The annual road trip with my Model S is done. Over 2000km and 10 supercharging stops – this roadtrip covered only two countries this time – Belgium and France:
Some notes along the way:
for the first time since I bough my Model S, I noticed a queue at one supercharger. A good sign, I suppose (Tesla fleet increasing), but also a worrying one – the supercharging network must be expanded quicker so that it doesn’t become a victim of its own success
charging tip: if you use a power extender, make sure you unroll the cord. Leaving it rolled while you charge will make the extender’s thermal protection kick in, especially under the Provence summer heat (the extender will also have a restart button which you can use after it cools down).
another charging tip: while supercharging I started to turn the cabin climate off. Walk away from the car, let it supercharge, and then, a few minutes before I go, stop charging and then cool the car. This way I avoid putting pressure on the cooling system; as I learned the hard way last year, there are parts of it that cool both the battery and the cabin.
uphill roads will eat up the range pretty quickly. For instance, an elevation difference of 1200m over 21km ate up about 90km of range. Doing the same trip with an empty car doesn’t change things too much.
the increase in speed will eat up the range in a non-linear way. An average of 110-115km/h will keep the ‘consumption’ under 180 Wh/km, even with a full car. Going up to 130-135km will take that up to over 220 Wh/km. Non-linear, as I said: the speed goes only 17% up, but the consumption increases by 22%
the only incident during this road trip: the driver’s door handle is now stuck half-open and I can no longer open the door from the outside. The problem is not uncommon apparently:
Tesla Model S doors, in fact all Tesla doors, are opened electro-mechanically. When you pull the door handle to unlock the door you are not mechanically releasing the door, you are actually making the door handle close a micro-switch which then triggers an electronic component to release the door. What can happen is one of the microswitches (highlighted on the picture) or the wiring coming out of it can fail and the signal either doesn’t get created or doesn’t get transmitted to where its needed.
Writing this post some months after the trip which happened in August 2019
The road trip was mostly ruined by a faulty piece – the chiller – which led to the AC not working for a few hundred kilometers in Southern France.
Here are some notes that I sent to Tesla back then:
There are a number of shortcomings in the way Tesla provides support, I am detailing them below:
1) the alert message was simply wrong (the AC was not ‘reduced’ but simply not working anymore)
2) the alert message does not provide any indication on the next steps I could take (like the ones communicated on the phone 16 hours later). Why not put these troubleshooting steps on the console when the alert appears on the screen? Or, even better, send a ranger my way?
3) the waiting times for the call center are simply ridiculous. On 12th August I tried to reach the Tesla roadside assistance from 16:00 to 19:30, without any luck. This is simply unacceptable to me, since I had an emergency
4) the instructions received by phone are contradicting the ones from the Service Center. Not only they were wrong, but they put into danger my safety (by encouraging me to drive along in a potentially unsafe car) as well as the battery life (the Aix en Provence SC said that the battery could be irremediably damaged by continuing to drive)
5) Tesla mobility solutions are ineffective and inflexible. I understand that finding a loaner at 17:30 on the day before a national holiday in France is not easy, but Tesla should be more flexible and better prepared for such cases
6) the Tesla parts distribution network has a lot of room for improvement. Overnight delivery in Europe should be a lot easier than in the US, and in the worst case, you should have a clear indication when an ordered piece will arrive at the SC
7) your European branch seems to be significantly understaffed. I am talking about 1) call center staff 2) SC technical staff (it took almost 4 hours to diagnose the problem) and 3) SC customer support staff (the SC manager told me that he has very few people who could help me with the issue).
In the end, after more than two days of waiting and uncertainty, the Aix Service Center found a solution to my problem:
either the faulty piece ordered on 14th of August PM arrived on 16th of August AM from the Netherlands (15th of August is a bank holiday)
or (more likely if you ask me), the SC simply replaced the faulty piece in my car with a working one from a loaner, while waiting for the original piece to be delivered from the Netherlands.