Archive for April 21st, 2019

h1

Impressions of an Electric Car Driver (@ 1 yr)

April 21, 2019

The year sure has gone by quickly!  Yet here we are, one year of all-electric driving, both near and far.  Time to reflect anew!

The basics:

RWD long range version.  10,800 miles driven, with an average watt hours per mile of 210.  Maintenance has been zero except for a tire rotation.  Home base is in the SF Bay area.  Two long trips taken thus far (one to Reno, one to LA), with another upcoming.  And for reference sake, my previous car was a VW GTI VR6, which I liked a lot and drove for many years.

The super short answer:

I love it!

More detailed answer, starting with… Driving experience:

It’s great.  All I wrote about in my previous post still applies, the car is an absolute joy to drive and I still get noticeably jubilant while driving.  The sweet, smooth, powerful, and deliciously controllable electric drivetrain coupled with the car’s low centre of gravity make for a wonderful and potentially spirited driving experience.  And the precision, especially at slow speeds, makes both gnarly traffic and parking lot parkour a breeze.

I also very much enjoy the car’s quietness, gliding along residential roads or in lots without a constant wheeze in the background.  And while it was odd at first, I’ve come to appreciate the silence at stoplights.

Comfort wise, the car is a win as well.  At the end of both long trips I’ve felt much less stiff than I’m used to, a bonus due (I’m guessing) to the lack of constant engine vibration.  All around the car just feels good.

Range experience:

There is a shift in thinking that’s needed regarding electric cars.  I’ve had more than a few conversations with people that veered off into interesting directions until the new paradigm of “fueling” was understood:  the traditional notion of “fueling up” is only applicable, or a concern, on very long trips.  On a daily level, there is no such thing as “stopping for fuel.”  When I go to work, I plug in.  When I get home, I can plug in.  When I go to a store, often I can plug in.  What this means is that, without taking any more time out of my day or requiring that I drive to a specific location, my car is always at the ready.  At the daily recommended charge level for battery longevity I have around 270 miles of charge at my disposal.  I can, essentially, start each day “fully fueled”, and 270 miles can get me me pretty far out and back for a day trip.

So when it comes to the idea of “Range Anxiety”, I have none.  And this is with almost exclusively charging only while at work, sharing the charge port with two others.  I’ve only charged at home about 4 times (and even then using slow 120v charging).  The only time I even need to give serious thought to range is on those very long trips, and for that the onboard navigation/planner makes it simple.  Type in a destination, and it will tell me when, where, and for how long to stop at a supercharger.  Charging does take more time than gassing up at a traditional fuel station, but if you’re stopping for food anyway the time delta is not all that big.  And with the new superchargers set to roll out with double the charging speed that delta will decrease even further.

Ownership experience:

One of the nifty and still weird/need to get used to things about the car is the over the air updates.  Get in the car, get a notification, start the update, and ta-dah!  My car just got better.  In many ways, too:  added features (Free integrated dashcam!  Sentry mode!  Dog mode!  Atari games!), general UI improvements (I admit, I was weirdly overjoyed when I could set things to Celsius and 24h time), and, most crazily, in performance.  Extra power, extra regenerative braking, traffic awareness, and blind spot detection are all things I’ve gotten after an update.  An extra little dollop of range is even promised in an upcoming update.  That’s really cool!

Service appointments are practically zero, as there’s no maintenance on the car (the manual literally has only three service items on the schedule, which besides tire rotation is on a 2 year and 4 year timeframe) and when you do need one there is an easy online scheduling system.  Depending on the nature of the service Tesla will try to bring a mobile truck out to you.  This all adds up to super amounts of convenience, with less times I need to go out of my way to do a thing (gas, maintenance, etc) to keep the car running.  Overall the car is just cleaner and easier to own and operate.  And less expensive as well.  With the maintenance almost non-existent and the energy costs per mile lower, the car needs very little ongoing investment.

Right now the few times I’ve done home charging I’ve been on 120v power, but I’m getting a 240v outlet installed in the coming weeks.  That’ll be nice for two reasons, firstly for the quicker charging (24 miles every hour vs the 4 on 120v), and two, due to the higher voltage it’s more efficient, using less watt hours of energy per mile gained.

One niggle I do hope gets fixed in an update sometime is playback from a USB stick.  Right now it’s pretty hit or miss (without any pattern I’ve discerned) whether playback will resume upon re-entering the car.  Which is a bummer enough for music albums but would be really a pain for audiobooks or the like.  Fingers crossed.

Conclusion:

One year in, I’m still very much loving this car, and can’t see myself ever going back to owning an ICE unless the situation truly dictates it.  I’m sure I’ll still need to drive an ICE from time to time, either because I’ve rented a truck for hauling or a car for some super-long-fast or special kind of trip.  But I’ll probably be pining for mine the whole time.

Great car, and looking forward to many, many, many years of joyous driving with it.

Any questions or wonderings?  Feel free to ask away below.