Studio711.com – Ben Martens

teslatuesday

Tesla Road Trip Planning

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

I was hoping to write this post after going on our first overnight road trip, but that got canceled because COVID. (More on that later.) I had done a lot of planning and calculation prep work so I think I can still share some info.

Charging time is something I almost never think about in daily life, but it comes to the forefront on road trips. If you’re the type of person who can burn off a tank of gas without stopping, there’s no getting around it: an EV will add time to your trip. Maybe cutting your fuel costs by ~90% still makes it worth it, but it’s definitely going to change your planning.

For our family, I don’t expect charging to impact our total trip time because we rarely go more than two hours without stopping for a bathroom break. Our trip to Oregon was 3 hours and 50 minutes so I had a planned stop at the 2 hour mark where we would charge for 15 minutes and use the bathroom. There was a supercharger less than 2 miles from our rental house so I would have charged for about 15 minutes there when we arrived too. I doubt the exact plan would have held up and I would have stopped at other chargers as needed. I could have made it all the way down there in one charge and arrived with 17% battery, but being our first road trip, I wanted to see how it worked to combine the inevitable bathroom breaks with supercharger stops. Also, note that charging would be cheaper on the way back because I can roll into my house with a low battery state and charge for quite a bit less money than doing it at a supercharger station.

The Tesla road trip planner is ok, but if you’re a big planner, you’ll find it lacking. I prefer to use A Better Route Planner when I look at road trips. You can specify which types of chargers your happy to use, the efficiency you typically get in your own car, the amount of charge you plan to leave with, how much charge you want to arrive with, what amenities you want to have at a charging stop, and much more. You can even give the site/app access to your Tesla’s data and have it update your plan on the fly.

So yes, road tripping with an EV is different and will probably slow you down depending on your personal situation. Maybe the gas savings will make it worth it for you, or maybe you’ll still prefer to take your gas vehicle on longer trips. We certainly aren’t getting rid of our truck anytime soon and I’m sure we’ll use it for some road trips in the future too, but I’m also looking forward to our next overnight trip so we can try all this planning out in the real world!

TeslaMate Review

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday! The series kind of losing a bit of its luster when it’s the only set of posts happening on the blog right now, but let’s stick with it.

I’ve had a lot of fun reading data from the OBDII ports in our cars over the years, so you can imagine my excitement when I learned that Teslas have an API you can access to get tons of data. There are a variety of apps that can connect to the API and pull down data for you, but I chose TeslaMate specifically because it runs locally and I am in control of all my data. When you see how much data it collects, you can see why maybe it’s good to take a little extra precaution in who can access the data!

So just what do you get to see?

  • Drive and charging reports
  • Driving efficiency report
  • Consumption (net / gross)
  • Charge energy added vs energy used
  • Vampire drain
  • Projected 100% range (battery degradation)
  • Charging Stats
  • Drive Stats
  • History of installed updates
  • See when your car was online or asleep
  • Lifetime driving map
  • Visited addresses

You can check out the documentation link for a full set of screenshots but here are a couple:

Flipping through those dashboards should quickly give you the idea that there is a LOT of information being collected and it is collected multiple times per second! The data comes in live as the car is driving through the car’s built-in LTE connection and it is stored locally on my server in a database. If you want to see a demo the dashboards that sit on top of the data, check out the first ~14 minutes of this YouTube video.

Setup requires a bit of intermediate to advanced geekery. It runs in Docker containers, but there are some tutorials that walk through the config file manipulation and command line jobs to execute. It has been an interesting way to learn some additional technology. It’s my first time running my own Docker containers locally, my first time using Grafana, and my first time working with a PostreSQL database.

I set it up the first day we had it and I feel like I’m only beginning to scratch the surface of what it can do. For now I just like knowing that I’m collecting the data so that I can do more with it in the future.

How Long Does It Take To Charge A Tesla?

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday! I hope you’re ready for more of this because now that we have it in our garage, I have a few weeks of post ideas queued up.

This week let’s talk about the question “How long does it take to charge?” I get it. I asked the same question when I was researching. The questions is a bit flawed though. Driving a gas vehicle, we think in terms of stopping to fill up. When you’re driving an electric vehicle, it’s most economical to arrive at home empty, not full. It’s significantly cheaper to charge at home. The goal is to make sure that your home charging solution can supply enough juice to let you leave with a full battery in the morning.

When I was doing the math, I kept thinking about how long it would take to charge from 0% to 100%. My home charger adds about 14 miles of range per hour so it would take almost a day to go from 0 to 100%! Is that ok? It turns out that yes, this is fine, because in the entire life of your vehicle, you’ll almost certainly never do 0-100%. Running down to 0% is bad for the battery and charging to 100% isn’t great either (though it’s ok when you’re preparing for a long drive.) A much more likely scenario is that overnight you’ll simply be replacing the charge that you used during the day. We drive around 80 miles per day so in less than 6 hours, I’ve recovered my lost charge for the day. That leaves a LOT of leeway for longer trips on weekends, and even if I didn’t completely refill from an exceptionally low battery state, I’d have plenty for my normal day of commuting.

But charging speed DOES matter when on a road trip. If you’re traveling more than one charge form home, and if you’re not charging at your destination, then you’ll be supercharging. All Tesla superchargers are faster than home chargers by there are a variety of speeds ranging from 72 kW to 250 kW. My 220v 20amp circuit at home is good for 4 kW so these Superchargers are significantly faster. We did a test at a 150 kW charger and added 17% to our battery in 7 minutes. That supercharger was adding around 10 miles of range for every minute we charged and it wasn’t even the fastest charger version!

Further complicating the original questions is that batteries charge fastest at lower charge states and they get much slower as you approach 100%. So if you’re really trying to optimize your stops (like on an EV Canonball Run), you would keep your charges in roughly the 10-50% range. Here’s a chart showing how much juice you can shove into a Tesla battery at various states of charge:

https://www.reddit.com/r/teslamotors/comments/c4kxr9/scv3_fullspeed_250kw_charging_curve/

So how long does it take to charge the battery? I don’t know, and most of the time, I don’t pay any attention to charging speed. If I’ve got enough juice to get through my day then I’m good to go and I know it will be full again the next morning. I’ll think about it more on a road trip, but even then, if I’m stopping for the bathroom or food, it’s going to be ready for the next leg of the trip before I am. Stay tuned for a future post about what it is like to plan and execute a road trip on battery power!

Tesla Model Y Delivery Experience

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

We ordered a Tesla Model Y on October 18, 2021. The original estimate was that we’d receive our car sometime in May 2022. 210 days later, almost exactly in the middle of the original estimate range, our car arrived! While we waited, the estimated delivery date changed many times. I kept track of all the changes and plotted it as the number of estimated days until our delivery window.

Less than a week before the delivery date, we got a call to talk about our trade in. Via a combination of text messaging and the phone app, we shared some basic information and photos of the car we wanted to trade in. They gave us a quote which seemed reasonable compared to other sites like Carvana and CarMax so we went with it. In Washington state, trade in value is deducted from the new car’s price before sales tax is collected so that’s a significant advantage.

The next day we got a text message asking us to choose a date for delivery! We picked the first available spot and then it was time to start filling out forms… online. Everything was done through the app! We got PDFs of all the sales documentation along with a full breakdown of exactly how much we owed. Once I texted back and forth a bit to understand some of their calculations, we completed the payment via the app. Payment is all done via the app whether you’re financing, paying cash, or getting a third-party loan.

We’ve ordered cars from other manufacturers in the past and when they were “delivered”, we had to go to the dealership and spend 2-3 hours going through paperwork and attempted upselling of paint protection film, interior sprays, extended warranty, service plans, and more. With Tesla, it was a true delivery experience. A driver arrived at our house within the two-hour scheduled window and dropped off the car. We did have to do some paperwork for the DOL, but then I signed a form on his phone and he transferred ownership to the app on my phone. (With a Tesla, your phone is your key.) The driver inspected our trade-in to make sure it matched the condition that we had shared earlier and then drove away. That’s it!

The entire process from ordering it online to getting daily updates on the estimated delivery window via the app to texting our sales advisor periodically with questions to the streamlined delivery approach was a joy! I can’t begin to compare it to some of the bad experiences we’ve had buying cars in the past.

Now it’s time to go through that semi-awkward period where we are the “new car people”. It’s a tradeoff between being super excited about this new purchase but also feeling a bit embarrassed about it. Even though I’ve done the math that shows it will pay out eventually compared to what we would have bought instead, that’s not totally true because we could have bought a much cheaper used car to get us from point A to point B.

A lot of the frequent questions I get about owning a Tesla are covered in my original “Why we bought a Tesla Model Y” post, but I’ll update one of them: “How much does it cost to charge it up?” That question is a little easier if I convert it to “What is the energy cost to drive 100 miles?” Our Escape consistently got 22.7 mpg and gas at the six closest stations around my house averages $4.89 today so the Escape would cost $21.54 in gas to drive 100 miles. For the Tesla, if I consider average kWh/mile and a small amount of energy loss to heat while charging, it would be $2.88 to drive that same 100 miles (87% less).

Will this really save us money overall? Only time will tell and even then, we’ll be guessing since we won’t be driving a comparable internal combustion car on all the same trips. It will probably come as no surprise that I have detailed data about the exact cost per mile for all our vehicles over the years (purchase price, trade in value, service costs, registration fees, fuel costs, inflation, etc.) so I’ll be able to make a good comparison. But in the meantime, I’m going to be happily driving around our new computer-on-wheels and thoroughly enjoying not wasting my time waiting in line at slow gas pumps or wondering what the oil drip on the garage floor means!

The Wait

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

We’re eagerly awaiting the delivery of our Model Y. We ordered in mid-October and our original delivery estimate was May 2022. I have the Tesla app installed on my phone and I check it at least once a day. It has changed many times (both forward and backward) but it was holding steady for May 8 – June 12. As we got closer and closer to May 8 our hopes were going up that it was going to happen. But this morning, the date range got pushed back to May 24 – June 20. (Tuesday seems to be a popular day for them to change the estimated delivery dates.) So the wait continues…

There is an online spreadsheet for eager Tesla owners where people record when they ordered and when it was delivered. As with most crowd-sourced data, it’s noisy and full of obvious errors, but looking at similar orders in my area, people who ordered around the same time as we did are starting to receive their cars. Hopefully we’re not too far behind!

While I wait, I continue to soak up Tesla content, and while this video didn’t teach me a lot that I hadn’t read elsewhere, I thought it was a good summary of what it’s like to own a Model Y for a couple years:

Auto Industry Sales By Manufacturer

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

While I don’t have sales data to back it up, I expect that our county ranks near the top of Tesla’s sales list. They’re everywhere. At a stoplight a couple weekends ago, there were five Teslas waiting with me. On the highway, there’s usually at least one in sight at all times. But this area is an anomaly. How well are they selling around the country?

Would you believe me if I told you that in January 2022, in the US, Telsa outsold Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler? Check out this data from truecar.com.

ManufacturerFeb 2021 ActualJan 2022 ActualYoY % Change
BMW26,39324,024-7.8%
Daimler20,31720,400-1.9%
Ford161,834142,445-16.0%
GM191,846142,574-13.7%
Honda106,32873,949-22.9%
Hyundai50,73551,51015.3%
Kia48,06242,488-2.6%
Nissan86,13859,742-26.5%
Stellantis151,912125,265-7.6%
Subaru48,30044,1587.7%
Tesla21,55040,16595.4%
Toyota184,249158,676-9.2%
Volkswagen Group46,84637,971-21.2%
Industry1,196,0081,002,006-10.4%

Furthermore, while most manufacturers decreased deliveries due to supply chain issues, Tesla almost doubled their output.

Tesla had two factories (Freemont, CA and Shanghai) each producing about 500,000 cars. Their Berlin factory just came online and Texas is right behind. Those will each add around 500k/year more capacity with even more capacity coming later. It remains to be seen whether Tesla has enough supplies to take advantage of all that additional capacity right away.

Route Planning

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

Tyla has a lot of extended family members in Montana, and a few years ago, we drove to Fort Peck for a fun weekend. When the topic of a Tesla comes up with her family, the question is often asked, “Could you drive it to Fort Peck?” The short answer is, “Yes, but I probably wouldn’t.” The fastest route breaks off of I-90 at Missoula, heads up to 2, and crosses to Fort Peck. The Tesla route planner keeps you on I-90 to I-94 and then heads up to Fort Peck after a final charge in Miles City. It’s 1133 miles instead of 985 miles and it adds charging time too. If you use a third-party route site like ABetterRoutePlanner.com, you can get a little more creative. While not as fast or convenient as a supercharger station, RV campgrounds provide 50-amp service which isn’t too shabby, especially if you’re planning to stop there for a longer meal or overnight anyway. And in a pinch, lots of hotels and shopping centers (even in Montana) have much slower charging, but I wouldn’t rely on that for a trip.

If you look at any of the charging network maps, Montana and the Dakotas are barren except for the interstates. It’s easy to drive across the states but going deep off the interstate gets tricky. This is one of the reasons why we still have a traditional internal combustion engine vehicle. I have no plans to get rid of the truck and it’s always there as an option if it makes more sense for road trips. If you have multiple cars, you don’t need your electric vehicle to be capable of every drive you might ever take.

Ignoring extreme examples like Fort Peck, most of our drives straightforward with the Tesla. The car navigation system predicts battery usage and automatically routes to chargers as needed. One of the longest trips we have planned this year is to the small town of Alsea, OR. Google Maps says it is 292 miles and 4 hours and 42 minutes. If we took the Tesla, we’d have a single 8 minute charging stop along the way.

However, that leaves us with a 10% charge when we arrive at our destination. While I assume there’s a 110v outlet that we could slow charge from, I’m more likely to plan the route to include arriving with enough battery so I don’t have to worry about charging at the destination. Adding that means that total charging time increases (round trip) to 41 minutes spread across three charging stops. I guarantee that the people in the car with me would need more bathroom stops than that anyway.

When we were debating the purchase, I spent a lot of time plugging in our common drives to the Tesla route planner. Most of them don’t require any stops at all, but for the ones that do, it’s rarely more than 20 or 30 minutes of total charging time. It will take a little more planning, especially if someone needs a bathroom break and I try to find an EV charger on the fly to take advantage of the stop, but we’ll definitely be trying it and if it proves to be too annoying, we always have the truck which is a great road trip vehicle.

EV Battery Recycling

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

We hear a lot about cars burning fossil fuels. Don’t electric vehicles do the same thing? Batteries rely on raw materials like lithium and nickel. As more companies make plans to build EVs and as the global supply of these materials is in question since Russia is a big supplier, the prices are already going wild.

Are we trading one resource problem for another? Thankfully, no. While it’s true that as the EV ramp up happens, we’ll be mining materials from the ground, that won’t be the case forever. Those materials can be completely recovered from batteries once their lifespan is over, and there are numerous ways to reuse batteries once they’ve outlived their usefulness for high demand electric vehicle scenarios.

But until a sizable portion of our battery production comes from recycling, there’s going to be a big squeeze on these raw materials. This is one place where Tesla is far ahead of other automakers because they’ve already secured long term supply contracts directly with mining companies and they are producing their own batteries. They control the supply from the ground to the finished product. Other companies can make promises about how many EVs they are going to produce, but if they have no batteries to put in them then their promises are worthless. It will be a challenge for them to overcome Tesla’s current market share while also looking for sources of raw materials at manageable prices.

Electric Vehicle Market Momentum

Welcome to another Tesla Tuesday!

During the Super Bowl this year, there were seven car commercials and six of them featured at least one electric vehicle. It’s a giant land grab for anyone who wants to make a car. Here are some example stats:

  • In the last quarter of 2021, electric vehicles accounted for 10% of all new car sales in California and the Model Y and Model 3 were both in the top 5. The Model Y almost claimed the top spot for the best selling vehicle of any kind on California! There were 61,599 Camry’s sold and 60,394 Model Y’s.
  • Only 4% of cars sold in the United States in 2021 were electric but other countries are way ahead of us:
    • Norway: 86.2%
    • Sweeden: 45.0%
    • Germany: 26.0%
    • UK: 18.6%
    • China: 15.0%
  • Anecdotally, it is fun watching the uptake of electric vehicles around the Seattle area. We spot about one Tesla per minute as we drive around, but a lot of other electric vehicle brands are popping up too. I regularly spot Ford Mustang Mach E, Porsche Taycan, Volkswagen ID.4, and Hyundai Ioniq electric cars along with the more common ones like the Nissan Leaf and various hybrids.

The federal goal is to have 50% of all new passenger cars and light truck sales in 2030 be electric. Five years ago that might have sounded crazy, but now you kind of start to wonder who’s going to be willing to buy a new gas powered car 2030. Maybe 50% is a low estimate. At some point the value for gas engine cars is going to fall off a cliff so if you’re buying one, you’re resigning yourself to having no resale value and you’ll be paying a premium for keeping it running.

But we’re not there yet. Pretty much every car being sold today from any company is gas powered. Lots of things can happen to slow the uptake on electric vehicles too. One big sticking point is going to be the availability of battery material. Car companies can say they are bringing an EV to market, but actually producing them in quantity is another challenge. And even once you produce lots of them, there are plenty of challenges as Chevy is finding out with the Bolt. Chevy only sold 26 Bolts in the fourth quarter of 2021 because they were catching on fire and all of them recalled. Their sales total for the first quarter of 2022 is going to be 0 and they’re hoping to restart production in 2022.

This transition is not going to be easy. We will see which car companies survive and which new ones appear. If you look at the stock market, the pure EV companies are clearly the ones that people believe will have value going forward. I’ve written before about Tesla’s market cap being bigger than Ford, FM, Daimler, Fiat, Toyota, and VW combined, but since then, Rivian IPO’d and their market cap is roughly the same as most of those companies even though they’ve only shipped a couple thousand vehicles. Ford is even thinking about splitting off their EV business into a new company so that they aren’t dragged down by the slow death of the gasoline cars. The market clearly thinks that electric vehicles are the future.

It’s also worth noting that even if 50% of vehicles sold in 2030 might are electric, that doesn’t mean that 50% of ALL vehicles on the road will be electric. There will be gas powered cars around for decades and there will always be reasons why someone specifically needs a gas powered vehicle. It will just get more expensive and more niche to drive one. If you have a need or a desire to stick with gas vehicles, there will always be cars for you to buy. Just don’t expect that to be the norm.

As news about EVs rapidly gains momentum, it can feel like this is just a fad or the latest craze, but this is a movement that has been brewing for decades. Rather than being bump in the road, I think we’re experiencing a tipping point in the market.

Tesla Stock and Charging Network

Welcome to Tesla Tuesday!

Tesla stock is a wild ride. My second post in this series was about buying one share of Tesla stock right before the biggest market cap growth in the history of capitalism. It was fun to watch my little share bounce around on the wild seas of Wall Street, but I set a sell order for $0.25 more than my purchase price. My little experiment was just for fun and I didn’t actually want to lose any money. I guess I should have sold when it was up $300-400 because my sell order triggered last week. In fairness, the total market index fund that I prefer was also back down to around the same point as when I bought the Tesla share, but I’d rather have my money there long term anyway. So with that, I’m out of the Tesla stock game. That means no more disclaimer on my posts going forward.

In other news, it has been interesting to watch other car makers wake up to the EV market since we ordered our Tesla last fall. Ford appears to be leading the domestic pack and VW has been doing well in Europe for a couple years. Tesla has a big head start though and one of their key advantages is their charging network. Most of the time we’ll be charging at home, but if we go on a road trip, I don’t want to be nervous about charging. A global engineering accounting firm did a test of EV charging networks and basically concluded that if you have a Tesla, they are hands down the winners, but since they aren’t open to all cars from all manufacturers, they lost out in total score to the Electrify America network. (source data) The compatibility part is interesting from a business perspective, but from an ownership perspective, this report makes me feel good about our decision. There are plenty of other comparisons showing the impressive reliability of the Tesla network and I mentioned this in my original post about why we chose Tesla. The market is going to look very different by the time we’re ready to by another vehicle so who knows what we will choose at that point.