contacts. This limited list takes me somewhere into my “R’s.” My wife with a last name starting with a “T” is not included and cannot be voice dialed by the car. In addition, I have a favorite contacts list. That should be on my screen though if I had all my contacts I could just voice dial them.
Navigation – I use Tesla’s Nav system but I also back it up with my iPhone. The iPhone and the Tesla often disagree on the route. The Tesla also adds 20 to 30 minutes to the length of the trip versus the iPhone and then deducts the time as I approach the destination. My iPhone is spot on accurate every time from the start of the trip.
The Tesla doesn’t list on the screen the exact name and number of the exit though the voice will say it. This is important when there exit can be split into “A” and “B” or East and West. Which way am I headed? All it says is “Dedham” though B is the 1st exit and A is further down the road. I don’t want to focus on the blue line of the map. I want to read A or B ad then just look at the real signs. Give me the option to do this. All the other map programs do (I have Apple Maps, Google Maps and Garmin all on my phone and they all do this).
The voice prompt just doesn’t work for me. I don’t know why. Maybe because it has a “California tone.” Can it stop saying before each instruction, “And now…” For example, “And now turn left on Bingham street.” How about saying, “Turn left on Bingham Street.” Leave the “And now” for the California dudes and dudettes.
When I use Tesla’s Nav I also use my iPhone placed in silent mode with my iWatch shaking as a turn approaches. Maybe a haptic event with the car (shake the steering wheel or seat) would help me especially when I’m on the phone and the nav voice is canceled. It would also be nice if Nav paused an audiobook like my iPhone does, but I think this may be impossible. For now, I use 2 navigation systems simultaneously and I trust my iPhone Nav over Tesla’s.
An interesting note – tonight I was climbing a mountain in VT when suddenly the Tesla’s Nav system told me to do a U-turn and go back over 2 miles and turn right. Did I miss something? Nope! I went back and then went in to use a rest room before making the requested turn. When I returned the car the Nav system told me to go back up the mountain and proceed. Is it THAT GOOD that it knows I should have stopped to pee? I don’t think so. In fairness, the iPhone Nav has also done some screwy things too over the years, but none so egregious.
One last request for the Nav system. Would it be possible to put in more than one destination? I use Google Maps on my computer to plot a day of farm visits with multiple destinations. That would be nice in the car. It would really help in determining where to place the charging periods in the long day.
Auto Lane Change (ALC) – I’m not sure if this feature is really necessary. It seems to only work for me on a divided multi-lane highway. When it is started, the lane change is too abrupt for my liking. I use it because it is a novelty and its use is possibly studied by Tesla, but as stated in another blog, ALC as well as Autosteer both need a camera looking far out and combining that with the near camera to create a smooth blend to lane changes as well as staying within the lane of a curve.
Superchargers (SC) – More are needed and an accurate opening date applied to every one scheduled for construction. This will help for my scheduling of farm visits next month (Nov of 2017 with so many new SC’s “scheduled for the end of 2017”). I like the new SC’s installed at Wawa and QuickCheck gas stations. This is a brilliant move by someone because these ultra modern convenient stores have everything drivers want. Very convenient.
Many Tesla drivers are unaware of the meaning of the A-B numbering of the chargers. Basically 2 Tesla’s charging at an A and a B of the same number are splitting the energy. The new chargers at the Boston parking garage have eliminated this. Good move!
Wheels and tires – I am a careful driver but apparently not careful enough. See the picture of my wheel. Maybe another choice of a stronger sidewall and wheel. While I realize that keeping weight down is essential, so is completing the mission. In 4000 miles I have had 2 near misses with tires – an almost puncture and a sidewall laceration with wheel damage. This can happen to truck tires too, I know. But a little tougher may be nice for a working Tesla.
Windshield in heavy rain – See my past blog about this here. Water needs to be cleared away efficiently when in a deluge as we often get here in Florida. I might add that a better wipe pattern could be developed so that the passenger window gets as much cleared as the driver’s side.
Autoplay of music – Why is this happening? I walk to the car with a client and open the door. Instant music. Now I have to go in and stop it because it’s annoying. It happens whether I am connected to the iPhone or streaming. The worst part is when I am listening to an audiobook. Now I’ve lost my place and need to rewind to a past point guessing where it might be. Very annoying (oops, I already said that).
Slow windows – It’s like watching water boil, or ice melt. S l o w – Can’t wait for it to be raining and I need to roll the window down at a guard gate, then get soaked as I watch it
s l o w l y….
Blind spots – The X has a large blind spot over the driver’s left shoulder. A set of convex mirrors have resolved this, though I wish I had bought the larger ones (old truckers never die, they just miss their gears).
CONCLUSION (now at 4700 miles)
While the dislikes really annoy me as a business and professional driver, the absolutes make this purchase a gratifying decision. But there is one more subjective thing to talk about. This isn’t about the car but the change in my style of living. I am learning to relax and enjoy these hour long breaks during or at the end of the day. I have so much to do between paperwork and writing blogs, I find that these become very productive breaks that I am looking forward to. At least for now during perfect weather. And driving with TACC and AS on a 4 lane busy interstate outside of Boston (or any city) is actually relaxing as I listen to the quiet noise of the tires and wind. Yes relaxing as in the point when I started to trust my son driving and I knew he would be ok driving on his own soon. I am ready for true autopilot.
Service StoryTonight I was in Dedham, MA and a BIG SHOUT OUT goes to Keith.
Suddenly there was a ticking sound coming from behind the dash. I was minutes away from the Tesla store where I was going to use a SC. I pulled into the garage and someone immediately saw to my needs and assigned Keith to the task.
He methodically approached the problem and then identified the left radio speaker oscillating with a clicking noise (think of a fan ticking something as a blade goes by).
A simple computer reset did the trick and I was on my way. Thanks again Keith of the Dedham Ma service center. GREAT JOB!