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2023 03 10 CCC Blog Post - "A Long Weekend with a TESLA" - Collector Car Canada

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2023 03 10 CCC Blog Post – “A Long Weekend with a TESLA”
2023 Tesla Model 3

 

 

2023 03 10 CCC Blog Post – “A Long Weekend with a TESLA”

 

Today, our blog strays from the collector car realm.  But we believe it suits the site during our off-season because its followers are drivers and we all hear about electric cars on a near-daily basis.  Now that we have driven one, we wanted to share some of the experience.  We look forward to comments, both from those who have driven them – where our experience might not be reflective – and those who have not – and how our experience might influence their thinking to try one.

An opportunity came up recently for us to try an electric car, a 2023 Tesla Model 3, for a weekend.  This was not supplied to us based on any industry-insider relationship.  We recently had to make a road trip from downtown Toronto to downtown Ottawa and back, all in one day, and did as many do – checked rates for rentals and found a rate we thought reasonable, with Hertz.  We knew about the phenomenon of range anxiety – where the user of an electric car frets that his/her vehicle may not have enough charge to make it to the destination because of expiring batteries– but we have made this journey many times before, were familiar with charging stations along the way and were reassured by others who advised that charging stations are plentiful.

First, the car’s appearance – “our” Tesla was finished in Pearl White Multi-Coat.  If you ever notice a preponderance of white Model 3s, it is likely no coincidence.  Tesla charges more for other colours.  We are not sure if Elon Musk would be flattered or horrified when we say that this reminds us of Henry Ford’s famous quote “any colour the customer wants, as long as it’s black”.  In Tesla’s case, one can procure its most basic model in other colours, but it comes at a cost:  here is the order form damage, sourced from the Tesla web site:  Midnight Silver Metallic (we would call it “dark grey metallic”) $1,300; Deep Blue Metallic $1,300; Solid Black $2,000 (WWHS – what would Henry say?); and Red Multi-Coat checks in at $2,600.  The ”Aero Wheels” are 18” and the base offering, on the white car they yield a utilitarian look.  There are also 19” sport wheels available for an extra $500 per corner, a not-cheap $2,000 option, and they do give off a look slightly less of that of an appliance.

2023 Tesla Model 3

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2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra Convertible 6-speed manual

On the inside, the look is dominated by the large centre-mounted flat panel monitor – from the driver’s view, no gauges beyond the steering wheel, all systems are displayed on the monitor.  Not all are obvious from the first use.  Most were reasonably easy to get used to, though finding others was a challenge.  As with other touch-screens, we are a little apprehensive compared to traditional tactile buttons – consider that a cottage industry has emerged for gloves compatible with smart phones!  We found seating and outward visibility good, excepting for the small view obstruction provided by the monitor.

2023 Tesla Model 3

 

 

Next, the driving experience.  As we had been promised, the Tesla does have snappy acceleration.  Our Hertz reservation noted our booking for a Tesla Model 3 LR – LR for “long-range”.  Our rental was definitely a Model 3.  However, there were a few indications to suggest that we did not get an “LR”.  We note that the Canadian Tesla web site precludes placing an order for an “LR” at time of writing – “Available 2023”.  Of course, commercial buyers procure under fleet programs so this is not bulletproof refutability.  There are other factors relating to trim and range which also led us to believe that we did not have an LR – more on range later.  The Tesla site claims a 0-60 time of 6.1 seconds for the base Model 3 – quick, to be sure, but not outlandish for a modern car.  (We acknowledge that other Teslas make faster 0-60 jaunts.)  When “gunning it” from a stop, we did feel sudden acceleration but, of course, 0-60 experiences are best left to a closed track.

The most noticeable difference from any other car we have driven is the sensation caused by Tesla’s regenerative braking system.  In our words, this system is activated when the driver releases his foot from the accelerator (not to be referred to as a gas pedal).  The car decelerates noticeably and energy is transferred to the battery system, Tesla noting that this increases range – more on range later.  It is somewhat analogous to keeping an internal-combustion engine (ICE) car in gear when in motion and not engaging a pedal, but the Tesla is much more… enthusiastic about decelerating the car.  We suppose this prolongs brake life though we figure those who downshift ICE cars would experience the same benefit.  On a highway trip, we did use the cruise control extensively.  We have been frustrated by “Active Cruise Control” (it goes by other names, varying by manufacturer) but found it much more aggressive in the case of the Tesla’s Traffic-Aware Cruise Control – likely adjustable in settings, worthwhile searching for if one was to drive the car longer.  Our amateur hypothesis is that it relates to the regenerative braking.  As the car slowed because of the behaviour of other cars as part of the Collision Avoidance Assist system’s automatic emergency braking, a dangerous possibility occurred to us:  other drivers, assuming a car possesses such a system, might be much more cavalier about lane changes and otherwise driving out in front of other traffic.

2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra Convertible 6-speed manual

On to charging, and we shall start with the facts:  during our return trip to Ottawa – 869 km roundtrip, excluding some short distances for charging stations – we charged the car five times, all in one day.  Sometimes, these charging sessions lasted approximately 20 minutes, other times more in the 50-minute range.  We took a Tesla driver’s advance advice of keying into the car’s GPS each of our destinations and thus relying on the car to advise when/where to charge up.  The worst experience with charging was as the car was advising to decrease speed to preserve the batteries, we passed Kemptville, Ontario – northbound to Ottawa.  The first exit following Kemptville was approximately 5 km and the GPS advised us to exit.  We figured the car was suggesting an alternative route with an 80 km/h speed limit to conserve energy but before we knew it, the GPS had us southbound – back to Kemptville for an unexpected charge… the car’s systems had previously been suggesting we would make it to Ottawa without another charge.  So, we called our first Ottawa appointment to reschedule!

We had the car three days and drove it a total of 1098 km, according to our closed Hertz rental contract.  We got the car with 829 km on it so it was operating on almost brand-new batteries.  We charged the car a total of seven times, all at Tesla Supercharger stations.  We paid a total of $87.03 for charging.  This was paid to Hertz, given that there are no payment options at the stations; Hertz advised that there was no markup for charging fees.  A couple of other charging anecdotes:  we saw a lot of blank forward stares from the driver’s seats of cars plugged in to charge (see photo); one time, we noticed a neighbouring driver loading an episode of “The Office” as he waited for his Model Y to juice up; we understand the consistency of branding a manufacturers different models with similar cosmetics but the dearth of car appearances’ variety at the stations really struck us; and there are a lot of white Teslas!

2023 Tesla Model 3

According to the Tesla web site for Canada, the Model 3 LR is capable of 576 km on a charge, per the EPA (a US entity). Range for the basic Model 3 is noted at 430 km – just short of the approximately 450 km Toronto to Ottawa using divided highways – and for the “Performance” model, 507 km.  We are not sure of the EPA’s testing methods but conclude that these are “best-case” given our experience for range was so much lower.  Of course, there are many variables.  Maybe you have heard the joke:  “A Tesla can do 0-60 in under 5 seconds.  Once.”

2003 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra Convertible 6-speed manual

A few other experiences to share from our time with the car: our car’s NAV system advised to turn where turning was illegal – I.E. “turn left” at a “No Left Turn” intersection (see photo); when waiting at a red light, the car emits a tone in the cabin when the light turns green, whether the car is underway or not – we hope this can be changed in settings; we noticed labels appearing on the rear facing of the front headrests and are not sure what this says about manufacturing process (see photo); we found an “Uber” sticker in the cabin (see above photo) and conclude the car had done some ride-share service in the 829 km travelled before we rented it; we plugged in to a non-Tesla charger once and the systems told us that charging time would be 11 hours, so we drove 17 km to the nearest available Tesla Supercharger; the front plate on our car was lopsided when we picked it up – we gave it a light foot tap to straighten it, it fell to the ground and we realized that it had been attached by glue – then we noticed lots of Teslas with no front plates (see photo), despite never leaving Ontario, where front plates are mandatory; and the “OPEN” warning for the trunk and frunk means merely that it is unlocked, not ajar – think of this when you see a Tesla driver checking either.

In conclusion, we know that we would need to be more familiar with an electric car before being comfortable with it.  With the frequent charging during our long day trip, we thought back to youth and looking forward to the freedom afforded by having a driver’s licence.  We could not help but feel the charging – time taken, locations, and time of day – took some of it back.  Fun financial notes – Tesla’s current market capitalization is less than half of its 2021 peak, though it almost doubled in the first month-and-a-half of this year.  It is worth more than ten times the value of either Ford or GM. 

COMMENTS

What is your take on electric cars?  Ever tried one?  If yes, what did you think?  If not, do you want to?

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Marauderman

Frogpond Frogpond why would Jim be jealous? What do you think he would be jealous of?

Andrew

So it would take my explorer 2 takes of gas at roughly 85 per tank (double the cost to charge. However, I can go there and back in 9 hours or less, My question would be how much time in total was spent charging and how much is an hour of your time worth to you? Not against electric, just not ready for it especially when the car is so blah!

Frogpond

Fantastic description of the experience the famous auto writer Jim Kenzie will be jealous of the story