New Toy

I think this is the second most expensive thing I've ever bought, the first being my flat.

So my golf was getting on a little bit still running fine but starting to need more than rudimentary swap all the fluids wipe it with a wet towel and call it good maintenance so I figured time to investigate replacing it. Since I was thinking of getting something newer and better I thought well why not try out some EV's and so I drove a few the Chevy bolt the Nissan and so on. I also tried the Tesla Model 3 which is a very fun car.

So I decided to get one and was in the tesla shop on Santana Row (an upmarket fancy one could say hoity toity shopping street in San Jose) looking at the colours and such. The guy I test drove with sees me and engages me in talk I comment on how I would like a red one but the paint is quite expensive (an extra 2k) he comments on a promotion on the long range all wheel drive model that if I agree to take one "next day" they will write off the cost of the paint.

As it turns out they don't have any in red (first choice) or blue (second choice) with the white interior I wanted. They did have black which I do like a lot but that's the free colour. So they found me a black long range all wheel drive with the white interior and 19" sport tires.

I don't care about sport tires but they were free and I could get the thing the next day so I agreed filled out the paperwork paid the deposit and then raced home to get my current car ready for trade in.

Saturday came and they said "delivery Wednesday" I didn't mind this so long as I got the free tires but no one was talking the email to the guy who sold it to me didn't reply. Sunday rolls round and I get a bunch of texts from the sales man who says he doesn't know what went wrong and he is "sorting it out" I play some games with rob as is our wont of a sunday and then around 4pm I get a call from a guy saying he's on his way with my new car and will be there inn 11 min.

I find all the various documents and dust off my checkbook and he turns up shortly. I fill out a large number of forms and a check he drives off with my golf and leaves me this little beauty

I've taken it out on a little test drive to see how it handles and it's a fun car to drive. My one is basically the mid range model with 310 mile range all wheel drive something around 360 hp and buckets of torque from stand still. It'll supposedly do 0-60 in 4.5s I know that it just accelerates like crazy. I went for the full self driving package which allows it to do things like navigate on freeways entry to entry changing lanes as needed with gps essentially automatically and self park and a few other tricks. I tried it on my little test drive down the 280 took a while to get used to it but it does work.

The power of the thing compared to the old golf (which had a mere 175hp) is just incredible, getting used to the regenerative breaking is going to take some doing. Set on it's default mode you take your foot off the accelerator and the car just stops quite rapidly. You can probably get away with just a single peddle in most traffic conditions. I'll see what it's like with charging etc currently it has 170 miles left in the battery so I don't need to juice it up for a while my work is pretty close. There are chargers at work and in my complex so I'll have no issue with plugging it in.

Inside is very minimalist just a large tablet like screen and some little scroll wheels on the steering wheel and that is basically it which I quite like a lot of cars have buttons and knobs an dials and lights and handles and spigots all over the thing. This is just clean and simple everything on the tablet. The seats are comfy motorized and heated in the front, just heated in the back. It's a synthetic leather called "Vegan" leather (made of vegans I assume). There is also the glass roof which is made up of three panels so basically from bonnet to boot is mostly glass it's wonderfully open with the top parts tinted to keep the sun off but you can see out above you.

It has quite a lot of storage space with the lack of a fuel tank and such it has a front boot with enough space for a small suitcase or some shopping. Currently the charger cable is there. The boot is fairly spacious with a section under the main floor with more room the back seats will do a 60/40 split giving you more space. It looks like it's a hatch back but it isn't it's actually a saloon the boot entrance is fairly narrow but for most things it would work fine but you're unlike to be putting things like furniture in it or what have you.

So far I'm very happy with the process and think I made a good decision with this purchase.


I'll be interested to see how you get on with the self-driving toys. Gill's new car has cruise-control, and even not pressing the accelerator makes her stressed!

babychaos's picture

BLOODY EXCELLENT and thank you for the photo. For those reading this, I was QUITE insistent that the dude delivering took a picture of EMW next to it.

brainwipe's picture

Yeah the self driving is pretty stressful, you're conditioned to make sure you are always in control and such and basically doing a "JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL!" doesn't come naturally. I tried it out on the freeway and after I stopped panicking and taking back control it did work pretty well sticking to the middle of the lanes even changing lanes when I prompted it or automatically via gps. The very low level traffic aware cruise control is the easiest bit to deal with in that case it drives to the set speed limit but will brake and such if there are cars in the way and maintain a set user specified distance from the car in front. The auto steer is going to take some getting used to.

Evilmatt's picture

Another weird new thing with this car is that it has no conventional keys. Instead it primarily uses your phone as the key and remote. As a backup and for instances like valet parking it has a card that if waved at the B pillar will lock or unlock and then there is a place under the arm rest where it sits to enable driving.

In terms of locking or unlocking it is supposed to do that automatically with the phone which is going to take a bit of getting used to just wandering off and assuming it will lock itself (it does beep to indicated it's locked up) just one more little thing to get used to.

Evilmatt's picture

Tried out the auto park mode, it's a little picky about what it will designate a space. In either the parallel or normal reversing in to a space parking it requires cars either side of the space to give it the bounds. You have to drive past slowly until it detects an appropriate space and then you stop hit the reverse and then press a button. Then away it goes the wheel spinning madly as it lines itself up. In the two or so test we did in the office carpark it worked pretty well it was a little hair raising but seemed fairly good at getting into the space. Later that evening I used it to back the thing into a charge station space it slid in between another tesla and a BMW i3 with it nice and square plenty of room either side.

It's a neat little trick to have it just back itself into a space on it's own at the moment it can do it better than me because I'm still getting used to the size of the thing and it's handling, long term I don't see myself using it much. I can see the auto parallel parking being more useful as I tend to cock that up or at least spend ages inching slowly closer to the curb till I just give up. Having that automated would seem useful.

Evilmatt's picture

Tried out the Supercharging last night it's interesting as there's no interface as such you just pull up plug in and away it goes recognising the car and then billing you via your tesla account. Pretty quick stopped for maybe 15-20minutes and put 13kw or 50 miles into the battery for 3.77 . The station is in a supermarket carpark with a bunch of restaurants so I can see stopping there going shopping or grabbing a bite while the thing charges up.

Super charging is quite a lot faster than the regular l2 chargers about the place but I'm still not sure if using them regularly is likely to fuck up the battery. I've seen lots of noise about how regular supercharging will ruin the battery and then others saying it's fine. There was some stuff on a fleet company who had a model s and were seeing quite a lot of degradation because of supercharging but the details there showed not only were they doing multiple supercharges a day the were juicing it up to 100% charge which you are supposed not to do in normal daily operation only rarely for long trips.

Once I can charge at work I'll probably do that the chargers at the flats seem to always be blocked by people with petrol cars parking there the only one they don't do that to is also a disabled space which I have been tempted to use but I'm not sure if I'll get a ticket. I might see if some of the other buildings have ones free or enforce some sort of ev charging only for their chargers.

The sort of miles I do most of the time mean I can probably get away with a single supercharge for a week or maybe two if I'm not being a bit crazy with the go pedal and I figure that's not likely to do any damage.

I figured it was going to be an adjustment from having a petrol car with that I would empty the tank as much as possible roll into the petrol station on fumes if possible and then fill it up. With an EV it seems to be just topping it up regularly when ever you have the opportunity keeping it between the 80-20 % or even 70-30% and only going to the extremes very rarely.

Evilmatt's picture

I find the new tactics fascinating; it's a whole different ball game. If When they put kerbside charging in across the UK (only London and Manchester Burroughs have them last I checked) then it's going to make a big difference to me. I won't need to worry about someone tripping on a wire. The range is more than enough, 300 miles would sort me out for about 2 months!

brainwipe's picture

Just got back from the factory tour out in Fremont. Fascinating experience I took three of my colleagues with me and the tour itself was only three other people, there was a fourth but he had failed to read the dress code requirements of having trousers not shorts. I think tesla missed a trick here they sold tesla shirts jackets and hats but no tesla trousers they could have stung him for a pair of those if they'd been thinking things through.

We walked into the massive building which originally was a joint general motors and toyota plant and takes up 370 acre plot of land in Fremont just about 10 to 20 min drive up the 880 from where I work. To get around it we rode in these little tram cars weaving through the various stations as a constant stream of parts and pieces and cars in various states of assembly rolled by. First we saw parts of the model S and model X production line which is common with the aluminium parts in massive racks all around being riveted and welded together by robots. After that we got to see one of the many metal presses that stamp out the various parts from the raw aluminium sheets. Most of the presses were four stage with four different dies that the metal was stamped in with robots putting the metal in and moving it from one stage of the press process to the next. We saw one that had just had the dies changed and a guy was operating an overhead crane with a remote to move the previous dies out of the way stacked in front of the thing massive multi tonne blocks of metal. The machine we saw operating was stamping out some sort of internal part it wasn't clear what it was a sort of slim slightly curved part maybe a top of the frame or part of the front hard to tell. It was likely an S or an X part as they told us the model 3 presses were in a different area which was too crowded and tightly packed for the tour tram to visit.
We next saw the biggest press which was something like two to three stories tall and again four stages, it wasn't running at that time but supposedly when it is it churns out one piece of the car every 6 seconds.
Next was the inspection area where parts stamped out that are surface pieces were checked any defects or burs were fixed by sanding and buffing etc to get the surface nice and smooth. They also showed us a huge stack of rigs to check the part was correctly stamped and bent etc with a series of shapes and clamps that would align on the correctly made part they said they run this every new part.
After that we saw the motor assembly section where they made the motors for the S/X we saw a tray of rotors from inside that were waiting to be put into motors. A lot of the body parts are stamped out but a smaller number are cast or extruded from aluminium these were all around in massive towers of crates full of all the bits needed to make the cars.
We went through the area where robots were welding together parts to make the various sub assemblies and then bigger and bigger robots as the car came together.
Next we went to where the Tesla model 3 line was this had much greater density than the S/X line with more robots on the ground on the side hanging from the ceiling and multiple levels with the cars going up and down to move between stations. It was a very intricate dance of robots moving in and out around each other putting in parts welding glueing and riveting them together then the car moves on. As the cars got more finished they get heavier and the robots to move them became bigger. Also the number of people directly involved increases the car bodies were on moving conveyors that just continually rolled slowly through as people put in the wiring harnesses the parts of the dash and glass and so on. When they would get to the end of a conveyor they had a robot pick the car up from it's stands on the moving surface turn it around put it in a roof storage area and then another robot took it down and put it on another moving conveyor aligning it with the stands without the conveyor stopping and then get out of the way as it rolls on.
We saw the hvac being fitted this required a lot of work down inside the front of the car the workers were on seats on arms that they rotated in to the front of each new car then the seat rolled along next to it as they fitted the parts when they were done they pulled back out of the way the seat rolled back down the line they grabbed the next part as they went past and pivoted over into the front of a new tesla as it rolled on.
Automated carts moved various parts including almost whole cars. When they were installing the seats into the S/X's the carts rolled up with the seats then headed of to get new ones. Each of the seats being the correct one for that car since the colour and fabric is an option we saw the white seats roll past and black seats after going to the vehicle that needed them. Tesla is unique of auto manufacturers in that it makes its own seats in another factory near that one all of the other manufacturers buy their seats from one of four companies that specialize in car seats.
We saw the battery unit without the batteries being assembled then sent off to be filled with batteries then later coming back down from above to be put into one of the new S/X's. We saw where they assembled the dash unit for the S/X with it's two displays being installed. Then we saw the finished cars rolling off the line to be finished tested and approved before being sent off to their owner.
One thing that we saw that was pretty interesting was that one of the cars that rolled past was a right hand drive obviously destined for somewhere like the UK or New Zealand or Australia or one of the other right hand drive countries. It makes it clear that there currently is only factory in the world that makes Tesla's so all of them come out of that plant.
It was a really fun tour to see those cars running through in that enormous plant the huge number of robots either assembling or pressing or moving stuff around. It was an impressive bit of engineering getting all the various pieces together putting them together.

Of the people on the tour my three guests were the only non tesla owners and it's a nice perk to be able to visit the factory see how they make the things. It seems like at least one of the people I took with me is probably going to get one themselves as they already have a test drive of a model 3 booked and have been very curious about my car and it's features so I've done my bit to promote the brand. Plus if they use my referral code I get some free supercharging :D

Evilmatt's picture

Oh and when I was getting into the car when leaving the Tesla factory I got a notification that I had a software update. So this is the first time I've had a car update its software after I bought it and of course it did this update over the air rather than requiring I bring it to a dealer.

Evilmatt's picture

Throughout this, I had a flashback tingling from Satisfactory and then this really hit me...

motors for the S/X we saw a tray of rotors from inside that were waiting to be put into motors

I love the ballet of robots that build cars. Just in time manufacturing really is a modern marvel.

brainwipe's picture

I've managed to convince a work colleague to get one too through cunning guile and letting him ride in mine :D

He took delivery of his this week basically the same as mine but in grey and because he used my referal code I get 5000 free supercharger miles and am entered into a draw to win a free model y or roadster

He didn't have quite as smooth an experience as I did with some bits initially not working correctly indeed for most of this week the car has been listed as "ordered but not delivered" even though he has it and has been driving around in it. This seemed to mean the autopilot didn't engage, you can't book it for service via the app, and most bizarrely you couldn't enable cabin overheat protection. It was also running an older version of firmware which was a bit odd (two revs old at that point)

Nearly all of this got fixed after a few days although his autopilot doesn't have the option to change lanes without asking despite being the same version of firmware as mine which is a bit odd.

For the amount of money tesla's cost you would think things should be smooth and easy but that seems not to be the case. IT also seems like they are cheaping out on a few things on the current models little things like I got a usb cable that will connect my phone to the car for charging for free he didn't, my charger came with both 120v plug and 240v plug he just got the 120. I get that tesla are trying to save money to keep things running but still

Evilmatt's picture

It is always possible staff are preying on people not knowing they are meant to get them and the pinching them or just an honest mistake ... did he ask and get told explicitly the cable and plug aren't provided anymore?

Bigger Rob's picture

It's possible maybe the tesla staff are supplementing their income by flogging stolen usb and charger cables on ebay. He did ask about it and got told they don't give those things away for free anymore (but then got given the usb cable for free anyway although not the charger plug).

With most of these things it's not that big a deal usb cables are not expensive (although you do need a specific right angled slim one to fit in the cars phone stand thing which bumps it up a little from generic cable price) most people in the us don't have the 240v socket without paying to get it installed (it's sometimes used for dryers and such) and the cable is about 30 bucks to buy having an electrician install a plug is going to be more than that and if you go that route you can get a tesla charger installed for probably similar money which has the native tesla plug on it.

It just seems penny pinching

Evilmatt's picture