Tesla Model S – My First Two Months.

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A lot has already been written about people’s experience owning a Tesla Model S, as well as their experiences purchasing and waiting for delivery. From the owners themselves, most of what I have read has been positive. I’m not sure who the Tesla haters are, but there sure are a lot of them as I keep coming across articles that bash the car and the company. The consumer reports article retracting their recommended status of the Model S due to reliability issues is the most baffling. I have only been a Model S owner (85D) for two months, so I can’t really speak to the reliability of the car over time, but I’ve owned quite a few cars in my life and most of them have had some form of reliability issue in the first year. For a company that has only been building cars for 4 or 5 years, it seems to me that some issues are to be expected. Although I haven’t had to use their service department, I have read that it is second to none. My car appears to be well built, solid, tight, strong and elegant. The experience I have had from ordering to owning has been so positive, I almost welcome a reason to go back to the Tesla store to visit them. If the car does not show any reliability issues, maybe I’ll just go for a visit.

Haters

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I have had the opportunity to take a couple of “haters” out for a ride. I call them haters and that may be a little harsh, maybe ICE lovers or Dinosaur Burners would be more appropriate, but really most of them are the misinformed or skeptics. Not sure I changed their mind as I would still get comments about the inconvenience of charging and little digs about them passing me on the highway when I run out of battery. Even if I didn’t change their mind, they were certainly impressed with the performance. On the weekend we were visiting the wife’s grandparents in Wheatley, Ontario and this gave me an opportunity to take her grandfather (Jake) out for a ride to the Comber Supercharger for a top up. Before we left he had a lot to say about how nice it looked, but how he would never want an electric car. He talked about some of the cars he had in his day like the Morris Minor, the Studebaker and the T-Bird. Then off we went to Comber, only a 23 KM drive up straight country roads. I wish I took a picture as he was truly amazed. Not just amazed by the acceleration, but how quiet, smooth and comfortable the entire ride was. As we drove I explained the touch screen controls and how the navigation system helps you manage your consumption. Every so often Jake would remind me that there are cops on this road quite often and I should watch my speed. We pulled into the supercharger in Comber that is conveniently placed right off the 401 beside a Tim Hortons. I backed into the spot, plugged in and asked Jake if he wanted a coffee. He did not, so I got in the car and showed him the charging details. The car was charging at a blistering 535 km/h. When we got there I was at 230 km, so it wasn’t long at all before I had put 100 km on the battery and told Jake we were done. He was amazed at the speed of the charge and even more amazed when I explained that is cost me nothing. Normally the trip down to Wheatley from Aurora in our Pathfinder would cost me over $100 in gas for the round trip.

Commuting and Daily Charging

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My daily commute is about 30 km each way from Aurora to Markham. Down a few residential roads, out to a couple of main roads and then on the the highway for about 20 km. My office is just off the highway and can take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on traffic conditions. I charge the car every night as most do. I mostly charge to 90% and that gives me 390 km every morning. It is one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning this car. It is full every morning. When I wake up in the morning one of the first things I do, even before a shower and a coffee, is open the Tesla App on my phone and warm up the car. This has two advantages, one that is obvious and the other that I learned through reading some cold weather tips on the Tesla Motors Club site http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/entry.php/194-Cold-Weather-Driving . Heating up the car also heats the battery pack, making it more efficient. Doing so when plugged in means you are not draining the battery while the car warms up. Nothing nicer than getting into a toasty warm car on a cold fall morning  (I haven’t gone through a winter yet). Before the recent software upgrade, I was using the Adaptive cruise control quite often. The last part of my commute on the highway is stop and go and the adaptive cruise control makes it bearable. Now that I have the upgrade that will auto steer along with the adaptive cruise control, my commute could not be more enjoyable. All I have to do is watch. And what I’m watching for are idiot drivers that think it is still ok to text and drive, or put on makeup and drive. How about the morons that decide that when they put their indicator on that it is their right to move over. The autodrive function is not perfect, but it will only get better over time and it has made my commute an absolute joy!

Tesla Killers

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Why do articles keep coming out talking about the next Tesla Killer? All of these are concept cars that are not even in production. Tesla makes a real car that goes over 400 km on a single charge. No one else can make this claim. The so called killers have not invested in the high speed charging infrastructure that Tesla has with their Superchargers and will be scrambling to catch up if at all. Until another car is in production I wish they would stop this rhetoric.

Superchargers, Destination Charging and Plugshare

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It wasn’t until I found the plugshare site http://www.plugshare.com/ that I was truly aware of how big the EV world has become. The number of destination chargers is overwhelming. Restaurants, hotels, retail outlets and businesses all participating in this revolution. Even people sharing their home chargers for those in need. Most of what I have seen is free. A service provided by a hotel or restaurant in the hopes that you will use their services. A recent trip out to Thorold (near St. Catherines) to see a customer, had me research and find a coffee shop in the downtown area. I picked up my customer, drove to the coffee shop, plugged in and off we went for lunch. After lunch we went into the coffee shop and bought a couple of coffee’s as a thank you for letting me use their charger. I then put a good review on the plugshare site. Everyone wins! In this case not only did the coffee shop benefit, but so did the restaurant we went to close by. Neither of these places would have been on our radar had it not been for plugshare.

Supercharges are truly an awesome thing. I have visited 3 superchargers since getting my Model S. Barrie, Woodstock and Comber. On a trip up to Parry Sound I stopped in at the Barrie charger just to see where it is. It was my first week with the car and I still had a little range anxiety. On the way back we stopped in for a real charge. Not far off the highway and close enough to the Cabelas for a little shopping. 30 minutes in the store, a $40 purchase and back to a warm charged car. We used the Woodstock charger on the way to and from our Wheatly trip. Very close to the highway with lots of eating options around. In the time it took to get a coffee and go pee I had enough charge to get us home. http://supercharge.info is a great resource for seeing where the superchargers are, new ones under construction and those that have secured permits. I really hope the 2016 expansion in Canada is as aggressive as Tesla have indicated. http://www.teslamotors.com/en_CA/supercharger

Planning your trip the key to avoiding any range anxiety. If you are taking a route that passes by superchargers you have no worries. Trips that are not along those paths (and there are still lots in Canada) need to be planned out a little more, but there are so many options. Our trips up to our Trailer on Pigeon Lake is about 115 km. I have more than enough for the round trip, but I plug into the available 110V outlet in my shed anyway. At only 6 km/h of charging it is not much, but I’m there for the weekend anyway. This allows us to do day trips into Peterborough, Lindsay or Bobcaygeon if we choose. Although it is not recommended to use an extension cord for charging, I carry one anyway, just in case.

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