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Teslas Are Great, But...

In 2018 I bought a Tesla Model S 100D. (No, not the Performance variant. I have a 2yo and a 6yo in here, I don't need that kind of power.)

It is, to be completely honest, the best car I've ever driven. For the price it had damn well better be. Tesla gets a lot of flack for having such a high price point but missing features that other luxury car brands have as staples, but I mostly don't know what I'm missing there.

  • The instrument and center display are beautiful, and the most easily usable car interface I've ever used. Most car infotainment systems are slow and clunky, but not this one.
  • Speaking of, when I got the car both displays looked pretty different than they do now. Tesla's v9 update overhauled the UI pretty drastically. The ability to get a software update that adds real features to your car is pretty great.
  • The navigation on the display is Google Maps, which wins. I can hit the voice recognition button, ask it to take me to Target on Bethel, and it doesn't flinch. (My previous car, a BMW, had an awful voice system.)
  • The car has the smoothest ride ever. Some of this I'm sure is due to EVs not having an engine – motors have constant smooth acceleration – but Tesla also adds an air suspension.
  • Tesla's safety features are pretty great. The other day I was driving, talking to my son, and didn't notice that the car in front of me had stopped abruptly. My car blared an alarm at me and gave me enough time to slow down without skidding to a halt. I know other cars have this, but this is my first experience with it.
  • Autopilot is handy. I hardly use it on the freeway, but for quickly letting Tesla take the wheel while I grab a cup or something is nice.

If you are planning on getting an EV and you have the ability to, you have to get a charger installed at home. Seriously, it's the secret magic that makes EVs usable. With the battery in the 100D, and the ability to charge at home, I've never had to worry about my daily driving. Roll out, come home, plug it in, repeat tomorrow, never worry about gas stations again.

Just now my charger's not operational, and I've had to use Tesla's supercharger network instead. Luckily, Columbus has a couple of supercharger banks, and unlike stories from other cities I've never seen them at full occupancy. Yesterday I was able to roll into the Goodale location in the middle of the morning with no wait. An hour later I had a fully topped up battery, during which I was able to get some work done. It's definitely not as convenient as stopping in a gas station for ten minutes, but I'll take it.

All that said, I have some legitimate critcisms of Tesla that I'd love them to address. None of them are dealbreakers by any means, but they're important to me:

  • The Bluetooth integration feels like it's from a decade ago. You can pair, listen to audio, and make calls, but that's it. There's no ability to hear a new text message, for instance.
  • Tesla's voice recognition is honestly not terrible, it just feels like it doesn't do as much as it could. I can ask it to play some music, call a contact, or navigate to a destination. I guess that's enough, but I'd love to be able to ask it my ETA to a destination, or if I have any upcoming appointments.
  • I mentioned my previous car's voice recognition being terrible, and it was. But one feature the BMW had that I miss was that you could bypass the car's voice recognition and tap into your bluetooth device's voice system. So even though I didn't have Android Auto, I could long-press the voice button and Google Assistant was right there like it was built into the car. I really miss that.
  • As cool as the UI is for the infotainment system, please can Telsa just add Android Auto & Apple CarPlay integration? Seriously.
  • In the US, Tesla comes with a music service called Slacker, which I'm sure they have an exclusivity agreement with. I don't know anyone except Tesla owners who use it, and I'm not about to pay for another music service just so I can listen to specific songs through the Tesla UI.

Lastly, and most importantly, Telsa needs to figure out how to help standardize EV chargers. They can't honestly claim their mission is to help the world adopt electric vehicles while they're also building a proprietary charger spec and charging network.

Yesterday as I was trying to find a public charger I went to a mall I recall having a bank of Tesla chargers. They've since removed them, but they did have a few Level 3 DC charging stalls. My Tesla came with a j-plug adapter, but that doesn't do CCS, and I didn't even realize Tesla offers a CHAdeMO adapter but it's pricey.

Basically EV charging is a mess right now, which is another point in "just install a charger at your home and be done," but I'd love to see Tesla push for a standardized EV charger. The Model 3 sold in the EU markets uses a CCS plug instead of the Tesla proprietary, which I'd love to see in the US as well.

That's all I've got for now. If you want to get in touch to bitch about EV charging or bond over mutual (or potential!) Tesla ownership, get at me: jon@joncanady.com or @joncanady on that awful birdsite.

Teslas Are Great, But...
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