Tag Archives: Tesla

More on Tesla…

As the header states, this is about Tesla and electric vehicles in general so if you’re not interested in either, look away…

Now then, I found this article over at jalopnik.com and written by Michael Ballaban…

Here’s the main problem with Tesla’s Supercharger Network

I’m going to give away the entire article here but basically Mr. Ballaban notes that over the Thanksgiving Holiday when people were out and about with their cars, in Tesla heavy areas, specifically San Luis Obispo, California, there was a line of Tesla cars waiting to use the Superchargers there and Mr. Ballaban concludes that this is the big problem with Tesla’s Supercharger Network: There needs to be more of them.

To which I say: This here is a perfect example of backseat driving (pardon the pun) and/or wanting everything right away/entitledness.

When a significant number of cars first started appearing in the early 20th Century, do you think that gas stations suddenly were everywhere? Do you think people who adopted those early vehicles suddenly had access to hundreds of gas stations within a couple of miles where they were?

Nope.

It took a while for them to appear. Hell, it took a while -decades!- before we had good highways in which one could actually use these newfangled cars!

Tesla, as I’ve noted before, has been in existence a grand total of some 16 years. It is one company founded by Elon Musk who had to put/invest a tremendous amount of money -his own and borrowed- to get the damn thing off the ground. And Tesla had to fight the generalized feeling among many that electric cars were simply not good compared to gas/Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars. Fighting the oil companies, by the way, ain’t easy. They’re among the biggest, most powerful companies around and their lobbyists are very powerful in Washington and around the world.

Yet in those short number of years, Tesla/Musk has changed the attitude that EVs are worthless. They’ve managed to institute, on their own, thousands of Superchargers around the country that will allow those who have Tesla vehicles the ability to travel across this country. Yes, it takes a little longer to charge a EV vs. fill up an ICE vehicle’s tank. Yes, there are far more gas stations around that Superchargers.

But…!

We’re in the early stages of the EV revolution, if indeed it is that.

There are thousands of Superchargers out there but, guess what?, these are only used when one does travel far distances. When you don’t, you tend to use home chargers, if you can.

In my case, I’ve used the Tesla Superchargers a grand total of six times since getting my car in February. The only reason I used those Superchargers was because I was making trips that took me significantly away from home. With only one exception: The very first time I used a Supercharger was one day when I was relatively low on power (I had roughly 150 miles of range, so no danger of being empty) and decided rather than charge at home later on -and because I was so close to a Supercharger- I’d use it to see how it worked.

So, in total I’ve used the Superchargers five times when I actually needed them. Those five times were easy, relatively quick (average 30 minutes charge time, longest was about 40 minutes when I was very low and wanted to get to 80% charge), and most importantly: I did not have any lines to deal with.

Yet the article above makes it sound like “holy hell, look at how people have to wait in line to get their charge!”

Betcha big money those chargers are relatively empty today, after the Thanksgiving weekend, and will stay so with the exception of any big holiday when people are indeed out and about driving long distances. Wait times? I bet they’re nothing today.

But again: WE ARE AT THE START OF THE EV REVOLUTION.

There aren’t that many Superchargers out there because there aren’t that many EV cars out there in comparison to ICE vehicles.

As more and more EVs are sold, I guarantee you more and more Superchargers and other charging stations will appear to deal with the demand.

There may still come a few more Thanksgiving or other holidays in the future where we see lines of cars (Teslas or whatever other vehicle) waiting to get juiced up.

This will change, provided EVs continue to do well, which I believe they will.

Have patience, Mr. Ballaban. Rome wasn’t built in one day.

Chargers will appear more and more, just as gas stations eventually did.

Give ’em time.

Yesterday’s Tesla Cybertruck Unveil…

If you’re at all interested in this sort of stuff like I am (even though I have no interest now nor likely in the future of getting myself a pickup truck), then you likely caught either live or early this morning clips from the Tesla Cybertruck unveil.

I suppose the one big thing people will talk about is this…

Image result for tesla cybertruck"

Whether you like, hate, or are indifferent to the truck, you notice the two broken windows?

Yeah, Elon Musk made a point of how the truck’s windows were these super strong reinforced windows and showed, using dropped metal balls on a “typical” pickup truck window versus his truck’s window how they didn’t shatter.

Then, after showing the window strength on these sample windows, he had the metal ball thrown against the Cybertruck’s window and… well… they cracked. Both of ’em.

Why? More importantly, how?

I mean, Musk and his engineers must have tried this trick many times before coming out here for this demonstration right? And the windows, in those occasions, must have held together, right?

I think I know what went wrong, though obviously this is pure speculation on my part: Before throwing the metal balls at the truck’s window, Musk showed the strength of the truck’s body. Using a sledgehammer, the truck’s front and back doors -the same doors which have those ultimately shattered windows- were slammed with that sledgehammer and, lo and behold, no marks were left.

Truly astonishing stuff!

However, I suspect slamming the sledgehammer into those doors weakened the truck’s windows and perhaps caused them to develop small cracks. Thus, when it came time to throw the metal ball, hilarity (and embarrassment) occurred.

Yikes.

All right, but that’s the way it goes. You come up to the plate, there are times you’re going to strike out. In that portion of last night’s event, it was a definite strikeout.

What of the Cybertruck itself? How does it look? How much does it cost and what do you get for your money?

I found this video posted on YouTube and presented by The Verge which offers a good encapsulation of the night’s event, including the narrator’s impressions of the truck following taking a ride in it…

The video is, IMHO, quite neutral in its presentation, offering the pluses and minuses of this brief glimpse of the Tesla Cybertruck.

On the plus side, the price and features this truck will have, especially in its premium model, are insane. 500 mile range? Whoa…!

But here’s the thing: How does one react to how the truck looks?

Image result for tesla cybertruck"

I’m ok with it, to be honest. I don’t love it, but I certainly don’t hate it. I suspect, however, this is going to be the biggest issue with potential consumers. There are going to be those -and they’re many!- who aren’t going to like the look of this car and will refuse to purchase it on that basis.

There are already plenty of snarky comments online about the truck’s looks, some joking it looks like a PS1 rendering of a truck.

They’re not wrong!

Musk’s vehicles, if nothing else, sure do go toward the clean, minimalistic look, and the Cybertruck is certainly on course.

However, and as I said, while I don’t love it I also don’t hate it.

In fact, the more I look at it, the more its kinda growing on me.

Mind you, I’m still not interested in getting it. In my life and ever since starting to drive in 1981/2, I’ve never had a pickup truck nor the desire to own one.

That hasn’t changed, even if I sure was curious to see what Musk and Tesla had up their sleeve here.

UPDATE:

Ok, perhaps my Tesla fanboy nature is showing, but I’ll be damned if the more I see pictures of this Cybertruck the more I… like it.

It’s so damn different from everything out there that perhaps its natural one would initially have a negative impression, but the more I see photos like this one…

…the more I like it.

Understand, though, I have no need/interest in getting a pickup truck but if I did, suddenly the idea of getting something that looks like this isn’t quite so hard to swallow.

As they say, your mileage, of course, man/will vary!

Mustang Mach E Redux

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Oscar Wilde

Yesterday I posted a longish analysis of the new Mustang Mach E, Ford’s first big foray into the electric automobile market, and how that vehicle, to my eyes, appears to be a very direct imitation of Tesla’s upcoming Model Y, from the stats to the visuals. (If you care to, you can read the full thing here)

Also yesterday, the Mach E was formally presented and Electrek.com, one of the larger/well-known websites that focus on the EV revolution, had a representative there. Seth Weintraub offers the following fascinating article regarding what he saw…

Great Artists Steal: Why Ford’s Mustang Mach E was inspired by Tesla in all the right ways

The upshot of what Mr. Weintraub writes is encapsulated by Oscar Wilde’s famous quote as well as the title to his article: Yeah, Ford pretty much copied Tesla’s vehicles -particularly the upcoming Model Y- but, you know what? They created a pretty damn nice EV!

What does Elon Musk, the man behind Tesla, have to say about this? From the same website, Fred Lambert notes…

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is “excited” for Ford Mustang Mach E, says should encourage other automakers

Within that same article and if you scroll down to the comments section, “Merv99” gives a very sanguine analysis of the whole thing:

Validation of EVs by other automakers is important. Tesla doesn’t want 70% of 2% of the market. It’s much better to have 40% of 90% of the market.

This is a very important thing to note: As much as I personally love EVs and feel they are very much the future of cars, as much as I personally feel ICE vehicles are a thing of the past, even if they don’t know it yet, they still take up an overwhelmingly LARGE percent of the market and will likely do so for a while longer.

But, with the release of the Mustang Mach E, I’m hoping people who hesitate trying a Tesla will give the Mach E a try and realize like I have these EVs are indeed the future. Perhaps then the wave of negativity coming from so many people -including those who financially benefit from the ICE status quo- will break.

EVs are very much the next generation of cars.

Hopefully and in time, they will take up a larger and larger share of the market.

Mustang Mach E

For those interested in such things, later today Ford will officially unveil their first big entry into the electric car market, the Mustang Mach E.

While today is the day the car will be officially unveiled, a few days back someone at Ford accidentally uploaded the full car specs/prices to their website. The information was quickly taken off, but not before several car websites saved the information. Over at jalopnik.com, Bradley Brownwell offered pretty much all the screenshots to the since deleted (though I suspect by tonight will be up again) site:

2021 Ford Mustang Mach E: Here’s the Car, Price, and 0-60 Times Before You’re Supposed To See It

What does the car look like? Here you go…

And here we have the interior…

As you may know, if you’re been reading my ramblings for a while, I’m not only a BIG proponent of electric vehicles, I have a Tesla Model 3 and absolutely love the damn thing to death. I’ve been driving since roughly 1981-2 or so and in that time I’ve driven good, bad, and terrible cars, all gas powered, but the Tesla has really captured my imagination.

I quite certain I will never buy another gas powered car and, further, I’m also quite certain the era of the ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles is at its end… even if it may take a few years before the EVs supplant them.

That’s how much I love my Tesla. That’s how much I feel the car is several steps above any ICE vehicle.

Having said that, I’m a strong proponent of other car manufacturers getting into the EV game. It’s ultimately better for the environment and these cars have so many advantages over ICE cars its not even funny (I’ll leave you to look into that, if you care to!). The only disadvantages I would site with EV cars vs. ICE is a) range on a “full” charge vs ICE vehicles and b) the charging is slower.

However, both disadvantages are rapidly being eliminated. Tesla’s Superchargers manage to recharge my Model 3 in roughly 30 minutes. After driving 2 1/2 hours or so, though, that’s hardly terrible. One can use the time for a bathroom break and/or to get some snacks/food. Further, this is using the 2nd Generation Supercharger. The 3rd Generation supposedly will charge up even quicker. The range, too, is becoming less a factor. My Model 3 on a 100% charge can do 310 miles or so. The new Model S can do 377. The New Model X can go 325.

But returning to the Mustang and as I said above, I’m a BIG proponent of the other car makers making their EVs. Competition is a good thing for consumers and I absolutely want to see Tesla pushed to make even better EVs, just as I want to see the other car makers do the same.

The big question, now that the specs for the Mustang Mach E have been leaked, is how does it compare to the Teslas? Specifically, how does it compare to the upcoming Model Y, which Ford clearly is targeting with this vehicle (I’ll get to that in a second).

Glad you asked!

Over at electrek.com, Fred Lambert offers the following…

Tesla Model Y vs. Ford Mach E Specs Comparison

For those who don’t care to read all the nitty-gritty, the bottom line is this: The Ford Mach E specs are quite comparable to the upcoming Tesla Y, though one should be just a little weary about the ultimate Model Y specs. Until that vehicle is actually released, there may be some changes, perhaps in price and/or range.

Still, if we compare one to the other, then they are remarkably similar vehicles.

In fact, I would go so far as to say… Ford is essentially copying the Model Y, aren’t they? I mean, the specs are so damn similar. And as for the look of each vehicle… I mean, come on! The Mustang Mach E looks like a Tesla Model Y twin, only with certain Mustang “looks” added on.

I’m not the only one to see that. Over at autoevolution.com, Andrei Nedelea notes the same…

Photo Comparison: Ford Mustang Mach E Looks Eerily Similar To Tesla Model Y

At the risk of giving away everything from the article, I’ll post the three photo comparisons they offer there, just to give you an idea of how similar these vehicles look…

You have the Mustang on top and the Tesla Model Y, in blue, on the bottom. Very similar lines, no?

Next up, a rear-view of both vehicles…

Once again, very similar lines, no? Look especially at the shapes of the windows and the lines on the side. I mean… it’s almost identical, isn’t it?

Here’s a third one, the interior of each car:

Again, incredibly similar interiors, no? Use of pad-like screens to show everything but note too the Tesla offers controls on the steering wheel as does the Mustang.

One thing not listed, which I also think is interesting, is that the Mustang has a glass roof…

For those who don’t know, the Teslas all have similar glass roofs…

So, yeah, to be quite clear, the Ford Mach E looks like a carbon copy of the Tesla Model Y, both in terms of stats and looks.

I don’t mind, honestly, that they so boldly have decided to match/rip-off the Tesla Y. In the case of the emerging market for EVs, perhaps this is a ultimately a wise move and from there Ford can figure things out for themselves, hopefully improving their vehicle and making progress in creating new features unique to their cars versus those in the Tesla.

Having said that, at this point what makes the Mustang more desirable than a Model Y are the tax rebates you can get from the car. This is not an insignificant amount, some $7000 plus you get off the car. Tesla has reached their limits for this rebate while Ford is just starting.

Having said that, there are also some big things you should also consider if you are debating getting a Model Y vs. a Ford Mustang Mach E.

First and foremost: The Supercharger network Tesla offers is a tremendous advantage, especially if you intend to make long distance trips. When I bought my Model 3, I frankly didn’t even consider this but now that I have the car and I have made long term trips, I realize how incredibly lucky I was to stumble into this.

The fact of the matter is that Tesla has thought through the EV market quite well -it is their only product- and they realized they not only needed to provide EVs with long range but also that they needed to provide Superchargers along the way for their vehicles to get charged up quickly and trips resumed as fast as possible.

Not that I have an intention of doing so, but at this point in time I can travel to almost all parts of the country using the Supercharger networks along the way. The Tesla navigation system in your car will also help you tremendously in this respect. You put in your long range destination and it will tell you where to go charge your car along the way and how long you need to charge it for! It will tell you the range/charge left and makes the whole trip that much easier.

For the Mustang Mach E and all other electric vehicles, you have apps available to tell you where chargers you can use are (NOTE: No vehicle other than a Tesla can use the Tesla Supercharger) but, at this point in time, their reliability isn’t 100% and the rate of charge varies. In other words, you can find a charger near you, get there, and find it isn’t working. Or perhaps there is a line of people waiting to get charged (with the Tesla Supercharges, your on-board navigator will tell you how many chargers are taken/available and will direct you to another if the primary one is offline!).

So there’s that. The other big thing Tesla has that others don’t: The Autopilot function. I know its a controversial thing and many view it very suspiciously and, yes, it isn’t full self-driving (FSD), but for my money it is a tremendous help in long range/highway driving and seems to get better with each software update…

Which brings us to advantage #3 Tesla has: The over the air updates of software. I don’t know if the Mustang Mach E will offer software updates like Tesla does but at this point the Tesla updates are regular things and, with each update, your Tesla will become a better and better car.

The latest update, for example, just came over and with it and while using the regenerative braking with full stop, I’ve found I barely ever use my brakes anymore. The car will slow then come to a complete stop on its own, using the regenerative braking to add a little charge to the battery, and you barely use the brake pads anymore, which obviously increases their life tremendously.

Other than the price (and $7000 rebate) what other advantage(s) does the Mustang Mach E have over Tesla?

Well, that’s easy: Ford is a very big, established brand and they have dealerships and repairs countrywide. If your Mustang Mach E needs some service/parts, I suspect it will be far easier and quicker to get them versus the Tesla. Also, it may be easier to go to a Ford dealership and get a test drive versus a Tesla, assuming you live in a smaller city which has no Tesla dealership. Where I live, I have both a nearby “dealership” where they show off the vehicles and allow you a test drive. Further, I live some half hour away from a big distribution/service center so I can drop off my car if/when I need to.

In the end, I truly hope the Mustang does well. I hope the Teslas continue to do well. And I hope more and more people realize that those ICE vehicles have quite literally become vestiges of the past.

UPDATE:

Found this picture online of the Mustang Mach E’s “Frunk”. For those who don’t know what the heck a frunk is, its a front trunk. Since EVs don’t have engines like the ICE vehicles, they have room to have trunks in both the front and back.

Anyway, here’s the Mustang’s frunk…

And here you have the Tesla’s frunk…

More similarities, no?

EV Charging Stations

When I finally got to the point of needing to trade in my car and get a new one, I was already half-way there in going electric.

While I read up on the Volt and Bolt and was dimly aware of the Leaf, my main interest was in the Tesla Model 3. The car’s reviews were generally through the roof and I was determined, since I figured it was time to trade in my current vehicle, to at least give the Model 3 a shot. I took a test drive and that completely won me over and I’m now a very proud owner of a Model 3.

But I have to admit, I didn’t cover all bases in my thinking. For example, though I was aware of the Supercharger Networks Tesla had, I must admit I wasn’t all that familiar with how many of them there were and how useful they would be if/when I should choose to make a trip far outside my home range.

You see, if you have a house or apartment with an accessible 220 V plug, having an electric car is a no-brainer… provided your use of the car is within the range of your batteries.

Or, to put it another way, if you have a theoretical range of, say, 200 miles on your vehicle, if your main/only source of charging is your home, you don’t want to get your car more than 100 miles out of the range of your house.

Now, 100 miles is a pretty long range to travel, and as I’m sure many of you are aware, there are more and more charging stations -not necessarily Tesla Superchargers- appearing in all kinds of places.

However, Brooke Cruthers at forbes.com notes that…

EV Charging Stations Are Still Few and Far Between – For The Rest of Us That Don’t Drive A Model 3

The upshot of the article, which is pretty clear in its title, is that if you drive an electric vehicle OTHER than a Tesla (Model 3 or the others) you may find it difficult sometimes to find a good charging station in which to charge your car.

It’s not impossible, mind you, and as I said before it seems more and more charging stations are coming online, but the reality is that Elon Musk and Tesla have done a great thing with their Superchargers, which are very numerous and spread out all over the country and allow Tesla owners like myself the convenience of being able to make trips far from home and not worry too much about finding a great place to quickly charge your car.

The problem for owners of other EV cars is that sometimes the charging stations available are either charging at a diminished rate (ie 1 hour to get maybe 60 miles of range), not working at all, or have a long line of vehicles also waiting to use the chargers.

Again, this is not, at least in my experience, a problem for my Tesla Model 3. As I wrote before, I’ve already driven across the state and had absolutely no problems with a mid-state charge up at a Tesla Supercharger Station and, once I arrived at my destination, was able to charge up at a Supercharger Station there.

I’ve looked at the Supercharger Maps available online and I’m quite sure I could make trips through most of the United States and not have much of a need for other charging stations beyond the Tesla Superchargers.

But if I had a Volt, Bolt, Leaf, or any other EV car that cannot use the Tesla Supercharging network, I’d be facing a far more interesting time finding and using other chargers out there and for the reasons I noted above.

Will the charger work? I’ve seen posts where people lament the fact that they head to a charging station and once there find that it is not working. The Tesla Superchargers are listed on your car’s navigational map. Further, if you tell your Tesla you want to charge up, it will offer instructions to get to the closest Supercharger and will even tell you how many docks are currently available. If the station is out, it will also inform you of that and redirect you to another.

Secondly, what “speed” will the charger operate at? Will it be a lower lever charger, one that might take a good hour plus to get you a decent range? With the Tesla Superchargers, I believe they are all at least Level 2, which means they charge up your car quickly. In my case, I charged some 190-200 miles of range in a matter of 30 minutes or so the times I was “low” and charged things fully (My car has a range of 310 miles if 100% charged but I tend to charge the car to roughly 270 miles. It is recommended you do not charge 100% to help the overall life of the battery, though you can do full charges when going on longer range trips).

Frankly, I wasn’t aware of issues regarding charging stations when I purchased my Tesla. As I said above, my main interest was the car itself, and the reviews and my test drive convinced me the car was absolutely for me. It wasn’t until afterwards I realized getting a Tesla also made sense BECAUSE of the charging stations, and that having this car allowed you to make longer trips without too much worry.

Which begs two question: 1) Why the hell haven’t other EV auto makers made their cars capable of using the Tesla Superchargers?

The answer is pretty simple: Elon Musk has stated he doesn’t mind allowing other EV cars use his network but he has asked the automakers to provide some funds to maintain them. It seems eminently logical to me and would be a great boon for other EV car makers to be able to say they use the Tesla Superchargers but these car companies either don’t want to pay or want to keep their product separate from the Tesla cars. A dumb move, IMHO. If the networks are available, why not take advantage of them, even if it means paying Tesla a little something to maintain them?

But no. So far the only cars that use these networks are the Teslas themselves.

Which brings us to question…

2) Why the hell don’t the other EV car makers have something similar? Why don’t companies such as GM (makers of the Volt and Bolt) or Nissan have their own Supercharger systems?

The answer is: I have no clue. It almost seems like these auto makers are doing half-assed attempts to burst into the electric market. They seem like they’re hedging their bets, coming out with one or two EV cars which are getting decent reviews but feel like maybe the EV market will dry up and fade away so they continue to work harder on their gas-powered cars.

It seems Tesla, a company solely devoted to EV, is the only company that really thought through the needs of the EV market. They not only created the best EV cars out there, they thought farther ahead and realized that such cars not only needed to be manufactured, they needed to have a vast network of reliable charging stations and undertook the difficult, surely quite expensive task of creating these networks for their vehicles.

I firmly believe that the days of the gas powered car are rapidly coming to an end. The EV vehicles, as exemplified by the Model 3, are simply better cars and, I strongly suspect, in a matter of a few years I wouldn’t be surprised if new battery innovations result in ranges of 500+ miles on a full charge. Perhaps even more.

I hope the other car companies put more of an effort into releasing their EV cars… and thinking through the things that need to be done outside of the car itself to make it more desirable for the common consumer.

In the end, competition benefits the consumer.

Tesla some more…

If you’re tired of me talking about my car, please skip this post!

Otherwise…

So last week I did another long -but not quite as long as the trip up the coast- in the Tesla and today I did another long -but not quite as long as the previous two- trip.

Some thoughts: I-95 around these parts has a double line on the left side which is going to be used, very soon I imagine, for the “express lanes”, ie lanes where cars pay to theoretically bypass the worst of rush hour traffic. While we have two lines between the far left lane and the one immediate next to it on the right, eventually that space between the lines -a large space, by the way- will have cones within it separating that lane from the others.

Related image
Here is the express lane with the cones installed. Where I was, the cones weren’t there yet

My Tesla’s Autopilot seems to really get confused with the double lines and, likely, the space between. When in Autopilot, you hit the change lane indicator (right or left), and the car will make sure there are no cars in the lane you want to go into and will make the lane change for you.

However, when I wanted to switch from the second to the last left lane to the furthest left lane and past the double lines, the car seemed to freak out a little. On the screen would appear a note saying “Attempting lane change, prepare to take over” and once the car gave me a red alert (the screen literally went red) and stated something to the effect that Autopilot had disengaged and I had to take over.

Once I was on the far left lane, the Autopilot kept wanting to switch lanes and get back into the second to the last lane from the left, ie beyond those double lines. It was like the Autopilot sensed we were in the wrong place and kept asking to switch lanes. Perhaps it thought I was on the wrong lane, moving toward a head on collision?

Regardless, it was quite aggravating.

Yeah, yeah. First world problems and all that.

Still, using Autopilot remains, with the above exception, a delight. In the trip I took two weeks ago today (the longer of the two trips) we didn’t have to deal with any weird double lines with big spaces between them and the car moved more than well: It did the trip on Autopilot quite well.

The trip was about an hour and a half, give or take a few minutes, to Naples and we did some shopping before heading to the convenient Supercharger the city has in a covered parking lot. We charged the car up and walked around the place as it charged, seeing some restaurants -but truthfully not all that much more around there that day. We did go to some more shops afterwards, had a nice lunch, and saw the beach before heading back home.

I might have been able to make the trip there and back with the full charge but I suppose I’m still a little skittish about the car’s range, even though I had something like 140+ miles left of range when I started up the charge.

Today, the trip lasted one hour there and another hour (of course) to get back. No need for a Supercharger but, as mentioned above, I did have to be careful with the double line/future express lanes.

Out of curiosity, I went on Tesla’s webpage and did a dry run order for their upcoming Model Y. I’m thinking that will be our next vehicle but I was curious to see what the specs on it are.

Incredibly, I found the car in the configuration I wanted would cost around $55,000, or about four thousand more than my Model 3 was (though with the trade in, I wound up getting it for considerably less).

Still, the fact that Tesla is offering an SUV that has a range of 300 miles with full charge (mine, at full charge, has a range of 310, only a 10 mile difference!), and offer it at a price that isn’t that much higher than a Model 3 when I bought it is something.

Yeah, the price is still a little high and I’m hoping it will continue to come down in time.

The big question: When will the Model Y be available? According to the Tesla website:

Model Y production is expected to begin in late 2020 for North America, and in early 2021 for Europe and China. Standard Range production is expected to begin in early 2021 for North America, and in early 2022 for Europe and China.

So I suppose you can theoretically get the long range version of the Model Y (the more expensive one) by late 2020.

Don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to it!

More Tesla stuff…

…so turn away if it doesn’t interest you!

Today and for the first time since getting my car several months ago I finally wound up using one of Tesla’s “superchargers”…

Related image
Not a photo of the place I went but close enough…

Located in a garage in a nearby mall, I wound up using the supercharger because a) it was rainy and I don’t like to use my own charging system when the weather is inclement (I’ll explain below) and b) My Tesla’s range was running low and why the hell not give the supercharger a try already?

I have to say, it worked out smooth as can be.

First off, I put the supercharger station in my navigation map (a very easy process) and the car automatically started to “prepare” my batteries for the supercharger. My understanding is that this involves heating the batteries up a bit (I’m not a battery technobrain so I could be completely wrong!) so that when the supercharger is employed, the batteries charge up that much quicker.

I got to the supercharger, backed my car in (I still haven’t used its auto parking feature… I wonder if I ever will?), then as I do at home opened up the charging port and plugged the supercharger in…

Image result for charging a tesla 3
Again, not a photo of my car being charged but close enough… if you ignore the fact this takes place outside and I did the charging in a large parking garage and my car is black. Otherwise, spot-freaking-on…!

…and was delighted to see the charge time listed at something like 40 minutes for nearly 200 miles of range!

My vehicle has a range, if I were to charge it to 100%, of something like 310 miles and when I began the charge, I was down to something like 89 miles left. A not insignificant amount (I could have easily made it back to the house and charged up later on) but the weather, as I said, was rainy and I don’t like to charge my car in such weather.

See, I don’t have a garage but I do have a carport which covers the vehicle. Thing is, the plug, a 240 Volt plug, is at the side of the house. Parts of it, therefore, can get wet even though they have covers. I know the plugs and cables are meant to take some weather but at an (over, perhaps) abundance of caution, I prefer to charge up when the weather is clear, day or night, rather than risk anything happening to my car (my baby, at this point!).

So we left the car charging and entered the mall. My wife needed to get her newest glasses adjusted (they were too tight so we had them loosened but over a few days of use my wife realized they were a little too loose so she had to get them tightened up a little bit) and we were done and finished with something like 20 minutes left of charging to go.

We decided to walk the mall at it was while doing so I received an alert from the Tesla app on my phone.

The alert stated the car was nearing its full charge and I should get to it and unplug it. Should I not do so, any time over 5 minutes left with the car plugged in would incur additional fees.

Which made total sense.

After all, one doesn’t go to a gas station, park before a pump, fill your tank, and leave your car there all day. There are others who may want to use the pump or, in this case, charger and its just plain rude to leave your car there when its done charging.

We returned to the car and it had ten or so minutes to go until it reached its “full” charge . Tesla advises you to not use the 100% charge level unless you are going on a long journey. Mine is set at 90% or about 284 miles of range.

While waiting another 10 minutes wasn’t a crippling inconvenience, we decided to stop the charging and head home. Little time had passed but already things outside were looking a little brighter and with the car currently showing a 250 miles or so range (all done in 30 minutes!) there was little worry about getting stuck anywhere.

So, yeah, I’ve finally experienced Tesla’s supercharger system and its easy as can be.

Since getting my Tesla, I’ve been eager to take a long trip in it but, unfortunately, simply haven’t had the ability to do so. Regardless, I’ve checked out the Tesla supercharger maps (they are available in your car and its easy to get the car to find and offer a navigated path to the nearest one to you) and know if I should take a longish trip there are plenty of places to stop and get charged at.

Yet until today, I didn’t know how the process would play out.

It does so very easily.

I can’t wait to take that first long trip!

Why such hate…?

Perhaps that’s too strong a word. Perhaps instead of “hate” one could use “dismissal” or perhaps “antipathy”.

Yes folks, this is another Tesla entry.

Yesterday we went to the car dealership which is taking care of my younger daughter’s car so we could get a loaner vehicle. She drives a small sedan and the fuel injection problem it has requires parts which won’t come in until Tuesday. Since we need a car for Monday and Tuesday, they offered us the loaner.

My daughter hoped to get this particular company’s SUVs as a loaner. She likes the look of the car and, one day, might consider it when she decides to trade in her car. As good fortune would have it, we were offered the SUV model as a loaner. It was a brand new 2019 edition, to boot.

Because it was a loaner we didn’t expect to get a top of the line all-bells-and-whistles version and, indeed, what we got was a very bare-bones SUV. I drove my car home and my wife and youngest daughter drove the SUV so it wasn’t until later on, when we decided to go grocery shopping, that I had a chance to try the car out.

I… didn’t like the vehicle much. Not much at all.

Again, we were given a bare bones loaner. The car’s interior looked quite cheap, with cheap cloth seats that were only manually movable to a not very impressive dashboard and monitor. But I could look past those things, knowing that if in some future date we entertained trading her car for one of the SUVs we’d get one with a better interior.

What I couldn’t look past was the driving.

The engine felt puny. The sound of it running was loud. It barely had any pickup. In all ways, and in my opinion, driving it was not much fun.

Which brings us to Tesla and my Model 3.

I’m spoiled.

There’s no two ways around it.

I’ve been driving since 1982 and from that point until early this year I’ve driven a large number of internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. There’s some I loved. There’s some I hated. There are some I barely remember.

It wasn’t until early this year, when I traded in my Mustang convertible (a lovely retro looking vehicle) that I had my first -and thus far only- prolonged experience with a Tesla/electric vehicle.

Since getting my Model 3, I’ve driven five ICE cars: My wife’s, my eldest daughter’s car followed by the one we traded it in for (the later being a hybrid), my youngest daughter’s car, and now this loaner.

I’ve come to realize that my Tesla drives better than any of those ICE cars, no question about it.

As good as the Tesla 3 is, I nonetheless cannot say the same for all electric vehicles. I haven’t driven the Volt or Bolt. I haven’t driven the Leaf or Kona. I cannot say how or even if those vehicles also drive better than, or at least comparably with, my Model 3.

What’s so great about my Model 3?

The drive is so smooth. The silence is incredible. The sudden acceleration, when you need it, is amazing. Even though I don’t have a performance model, the acceleration in my Model 3 is beyond anything I’ve experienced in any ICE car I’ve previously driven.

Then there’s these factors: You don’t have to go to gas stations anymore. You don’t have to worry about fuel injector problems (which is what my youngest daughter’s car seems to have a problem with). You’re done with oil changes.

I noted to my wife my disappointment with the loaner car and that a large part of the disappointment is related to my being spoiled with the Model 3. I told her getting the Model 3 was not unlike moving from a Nokia flip phone to an Apple iPhone.

The differences are that stark.

The other day, Motor Trend awarded the Tesla Model S (the sedan) the “Ultimate Car of the Year”, an award given out of consideration of 70 years of vehicles (you can read the full article here). Meanwhile in the UK, Autoexpress.com.uk gave Tesla’s Model 3 the “Car of the Year 2019” award (you can read the article here).

The point is this: It seems people are becoming more and more aware of Tesla vehicles and those who experience them are converting. This has certainly happened to me.

I can’t see myself going back to a ICE vehicle. The Tesla is that much better.

But I’m not everyone.

The Tesla’s are expensive cars versus many other vehicles out there. Though the most basic Model 3 goes for around $37,000 and as such is not super expensive, getting other options will bring the price up and maybe out of many people’s budgets.

So all is good, right?

Not quite and it does, in a very roundabout way, bring me to the point I was alluding to way up at the start of this post.

Why the hate?

I frequent many boards, some of which focus on Automobiles. I love the umbrella of websites tied in with Gizmodo.com. I’m a sci-fi fan/writer so naturally I like hanging around websites that focus on all things sci-fi, from TV to movies to books and games.

If you go to the site and look at the upper bar, you’ll find the other websites associated with Gizmodo. One of them, Jalopnick, is devoted to cars.

Clearly the writers on this site love vehicles of all kinds and its a blast to read information on vehicles old and new. That love, however, doesn’t seem to flow quite as well toward Tesla.

To date, I haven’t seen any articles from them noting the awards Tesla cars received. To be fair, maybe such an article is about to show up, but it seems odd they wouldn’t note a publication like Motor Trend giving the Tesla S a best of 70 years award. Seems to me its a fairly significant piece of automotive news, no?

Worse, at times, are some of the comments left by readers.

I’ve long felt that in many matters, opinions are just that: Options. What to you is great may to someone else be terrible and vice versa. In that respect I can understand people who have tried driving Tesla vehicles and coming away not as impressed with the cars as I am.

To each their own!

But I’ve seen people write as if they have an axe to grind. Understand: This is not unique to Tesla vehicles nor am I naive enough to believe that’s the case.

There are those who seem to go out of their way to expound on what they see as Tesla’s failures. A couple of years ago there were articles about how Tesla cars had misaligned parts. They were relatively minor, but they were worrisome. There were also articles about bad paint jobs. In the time between originally seeing these articles and now, I haven’t “new” stories that state this is a continuing problem with Tesla vehicles. I suspect Tesla addressed the problem and, perhaps, it is now not so much a problem.

Certainly I haven’t noticed any such problem in my vehicle!

And yet I see comments which state this remains a problem even though, again, I haven’t seen any new 3rd party articles saying this was the case. Quite the contrary, I’ve seen articles which note that these issues no longer seem to be the case.

Yet the slams against the company continue. Perhaps some are trolls and nothing more, getting a thrill out of stirring things up. Perhaps they simply cannot stomach the idea of gas powered vehicles being worse than (I’ve heard this one before) a “fancy golf cart”.

In the near future, say, 10 years from now, I’m certain not everyone will convert to electric, though I strongly suspect there will be a significant amount of such vehicles on the road versus today. If, and its a BIG if, demand for Teslas continue unabated while sales of ICE vehicles falter (as they have been doing of late), the other car companies will have no choice but to follow Tesla’s lead.

Before I finish this, let me be clear about one thing: I’m not committed to Tesla and Tesla vehicles alone. I’d love to see other electric vehicles make it to the market. There’s nothing better for a consumer than seeing competition in product. Usually that results in lower prices and better overall product.

So far, it feels like Tesla is blowing away the competition for electric vehicles yet I hope other companies join the fray.

I would love to see more options. I would love to see us move away from the old tech of ICE vehicles and their pollution and move into the cleaner energy afforded by electric vehicles.

Maybe soon.

Tesla: Endgame Part Deux

A while back and in April I wrote about my thoughts on where Elon Musk wants to ultimately take Tesla and their electric vehicles (click here for the original post, Tesla: Endgame).

My feeling was that Mr. Musk is thinking farther ahead than most car makers in the sense that he feels we will eventually have self-driving vehicles and, because of that, we will have a version of the Uber/Lyft system where a company will have a fleet of self-driving vehicles roaming around a city (at first) and the company will make a lot more money on those vehicles while consumers will not need to actually buy cars. It will become more economical to order a self-driving vehicle, have it take you wherever you need to go, then when you’re done order another to take you back.

No more buying cars, no more insurance, no more monthly lease payments, and no more worrying about changing tires/servicing your vehicle.

A recent tweet over the weekend caused some consternation among folks when Mr. Musk was asked by “Disruption Research”:

Do consumers have limited time left to buy a Tesla car, since prices would have to go up severalfold to balance supply & demand once you solve FSD?

To which Mr. Musk replied curtly:

Yes

The consternation was due to the fact one could interpret Mr. Musk’s response to indicate Tesla might not sell cars at all once the self-driving thing was resolved. Mr. Musk, perhaps sensing a rising panic, offered the following elaboration:

To be clear, consumers will still be able to buy a Tesla, but the clearing price will rise significantly, as a fully autonomous car that can function as a robotaxi is several times more valuable than a non-autonomous car

In other words, once/if Tesla resolves self-driving and if you have a self-driving vehicle, you have a potential money maker, one that you could send out when not using it as a “robo-taxi” and make money off of it.

So Mr. Musk notes rather bluntly: Why sell a Model 3 for, say, $50,000 (or thereabouts) when you could make that much money on the vehicle -or more!- in a year by sending it out as a robo-taxi? If/when Tesla gets the self-driving realized, they aren’t going to be selling their vehicles at the current prices because they are now potential money makers.

And that dovetails nicely into what I wrote in my original Tesla: Endgame post.

Here’s the thing: Until full self-driving is realized, Tesla still has to sell vehicles and continue doing so to make money it needs to continue its research.

When I purchased my Tesla earlier this year, I invested in the “self-driving” feature. It was, I believe, something like $5000 or so and didn’t think about using the car as a “robo-taxi.” Frankly, I did so because I thought it would be fascinating to have a car that can drive itself.

Having said that, if there’s good money into making my car a “robo-taxi”, I might be tempted to let it be used as such!

Once again, this is something that depends entirely on when -and if– a fully functional self-driving feature becomes a reality.

Mr. Musk is optimistic it will happen, perhaps as soon as later this very year.

I don’t think it’ll happen that quickly, but in the next two or three years?

It’s certainly possible.

Tesla… one more time

Ok, promised I wouldn’t write about Tesla for a while…

…unless something interesting appeared worthy of talking about.

Over at jalopnik.com, Jennings Brown writes about:

Tesla autopilot malfunction caused crash that killed Apple engineer, lawsuit alleges

At the risk of giving away everything in the article, the family of Mr.
Walter Huang, an Apple engineer, filed a lawsuit against Tesla because Mr. Huang’s Tesla Model X, while on autopilot, crashed into a median wall and killed Mr. Huang.

The family, as the lawsuit alleges, feel Tesla’s autopilot feature is to blame for Mr. Huang’s death.

Reading the article, one feels a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Huang’s family. It is indeed a tragedy whenever anyone dies, whether by natural causes or accident. Worse yet if, as the lawsuit alleges, by a malfunction of a product.

However, one line in the article I found very interesting (the bold lettering was added by me):

In a blog post published a week after the crash, Tesla said that the car gave Huang one audible alert and several visual alerts throughout his drive that morning, and the car detected that his hands were not on the wheel for the six seconds leading up to the wreck. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken,” the blog states.

As I’ve mentioned before (and it must get boring or bordering on bragging on my part by now!), I recently purchased a Tesla Model 3. I’m absolutely delighted with the car. I have been experimenting with the auto-pilot feature and find it absolutely terrific.

However, I realized rather quickly the auto-pilot feature, as wonderful as it was, was not a full self-driving feature.

There is a difference.

The auto-pilot is effectively a better version of cruise control. It drives the car by following road signs and cars around you and, especially, in front of you.

But it is far from infallible.

If the road lines are too faded or not there, the car will lose track of the road. If you are not behind another vehicle when approaching a red light, the car will cross the intersection as it does not at this point “read” lights or stop signs.

In the case of Mr. Huang, I suspect (and this is all it is, a suspicion) that he either dozed off or had some kind of problem which prevented him from realizing the situation he was in.

While it may not seem like much time, not having your hand on the steering where for six seconds before the crash is an awful long time. Don’t believe me? Count down six seconds: One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…

In that time and had he been paying attention, Mr. Huang should have seen the dangerous situation he was in.

When I’ve used the auto-pilot feature, there have been times the car has lost track of the road and I’ve had to take sudden control. It is quite easy to do so, by the way. Tap on the brake, turn the steering wheel. You instantly regain control over your car. Further, the car makes a very loud noise to alert you if the autopilot feature is experiencing difficulty.

But most important is that you have to anticipate where potential problems may lie, especially when using the feature. Curvy roads. Upcoming road-work. Pedestrians. Other cars around you that may try to merge into your lane.

You need to pay attention to all those things. Just because you’re in an “autopilot” mode doesn’t mean you can doze off or no longer pay attention.

Again, I have a great deal of sympathy to the family of Mr. Huang. I can’t imagine the agony they’re going through having lost him.

But I wonder if maybe, just maybe, the fault more lies in his inattention moments before the wreck rather than Tesla’s autopilot.