On Monday, April 21 2014, amongst the celebrations of Earth Day, the Boston Marathon and Patriot’s day, another big event was happening — a Tesla delivery and my first drive in my own Tesla Model S.
As I eagerly pulled out of the Tesla Delivery Center in Watertown, MA a billion things were crossing my mind, near the top were:
- This is a normal car, not a SUV, am I going to bottom out pulling out of the inclined lot? (I didn’t)
- I need to get out of here, meet my family, and its my first time with the GPS, can I get where i’m going? (fortunately we had programmed a work button as part of the delivery and that got me near where I was meeting them).
- I just missed that turn and now I have to cross 3 lanes and turn around, is the turning radius tight enough? (It was).
- Will I get in a lot of trouble if I give my mother-in-law whiplash on her first ride with me? (I avoided the whiplash by showing great restraint)
- Can I resist fiddling with the screens and focus on the road? (I could)
- Can I avoid the Boston Marathon route and traffic areas? (I did)
For each area of concern the Model S delighted and amazed me. While special in so many ways, it is also a car and does what a car needs to do, only better!
Pit Stop & Challenge #1
On the way home from the Delivery Center for me is the Natick Mall and the Tesla store. They have 5 charging stations there and I figured i’d try public charging and eat lunch with the family and level up. The HPWCs (2) were in use, so I gingerly backed into a spot that had an outlet with the parking sensors guiding me along. I grabbed my new charging kit with the cable we had practiced with at the delivery center and then I faced my first true electric car challenge — the outlet was not a style I had an adapter for. The outlet, it turns out, is a NEMA 6-50 and I had nothing that would fit that. Rather than block the outlet for someone who was better equipped, I parked away from the spot. A Tesla employee was just arriving for work and I cornered him with the issue. He was very friendly and said he’d look into it.
Charging & Challenge #2
I dropped by the Tesla store after lunch to follow up and they said it wasn’t a common plug and the adapter was not supposed to be in the kit. They offered to lend me an adapter for a bit or move one of the test drive cars off the HPWC. I was only going to test it and I didn’t need a charge having started the day with 219 miles on the charge (not full). They told me I could just order the extra adapter off the Tesla accessories site.
- That led to my second electric challenge — I tried to buy the adapter later in the day and the adapter was listed as “Out of stock”. I contacted sales there and they put me on a waiting list. If you look at the site now the adapter isn’t even listed and there are rumors that they’ve told others they won’t be selling them any more. No other site out there on the internet sells a NEMA 6-50 adapter to get it to be useful for what I had in terms of cables and adapters. The store has since said they’re swapping out the NEMA 6-50’s for NEMA 14-50’s which are the recommended outlets which every new Tesla owner will have an adapter for. They don’t own the property though so who knows how long that will take to get sorted out.
After lunch I got a different passenger for the ride home, my daughter. I told her there was a mandatory stop for a photo shoot. I had been thinking about where to get a good picture for a while and I think it turned out great:
The ride home was uneventful and fun. On my bumpy street the Tesla handled the potholes, frost heaves and other standard New England fare perfectly.
At home I practiced pulling in and out of my garage and tested my NEMA 14-50 for the first time. The outlet and charger worked great and I got a full 40A (at the delivery center we had charged at 80A proving my dual chargers were there too).
I spent some time installing the extra mats I had ordered online from the Telsa accessories store for the frunk and the trunk and moved a few things over from my old car. My compact umbrella fits great in the glove box going straight in (glove box is deep on the left). The little shelf under the 17″ screen is only really big enough to hold my sunglasses, a screen cleaning wipe that they give you and perhaps a phone. Extra coats, hats etc fit well under the the mat in the rear which leaves my rear space much cleaner than my Acura.
Since I live in New England, the other all-important test was a “Does it fit?” test with my large Dunkin’ Donuts Ice Coffee. I’m very pleased to say it fit including the cooler cover. It would have been a shame to have to return the car after all that waiting!
My wife wanted a test drive and I took her for a spin and then I let her drive it. She has a Mercedes ML-350 and the controls were very familiar since Tesla uses the same parts around the wheel. More photo opportunities and all that. After the photo shoot we took a highway back to our house and I had to point out to her that she was already doing 95 MPH… Its crazy easy to get going very fast, very quickly. It felt like we were doing 40.
I mounted the EZ-pass tag up in the black area to the right of the rear view mirror and it worked perfectly. On my Acura I had it positioned near the rear view mirror in a place I never saw it (but my passengers did). That’s not an option on the Tesla due to the special coating they have on the windshield.
- The next trip was to a hardware store to find something to take the slack off the NEMA 14-50. The charging cable is thick and heavy and the UMC box on the cable dangles off the outlet which isn’t good for the outlet. I found a simple hook at Lowe’s that can take the weight off the outlet and hold the entire cable.
Road trip and Challenge #3 – Range Anxiety
A friend called and was stranded at Boston Logan thanks to the Boston Marathon and needed a ride. That led to my third electric moment — did I have enough juice to go get him? I didn’t want to fight Boston traffic on my first day with the car so I had him take a bus to where the Natick Tesla store is and I went to get him. The Natick Tesla store is 50 miles from my house. At this point the miles were racking up and I hadn’t started with a full or even 90% charge. I had 150 miles left from the 209 I started with and a 100 mile round trip ahead of me. It sounded fine, although 50 miles seems like a small margin — I never would have done that in my ICE car. I picked him up and we made it home with 45 miles to spare. Even though the car told me it would make it and I had the range to do the trip, I experienced range anxiety.
All told, that first day I put 155 miles on my new Tesla. Every second of driving was a pure dream. The best way to put it is that you feel like a predator in a sea of fish. You know that at any moment to you can take off and drive like everyone else is standing still. You don’t do it because you just want to glide in eerie silence along your way.
By the end of the day I was exhausted from the lack of sleep the night before, all the driving and learning and I got my first good night’s sleep in the 6 weeks since I pressed Confirm my order.
This post first appeared on Teslarati.