Since many of us have had to cancel trips due to the coronavirus, it seems to be a good time to step back and check out a 115,000 mile Tesla Model 3 review from our CleanTechnica friend, Arthur Driessen. Driessen has been exploring the US in his long-range, rear-wheel drive Model 3 since he purchased it in late April 2018. He has traveled coast to coast and border to border, enjoying the beauty of the terrain and savoring his all-electric driving experiences. Living vicariously through Arthur’s Tesla Model 3 travels and assessments may be just the right thing for us now. We’re committing to social consciousness by self-isolating to committed to slowing the spread of COVID-19, but let’s step away from this moment in time and imagine touring around the US in a Model 3, shall we?
Driessen’s video story has several focuses. He looks at how his Tesla Model 3 has handled various terrain types and seasons; its range; battery degradation; the North American charging network; service needs; storage area inside the car; and Autopilot + Navigation. Here goes.
Seasons & Terrain
Traversing through Native American reservations and mountainous regions that usually require 4-wheel drive capability, Driessen often exceeded the typical usage of the all-electric car. He said the Model 3 “amazed me every time. I’ve been in some pretty sticky situations, and it’s gotten me out of them every time.”
The Model 3 didn’t let snow stop it, either.
With service consisting partially of 2 control arms replaced — “which were self-inflicted” due to off-roading, rough roads, and plowing through streams at the Bonneville Salt Flats — Driessen feels that the “car is amazing.”
The Bonneville Salt Flats, according to the Utah travel industry, is “a place so flat you seem to see the curvature of the planet, so barren not even the simplest life forms can exist.”
Driessen encountered winds at 60 mph that “opened the door up, just grabbed it.” Those winds required him to head to a Tesla service center for a new part to a door hinge.
His first set of tires lasted 13,000 miles, while the next set of Pirellis lasted 20,000 miles. “I drive it heavy, I drive it off-road, I drive in different terrains.” He’s accepted that his driving style requires more frequent tire changes than the typical Model 3 owner.
Battery Range & Degradation
“I have not lost much battery at all. I’ve always kept it at 310 miles range,” he explains, regardless of over-the-air updates provided by Tesla. “I charge between 30–70% most times. If there’s another charger close enough where I can get to about 70%, then I don’t go above 70%. I have found that keeping it in that range has made my battery last.”
“The charging infrastructure throughout the Americas is really, really good. Through the majority of the States, I haven’t had any issue at all. The only issues I have had is when I get into the more obscure areas like the borders.” He visited Texas Big Bend National Park, where thousands of archaeological sites hold remnants of the material remains of 10,000 years of Native American occupation. He ranged to northern Minnesota and Montana. At these 3 locations at or near national parks, Driessen had to slow charge.
He did discover that, “in North Dakota, there aren’t any chargers.”
With the combination of slow and CHAdeMO chargers, he’s been able to travel across the entire US on battery only. “I’ve never run out. So I hope this gives you a little bit of confidence when you’re traveling.”
If you’re wondering about Driessen’s charging costs, “with Supercharging, I average everything out at about 6 cents per mile, or $6000 per 100,00 miles.”
Autopilot & Navigate
“Autopilot is the reason I bought the car,” he revealed. Driessen’s “pushing point” was the Tesla tech that “allowed me not to drive. It works almost flawlessly on highways.” Of course, he pays attention for cross-lane traffic when not on highways and for emergency vehicles.
On the highways, Navigate on Autopilot is available on the Model 3. “It drives almost as seamlessly as a driver.” He doesn’t use Autopilot on city streets, as it doesn’t recognize stop lights or stop signs, he says. (Note: “version 3” hardware retrofits are now being released which will eventually make this Navigate on Autopilot available on city streets.)
To illustrate, on a 180 degree curve in Rocky Mountain National Park, Driessen was “absolutely amazed when we took it” using Navigate on Autopilot. A 90 degree curve in Cedar Point, Ohio? “It handled it like a champ.”
The Model 3 fits “a ginormous amount of stuff in the car!” Driessen exclaims. See for yourself.
There aren’t many people like Arthur Dreissen whose music and technical careers allow him the flexibility to tour the US, savor his Tesla Model 3, and experience life to its fullest. But we thank you, Arthur, for sharing your experiences with us.
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