I’ve been driving my Tesla Model 3 Long Range for two years and 50,000 miles. I paid the $6,000 premium for Full Self Driving that it cost back then (it now costs $10,000). I constantly use every bit of Tesla’s driving automation that is available to me, in particular: Smart Cruise Control, Autosteer, Auto Stop at Stoplights and Stop Signs, and most pertinently — Navigate on Auto Pilot. Of the 40,000 miles I’ve driven, 10,000 miles were cross-country driving. Thank you, Tesla, for the enjoyment and utility I’ve experienced using your great automation. However, the automation is not perfect. Under certain circumstances, I need to intervene, mostly at predictable moments. Thank you, Tesla, nonetheless, for taking the risk of releasing the automation to me before you were able to make it perfect.
It’s almost September 1st, 2021, which brings me to the question of so called software V10+ with “feature complete” Navigate on Autopilot on City Streets. Tesla has promised to release this to all owners of post-2016 Teslas who have paid the Full Self Driving premium within four weeks. I paid the $6,000 premium with the expectation that I would get to use this software. Elon Musk has been promising this automation for several years, then months, then weeks, etc. I personally have been waiting for this software for two years.
Please, please, Tesla — do not delay the release of software V10 beyond October 1, 2021.
I expect V10 to be the biggest step forward in driving automation in history. If using Tesla’s current automation has been a thrill, I expect V10 to take us to nirvana. If V10 will allow me to navigate “Over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house” without intervention, I will not complain if it requires two interventions to drive across town to aunt Mable’s. I won’t complain if I have to manually drive some complex situations like unprotected left turns across an 8 lane city street and some complex rotaries/roundabouts.
I know it will not be perfect. I will drive poised like a hawk ready to intervene when it fails. I will use it safely just as I have done for 40,000 miles with the current automation. I also expect it to be safer and reduce navigation mistakes to zero. Please don’t delay the general release again!
Other experiences driving a Tesla Model 3 Long Range for 40,000 miles
The autosteer is a tremendous fatigue reducer for cross-country driving. The smart cruise control also reduces fatigue, particularly with stop-and-go in traffic jams where cars are creeping forward. Between autosteer and smart cruise control, the car is fully automated in a traffic jam.
My wife and I have been driving 500 miles/10 hours per day on long-distance trips for the last 15 years. Switching to a Tesla Model 3 Long Range from a gas car has not hindered our ability to drive 500 miles per day. We stop a little more often at the Superchargers, take a bathroom break, walk the dog, grab a bite to eat, and by the time we are done, the car is sufficiently charged. The battery charges faster from 20 to 70%, so we hardly lose time by stopping more frequently. We travel with a big electric bike on a tray-type bike rack on a 2” receiver in back, which reduces our range by, say, 20%.
I stop at almost every Supercharger. I put the next Supercharger location into the navigation and start charging. The navigation software tells me my expected battery state when I arrive at the next Supercharger. I charge until the expected battery state on arrival reaches ~30%. I may only need to charge to 75% to achieve this. Off I go and can drive 75 mph with no worries about range anxiety. No worries unless you run into a very strong headwind. For this reason, it is wise to be aware of the weather conditions. You might need to charge more if you anticipate strong headwinds, or slow down if they catch you by surprise. I only had this problem once in 40,000 miles. My solution was to draft close behind a big FedEx truck.
Ideally, you would stop for the night at a hotel with a destination charger, leave the car charging all night, and start the next morning with a full battery. Unfortunately, there are relatively few hotels that have destination chargers. Many hotels will not accept pets, so we seldom have been able to use a destination charger. This is an area of EV infrastructure this is in urgent need of upgrade. Do you remember when not every hotel had internet, and even if it did, it might not reach to your room. Now internet is a given, and I am hoping this will be the case soon with destination chargers. So, what do we do? We pick a hotel near a Supercharger. I drop my wife and dog off at the hotel and drive the few yards or miles to the Supercharger. Once I have enough charge to reach the next charger, I drive back to the hotel and we leave the next morning with a full battery.
Do not wait to charge until the next morning. When you arrive in the evening, the car has preconditioned the battery for fast charging. With the new 250 kW chargers, my Model 3 will charge at 200 kW or more for the first 10 minutes and then it tapers down, taking about 25 minutes for a typical charge. On my first long-distance trip with the Model 3 to Arches National Park and Moab in Utah, I waited to charge until the next morning after a bitter cold night. The car started charging at 15 kW. I moved to another charger, same problem. It took a long time for the battery to warm up and charge faster so that we could continue our trip.
Electric Car Charging in the Northwoods of Wisconsin
In the summer, my wife Mary and I live in Three Lakes Wisconsin, 224 miles north of Madison. It is just south of Eagle River, the “Snowmobile Capital of the World.” Our house is 25 ft from Laurel Lake and my competition waterski tow boat is another 20 ft down the pier (see photo below). We are on the Three Lakes/Eagle River chain of 29 lakes — “the largest chain of lakes in the world.” You can see the picture of me and my new Fantic Electric mountain bike in front of my Model 3 and our cabin above.
When I got my first EV with an EVSE cable with my 2018 Nissan Leaf, I called the Northern Lights electric company to see if I had 220V in my detached garage. Twenty minutes after they arrived, the electrician had installed a NEMA 14-50 outlet for $120 and I was all set for L2 charging at home. We are pretty much in a EV charging wasteland, but ironically the Three Lakes Winery in town has three Tesla destination chargers and a 1772 charger four miles from us. These chargers are used mostly for a little top off or emergencies as there is no hotel nearby.
What if we need to travel long distances? There are Tesla Superchargers 60 miles south in Wausau and 130 miles southwest in Eau Claire, with a new one going up in Menomonie, which will eliminate a slight detour en route to Minneapolis. Going south to Milwaukee and Chicago, we have Superchargers in Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Madison.
Until a few months ago, going north into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has been a challenge. You could get to Lake Superior and back to Ontonagon, and with a little ingenuity to the wonderful tourist town of Bayfield also on Lake Superior. Anything else was off limits, but just now when I needed to repair my Bulls e-bike, I was able go to Escanaba on Lake Michigan because of a brand new Supercharger there. There is also a brand new Supercharger in Marquette, again on Lake Superior. However, the whole Houghton/Copper Harbor Peninsula is still off limits without an overnight stay and a friend’s L2 charger.
Electric Charging in Southern Utah
We spent the last “COVID” winter in St. George, Utah. It is in the fabulous red rock, petrified sand dunes, and slick rock region of Utah. Snow Canyon State Park is four miles up the road from us, Zion National Park is 40 miles east, and Las Vegas is 120 miles southwest. There are two Superchargers in town and five in Las Vegas, including one with 24 stations. The little town of Beaver 104 miles north en route to Salt Lake City has a Supercharger with 32 stalls. The trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is long, but doable, with chargers in Page, Arizona, and at the Grand Canyon South Rim. The North Rim is out of reach without some ingenuity and an overnight stay.
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