Well time to upgrade your car

When I got the Tesla model 3 I went for the Full Self Driving option which of course was somewhat speculative (end of 2019 at the latest said Elon ... still waiting on that :D) they've repeatedly changed what constitutes the "autopilot" as well as changing the cost (they are even talking about having it on a subscription model) and now parts of it come as standard with the base model with them offering things like enhanced self drive and full self drive packages for more cash at various points.

Autopilot base model does the traffic aware cruise control (maintains speed uses the cameras and radar to maintain distance and stop given a car in front) and autosteer (where it will keep itself in a lane automatically) you can enable it in levels just the cruise control or the cruise control and auto steer.

The FSD drive option adds a few features even without the future full self driving capabilities. Self parking parallel or normal (used it a couple of times requires two cars either side for normal parking or 2 front to back for parallel to situate the car so often that's not the case), "navigate on autopilot" the automatic lane change and motorway on and off ramp self drive via gps it will change lanes based on speed (used it occasionally the speed based lane change can be annoying), summon (allows you to remote control the car roll it forward or backward mostly for putting it into and out of a parking space or garage useful in tight spaces or if some arsehole parks too close and you can't get in just roll it forward and off you go) and enhanced summon where you hit the button and the car drives itself to you in a carpark completely ignoring any and all markings but hopefully dodging cars and pedestrians (tried it once or twice in the work carpark mostly when everyone had gone home quite frankly terrifying).

The computer in the Tesla has changed a few times and the current models use a proprietary tesla designed chip based unit called Hardware 3. My car didn't have that it was one of the last waves of the nvidia based hardware (Hardware 2.5) to roll off the line april of last year (hw3 came in early may a friend of mine who bought a model 3 just two weeks after me had hw3 from the get go).

the newer hardware is more powerful and will support the full self drive when (if) it comes out. Until recently the capabilities on both hw2.5 and hw3 model 3's were the same but slowly they have diverged and now the hw3 variants have a few extra tricks like being able to detect traffic lights and stop for them resume driving on green when on autopilot, see stop and speed limit signs (it already gets speed limits from gps anyway but I guess this allow it to detect different posted signs) and detect cones (although they did port that to hw2.5 a while back and then my car began seeing cones everywhere anything that's not a car truck or a person or a bike is a cone, poles - cone, bins - cone, sign - cone, bush - cone, traffic light - cone, the display was just covered in cones).

As part of the FSD "really this is a speculative loan to tesla" add on was the promise that they would at some point upgrade my old hardware for the new hardware to allow me to use the FSD "it's coming trust me - Elon" and this process was starting just as covid kicked in so took a bit of a back seat. However on monday I got the notification from tesla that my complimentary upgrade was now ready.

I booked in for today to have it done and the mobile service turned up about an hour ago and swapped out the computer.

The whole process was pretty smooth the guy arrived I parked the tesla next to him and then he swapped it out in about an hour. I took the car out to calibrate the cameras (it needs to do this before it will enable autopilot) and check it over it seemed to be working as well as before except now it could see traffic lights etc. I didn't try out the stopping for lights etc as it won't let you enable that on the road and I had to get back for a meeting but it was detecting them and indicating when they were green red etc.

Owning a car made by what is very much a tech company rather than a car company has been a bit weird good in some ways bad in other. Having quite frequent upgrades to the firmware with quite a few updates to functionality over the year or so I've owned the thing (stardew valley running on my car!) has been interesting. With a normal car company you almost never update the firmware and if you did you can bet it would require you bring it in and then pay them some fee for the privilege. The app on the phone is well designed and works well connectivity of the machine is reliable and well designed unlike some of the garbage old crap that you get in even quite expensive cars and their terrible apps.
The mobile service option is pretty good (although this is the first time I've used it my friend had a few issues and used the service for fixes and it worked well) for most minor fixes or changes it makes sense have them come to you fix the thing where ever you are parked is convenient and for more extensive work they have the normal service centers if you need it.

Where things fall down a bit is the support side of things can be a bit less reliable than the automaker counterpart and it's something they are working on. Parts for crashes was very bad a while back with people waiting months to get parts something they've worked hard to improve opening their own collision repair places rather than relying on third party. Some of the early model 3's had some quality control issues something they've mostly ironed out. Delivery is also sometimes a bit weird especially if you are doing something non standard.

So my car has been upgraded and fingers crossed it has been pretty painless with minimal work or time required on my part. The only thing I had to do was re do the wifi settings on it. And since I'm upgraded I'm ready for full self drive and it will be coming soon ... end of the year for sure this time right Elon?

Although given the times it's not like I'm going anywhere


I'd love to go electric but with money being tight, there's no on-street charging infrastructure and the future looking a little bleak; I'm going to keep hold of the horrid polluting little red car.

brainwipe's picture

Yeah electric isn't a cheap option even with the incentives and savings on fuel generally less maintenance costs etc. Charging was a concern of mine when I chose to switch to electric I live in an apartment so can't plug the thing in or get a charger installed and while there are some chargers in my apartment complex mostly people just park in them so they are never free to use. Luckily work installed some L2 chargers so back when we all were going to work I could just top up there. There are also l2 chargers near the supermarkets I tend to use. It is one thing that running an electric car is different from how I ran my previous petrol one, with that I would empty it down to fumes and roll into the petrol station preferably using momentum then fill it up again. With electric I just top up a little bit whenever I have the opportunity keeping it between 50 and 80% charge level most of the time.

Telsa's supercharger network is also a massive advantage for the brand and another reason I chose them over the competition. When you need to charge up you can hit one of those and quickly get up to 80% and the things are everywhere these days the network is constantly improving. Take a trip and you can be sure there will be a route with superchargers to keep you running and that's not always the case with the other manufacturers compatible DC fast chargers.

Electric cars are definitely not mass market option yet though the increasing competition and options are improving things and with new and improved battery technology it will hopefully get there in the next few years.

Evilmatt's picture

I did look at electric motorbikes... my typical motorbike journey was (not that I've ridden it for a couple of years) about 20 miles along motorway or main A-Roads...very rarely do I do significant distance. The cost of an electric bike is exhorbitant. My current motobike (Honda VFR-800) is at the pricier end of things, at £12k new. A basic "road" electric bike (not a scrambler or scooter) is about £20k. There is very little competition in the market...basically Zero and Energica.

The cheapest I found was the Energica Eva EsseEsse, which (apart from being remarkably hard to type), has a worryingly low range of "60-100" miles. Meaning I couldn't be sure of getting to Central London and back. It also weighs 260kg (about 30-40kg more than my current bike), so if for any reason it had a lie-down, I would have precisely no hope of getting it back upright.

babychaos's picture

Interesting I've seen a few things on electric motorbikes but much less than cars and I guess it makes sense given the constraints on a motorcycle.

The batteries are heavy my model 3 has a curb weight of 1800kg a good chunk more than a similarly sized petrol car. In a car since the weight is low (most electric cars use the skateboard design batteries in a big tray under the car drive motors on each end) this has some side benefits like nice handling and in the suv variants unlike their petrol counterparts they are very difficult to roll over (there are some fun safety videos of Model X's being shunted from the side tipping almost onto their sides then just rolling back onto their wheels) but I guess you can't do that in a bike and the energy to weight ratio starts to make any significant range unlikely.

In the cars that extra weight can still be an issue as they rely heavily, no pun intended :D, on the regenerative braking to assist in slowing that massive weight down as well as increase efficiency. Top the battery right the way up and your regen goes to nothing and suddenly you need to account for a longer stopping distance. Cold weather also causes this as when the battery is cold it can't accept as much charge (usually the battery management system will heat the battery to operational levels as you are going to mitigate this but starting up on a cold day with no preheat and your amount of regen will be much lower).

The current batteries in things like the tesla supposedly have an energy density of 260 Wh/kg with them aiming to get to 400 with the new battery tech they announced a while back using bigger denser cells. To put that in perspective petrol has an energy density of 12500Wh/kg now that doesn't quite tell the whole story as electric motors are far more efficient than petrol at converting the energy (petrol motor typically 17-20% efficient electric 85 -90%) but still given the scale and weight for a bike maybe the current tech just isn't up to creating a practical and affordable electric motor bike.

Evilmatt's picture