Tesla Model 3 AWD – Obtained!!

I have my pickup date/time.

Within hours of posting a blog post (and cross posting on Twitter) detailing the unending wait for a Tesla Model 3 AWD I  received “The Call” from Tesla Las Vegas setting up delivery for October 30th. A coincidence? Maybe. This comes exactly 4 calendar months after placing the order.

The buying process is a little different to a traditional auto dealer. First you setup a specific appointment date and time. Second you need to arrange insurance using the VIN # provided and have that proof of insurance before your appointment date. Third, only cashier checks are accepted, personal checks are not acceptable to Tesla. I paid for my LEAF with a personal check along with many other second hand cars. Tesla are a little fussy.

Insurance was arranged with my carrier Nationwide easily enough. The VIN number Tesla provided was not accepted by Nationwide’s computers. After confirming the number was correct the insurance agent asked me “is this a Tesla Model 3”? I had not indicated what car make or model I was adding at that point, apparently it’s a common issue that Tesla VIN’s are not fully registered.

I have asked my delivery advisor where the car is. I see the VIN is in the mid 95,000’s and Tesla have registered a VIN today in the 135,000’s. It maybe already be manufactured and on its way.

I’ll post updates as they come.

 

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Tesla Model 3 AWD – Unobtainium?

September 11th 2018 Model 3 Vehicles stockpiled at Belk’s near Franklin TN

Order Placed

On June 30th 2018 I placed a firm order for a Tesla Model 3 AWD. At that time the AWD version of the Model 3 was just being launched on the market, when I heard the price of the AWD option was cut from $5,000 to $4,000 and the delivery window was shortened by a month I decided to place the order. Subsequently the cost of the AWD option increased back to $5,000 and more recently to $6,000.

As a day one reservationist who lined up at the local Tesla store near Nashville to place my reservation over two years ago, I assumed I would get some sort of priority when placing a firm order. Based on my experience no such priority is evident and I won’t place an advanced reservation with Tesla again.

Update:2018-10-08Tesla called today

9/11/2018 Blue Model 3 AWD with Aero Wheels. My configuration!! Unfortunately it went to someone else in Tennessee. Click to enlarge.

Waiting…

Since then other than provide drivers license details and receive a referral code not much has happened to my order. I have made multiple trips to the local store to enquire. The customer service staff are high energy and friendly with a very helpful attitude. They arranged for me to test drive the Model 3 since I ordered sight unseen. Despite their helpful attitude there is little to nothing they can do to provide me with any information, only able to repeat what is published on the Tesla website.

Where am I in line?

October 5th 2018. Second batch of vehicles stored near Belk’s at the Galleria Mall. This is a small sample, I estimate over 100 vehicles stored. Click to enlarge

The most frustrating thing is not knowing where you are in line. If I enter a bank and stand in line, I don’t need to ask the bank staff when I will be helped, it’s easy enough to estimate that as customers get served in front of you; your place in line is transparent. Tesla’s official statement as to where you stand in line goes “Delivery time frame will be based on reservation date, order date, delivery location and vehicle configuration.” My read is that vehicle configuration is one of the most important factors, and not just the configuration but the price paid for the configuration. I’ve observed several model 3’s with my exact configuration parked at the Telsa store ready for delivery over the last 6 weeks, other customers have priority apparently.

My suspicion is that someone who agreed to pay $6,000 for AWD will be closer to the front of the line than myself who got it at a $2,000 discount. I believe this is why Tesla make your place in line opaque, if someone with more money comes along, they will get priority.

At this point I am beginning to suspect my order is somehow lost in the ordering system. While helpful, the local Tesla staff are unable to provide a telephone number at Tesla corporate for me to make enquiries. They indicated this is one of the most common questions they are being asked right now.

Oct 5th 2018. Another Blue Model 3 AWD vehicle manufactured 9/18 and part of another batch of vehicles stored near Nashville. Click to enlarge

Delivery Hell

Tesla are struggling to deliver vehicles they have made, which has forced them to stockpile vehicles all around the country. Could the vehicle to the right be my vehicle? Maybe, but probably not. I have yet to be allocated a VIN number which occurs several weeks prior to delivery.

Having placed my order in the second quarter and here we are in the fourth I am now getting anxious I may lose out on the federal tax credit which is halved for Tesla after 12/31.

The Cost of Waiting

Cost of rental to replace totalled vehicle. Click to enlarge.

What really bites is that due to an accident we find ourselves renting a vehicle. The Model 3 has been on order for months now, I don’t need to buy a second new car, I just need the car I have already ordered. However how much longer should I continue to rent versus buy a car I can resell later? Tesla can’t help. Once again they are very empathic and understanding, but they are powerless to help. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.

Posted in Customer Service, Opinion, Tesla Model 3, Test Drive | Leave a comment

Weird glitch with LEAF while driving – No fault found

I was driving home recently with the family from Texas Roadhouse when the LEAF made a beeping noise and I noticed warning lamps on the dash. One warning lamp was the EV System Warning Lamp. In addition to the warning lamps I also noticed that the distance to empty gauge was showing dashes. Dashes in place of miles normally occurs when the traction battery has a very low charge. However the car was 2/3rds full and it continued to show 2/3rds full after the dashes appeared.

EV System Warning light and loss of estimated range after glitch. Click to enlarge

The car drove normally. After we got home I restarted the car and everything was normal. Over the next day or two I did notice that the LEAF was more pessimistic about the range remaining compared to its normal over optimistic estimates. The estimates returned to normal within 36 hours. It seemed like a computer in the car responsible for estimating range rebooted itself and reset settings while being driven.

Not knowing what could cause such a glitch I did take it by the dealer for diagnosis. The car did register a fault code the dealer was able to read which indicated erratic CAN voltage. The dealer could not reproduce the fault and cleared the error code.

3G telematics to blame?

Ever since Nissan replaced 2G telematics units with 3G telematics units many customers have complained of random CAN errors. In some cases this has been traced back to low 12v battery voltage causing an array of random and erroneous error codes.

Everything back to normal, except the low distance to empty estimate. Click to enlarge

The consensus in the LEAF community is that the 3G telematics unit consumes more power and the 12v battery has more of a challenge keeping up with demands from the cars electrical systems. I did use the cars remote A/C pre conditioning both prior to heading to the restaurant and prior to heading home. It’s quite likely that multiple requests back to back may have weakened the 12v battery. The 12v battery is just over 1 year old so I doubt it has gone bad. If I get more errors like this, I’ll opt for a larger capacity 12v battery that will not run low so easily.

The good news is that the car did not breakdown or lose power at any time. It seems the error was spurious. The LEAF after 123,000 miles has yet to leave me stranded at the side of the road. It has been a very reliable car, all other cars I’ve owned previously have broken down at least once. EV’s are remarkably reliable vehicles.

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Not glad to see this Tesla Model 3 blocking a charging space.

Model 3 owner blocking a ChargePoint charging space. Click to enlarge

In Tennessee a Tesla Model 3 is still quite a rare sight, I’ve only seen three in the wild in the last year. You’d think I’d be glad to see another today. Not so much, the Model 3 owner thinks its OK to park in a charging space and not plug in and charge. Not cool. When Fossil cars do this we call it ICEing. Not sure what to call this other than inconsiderate.

What motivated this driver is unknown, it could be laziness, or because this site charges a fee, it might be being too frugal. Either way its wrong.

Posted in ChargePoint, Level 2 EV Charger, Tesla Model 3 | Leave a comment

Tesla’s route planner “gas savings” strongly biased towards Model S and X vehicles.

Model S Gas Savings round trip to Florida

A few months ago Tesla released a route planner to assist prospective owners determine which vehicle would best meet their needs. Having played around with the planner using various vehicle types it seemed the Model S and X vehicles have a distinct cost advantage over the Model 3 for long trips. According to the trip planner the model 3 costs almost as much as a gas vehicle to drive. Saving just $26 on a round trip to the beach, while the Model S saves $142.

Model 3 estimated gas savings round trip to Florida

While Model S and X do enjoy free supercharging and Model 3 owners pay per use I suspected the planner was slanting the results to encourage prospective buyers to purchase a Model S or X.

 

So instead of planning a long trip, I planned my daily commute. The planner does calculate your monthly gas savings for the commute and correctly identifies that supercharging is unecessary. For all three vehicle types the monthly savings should be pretty close. But it isn’t. For a Model S 100D vehicle it calculates my monthly commuter savings to be $214 per month. This is close to the $180 per month savings I record for my LEAF. For the Model 3 the estimated monthly commuter savings is reduced to just $39/month. This is clearly wrong, the cost of electricity at my home is constant. The Model 3 should enjoy even bigger savings, its a smaller more efficient car than the Model S. Interestingly it does not matter which S or X vehicle you choose, the savings are identical $214/month. I would expect the S to be slightly more efficient than the X. This planner does a poor job of calculating savings based on vehicle type.

Model S commute savings to work

Calculated commuter savings for Model 3

The Tesla trip planner should only be used to give an idea of how many SC stops you need to make for your long trips. The gas savings calculations are biased and flawed. Ignore them.

Posted in Nissan LEAF, SuperCharger, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model X | Leave a comment

New Battery – 18 Month Check – Weak Cell?

It’s been 18 months and 22,000 miles since I had the main traction battery replaced in my LEAF. By and large it is fairing well. At 15 months old the battery was showing early signs of degradation.

Battery has increased capacity recently.

Interestingly in the last 2-3 months the battery has “recovered” some of the lost capacity I observed  and is now showing about a 5% reduction of capacity overall rather than the 7% I recorded earlier this year. That means the battery is losing about 3% per year on average which if the rate of degradation continues I will be at 15% capacity reduction at 5 years. A much better outcome than I experienced with the original battery.

That’s the good news. And now for the bad news….

Weak Cell? Click image to enlarge

Early sign of defective cell?

While the battery capacity trend is encouraging, I did experience a rapid loss of range recently near the end of a long journey where the battery was approaching the point where I would receive a low battery warning. I investigated the battery statistics when I got home and found that LEAFSpy Pro was indicating that cell pair #37 was weak. The car was at about 19% state of charge which seems reasonable for the 3.6 volts recorded. The reason the cell was flagged is because it varied from the rest of the pack by over 100 mV.

This is the first time since I got the car that I’ve recorded a weak cell. A single warning of this type does not mean the cell pair is definitely faulty, it could simply be a result of an imbalanced battery pack. However I will keep my eye on the battery cells each time I approach low battery warning.

Should this recur again with the same cell pair, I will ask for Nissan to do a thorough test of the battery.

What this means

The voltage of cell pair #37 had dropped to 3.611 volts. A battery pack is only as strong as its weakest cell. To protect the battery and its cells against damage, a single cell with a low voltage of 3.5V will prompt the car to shutdown. Hence the low battery and very low battery warnings the LEAF to let drivers know that their car needs a charge sooner rather than later.

The voltage of a cell can be used to approximate the charge level of the cell. This varies by the specific chemistry used in a Lithium Ion battery. The table below is an approximation of state of charge and battery cell voltage for Lithium Ion batteries in general.

4.2V – 100%
4.1V – 90% (LEAF full state of charge)
4.0V – 75%
3.9V – 55%
3.8V – 30%
(3.5V – LEAF Turtle/Shutdown)
3.3V – 0%

The LEAF limits state of charge between 17% and 90% of the cells theoretical capacity reserving some capacity to prevent damage at high or low states of charge. More reserve is present at low states of charge. (Source).

The LEAF battery cells have a theoretical minimum voltage of 2.5V below which the cell will become unstable when recharged, with the possibility of thermal runaway. The LEAF keeps well away from this theoretical low voltage state for both the long-term durability of the battery and for thermal safety.

 

 

 

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Trio of new Plug In Hybrids spotted in the wild, BMW X5, Honda Clarity and Mitsubishi Outlander.

It always interesting to spot a car for the first time in the wild. Did St. Patrick’s day come early as I found three PHEV’s in the clover today all plugged in and charging?

Here are some images of the trio that I spotted in Nashville today. Two of the cars are very new, they are sporting temporary tags.

BMW X5 PHEV

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Honda Clarity PHEV

Posted in BMW X5 PHEV, Electric Car, Honda Clarity PHEV, Level 2 EV Charger, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV | Leave a comment