Reader Comment (Nov. 1, 2017)

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Here is the latest reader Comment – from a Tesla owner about the range of his Model S; my comments are interspersed and highlighted :

John writes: With reference to your piece on Tesla. I would gladly let you borrow mine for a few days if I could get the time to drive it to you, but I’m in California. You are right about us being force fed EV’s. No argument.

In my case, I commute to the bay area from so-cal every week about 325 miles. When I drove my fossil car I would stop about halfway for a bio-break, leg stretch, and a cup of coffee. Didn’t need to re-fuel. With the Model S I stop in the same place and do the same things, but park at a charger. Twenty minutes is sufficient to add enough to complete the journey with plenty of range to spare. which is about 5 minutes longer than the fossil car routine. For the most part I stick around the 65 speed limit but there is a 70 mph stretch for about 40 miles or so. My average fuel consumption has been 283 Wh/mile over the last year or so. Tesla calculates range based on 300 Wh/mile. My routine means I don’t have to fully charge the battery before the journey, I generally top it up to 250 miles range only because I don’t need to fill it all the way. Last week I filled it all the way because I was parked at slow charger for a few hours. It topped out at 273 miles.

But what if you prefer to – if you need to – drive straight through? In that case, your trip just got longer by at least 20 minutes. It’s a analogous to traffic becoming worse by a significant degree such that it now takes that much longer to get from A to B. Time wastage – for the sake of not “wasting” fuel. But fuel is replaceable. Time isn’t.   

And I wonder what the range would be at faster than the speed limit? If CA is like VA, driving the speed limit on the highway means driving well below the speed of traffic, which is extremely unpleasant as well as not-safe (tractor trailers bearing down on you, etc.) The highways in my area are posted 70; traffic flows closer to 80 and 75 is the minimum if you don’t want other cars up your tailpipe.

More broadly – what’s the point of a very expensive luxury-sport sedan that you basically have to drive like a Prius? 

An educated guess is that Tesla calculated range based on 70 – 75 mph freeway driving. If you run into traffic the energy consumption drops, and so you are actually far more efficient in slow traffic than open highway. A/C is cold enough to keep the groceries fresh even with ‘range mode’ on. I have only driven it in cold weather at about 20 deg F, car stayed nice and toasty. (For a cold weather-Norway-opinion see  Bjorn Nyland on YoutTube). You can of course run the AC or heat even when parked, so you can stay comfortable if you want to sleep.With my driving style I might be able to squeeze 300 miles from a full charge, but that would mean being careful. I have a colleague who has a harsher driving style, and He as averaged about 360 Wh/mile. which gives him closer to 200 mile practical range.

“Cold enough” – that sets off my radar. I’d like to test the effect of running the AC at full cold on a 95 degree Virginia day, with the car driving 75-80 MPH on I-18. 

And also in winter – when it’s 18 degrees out.  

If you go on a long journey the trick is to not need to top up all the way at any stop unless you can afford a longer wait. e.g. if you have 70 miles left in the ‘tank’ you can add 100 miles in 20 minutes, but if you charge past 200 miles range the charging slows down to maximize battery life. Practically, 150 to 200 miles is a reasonable range between charges if you want to travel several hundred miles. Of course if you stop for an extended period (overnight) you can plug in and have a full charge the next day. Journey planning is required!

Well, what about not having to make such plans? What about the ease and convenience of just going where you want to go, on the spur of the moment – and not having to worry about such things? I understand you don’t mind making plans. That’s your choice. But I question whether most people will suffer this new requirement gladly.

Is it not a step backwards, in terms of mobility? 

I have noticed the software updates have altered the charging algorithm. You can set how much you wish to charge the battery, but there is a ‘recommended’ point for daily driving which sets the charge limit to around 90%, this used to be 85% so I think as more data has been collected from the users they have updated the limit.

I am personally very skeeved out by this business of “updates” … not comfortable at all with the idea that “my” (cough) car is subject to control – to monitoring and interference – from a corporate (and so, potentially, government) hive. 

The model S is a touring car, not a track car, however, despite being over 5,000 lbs., it is very well behaved on winding roads, and does not have a ponderous feel. Going uphill, the “get up and go” is really nice, as you can pass most slow movers with comfort and confidence. The drivers controls are basically a Mercedes Benz setup, the switches and storks are just like the E and S class Benz.

This I will need to test out for myself! I have my doubts about the car’s cornering abilities simply because it is so heavy. Controlling all that weight invariably compromises something. I don’t doubt that it rides smoothly. But I wonder how it behaves laterally! 

Sum-up: AMG performance in short but sufficient bursts. Range just about practical, but more would be better. Tesla needs a pickup truck!

But what is the point of a car that has “AMG performance” which can only be used in “short bursts”? Is it not like having an AMG Benz with a 5 gallon has tank that one must refill using a hand pump? People – rightly – mock the suburban geeks who drive around in Hummers they will never take off road. . .  

I think Tesla’s emphasis on performance is silly given the fundamental argument for electric cars is efficiency, which is synonymous with economy. If the car isn’t economical – and by definition, any car with a price approaching $100,000 isn’t that – then economic considerations are irrelevant by definition. And how is it efficient to build a car with “AMG performance” that can only be used in “short bursts”? 

I just don’t grok it!

Also: Tesla doesn’t make a truck because trucks need to be capable of doing work and not in “short bursts”!   

As for the politics: I just wish we could be left alone to make our own choices, as that would give a more eclectic range of vehicles to choose from.

. . .

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