Tesla Model 3 Owner's Musings

(My email: PALafford@gmail.com)

(Shortcut to my story about placing the first-hour reservation in Scottsdale, Arizona, March 31, 2016.)

(Shortcut to my analysis of Tesla’s “Enhanced Auto Pilot” and it’s dealings with roadway lane markings.) 

Tesla Autopilot Demo for Fox10 Phoenix

Random Reports from a First-Time Tesla Owner, about the Model 3

We picked up our Model 3 on Friday, March 16, about two weeks short of two years after placing the reservation in the first hour, at the Tesla Gallery in Scottsdale. (That whole story is HERE.)
Now that we've got it, I'll be posting occasional observations, from the perspective of someone NEW to owning a Tesla.  So I won't always be comparing to the S or X, "It's not as fast..." or "I prefer THAT...", or "Why do we have to pay for the Supercharger now????"
The first entry here was I post I wrote for the Tesla Model 3 Owners' Club group on Facebook.  It was too detailed for me to post on my own wall, but I know some of my FB friends (and others) would find it interesting.  

TLDR: Amazing Car; worth the wait.
Random thoughts on Sunday night; Close of the first weekend with our Tesla Model 3, with 432 ecstatic miles accomplished.
Amazing vehicle; Awesome technology; Welcome to the future.
Semi-random thoughts:
  • It's like driving an iPhone, and gets better as they push out updates.
  • Having the speed and relevent information just over your right hand is no problem.
  • Clean lines and interior; no distrations; get in, buckle up, and go (in silence).
  • Driver Profiles are a great aid. The electric seats have so many variables, including lumbar support. The steering wheel goes up and down AND in and out, that once you find a comfortable setting, you want to SAVE IT. From what I've seen, I think the Driver Profiles include other configurable settings, such as regen and steering, so you could define multiple profiles for yourself, for your different moods or modes of driving. "Up and At 'Em Attentive," or "Laid Back Autopilot Mode," or whatever. There is an Easy Entry profile that you can configure to your own preferences... how far up do you need the steering wheel to go? How far back the seat? Then when you buckle up or put it in Drive, it switches to the last Driver Profile.
  • Enhanced Auto Pilot is amazing, and even handles Slow-and-Go traffic on freeways. (Seemed smooth to me, at version 2018.4; don't know if 2018.10 improves it for the Model 3 or not.) (The GPS-based speed limit database didn't seem quite up-to-date on a couple of the non-Interstates I was on around Phoenix today, but that's a minor issue.)
  • Protection schemes: I'm getting SunTek clear bra protection applied this week, as soon as the template they designed last week is uploaded so my detailer can get it. I'm also planning on putting the TeslaRPM carbon fiber wrap on the center console. Thinking that the Titanium color will lighten up the interior a little. Will get a screen protector for the screen, too, (fingerprints a distraction in videos that I‘ll make. Not as much a problem to the naked eye.)
  • Here in the first days of my lead-footing it, I've been averaging about 300 wH/mile. That's what I'm plugging into the "abetterrouteplanner.com" for calculations.  (That's a great web-based route planner; you can link it to your Tesla account for realtime.)
  • Also finding it fun to explore the (unofficial) "My Tesla" app for Echo, by Nikhil Kapur. It ties into your Tesla account to answer questions like, "Alexa, ask my car how far I can drive," with battery percentage and mileage range, etc.
  • On delivery, our screen was displaying battery status as a percentage rather than miles. You can toggle that by tapping the CAR icon, selecting DISPLAY, then tap the SETTINGS GEAR icon for the sub menu, and choose MILES or ENERGY there. (Seems a little well-hidden for what might be a frequently-toggled option. I know, it's easy enough to do the math, but why do the math when you're driving a computer on wheels?!?!)
  • Premium Audio system sounds great. Tune-In offers a wide range of feeds, including radio from around the world, and some non-commercial feeds like police and fire radio. And it pairs with your phone for Bluetooth (which, I know, loses something in the compression, but still sounds fine to me.) 
  • I spent twenty minutes at a Supercharger topping up to 80 per cent charge, and was charged at the Tier 2 rate of $.11/minute, getting 48 kW for about $2.68, for about 75 miles of range. (That price might go up soon; not sure).
  • (And before jumping all over Tesla for quietly modifying their Supercharger rates, let me point out that when we buy the Model 3, we ARE NOT paying a premium price for them to throw in free Supercharging. It costs real money to build and maintain Supercharger locations with 12, 24, even 40 slots. I, for one, am happy to pay more per kWh than I pay at home, knowing Tesla can maintain a reliable Supercharger network. We don't complain that the gas station owner charges us more than he pays the wholesaler for the gallon of gas. We shouldn't expect Tesla to absorb the cost of maintaining the infrastructure, when we aren't paying a premium price for the Model 3 in the first place.) 
  • In wrapping up for now, let me say that the Model 3 is a an already an amazing piece of work, and is still getting better with each OTA update. I'll enjoy exploring and discovering, and making suggestions, too. Well worth the wait (which was two weeks short of two years from my first-hour non-owner reservation).

More Random Thoughts after the FIRST FULL WEEK (March 24, 2018):

Still awesome, and learning more about it.  My go-to description in 15 words or less:: 

“It’s CLEAN, QUICK, QUIET, and SURE-FOOTED, and Enhanced Auto Pilot is AMAZING.”  

And our Model 3 now has an official name: SILVER STREAK, after one of our favorite movies from the 70’s, with Gene Wilder and Richard Prior.  The name came to us as we scoped out how far the drive from Kansas City to Denver would be on the return leg of our E-Road Trip back east this June. 

New tidbits to share: 

  • To get it into NEUTRAL, when in DRIVE, push stalk up to the resistance and hold for a second. (Don’t push it past the resistance, which takes you into REVERSE.)
TACC (“Traffic-Aware Cruise Control”) is great:
  • When first engaged, if the car is moving, I think it will set the current speed as the target speed.
  • If you tap on the displayed SPEED LIMIT sign, it will set THAT as the target.
  • If you tap the plus or minus sign next to the target speed, it will go up or down one MPH per tap.
  • If you TAP AND HOLD the plus or minus sign, the target will jump by 5 MPH.

TACC can be helpful in STOP AND GO traffic, too:

  • Without “CREEP” engaged (so HOLD IS engaged), if you are stopped behind a car in a traffic jam on the freeway, take your foot off the brake, so HOLD is on.
  • If it is displaying a SPEED LIMIT sign, you can engage it (press stalk down once), and it will be ready do move foward when the car in front moves; it will keep a car length and stop and go again, with the traffic.  
  • It won’t engage with your foot on the brake, because that is the way to EXIT cruise control.
  • It won’t engage if you are stopped without a speed limit sign, since it wouldn’t know what to set as a target speed.

Exploring the DRIVING OPTIONS: 

  • I turned on the Lane Warning (not knowing what to expect).  Later on, I got worried about a short, little vibration in the steering wheel.  Then noticed it again a little later, but remembed reading THAT was the Lane Warning!  (I’m not sure, but it might have been vibrating on the left or the right side of the steering wheel as I broached the left or right lane marking... is it THAT SMART?—Later edit: I don’t think so.))

Remote Control of the Climate System:

  • I checked the interior temp after church with the car parked outside church in the sun. A little worried about the 115º reported in the app, but was amazed to see the temperature reach the 72º target in about 10 minutes, I think!  Not a problem!  

More Random Thoughts after the SECOND FULL WEEK (March 31, 2018):

Today is the TWO-YEAR ANNIVERSARY of being a first-hour reservation at the Scottsdale Gallery.

  • I went back to the Scottsdale Gallery and had Christian take another picture of me with the bottle of water I received there two years ago upon placing the reservation, that had the prophetic “Sell By 03/02/18“ date! I configured one week before!  (Christian took the smiling picture two years ago, also!)


  • Received my Arizona Clean Alternative Fuel plate yesterday, two weeks after pickup.  A nice surprise is that the registration is good for 5 years, so when I’ll be looking for a plastic license plate cover to help protect it for the long haul.


  • I went through the process of trying to like the aeros on a silver car, and went so far as to get the cap and lug kit ahead of time for them to put on right after delivery.  Drove it for a couple of days, and found that the dark 18’ wheels underneath tried to say, “I’m really a sports car,” but that wasn’t the message I wanted my Model 3, the “Silver Streak” to deliver. So I used the “big wad of duct tape process” to remove the center caps, and put on the aeros for the first time, which, while still too dark for me on a light car, said, “Hey, I’m cool, I’m an EV, check it out!” And I’ve gotten more positive feedback on the aeros than I thought I would.  I’m still considering getting them painted to match, and I do have some 18” turbine style wheels on pre-order from T-Sportline, but if you don’t get the cap and lug cover kit right away, don’t dispair.  The aeros might grow on you.
  • FRIDAY 4/6/18 Update:
  • This is the first picture of my Silver Metallic with the aeros painted the matching body color (by my local body shop).  I’m ecstatic, and I’ll be cancelling the pre-order on the aftermarket 18” turbines that aren’t due until May.  To me, this pops, and says, “worth a second look!”

    Even at night, it shines along with the car!

  • I was thinking of it, then saw a picture on FB that someone had done in Pennsylvania, and here we are! I gave them the Tesla Silver Metallic paint code from the door frame (PMSS), and said I want the wheel covers painted to match... et voilà! I do have some 18” turbine style wheels on pre-order from T-Sportline, but I’ll be cancelling on that. I didn’t want the 19” sports... slight range penalty, slight comfort penalty, replacement tire price penalty, didn’t need the added performance. And now with the Silver Aeros (hmmm... maybe a new name?), I’m quite happy!

    Random Musings after Three Days on the E-Road (11 weeks after delivery)


    Efficiency: Cross Country travel, charging at Superchargers, I’ve been averaging about 4¢/mi (compared to 6¢/mi in a 45 MPG Prius or 10¢/mi at 30 MPG, with $3/gal. gas). Details below.

    I love the design of the trunk lid, with all hinges and pressurized struts outside the opening. It simplifies loading of the trunk without worrying about crushing suitcases with impinging hinges.

    I love the AP. With cross-winds (in northern Arizona and into New Mexico)...AP takes care of it for you.

    I love the high-tech data available! I like the ability to manage and monitor realtime efficiency. I’ve renamed “Trip B” to be “Lifetime,” and renamed “Trip A” to be “Segment” (remembering the “FCD” Segment button on our 2000 Honda Insight). I hope to keep Lifetime unchanged (but it would be a nice OTA update to display a “Lifetime” setting automatically, like “Since Last Charge,” and “Since [Time of Start of Current Trip.]” That could be added retroactively, too, via logs.)

    In order to maximize Efficiency, to complete a long leg while maintaining the initial ECA (“Estimated Charge at Arrival”) of 20%, I would reset the SEGMENT (Trip A) to monitor Wh/mi and keep it close to 215 Wh/mi, by following in the draft of a bigger vehicle (with TACC keeping me at a safe distance, of course.) Looking at the TeslaFi-dot-com downloaded log, I found the

    projected 100% efficiency, when the Miles Driven = the Rated Miles Used, was about 217 Wh/mi, since the 215 Wh/mi I averaged on the segment from Pocohontas to Effingham was rated at 101% efficiency. In the last segment, from Effingham to Champaign, I see that 279 Wh/mi was only 79% efficiency. (It was just what the Indycar drivers have to do when the pit crew says, “You have to make XXX efficiency to finish the race without stopping for a spash-and-go.”) 

    Analyzing that data and the Supercharging receipts on my Tesla Account History page, I’ve calculated that on this trip, with two people and a trunk full of luggage, over the 680 miles from Oklahoma City, OK to Champaign, IL, I would pay about $28.00 for Supercharging, and that would average about 4¢/mile in energy costs. For comparison, if I were driving a Prius getting 45 miles per gallon, those 680 miles would cost about 6¢/mi (assuming $3/gal gas). A car getting 30 miles per gallon would cost about 10¢/mi. So, I’m happy!