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Living with a Tesla Roadster

Discussion in 'Roadster' started by mpt, Dec 7, 2009.

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  1. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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  2. trevorlsciact

    trevorlsciact Member

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  3. stevezzzz

    stevezzzz R;SigS;P85D;SigX;S90D;XP100D;3LR

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    What's the issue with underbody wash and/or a touchless carwash in general? I've been through the touchless carwash three times now with my Roadster; so far the only downsides I've noted are a little water coming through the top front corner of the side window seals and a tendency for the soft top to collapse when driving through the blowers on exit. I've decided the former is a feature: I keep an old T-shirt handy and use the water to wipe footprints off the sills :smile:

    To prevent the soft top bashing me on the head I exit in creep mode with my foot on the brake and with both hands supporting the flexible struts that hold the top's shape.

    SteveZ
     
  4. Webbie

    Webbie Rather Senior

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    Tesla Roadster Sport: the first 3000 miles.

    Chapter 1.
    How we went out for a pizza and came home with a roadster.

    My wife was bummed. She'd had a lousy nights sleep. She'd spent the morning riding a difficult horse. And her sports car was in the shop for the third time in four months.

    We were driving back through Boulder, Colorado as we do most days and I thought of a way to cheer her up. I headed for the local take-and-bake pizza shop. OK, I hear you thinking, “Wow. Big spender!” So, a little side note. I ate a plethora of pizza working through lunch or late hours and mostly don't want it. Consequently, my wife seldom gets it, and it's a treat for her.

    Shortly, we arrived at Ninth and Pearl where the pizza shop is, and I see a neat little red car parked there. “Hey, nice Lotus,” I think. Then I saw the sign on the store right behind it and it says T E S L A.
    Whole different story. This, we agree, we have to see.

    Even though I had followed the Tesla story with a car buff's interest I had missed the announcement of a Boulder store. Now, by sheer luck, we walked in on opening day. Three or four cars on the floor (including Kimball Musk's orange #3 -- he owns a restaurant down the street), a couple cars out for test drives, posters, videos, brochures, snacks ... and a smart (not to mention exceptionally attractive) sales woman who opened the conversation by handing me a sheet explaining the $7500 Federal and ridiculously humongous Colorado tax rebates; a third of the price of the car! Well, interesting.

    “Yes,” I said, “but I know there's a waiting list. If we did want one, how long would we wait?”
    She told us they had fifteen, one of each color, assigned to this store and we could have one by early December, but it was first come, first serve and we had to buy it that day in order to guarantee the early delivery date. I was a little bemused. I walked over to look at the color chart, listened to the Tesla tech explaining some things to another customer, looked up and saw my wife with the sales woman calling up the black-on-black car on the computer and writing a check.

    You have to love a wife like that.

    Never did get the pizza.


    Chapter 2.
    The Tesla snowmobile.

    December 4. Our Roadster was ready, but were we? We live in the hills nine miles from and 1800 feet above downtown Boulder. It had been snowing all week. There were cars in the ditch on our road. My
    m-coupe is moth-balled for the winter. How could we get our Tesla home?

    Oh, well. We worked our way down the hill in our 4x4, just to sign the papers and at least have a look at the thing. Gorgeous. Black car, black leather, black wheels -- mounted with Yokohama extreme performance summer tires. Very sticky in the dry, not bad in the wet, and slide-sideways-off-the-crown-of-the-road-standing-still dangerous on snow and ice. Everybody commiserated with us when we said just to leave it on the floor as a display and we'd come get it when the snow melted. Understand, this was our Tesla sitting there ready to go and we had never yet driven one even ten feet.
    Just about then a pretty good sized delivery truck pulled in alongside the showroom, and the Sales Manager said, “Hey, you know what's on that truck? A set of snow tires I ordered for a customer, and an extra set I ordered just in case. You want them?” Want them? Does peanut butter want jelly?

    That was Friday night. Saturday morning, Pete at the Tire Source (best tire store in Colorado) mounted the snows and we finally got to drive the world's first super-fast, super-fun electric sports car.

    Whooo and wheee!

    Chapter 3.
    The daily driver.

    From our house to our stable in Golden is 27 miles, 54 miles round-trip nearly every day. Two days a week, add 35 miles to that for my wife's trip to her weightlifting trainer. Add in the occasional errand run, or evening out and you get 3,000 miles in the first ten weeks. Here's what it is like.

    The Tesla has three charging and driving modes; Range for distance and less power, Performance for more power and less distance, and Standard for every day. Hooked to the 50 amp 220 line in our garage it greets us with 187 miles of Standard charge each morning. Say that we drive it to Golden and get back around 1 p.m. We plug it in and it is fully charged again by 2:30 when Jane goes to lift weights. She plugs it in when she gets back at 4:30, and it's fully charged again if we go out to dinner at 6:30.

    When you take your foot of the accelerator, the motor slows the car and acts as a generator. So, the 1800 feet down hill in 6 1/2 miles that starts our trip puts a lot of juice back in. Driving through downtown at 30, 35 and 40 with regenerative slowing for lights and traffic is very efficient, hardly using any juice.

    Once past the city limit, we pick up Route 93 along the Flatirons and foothills of the Rockies. It winds and changes elevation a lot, has several lights, and most people drive the 55 mph road a little over 60. The car is wonderfully stable, flat handling and comfortable and just goes where you point it with slight turns of the (no power) steering.

    Here and there we get to blast away from a light, or shoot past slower traffic up a hill. That's when the massive, instant torque always brings a grin. Shot from guns. You're doing 40 and then you're doing 70 and all you moved was your right foot a couple of inches. Downright startling, and our other cars are a BMW m-coupe and a souped-up Mini Cooper S so we don't startle all that easily. We look forward to driving it every day. It is always pleasant and often exhilirating.

    The handling is surprisingly neutral considering all that weight in the back, though I've only driven on snow tires on dirty or snowy roads so I haven't pushed it yet. Turn-in feels good, though not as quick or positive as the BMW. It will push some on tight curves. The brakes are better than they feel, stopping the car with minimum fuss. I cannot say at this point that it is totally intuitive. It will take some learning. But if you look at the g-force and slalom stats in the car magazines you'll see that it does what you'd expect from a sports car. Autocross in March with real tires should tell me more about all this.

    You can get some small stuff in the trunk or under the passenger's knees so you can do minor errands on the way home, but don't go for a twenty-bag grocery shopping. It is not easy to get in and out of, but my wife's 6-foot cousin says it's easier than his Lotus Elise, and I say it's only a tad harder than my m-coupe. If you want easy access, buy a van. ;-)



    Chapter 4.
    Ice dancing.

    The Tesla Gallery in Boulder sponsored a day of ice driving on the lake in Georgetown.
    It's about 165 miles round trip from my house, with a lot of high speed highway and major elevation changes – thousands of feet. So, it was a demanding test of Range Mode. Worked fine. Had about 60 miles left when we got home.

    It's always fun driving on ice. My son and I have autocrossed on that lake a couple of times, winning a couple of years ago with a Mini Cooper – using the emergency brake to make turns while keeping the front wheels pulling hard. Can't do that in a Tesla, but you can use the power to break the rear end loose, and you can learn a lot about the anti-lock brakes. It's not the best ice car, but for a rear wheel driver it's fine. And, it was fun seeing 16 Tesla Roadsters all in one place.


    Chapter 5.
    That's all for now.

    One last thing. Our experience with Tesla people has been terrific. They are smart, knowledgeable, helpful – a quality bunch. That's what you should get with an expensive, high tech car, but you don't always. Big kudoes to this company for the lead it is taking in electric cars, and for the first class people making it happen. We're glad to be a part of this.
     
  5. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Great story! Thanks for sharing!
     
  6. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    By the way, I think KM's car is yellow, not orange... Unless he got another.
     
  7. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    Great stuff, look forward to more!
     
  8. Nichen

    Nichen Member

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    Loved reading that Webbie, thank you so much for the story. I'm getting the vision that...I just might...just might own a Tesla Roadster in the nearby future. The problem is...that the demand will be so friggin high for Tesla Roadsters because of the coming price for petrol.....

    :redface: / Nicholas
     
  9. Webbie

    Webbie Rather Senior

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    KM's car

    By the way, I think KM's car is yellow, not orange... Unless he got another.[/QUOTE]

    I think you are correct. I'll take a look at it on Thursday's Tech Night at the Boulder store.
     
  10. Webbie

    Webbie Rather Senior

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    KM's car

    TEG,

    You were right. Kimball Musk's car is yellow. Now has a yellow hard top as well.
    It's on more-or-less permanent display at the Boulder Tesla gallery, right up the street from Kimball's restaurant, The Kitchen.


    Alan
     
  11. Webbie

    Webbie Rather Senior

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    [​IMG]
    This is the lady that wrote the check that bought the Tesla say what the heck. ;-)
     
  12. dpeilow

    dpeilow Moderator

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    Came across some photos of this here.

    [​IMG]
     
  13. TEG

    TEG TMC Moderator

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    Thankfully, ICE wasn't an acronym for Internal Combustion Engine in that case.

    An autocross on ice sounds like loads of fun!
     
  14. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    I've commented before about how perfect the cruise control is. Not that it's a Adaptive Cruise Control -that would be really perfect! It's just that it absolutely LOCKS in to the setting no matter if you are climbing or going down steep grades. It just does not vary a bit.

    It's obvious, but If you charge in Range Mode and put on the cruse control right away you will find that downhill driving without regen will see the car get faster and faster...
     
  15. Webbie

    Webbie Rather Senior

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    Ice driving. This ice = frozen H2O. Yes. The black car on the far left in the curve of Teslas photo is mine.

    Thanks.
     
  16. mpt

    mpt Electrics are back

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    Year one driving electric {tick}

    I've not contributed much to this thread for a while now; I keep thinking about it but really, how does it sound:

    March: Drove car, it was great
    April: Drive some more; it's great
    May-July: more driving, some long trips up to Connecticut; battery didn't go flat.
    August: I took it in for its first service; all good, wheel count still at "four", didn't need a new anything.

    Truth is, it's become so normal a part of life that it's in real danger of becoming ordinary. For example I'm so anxious about range these days that I sometimes don't charge the car at night just to see what the gauge looks like when it changes color. I think nothing now of driving to work then over to New York City and back before home; 100+ miles in a day doesn't register on the anxiety scale. Jumping in the car with a 30 miles remaining and a 25 mile journey ahead of me "pfft".

    So how to round out the first year of driving impressions? Well, I think the best way is to go back to the old way and see how that feels now.

    I'm just back from vacation where I've just had three solid weeks experience in a total of four different traditional mechanical cars; each one reminding me just what life was like before electric drive.

    The MINI E is a science experiment and as such I'm bound to return it to MINI every 3000 miles and, being a bit overdue (we've done more than 10,000 miles in the last six months) they wanted to give it a really good look over. They kindly lent me a regular mechanical MINI Cooper Automatic. Bright red and decorated like the 1960's Monte Carlo Rally entry it looks great. Spec wise, it's an almost direct match for the E; same seats, steering wheel, equipment, wheels, tires, etc. so I figured that it was a good side-by-side comparison... So wrong.

    In just six months I'd forgotten so much about how these old things work. I pressed the run/stop button "clak, clak clak... brrr brrrr brrrr brrrrrr rrrrrrhhhhh" and the whole thing is shaking about, I can't hear the radio anymore nor the people around me outside of the car. Surprisingly, no one around is the slightest bit phased by this cacophony!

    Foot on brake and select 'drive'; the car lurches forwards straining on the brake, I press harder to be sure but then gingerly release it to move; with a jolt the car lurches forwards and up to walking pace. As I approach the end of the parking lot I re-apply the brake to find myself fighting the engine; it's trying to push me out into the traffic but enough force on the pedal holds it back.

    An opening in the traffic appears and I quickly move from brake to accelerator. In anticipation of the forward thrust I tense my muscles but nothing happens; I just rock forward into the steering wheel before the delayed responses from this dinosaur tech kick in and with a lurch backwards into my seat I enter the oncoming traffic - we're off!

    As I settle into the acceleration, the brakes come on and the car slows again, nope, I'm wrong, it's trying to change the gear ratio; second gear is entered with another jolt and the speed continues to pick up.

    It's amazing to me now how agricultural the experience is; selecting gears you can feel bits of machinery clanking together; braking you feel the uneven force of the engine pulsing through the mechanical drive train.

    In traffic I'm surprised when the air conditioning starts to fade; it's a really hot day, the temperature of people and whilst I'll admit that the Tesla AC is a bit asthmatic the AC in the MINI E is so good it could keep Frosty the Snowman happily driving the streets of Miami all day without him arriving home in an embarrassing puddle of his own fluids. Not so in the ICE car, when you slow down the AC pump slows down and can no longer keep up, add to that the extra heat from the exhaust system and the heater that doesn't quite turn off and it's sweaty in here. Slipping the transmission into neutral and lifting the revs restores the balance but now the engine is racing; now people are watching!

    Fast-forward a week and I'm in the UK driving a top-spec Fiat Panda Automatic. Here's another take at automatic transmission or, here's another take at making ICE cars more civilized. In this car, the gearbox is actually a manual box but with a computer controlled clutch and will change by itself; it's a cousin of the 'box found on the Maserati Quattroporte. Technically, it's really clever; when changing gears it studies the load on the car, the position of the accelerator, the speed of the car and the engine then invariably side-steps the clutch with a thump that sends everyone in the car head banging like that scene in Wayne's World when they're in the AMC Pacer rocking out to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody".

    Last one and the closest ICE car to an electric; I've rented a Vauxhall Insignia; basically, a mid-sized car with a turbo-diesel engine. I say it's the closest to an electric as, unlike the other cars I've been using this one has a bit of torque. Admittedly that torque only exists between about 1,700 and 1,900rpm, but, at that sweet spot it's the first ICE car I've driven here that can accelerate with some of that quiet and effortless thrust that comes so easily from electric motors. The price for this sweet-spot is an engine that sounds as though all the oil leaked out years ago.

    Some of the miles were done on fast twisty UK country roads; great fun but again a reminder that when asked "Which is best, automatic or manual gearbox?" the correct answer is "None". At nearly every point it was in the wrong gear; down changing half way up hills, up changes through long bends unsettling the car and each change punctuated by a puff of thick black soot from the tailpipe and an angry thrashing din from up front.

    The one saving grace for the diesel car was that, after a charge up on fresh diesel it did go 13 hours and over 600 miles on that charge; a charge that cost $170 by the way!

    Electric cars are all about the environment & about independence from foreign oil but I've discovered that after all the eco and political good, the one thing that electric cars are, day after day, is simply a better car.

    Year one driving electric {tick}
     
  17. ChargeIt!

    ChargeIt! Member

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    YES ! Yes, indeedy!
     
  18. dwegmull

    dwegmull 2013 Model S 85

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    Thanks for the great write up! For me, owning a Roadster is first and foremost about driving it. Driving an electric car is all about instant torque. If you want a similar experience while burning fossil fuel, I recommend you drive a steam powered car: it's quiet, has no gear box and has maximum torque at zero RPM! The only advantage over an electric is the steam whistle!
     
  19. vfx

    vfx Well-Known Member

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    I bet Dr, Taras has a steam whistle in his electric car. :)
     
  20. DrTaras

    DrTaras R254->R725->S->X->M3-->R2020?

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    Working on it! :cool:
     

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