Before I begin though, I probably need to add a disclaimer that I’m still really happy with the car. In fact, I still think it’s brilliant but there are a few things I’d change now I’ve had the Tesla for a month. I also don’t think many of these were mentioned in the hundreds of Youtube videos I’ve watched over the last few months!
So you’ll probably already know that Tesla’s don’t have a traditional key or fob (although you can buy a fob if required). The car is delivered with 2 plastic key cards like you’d get checking into most hotels these days. Both of mine had been programmed and opened the doors by holding them up to the side of the B-pillar.
Within about 7-8 hours of the car being delivered, it had appeared in the Tesla App, which allowed the phone to be connected to the car which then becomes the keys. The idea is that as you approach the car, it recognises your phone, unlocks the doors so you can just pull the handle and step in.
I was expecting to see the mirrors unfold as I approached the car, but that doesn’t happen, at least not for me. Now, most of the time, things work as advertised. Simply press in the door handle and the window drops slightly and you can open the door. Maybe 1 in 20 times it doesn’t though, and you’re left a little flummoxed about how you’ll get into the car. Sometimes it’s just a small delay and pressing the handle in again will work, but sometimes not. At that point, you’re into the Tesla App or disabling and reenabling Bluetooth which is less than ideal.
I’ve changed some of the settings on my phone so the Tesla App is always running in the background and this seems to have improved things, but it’s still not 100% and anything that feels a little random is always a bit frustrating.
This is probably the thing I love most about the car or at least the thing that makes it feel so very different to any other car I’ve driven. Not the actual brakes with pads squeezing discs, but the regenerative braking when you take your foot off the accelerator.
Driving with one pedal is completely game-changing and even as someone who loves driving a manual or ‘stick shift’, it’s clearly the future! A bit like the random key problem above though, every now and again a message will flash up on the display to say regenerative braking isn’t working or isn’t working at full capacity, making the car behave differently.
Now if that was any other car, and pressing the brake pedal had a different level of braking each time, it would be deemed unsafe and removed from the roads, wouldn’t it? I first noticed it on the only occasion so far where I’d charged the battery to 100% and it kind of made sense, in that it couldn’t add more to the battery, but I’ve seen it a few times since, often at the start of a journey.
I need to try and work out why it does this, as it’s really not great knowing that sometimes the regenerative braking performance will be less than it is for the majority of the time.
I’m sure this is the one most people worry about when switching from an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicle to an electric one. You’re never far from a petrol/gas station and you can usually fill up and be on the road again within 5-10 minutes. It’s a different approach with EV ownership, and not without its problems, although most of them aren’t specifically Tesla related.
We haven’t got a home charge point installed yet, although I’m sure we could. I did look into it but for a number of reasons never got it arranged before the Tesla arrived. I might get into that in another blog, but one of the reasons for not getting one was the local charge network. There are 3 ChargePlace Scotland points in Linlithgow, and at the minute they are all free to use. As a Yorkshireman, this is music to my tight ears!
I’d signed up to ChargePlace Scotland at the end of May and ordered one of their Access Cards which cost £20. This allows you to use any of the charge points, which range from free to 20-30p per kWh. I’m still waiting on the card, but they have an App that allows you to use the charge points, although the process is a little more problematic.
Before I describe that though, I guess I should blow a little smoke up Tesla’s b*****m, as their SuperCharger network really is in a different league altogether. We’ve only used one once, and only for 7 minutes to test it worked, but it couldn’t be more simple. There’s an icon on the Tesla screen that will show all the nearby SuperChargers and provide directions. It also tells you how many are in use. When you arrive it’s simply a case of reversing in, connecting the cable and off it goes
The Eurocentral one we visited just outside Glasgow has 12 bays and 2 were in use! It was 31p/kWh, although the referral miles I hoped to get when I ordered the car were on my account, so it didn’t actually cost anything. We only stayed for 7 minutes as we didn’t really need a charge (as we were already at 45%) and the speed of 75kW/hour wasn’t as fast as I’d expected so I decided I’d use one of the local free ones.
So how is a ChargePlace Scotland one different? Well, to start you need an App to locate them, and so far I’ve found the Zap-Map one to be the best of the bunch. In theory, this will also tell you what chargers are available and if any are in use, although I’m not convinced it’s 100% reliable. Once you arrive, it could be a tethered or untethered connection. Tethered is like the Superchargers where they already have a cable connected, whereas untethered requires your own cable. 1 of the local charge points is tethered, and it’s a Rapid Charger with a 50kWh capacity. Not bad for free, or it would be if it always worked.
You start in the same way, reversing into the space. Next, open the ChargePlace Scotland App and find the charge point. Then you select Start Charge and App tries to connect to the ChargePlace Scotland service. That can take 30-60 seconds, and might not work the first time. Then you select Begin Charge and the App tries to communicate via the service to the charge point and start the session. This step is very hit and miss and from limited experience can simply fail to work. So even though everything appeared to be fine in the build-up, it fails at the final hurdle. Well, penultimate. The final step would be to connect the cable to the car!
ChargePlace Scotland has a Helpdesk, although it’s not all that responsive and generally unable to help as if the App can’t communicate with the charge point, the likelihood is they can’t either.
The other 2 local charge points are slower 22kWh ones, although the 2 at the train station are often only running at 7kWh which is like charging from home and would take 7-9 hours. The one behind the Health Centre has always worked (touch wood) and can provide an 80-90% charge in 3-4 hours.
But again, like my other two gripes, it’s the inconsistency that’s the biggest issue. I feel like I’ve already blethered on more than I’d planned, as I’d drafted 3 more subheadings! I’m going to briefly cover them all under one!!
- I’d heard the term ‘ghost discharge’ but not paid too much attention to it, as some reviews had even questioned how real it was. Believe me, it’s real! How real depends on how you setup the car, but I guess most people want to try our Sentry Mode when they get it? Leaving Sentry Mode on at home can easily deplete your battery overnight by between 5-10% and lots of other things could increase that more. I’d never experienced fuel evaporating in quite the same way!
- It took me a few days to even find out how many miles my Tesla had done, as there’s no odometer on the large screen. It is displayed on the App, although I was confused by this as it was less than the delivery miles on the form I’d signed, which isn’t a problem. You can also find it in the Trip Computer settings swiping right underneath the Tesla picture, and then swipping up and down through the various Trips. Overly complicated if I’m being honest, and something I still haven’t really got to grips with.
- Having an App to control the car seems so space aged, and such a step up from my 2008 Ford Mondeo! That said, the Tesla App has lots of room for improvement. Everytime you open the App, it wakes up the car. Doing this too often when you’ve just got the car will add to your ghost discharge! It’s also not that easy to use when you need it, like opening the trunk when you’re in a supermarket car park. There are just too many menus and button presses! I’ve been looking for other Apps, and some appear to be better, although they are either quite expensive as a one-off or a cheaper but subscription-based service. I’m sure those will make another good blog!
Tesla for a month
Anyway, that’s far longer than I’d planned when I started this blog. A few of my irritating quirks after having my Tesla for a month. The list of things I love would be much, much, much, much longer. We’re heading up to Skye for a short break soon, so that will be the first real adventure with the car. I’m sure that will give me something else to blog about…