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A Tesla Model 3 in Texas. Photo by Vijay Govindan, CleanTechnica.


20 Things I Discovered I Love About My Tesla Model 3

Before we begin, I wanted to give an update for Elon Musk on the Tesla Model A my youngest daughter designed.

Before we begin, I wanted to give an update for Elon Musk on the Tesla Model A my youngest daughter designed.

Dear Elon,

My name is A. Last time my dad wrote you I didn’t get a response. I wait patiently. I made some modifications to my Tesla Model A. As you may recall, my sister’s name starts with an S, so she has the Tesla Model S, so I would like a Tesla Model A. Dad tells me the Model A may not arrive for a few years. I said tomorrow, but he didn’t listen.

Now, the Model A will be [should be] as big as a fort house that turns into a car. It can fly, too. It will have big wheels to move around. Like all Teslas, it will be fast. Like me, it will be compact and sporty. Because it will only cost $29.26, it will be affordable for everyone. Dad confirmed with me there are no thousands here. My older sister wanted the cents to be a multiple of 13, her lucky number. Since I like her most of the time, I agreed.

Look forward to meeting and speaking with you. Please save me an engineering or designer spot at Tesla when I am old enough. SpaceX is pretty cool, too. I like my dad reading “Elon Musk This Book is About Rockets” to me.

With love,

Here’s a model of the Tesla Model A she designed:

On to our actual Tesla Model 3.

It has been three months since we bought our discontinued Tesla Model 3 Long Range with black paint. I wanted to share my impressions of things that need improvement and things I love. The list was limited to 20 since there are so many little things I love that would make this piece a tl;dr novella.

Tesla Model 3 Long Range

1. Tesla opens the door for you with your phone

The 2013 Tesla Model S was the first car to do it. No other car to date outside other Tesla’s does it. Considering all Tesla’s are big computers on wheels, this is astonishing no other manufacturer has this feature. It is truly excellent software programming and integration. That it happened with archaic Bluetooth standards in 2013 shows how far ahead of the game Tesla is today.

See Motor Trend

2. Tesla turns the car on without a physical key or start button

I recently gave two co-workers a test drive. They asked me if the car is on. I said yes. If I had said “Tesla Engage,” they would have been blown away.

Note to Elon: this would be a great Easter Egg.

Driver presses speaker button and says “Tesla Engage”
Tesla responds: “[Your Model 3 name] now engaged”

Again, we find from Motor Trend that the Tesla Model S was the first car to have this feature, no non-Tesla does it.

3. Tesla is super quiet and does not rattle

The reason my co-workers did not know my car was on was because all Teslas, and EVs more generally, are super quiet.

This might be my favorite feature of the car. Even having lived with gasoline cars for 18 years, the quiet and lack of rattle quickly becomes addictive.

4. Auto-folding mirrors!

If you are moving from a normal econobox appliance to something a cut above, you don’t know what to expect. One of the things that delights us about the 3 is the auto-folding mirrors. These are GPS linked to your house.

My garage entry is very tight. I always have to close the minivan’s mirrors. When I exit the garage in the 3, the mirrors are already folded. When I come to the end of my street, they make a sound like a whirring of gears, like an airplane landing gear unfolding when you land.

When I come back home, they fold back. It’s such a small thing, but ensures I enter the garage quickly and easily. It’s a relief and saves you a few seconds of aggravation a day.

5. Homelink integration automatically opens and closes garage

One of the other features that is great is the auto open and close of the garage system, if you have Homelink integration. It so smoothly opens the door when you come home and there are no worries about closing the garage when you leave. Again, it’s not a big thing, just a nice touch.

6. Sublime speaker system

If you have a quiet car, what do you do? Crank up the music 🎶 inside. My 3 has an excellent speaker system. I almost cried inside my 3 for the first time when I recently discovered Lindsey Sterling. Nothing else, not even delivery of the car, evoked such emotions. These pieces showcase her mad violin skills with a good thumping of bass. They are my go-to pieces when I take people for test rides.

Try the following Lindsey Sterling pieces in this order:

Song of the Caged Bird
Master of Tides
Take Flight

When you are done, check out some of her YouTube videos where she dances and plays at the same time. “Master of Tides” is good for that too.

7. Autopilot brakes, stops, and accelerates by itself on local roads

As many of you know, when we bought our 3, we decided on Full Self Driving (FSD) for safety and future tech. My wife was dead-set against a cheaper 3 without FSD, and she said if we were buying such a premium car, she wanted the range and features. That’s fair. Happy wife, happier life, I have heard.

I use Autopilot on local feeder roads to commute. These are roads that go up to 60 mph next to major highways and have traffic lights at major intersections. The ability of Autopilot to slow down, stop when the next car stops, and resume when the next car goes in heavy traffic is revolutionary. I have shown multiple people that Autopilot feature and they are always stunned silent. You don’t expect a gas car to do that on local roads. That it can detect intruding traffic so naturally and slow down is priceless. It gives the driver an extra set of helping hands while driving.

Request: Please keep your hands on the wheel while using Autopilot. We don’t have full 100% FSD yet.

8. Navigate on Autopilot is a real life roller coaster

Initially, Navigate on Autopilot was bad. I had to remain ready to brake and jerk the car over onto a highway exit or missed flyover.

Over the last three months of OTA software updates, Navigate on Autopilot has improved, tremendously. On my way home from a friend’s house, Navigate on Autopilot handled three complex flyovers, at speed, flawlessly. It has gotten that good. I slowed it down to 55 to 60 mph, as some of the flyover’s are tall, and had my foot at the ready to brake. But the car got through just fine. Whew.

Real life roller coaster: Check

9. OTA updates give you a new car every few weeks

The speed of deployment of new software is astonishing. I now expect a new OTA update every two weeks. Included below are pictures of my latest OTA update, a big one, which I got earlier today. Later in the year, city driving and Autopilot response to traffic lights are coming. Every two weeks, I test out my edge cases. They slowly get better and disappear into expected behavior.

10. Rear camera is wide angled and provides a BIG view

When you are in a congested, multi-story parking lot, with big SUVs and trucks next to you, backing out of a spot is a hassle. My Model 3 makes it easy by using a wide-angle lens. I can see up and down the entire driving path. The large screen makes it easy to see detail.

Lately, I back into a spot. That works too. [Editor’s note: I almost always back in, because it is so easy with the camera and I prefer driving forward out of the parking space.]

The rear camera is the first I have seen where you can drive forward with the rear camera on. Always amazes guests that are not used to such functionality in other cars.

11. Tesla turns on the AC in the back when someone sits there

Speaking of the AC, I noticed that when you have a passenger sitting in the rear, if you turn on the front AC, it turns on the rear AC too. That is a stroke of genius. It’s a hidden, thoughtful gesture bound to be missed by many.

AC pro tip: Turn off your AC usage before exiting

I have noticed that AC usage results in about 10% drain compared to non-AC driving. Quite normal and expected. One thing I have done is turn off the AC before leaving the car (no Dog Mode needed for us). This seems to reduce phantom drain. When I enter I turn it back on.

12. Touchscreen handles four-fingered touch easier than my iPad

The iPad is an iconic Apple device, but I will state that my Tesla handles multi-touch better. Give Tesla maps a four-fingered twirl. You won’t believe how smooth and lag-free the screen rotates.

13. Kids’ favorite feature: Emissions Testing Mode

By far, the most favorite feature of my kids is Emissions Testing Mode. They are impressed a car engages in the same potty humor they love. It is the first feature they want to show fellow kids and a favorite to prank unsuspecting friends. A recent test drive with a passenger resulted in a video to show his daughter the feature and uncontrolled laughter.

14. Beach Buggy (but I’m afraid to play in my Model 3 for fear of ruining my tires*)

Part of an OTA update, we received Beach Buggy racing. You can move the steering wheel, hit the accelerator, and smash the brakes. As you move the steering wheel, the real front tires move too. This is great. It is greater now that we can play Beach Buggy with two controllers! Score! That will be on the shopping list. [*Editor’s note: Vijay was not aware of this, so suggested I add it after I told him: You can actually play via the touchscreen. There are buttons on the screen to tap for steering, braking, and special features. I also avoid playing with the steering wheel. Turning the wheels while not driving is akin to fingernails on a chalkboard for me. —Zach]

15. Very cool heating of all rear seats (but still too warm for heated seats)

Where I live, it gets hot. Not quite as hot as Vegas or Dubai, but hot enough. We won’t need to use the rear heated seats until winter. Nonetheless: Rear heated seats! My kids are overjoyed. Usually, only the front two seats are heated. Now, even the middle rear seat can get heat from seat to back. Beautiful feature.

16. Autopark is thrilling (… but scares me)

I admit — I scraped one if my rims trying Autopark. My Tesla got a little too close to the curb and another vehicle before I had to stop it. That was a few updates ago.

Recent updates have made Autopark harder to engage. What a rush when it works and a new person sits in the passenger seat. What seems like magic is a carefully orchestrated symphony of reversing, steering wheel turning, brakes, and moving forward. You never forget the first time you see it happen.

17. Summon is a cool party trick

Summon is a cool trick. Basic Summon makes the car go forward and backwards from your phone. If your garage is level with the street, Summon will open your garage before it gets out. My garage is above street level with a steep driveway. I almost smashed the car’s back window the first time I tried. I stopped trying it. 🙂

I do use my phone to open my garage via my Tesla. That’s handy. I really want to test out Enhanced Summon. One step closer to city driving.

18. Color of roof glass after rain is stunning

If you have never seen a Tesla after a rain shower, it is a delight to the eyes. The roof turns a beautiful red, orange, and yellow. No other stock car I know of does the same.

19. My electric bill went down after getting my Tesla

You can ask, Vijay, how is that possible? Simple. After getting my Tesla, I was so concerned about the potential charging cost that I switched to a “Time of Use” plan. Between peak hours, the cost is 15 cents per kWh. After peak hours, the cost drops to 6 cents per kWh. That’s when I charge my car. Nice. That’s step one.

Step two: I have my AC cool at 2:00 pm. This is one hour before peak charging. I raise the temp for cooling during peak hours. At 11:00 pm at night, I cool the house down again. It really works. Though, I wish my house was better insulated.

Step three: I had my AC serviced. As part of that process, they replaced my 100% clogged filters. Cha-ching! The AC works less now, and more efficiently — all because I wanted to charge my Tesla.

20. My Tesla costs less than $25 a month to charge

I don’t think it’s that much. I charge once a week, when my battery is less than 50%. According to StatsApp, my last charge added 39.17 kWh, or about 168 miles of driving range, and it cost me $2.76. That’s about $11 a month, about 95% less than if I ran the miles in my minivan.

Pro tip: Hand car washes recommended

The first time I visited a Tesla Service center, I asked the best way to wash a Model 3. They said hand wash, as the car was meant to move and not stay in neutral. I first spent $40 to get it hand washed at a local car wash. Too much, I thought.

In late July, I picked up a good hose and sprayer. Around $60. Money well spent. No ChemicalBros soaps or Adam puffy towels just yet.

Addendum: Jevons paradox

Jevons paradox is very much alive regarding Teslas. They are so enjoyable and cheap to drive that we drive them more often. The good news is we drive our gas cars less, and that’s good for everyone. Our next vehicle will again be 100% electric. I want to see if the Tesla Model Y or Model P (pickup) meets our needs.

Thanks for reading!

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Written By

Vijay Govindan is a Cleantechnica writer part-time. Through his writing Vijay seeks to elevate the realized potential of humankind. Against human trafficking. Tesla Model 3 LR owner. His claim to fame is Tesla and Elon have commented, liked or re-tweeted an article he wrote with the Tesla community. Just once. ;) #WeChooseTesla, #RenewableEnergy and #YangGang supporter. Long Tesla shares. Has a healthy skepticism of the Q branch of the Tesla investment community. Made it to one $tslaq block list. If you read this far, wow, 👏🏽 and 🙏🏽.


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