S, X and 3 Efficiencies

Five years ago I looked at the efficiencies  of various electric vehicles and was very impressed with the progress Tesla made with the Model S versus the Roadster.  Several months ago, someone commented on my blog that I do the same analysis on the Model 3, but all the data was not yet available (Yes, I could have written this several months ago).

The data I generated in 2012 was a conversion from the MPGe issued by the EPA.  In the five years since, drivers are more comfortable thinking in pure electric terms such as Range and kWh (kilowatt-hours) of electricity.  So I did not use the EPA numbers at all in the current calculations.  The final numbers do differ but not in any significant way for this high level analysis.


The efficiency analysis is quite simple.  First, how many miles of range can you go with a given battery pack.  So for the new Model 3 long range with 310 miles of range and a 74kWh battery, you can drive 4.19 Miles using 1 kWh.  All eight vehicles fall within a range of 2.95 to 4.38 miles per kWh.

To calculate efficiency of a vehicle, you need to also consider the weight of the car.  How much mass are you pushing along that one mile.  This number is listed in Ton-Miles / kWh.  Here again the English measuring system is very strange.  We normally think in pounds, and a ton is 2,000 pounds.  To calculate the efficiency measure of Ton-Miles / kWh, you simply multiply the weight of the car by the pervious range / energy number.

The “efficiency data” is quite interesting.  All the current Tesla vehicles fall within a very narrow range of 7.24 to 8.05 Ton-Miles / kWh.

Some of this data is a little tricky to calculate depending upon exact car options.   Tesla also did not report a lower weight for the Model 60, so the numbers are not exact but just give a general idea.   Surprisingly, the Model 3 is in the same efficiency range as the S and the X.  The Roadster, the BMW i3, Fiat 500e and the Nissan Leaf are much less efficient.  Perhaps the easy efficiency improvements were already implemented with the Model S.


Supercharger Fees

Several superchargers in busy areas in California have had long waits such as San Mateo, Burbank, and San Juan Capistrano.  A year and a half ago Elon gave a vague statement about supercharging that was never clarified by Tesla.  Many owners have worried about the huge numbers of Model 3s clogging the supercharger network.  Finally today Tesla has announced a new supercharging policy for cars ordered in 2017 and later.

For Teslas ordered after January 1, 2017, 400 kWh of free Supercharging credits (roughly 1,000 miles) will be included annually so that all owners can continue to enjoy free Supercharging during travel. Beyond that, there will be a small fee to Supercharge which will be charged incrementally and cost less than the price of filling up a comparable gas car.

our Supercharger Network will never be a profit center.

These changes will not impact current owners or any new Teslas ordered before January 1, 2017, as long as delivery is taken before April 1, 2017.

I am glad Tesla finally made a decision about the future of supercharging. Some speculation exists that the older cars have now increased in value, but newer cars can still use the superchargers for a fee.  On long trips, I suspect newer drivers may choose more often to frequent hotels with destination chargers or utilize more public chargers.  The greatest potential impact may be renters who wish to buy a Tesla, and now have to consider the cost of charging with their Model 3.

One thousand miles is not a lot of free Supercharging credit.  A good percentage of my miles on my Tesla are supercharged.  But I’m in a unique (and fortunate) circumstance with no commute and free time to travel when and where I please.  I will be very curious what the actual fee is to supercharge a car and add say 50KWh.

v8 USB Media Player Bug List

Update 10/25/2016:  Another owner extensively tested the USB media formats and ID3 tagging with v8.  The very detailed report is available on TMC.

The following post was written by a guest blogger, who is known as supratachophobia on on the Tesla Motors Club Forum (TMC) and lead the effort to bring back the NEMA 14-30 adapter.  Working with the direct feedback of dozens of other owners, supratachophobia compiled an extensive and prioritized list of both bugs and enhancements of the media player as it pertains to USB audio. Content compiled, thoughts composed, and article sent in by supratachophobia, edited by Owner, which is my TMC handle.



First, let me say that v8 is a welcome addition to the ongoing software development process in the S (and soon to be the X). The forums all have positive comments in general on autopilot tweaks, additional features, and the overall (but definitely not all) interface improvements. While the general design of the overhauled media interface is an improvement from v7, it seems to be slanted towards those users who primarily stream their music. As such, many of the functions for USB playback have been partially broken or made more difficult to use, particularly when driving. As a result, there are questions as to whether the testing that was done with v8 had a proper sample of those owners that use USB playback as their primary choice for audio.

The USB audio playback is a very popular feature, especially for audiophiles, because it generally produces the highest quality listening experience. In fact, those that purchased the Ultra High Fidelity Sound package did so knowing that they would be playing a large collection (many thousand tracks in fact) of high-quality/lossless audio formats from USB in order that they be able enjoy the highest possible sound fidelity. Tesla works with a broad range of music formats: from the more common MP3, MP4 and AAC (without DRM), as well as formats such as FLAC, AIFF, WAV, WMA and lossless WMA. (Note – we at TMC are not clear what is officially supported by Tesla and would like some clarification).

Streaming radio uses compressed MP3, and streaming Bluetooth compresses both high bitrate MP3 and FLAC data across the connection. Under some circumstances, iPhone AAC may be able to bypass this compression. But only through USB can the audio be lossless and at its highest quality. Many audiophile owners have very large collections (1k – 10k) of tracks on their USB, and 7.1 worked much better for these large libraries. For me personally, USB audio playback was in my list of top 5 reasons for purchasing 2 of these cars.

TMC Forum Discussions

TMC has four large forum discussions currently active (those are just under Model S, there are more under Model X) with regards to how the car now handles USB audio and the lack of testing this particular functionality in the Media app received in the new v8 rollout. Please note, that many of the concerns cataloged below were features that functioned with little to no issue in v7.

As of this writing, the TMC threads have the following number of posts and views:

250+ Posts / 6,000+ Views: Comprehensive USB Bug List

100+ Posts / 3,400+ Views: Media player in 8.0 actually got worse (for local music)

200+ Posts / 7,200+ Views: 8.0 Music Player Unusable

Main v8 Thread / Over 3,500 posts and 265,000+ views so far, with USB audio problems dominating the discussion: Firmware 8.0

8.0 USB Media Player Bug List

The following is a list of specific bugs that have been detected, with as much detail as our end-user base could glean from real-world usage. We have prioritized the list as best as possible in the order presented below.

  1. The 8.0 Media player no longer includes a letter list from A-Z allowing you to search through song, album or artist lists by the first letter. Now the media player shows everything in one gigantic list. Trying to scroll through a list of thousands of items is very dangerous when driving, and does not actually work in practice, see issue 2.
  2. When scrolling a USB list view with several pages of items, the scrolling feature does not work as expected. Any attempt at repeated scrolling gestures are interpreted as a click into a folder. When you try to back out of that, or any folder, the interface takes you to the top of the previous list, instead of the point in the list where you entered.
  3. Album tracks are being played alphabetically instead of by track number. This playback is unpleasant when listening to an album, but a horrible problem when listening to audiobooks.
  4. “Search Anything” does not search anything, it searches everything except USB media. Please allow search (both via text entry and voice) to include USB media and a priority option to USB playback (if results are found) at the top of the results list. (Rumored to have been resolved in 8.21 – thank you)
  5. When media is paused, the system should note the point in the recording. When resuming play, the system should start from that point. Today, when the driver leaves/returns to the car or resumes playback, the result is unpredictable. Sometimes the track will reset to the beginning, which is especially annoying when listening to an audiobook or podcast. Sometimes when the player is on pause, and the driver re-enters the car, the media turns itself on again.
  6. The shuffle feature “on” is not predictable or persistent and turns off at random times. (Changing between USB sources, and during entry/exit of the vehicle.)
  7. The shuffle feature itself does not properly randomize. The same sets of songs are repeated in the same order when shuffle is engaged/re-engaged.
  8. When looking at a list of items under an artist name or browsing a folder, the list view is a simple alphabetical display of all items intermixed, such as when using a UNIX ‘ls’ command. In v7, the system always had albums, which are folders, at the top of the list followed by any single tracks.
  9. The car needs to maintain Track Title, Disc, Album Artist, and Album Title in all the lists, presentations, and sorts to avoid difficulties with “Greatest Hits”, multi-disc audiobooks, and boxed multi-disc sets.
  10. Some scans take an abnormal amount of time. The forums have no clear conclusion what causes this problem: read speed of USB media, number of tracks, or size of data. The current workaround is to turn off power-saving mode in the car. Some owners report the USB sticks with 6,000 or more tracks now take two hours to get to 80% complete.
  11. Sometimes the Bass, Mid, and Treble settings are not saved overnight. Again, TMC is unsure if the problem is triggered by changing USB audio sources. We were wondering if the intended feature was to allow different equalizer settings for audio types on different USB sources. For example, audiobooks would have a different profile for music. If so, we would welcome this feature, but would like it documented in the release notes.
  12. Spaces in the USB volume name are represented by the ASCII value “\x20” and not a blank space. For example “Fix These Bugs Please” is written as “Fix\x20These\x20\Bugs\x20Please”.
  13. Album Art is still broken for some users. In this area, we would really like some clear documentation of what is supported. Some owners rarely see their album art for unknown reasons. For an album with multiple artists, the media player should display the album art if the song is not populated.

Enhancement Requests

  1. The ability to find new matching music (and add it as the next track in the queue) based upon elements from the current song being played. For example if Michael Jackson’s Thriller is playing the track Billie Jean, you could tap on the ‘artist’. The media player would then find a different track, by Michael Jackson, and make it the next track to play. Now if you pressed the text of the ‘album’ name, Thriller, then the next song to be queued would be from that album. And finally, if something like the song Smooth Criminal was playing, tapping the song title would go and find that song by another artist, for example, the version done by Alien Ant Farm.
  2. The ability to play an entire hierarchical folder. The first entry inside every folder should be a button option to play everything in that folder including loose items and all items in folders within folders. This feature would be very useful for folders that include sub-genres.
  3. The ability to bookmark a set of exact places in an audio track for resuming later. Bookmarking is a critical feature for both podcasts and audiobooks played through USB. Currently it is very challenging to try to find the correct space in an hour long or more podcast to resume listening. This feature would be able to store at minimum of 3-5 bookmarks and be found next to the “Favorites” and “Recent” tabs. The selection of a bookmark would take you not only back to the timestamp, but also to the “album” so that the book could resume at the next track. The shuffle status, on or off, should be restored to what it was as well, when the bookmark was made.
  4. When displaying a set of recently played items, this list should remember the playlist context of that item. For example, playing song 5 from album X, selecting song 5 from the recent list should remember that the person was listening to album X in its entirety. This mechanism should also work when song 5 was part of a playlist entitled “Foggy Morning Drive”, and pick up playing the rest of the music on the playlist “Foggy Morning Drive”.
  5. Some owners would like support for the m3u format, which has always been the most popular playlist format. M3u is currently recognized by every major media player on the market, including almost every other vehicle that does MP3 playback.
  6. The support of gapless playback for lossless audio formats (AAC and FLAC).

8.0 USB Improvements

  1. We generally really like the simplistic aspects of the media interface and see it as an improvement over 7.1.
  2. The album artwork from the ID3 tag is displayed most of the time. But we are curious what the size limitation is here as many owners are having mixed results.
  3. The name of the USB volumes are now recognized and displayed.


I also made a video of my personal likes from the use of an Empeg for 12 years. I found a lot of it’s functions to be invaluable when listening to MP3 audio in the car.


The 8.0 software seems to be a nicer interface for playing music. The dual column scrolling and the Now Playing screen utilize the screen real-estate much better and more completely. But there are several opportunities to improve in the areas where USB playback challenges were left untouched or newly introduced. We hope these will be quickly addressed by Tesla seeing that with the ever-growing ownership base, more and more will come to use USB playback as their primary audio source as well.

2016 Shareholder Highlights


Elon Musk and JB Straubel Talking About the AC Propulsion Prototype Car

I attended in person the almost four hour shareholders meeting in Mountain View, CA.  This meeting was more of a Tesla history lesson than a shareholders meeting.  At times I was very bored as I have been following Tesla since 2007, and a lot of the information was unnecessarily long.  The large recognition of a variety of Tesla employees was nice to see as Tesla is not just Elon. There were a few interesting tidbits during the history lesson and the 30 minutes of Q&A.

Model 3 Supercharging Fees

Elon stated the Model 3 will have a fee to use the superchargers.   The pricing model is unknown and could be a simple upfront fee or a pay per use model.  The 60kWh version of the Model S had a simple $2,000 fee to enable supercharging.

Model X Regrets

Elon admitted that the Model X was over engineered.  He regretted not launching a simpler Model X and following up future versions of the car with these new features.  He also admitted to a lot of problems with the falcon wing doors, and that the remaining issues are software related for a various corner cases when the doors should or should not open.

I really liked that Elon acknowledged this mistake;  I am much more comfortable with honest leaders who both recognize and publicly admit errors.  I also think that if the Model X had a simpler base version with standard doors and standard seats, a lot more vehicles would have been sold.

Model S and X as Technology Leaders

The Model S and Model X will always be the technology leaders and will be continually improved.

Building the Machines that Build the Machine

Elon also demonstrated a huge amount of interest in building the machines that build the machine. He used the analogy of integrated circuit (IC) design to car factory design.  When designing an IC, the designer and software make tradeoffs between speed, size, and power consumption of a chip.  The process is very complex today as the individual components and wires are extremely small.  During this analogy, Elon referred to both the slow rate that cars are leaving the factory and the number of layers in an IC.  With these references, I can speculate that Elon thinks that there are ways the factory robotic process can be combined.  Very simplistic ideas could be that multiple robots are working on a car at the same time; perhaps one robot is above the car, another below the car and a third on the side of the car.

The New Model S Nose

On display at front was an older Model S, a new Model S with the new nose, and a Model X.  I don’t really have a strong opinion about the new nose.  From all the Model Xs I have seen in California, I have found that the new nose looks better on some colors than others.



Model 3 Supercharging Undefined


The Model 3 is “Supercharging Capable”

With the announcement of the Model 3, Tesla has not yet defined the usage of the superchargers leaving a series of open questions for the future.

  1. Will there be enough superchargers to support all the different Teslas in urban areas?
  2. Will the Model 3 supercharging capability be an add on cost over the base model or a pay per use model?
  3. Will Tesla develop enhancements to the supercharging stations, the Tesla app, or expand the valet service to improve throughput at crowded superchargers?

To answer these questions, lets look at how the supercharging works today and some challenges to the current system.  As a long term Tesla owner and driver who has visited exactly 100 superchargers, I have used the system a reasonable amount and foresee some challenges with the introduction of the Model 3 that are hopefully clarified before they are delivered.

Supercharger Use Models

Long Distance Driving

Initially the superchargers were envisioned to enable long distance driving.  Even with a battery capable of 200 miles of driving, many people typically on perhaps a monthly basis take trips to further destinations.  The superchargers were conceived to address the need of long distance driving and were primarily located in remote locations on major interstates.  But two of the first superchargers were also located in the middle of Los Angeles (Hawthorne) and the San Francisco Bay Area (Fremont).

Local Supercharging

Electricity is much cheaper than gas.  Charging in your garage is much nicer than charging at a supercharger.  The process is simply much more convenient and inexpensive for the vast majority of Model S and X drivers who own a home or have easy access to a plug at work.

Given the price point of the Model S and X, most owners live in single family homes.  But a significant number live in apartments and condominiums and depend upon charging in other locations.  Some owners rely solely on superchargers for their daily driving needs.  Many Tesla employees in the sales centers have told potential customers that they can use the superchargers for regular driving.  On my travels, I have met several drivers who have only charged their Model S for years now using superchargers.

Tesla has given different statements on supercharging for local use.   Tesla last summer sent a few owners letters stating that they should be more considerate when using the superchargers.  After quite a bit of controversy about these letters, Tesla quickly stopped sending these letters but never clarified any position about using the superchargers.

Current reality of Superchargers

Remote locations

Generally outside of holiday weekends, most superchargers located in remote areas are rarely full or particularly busy.  These chargers are located in small towns with only a few conveniences for road travel.  On busy weekends, several superchargers on Sundays can be quite busy and drivers have had to wait for empty stalls.

Supercharging in Urban Areas

Supercharging in areas such as Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area has become crowded. On long trips home I often stop at the San Mateo supercharger to top off the battery in order to drive home while spending 15 minutes shopping at the nearby Whole Foods.  This supercharger has eight stalls that are frequently completely full, and I have had to wait a few times.

I have witnessed many people charging in urban areas filling up their cars to the maximum range.  So my assumption is these people are using the superchargers for their daily needs and wish to minimize the number of times they need to charge.  Unfortunately, a full range charge is a much slower process than filling up the battery just enough to get to the next supercharger station.

Valet Service

At a handful of busy superchargers have some version of valet service.  At San Mateo and Fountain Valley attendants have been seen that help control the charging.  There are no reports that these attendants do anything other than try to encourage people to return to their car when the charge is complete or maintain the line.  These attendants also only are at the site during peak usage times.

At Burbank, which is located at a service center, the attendant has also served as a valet.  On my trip to Southern California in February, on one visit I handed the attendant my key and he moved my car to the charger when a spot opened up.


Supercharger Valet at Burbank Supercharger and Service Center

Model 3 Supercharging Futures

The Model 3 is considerably cheaper than the S or the X, so clearly the number of owners who do not live in single family homes will be significantly higher.  The strain on the supercharger network will be much higher.  If the supercharger network is doubled by the end of 2017, perhaps most of these new stations will be in urban areas to support this growth.

The current version of the Tesla website has it listed as supercharging capable.  Tesla is implying they will in some manner require Model 3 drivers to pay for supercharging.

Model 3 Supercharging Cost

The Model 3 clearly will have the hardware inside to be able to supercharge.  Tesla can offer a variety of methods to charge the Model 3 owner for supercharging.  A flat life time rate of $2,000 as was used in the past for the Model 60 is an option.  A supercharging contract on a monthly basis is another option.  A third option would be a system that paid per charge; the pay per charge rate could be either by energy added or by time.  The time method would discourage people from filling up their battery to the last kW as this takes a lot more time.  Tesla could also charge you only if you are within 50 miles from your primary home address.


Various owners have suggested different schemes to help direct traffic at the superchargers.  Perhaps an indication light on the charger itself to select the next best available charger.  The Tesla app tells drivers when their charge is completed, but often drivers are not immediately available to move their car.

Better Pair Signage

The charging stations are paired.  The rate of charge on your car depends upon the rate of charge on the paired station.  The markings indicating the pairs are not very easy to find, and you cannot easily tell how far along your pair is in the charging process.  Ideally you want to find a station with an inactive pair.   The photo shows this station marked as 3B but all superchargers labeling is not consistent.  Also the pairs are not always laid out in the same manner from station to station.

Tesla could improve and standardize the pair labeling, and also inform their customers about the supercharger pairs.  I have talked many times to owners at superchargers who are unaware of the pairing.  The conversation typically comes up when someone tries to charge at my pair, and I suggest that they will charge faster if they move to another station.


One of Several Methods Supercharger Station Pairs are Labeled

Checking the Rate of Charge

I always check the rate of charge before walking away from the car.  At times I will find the station is faulty and the rate of charge is really slow and I will move onto the next station.  If the rate of charge is extremely low, I will call the Tesla number 1-877-798-3752 and report the problem.  It would be nice if the car itself detected that the rate was quite low and provide a message on the screen and the app, so the driver does not have to do a manual visual check.


How to Check the Rate of Charge on the Screen (120kW is the Maximum)


The supercharging system works really well today outside of a handful of locations.  The Model 3 will put a lot more pressure on urban superchargers.  Hopefully by the time the Model 3 is closer to production, Tesla will produce a more clearer supercharger use statement, and perhaps have valets are the very busy sites.

How do you think Tesla should charge Model 3 owners for using the superchargers?

More Model 3 Details


Official Tesla Photos of the Model 3 Showing the Large Glass Roof

A few more details about the Model 3 have come in after the test rides at the launch event meriting a third post in less than 24 hours.

Glass Roof

The new roof is a very large pane of glass unlike most cars.  The hood is lower than on most cars and the panoramic glass extends from the hood all the way to the rear.  Using glass the rear passengers have more headroom and also a perception of more physical space.

The Model S has a similar style of roof with the Panoroof / sunroof option.  Tesla has engineered the glass to resist excessive heat or glare, and no complaints exist from owners in places like the Arizona desert.  Only in extremely cold climates is there a small disadvantage to a glass roof as the roof does not insulate the passengers quite as well from the cold as a some conventional roofs requiring a little more energy to heat the car.  This lack of insulation would only affects you if you are trying to sleep in the car and not while driving.

Update:  the roof will have three options:  the all glass roof, a retractable glass sunroof or a metal roof.


Model 3 Trunk

The Model 3 is not a hatchback like the Model S but has a conventional trunk as you can see from the photo.  The front hood also opens up for more storage.  Tesla used to call this space a “frunk” but recently I have heard the term “front trunk” used more frequently.

Elon clearly stated that the Model 3 can fit a 7′ surfboard in the interior, which is an impressive specification.  Tesla has clearly listened to the customer base who want practical cars.  I am looking forward to seeing a demonstration of the surfboard being loaded into the Model 3.


Model 3 Storage Space With a Trunk in the Back and in the Front.

Center Console

The Model 3 prototype also has a center console for storing items and including cupholders.  I think Tesla finally got the message that the majority of drivers want this storage space and hopefully is now a standard on all cars going forward.

Instrument Panel / Touchscreen

The instrument panel is in the middle of the car with a 15” touchscreen.  The idea is that both the driver and passengers have access to the information.  The Model 3 does not have a separate instrument panel like the Model S; all the information is on the touchscreen.

I like the idea of a unified place to get all the information.  I also think repair costs are reduced having the touchscreen not be installed into the dashboard.


All the Information is on One 15″ Touchscreen in the Center of the Car


I am impressed with the Model 3.  I think it looks great, the minimum technical specs are very reasonable, and the storage space seems very good.  Tesla clearly has listened to their customers post Model X launch.  My only concern for Tesla is that the Model X now seems a little lost in the lineup.  The only obvious market is a wealthy family with young children that generally live a city based lifestyle that is not hampered by the Model X carrying capabilities.

Model 3 Reveal


Attractive Model 3 (better looking than the Model X)

The Tesla Model 3 launch was sweet and short and only a few minutes late!  I was very happy that Elon began his speech by acknowledging that global warming is a huge problem for mankind; he reinforced that Tesla is in the business of sustainable transport, and showed the factual data of how we have had a two degree increase in temperature and have surpassed the level of C02 that mankind has seen in millions of years.  He also thanked Roadster, Model S and Model X purchasers.

Model 3 Minimum Specifications

  1. A priority of safety in all aspects.
  2. 0 to 60 in less than 6 seconds including versions that go much faster.
  3. At least an EPA rating of 215 miles
  4. Standard with auto pilot hardware
  5. Fits 5 adults comfortably
  6. Moved the front seats forward to provide more leg room
  7. Rear roof area one continuous space of glass providing more headroom
  8. Front and rear trunks with more cargo space than car of similar volume
  9. Can fit 7 foot long surfboard inside (much better than a X or an S)
  10. All model 3s come with supercharging standard

Other General Details

By the end of next year, Tesla will double the number of superchargers and double the number of service centers.  Elon is fairly confidently that the Model 3 will be delivered by next year with no options for $35,000.  Tesla has received 115,000 deposits in 24 hours.

Overall Impressions

The reveal was perfect.  On time and to the point.  The details of the car sound great.  The car looks much better than the X and more practical.  I am very excited about the Model 3.  I am not in a rush to buy one since I have a Model S, but it sounds like a true winner.