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New Model S concerns.

Doubledge

Member
May 1, 2018
8
24
Maryland
Well, I got a test drive. I was seriously considering trading in my 2017 but after seeing more details particularly about this steering wheel and related features, among some other items, I think I'm going to wait and see how this shakes out. I have a feeling that some of this new stuff is going to evolve once enough people have one and start complaining. I hate to sound like this as I consider myself fairly comfortable on the edge of technology and willing to participate in paradigm shifts. I'm just having a difficult time with some of these changes from a usability standpoint. Maybe I'm wrong but here are my issues. I'm curious what others think.

1) No more key fob:
So now you use your phone as the primary key and you get a wallet card as backup. I think this is a great feature addition but not to replace the dedicated key fob. In fact I would be happy to pay extra for a key fob as an option but we don't even get that choice. I would see my phone as a good secondary or backup option. I just don't want to have to rely on a non-dedicated device let alone the multitude of reasons why my phone might not work as expected at any given time. Phone battery dead, an app freezing or crashing my phone, the Tesla app crashing (which I've had happen), making sure I did forget to turn the BT back on after I needed to disable it, etc. In fact, in the car, I often give my kid my phone to play a game or stream a show or even do something for school. When I do this I have turn off the BT so the sound comes out form the phone. I'm not even sure if this would prevent the car from driving if it looses the BT connect once you're in the car. This means I would have to use the wallet card.

You also loose the ability to easily do the functions of the fob such as opening the frunk or trunk as you approach the car, automatically closing the trunk without walking around to the rear of the car, activating the summon feature to pull it out of a parking spot when someone parked too close for you to get in easily. You would be required to pull out your phone, unlock it, open the app, let it connect, find the functions and use them. Not practical from any standpoint. Not to mention there are plenty of times I'm somewhere I don't want to pull out my phone or wallet and I need to be vigilant of my surrounds. Loosing the fob does not make things easier.

2) Gear Selection:
Again, I think this automated selection of the likely gear you want based on obstacles and automatically setting park under the conditions it does so is a great new feature. Love it and can't wait for it to evolve. However there are plenty of regular complex scenarios where it doesn't work and moving the gear selection to the screen means one must take their eyes off the road to use it. That seems short sighted. Think of trying to make a quick 3 point turn, parallel parking on a tight roadway or worse, an emergency situation you need to avoid quickly. This feels like a solution looking for a problem.

3) Steering Wheel:
I have no issue with the yoke idea and think I would probably get used to it just fine. But the only thing this improves is arguably the aesthetic of viewing the dash. It certainly dos not make driving any easier. Again, a solution looking for a problem. At highway speed it's not an issue because you do not need to move the wheel very much. At local speeds however, anytime you have to rotate it more than 90 degrees it gets awkward and more difficult. Also, the more sporty you set the car the more difficult it become to use the yoke as it gets pretty firm. I don't know how it would feel on a long drive but I do know I often move my hand positions on the wheel to reduce fatigue. Furthermore, you can no longer let the wheel slide though your hands as it returns to center coming out of a turn controlling its rate easily. Again, a solution looking for a problem and that does not really improve anything worthwhile. I expect to see a robust aftermarket business of swapping the steering wheel.

4) Steering Wheel Controls:
Ok, this stuff bugs me the most. Removing the stalks and putting those functions on the steering wheel is again a solution looking for a problem. It not only improves nothing, it's dangerous. In particular, having the turn signals and horn as buttons on the wheel means that you will never find them when the wheel is turning without taking your eyes off the road and looking. That's the beauty of the stalks and why those functions have traditionally been there. They don't move. They are in the same location all the time and easy to locate no matter what you're doing with the wheel. Try finding the horn in a split second to avoid an accident as your navigating a turn, traffic circle, turning around, doing two turns in succession, etc. The turn signals suffer in the same way in addition to the fact that they are both on the same side which is not intuitive.

5) Rear Screen:
This is an awesome addition even if the location is awkward and not ideal. However it's not fully ready yet. I have to image this will get better with software updates but right now you can't bifurcate the audio. For example you can't pair headphones with the rear and stream something there while those in the front listen to something else. You also can't play something on the rear speaks that's different from the front, though that would probably not work well in practice anyway. I do think this will improve.

6) Electronic Doors: Now all the doors have electronic releases instead of mechanical levers. The rear doors on my 2017 model s are already like that and I hate it. It requires an emergency mechanical mechanism be available in case of failure which would likely happen exactly when you don't want to have any issue getting out. No one would know they were there either. You would have to show everyone getting in your car how to do this. It's not young kid friendly either. While my 8 year old has no problem getting out of the car I have no faith she would remember what I showed her with regard to this and be able to do it in panic or god forbid if I was incapacitated. Now with all of the doors like this your odds seem worse should you be in an accident and there be a fire or you are in water.
 

DirtyT3sla

Member
Apr 17, 2019
548
591
Holly
Having lived with the phone key on my Model 3 for 2.5 years, I think your concerns there are not founded. I have never had to use my key card while I had my phone, and I've only had to open the app to unlock the car maybe twice. Other than that, every day, I just walk up, get in, and drive away.

Edit: I meant to say, I agree with the rest. I think it'll turn out fine, but I really want my wife to be able to try the yoke before we take delivery.
 

Doubledge

Member
May 1, 2018
8
24
Maryland
Having lived with the phone key on my Model 3 for 2.5 years, I think your concerns there are not founded. I have never had to use my key card while I had my phone, and I've only had to open the app to unlock the car maybe twice. Other than that, every day, I just walk up, get in, and drive away.

Edit: I meant to say, I agree with the rest. I think it'll turn out fine, but I really want my wife to be able to try the yoke before we take delivery.
Wife buy-in is important!

Thanks for the insight.
 
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Doubledge

Member
May 1, 2018
8
24
Maryland
Having lived with the phone key on my Model 3 for 2.5 years, I think your concerns there are not founded. I have never had to use my key card while I had my phone, and I've only had to open the app to unlock the car maybe twice. Other than that, every day, I just walk up, get in, and drive away.

Edit: I meant to say, I agree with the rest. I think it'll turn out fine, but I really want my wife to be able to try the yoke before we take delivery.
It's primarily loosing the other fob features (trunk, frunk and summon) that disappoint me rather than just general access. However, as you pointed out with the two times it didn't work, reliability is in the back of my mind. I have to admit that I have a bit of a heightened concern as I once narrowly avoided getting mugged or car jacked or whatever might have happened had I not been able to swiftly get in and get going. It's hard to shake that feeling.
 
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MorrisonHiker

S 100D 2021.4.18.2
Mar 8, 2015
9,835
9,207
Colorado
1) No more key fob:
So now you use your phone as the primary key and you get a wallet card as backup. I think this is a great feature addition but not to replace the dedicated key fob. In fact I would be happy to pay extra for a key fob as an option but we don't even get that choice. I would see my phone as a good secondary or backup option. I just don't want to have to rely on a non-dedicated device let alone the multitude of reasons why my phone might not work as expected at any given time. Phone battery dead, an app freezing or crashing my phone, the Tesla app crashing (which I've had happen), making sure I did forget to turn the BT back on after I needed to disable it, etc. In fact, in the car, I often give my kid my phone to play a game or stream a show or even do something for school. When I do this I have turn off the BT so the sound comes out form the phone. I'm not even sure if this would prevent the car from driving if it looses the BT connect once you're in the car. This means I would have to use the wallet card.

You also loose the ability to easily do the functions of the fob such as opening the frunk or trunk as you approach the car, automatically closing the trunk without walking around to the rear of the car, activating the summon feature to pull it out of a parking spot when someone parked too close for you to get in easily. You would be required to pull out your phone, unlock it, open the app, let it connect, find the functions and use them. Not practical from any standpoint. Not to mention there are plenty of times I'm somewhere I don't want to pull out my phone or wallet and I need to be vigilant of my surrounds. Loosing the fob does not make things easier.

It's primarily loosing the other fob features (trunk, frunk and summon) that disappoint me rather than just general access. However, as you pointed out with the two times it didn't work, reliability is in the back of my mind. I have to admit that I have a bit of a heightened concern as I once narrowly avoided getting mugged or car jacked or whatever might have happened had I not been able to swiftly get in and get going. It's hard to shake that feeling.
According to @omarsultan , the fobs are still included.
 

omarsultan

Active Member
Jun 22, 2013
3,602
12,714
Northern California
A couple of thoughts/observations, having lived with the car for a 10 days or so that you might find helpful

Well, I got a test drive. I was seriously considering trading in my 2017 but after seeing more details particularly about this steering wheel and related features, among some other items, I think I'm going to wait and see how this shakes out. I have a feeling that some of this new stuff is going to evolve once enough people have one and start complaining. I hate to sound like this as I consider myself fairly comfortable on the edge of technology and willing to participate in paradigm shifts. I'm just having a difficult time with some of these changes from a usability standpoint. Maybe I'm wrong but here are my issues. I'm curious what others think.

1) No more key fob:
So now you use your phone as the primary key and you get a wallet card as backup. I think this is a great feature addition but not to replace the dedicated key fob. In fact I would be happy to pay extra for a key fob as an option but we don't even get that choice. I would see my phone as a good secondary or backup option. I just don't want to have to rely on a non-dedicated device let alone the multitude of reasons why my phone might not work as expected at any given time. Phone battery dead, an app freezing or crashing my phone, the Tesla app crashing (which I've had happen), making sure I did forget to turn the BT back on after I needed to disable it, etc. In fact, in the car, I often give my kid my phone to play a game or stream a show or even do something for school. When I do this I have turn off the BT so the sound comes out form the phone. I'm not even sure if this would prevent the car from driving if it looses the BT connect once you're in the car. This means I would have to use the wallet card.
As I said in the other response, the car comes with 2 fobs and 2 card and you can set up a total of 17 devices. I have been using the phone key largely because it is one less thing to carry around. The car is perhaps a second slower to respond than with the fob on my last S ('13 P85) but the delay is not objectionable, it is does work 100% of the time, which is more important to me. I do keep a card in my clip and the fobs are in the kitchen drawer.

You also loose the ability to easily do the functions of the fob such as opening the frunk or trunk as you approach the car, automatically closing the trunk without walking around to the rear of the car, activating the summon feature to pull it out of a parking spot when someone parked too close for you to get in easily. You would be required to pull out your phone, unlock it, open the app, let it connect, find the functions and use them. Not practical from any standpoint. Not to mention there are plenty of times I'm somewhere I don't want to pull out my phone or wallet and I need to be vigilant of my surrounds. Loosing the fob does not make things easier.
Can't disagree with any of these. I have an app called Tessie which give me a complication on my Appel watch which lets me do most of what the Tesla app does without having to dig our my phone.

2) Gear Selection:
Again, I think this automated selection of the likely gear you want based on obstacles and automatically setting park under the conditions it does so is a great new feature. Love it and can't wait for it to evolve. However there are plenty of regular complex scenarios where it doesn't work and moving the gear selection to the screen means one must take their eyes off the road to use it. That seems short sighted. Think of trying to make a quick 3 point turn, parallel parking on a tight roadway or worse, an emergency situation you need to avoid quickly. This feels like a solution looking for a problem.
Automatic gear selection is only for shifting out of park. I was originally skeptical of the feature, but became a fan, You can see a quick demo here: AutoShift Demo. The on-screen shifter in on the left edge of the main display, so I find it stays in my normal field of view without having to turn my head. I am still getting used to it, but fine for 3-point turns, probably no more work than having a floor or console mounted shifter. There is an example of 3-pt turn here: Yoke Adventure 3 (I have been documenting my acclimation to the yoke--this video was at the one week mark).

3) Steering Wheel:
I have no issue with the yoke idea and think I would probably get used to it just fine. But the only thing this improves is arguably the aesthetic of viewing the dash. It certainly dos not make driving any easier. Again, a solution looking for a problem. At highway speed it's not an issue because you do not need to move the wheel very much. At local speeds however, anytime you have to rotate it more than 90 degrees it gets awkward and more difficult. Also, the more sporty you set the car the more difficult it become to use the yoke as it gets pretty firm. I don't know how it would feel on a long drive but I do know I often move my hand positions on the wheel to reduce fatigue. Furthermore, you can no longer let the wheel slide though your hands as it returns to center coming out of a turn controlling its rate easily. Again, a solution looking for a problem and that does not really improve anything worthwhile. I expect to see a robust aftermarket business of swapping the steering wheel.
I had some trepidation about the yoke and the first coupel fo days felt like being in drivers ed again, but in the last few days, I've really stopped thinking about it as muscle memory is being re-built. The rim along the bottom half gives you a fair amount of flexibility--most of my drive is one-handed these day, either holding the top left corner or bottom right corner. I also liked to use let the wheel return to center on exiting a turn. I've pulled it off a couple of times with the yoke--will keep at it.

4) Steering Wheel Controls:
Ok, this stuff bugs me the most. Removing the stalks and putting those functions on the steering wheel is again a solution looking for a problem. It not only improves nothing, it's dangerous. In particular, having the turn signals and horn as buttons on the wheel means that you will never find them when the wheel is turning without taking your eyes off the road and looking. That's the beauty of the stalks and why those functions have traditionally been there. They don't move. They are in the same location all the time and easy to locate no matter what you're doing with the wheel. Try finding the horn in a split second to avoid an accident as your navigating a turn, traffic circle, turning around, doing two turns in succession, etc. The turn signals suffer in the same way in addition to the fact that they are both on the same side which is not intuitive.
I was also skeptical about this and joked about not being able to get out of the Fremont parking lot with the new stalkless scheme, I guess I feel differently on this after living with it. The bumps on the yoke definitely help using the turn signals without looking. In terms of access, in turns up to ~90 degrees, turn signals and horn are remain under you left and right thumbs, respectively. I think this is an improvement in that you don't need to move your hands off the yoke to use them.

5) Rear Screen:
This is an awesome addition even if the location is awkward and not ideal. However it's not fully ready yet. I have to image this will get better with software updates but right now you can't bifurcate the audio. For example you can't pair headphones with the rear and stream something there while those in the front listen to something else. You also can't play something on the rear speaks that's different from the front, though that would probably not work well in practice anyway. I do think this will improve.
Yup, I expect an update which lets folks in the rear get their own audio over bluetooth. There are a few aspects to the SW as a whole that seem unfinished or incomplete.

6) Electronic Doors: Now all the doors have electronic releases instead of mechanical levers. The rear doors on my 2017 model s are already like that and I hate it. It requires an emergency mechanical mechanism be available in case of failure which would likely happen exactly when you don't want to have any issue getting out. No one would know they were there either. You would have to show everyone getting in your car how to do this. It's not young kid friendly either. While my 8 year old has no problem getting out of the car I have no faith she would remember what I showed her with regard to this and be able to do it in panic or god forbid if I was incapacitated. Now with all of the doors like this your odds seem worse should you be in an accident and there be a fire or you are in water.
The interior door releases are are one of a couple of things that I miss from my old S.
 

MagnusMako

Member
Jan 29, 2019
798
1,395
Austin, TX
6) Electronic Doors: Now all the doors have electronic releases instead of mechanical levers. The rear doors on my 2017 model s are already like that and I hate it. It requires an emergency mechanical mechanism be available in case of failure which would likely happen exactly when you don't want to have any issue getting out. No one would know they were there either. You would have to show everyone getting in your car how to do this. It's not young kid friendly either. While my 8 year old has no problem getting out of the car I have no faith she would remember what I showed her with regard to this and be able to do it in panic or god forbid if I was incapacitated. Now with all of the doors like this your odds seem worse should you be in an accident and there be a fire or you are in water.
I agree, a physical mechanical lever would be a welcome safety addition for a car Tesla like's to brag about how safe it is.

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roblab

Active Member
Jul 15, 2008
3,552
2,615
Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
...so you keep your fob in the kitchen drawer, right? Well, that's half the problem. I keep mine in my pants pocket, except when they're in the wash, so I NEVER have a problem getting in my car. Pants have at least four pockets, so my keys, phone, wallet, go with me, too. With the fob, the car unlocks whenever I am anywhere near. I also have the phone for the 3, but the fob is by far easier to use, and connects from a greater distance.
 
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Doubledge

Member
May 1, 2018
8
24
Maryland
With the fob, the car unlocks whenever I am anywhere near. I also have the phone for the 3, but the fob is by far easier to use, and connects from a greater distance.
The fob is so much more useful. I'm glad they are still supplying it. I don't even have to take it out to open or close the trunk or pop the frunk.
 
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Doubledge

Member
May 1, 2018
8
24
Maryland
There are physical mechanical levers for the driver and front passenger, just like in the 3 and Y. The rear passengers have physical tabs they can pull to open the door in case of emergency.
Yes, as I noted in my post he was responding to, all doors will have a mechanical release, but they are intended for emergency use and not necessarily obvious. In fact the car will alert you to the fact that using them might cause damage to the window trim as it won't drop with window a little before opening. The rear tabs are even less intuitive as I also noted. Unless you play flight attendant and show everyone about the emergency procedures they would unlikely know. Furthermore, since that button is so easy to press one will need to use the child locks if you have a kid where you might not have had to prior. That poses other inconveniences. Again, seems like a solution in search of a problem.
 
Last edited:

Iain

Member
Feb 5, 2020
219
386
Austin
The fob is so much more useful. I'm glad they are still supplying it. I don't even have to take it out to open or close the trunk or pop the frunk.
I was forced to go fobless with the 3 and now everytime i drive my wifes car i'm either going to the car without the fob or walking away with the engine still running. I keep my credit card key in my wallet and i've only used it ,when the mechanic used it for a safety inspection. I had planned on buying a fob but now i find it would be a complete waste. Right now i like my turn signal storks and gear shift but i bet in the future i'll miss those as much as i miss a fob.
 
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omarsultan

Active Member
Jun 22, 2013
3,602
12,714
Northern California
I agree the fob is better than than phone (responds faster, simpler to open frunk, trunk and initiate summons), but I also like the one-less-thing to carry around aspect of the phone key, so fobs are in the kitchen drawer. :). I use Tessie (tessie.io) and that comes was a useful Apple Watch complication, so it saves me from having to dig out my phone as often.
 

MagnusMako

Member
Jan 29, 2019
798
1,395
Austin, TX
Yes, as I noted in my post he was responding to, all doors will have a mechanical release, but they are intended for emergency use and not necessarily obvious.

You said "Now all the doors have electronic releases instead of mechanical levers. "... I read this as they do not have mechanical levers., before you went on to say they require an "emergency mechanical mechanism" (I interpreted this as wishful thinking).
 

TLIII3

New Member
Jul 2, 2021
2
0
Seattle
Another thing of note is you can shift gears (as in P, D, R) using the touch buttons on the center console. They aren't obvious, but I like them better than the screen.
 

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