Wylie, my white 2022 Tesla Model Y, is basically my everyday go-to-market, go-to-a-doctor’s-appointment car. Road trips of more than 30 miles are rare, so I don’t really spend a lot of time behind the wheel. Nor do I feel an overwhelming need to be entertained on those short trips. So, when I went on a 5 day road trip last week, that was an unusual occurrence. Here are a few things I learned along the way … and since then.
The Touchscreen Is Now A Hopeless Mess
I only had Wylie about a month when the latest software update was released. Overnight, the touchscreen I was used to was turned upside down, remixed, and reformatted into a strange new configuration. Sometimes updates are welcome, but in this case, the geniuses at Tesla seem to have gone out of their way to make changes that are senseless and unintelligible.
Let’s start with the seat heaters. They used to be displayed at the bottom of the touchscreen, but now they are hidden and you have to stumble through the options on the bottom bar to find them. If you set the climate controls to Auto, the car, not you, decides when to turn on seat heating or seat cooling. While in Auto mode, the seat heater controls are nowhere to be found. You have to disable the Auto setting in order to find them. This is beyond stupid.
In what alternate reality would the decision to turn on seat heaters be controlled by whether the driver wants to keep the cabin temperature at a constant temperature? And why do they begin at the highest setting, roasting your backside while you struggle through an array of screens trying to adjust them or turn them off? It’s as if a bunch of ‘Tesla engineers were sitting around one night after work while toking on a phattie and saying, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to hide the seat heater controls so people would have to search for them?” Additionally, the cabin temperature slide controls obscure the navigation screen, which annoys the driver.
Not funny, people. In fact, it’s lame. And that’s just the beginning. The volume control for the audio system is fine for the driver but very difficult to manage for the passenger. Unless the car is on a billiard-table-smooth road, trying to adjust the volume from the passenger seat often calls up other functions that then have to be dismissed.
Here’s another complaint. Calling up Superchargers along the way loads a screen that blocks the navigation screen. Even a dolt like me knows the nav screen could easily display Supercharger locations without blotting out everything else. Touching one of them could call up information that would help the driver decide where to stop. Maybe one is closer to a local attraction like the National Velvet Painting Museum, even though the Supercharger facility 15 miles further up the road is the optimal charging location.
Sitting around the amethyst-infused cafeteria on the 18th floor of CleanTehnica‘s global headquarters, we hear lots of complaints about the latest touchscreen programming. Some owners apparently now have their screen go black when they try to access Theater Mode, and no amount of fiddling or rebooting the computer will bring it back to life. Reportedly, Tesla’s service personnel are baffled by this behavior as well and don’t know how to fix it.
Having to take your eyes off the road to navigate the dizzying array of entertainment choices — which now shift around — is the opposite of intuitive operation. It is clunky, not user friendly, and dumb.
I was told before I bought my Model Y that Tesla has always been responsive to owner concerns, but this update has been out there for two months now and nothing has changed, despite a torrent of criticism. I want to set my climate controls to auto but not have my seat warmers activate on their own. And I don’t want my navigation screen obscured every time I adjust something. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is for the wizards at Tesla. My old Irish grandmother would say the people who created this most recent update were too clever by half. In this case, she would be correct.
A Wawa Update
Last week, I said some unkind things about Wawa, based on my recent experiences while charging near St. Augustine, Florida. I got an email from Lori Bruce, the public relations manager for Wawa, and she was very professional and polite, even though my review was anything but kind to her company. For the record, any PR person who wants to know how the job should be done would do well to emulate Ms. Bruce.
Because she was so good at her job, my wife and I visited the brand new Wawa store here in Fort Pierce. It has no Superchargers (or other EV chargers, sadly), but it definitely does offer a large selection of soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as many vegetarian selections for those who know life is not all about burgers. The store was scrupulously clean and the staff was busy preparing food to order for customers.
I cannot explain why the stores I visited last week did not seem to offer the same fresh food options, but in any event, I now have the Wawa app on my iPhone and will definitely make use of it on future road trips. Lori Bruce, you are a true professional and Wawa is fortunate to have you running point for their PR department. Well done!
EPA Range & Real-World Range
The current Model Y has a range of 326 miles according to the EPA. Most of you know that number means that if you start with a 100% state of charge, your battery will be at 0% SOC 326 miles later. Few people ever drive their electric cars until they stop running and few charge their batteries to 100%. Also, how far you can go depends a lot on speed, terrain, and temperature.
I also learned recently that it takes a long time to charge from 80% to 100%. In real-world driving, it is often faster to plug in at 10% and charge to 70% than it is to plug in at 30% and charge to 100%. Tesla drivers soon learn it may actually be faster to make two shorter stops to recharge than one long one. This is something you don’t read much about. You learn from experience.
You also learn that 20 to 30 minutes is the normal time for a charging event. Is that longer than just filling a gas tank? Yes, it is. But the benefits of being relaxed and refreshed when you arrive at your destination outweigh the few extra minutes you spend getting there in an EV. Rushing through life is not always the best — or safest — way to savor the experience.
Charging versus fill-up times are a false equivalency. Driving an electric car is different in many ways than driving a conventional car. You always arrive at your destination knowing that you have not left a miasma of fine particulates, carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and other poisons in your wake. The takeaway? Drive an electric car — preferably a Tesla. Be happy!
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