Posts about life as an electric vehicle driver.
I drive a Tesla Roadster. For full disclosure, I own stock in Tesla because I put my money where my mouth is.
We picked up our Model S (VIN #70) at the factory yesterday:
Delivery was at the factory was wonderful. A great team took us through the process and gave us an amazing tour of an amazing factory. (No pictures inside the factory allowed, sorry.) When we toured the factory a year ago at the S unveiling event it wasn’t yet operating but the equipment was installed, so it felt more like a museum. Now it’s a humming machine churning out cars (at a measured pace now but you can see what’s coming given the large number in production). Lots of people at work on a Saturday afternoon.
Delivery bay where we got the tour of the car and signed paperwork:
Wall inside the factory with visitors’ signatures: We signed that at the S event a year ago, but we couldn’t find our signatures in all of this (this picture is maybe 20% of the wall) so we signed it again (in purple):
As for the car itself:
After driving the Roadster the last two years, this thing takes some getting used to. It feels so big and heavy, my instinct is it will take lots of room to get going and slow down. Not surprisingly given it’s power, when you touch the accelerator it launches forward so quickly that if you aren’t gentle enough it sort of feels like something really big must have given the car a hard shove! What is a lot more surprising is how easily it slows and goes around mountain turns (we took a shortcut through the hills). I consistently start slowing way before I need to, even just using regen.
There are some quirks that I’m sure will be solved via software updates. The navigation is fairly quirky. At some point it stopped showing our planned route on the map—I haven’t figured out why or how to get that back. It also seemingly randomly changed from the address I had clicked on to charge in Santa Maria to a residential street 7 miles further on and we didn’t realize it until we had gone there and had to decide whether to back track or not (we just went on to the next station). I tried entering the address again as an experiment and even though the correct address clearly appeared on the menu and I very clearly clicked on it, the navigation again routed us to the seemingly unrelated residential address.
I do find the volume control not nearly granular enough. Its either too loud or too soft. But it sounds fantastic! And the iphone integration is great! Way way better (not saying much I know) than the JVC that was in the Roadster. It consistently shows the current song with album art on the screen, and the play and skip buttons always work. Phone integration is great, with the phone directory and recent calls from the iphone displayed automatically. The sound quality over bluetooth from the iphone is amazingly good. I have to admit that I’d be hard pressed to tell you I wasn’t listening to a CD. And we all agreed that the surround mode actually works quite well. I have a Blue Man Group album that I know is surround and when we turned on Dolby in the car it really sounded great and sounded like full surround.
The charging adapters are amazingly elegant compared to the Roadster. The J1772 adapter is a tiny little (~3 inch long) insert that locks into the charge port, giving you a J1772 outlet on the car that almost looks like it’s built in/native:
A couple quirks here though: When I get out of the car at an EV station, all three times I’ve forgotten to first pop the charge port door from the touchscreen so I have to get back in to do that. As far as I can tell there’s no way to do it from the key or with the J1772 adapter. (I could get out the NEMA adapter which has a button to open the charge port). Likewise, even with the car unlocked, you can’t remove the adapter without pressing the button to open the charge port (which is already open) from the touchscreen. Maybe there’s another way but I haven’t figured it out yet.
I wasn’t given an instruction manual. I have an email into my delivery experience rep to see if I should have or if there is an electronic version. I’m wondering if some of these would be addressed there. Oops—yes it does have a manual, right in the glove box. Doh! Another software thing is I really want more info about the range when doing this kind of long distance driving. I got very used to taking the two data points of ideal range and estimated range in the Roadster to judge how far I could go and what I could do to improve my range. I haven’t figured out definitively if the range the S is showing is estimated or ideal—but I think it’s ideal. There doesn’t seem to be any option to switch or get the other figure as well. Figured out how to get “projected” and “rated” range to show on the display by changing the display modules shown!
There is a touchscreen option to change the charging units between energy and distance, but this doesn’t appear to have any effect on the range shown while driving.
It came as a bit of a surprise to me that there are no driving modes in the S, just a charging option of standard or range. This means that 0 miles left in the S is really 0—there is no range reserve one can “turn on” by flipping into a range mode. All changing the charging mode seems to do is control whether it charges to 85% (~245 miles) or 100% (~300 miles).
These are nits and all can be changed in future software updates. The key thing is that this car is so nice to drive. It is perfectly quiet. No squeaks or rattles. Just the quiet whoosh of air going by! I love the 21” wheels. I don’t feel any sense of harshness, but remember I was driving a Roadster before so my standards may be different than yours.
The screens are a joy! I know people have worried about the distraction. I’m finding the screens quite elegant. I love having the huge map up while driving. With satellite view its really nice seeing the area we’re driving through—really gives a better sense of place on longer drives. I hadn’t given much thought to the screen above the steering wheel, but I really love it too. I customized it to show my navigation and song playback. The navigation there is very useful as it shows the turn by turn directions, while the 17” display shows the map.
We’re in Goleta now charging at Rabobank, headed south to charge next in Newport beach this evening then home to San Diego. If you are around Santa Barbara now or will be around Newport later, drop a line if you’d like to come take a look.
Charging in San Luis Obispo last night:
Charging in Goleta today:
From Chuclk: Bring your Model S to the National Plug-in Day in San Diego! http://events.pluginday.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=67980
Yes, I’d love to! See you there.
I pick up my Tesla Model S Saturday! Look for pictures from the factory tour and pickup experience here in mid-afternoon.
If you’ve considered an electric car, but don’t want to pony up for a Tesla and want something with more power and range than a Leaf, I recommend you take a serious look at the new Tesla powered Toyota RAV4.
Check out this review from the NY Times:
The Irvine Company recently sent a survey to users of the new J1772 Blink and Chargepoint EVSEs they put in at my work. I provided a lot of feedback and thought I’d share it here as well since this would really apply to any office building setting:
I really appreciate the Irvine Company putting these in. It’s a great benefit for employees who are leading the way to electric cars.
I have some suggestions to make this all work better for the Irvine Company and EV owners:
I think it would be much better to get lots of cheap charge stations (EVSEs) instead of a few fancy “smart” (Internet connected, card required etc…) ones like the Chargepoint and Blink. That way people don’t need to worry about running down when the car is done charging or the four hour limit is reached (which is very problematic since we are in the middle of work it may not be okay to leave just right then) or constantly checking to see if an EVSE has freed up. You can put them in an out of the way place (like 3rd or 4th floor). If there are enough then the Internet connections aren’t necessary. Home Depot even sells a Legrand EVSE without those fancy features for $799. You could also put in really cheap NEMA 14-50 outlets which I have at our other office in Beverly Hills. Tesla’s come with a cord for this outlet, and Leafs and Volts can also use them with an adapter. The great thing is the parts to put in a NEMA 14-50 outlet only cost <$50.
If you insist on having only a few stations and making people play musical chairs by making them move as soon as they are done charging, then I’d strongly suggest getting higher power EVSEs. The ChargePoint and Blink only have 30amps. My Tesla and many future EVs will have larger batteries and can charge at higher rates. For example, at home I have the Clipper Creek CS-100 which puts out up to 100amps. It costs about $2,000 but can charge more than 3 times as fast. I could charge my Tesla in only one hour rather than the 3.5 hours it takes with the Clipper Creek and Blink. EV cars with lower power chargers like the Leaf and Volt also work fine with the CS-100 but wouldn’t draw the extra power. As larger battery EVs come out, which is starting to happen in larger and larger numbers, they will take longer to charge to fill their larger capacity, so it will be very important to have more powerful charge stations in order to get them out quickly if we are going to have so few EVSEs.
Again, thanks for providing these! I just want to help make sure the money the Irvine Company is spending is as effective as possible.
Reading this whole controversy about “bricking” a Tesla, I got to thinking about how it’s SO much easier to fill your tank with gas than to plug your car in at night:
- Drill 1,000’s of feet or more, underground or under the ocean for oil (it usually doesn’t spill—never mind a little damage to the Gulf or Alaska once in a while)
- Plow through 10,000’s of people’s property to build massive 1,000 mile long pipelines, and move football field size tankers across the globe to get the oil to where it’s needed
- Run the oil though massive refinery plants. Never mind a little fire and a few deaths once in a while.
- Drive 10,000’s of tanker trucks around the country to bring the resulting gasoline close to the cars
- Stop whatever you are doing and find a gas station every 200-400 miles to refill your car from the output of this process so you can keep going.
When you compare that to charging an EV, there’s no comparison. I mean let’s look at what’s involved:
- Stick solar cells on your roof (or use the grid—never mind that even then you use less energy than using gasoline)
- Take 10 seconds to plug in your car each night
Totally unreasonable. Who would want to go through all that?!?
Not to mention what’s involved in building the cars. Sure, a gasoline car maybe a massively complex, dirty machine that requires service and complete replacement of vital, environmentally hazardous fluids every few months or the engine is ‘bricked’ and must be replaced at a cost of $1,000s or $10,000s. And sure, an electric car doesn’t need any of that. But there is that battery.
After all, Lithium does have to pumped out of places like Brazilian brine lakes (never mind that there’s limited environmental impact and lithium is completely non-toxic, and that there’s more than enough lithium in the world for any conceivable need). Surely it’s worse to bring that Lithium up to manufacture the battery once at the production of the car than it is to just keep fueling a car with gasoline hundreds of times over its lifetime. The lead batteries in traditional and hybrid cars have been around forever, so we know how safe they are.
Clearly, plugging in an electric car every now and then is just way too much trouble.