Life With 2013 Tesla Model S The Good & The Bad At 600 Miles …

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TESLA Model S – 60 kWh Auto

Life With 2013 Model S: The Good The Bad At 600 Miles

Tesla Model S electric sedan on delivery day, owner David Noland


Two weeks and 600 miles I took delivery of a 60-kWh Tesla Model S electric sedan.

I won t dwell on the ear-flattening nor the magic-carpet ride and handling, nor the 17-inch touch screen

Those features have exhaustively  analyzed and reported by far expert authorities than I.

I ll say that I was expecting a world-class luxury sport sedan, and s just what Tesla [NSDQ:TSLA] delivered.

But there also been a few things I t expect.

Here are some of the surprises good and bad that I ve in the Model S so far .

Vanishing regen

One of the of electric driving is regenerative Lift your foot off the gas and the car slows aggressively as the drive turns into a generator and current back into the

Strong regen is not only but also gives the car a sporty, feel, like engine in a  gas car in a low gear.  Electric-car call it one-pedal driving. strong regen, you ll hardly touch the brake.

Different cars have different of regen.  The gentle Nissan is designed to feel like a car [but has two different settings for D and ECO].

The Chevy Volt has two settings, one that mimics gasoline cars, and a second one that allows for one-pedal (I drive my Volt in this L virtually 100 percent of the time.)

Tesla s first car, the Roadster, had particularly strong a popular feature with its owners.

The Model S, like the has two settings: Low, which conventional cars, and Standard, follows in the one-pedal tradition of the

I was eagerly anticipating  the same responsive regen feel had hooked me in the Volt.

Not so much, it out.

To my surprise,  regenerative in the Model S virtually disappears the battery is cold. Starting out on a s day, it feels disappointingly any old ICE car even with the regen on the setting.

As the battery warms, the gradually increases. But it can take a long time to get back to the max

Model S vs Volt

On a sunny day last week, it took 25 miles of driving for full to come back. On my typical trips around town, I get it back. I d guess that perhaps only a third of my so far has had full regen available.

the Model S battery management which is programmed to limit the rate when the battery is

Under normal circumstances, backing off the gas pedal at high can send a jolt of up to 60 kW into the S battery. Tesla engineers such bursts of charge are not for cold batteries, and therefore regen accordingly.

The Model S has a dial that shows how much regen current is back into the battery at any moment.  Its maximum reading is 60 kW.

When regen is limited, a line appears on the dial, and meter won t go beyond it. On a cold the dotted line starts out at the 15-kW mark and gradually up to the 60-kW level before altogether when the battery its normal operating temperature.

By the Chevy Volt s regen is by temperature. It s the same sporty winter or summer. Apparently engineers don t see a problem with charge rates for cold

Do they know something engineers don t? Or vice versa?

Tesla Model S electric sedan on delivery day, owner David Noland


Whoever s right, and battery health notwithstanding, one is indisputable: From the driver s of view, the regen system of the S is a lot less consistent and fun than the s in cold weather.

One more to look forward to summer.

The key fob won t shut up

For the last 35 years, I ve  my keys in the car as it sits overnight in my (I live in a low-crime area, in the woods, at the end of a long driveway.)

It s a system. I never, ever my keys on the kitchen counter or in the jacket pocket. They re waiting in the car.

Until I got the Model S.

When I casually my car-key system to the Tesla guy, he frowned and said, If you do with this car, you ll be the key fob battery every month or so.

He went on to explain that the key fob is in the car, it stays in constant with the Model S computer, remains on all the time. Even there s nothing really to about, the key fob  keeps to the computer 24/7. That juice.

And that kills Moral: Don t leave the key in the car.

I m to reform. It s not going well.

half the time, by sheer of 35-year habit, I walk out the not thinking about my car keys.  I up the 200-foot path from the to the driveway, go through the awkward contortion the Model S requires of creaky drivers like me, and put the lever into Drive to be greeted with a Key Not Inside

Help me out here, Elon. you please make a key fob that up after a while?


I m ready to wager that no car in the world coasts better a Model S.

There s a long, very slightly downhill of highway near my home. you d be hard-pressed to notice the grade.

But the Model S along this and slip the gear lever neutral, and the car seemingly glides on magic, maintaining 60 mph with energy input. It s surreal.

Credit the car s aerodynamic drag of 0.24, the lowest of any production Likewise the low-rolling resistance inflated to 45 psi. As far as I can tell, s the highest tire pressure on any car.

The result is a hypermiler s wet

Which raises the question: if you ve got braking, why bother to coast?  By to N, aren t you losing the chance to put energy back into the

Yes, you are.

But regen slows the car. And to accelerate up to coasting speed takes all the you ve just put back into the and more.

TESLA Model S – 60 kWh Auto

Assuming a typical effciency of around 80 percent, the process wastes about a of the energy it processes.  100 watt-hours of energy from the car turns 80 Wh of electricity back into the which turns into 64 Wh of delivered back to the wheels.

on the other hand, wastes

Hypermilers, rejoice.

More than the Volt .in winter

594 miles of driving, the Model S Screen is telling me I ve used 217 kWh of for an average of 365 watt-hours per mile.  if you prefer, 36.5 kWh per 100 miles.)

s just slightly above the s official EPA rating of 35 kWh per 100 miles. that all my driving was done at  of 25 to 40 degrees, that s a splendid indeed.

By comparison, on a typical s day, the Volt uses 40 kWh per 100 miles.

Thus the Model S much larger, around 800 heavier, and with much performance is actually more than the Volt in typical temperatures. Amazing.

The Volt s electric efficiency, will shoot up dramatically summer arrives. In 80-degree the Volt s appetite for electrons to about 25 kWh per 100 miles.

Will the s numbers improve that in warmer weather?

2013 Model S electric sport on delivery day, with David Noland


Tesla has stubbornly stonewalled my about cold-weather range for almost a year now.

But on my winter numbers so far, the S appears to lose no more 10 to 20 percent dramatically better the Volt, which in my experience up to 50 percent of its range in winter.  (As the Nissan Leaf, according to reports.)

I find this to be one of the intriguing technical mysteries of the car world:  How does Tesla to kick every other s butt when it comes to efficiency?

Feeding The Vampire

I a close eye on my home electric For some reason, it  seemed to be a little faster than after I got the Model S.

That was because the Tesla was simply for the electric miles I had already driving in my Chevy Volt. The two are comparable in efficiency on winter it shouldn t have taken power to run the Model S than the

And then one night I happened to the Tesla unplugged.

When I left the car at 9 p.m. the Range display said I had 169 remaining. But next morning, I was to find that the range had to 153 miles.

As an experiment, I left the car again the next night. was in the 20s, a bit colder than the night.) Indicated range from 89 miles to 66, a loss of 23

That s the equivalent of about 8 kWh of which is one-third of my daily use, not including electric-car

What s going on here?  it really cost as much in to let the Model S sit static as it does to it?

I m currently researching the topic and plan to use a watt-hour meter to precisely what goes on a Model S sits unused, in or not,.

Till then, I t advise leaving your S unplugged at an airport for a couple of despite the owner s manual s to the contrary.

Stay tuned.

Noland is a Tesla Model S and freelance writer who lives of New York City.


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