A 2nd Look at the Model 3 – Three Months in…

Since our Model 3 was temporarily put out of action yesterday by a massive hail storm, it seems a good juncture to look at our impressions three months in.

SELF DRIVING / AUTO STEER

We bought the self-driving package in late October. Initially it didn’t seem to add much to the auto-steer which comes with the car. However, every new over-the-air update brings slight improvements. For example, the car now recognises changes in speed limits. On highways it will now “navigate on autopilot”. This means it listens to the Sat Nav and knows which exit it has to take. It will also request permission to change lanes if the car in front is going too slowly. It gets a bit nervy when overtaking big trucks, especially if they move around in their lane at all.

P tests the self-driving all the time and treats the car like a cheeky “L” plater. It’s amazing how funny “training” a car can be. On our way home from Sydney on Friday, with an empty highway stretching before and behind us, P decided to see what would happen if he ignored the car’s demands to keep a firm pressure on the steering wheel. So, first it just flashes a polite message on the screen. Soon after that the top of the screen flashes blue. When still P took no action, it began beeping more and more insistently and then it started slowing down and indicated that it was pulling over. P immediately took control again and was reprimanded with a sign on the screen saying “self-driving mode will not be available for the rest of this trip!” P and I both burst out laughing. He just got punished by a car!

Another time, at an empty round-about, P let the car take us through to see what would happen. It got about half way around and then beeped pleadingly and told P to take over. Since then, at a slower speed, it made it safely through the roundabout although Tesla does not necessarily condone this just yet.

CONTACT WITH TESLA

Since the wild flood of new cars entering the country subsided, getting hold of Tesla has become much easier. Yesterday, for example, P called the “service” number to find out how to disengage the USB key which records dash-cam activity. P wanted to see the footage he had recorded of the huge hail storm. He got through straight away, the guy at Tesla was very helpful and we were easily able to download the footage.

COSTS – Electricity and Servicing

Our other less direct contact with Tesla is through the super-charging we occasionally use. When you use the supercharger, your car is recognised and the money is charged directly to your credit card. We have had the car for 3 months and used it for multiple trips to Sydney as well as 3 trips to a property in country NSW about 160kms from our home. In that time (I discovered when looking at our credit card bills yesterday) we have spent around $16 on super charging. All the other charging has been using free NRMA chargers or done at home at the going rate for electricity. Last week we received our first electricity bill since getting the Tesla. I was pleased to note that it hadn’t significantly impacted our usage. In fact we used slightly less than in the previous quarter when heating would have been an added cost.

With regard to servicing here is a direct quote from the Tesla website:

Unlike gasoline cars, Tesla cars require no traditional oil changes, fuel filters, spark plug replacements or emission checks. As electric cars, even brake pad replacements are rare because regenerative braking returns energy to the battery, significantly reducing wear on brakes.

Software updates are all done over-the-air on a regular basis. You can service your Tesla annually, if you want. If you choose not to, it does not effect your warranty. However, for safety reasons, Tesla recommends an annual clean and lubrication of the brake pads. A full service (in Australia) is quoted as costing $700. Remember this is annual which is less frequent than other cars. To me it still seems quite expensive because I don’t really know what they do. As a comparison, I thought I would choose a similarly priced petrol car and find out the servicing regime. I tried both a Mercedes GLC43 and a BMW 3 Series and couldn’t find servicing prices for either. I am sorry. I do know that when we took our Nissan Leaf for its 10,000km service it cost $90. When we got home I checked how much a petrol Nissan Micra would’ve cost for the same service and it was closer to $250.

SUMMATION

We are absolutely besotted with our new car. It is comfortable, clean, efficient, pretty, safe, smart, interesting and constantly updating and changing. P will choose to drive it over any other car, even when the road is dirt and ornamented with humpy drainage swales. It really is way cheaper to run than any petrol car and, on top of all that, it’s got “the cool factor”.

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