Tesla – It’s Not Perfect

Before I do the Tesla rendition of “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” I need to say that like me, it’s not perfect. But like me, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

The purpose of these blogs is to help others deciding whether using an all electric smart vehicle is a good decision for your business. I had questions before investing in this machine that were not answered well by any of my research. Anxiety crept in as I waited for delivery and I know it will in others. This is my attempt to help you with your decision.

My Credentials

I drive a lot. There are 1900 miles on my X 100D in 4 ½ days. I use my vehicle to transport me and my gear about the country visiting horses in barns from FL to VT to TN and LA. I travel interstates to off road off-the-map places and in every kind of weather. I have driven the small Toyota Yaris to 18 wheeled long nose Peterbilt trucks with a Spicer 18 speed transmission. I’ve had 1 traffic accident since I started driving in 1969. I presently drive about 60,000 miles a year often in 2 or 3 different rental vehicles each month.

The First Week

Actually it’s the second week. As you know from my last blog, my X went to the service shop on Saturday and came out on Monday with the A/C valve repaired and the computer’s firmware replaced. It was “the first time there has been a failure at Tesla of the firmware to install correctly,” they said.

A BIG shout out to Matt who is the shop manager at the Tesla shop in Palm Beach, FL. He brought together a team and got the problem solved. His interest in caring for the customer and his people skills should make the company proud.  He is a member of my team along with John who quickly got on board with his excitement.

Overall I like the quality of the car. I will NEVER go back to sluggish internal combustion engines. I CANNOT live without regenerative breaking. I have been a “distracted” driver since 1985 when my first mobile radio telephone was installed in my pick up truck.  It had a rotary dial and was on a party line.

In about 2005 I mounted my computer in my truck. With the increased amount of drivers without skills, I wanted something “safer” to help me with my style of driving. So far this Tesla fits the bill as I am starting to trust it.  Yes, I need to trust this car (more in the future).  Tesla has done a great job in this car’s development but I am discovering on this trip that there are some things we need to talk about.

The Windshield In The Rain

I have driven a lot in every kind of weather condition and one of the scariest is the rains we sometimes get here in FL. It is like driving underwater. Visibility is close to zero but my GMC pick up does a great job of clearing the windshield with it’s rapid setting and the angle of the windshield. The Tesla though had me scared.  I wasn’t sure if I should pull over and wait it out but I couldn’t even see the side of the road to safely judge this short route. Maybe the song is right. “It never rains in southern California.”  Tesla – please come to FL and test your machine if you dare.

I will try Rain-X despite the warning of the possibility of it causing wiper chattering.

Traffic Awareness Cruise Control

This is awesome! Example – you set it for 50 and cruise. You come up behind a car moving at 45 and my X automatically slows to 45 at a distance I predetermine. If the traffic further slows, the X slows with it EVEN to zero.  In a line of slow traffic, the car stops and goes with the one in front of it without the need to touch the accelerator or brake.

I have learned to trust this feature but it still has a few “things” I don’t like.  For instance, if someone in front of me slows to make a turn, I slow with him as expected.  But after that car leaves my lane, my X sits for a bit making sure it has the “all clear” to go again.  My driving style would have started the acceleration much sooner.  While I can get used to this, it doesn’t match the behavior that the driver behind me would expect which may cause aggravation or an accident.  I would suggest that this time be either shortened or even allowed to be adjusted by the driver.  After all, we still have our feet near the pedals as I have accelerated manually for this reason.

This video starts at 11 MPH and goes to zero then back to 8 as I creep along in a traffic slow down.

Hold on a minute and don’t get too comfortable. I like to be in charge of my actions and following someone else off a cliff makes no sense. So remain alert or you may need to depend on the emergency braking (EB) function.

Speaking of EB, someone cut rapidly into our line of slow moving traffic invading my predetermined following distance. The X rapidly decelerated faster than I could think. EB is a nice safety feature but remember, it doesn’t stop you. Believe me, the rapid deceleration will cause you to, involuntarily, press the brake peddle with your big foot all the way to the floor.

A problem with EB has happened twice so far. Both at night and both at cruising speeds on the interstate. Most importantly, each time there was nothing in front of me. No vehicle and no debris with clear weather and a full moon, but the car suddenly rapidly decelerated, then acted like it never happened. It makes the heart skip a beat.

This sudden deceleration also occurs when crossing a well defined cross walk.  Heads up.

Wrap Up

I wouldn’t hesitate to get a Tesla X. At 6 foot 2 inches and 220 pounds, I am not stiff after driving this X 1400 miles in 2 days. Maybe it is the electricity swirling around my butt as a preventive, but I get out of the car and I have no limps. A friend bigger than I also noticed this too. In fact, I rode in the back seat for 3 ½ hours last week and I will say it was the most comfortable back seat I have ever sat in for any amount of time.

I am getting used to stopping every 3 ½ hours to “fill up.” I am forced to write these blogs or do something that refreshes the brain. It is a good habit to get used to. However I share the concerns of other Tesla drivers parking often in dark places where an attack or an approach by unwanted people is a concern. But I have been approached by both unwanted people while pumping diesel in broad daylight so this is a part of travel. However, we are still sitting ducks for a long period of time while charging. And half of the states I go to are NOT gun friendly. By the way, does anyone know where I can bolt a safe to a Tesla X? I’m a little afraid to drill.

The Autosteer (beta) function has many quirks I will cover in another blog.

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