Top 17 surprises from a year of driving a Tesla EV


Before I bought an electric car, I knew it would be different and I was ready for it. Even so, here is my list of 17 things that I didn't quite expect, that I only realized after driving one for a while.

See the list at my Forbes site article Top 17 surprises from the first year of a Tesla


I'm surprised you worried so much about range anxiety -- I would have thought you'd be well prepared for dealing with it.

To me there's no such thing as range anxiety for electric vehicles.

Then again I've had far more extreme range anxiety with my motorcycle which seems to have a gas tank no larger than a lawn mower. I really didn't know anything about range anxiety until I had to turn around and hope I could make it back to the last gas station I'd passed while running on reserve and hoping the head wind that had used up more fuel than anticipated would keep up as a tail wind or even get stronger help push me back to safety. I didn't even have the luxury of a gas gauge -- just the light that comes on when it moves down into the reserve tank. To make it worst this was in northern Ontario in off-season when gas stations can be nearly 300km apart in places. I've since thought an electric vehicle would be "safer" since there is a much wider distribution of power plugs than gas stations, even out there in the bush.

The main places I have encountered range anxiety has been on my long road trips. On these, I was prohibited side trips I might like. Last month, my journey from Beatty down into Death Valley and on to Las Vegas. And the journey to and from the Grand Canyon and Kingman AZ. Taking old route 66 was not an option on these trips. And during the trips, the Tesla displayed very close margins at times because of its own poor information on the elevation gains. And that's just my last trip. You will get anxiety (not panic) on such trips regularly.

Excellent article. I found myself, as a Tesla Model 3 Mid Range owner, thinking “Yes, that’s exactly right.” on virtually every point.

I've had my P3D for 18 months now, and this is my experience.

You almost certainly haven't actually lost 8% of range. Two things happen. First, repeatedly charging between two levels, like up to 80% and then using it down to 55%, causes the car to sort of lose its idea of what is full. The solution is to let it run as far down as you can and then charge it all the way up. After a couple cycles like this, it should go back to showing your original range or ~99% of it. If this doesn't work, use the app to request a service call and have them pull your logs. They can check your battery for damage that way.

The other (related) thing is that the computer learns your driving style and how much energy you typically use per mile. It then shows your range based on that understanding. If you go into the Energy screen (from the bottom menu) you can see "Rated Miles" along with estimated/actual miles.

Finally, the best solution is to switch your display to % instead of miles. Your brain will eventually adjust to thinking of it like your cell phone battery, and you won't notice the change in displayed range. Then when on a road trip or if you start to get worried, look at the Energy screen to see how much range you have left.

Many people say this -- it is an item of hot debate in online forums. Almost all who try it report this "recalibrate" does not work or has at most minor effect. I did it as a consequence of a road trip that required full charging and getting almost to zero, and it had minimal effect.

I have not seen confirmation of this "learn your driving style" which I have also seen people talk about. If you have a confirmation from Tesla about that, please include it.

Third, the idea of switching to percent is also very common, and I am afraid to say it makes zero sense. Batteries are not measured in miles or percentages but in kwh. And as they get used, the total number of kwh they can store and discharge does indeed decrease. And you pay a lot to get more kwh if you have your choice of battery packs. You want to know how many you have lost.

Saying, "just switch to percent and enjoy it" is silly. That would be like saying, "There is no difference between an SR+ and an SR, just switch to percent and enjoy it." There is a difference, and people pay a lot to gain it.

Regarding your point 11, since I got a mid range too, I experienced the price drop as well.
However if I remember correctly, the extra 3 thousand or so that I paid, was offset by the full federal tax credit. Tesla basically lowered their prices couple of months later to cancel out the tax credit reduction after they hit 200k cars, so essentially price out of my pocket was roughly the same.

My battery degradation is also 8%, sounds normal for the mid-range battery pack.

It seems that the author just exchanged his 15 years old car. Just wonder what was the previous car make/model/year?

Excellent article. Appreciated.

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