Monday, November 26, 2018

Second Model 3 Road Trip


Our second road trip in the Model 3.. this time things get a little dicey!

Last week I drove my mother to stay with her brother, my uncle, for a week.  The visit was long overdue and with the desire to give AutoPilot a good run I offered to chauffeur to and from.  Our trip to drop her off was flawless complete with two stops at Tesla SuperChargers in each direction plus one near my uncle's house to start the return journey with a full charge.  That was a great experience.

This week it was time to return to pick her up, but since we are making the drive any way we worked in a couple days on the coast for some seafood and ocean views.  I don't know if it was the "trip mode" full charge with the car peaked at 310 miles range when I started, external construction or traffic delays, or some other outside factor, but the navigation system sent me on a different path this time around.  My best guess is even though there there was an increase in the distance of the two paths by taking the new path it was able to do the trip stretching the charge thin with only 2 supercharger stops with little power remaining on arrival, instead of the more conservative route with 3 supercharger stops (with a mostly full charge on arrival.  I put faith in the system and took the untraveled path.  Why not? ;)

Why not?!? I didn't really know the impact cold weather can have on battery range, especially at higher speeds, higher speeds like one gets bullied into when traveling on our interstate and freeway system.  I pulled off the freeway for a restroom break and a warning pops up to "Keep speed below 60mph to reach destination" !!!  It seemed the cold zapped the range hard because of the speeds, and the navigation system was already stretching us kind of thin.  These did not mesh well with our navigation path.  At least I presume this was the issue.. I don't see any other cause from my limited experiences thus far and from researching it a bit that does seem the likely culprit along with the higher speeds that already put a heavy burden on the battery.

We went into ultra conservative mode, reduced all our power consumption where possible and kept speeds very conservative, fortunately the last leg of the trip involved more freeway and highway paths that were friendly to lower speeds.  We had originally planned to go to the property and charge in the morning but to save a bit we routed straight to the charger and just arrived pretty late.  This was the only stressful part of our journey, it was scary when the warning popped up on the screen but it was reassuring to see that although we were swapping things around to be conservative to make the charger that was 100 miles away, if I felt more uncomfortable there was another supercharger, the one by my uncle's house, only 50 miles away but it would mean going a little more out of the way.  We could of course have found a 3rd party charger to fill up enough for the journey but after making our consumption reductions and not waiting until morning to charge we were fine with the charger near our destination.

For the route home we picked Mom up and charged nearby while having breakfast, then returned on our original route from the previous week with an incredibly smooth return journey that included some snacks at the Sheetz in Hickory, NC and some shopping while charging in Knoxville,TN.

What can we learn from this?  Weather should be factored in to the navigation.  Given the cold temperatures expected on the path the navigation should have taken the more conservative route instead of trying to push the limits and save me a charge stop on the path.  It's not worth the anxiety to save the last stop.  If this is too narrow then a conservative routing mode or configurable "reserve" amount to not factor into range calculations.  What do you say Elon, can we make it happen? ;)

I didn't really focus on the AutoPilot experience this time as it was on par with last week, SUPERB! 95% or more of the trip was driven on AutoPilot.  The experience was amazing and my only new feedback would be that the "use HOV" option seems to have way too much priority.  When traveling through Atlanta the AutoPilot on Nav crossed 4 empty lanes to get into the HOV, travelled one mile, then back across the 4 most empty lanes to take an exit.. after it did it the second time I realized what was going on and disabled the HOV option.  These things will impove, and if that's my only complaint after a 1400 mile journey, we are pretty much living the dream.  :)

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