Day 2: Grin rising
I must say that today was a much more positive one than yesterday. I had a good night’s sleep and I put in a work day with Habitat for Humanity, something that always picks me up. I checked off some things on my to-do list: transferred insurance on the car and got HomeLink working.
I realized that one mistake I made driving home from the delivery was to use Autopilot. Autopilot is designed to take some of the stress out of tedious driving. Getting to know a new car is, not tedious and Autopilot was a distraction. Today I drove without Autosteer entirely and only used TACC when the traffic bunched up on the Interstate. It’s really fun to drive.
Did I mention that the Model S is a good bit wider than the Prius? I was aware of this and was concerned about fitting in the garage (it does), but I didn’t take into consideration driving. Model S has a Lane Departure Warning that vibrates the steering wheel if you start to exit your lane without turning on the blinker. I kept getting the warning because I was conditioned all these years to a car of one width and now I have a wider one that extends further to the right. I have to learn to re-center the vehicle. This may take a while.
When I visit the Tesla forums and watch YouTube videos, it seems that everybody has a bigger battery than I do, and most drive performance versions that go zero to sixty in some ludicrously small amount of time. I just have a bottom of the line S60. Whatever concerns I had about not experiencing the exhilaration described by other owners has been were blown away with the actual driving experience. I didn’t go anywhere near flooring the pedal, but I did things I’d never have dreamed of in a Prius. For example I was merging onto an Interstate highway in a crunch that required me to stop right at the entrance to the freeway. I saw a space and accelerated right into the line of traffic from a dead stop. So I no longer have badge1 envy. I have all the power I can use.
I’m going to take “range anxiety” and turn it on its head. My Model S 60 kWh has an EPA range of 210 miles. At the beginning of my Tesla journey, I started with the premise that “nobody gets EPA rated results.” Then I started taking more away from the range. I deducted air conditioning. I deducted hills. I deducted not charging to 100%. I deducted a buffer. I deducted wind. The range number in my head kept shrinking down to somewhere around a pathetic 150 miles on a good day with a tail wind. Now that I have the actual Model S, I discovered that I am using a little less energy in my own typical combined city/highway driving than the EPA. So leaving a 21 mile safety margin, I could travel 194 miles. That number would be lower in the mountains in the face of a stiff blizzard, but I don’t do much of that.
I took “New Adventure” (my car’s name) to the Habitat build today and nobody seemed to notice, except one young fellow who was parked in front of me came over as I was leaving. He said that the Tesla was his “dream car” and that he had never seen one so close. Of course I have him a quick tour.
It’s not reasonable to ascribe emotions to a machine. Still, I got the feeling that the car is loyal to me because when I walked up to it, the door handles presented themselves. It’s just an affirmative feeling. The Prius, by the way, turned on the interior lights when I approached, but I didn’t approach it at night very much.
Day 3 – Crunch
Day 3 started off well enough with a day trip to Black Mountain, North Carolina and then over to Asheville to the Supercharger at the Outlet Mall.
A funny thing happened on the way to the garage, only it’s not funny. My car barely fits in the garage. It was dark. The garage is uphill, and the Model S has to be accelerated to go up the hill, otherwise it rolls down. The view out the back of the car is very limited. I ended up hitting the side of the garage door and putting a 3-inch dent in the side of the car. This brings up a very large negative about owning a Tesla. The aluminum body requires special training and equipment to repair. One Internet article said that a “small dent” requiring no parts costs $7,000 to fix. That’s 10% of the cost of the car, and frankly outrageous in my mind. The nearest Tesla-approved body shop is in Charlotte, NC. This is going to take days to work out and a huge expense.
Update: That $7,000 repair cost I found on the Internet may be an exaggerated figure, but I’ve solved the “dent” problem. I’ll just wait until another car hits me in that spot and let their insurance pay for the repair. That’s what happened with my 1996 Taurus. In that case it was the right front bumper that hit the garage entry while I was backing out. I didn’t fix it. Some time after that, a truck backed into the same quarter panel, doing much greater damage. I got it fixed then.
For the conclusion to the transition, see Part 4.
1The “badge” is the model designator emblem on the back of the car.