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Model S vs Audi TDIs vs 535d - looong commute

BigEgyptian

Member
Oct 22, 2020
13
2
Woods & Sticks of CT
Hi everyone,

First post! :)

So, just got a new job, that will require a bit of a change in lifestyle for us.

My commute is going up from around 20 miles each way (about 30 mins, little traffic) to 85 miles each way (1.5 hrs) each way - saving grace is that I won't be driving every day; only 2, maybe 3 times a week. 98% of the commute is highway.

Cross-shopping 3 cars, as the title indicates:
- Audi A6 TDI
- Audi A8 TDI
- BMW 535d
- Tesla Model S

Planning on buying any of the 3 cars pre-owned, and keeping them for 5 - 7 yrs.
What I'm thinking is that the Audis or BMW have a lower purchase price, but their maintenance cost will catch up. The Tesla has a higher initial cost, but lower running costs. In the end, I think all 4 cars are about even when it comes to what I'll spend out of pocket when it comes to buy something else (none of which are cheap! :) )

The commute being long is why I'm mainly looking at diesels. I love the Model S, and have wanted one since they came out back in 2012. Still believe it's one of the most advanced cars on the market, 8 years running.

Where I get stuck with the model S is:
1. Range - it's 170 mile commute. From my research, factoring in about 40% lost range during winter time means that I should be looking for about 250 mi of range, which puts me squarely in the 90D.

Is this enough? Or, are my estimates incorrect?
Looking for someone who owns one in our lovely area in New England to help me confirm that my calculations are correct.

2. Model year - I like the facelift, but the old shape is not a deal breaker. Autopilot is a nice to have for me, I like to drive.
Thinking of a 2016, so I can get the best of both worlds; free Supercharging, and facelift.
Downside will probably be MCU1, which I'll have to consider upgrading to MCU2, at some point.

What do you guys think? Where have I gone wrong?
 

BigEgyptian

Member
Oct 22, 2020
13
2
Woods & Sticks of CT
Forgot to add; only reason I'm considering the Audi A6 & A8 is that I think I may need the longer wheelsbase. I'm tall (6'3", 34 inseam pants) and my kids are tall too (our 11 yr old is 5'9" already). I'd like to buy a car where I don't have to push the seat forward, for the kids to sit behind me.
 

Tam

Well-Known Member
Nov 25, 2012
8,930
7,719
Visalia, CA
...I'm tall (6'3", 34 inseam pants)...

For roomier, I would get an X.

...Is this enough?...

It's never enough! I would get the longest range that I can afford.

...Downside will probably be MCU1, which I'll have to consider upgrading to MCU2, at some point...

MCU1 to MCU2 upgrade is an extra $2,5000 and not included if you buy FSD for those equipped cars.

It is highly recommended that you get MCU2 if you want FSD because FSD would consume too much calculating power that MCU1 just can't cope with.

Notice that majority of 2016 cars are HW1 and do not have HW2 which is the minimum if you want to upgrade to FSD.

...free Supercharging...

It's a rare breed and I hope you can get it!
 

ucmndd

Well-Known Member
Mar 10, 2016
6,669
12,527
California
I commute 120 miles per day (or did before COVID) and dumped a VW Passat TDI with an 800 mile range to get my Model S and have never regretted that decision for a minute. Diesels are filthy and TBH I'd never buy one again.

170 miles is up there and were I you with Northeast winters I'd probably be looking at early 100Ds vs 90s, though that may not play nice with your budget situation.

I'll also note that while the Model S is a "big car", it's not particularly spacious on the inside. I'm 6' 5" and while I can drive comfortably with the seat all the way back and down, my 5'9" daughter grumbles pretty loud if she gets stuck behind me.

But for a commuter... it can't be beat.
 
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beatle

Active Member
Aug 31, 2019
1,168
612
Springfield, VA
You're correct that a used 85 or 90 will have about 245-255 miles of rated range (maybe a little more), but consider that you're likely to charge it to 90% on a daily basis, so take that down to 225. 40% efficiency loss is pretty pessimistic even driving into a cold wind, but I suppose it's not out of the question. I've gotten into the low 70% efficiency range while averaging 70+ mph with headwind and the temperature in the upper 30s. Add some precipitation or drop 10-15 degrees and you could reach the 60s.

Your average speed can affect that number as well. I think a 170 mile round trip in a CT winter would be a little too close for comfort, especially if you're parking outside at work and cannot charge at all.

I would be looking for a 100D as a starting point for that distance in those conditions, or plan to charge at some point during your workday/commute.

That out of the way, the S is a terrific highway vehicle provided the charging doesn't interfere with your plans. Autopilot really spoils you for driving anything without at least TACC.
 

DerbyDave

Member
Jul 2, 2020
820
454
Kentucky
I am 6'4". I just traded my 2017 Audi A8 S Long Wheelbase for a Tesla S Long Range +. The Tesla has plenty of room. The Audi has more rear space, obviously, but the S has plenty in back as well.
 

BigEgyptian

Member
Oct 22, 2020
13
2
Woods & Sticks of CT
Thank you for replying @Tam

It's never enough! I would get the longest range that I can afford.

THIS! SO MUCH!
The challenge is to find one that has enough range, and still fits the budget.


MCU1 to MCU2 upgrade is an extra $2,5000 and not included if you buy FSD for those equipped cars.

It is highly recommended that you get MCU2 if you want FSD because FSD would consume too much calculating power that MCU1 just can't cope with.

Notice that majority of 2016 cars are HW1 and do not have HW2 which is the minimum if you want to upgrade to FSD.
Honestly, FSD is not really high on my priority list. Granted, I have not been commuting yet, and I have no idea when I'll start commuting. However, I have a feeling that after a few weeks, the 1.5 hr commute each way is going to get old, and I'll start using FSD, if I have it

It's a rare breed and I hope you can get it!
The hunt is on!
 
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BigEgyptian

Member
Oct 22, 2020
13
2
Woods & Sticks of CT
I commute 120 miles per day (or did before COVID) and dumped a VW Passat TDI with an 800 mile range to get my Model S and have never regretted that decision for a minute. Diesels are filthy and TBH I'd never buy one again.

170 miles is up there and were I you with Northeast winters I'd probably be looking at early 100Ds vs 90s, though that may not play nice with your budget situation.

I'll also note that while the Model S is a "big car", it's not particularly spacious on the inside. I'm 6' 5" and while I can drive comfortably with the seat all the way back and down, my 5'9" daughter grumbles pretty loud if she gets stuck behind me.

But for a commuter... it can't be beat.

I like diesels mostly for their efficiency, especially on highways, where the majority of my commute will be. The new ones have gotten so good as well (barring VWs cheating fiasco, of course)

You're correct that a used 85 or 90 will have about 245-255 miles of rated range (maybe a little more), but consider that you're likely to charge it to 90% on a daily basis, so take that down to 225. 40% efficiency loss is pretty pessimistic even driving into a cold wind, but I suppose it's not out of the question. I've gotten into the low 70% efficiency range while averaging 70+ mph with headwind and the temperature in the upper 30s. Add some precipitation or drop 10-15 degrees and you could reach the 60s.

Your average speed can affect that number as well. I think a 170 mile round trip in a CT winter would be a little too close for comfort, especially if you're parking outside at work and cannot charge at all.

I would be looking for a 100D as a starting point for that distance in those conditions, or plan to charge at some point during your workday/commute.

That out of the way, the S is a terrific highway vehicle provided the charging doesn't interfere with your plans. Autopilot really spoils you for driving anything without at least TACC.

That's exactly what I was concerned about. There's no covered parking. Middle of Feb, it's going to be close to 0F, and I'll get out to find I don't have enough juice to go home.

I did find a charger about 2 miles from the office building (not a supercharger). Do you think it's realistic to plan on a quick 15 - 20 min re-charge in the car on the way home, for those 2 - 3 weeks in the year? Is this even realistic?

I like the car, but want to be realistic in the sacrifices I'm making here, given my commute.

I am 6'4". I just traded my 2017 Audi A8 S Long Wheelbase for a Tesla S Long Range +. The Tesla has plenty of room. The Audi has more rear space, obviously, but the S has plenty in back as well.

Thank you! This definitely puts things into perspective.
What I'm planning on doing to test this out, is to rent a Model S off of Turo for a weekend before I bite the bullet. That way, I can make sure:
a. It fits
b. I actually like driving it
 

FatherTo1

Member
Mar 7, 2019
815
704
California
I like diesels mostly for their efficiency, especially on highways, where the majority of my commute will be. The new ones have gotten so good as well (barring VWs cheating fiasco, of course)



That's exactly what I was concerned about. There's no covered parking. Middle of Feb, it's going to be close to 0F, and I'll get out to find I don't have enough juice to go home.

I did find a charger about 2 miles from the office building (not a supercharger). Do you think it's realistic to plan on a quick 15 - 20 min re-charge in the car on the way home, for those 2 - 3 weeks in the year? Is this even realistic?

I like the car, but want to be realistic in the sacrifices I'm making here, given my commute.



Thank you! This definitely puts things into perspective.
What I'm planning on doing to test this out, is to rent a Model S off of Turo for a weekend before I bite the bullet. That way, I can make sure:
a. It fits
b. I actually like driving it

You already know about cold temps impacting your range but it also impacts your charging. You may not be able to charge much in 15-20 min if temps are freezing because it takes that long (or longer) to warm the battery sufficiently enough for it to even take the charge.

Renting is a good idea but also ask the local Tesla Service Center if they'll let you keep an S a couple of days, or a weekend, to decide if it fits your lifestyle. Plenty of folks on the forum have done this.
 

BigEgyptian

Member
Oct 22, 2020
13
2
Woods & Sticks of CT
You already know about cold temps impacting your range but it also impacts your charging. You may not be able to charge much in 15-20 min if temps are freezing because it takes that long (or longer) to warm the battery sufficiently enough for it to even take the charge.
Yes, I did read about that. To be honest, it did not 'click' until you put it in the comment, thank you!

Renting is a good idea but also ask the local Tesla Service Center if they'll let you keep an S a couple of days, or a weekend, to decide if it fits your lifestyle. Plenty of folks on the forum have done this.
I actually thought about renting one on Turo, not calling up the service center. Let me try that, and see if they have something available.
 

BigNick

Infamous Fat Sweaty Guy
Dec 3, 2017
1,211
1,449
Pennsylvania, USA
I am 6'4". I just traded my 2017 Audi A8 S Long Wheelbase for a Tesla S Long Range +. The Tesla has plenty of room. The Audi has more rear space, obviously, but the S has plenty in back as well.
The latest Model S seats are supposed to have thinner seatbacks for additional rear leg room.
I can say that my large "Next Gen" seats have a lot of "junk in the trunk" and don't leave a whole lot of legroom for rear seat passengers.
Two extra inches (that's a guess) of rear legroom can make a big difference.
I did find a charger about 2 miles from the office building (not a supercharger). Do you think it's realistic to plan on a quick 15 - 20 min re-charge in the car on the way home, for those 2 - 3 weeks in the year? Is this even realistic?
If it's an L3 charger (CHAdeMO) you could get the Tesla CHAdeMO adapter ($450) and 15-20 minutes would possibly put some 40 usable miles into your battery.
If it's an L2 charger, 15-20 minutes on that might give you an additional 10 miles max.
Those numbers are assuming your battery is warm enough to actually charge.

Also keep in mind if you're looking for a 90. The early 90 packs had the quickest degradation when a lot of DC fast charging was used.
1063792-00-A: V1 (avoid this like the plague)
1071394-00-A: V2 (OK, not ideal in a P90DL as the V3 has more max power)
1088792-00-A: V3 (Best/newest 90 pack)
Generally, facelift 90D cars should have at least a V2 pack and facelift P90D(L) a V3 pack, but it is always best to check. If you buy from Tesla used, you won't know what you're getting.
 
Last edited:

beatle

Active Member
Aug 31, 2019
1,168
612
Springfield, VA
That's exactly what I was concerned about. There's no covered parking. Middle of Feb, it's going to be close to 0F, and I'll get out to find I don't have enough juice to go home.

I did find a charger about 2 miles from the office building (not a supercharger). Do you think it's realistic to plan on a quick 15 - 20 min re-charge in the car on the way home, for those 2 - 3 weeks in the year? Is this even realistic?

I like the car, but want to be realistic in the sacrifices I'm making here, given my commute.

As BigNick mentioned, you might be able to get enough juice to get home if it's a DC fast charger, but not if it's L2 (240v AC). I think this routine would get old real quick unless you were already going that way for lunch. There's also no guarantee that the charger(s) will be free/working. With all the variables that go into your actual range, your need to charge on the way home may be more than 2-3 weeks out of the year if you have a 90kwh pack or smaller.

I would expect prices to drop on used vehicles soon as the recent new car price adjustments start to depress the overall market prices, so a 100D might be within reach.
 

BioSci

Member
Sep 14, 2020
92
102
Boston MetroWest
Agreed. With the latest price cuts, you can have a brand new Model S LR+ for under $70K. It'll have all the latest tech, 4 years of warranty, and the best range currently available.
 

cduzz

Member
Jun 6, 2019
419
519
boston ma
I recently found myself commuting 100 miles one way in my early 90d; I do it once or twice a week.

Leaving at 95% or above and driving smoothly allows me to get there with 55%. I haven't tried in the winter, but I don't think I'd be able to make it back without a stop at a supercharger.

Since I find myself at the remote location for more than a day, I just charge on a 120/15a plug and it's enough to make it easy to get back. If you don't have L2 charging at work or a DC fast charging option between home and work, I think you're going to find yourself occasionally worrying about range in bad weather or if you leave without prepping the car, etc.

I'd recommend getting at least a 100 class S. Or maybe a Y. The 3 / Y will charge much "faster" from the same L1/L2 charger because they're more efficient; my car adds 4 miles an hour at 120v/12a while a Y is reputed to add 7 miles an hour from the same low power feed. If you're able to just L1 charge at work, that would be enough to bridge the gap.

The car's a dream to commute in. I can't really fathom driving a car with an automatic transmission anymore where you say "hey car, can we go faster right now? and the car responds -- yeah, hang on a bit while I shift some gears, noodle with some fuel mixture and throttle settings and some other stuff. Um, yeah, how about now, is this fast enough?" With the EV, you just *go*.

I can't speak to the headroom issue other than obviously don't get a solid roof car; the glass roof / sunroof make a big difference.
 

BigEgyptian

Member
Oct 22, 2020
13
2
Woods & Sticks of CT
As BigNick mentioned, you might be able to get enough juice to get home if it's a DC fast charger, but not if it's L2 (240v AC). I think this routine would get old real quick unless you were already going that way for lunch. There's also no guarantee that the charger(s) will be free/working. With all the variables that go into your actual range, your need to charge on the way home may be more than 2-3 weeks out of the year if you have a 90kwh pack or smaller.
I have to agree, you do make a good point. The routine will definitely get old quickly.


I would expect prices to drop on used vehicles soon as the recent new car price adjustments start to depress the overall market prices, so a 100D might be within reach.
I hope so! Good thing is that I don't have to buy now; work is 100% remote at the moment, and is forecasted to continue to be so into 2021 (I work in IT). All my research has been to confirm that I'm ready. Once the rumors start getting strong on when we'll get back to the office, I want to know exactly what I will buy.

The 100D is within reach, thankfully. I just wanted to cap the budget at 50K. For now, I'll just confirm the car works for us in terms of size, and lifestyle. Once ready to buy, I'll probably start looking for the biggest batteries I can afford.

If it was me, I would bite the bullet and get a new S LR. Then there would be no issues even in winter.
I have considered it, to be honest. It's just that I don't want to pay this much for a car, at the moment. There are other priorities that I'd like to focus on first, before I splurge :)
 

BigEgyptian

Member
Oct 22, 2020
13
2
Woods & Sticks of CT
I recently found myself commuting 100 miles one way in my early 90d; I do it once or twice a week.

Leaving at 95% or above and driving smoothly allows me to get there with 55%. I haven't tried in the winter, but I don't think I'd be able to make it back without a stop at a supercharger.

Since I find myself at the remote location for more than a day, I just charge on a 120/15a plug and it's enough to make it easy to get back. If you don't have L2 charging at work or a DC fast charging option between home and work, I think you're going to find yourself occasionally worrying about range in bad weather or if you leave without prepping the car, etc.

I'd recommend getting at least a 100 class S. Or maybe a Y. The 3 / Y will charge much "faster" from the same L1/L2 charger because they're more efficient; my car adds 4 miles an hour at 120v/12a while a Y is reputed to add 7 miles an hour from the same low power feed. If you're able to just L1 charge at work, that would be enough to bridge the gap.

The car's a dream to commute in. I can't really fathom driving a car with an automatic transmission anymore where you say "hey car, can we go faster right now? and the car responds -- yeah, hang on a bit while I shift some gears, noodle with some fuel mixture and throttle settings and some other stuff. Um, yeah, how about now, is this fast enough?" With the EV, you just *go*.

I can't speak to the headroom issue other than obviously don't get a solid roof car; the glass roof / sunroof make a big difference.
This is great input, thank you.
The reason I'm thinking about the S, not the 3/Y is because I'm hoping the longer wheelbase will give us more room (tall family).
From your comment, it really sounds like the 90 may not have enough juice for my commute, so I'll need to stretch for:
a. The 100D
b. The LR+, as recommended by @jerry33 & @BioSci

There really are no bad choices here, no doubt. It's just about finding the right car for my target budget.

Agreed. With the latest price cuts, you can have a brand new Model S LR+ for under $70K. It'll have all the latest tech, 4 years of warranty, and the best range currently available.
It is a beautiful car, for sure. Thank you for seconding @jerry33 's comment
 

CSFTN

Member
Aug 24, 2014
934
517
Memphis, TN
You're correct that a used 85 or 90 will have about 245-255 miles of rated range (maybe a little more), but consider that you're likely to charge it to 90% on a daily basis, so take that down to 225. 40% efficiency loss is pretty pessimistic even driving into a cold wind, but I suppose it's not out of the question.
Agree with this. It seems that most who see 40% loss are driving in Montana or similar, gale winds with large elevation changes. Not typical NE or mid-Atlantic conditions.
 

JohnQ

Active Member
Jan 1, 2012
1,612
75
Redding, CT
Two questions: 1) do you have access to charging at your place of work? I'm assuming you don't since you're concerned about having range for the full 170 mile round trip. 2) How fast do you drive?

I'm in SW CT and have a 2013 85kWh that I've owned since new. When it was new, I could make the drive to Boston--exactly 170 miles--in the dead of winter if I charged to 100% and kept the speed between 75 and 80 mph. 100% charge was 265 miles and I usually arrived with about 40 miles when temps were in the single digits. I'd then charge up over 10 hours at an L2 while at work (this was before there were any superchargers on the I-84 to I-90 route) and make the drive home the same day.

If you don't have a charger at work you have to consider the energy to reheat the cold soaked battery while you're at work. If you slow down, that'll help, of course. I'd honestly be uncomfortable with that drive in the winter, including the cold soak, with less than 250 miles range. You'll get killed on range if there's slush on the road and that would definitely require a supercharger stop on the way home.

I still wouldn't get the Audi or BWW, I'd just get the right Model S for the job if it's in your budget--current model year LR.
 

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