Battery Swap Invite

I just got an unsolicited invite for the battery swap program.  I have a few thoughts but no plans to drive to Southern California in the next couple of months, so I may (or may not) be giving them a call depending upon my plans.  I would love to try out the battery swap station, so perhaps I should firm up my plans.

“We invite you to participate in the pilot of our expanded battery pack swap program for your Model S. 

The program, operating at a facility located across the street from the Tesla Superchargers at Harris Ranch, CA, is intended to refine the technology and assess demand. 

We would very much appreciate your feedback during or after any planned trips using battery swap to help us shape the program going forward. In the pilot phase, battery swap is available by appointment and will cost slightly less than a full tank of gasoline for a premium sedan. The pack-swapping process takes approximately three minutes and Tesla staff at the station will assist you with your swap.”

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Aero Wheel Sighting

You could previously buy the “Aero” wheels from Tesla.  They were reportedly more aerodynamic than the other wheels Tesla offered but were only sold to a handful of customers.  The first time I saw these wheels on an actual customer car was in August of this year.

The aero wheels are quite convex and at least this Model S aero wheel had a ton of curb rash.  The curb rash was not only along the edges as is the most common wear, but also throughout the wheel due to the convex nature of the wheel.

Aero Wheels With Serious Curb Rash

Aero Wheels With Serious Curb Rash

5Yrs 42KMiles 200Posts

This blog post is a large milestone for me.  I have driven Tesla’s as my main vehicle for five years with only occasional usage of a 4WD SUV.   I have driven a total of over 42,000 miles in both cars, and surprisingly written 200 blog posts covering both cars.

My Beginnings with Tesla

I have been an environmentalist all my life and had already owned one hybrid vehicle.  When the GM EV1 came out in 1997, I took note but found the short range not very practical for me. I had been watching the market since then and everything available even in 2006 was basically a golf cart.

Seven and half years ago a friend, who was driving one of the first Priuses, wanted to go to an electric car show in the parking lot of Palo Alto High School.  At the event we talked to several different car “manufacturers”.  The only one that impressed me was Tesla.  They had a mockup / prototype of the Roadster that was pretty rough.  After that initial conversation, I shortly put my $75,000 down for my Roadster.  I strongly felt I needed to have action behind my environmental words.

Why I Blog

I started my blog a few days after I got my Roadster.  I knew I was one of the few people driving Roadsters who had the time or interest to blog about the experience.  I wanted to help encourage other people to drive electric cars.  I have a technology background but I also had roles with a lot of communication responsibilities.  I think I have succeeded in a small way helping others buy electric vehicles.  I wanted this blog to express what it is like to own and drive a high end electric vehicle.  I avoid talking about the stock price and many “news events” as they are heavily covered by the mainstream media and often I have nothing in particular to add to the conversation.

During the Roadster years, I typically got 5 to 10 views per day.  Honestly, there was not that much to write about the car because the driving experience and controls were very simple.

Once I began blogging about the Model S the number jumped by a factor of 10, and I typically get 50 to 100 views per day with some days being substantially higher.  Lifetime number of views is almost 50,000.

Most people find me through google searches a combination of words such as tesla owner reviews model S etc…  and also through a few links on forums and other sites.  I suspect a lot of these people are new car buyers.  Most visitors are from the US but Norway and Canada are also active.  I currently have 45 followers.

Popular Posts

I have a number of posts that are consistently popular over time as they contain some detailed information for new buyers.

P85+ Loaner Report – which compares driving a S85 vs a P85+ for several days

Performance and Plus – which breaks down the S85 vs P85 and contrasts driving the Roadster

19” vs. 21” Wheels – which includes an estimated breakdown of long term costs

Living With 110V – My successful first month with the Model S using just 110 before I got my adaptor to my Roadster High Power Connector.

There have also been a number of posts that were analyzed data or were news oriented that were also popular

Range Test – I surveyed a number of other Model S owners to see if driving style had any influence on the car’s rated range.  The results were a clear conclusion that there was no relationship.

Valet Mode — applies to the Roadster but received a lot of attention at one point

Supercharger Time Test  — trying to achieve 170 miles in 30 minutes during five different  systematic tests.

Seven Years of Solar  — detailed analysis of my solar usage on the house

Vampire Drain  — detailed analysis of the drain when my car was left idle for long periods

Driving

So many owners have described how wonderful it is to drive a Tesla.  I avoid emphasizing this part of the experience on my blog as it is very redundant.  But in summary, I can’t imagine ever wanting to use an ICE vehicle as a regular car.  My top favorite reasons for loving my Tesla is:

  1.  I love the acceleration of the Teslas.  In any situation knowing I can safely accelerate past another car when necessary.  I still enjoy this part of the car although from time to time I can scare my passengers.
  2. The drive is smooth, quiet, comfortable.
  3. Never having to go to a gas station.  The convenience of filling up at home is really nice.
  4. The overall electronics experience is very nice in the Model S.
  5. I do feel I am doing my part for the environment as I am “driving on sunshine” as except for the occasional outside charging, all the electricity is generated from the solar panels on my home.

If I have to be nit picky about the Model S I would like these things improved:

  1. Rear view visibility.  I am not that thrilled with using the camera particularly on rainy days.
  2. The car is really just a bit too wide for me.  I would prefer it a little narrower in order to get into a lot more tight parking stations as the Bay Area is getting more and more crowded.
  3. I have a fair amount of curb rash on my beautiful 21” wheels.  But most of these rashes are from the first six months of driving (or parking).
  4. At times I wished the Iphone and the Model S talked to each other better.  If I have someone’s address on the Iphone I would like to be able to navigate directly there.
  5. The homelink at times can be slightly annoying.  It seems to recognize the garage door sensors quite far away but often cannot open them till quite close.  And the drop down menu often turns off the rearview camera’s picture.

Service

The only real problem I had with the Roadster was horrible radio reception but that got fixed over time.  With the Model S I had several problems with the door handles but they also have been resolved.

I have found all the folks at Tesla to be extremely responsive and friendly.  I have enjoyed all of my interactions with Tesla personnel.  I would give them my highest possible marks for customer service.

Who am I

I have kept my identity hidden from the blog.  A large reason is that I really wanted to have a straight forward historical blog about living with a high end electric vehicle, not about its owner.  I also wanted to not receive any preferential treatment from anyone at Tesla.  Only within the last six months I have disclosed my identity to Tesla in order to get some important questions answered about supercharging.

I also have never owned any Tesla stock.  There was a brief opportunity when Elon permitted accredited investors with Roadster deposits to invest in Tesla.  At that time I was reeling from an unenjoyable experience as an angel investor.  Although I have invested in pre-public technology companies several times, I was not completely comfortable with my knowledge of the car industry.  Once Tesla went public, I just never made the move perhaps fretting over timing.  Regardless whether or not I ever invest in Tesla, the amount will not be a significant one for me, and this blog will continue to be objective.

The Future

I still have a number of ideas for future blog posts and maintain a running list.  My posts over the years have in general have an increased level of analysis and word count.  I am probably overdue for a cosmetic overhaul.  I would love to hear any feedback on the blog in general both good and bad and what anyone would like me to write about in the future.

Blind Spot Followup

A few months ago I wrote a post about the large blind spot in the Tesla.  Mark commented to the post:

If you are finding you have a blind spot, this is probably due to the way you adjust your rear view mirrors. http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/how_to/4234574.html
Many people adjust their mirrors to close to your car. Follow the advice in the above article and this will make a big difference. It took me about a week to get used to the new angle but I have found it very benificial.

I adjusted my mirrors as the article suggests — leaning them much more away from the car and found that this technique really works.  As a car moves away from directly behind me and visible in the rear view mirror, it will appear in one of the side mirrors simultaneously.  Makes driving much more comfortable and safe.

For most typical cars, this side view mirror adjustment is simply not necessary.

Thanks Mark!

Performance in the Rain

Raining Cats and Dogs

California has been deluged in rain for the last week.  For the most part, the Roadster performs very well in the rain.  However, I am not particularly fond driving the Tesla when it is raining cats and dogs.  The reasons below have to do with the fact that the Tesla is a tiny low car — not because it is an electric car.

1.  Since the visibility is somewhat more limited in the Roadster than a typical car, I found it a bit challenging to see well in a downpour.

2.  Typically, other drivers really notice the Tesla.  However, I am a bit concerned in a grey heavy downpour the small car will be harder to notice.

3.  With two people in the car and very little airspace, in high humidity the inside can steam up quickly requiring heavy ventilation on the front window.

4.  Hydroplaning occurs at lower speeds with lighter cars.

5.  Driving through large deep puddles is not a great idea in such a low car.

Blind Spot

My first technical complaint about the Roadster is the large driver’s side blind spot. I am lucky to rarely have to drive in heavy traffic and while on the freeway I do not drive with the pack. After 5,000 miles of driving, I have really noticed how large the blind spot is on the driver’s side of the car.

View When Checking Your Blind Spot

View When Checking Your Blind Spot

The large blind spot occurs on the left hand side when a car is not visible through either the the driver’s side mirror or window. What is uniquely different about the Roadster than a conventional car is that you really cannot turn your head and check the blind spot. Your head is so close to the side of the car and the car frame is so large, there is simply no visibility behind the window. What you see is the car frame — especially when the hard top is on. On a typical four door car, turning your head provides lots of visibility through the rear door window and back window.

This large blind spot can be dangerous when merging on the freeway, changing lanes, parallel parking and parking on the left hand side of diagonal parking.

The federal government safety standard does require that the driver’s side mirrors be of “unit magnification”, which means that the surface is neither shrinking or magnifying any objects. On the passenger side, the federal regulations allow some distortion and require the familiar warning “Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear”. One company offers an after market convex mirror that you can glue onto your existing side mirrors.

What I would like to see for the Roadster is something similar to Ford’s Blind Spot Mirror, which was announced in 2008. The upper left hand corner of the mirror is a small convex mirror that covers the blind spot. This video shows you how the Ford mirror works and would be a great addition for the Roadster.