Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Automatic High Beams?!

I just discovered that I have friggin' automatic high/low beam headlights. Must be part of the autopilot upgrade.

We were driving to the grocery store last night, when I noticed something different. While using high beams on a back country road, there was a little "A" inside the blue symbol on the dash. Around that time, a car came over a hill, and my headlights went to low, along with a corresponding change of the icon to a gray color.

It turns out, the automatic high/low beams also work when there's a car in front of you, traveling in the same direction as you... not just oncoming cars.

I think the car is using the neural net capabilities of the front-facing camera to work this magic. Nice little surprise you got me with there, Tesla!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Autopilot Upgrade & First Impressions

Why didn't I get this sooner?
Seriously, if you're contemplating getting a Tesla, you really should opt for the Autopilot.

When I first ordered mine (not being one of those rich owners), I didn't have the luxury of opting for enabling the autopilot convenience features. Having recently somewhat replenished the retirement savings which I pilfered (spare me the lecture, I did it responsibly and in a well-planned manner), I got wifely permission to swing for enabling it.

The process was pretty simple. A ranger came out, hooked up a laptop to a cable exposed by removing the under-screen cubby, and used a special Tesla software to push the required firmware update to the car. After that (and waiting 2 hours for the update to finish installing), we went out to test it and for him to show me the basics.

TL;DR... there's definitely a learning curve... and a period of time to gain trust in it. But once it's gained your trust, you won't know what you've done without it.

We took a 200+ mile road trip over the weekend; and believe me, it made the trip SO much easier. I suppose you really don't really realize how much brain power is used to drive (even on a subconscious level), until the car manages much of driving's tasks for you. You arrive at your destination not as fatigued. You find yourself paying more attention to the idiots around you, watching out for troublesome deer, noticing debris in the road, etc. I think it can improve defensive driving skills, honestly (you hear that, State Farm? hint, hint, nudge, wink).

A few other thoughts about the experience:

  • It keeps the car dead-center in the lane; so if you're a line-rider, you may not like it.
  • But, it seems to notice and react to traffic around you. If you're beside a truck or car, it seems to shy away from that vehicle a bit - which, if true, is quite nice.
  • If one lane marking disappears (like for a ramp or widening of the roadway with another lane), it seems to veer a tiny bit outward. Nothing major, but noticeable.
  • If you use it in stoplight traffic, it waits until it's quite late before hitting the brakes. I tend to start coasting (regeneration) when a see stopped traffic far ahead (to avoid using brakes at all); however autopilot tends to wait until the last minute to brake, which is a bit unnerving and wasteful to the regeneration and brakes. I'd love to see the radar be used to its full capabilities here, and the system be a bit more proactive.

I'll probably write up more as I get used to it, but that's my initial impressions so far.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Unsolicited Tire Rotation & Service

The Tesla Model S has one big appeal: very little maintenance. The largest back-of-your-mind-worry you have to deal with is tires, in my opinion ~ changing them when the tread gets low and rotating them every 5,000 miles.

Anyway, after having just passed the 5,000 mile mark, I began to begrudge my first anticipated maintenance item. So I emailed my local Tesla service concierge, mentally preparing myself to have to deal with schedules, loners, costs, etc.

I was shocked to learn that they would simply come out and rotate my tires in the parking lot of my workplace. For free. FREE. And on-site.

During this service, I also just happened to get my tires aired up to spec (recently got cold here) - another annoying maintenance item, and a top-off of my washer fluid.

What sort of wizardry is this, Tesla??

I didn't hardly have to lift a finger. This car is really turning out to be worth every penny.

Let me just add one more thing about this...
The technician told me that Tesla had addressed the aggressive rear alignment that had caused so many previous owners to complain about uneven tire wear, and that my tread had evenly worn down only 1/32nd of an inch after 5,000 miles (and that's even with spirited driving), on all tires, inside / middle / outside tread. That was a BIG worry off my chest with this car.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Door Handles vs. Wife

So, being the type of guy who LOVES shopping /s, I frequently drop my wife off in front of stores and find a nice safe place in the back of the parking lot to wait for her, away from all the hordes of women shopping who have no business attempting to use a parking lot... scary place, but I digress...

Anyway, when the call comes for me to pick her up, and I pull up in front of the doors, the handles are neatly retracted into the door. Of course she taps the handle to present it, but nothing happens; so there must be some sort of required delay before the touch-to-present works, after coming to a stop.

The same thing happens when I back out of the garage, and then my wife comes out of the house and tries to get into the car.

This is actually her chief complaint about the car.

Tesla, you could easily fix this with a software update... a happy wife equals a happy life.

What I've been doing is two-fold... lock the doors and then wait a second before unlocking them (doing both in rapid succession won't present the handles) as I see her approaching the car. If, for some reason, I'm not fast enough, I've told her to wait a second after I fully stop moving the car, before she taps the handle.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Going Back to ICE

Because I hadn't had time to affix my new temporary tag, and I didn't want today's rain to mess up my fresh wash/wax, I drove our ICE to work today.

It was... an experience.

I'll note that I haven't driven a gasoline engine car since I picked-up the Tesla over a month ago. I'll also note that my wife's ICE is no sloucher, either (a relatively new Acura with a turbo-charger).

I felt like I was drunkenly operating a clunky old steam locomotive, rather than being ONE with the road. I mean, I pushed the gas pedal, waited a second or two as the RPMs noisily rose, and only then did I start to gain some speed as the transmission started to convey those explosions to the wheels in a flurry of noise and vibration.

I literally thought the car was broken somehow or needed service. About 15 minutes later, as the engine warmed-up (I had forgot about that necessity), things got a little more smooth, but not much.

I think I'd rather even settle for a Nissan Leaf than an ICE... internal combustion is such an archaic construct ~ I had NO idea. And yes... I'm aware I sound like a complete douche-bag. I don't care. Electric is the future. I'm completely convinced, now.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

The ESP Seems to Have ESP

I've seen this a lot more lately... not sure if the slightly cooler weather or if due to the latest software. Maybe 1-in-10 of my "spirited" starts from a stop have been resulting in the stability control light flashing and much less power available. Maybe another 1-in-20 of the less-spirited starts have also resulted in the same.

Almost always, though, it seems to happen at the line whenever a stop light turns green - where, perhaps, there might be some oil on the road. Also, it seems to happen more frequently during the start of my drive - when, perhaps, the tires are still cold and not as "sticky."

The conclusion that I'm drawing is this: the car is able to detect an imperceptible loss of traction and react within milliseconds - so sensitive and so quick that I was thinking there was a bug, since I could not perceive ANY traction issues that would warrant the ESP activating. To put that in perspective, a "blink of an eye" is about 150~200 milliseconds, by the way.

I'm not sure if I'm used to clunky and slow older types of control systems, but it's kind of weird. In a way, I want that physical feeling of a tiny bit of slip before the system activates (as a cue that it's happening); but on the other hand, it's nice to trust that the car is actually taking care of things for me - and doing it well. Just one more old habit to break, I suppose!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Title and Registration Woes

I fear that I may soon be without my Tesla for a while, after this week.

My temporary Ohio license plate will have expired by this coming Thursday, which is 45 days after purchase/pick-up. But, no worry, because that gives me plenty of time to transfer the title to my state and obtain my own registration, right? Maybe not.... I still haven't received my original Ohio title.

I got my purchase agreement, bill of sale, and a photocopy of my Ohio title, via FedEx just a day or so after I last inquired about the delay from my DS in Cincinnati (so I think Tesla is on the ball here); but when I went to the BMV, I was told they couldn't do anything until I could bring the original title with me.

I'm wondering why I got my other paperwork from Tesla so late. The cover letter was dated around the time I sent the email to my DS. Either Tesla forgot to send the paperwork to the Ohio DMV, or the Ohio DMV is slow as Hell and Tesla sent me that paperwork as an email response/courtesy.

I'm not sure who to blame here... Tesla or Ohio. Honestly, it wouldn't be a stretch to blame Ohio, I think. But IF this was a result of Tesla's negligence, then this will be my first major negative mark against the company.

We'll see this week, I suppose.