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Autopilot for a 120 miles daily commute: is it realistic?

bigvirgil

Member
Mar 29, 2017
10
6
Milton Keynes UK
First of all, apologies if you already saw the same question on some other Tesla forums, I'm trying to gather as much feedback and opinions as possible. :oops:

So, I will be starting next month a long term contract in London which will see me driving there for at least 120 miles each working day.
For Londoners: it will be ~60 miles back and forth between Milton Keynes and Uxbridge/Heathrow, via either M1/M25 or M40 (2 of the most congested highways in the UK, especially at rush hour).

So my rationale is to buy a Model S, either a new base Model with AP2 (got until tomorrow if I go for an S60 and there are still a few inventory models around) or a preowned model with AP1.

I would prefer a new model with AP2 but I'm price sensitive enough to seriously consider a couple of cheaper models with AP1 since AP1 does already pretty much all what I need on congested motorways.

So my big question is twofold:

- First: is the MS going to handle this or am I heading towards a massive bag of hurt? I reckon I will drive at least 35,000 miles per year. I know Bjørn Nyland used to drive that much before breakfast but it doesn't seem to have always been such an easy ride so that clearly concerns me, especially if I buy second hand with a third party.

If I don't go for a new S60, I'm eyeing either a 2014 S85 with 20,000 miles, or a slightly less fancy 2016 S70 with 10,000 miles. Which means that for the S85 the warranty will run out at 50,000 miles, likely before the end of the first year and a bit later for the S70 since it has 10,000 miles less (I also have a couple of options with Tesla's preowned models which would give me a non-extendable 4 years/50,000 miles but that would also run out before end of year 2).

Range is not a problem for me. Any of those will easily be able to handle that distance and charging is a non issue too as I will be either/or charging at home, at work, at a Supercharger near Heathrow or at another one at a 10 min drive from home.

So, yeah, the main concern regarding the car is: will it take it? Especially since the track record in terms of long term/high use doesn't seem to be exactly spotless...

- Second: will "I" take it? The whole idea of buying a Tesla is based on Autopilot being able to ease the pain enough so I can survive a 3h overall drive in dreary conditions + 9 to 10 hours of work as a software engineer at a cool, yet usually demanding company without losing my mind and soul?

To be honest that's the point that scares me the most. I know that AP doesn't make the MS an autonomous car (unfortunately) and before AP2 reaches that level I will probably have moved on to something else anyway so the question is: will the current state of AP will make the daily trip, if not enjoyable, at least bearable enough so I will keep a modicum of health and soul after a few months of that regimen?

I am super torn by those questions, the alternative being renting something local and not seeing my family at all during the week (considering my partner could really use some help at the moment).

And, er, that would also mean not buying the most awesome car ever.

I would hate having to do that.
 
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kort677

Banned
Sep 17, 2015
4,801
2,996
florida.
teslas are no different than any other car in the way the miles affect the car. the tesla will experience wear and tear on things like the tires, breaks, fittings, bearings and so on. where the difference is big is the propulsion system which will not show much stress from being driven high miles. the battery will not be stressed by the miles. your only mistake is over estimating what the AP system is capable of. get the most car that you can afford and drive it as much as you care to.
 

BestRadar

Member
Nov 14, 2013
712
836
NJ
AP 2.0 is more of a toy that you play with from time to time. If you have expectations that you will not sit there and drive the vehicle your expectations are too high. At-least in my vehicle when I play around with AP you have to hold the steering wheel every minute or the system will nag you to put your hands on the wheel before it shuts down. If you have to keep your hands on the wheel you might as well just drive the car and make the best out of driving it.
 

stallhorn

Member
Dec 23, 2013
44
19
Gaithersburg, MD
I live about 40 miles from my office in Washington DC and I drive down to the office 2-3 times a week. It takes me about an hour to an hour and half each way depending on traffic. I have driven my VW diesel, rode my motorcycle and recently drove my 74 DS downtown, but I prefer the model S70D by far over everything else. The v1 autopilot drives about 90% of that commute and is especially excellent at handling stop and go traffic. Much less nag in stop and go traffic too. Best if you just stay in your lane and not weave in and out of traffic - you will arrive at work much more relaxed.

As far as reliability, Tesla service emailed me a couple of weeks ago and asked me if I would like to bring it in for service since I never took the car in for any service. It has 36k miles in about a year and half and nothing was done to it, not even tire rotation - they're wearing evenly. I took it in and they did the 50k service a bit early - ok by me.

I have never driven an AP2 car, so can't comment on that.

Shawn.
 

Sawyer8888

Member
Mar 16, 2017
422
428
South Florida
the question is: will the current state of AP will make the daily trip, if not enjoyable, at least bearable enough so I will keep a modicum of health and soul after a few months of that regimen?

Autopilot for highway/freeway driving? Yes. For side roads? No.

I have an almost two-hour roundtrip commute every weekday. Most of the 78 miles is on the highway. Despite the current frequent nagging to hold/apply pressure to the steering, having autopilot transitioned this portion of my day from dentist chair to easy chair. For me, it's equivalent to having someone feed you grapes while a few others fan you with palm fronds (never actually had this happen, but I imagine that it's an enjoyable experience). I hope this feeling doesn't wear off.

Over the course of 3 weeks I have driven my '17 MS 60, a '13 MS 85 and a '14 MS P85D. AP1 is a bit better on side roads right now, however both versions perform close to one another on the highway.

The advantage of AP2 is that it is expected to drastically improve before this time next year... Hop in, close the door and your Tesla will wisk you away to work without even saying a word or pressing a button. At least that's Elon's vision and expectation.

Will other manufacturers be on par with Tesla a year from now? Maybe, but doubtful. Despite the current limitations of AP1 and AP2, when I needed a new car, the autopilot sold me on Tesla and I couldn't be happier. I take that back - since I know I will be happier when new AP updates are released.

All the best to you bigvirgil in your decision.
 
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bob_p

Active Member
Apr 5, 2012
3,725
2,922
Compared to an ICE, a Tesla should require significantly less maintenance if you're driving super high miles per year. With recommended maintenance at 12,500 miles (plus tire rotations around 6,250), you'll need 3 maintenance visits during a year (plus 3 more tire rotations). With an ICE, you'll need more service visits.

You should be able to get an extended warranty - and get coverage up to 100,000 miles. But even without that, the two most expensive items - the battery pack and motor are covered for 8 years and unlimited miles - which is a huge benefit if you're driving 35K miles per year!

As for selecting AP1 vs. AP2. In your situation, I'd strongly consider an AP2 car. While AP2 acts like a student driver still learning to drive on the highway - it will get better. And with the increased number of sensors, AP2 should surpass AP1 sometime this year (though not as quickly as Tesla had hoped - sometimes it takes longer than expected to get the software right).

And if you purchase the Full Self Driving option, my expectation is that once Tesla has the 4 cameras working well for Enhanced Auto Pilot, they'll start using the additional 4 cameras, and even though the car won't be approved for Full Self Driving, the software will work even better in driver-assist/autopilot mode.

Though there are no guarantees...

During the first few years I owned my late 2012 S P85, I was driving 150 miles on most work days - and found that driving my Model S (without autopilot) was easier and more enjoyable than driving my previous car, a fully loaded Lexus LS. And even with the limited abilities of AP2, our new S 100D is even better...
 

jbcarioca

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Feb 3, 2015
5,717
31,662
First of all, apologies if you already saw the same question on some other Tesla forums, I'm trying to gather as much feedback and opinions as possible. :oops:

So, I will be starting next month a long term contract in London which will see me driving there for at least 120 miles each working day.
For Londoners: it will be ~60 miles back and forth between Milton Keynes and Uxbridge/Heathrow, via either M1/M25 or M40 (2 of the most congested highways in the UK, especially at rush hour).

So my rationale is to buy a Model S, either a new base Model with AP2 (got until tomorrow if I go for an S60 and there are still a few inventory models around) or a preowned model with AP1.

I would prefer a new model with AP2 but I'm price sensitive enough to seriously consider a couple of cheaper models with AP1 since AP1 does already pretty much all what I need on congested motorways.

So my big question is twofold:

- First: is the MS going to handle this or am I heading towards a massive bag of hurt? I reckon I will drive at least 35,000 miles per year. I know Bjørn Nyland used to drive that much before breakfast but it doesn't seem to have always been such an easy ride so that clearly concerns me, especially if I buy second hand with a third party.

If I don't go for a new S60, I'm eyeing either a 2014 S85 with 20,000 miles, or a slightly less fancy 2016 S70 with 10,000 miles. Which means that for the S85 the warranty will run out at 50,000 miles, likely before the end of the first year and a bit later for the S70 since it has 10,000 miles less (I also have a couple of options with Tesla's preowned models which would give me a non-extendable 4 years/50,000 miles but that would also run out before end of year 2).

Range is not a problem for me. Any of those will easily be able to handle that distance and charging is a non issue too as I will be either/or charging at home, at work, at a Supercharger near Heathrow or at another one at a 10 min drive from home.

So, yeah, the main concern regarding the car is: will it take it? Especially since the track record in terms of long term/high use doesn't seem to be exactly spotless...

- Second: will "I" take it? The whole idea of buying a Tesla is based on Autopilot being able to ease the pain enough so I can survive a 3h overall drive in dreary conditions + 9 to 10 hours of work as a software engineer at a cool, yet usually demanding company without losing my mind and soul?

To be honest that's the point that scares me the most. I know that AP doesn't make the MS an autonomous...
I made a similar commute for several years, mine was Uxbridge-Northampton. On either of those routes AP-1 should make your commute much easier. The adaptive cruise control alone will make the interminable M-25 less painful. In inclement weather the broad curves of the M-40 might sometimes make issues for auto-steer, probably a trifle less so on M-1 and M-25. Neither will be difficult terrain for Auto-steer. Because of seasonal cold/rainy weather I'd opt for a larger battery if feasible.

There are Model S with >200,000 miles that have had little problem and with battery degradation of ~6% at that point.
Tesloop Ran Model S 200,000 Miles — What Did They Learn?

Were I in your situation I'd try for the highest battery size with AWD that I could afford. Thus S90D, S75D rather than either S85D or S70D or S60D. The new batteries might even have longer durability, nobody knows yet, but the range of the S75D is surely worth the Premium over the S60D. If your commute would be only pleasant summer days I'd opt for the S60D, but the extra reserve of the S75D will help you avoid the worry when you encounter the huge accident delays on rainy winter days, plus the ~20% range degradation in those conditions.

Good luck!

I'd have given *an unrepeatable price* for TACC and Auto-steer when I was doing that trip. I'd have avoided the nasty photo-radar in the bargain.:oops:
 

stillandbox

Member
Mar 5, 2017
19
29
Winfield, IL
I have a 2017MS that I drive ~85 miles daily on Chicago highways. I use autopilot for almost all of that trip. Like others have said, the AP does nag you to keep your hand on the wheel. That's fine. I use it as a passive driving system. I keep my hand on the wheel & I do pay attention. However, if I am distracted by a shiny object when driving not as alert as I'd like to be from working 10+ hours a day, the AP system makes sure that I'm safer that I'd be at 100% attention. I have put 2000+ miles on 8.1AP at highway speeds never once had an issue or close call.
 
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TexLaw

Member
Jan 29, 2017
484
445
Bellaire, TX
It certainly does seem that Teslas do well for high mileage, so no additional worry relative to an ICE. It seems you have even less worry, really. As mentioned, you can get an extended warranty that will protect you against catastrophic problems up to 100,000 miles. Don't forget that the battery and drive warranties have no mileage limit. Drive to the Moon and back, if you like, and your battery and drive unit are still covered for eight years from when it was put into service.

As to whether you can take it, extended motorway driving is very nice with AP2. I never thought that long drives were a problem in the first place, but I was surprised at how much easier it felt with AP2. If you have a problem with the length of the drive in a Model S, then your problem only would be worse in something else!
 

Electroman

Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Aug 18, 2012
6,389
7,471
TX
Autopilot should be the single most reason (besides being an EV) that you should without even thinking get a Model S. As they say, no brainer.

My experience has been with AP1 only, for over 25K miles. I have a 75 miles round trip commute everyday of which close 72 miles is on the highway, and the difference in driving comfort between my S with AP and any other car is like night and day. Amazing commute stress reliever.

Before my S I used to get extremely tired especially adter the evening commute which on most days takes close to 75 to 90 minutes at times. But now with AP, most of that stress is gone. I would not trade AP for any other luxury that any German autos may have.

In slow stop and go highway traffic the benefits are immense. You just need to pay very minimal attention and you can be very 'productive' in this connected digital era (if you know what I mean) -:). Even in high speeds, yes you pay a bit more attention, but it is far more relaxing. Hard to describe unless you use it for a week or two and get comfortable with it. And then there is no going back.

AP is tailor made to reduce stress levels for highway commutes. Have no experience with AP2. But if you are budget constrained, then close your eyes and go for an AP1 CPO and you won't regret it. It is the one thing that improved my quality of life as a stressed out highway commuter.
 

oktane

Active Member
Oct 25, 2016
1,778
2,538
USA
Get AP1 used then trade it for a Model 3. There is no good reason to buy a Model S 60. You are paying about double for the same car.

AP2 doesn't work well and won't be there for several months if ever. Get a car that is cheap with AP1, and by the time AP2 is working the Model 3 will be readily available at a fraction if the cost of a Model S.
 

mblakele

Safety Score: 99
Mar 7, 2016
1,784
5,951
SF Bay Area
What's happened to trains in the UK? ;)

For the last year I've been doing a commute about half that bad, with AP HW1. It's better than anything else I've tried, and I arrive more relaxed. But driving still cuts a couple of hours out of my life every day. Time behind the wheel is basically unproductive for me. However AP gives me more time to criticize other people's driving....

I don't suppose you have the sort of job where you make a lot of phone calls, and you can do some of those during your drive?

If I were buying now I'd definitely go with HW2. It sounds like it's approaching parity with HW1, and from there it should get better.
 
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sorka

Well-Known Member
Feb 28, 2015
8,269
6,225
Merced, CA
Damn. Care to elaborate on the overall experience?

Not much to elaborate on. I don't worry about range. I charge at home and I charge at work. The 130 mile one way trip takes about 55% of the battery on average doing 70 to 75 MPH. I usually leave 90% and get at either home or work with 35%. I do the drive once or twice a week averaging 6 to 7 times a month. I typically don't commute during rush hour as I don't like driving in bumper to bumper traffic.

Been doing it for 2 years. I've saved about 16 hours of gas station time by not having to stop.
 

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