New Battery Connections

This blog post is part 2 of a  3 part series of completely unrelated incidents that just happened in quick succession.

About four miles away from home, my car issued the second warning message of 2017:

AccelerationReduced

Acceleration Reduced  Contact Tesla Service When Convenient

Fortunately, the issue did not require me to stop immediately, and I felt comfortable driving home.  When I contacted Tesla Roadside Assistance, I was transferred to Tesla Service.

When Tesla Service contacted me, a bit to my surprise I was told not to continue driving the car.  Instead of driving the relatively short distance to the closest service center, they wanted to tow my car.  Fortunately in my area, you can have your Tesla towed by appointment.  I decided to delay it a day to a more convenient time.

The local towing operation is now very familiar with Teslas and did the operation quickly and efficiently.  There are only two things unusual about towing a Tesla:  setting the tow mode on the car, and secondly using a two pronged vs one prong cable.

dualattachments

Two Points Required to Tow a Tesla

This problem with my car had to do with the connectors to the main battery.  Within two days, the service department replaced the power switches with the latest generation parts,  replaced the HV Blanket, and removed some corrosion.   The descriptions listed in the invoice are:

“Replaced power switches with latest generation parts as necessary”

“Replaced HV Blanket with updated part”

“Retrofit 2nd Generation Battery Blanket and Remove Corrosion From Battery Cover”

Here is the list of parts that were replaced:

1 BUSBAR,OUTPUT,POS,HVBAT,MDLS (1048113-00-A)

1 BUSBAR,OUTPUT,NEG,HVBAT,MDLS (1048111-00-A)

2 SCREW,M8-1.25X19,HEX,BARSS,PATCH WITH WASHERS (1004392-00-B)

1 FIELD KIT PYRO FUSE PACK 1.0 1.5 (1089619-00-B)

1 FIELD CONTRACTOR KIT W/O FUSE – PACK 1.0 1.5 (1084515-00-B)

1 BLANKET, CERAMIC,HV BATTERY,MDLS (1006466-00-F)

8 TALL HEAD HOLLOW FASTENER FOR BIW MOUNTING SLEEVES WITH VHB SEAL (1018552-00B)

2 SHORT HEAD PACK SPACER FASTENER ASSEMBLY (1018551-00-B)

1 BATTERY RECYCLING WARNING LABEL (1015713-00-B)

In general this issue was not particularly painful, I was unable to drive my car for four days (including over a weekend).  The problem could have been very inconvenient if I was away from home or on a road trip.

The cost was covered by my warranty coverage.  However, I am not sure if the cost was covered by my extended warranty or the battery warranty as the language on the Tesla website is not very detailed.

12 Volt Battery Ranger Service

12V Battery Needs Service

After a period of calm and low mileage driving in recent months, I have unfortunately encountered a few problems with my Tesla.  This blog post will be a 3 part series of completely unrelated incidents that just happened in quick succession.

I was innocently driving along and encountered a warning on my dash:

I have had my battery replaced only once before back in early 2014 when my car was in for service.  The nice part about the 12 Volt Battery replacement is that it is not an urgent matter.  If the car needs to do so, it might shut down some auxiliary electronics, but you can safely drive around for a period of time.

Ranger Service

What was also very nice, is that for no additional charge, if you live within a 10 mile radius of my service center, a ranger will come to your location.

The battery change took about 20 minutes, and just out of curiosity I watched the process.  The process is only a bit slow because there is quite a lot of screws and parts to remove.  I asked the ranger, and he said the Model X is not any more serviceable than the Model S.  Hopefully the model 3 designers will consider serviceability a little more during the design process.

This ranger service also deals with tire issues and door handles, things that can be accomplished easily at remote locations.  This service is a win win for Tesla and the customer base.  Instead of the hassle for the owner to drive to the service center and get a ride to home or work, the ranger can easily just move around town and address any issues at the owners convenience.  I am not sure if this service is available in all locations, but it worked great for replacing the battery after about 45,000 miles and 3 years.

Ranger Replacing the 12V Battery

Battery Swap – Closed

Looks like the battery swap station at Harris Ranch in Coalinga, CA is closed.  I heard a rumor that it was closed, inquired about availability, and received the following response:

Presently the Battery Swap Program is not accepting any new requests for appointments.

Because you had to schedule an appointment in advance,  the battery swap was not convenient.  Since my first and only swap experience, I have used the superchargers at Harris Ranch at probably six more times but never could schedule or plan another swap.  I doubt the station will be missed.

 

 

Solar Roof Tiles

Tesla’s latest event was labeled as Powerwall 2 but the more interesting part of the event was when Elon announced a set of solar tiles for roofs.

glasstile.jpg

These new solar tiles are available in a few styles including a Tuscan style one in an orange color and more modern grey tile ones shown above.  All the styles are made of glass that are stronger than conventional roof tiles.  Elon claimed that installing or replacing a roof would be cheaper with these Solar City tiles than a conventional roof!

Elon also announced Powerwall 2 with twice as much energy storage than the first iteration, along with PowerPack 2 for the commercial market.

Powerpack.jpg

The goal is to have solar on your roof, a Powerwall in your garage, and a Tesla in your driveway.

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I have already had solar on my house for 10 years, and I actually have a flat roof where you cannot even see the panels.   My house is quite unusual, but if I had a conventional house without solar I would seriously consider these new panels.  I wonder if only Solar City can install them or can you buy them at retail stores like Home Depot?

Part of the timing of this event was clearly to influence the vote on the merger. My small number of Tesla shares will in no way influence the outcome, but I have not yet decided how to vote.

solarcitymerger.jpg

 

 

 

Upgrading my Model S?

In the middle of last month I got an unsolicited email from Tesla headquarters asking me if I wanted to upgrade my Model S.  I have not seen much chatter about this on the web and the email was addressed directly to me.  I have a VIN less than 5,000, so hand soliciting owners with less than 5,000 miles is not surprising.  A Bloomberg reports states that Tesla is strongly pushing to show positive cash flow in the third quarter.

The bulk of the email stated the following:

This is X with Tesla Motors Headquarters. Today, I am writing to you to explore upgrading your Model S! 

Our newest release of Autopilot hardware and software will revolutionize your commute and we’d like to offer you an easy path to upgrade your Model S to a vehicle with these new features.  Model S also features new options such as improved seating, Dual Motor All-Wheel Drive, Ludicrous speed, range of over 280 miles, new colors, new fascia and much more.  Above all, we have made the upgrading process simple and convenient.   

We are also excited to share that we have reintroduced the Tesla Referral Program! From now until October 15th you will receive a $1,000 credit towards the purchase price of either a Model S/X.

I had not really looked into upgrading, as I tend to hold onto cars for at least ten years unless there is a compelling reason to upgrade.  But I thought I’d look into how much it would cost to upgrade my Model S.  I had no interest in the Model X.

Possible Configuration

Base Model

There are currently four battery sizes available:  60, 75, 90 or 100 kWh.  The 100kWh only comes configured as a P100D with dual drive.  The 90 is also only available with the dual drive but the 60 and 75 can be configured with rear wheel drive.  My main interest is battery range as I like to take long trips and have the most flexibility on when and where to charge.  The following table shows the four battery options, the EPA mileage estimates, the amount of upfront cash required before sales tax, and the cost per mile.  The 60 and 75 rear wheel drive version and the 90D are in the same ballpark; if you have any interest in a longer range vehicle, you are paying the same proportion in cost for more battery cells up to the 90D.

dollarpermile.jpg

The P100D is a $42,500 jump from the 90D.  The 90D goes from 0 to 60 in 4.2 seconds, the P100D goes from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds.  If I were to upgrade, I would definitely go with the 90D.  The P100D’s range is not that much more for the extra cost. I live in an area with increasing congestion where it is increasingly difficult to enjoy fast 0 to 60 acceleration.

Options

Autopilot

I’d pay the $3,000 for Autopilot 2.0 hardware.  The primary feature I would be interested in is intelligent cruise control.  I’ve always found traditional cruise control generally more frustrating than anything else because there are always too many cars on the highway to maintain a constant speed.  The rest of the autopilot features don’t interest me all that much.

Smart Air Suspension

I bought the smart air suspension on my Model S in order to improve the efficiency while driving on the freeway.  Unfortunately I have found very little efficiency improvements using the smart air suspension.  For $2,500 and more maintenance issues, I would definitely pass on this option.

Panoramic Roof

I’d definitely configure the car with the Panoramic Roof for $1,500.  I don’t think I have ever bought a car without some sort of sunroof.

Wheels

After so much hassle with my 21” tires, I definitely would choose 19” wheels.  Low profile tires are just too much of a hassle on a wide vehicle.  I am tired of tight parking spaces, curb rash, and the increased vulnerability and wear of low profile tires.

Ultra High Fidelity Sound

For $2,500, I am a sucker for better sounding music in the car even though I don’t listen to it all that much.  I know there are after market options, but that to me is just a hassle.

Premium Upgrade Package

This $3,000 package includes a lot of miscellaneous things.  I would like to have the filtration system to some agricultural smells, and I like having a power liftgate.

Other options

I don’t have any needs for the Sub Zero Weather Package, Rear Facing Seats or the High Amperage Charger.

Aesthetics

Deciding the exact color seat combination would probably be a last minute decision.  I’d probably wait for the grey second generation seats in Mid 2017 that are a $2,500 upgrade.  I’m happy with my black interior, but I’ve always liked grey interiors the best.

Pricing

Tax Credits

I would be unlikely to get my federal tax credit of $7,500.  I did not get the credit on the Roadster, and I did not get all the credit on my Model S.  I am very fortunate to have retired very early in life, and my investments are tuned to only generate enough interest and dividend income to offset property tax and mortgage interest.  Adjusting this even in one tax year is not that simplistic, and definitely hard to do in the last quarter of a year.

The California state tax credit is a bit more complex and caught up in politics.  Right now if you try to apply you will be put on a waitlist.

waitlist.jpg

For both my Roadster and Model S, the rebate arrived very quickly and the process was painless.  Recently though the California government stopped this incentive for high income earners and increased the incentives for those with low income.  California uses gross annual incomes to determine whether or not you are eligible for the income.

income.jpgI would not count on the $2,500 California rebate if I bought a new Tesla both for political reasons and my personal widely fluctuating income.

Trade In

I have to admit the number one thing I was curious about in this process was the value of my current Model S with 59,000 miles on it.  The process to get a quote took a while but in the end, I would receive $41,000 plus a $1,000 loyalty credit contingent upon an inspection.  I don’t have any scratches on the car but they would likely deduct some curb rash repair fees.

Numbers

The most likely configuration I came up with was a 90D with about half the options for $102,000.    I would need to add in 9% sales tax and then subtract out my $42,000 trade in. I do still have $800 left in credit for an earlier referral but that might be used up to clean up the curb rash on my wheels.  In the end to upgrade my car would cost me around $70,000!

Conclusion

I have no interest in changing my under warranty 59,000 mile Model S for the a very similar car with a small increase in range for $70,000.   In the unlikely occurrence that my Model S was totaled, I might be interested in leasing and switching the cars around till I found the perfect body size for me – even driving an X for a few years then switching to a Model 3.  Upgrading a car to essentially the same car is just not all that interesting.

Gigafactory Grand Opening

Gigafactory When Completely Built

Gigafactory When Completely Built

Tesla this week launched the Gigafactory with a press event on Wednesday, and then a party for invited guests and lottery winners on Friday evening.  I was interested in attending in person but did not win the lottery.  Those who were privileged enough to attend Friday’s event got a tour of the factory and then a 20 minute presentation with a very short Q&A.

The 5.8 million square feet Gigafactory will be the largest building in the world by footprint, the Boeing plant in Seattle is bigger by volume.  The Gigafactory is currently only 14% complete with 1,000 people working on site.  The To get an idea of the size gigafactory you can watch this short video by Wired.

The factory is currently producing packs for PowerWalls and Powerpacks. A report from the tour indicated that the current lines for these products was not particularly large. I have heard only a few actual customers who have received a Powerwall for their home.

teslareusable

Official Tesla Reusable Bottles

Tesla did a (very poor quality) livestream of the short presentation.  Ironically while Elon and JB were drinking from plastic water bottles, they discussed the subject of recycling.  I’m not sure why they can’t use their own reusable water bottles that they sell in their store.

Lithium is a very abundant material on earth and there is plenty of it to convert every car in the world to electric.  All battery recycling will be done at the Gigafactory, and the materials can be pulled out of old batteries and placed in new ones, which will greatly save on the cost of new batteries as the raw materials is the most expensive part of the batteries.  When the factory is operational, it will operate only on Geothermal, wind, and solar energy.

I’m sure the attendees enjoyed the tour and the event, but there was not particularly much new information.  I would have enjoyed the tour even just to get a sense of the enormous sense of scale of the factory.

Master Charger Replacement

One day I went to drive away from home and found a mysterious red light around my charge port. I wasn’t too alarmed and figured something happened during the charging session.

Red Light on Charge port

Red Light on Charge port

On the instrument cluster, the car had the following message that it was unable to charge and requested a multi stepped procedure:

  1. Exit the car and remove the cable (implicit)
  2. Close the Charge Port Door
  3. Re-enter the car and press the brake pedal
  4. Open the charge port door on the touch screen (implicit)
  5. Exit the car and put the cable back in the charge port (implicit)
  6. Try charging the car again
Message On Instrument Cluster

Message On Instrument Cluster

I went through this procedure myself two times.  The first time using my HPWC (High Powered Wall Connector).  I suspected that perhaps this problem could be due to the HPWC, so I tried the same procedure with a 110 Volt outlet to no avail.

I called the Tesla roadside number and repeated the procedure a 3rd time with the Tesla person on the other line to no success.  Tesla pulled the car logs and found a fault in the master charging system.  This car simply was unable to add any charge (or any miles to the battery), so I had to take it in for a service visit.

Service Center Excursion

I have a local service center but do not normally have my car worked on there for a few reasons unrelated to this blog post.  I do love the valet service.  But because my battery was quite drained, the only viable choice was to drive the car to the local service center that same day.  I was taken home not by a Tesla valet but by an Uber.  The Uber car was driven by a limo driver who works during the day for a hotel.  This level of Uber service is basically a more traditional business service car.

A variety of genuine concerns exist using services like Uber.  I personally all drivers should be fingerprinted.  I don’t care about how fancy the car is, but riding in a vehicle with an anonymous person safety is enough of a concern to warrant fingerprinting.  One of my volunteer positions requires us to be fingerprinted and the procedure is easy, quick and painless.

In places where taxi drivers have to pay an exorbitant fee to be licensed, those municipalities have unfairly burned taxi cabs, and are giving these smartphone enabled services a way to avoid these regulations.  In New York City, taxi licenses have been limited to less than twelve thousand, and no new licenses have been issued for over half a century.  The open market for these medallions peaked around $1 million.

In my area, taxis are almost non-existent and Uber is a reasonable alternative to a Tesla employee driving owners home from a service center.

New Master Charger

The master charging system is the mechanism between the outlet and the battery that directs the car to charge.  The system includes an electromagnetic relay using a low electric current to tell the battery to begin charging.  Unfortunately when the system breaks down, you cannot charge the car at all, and need to take your car immediately to a service center.

Several days later I got my car back with a new master charger installed.  I am so glad my car is under warranty as that part would have cost me about $2,000!  So far, I have accumulated close to $7,000 in extended warranty charges.

The service advisor did explain that since my VIN number is on the low side, my master charger was an out dated design.  I don’t think this problem is particularly common.