A dream come true, a Model Y
The time was right, finally! Previously, despite having been in the Model 3 queue from day one, the timing was off and our previous car lease expired long before we knew when Model 3 deliveries would start in Sweden. With the Model Y, all the pieces fell into place, almost like they were following some master plan and we got the dream car.
The kids wanted red paint and USB ports for charging their gadgets in the back. Wifey wanted to sit higher off the ground to get a better view. I wanted a vehicle with the most advanced self-driving capabilities to make our vacation trips across Europe a breeze. And of course, it had to be an EV. Nothing comes close to fulfilling all our wishes as well as a Tesla Model Y LR.
Just two weeks after our delivery, I had an event to attend in Hungary, so we turned that into a quick family road trip putting this new set of wheels to a proper test. It is a Long Range after all. A quick look at ABRP suggested that we should be able to pull off the 1500 km trip in under 20 hours, which seemed totally doable non-stop with 2 drivers. And so on a quiet Thursday morning, while everyone else was deep asleep, we took off.
We haven’t done much highway driving prior, so the first item on the to-do list was getting to know Tesla’s Enhanced Autopilot. Coming from Nissan’s ProPilot, there were some habits to get over, causing many disengagements, but it has soon become a priceless companion. It managed to remove the burden of micromanaging the vehicle, requiring constant concentration to maintain speed, follow lanes, keep braking distance, navigate towards the right lanes. Instead, it left me in a sort of captain’s role, overseeing everything and only taking over when we hit some challenges. There were plenty of challenges due to all the highway maintenance going on in Germany during which I had to take control to drive through narrowed lanes with temporary markings. Nonetheless, because Tesla’s AI did the lion’s share of the driving overall, I did not get exhausted, so instead of trading places with Wifey, I kept my hand on the steering wheel all the way to Hungary.
I did get some first-hand experience with some of the glitches in the production version of Tesla’s highway driving AI. Most noticeable were phantom braking and picking up speed limits that didn’t apply. The latter was rather weird and only seemed to happen under specific circumstances and lighting conditions. It resulted in the autopilot picking up trucks’ speed limit stickers and applying that as our max speed as we were overtaking them in the fast lane, causing our car to start to decelerate. As recommended, I was ready to intervene, quickly pressed on the accelerator to bring us back up to speed. In total there may have been a dozen such incidents, but correcting them was peanuts compared to doing all the driving myself.
Overall I was super impressed with Enhanced Autopilot, but can’t wait to see what kind of improvements the new model architecture of the FSD AI will bring once it’s released.
I also wanted to compare this Lund — Budapest round-trip with the previous with our Nissan Leaf from an efficiency and cost perspective.
The Leaf required 23 charges costing 2600 SEK, consuming 192Wh/km.
Model Y required 12 charges costing 1950 SEK, consuming 196Wh/km.
Of course, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison, since the weather was quite different, and we had to take a slight detour with the Leaf to spend the night somewhere both ways. That’s the price we paid due to the Leaf’s passively cooled battery requiring charging roughly every 120 km, losing time hunting for chargers, and switching between a handful of service providers. The Model Y with its built-in route planner did magnitudes better to help us get to the next Supercharger with a healthy margin and with a battery optimized for rapid charging we could reach our destination fast.
[written 2021 Oct]