Last week I took delivery of my Tesla Model 3, and made good on a promise I made to myself that the next vehicle I owned would be electric. Today’s blog will look back on my first week owning the Tesla, what I am loving and what I hope they improve on. Overall, this past week has been like stepping in to the future of driving and the future of transportation – so join me as we go over some of the best bits!
The delivery process took about 2 hours including going over the vehicle features, how to charge, buying insurance, and signing the papers. I had been contacted in the weeks’ prior by my delivery specialist, Jake, who answered all of my questions and made sure I had everything ready to go for delivery day.
I had to travel down to Vancouver to take possession of the Tesla, although previous Okanagan buyers had the option to have the vehicle delivered to their home. I didn’t really find this too much of an inconvenience as I was able to hitch a ride down to Vancouver with family, and it allowed me to see how the car handled a 400+ km road trip right away…queue the range anxiety!!!
First Road Trip & Supercharging
The day after taking delivery I departed Vancouver and typed my home address into the navigation system in the car. It determined that I would have to supercharge in Hope and once more in Kelowna. I had assumed I would also need to charge in Merritt too, it said no need, so I was pleasantly surprised and decided to just trust the car and go for it (I’ve done a lot of research into Tesla cars prior to owning one, and felt confident that the formulas were well tested and wouldn’t leave me stranded on the highway with 0% battery!).
I arrived at the Hope Superchargers and lost my EV charging virginity – what a painless and smooth experience! I simply backed up to one of the stations, opened the charge port, and plugged in. The speed amazed me – 400km/hr recharge and approx. 45 minutes to continue on my journey (perfect, as I wanted to grab breakfast at a cafe around the corner!).
It is worth noting that superchargers are owned by Tesla and will only work for Tesla cars – this was one of the main points of consideration in my choosing the Tesla over other electric manufacturers (whose chargers only go up to 45km/hr max speed). I could see from this very first experience for anyone who enjoys road trips, the Tesla is a clear favourite EV.
What I learned from my first Supercharging experience was how seamless the plugging in and charging process was, and how inexpensive. The charge from 190km up to 300+ kms only took about 40 minutes at the cost of only $12 and change. Now keep in mind, superchargers are something I only plan on using on long road trips, not on daily driving. Either way, travelling from Vancouver to Kelowna for $12 was a huge savings for me!
I departed Hope and the navigation system told me I would arrive at the Kelowna superchargers with between 11 and 18 percent battery. This seemed on the low side of desirable, and I have to admit range anxiety did start to hit me on the next leg of my journey.
As the temperature outside fell, so did my navigation system’s range predictions. This is something I was warned of, and it didn’t surprise me. We all know that batteries don’t preform as well in extreme heat or cold, and the outside temperature on this road trip was as low as 0.
I had to cross my fingers that somehow the nav system had taken into consideration the weather (is that even possible?). I continued to watch the distance to my destination and the battery range dance back and forth, telling myself if the range ever dropped below the distance to Kelowna, that’s when I would start to panic. I turned off the cabin heat, turned off the music, and kept to the speed limit or lower, all in efforts to maximize efficiency.
Just as my range anxiety was at it’s height, as I summited the connector highway between Merritt and West Kelowna, something amazing happened….
REGENERATIVE BRAKING. From the top of the connector, down into West Kelowna, my range actually INCREASED. All thanks to the amazing process of regenerative braking, where the energy used to slow the car down on hills (there were many long ones on this stretch) is pumped back into the battery! My range went from 53kms up to 71kms all the while travelling over 30kms of distance, downhill. I was beyond happy!
I supercharged in Kelowna (another $13) and made it home with plenty of range to spare. I’d accomplished my first trip from Vancouver to Vernon and learned so much about my car along the way. Needless to say, I was thoroughly impressed and content that I had chosen a vehicle with enough range to meet my needs…
The Tesla App
As you can see from this screenshot, I can control many functions of the car direction from my smart phone (which also doubles as my key). I can preheat or cool the interior of the car, open the trunk(s), lock and unlock the doors, and stop the charging whenever I want. I find myself checking in on the car a little bit too often, but I’m getting better haha.
Over the Air Updates
Day 3 of owning my Tesla, I woke up to find new features had been unlocked. Tesla founder Elon Musk announced that all Tesla’s would now feature autopilot as standard feature and those current vehicles without it (such as mine) were on a 60 day free trial starting now. The value of adding autopilot is about $4000, and I’m sure the trial period is to entice us to upgrade…
This meant that I now had a self-driving vehicle on my hands, for 60 days, free of charge. I was beyond excited, but also nervous to use it right away. The new features included automatic lane-changing, autopilot, summon, and park assist. I have tried most of them out and I’m a huge fan!
Typically, to use autopilot, I will get up to highway speeds and engage it – autopilot maintains a constant speed and keeps the vehicle between the lines (that’s right, it steers itself!); stopping with traffic, changing lanes when I turn my indicator on, and reducing the speed if a vehicle in front is travelling slower. I’ve tested it on several occasions so far and have found it to be very reliable and safe. The car asks you to lightly touch the steering wheel about every 30 seconds ensuring the driver is always alert and ready to take over.
Upon arriving home from Vancouver and my supercharging experience(s) I plugged in to a regular wall outlet with the included charging cables and my car informed me it would take over 30 hours to reach a full charge. I have been managing just fine with this set up (I don’t commute, and my daily driving is usually 10km – 100km, leaning on the lower end). I plan on installing a 30amp or 50amp plug soon, which should charge my battery at 30-50km/hr meaning I will wake up to a full charge every day, and don’t even need to plug in every night considering how little I usually drive.
Summary – The Pros
- This car is fast. The instant torque surprises everyone who rides in it, myself included. I still smile every time…
- The regenerative braking which allows me to drive with only one pedal (the accelerator) 90% of the time.
- Over the air updates mean I am getting new features and improvements continuously during my time owning this car…
- The handling is superb. It is the smoothest, quietest car I have ever driven.
- Cost savings – which I calculated were over 70% compared with driving a gasoline vehicle over a similar distance.
- The ease of charging, and the speed of superchargers.
What I would like to see improve (my only critique so far):
1. The door handles (inside and out) take a verbal lesson for every new person who encounters them…
2. If this even counts as a con, the self-driving capabilities make me lazy when I have to take back over control and actually drive… I know, Tesla problems. Also, they aren’t going to be there forever and I will miss them!
Coming up next…
Well there you have it, my first week owning my electric car. One other thing I wanted to mention was the friendly waves I have received from other Model 3 drivers – I’ve never been a member of a car ‘family’ before but it does feel great. I pulled into a parking lot where a Tesla owner and Nissan Leaf owner were standing by their cars talking, and when I opened my door all I heard was two people shout “NICE CAR” to which I replied, “Thanks, I just got it!”. They proceeded to tell me between them they’ve driven over 600,000kms electric with no issues – happy to hear this!
Next weekend I plan on showing the car at an Environmental Fair in Armstrong at Askew’s Foods, and on May 23rd I will be showing it at the Schubert Centre in Vernon for their EV Showcase (come for a ride!).
I’m so excited to share my experience with others and use my car as a catalyst to help more people switch to electric. I’m sure you’ll be hearing plenty about it in future blog posts…
Thanks for reading, questions are welcomed as always.