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As regular readers of the blog will know by now, my wife and I bought a Tesla Model S last year. Here are my thoughts on it, after having had it on the road for 10000 kilometers:
With spring came higher temperatures, allowing us to remove the foam that we used to line the panorama roof. This in turn let us actually use the sunroof functionality. It is very nice, and makes for a very efficient way to reduce the temperature after the car has been baking in the sun for a warm summer day. As previously mentioned, it’s one of the less expensive add-ons, and it certainly has enough utility to defend the cost. If it’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, however, you should forego the option.
Since passing 7500 kilometers, I’ve also had the opportunity to take some longer trips. Let’s face it – if you’re only going to drive in the city, the Model S is not the car for you; it’s too big and too expensive to use only in town, and the available range is not great in city traffic. Where the Model S shines is on the open road. Driving in Norway, I have been getting 160-180 wh/km (watt-hours of consumption per kilometer, the EV equivalent to liters per 100 kilometers) even on twisty roads with lots of steep inclines (and declines), given good weather. In heavy rain, that has increased to 200-220 wh/km – still very respectable. Overall, over the last 2000 kilometers, I have averaged 173 wh/km.
I generally use the TACC (Traffic-Aware Cruise Control), and the Auto-Pilot as much as I can on long trips, for three main reasons. First, the TACC is very good at what it does; you set the speed, it will keep it. It reduces the speed when there is traffic ahead, and when coming into a steep curve (up to a point – hairpin turns are not its strong suit). Second, it lets me focus on actually driving the car, on being aware of conditions, and on what’s happening outside the car. Third, because it keeps an even pace, the TACC will generally provide lower consumption rates than I am able to achieve on my own. (As an aside, that has been my experience with the cruise control systems in other cars, too, regardless of whether they are traffic aware or not; cruise control improves consumption.)
Like any other car, the Model S rewards even, smooth driving with low consumption, while offensive driving with lots of acceleration and deceleration increases consumption significantly. Where the Model S differs, is in how it shows this to you. Whether you use the screen showing average consumption over the last 50 kilometers (where it shows regeneration as green and consumption as orange), or the trip counter, showing consumption both on the current trip, the numbers don’t lie. I also suspect – although I don’t have enough data to say this for sure – that the consumption of the battery-powered Model S suffers more than does its non-electric counterparts.
As for range, suffice it to say that I have the range to drive from supercharger to supercharger at ease, and have done so a few times this summer. Range anxiety is a non-issue, although you do become accustomed to keeping the car at a fairly high charge level; I rarely let it get below 30% battery capacity before charging it, although I could have less than half that and still have a comfortable charge level left to get to my closest supercharger.
I don’t, however, use the superchargers other than on trips, preferring to use the public charge points in my neighbourhood. Within a ten minute, leisurely stroll from home, there are nine different locations, with at least twenty spots, all free of charge. If I am in a rush, there are two high-speed chargers (for which you pay) within easy reach of home.
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