<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> Ditching Gas, My Tesla Story
Tesla Blog - Ditching Gas - My Tesla Model S Story
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Ditching Gas - My Personal Story Continues

Tesla Model SHow efficient is a Tesla Model S?
My next concern was how environmental was this car on a daily basis. The EPA rates the Model S at an equivalent of 89 mpg. Sounds great, but we’ve all been duped by EPA numbers before and with EVs/hybrids the numbers become muddier. Stories were posted on Tesla’s site about vampire draw (losing power when the car is supposedly off). This drain amounted to 3-4kwh’s a day. Additionally, something I never thought about and should have considered is that if you charge the car to max, say 85kwh, you lose some power in the conversion from your outlet to the battery (roughly 8% for the Model S). Tesla is working on the vampire draw issue and should have it fixed shortly via a software download to the car. The roadster doesn’t have this issue and I am not worried about it now, but for a while there I was freaking out. This was partially due to the fact that many people on the Tesla forums, as well as many journalists, didn’t understand how the initial Tesla software estimated battery life. It is a well-known fact that batteries, like the Lithium-ion based ones in the Model S, do not like the cold. This is why Tesla’s battery pack is temperature controlled and uses more energy in extreme cold or hot conditions as the pack must be heated or cooled to work at peak efficiency. Cars with a full charge when pulled into a garage were reporting massive losses of capacity overnight. However, this was not due to a true loss of capacity as much as an under reporting of capacity due to the cold temperature and the physics of estimating battery life. Other than the vampire draw, there was no significant loss of power overnight. The underreporting has since been fixed via software updates. Separating the fact from the fodder on forums and the news media was always a challenge. I was trying to do my due diligence.

As I continued my research we were thrown a curve ball that would make Barry Zito proud. The base price of the Model S (40kwh battery) was set at its announcement. Years later, it was time for Tesla to increase the price. In order to avoid the $2,500 increase we had to finalize our order by late February. The ramification of finalizing meant that our $5,000 refundable deposit would no longer be refundable. The time to end analysis paralysis was near. We needed to decide for sure, because we are far too cheap to pay more than we have to for something. I called and set up a test drive.

My fears were not abated when I went for a test drive. As my luck would have it, I probably scored the worst conditions for a test drive to date. My drive was scheduled for January 25th at 7:00, smack in the middle of a snow storm. Not one to back away from my plans, I looked at it as an opportunity to see how the car handled in the snow. I arrived at the Short Hills Mall a little early. I thought I would be cool, not too excited. I pulled into the Short Hills Mall parking lot, went inside and headed the mall directory. One problem, what category do you look up a car company under in a mall? I gave up, asked a security guard and he pointed me around the corner. I wandered around the bend and then the signature Tesla smile came over me. I couldn’t contain it. It just leapt out. Unlike the roadster’s retrofitted body of a Lotus, the Model S shined in sleek fashion designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

I checked in and then proceeded to sit in the driver’s seat. My heart dropped. After all the hype, I didn’t fit comfortably. One of my main issues with my S4 was the head room or the lack of it. With the Pano Roof, my lengthy torso didn’t do well with restricted head space. Having a very sensitive neck, cocking my head into the well of the sunroof doesn’t work for me. Flashbacks to my youthful desires for a Miata, which ended in my not fitting at all, rushed over me. Fortunately, Tesla had a second Model S in the showroom and one without the Pano roof option. I fit perfectly!

With a major problem averted I headed out on a very snowy test drive.  First, I was amazed at how well the car handled in the fresh snow. I always felt my Z4 handed great in adverse conditions, but the Tesla blew it away. It didn’t slip or slide at all and it wasn’t because the conditions were tame. When I got back in my Z4, although it handled ok, the traction control was definitely getting a workout. Sadly, I wasn’t about to gun the Tesla in the snow on my first drive, so I didn’t get to experience the wow factor. What I did experience was an unnerving view out of the rear window. The view is smaller than most cars, but having driven a roadster for 10 years it was considerably less than what I was accustomed. Adding to my concerns was watching the energy usage soar to where I was averaging 500 Wh / miles. Of course, I can’t say I’ve watched gas mileage on any car in snow storm before. Was this a fair comparison to the stated 300 Wh/mile Tesla claimed? Of course not, but the emotional side of my decision making wasn’t happy.

The story continues ...