Tag Archives: Tesla

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.

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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”…

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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.

Tesla: Endgame

I know, I know. I’ve been writing about Tesla an awful lot lately. I promise and unless something interesting comes up, this will be the last time I do so for a bit.

First off, I’ve mentioned before that it seems Elon Musk and the Tesla company are one of those love ’em or hate ’em propositions. There are those who are absolutely enamored with both the man and his company, just as there are those who hate, hate, hate both. There are also a few, granted, who may love or at least be curious of the product but aren’t thrilled with Mr. Musk and his personality.

I’m basically somewhere there. I think the hatred directed at Mr. Musk is overblown even though I do believe he should tamper down some of the tweets (he’s nowhere near the obnoxious level of Donald Trump, though). As an owner of a Tesla Model 3, I’m also firmly in the camp of “love” with regard to the product.

After posting yesterday’s thoughts on Tesla’s losses, I found myself thinking about not only the company, but the future of cars in general. As I was thinking about that, something occurred to me and I figured I’d present it for what it’s worth, and all due apologies to a certain highly anticipated Marvel movie opening this week.

Tesla, and Mr. Musk’s, Endgame

In a nutshell: The self-driving feature.

As the cliched expression goes, car companies, and the public at large, are playing checkers while Mr. Musk is playing three-dimensional chess.

To be very blunt, when Tesla perfects the self-driving feature, I think its going to be game over for the auto industry as we know it and, just maybe, Tesla will become the one and only car company.

Sounds ominous?

How about this: I suspect Mr. Musk and Tesla’s goal is to eliminate the need for people to buy and own cars, period. At least in all medium to large cities.

Sounds… paradoxical? Perhaps nutty?

A car company that wants to eliminate the need for people to buy cars?

Envision this: If the self-driving feature is perfected and used exclusively in Tesla vehicles, then the company can create its own version of Uber/Lyft, with electric vehicles moving about in big cities picking people up and dropping them off wherever they need to go, then picking them up later on to return them to their home.

Because we’re dealing with an electric self-driving vehicle, we already cut two major bills down: The need for a driver and the need to pay for gas. Therefore, Uber/Lyft will be undercut, price-wise, and we know people who use either service will go to the cheaper self-driving Tesla vehicles.

But wait, there’s more!

With prices so low to be picked up and driven to wherever you need to go, why bother buying your own pricey vehicle? Why bother paying insurance on said vehicle?

Oh, and by the way, did you notice the news that Tesla plans to create their own insurance? (read about it here)

Coincidence?

I think not.

What Musk is doing with Tesla is essentially the same thing Steve Jobs did with Apple: Create a self-contained system, only in this case for vehicles.

Let’s return to the scenario I presented above:

You’re a youngish person who lives in an apartment/house and pays your rent/mortgage. You may be single, you may be married. You may have kids.

You’ve got bills and, at least now, one of them is a car. You buy/lease a car, you have to pay for gas, oil changes, general maintenance, and insurance. In the mornings, you and/or your spouse rush out to work. Or feed the kids and get them to the bus. Or rush out a little earlier to drive the kids to school before you go to work.

Now picture a future with Tesla’s self-driving cars roaming around your city.

You wake up not quite as frenzied. You get yourself/your spouse/the kids up and ready. You reach for the Tesla app and call a vehicle to come pick up and take your kids to school. You then us that same Tesla app to call another vehicle to take you/your spouse to work.

The cost to use the Tesla self-driving vehicle services wind up being less per month compared to paying your lease/loan on your vehicle along with the maintenance and gas. You’re no longer as rushed.

As you take the ride to work, you read a book or listen to music or read the latest news and don’t have to worry about focusing on your drive.

You get to work. Your kids get to school, the Tesla self-driving vehicle is on its way to the next client it needs to pick up. Or, if its battery is low, it heads to the Tesla center to get re-charged and, afterwards, is once again on the streets getting new clients.

By the end of the day, your kids can summon a Tesla self-driving vehicle to take them back home. At the end of the work-day, you can summon your own car to take you to work.

On weekends, you can summon a Tesla self-driving vehicle to take you to the mall. Or perhaps the beach. Or to the grocery store. When you’re done, you summon another Tesla self-driving vehicle to take you back home.

The costs, again, are far less to use this service than buying a car. They’re far less than using Uber/Lyft. And there’s little hassle. The cars on the road are increasingly/exclusively Tesla vehicles (though there will be “real” drivers out there, at least for a few years upon implementation of this system).

And Tesla will make buckets and buckets of money without having to sell even a single one of their vehicles.

Does that sound possible? Does that sound likely?

Perhaps not in the next couple of years, but how about five years from now? Ten years?

Is this indeed Tesla’s Endgame?

Tesla… pro and con…

At the risk of beating a dead horse (I suppose it could be worse, I could be getting into politics), humor me as I again delve into the whole electric car/Tesla topic. Specifically, those for the car and those against.

Yesterday it was reported that Tesla lost a considerable amount of money in the first quarter of the year (Erik Shilling at jalopnik.com writes about this here).

I couldn’t help but comment (if you look around the commentary you’ll find some of my musings) when someone pointed out that there are those who are tap dancing to this news. A person on the commentary board wondered why there are those who have such invective for this company.

However, even the most neutral of fans must wonder, based on last quarter’s losses, whether Tesla is in trouble.

I suspect not, even if this quarter’s losses were indeed grim. The technology and the product are so good, IMHO, and it appears the company/Musk are focusing on getting the car out to the world and having success getting other countries interested in it, that I suspect we’ll see the company stabilize and make money, especially when it releases the Model Y, the Semi, and their upcoming new Roadster model and Pickup Trucks (the later might well turn some heads but, as with so much else, we’ll see).

Humor me a second while I put on my Tesla fan hat: What is there to hate about the cars?

I can totally understand people being unhappy/uncomfortable with some of Musk’s antics. I can totally see people asking why they should spend their hard earned money on a company with Mr. Musk as its head.

Which again leads me to the product itself: The cars.

Henry Ford, the man who founded the Ford Motor Company, was anti-semitic and worked with Germany’s Nazi government prior to World War II (you can read about that here). While it may be unfair to compare Ford with Musk given the different epochs in which they lived, can you seriously feel the sometimes silly things Musk has done are in any way comparable with Ford?

And again I return to the main point: The Product.

Ultimately, Tesla will sink or swim based on how good its product is and how potential buyers react to it.

So far, reviews of the various models of their cars have been almost uniformly positive and, as I’ve mentioned, I love my Model 3 and feel it may well be the best car I’ve ever had (and I’ve been driving for many years now).

I suspect many people out there don’t know much about Tesla cars other than seeing them here and there on the streets. They may also know about Musk and some of his antics but otherwise don’t have a strong opinion of the company and its head one way or another.

Yet there clearly are those who are aware of the company and Musk and hate, hate, hate them. Frankly, I can’t get my head around why there is such animus. While I know there are investors out there who are betting on Tesla failing, other than these folks why do so many others hate Musk/Tesla? Are they leery of the idea of moving from a gas to electric vehicle? Are they gas fanatics? Are they so personally repulsed by Musk that they can’t stomach even seeing these vehicles?

I don’t know.

If you have no skin in the game, why do you hate Musk/Tesla so much? Why have you taken this so personally?

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again to those who hate Tesla: If you can, try to put aside those negative feelings and take a test drive of one of their vehicles.

If you come away still hating Tesla and its vehicles, then at least you gave them a try and legitimately found they weren’t for you.

But I suspect, strongly, that even the biggest Tesla haters, if they give the car a test drive, will come away realizing the vehicle is incredibly good and, yes, worthy of all the positive opinions given by so many.

A little more on Tesla Self-Driving…

The other day Elon Musk had one of those promo things with audiences/the media regarding Tesla’s self-driving function. A video was played (and which is available on YouTube) showing the “full self-driving” as it will soon appear…

Color me impressed.

I’ve written before about my own Tesla and how I like using the current auto-pilot even though I know it has plenty of limitations. Where I live, the roads are generally very straight, so the auto-pilot as it currently exists works quite well for my area. However, you should always, especially if you live/drive in areas with plenty of hills or curves, use the autopilot feature with the greatest of care. You need to be very cognizant of what goes on around you as the autopilot feature may lose track of the road and/or other drivers might try to merge into your lane and could hit your vehicle.

Don’t think that just because the autopilot feature exists, its perfect.

Returning to the above video, this is clearly an updated autopilot that can either “read” or already knows about the locations of stop signs and traffic lights, which the current version of autopilot (at least the one I have) does not. Seeing this makes me optimistic in time we will have some form of this type of full self-driving, at least through Tesla vehicles.

But one should also note that the ride presented in this video is in relatively light traffic. Yes, the trip is long and the car goes through off ramps and encounters traffic lights and stop signs but at least in this video the car handles them magnificently.

But because this is a promo video, even a fan of Tesla cars (and, trust me, I’m a HUGE fan of them) has to be leery of what they’re seeing.

I’m not saying Tesla is somehow “cheating” with this video, but clearly the car has far more information on the trip than your regular Tesla vehicle has.

So as much as I want to jump up and down and as much as I hope that I’ll be seeing this “full self-driving” software update arrive to my vehicle (I paid for the advanced full driving option when I ordered my Tesla), I suspect one must remain patient.

I drive in location X, you drive in location Y. Still others will be in A, B, C, D, etc. etc. etc. To have a “full self-driving” software installed and functioning in your car, I suspect one’s car (Tesla or whatever) will require plenty of new data. Perhaps even as full up-to-the-minute data on all traffic lights and stop signs in the general area one drives in as well as road conditions. One’s vehicle, I’m certain, will “see” and interpret things through its many cameras just as the additional data will allow the car to understand/“see” the traffic lights and stop signs.

Easy enough to say, right?

This of course means mountains and mountains of traffic/road data. Given that most people live/drive in certain areas most of the week, each vehicle doesn’t need a complete entire United States roadmap with all that information downloaded into their vehicle, only the relevant areas usually traveled. This will, obviously, change as better and better computers/chips are developed and the vehicle can store and use more and more information.

I know all that I’ve written above is me thinking out loud, but I’ll repeat: I remain very impressed with the forward thinking of Tesla/Musk with regard to their vehicles and hope that what we’ve seen in the above video does indeed translate into something usable by everyone.

Unlike me, there remain a contingent of people out there who are very leery about and/or hate Musk and feel whatever pronouncement/announcement he makes amounts to snake oil salesmanship. To them, I would again say: Why don’t you take a Tesla for a test drive?

Seriously.

If Musk/Tesla are nothing more than smoke and mirrors, explain the good reviews the vehicles get from both critics and owners. And while you’re at it, explain my own joy each time I get behind the wheel of my Model 3. Explain the grin on my face when this past weekend my wife and I traveled some 50-60 miles of highway using nothing but the current autopilot… without any issues at all.

Yeah, I know. Changing other’s opinions is a difficult thing, especially if one is set in one’s ways.

Me? I’m curious to see what’s next.

Tesla’s Self-Driving…

Given that Tesla’s main claim to fame is that their vehicles are electric -no gasoline use at all- one can be forgiven for forgetting another very big element in their arsenal: Their self-driving feature.

I must admit, when I did the test drive of the Model 3, the Tesla employee showed me how to use the self-driving feature and for a very, very short time I clicked it on before clicking it right back off.

It’s an unnerving thing to try this technology!

The Tesla employee assured me the self-driving feature was quite good, that he uses it to make long treks, but I was rather skeptical.

Welp, I’m not so skeptical anymore.

I will say this: The autopilot currently available in my car -and all Teslas which have that function- is far from something one should completely trust, especially when driving in the city. It doesn’t recognize traffic lights or stop signs and essentially “follows” street lines as well as the cars in and around your vehicle.

In other words, it senses the lines on the road around you and, if there are cars to your side, behind you, and especially in front of you, it will allow distance between you and them while maintaining safe speed limits. You are able, by the way, to manually increase the speed beyond the speed limit.

I find the best use of the auto-pilot is when you’re on the highway. No traffic lights to deal with and only the other traffic for your car to deal with. Further, no pedestrians!

Having said that, I’ve used it within the city as well but here you must be far more cautious. Again, the current software doesn’t “see” traffic lights or stop signs. If you’re behind a few cars and they come to a stop before a red light, the autopilot will stop -safely!- well behind them. However, if you’re traveling with no car before you and you see the upcoming light turn yellow, prepare to hit the breaks because the car will continue through the intersection, at least at this point and with the software I have in my vehicle.

Also, be careful about pedestrians. The other day I was on autopilot and a couple were making their way across the street. The Tesla “saw” them but when they stopped -waiting to see if I’d let them cross- the car would have gone on and, given the pedestrians and I made eye contact, they assumed I was going to stop and let them through, so they were inching forward. I hit the brakes and motioned for them to cross but the autopilot would have gone on.

So if you’re using the autopilot feature, please please please note that while its quite good in many ways, this is still a more rudimentary version of the autopilot and requires the driver keep their hands on the wheel and are alert to anything that happens around you.

I’ve seen video of people sleeping in their seat while allowing their Tesla to move on the highway and this is alarming as hell.

I suspect in a couple more years the self-driving software will become better refined and far more “sensitive” to things like traffic lights and stop signs as well as pedestrians.

But it isn’t quite there yet.

More on the Tesla…

First, though, its been a tough few days. Caught some kind of bug and its laid me pretty low. Suspect its strep throat -I had it twice many years ago while in High School- and its feeling about the same. Went to a nearby urgent care and am now on anti-biotics (the strep test came in negative but the doctor said that’s not unusual in the early stages of the disease. He also noted there was definitely something going on in my throat and sinus).

Alas, I only started the anti-biotics yesterday so until maybe tomorrow I’m still feeling pretty grim. Last night I woke up to my teeth chattering so badly I was afraid I’d cut my tongue in two.

Hope that’s the worst of it!

But returning to the topic on hand (and which I labeled this post): My Tesla 3.

Today marks a week since I got the vehicle and it continues to impress the hell out of me. Driving in a car without the sound of a combustion engine is incredibly tranquil and the music played through your radio is incredibly clear. Humorously, there have been times when I was stopped by a light and the sound of the engines of other cars around me were so damn noisy compared to what you experience driving an electric car.

Yesterday the electrician finally installed a 240 volt plug near where I park my car. Until yesterday, I was using a regular 120 volt plug and the difference is mindboggling.

My Tesla has a range, if 100% fully charged, of approximately 320 miles. However, it is recommended one charge the battery to around 80-90% unless you’re about to take a long trip, upon which you should fully charge your vehicle.

It may sound complicated but Tesla’s app lays all this information out very easily when you’re charging the car. Thing is, using a 120 volt plug gave me a mere 5 miles for every hour charging it. Thus, if I had a full charge and brought the car’s range down to, say, 200 miles, it meant there was roughly 80 miles worth of charging to do. Which meant that when I was using the 120 volt plug, I had to keep the card plugged for 16 hours to get the car to that 80% charge.

Naturally, I didn’t bring the car’s charge down too far. If I had, for example, used up some 179 miles, leaving roughly 100 miles, that would have required me to charge the damn thing at 120 volts for a mind-boggling 35 plus hours before getting the thing up to where it needed to be.

But by having a 240 volt plug, I’m not getting some 30 miles of distance per hour of charge, ie six times the amount of the old 120 volt plug.

So now, if I drain the battery as described above and need to “fill up” some 179 miles, it will take the 240 volt plug about 6 hours to reach that point versus the absolutely crazy 35.

The point is this: If you’re considering an electric car, research the charge times. The fact of the matter is that regular 120 plugs, while good for slow overnight charging, may require too much time if you’re driving more than, say, 40 miles each day. Unless, of course, you don’t mind charging the car each night.

If you’re able to, absolutely get yourself a 240 plug (these are the types used by electric ovens and driers).

Of course, you can always use one of Tesla’s superchargers. They are found in many places and the onboard navigation system will point them out to you, if you need a very, very quick charge. There’s also the PlugShare app which offers community exchanges of information regarding all chargers, Tesla included, available in your area.

Next thing: For the first time on Saturday I tried the Tesla “autopilot” feature.

It was nerve wracking, to say the least!

I was on a stretch of highway that didn’t have too many vehicles on it and turned it on and… I’ll be damned if it didn’t work perfectly fine!

Yeah, I had a severe case of the nerves each time we reached some curved section of the highway, but the car sensed and took these turns well. If I wanted to switch lanes, I simple hit the indicator and the car did this on its own.

Truly, we are living in the future!

A week driving and I’m more convinced than before that I made the right choice. I know there are those who are cynical of Tesla and, especially, Elon Musk.

To you guys I would again say: Forget about all that ancillary crap and go to a Tesla dealership and take a test drive.

I can’t help but think you will be impressed.