Published on October 14th, 2016 | by Zachary Shahan0
“Getting Ready For Model 3” — 15 Highlights From First ⅓ Of First Tesla Model 3 Book
October 14th, 2016 by Zachary Shahan
Hundreds of thousands of people are eagerly awaiting their Tesla Model 3 affordable supercars. Some of them are EV enthusiasts (okay, let’s be honest — fanatics) who want every detail they can find about the car. Some are actually electric vehicle virgins who need to learn a thing or two about charging and living with an EV before they take delivery. Getting Ready for Model 3 is a superb book for both of these populations.
Our friends at EV ANNEX were kind enough to send review copies over before the book was even announced, and I’ve been trying to squeeze in some reading following the birth of our second daughter — while on the playground, in transit, feeding our 2-year-old, etc. After getting ⅓ of the way through the book, I already feel like I have to write one review article. Well, it’s really a “highlights” article.
As I wrote at the top, the book is genuinely for both EV fanatics and EV newbies. Below are 15 highlights that jumped out to me from the first ⅓ of the book.
1. In the preface, Roger Pressman (a co-founder of EV ANNEX and author of the book), used a great metaphor to ease people’s nerves and offer an easier way to visualize where we are headed:
“If you’ve never owned an electric vehicle before, some of the things you learn may seem slightly daunting. Don’t let the new jargon, technology, and changes intimidate you. Think about it this way: Perhaps you were initially a bit uneasy ditching DVDs for Netflix — ‘why can’t I just pop in the DVD, it’s so much easier.’ But once you got used to the seamless user experience and ease of streaming movies, that old DVD technology felt dated … even antiquated.
“The same will happen once you take delivery of your Model 3. The learning curve might seem steep early on, but, soon … passing a gas station will surely feel like passing a Blockbuster video store — it will look like a relic from the past.”
2. We’ve tried in the past to explain the difference between energy and power, kWh and kW, in simple language — it’s a difficult task. Roger does a superb job on pages 19–20 explaining what amps, volts, kilowatts, and kilowatt-hours are. I’d recommend having a close look whether you know the differences or not — if the former, it could help with your own future explanations of the terms.
“[The Tesla Model 3 is] the most intriguing auto story since the Model T, and Elon Musk is the boldest American auto entrepreneur since Henry Ford.”
That’s from The Detroit News!
There are several reasons for the statement, but Roger follows up with an interesting statement on the revolutionary approach of the design/style: “in most cases, $35K conventional ICE cars are easy to spot — the design is often derivative and the look tells you that you’re near the bottom of a premium manufacturer’s line-up.” That’s just one of the bold elements of the car.
Roger, his son Matt (another EV ANNEX co-founder), CleanTechnica author and photographer Kyle Field, and I discussed this quite a bit at the unveiling on March 31. The car was — is — stunning. We kept hearing people (including ourselves) say that it had a bit of a Porsche look, as well as some signature Tesla styling of course. Roger noted that it also brought in some Aston Martin design elements — if you’re not a car dude, note that Aston Martins are even more exclusive than Porsches, and are especially known for their beauty.
4. I have to set aside one point to express my happiness that the book is full of photos our own Kyle Field took for CleanTechnica. As you’ve probably seen, Kyle and I were the only bloggers or journalists standing on the Model 3 test track on March 31 — where we were positioned for ~2 hours taking photos and shooting video. The lighting was difficult, but also cool and special, and I think Kyle and I will be grateful for the rest of our lives that we were lucky enough to be there on that momentous occasion and to catch photos that could go down in the history books of the automotive industry.
5. Roger again pulled out a beauty of a quote, this time from Motor Trend, about the superb Model 3 styling:
“Our always thoughtful Reynolds remarked that the Model 3 is a ‘well-metered blend of classical automotive cues and future-car fantasies. The nose has attitude and its flanks are streaked with athletic, visual tendons — but it’s the tall greenhouse and glass-bubble roof that will define this car. This is not another slot-window sedan saying ‘Don’t see me.’ The Model 3’s square yards of glazing shatter that isolation, opening you to the whole, passing world. Taken together, its this new visual vocabulary for the modern electric car.’ “
6. Roger discusses details of the unique Model 3 nose on pages 26–27 as well, including how it might help with vehicle efficiency, cost, and range (a topic he apparently dives more deeply into later in the book … but I’m not there yet). He writes:
“I lean towards commenters who argue that the nose has a Porsche-like look to it. That’s certainly a compliment for a car in this price range.
“The Model 3 nose design is easier to fabricate (one metal stamping) and has fewer parts, connectors, and complexity than a typical grilled fascia. Bottom line, it’s less costly, and because Tesla Motors has committed to the $35K base price, less costly is good.
“There’s another possible reason for the bobbed nose. As you’ll learn in Chapter 4, the range of a BEV is very important, and one of the most important factors that affect range is ‘drag’ — the degree to which a car moves through the air in front of it. Some argue that the slight nose bob helps Tesla achieve a remarkable drag coefficient of 0.21. I’ll discuss drag in greater detail in Chapter 4.”
Hmm, enticing. I’m eager to get to that section, but I first need to finish this article! (I think I’ll probably get to that section while on the plane to Florida for the coming EV Summit, where I’ll be presenting and moderating panels. Matt Pressman will also be there, by the way, if you want to chat with him a bit about his experience inside the Model 3 on unveiling night.)
7. Another unique design feature Roger begins discussing in this section of the book (page 27) is the glass roof. He writes, “When I had my test ride in Model 3, it was night, but even so, the roof is startling. It’s almost as if you’re in a convertible, but without the wind noise. … There is a structural cross member at the B-pillar location that separates the front glass windshield from the rear glass, but otherwise, the roof represents a panoramic view of the sky.”
That sounds beautiful. Can you think of any car (let alone a $35,000 car) that compares? I can’t wait to have a ride in scenic California or Florida!
8. The glass roof may not be all unicorns and rainbows, though. Still, that doesn’t mean you need to stress. Roger notes that the replacement cost for such a piece of glass probably wouldn’t be cheap, and that there’s a chance it could let in too much heat in hot and sunny climates.
“Luckily, almost every auto insurance policy covers windshield glass without a deductible.” Sounds like that concern is easy to solve.
And regarding the second one: “my experience driving a Model S with a panoramic glass roof in South Florida indicates that the second concern is minor.” From posts I’ve seen on the Tesla Motors Club forum on this topic, that seems to be the clear consensus.
9. On page 32, Roger makes another interesting and uplifting technical observation. Riding in the back seat of this rather small sedan felt surprisingly more spacious than you’d expect for such a car — even at 6’2”. There are couple of unique technical solutions Roger identified as the reason for that, and they stem from one of the benefits of electric cars, unsurprisingly — no need for a firewall between an explosive engine and the front driver and passenger area. (There’s also a useful diagram in the book for this explanation.)
10. HVAC surprise: Something I hadn’t heard before, not even from Roger or Matt right after the test ride (or maybe I forgot), is this interesting tidbit about the normally uninteresting HVAC system:
“During my test ride at the Model 3 launch event, a Tesla engineer indicated that traditional heating/venting and air conditioning (HVAC) vents would not be used and would be replaced by long venting slots that run along the bottom of the windshield and under the dash. Details are sketchy, but expect something new.”
11. The display tech and possibility of a heads-up display (HUD) has been a hot topic regarding the Model 3 since the unveiling … or even longer. Roger had some interesting thoughts on what might actually be in store: a wide screen showing video displays from various cameras that replace side and rear-view mirrors. There’s a whole page on this, including a speculative sketch. It seems logical, but we’ll have to wait to see if Roger nailed this one or was daydreaming a little too much.
12. Sprinkled throughout the book are fun and interesting tweets from @evannex_com. One on page 39 really seemed worth highlighting:
“Gasoline has 100x the energy density of a Lithium ion battery, BUT electric motors are 80% efficient, while an ICE is 20% efficient #ElectricMotorsRule”
13. One-pedal driving as a result of regenerative braking is one of the biggest consumer benefits of EVs, and Roger did a great job of summarizing that from the user angle for anyone not in the know:
“Braking will be gentle, but noticeable. After about a week of driving, you’ll be totally used to the phenomenon, and after a few weeks, you won’t know how you lived without it.”
14. Roger also explained in a more technical way how regenerative braking actually works:
“When the Model 3 electric motor receives electrical energy as input from the battery, it converts the energy derived from an electromagnetic field into mechanical energy transmitted by the motor’s rotor. This provides torque — rotational force — that causes the drive wheels of a vehicle to rotate. Stated more succinctly, if input to the motor is electrical energy, output will be mechanical rotation or torque. But if the electrical input stops, the mechanical rotation derived from the [kinetic energy (KE)] is used as input. The motor becomes a generator and produces electrical energy as output. Model 3 slows as KE is transformed into electrical output, and regenerative braking occurs.”
15. Safety, safety, safety — it is one of the things about Tesla’s vehicles that I think hasn’t been highlighted enough, and it is perhaps their #1 selling point. After highlighting the record-shattering safety of the Model S, Roger made an obvious point that I think I haven’t seen elsewhere:
“it is likely that [Model 3] will be the first moderately priced sports sedan that will achieve a five-star safety rating in every category tested by the NHTSA.”
That would be stunning, wouldn’t it? And yet not surprising.
Yep, I definitely encourage you to head over and buy or read a free chapter of Getting Ready for Model 3.
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