It was time for the Will-o-Watt Wagon (my car’s name on the Tesla app) to get out of the city and take the long road for a trip to Ellensburg today.
I used my car’s standard Autopilot functions extensively for the first time, on today’s drive. Standard Autopilot means letting the car steer, accelerate, and brake within its lane. It was a good learning experience —and definitely a little hair-raising at times, such as trusting the car to stay in the lane on a curve in the road, with vehicles in the lanes next to you, and oncoming traffic as well.
The primary skill to master with standard Autopilot is to allow the car to steer itself, while still having one’s hands on the wheel. If the driver holds the wheel too firmly, the car interprets it as an override, and cancels the Autopilot steering. If, on the other hand, the car cannot detect that the driver is holding the wheel, it issues a message— a series of messages, actually, ending with an alarm and a screen with red hands on the wheel that says ‘Autosteer Unavailable For The Rest Of This Drive’. I managed to avoid ending up in that dog box and state! Success!
P.S. News broke today that Tesla has officially launched its Full Self-Driving subscription package for $199 per month. Full Self-Driving is really ‘Almost Full Self-Driving’, since the driver really still needs to hold the wheel. However, it is a really big step up from standard Autopilot, in that the car will stop, start and navigate by itself. So it will stop at intersections and traffic lights, wait for traffic or the green light, and go by itself, and turn on the turn signal for turns and lane changes where needed.
Tesla’s highly anticipated beta* version 9 of its Full Self-Driving software is out. This is the version of the software that is called Tesla Vision (camera) only; so it is not using the radar sensor’s input. (I don’t have FSD. I opted out of the FSD functions when I bought my car).
*A version of a piece of software that is made available for testing, typically by a limited number of users outside the company that is developing it, before its general release.
Gali @Gfilche on Twitter took his Model Y for a test drive through the streets on Capitol Hill here in Seattle at 2 a.m. this morning. Here are a few screen shots of a video (on YouTube channel HyperChange) that he posted shortly thereafter.
My dishwasher is 19 years old and kaput.
I thought I could just waltz into the Albert Lee appliance store today, and order a new dishwasher.
I was wrong.
There is a widespread home appliance shortage in stores: wall ovens, refrigerators, dishwashers.
I want a machine from German manufacturer Miele. ‘You can pay in full to get a place in line’, said the saleslady, ‘but be prepared to wait 4 to 6 months’.
At home I checked Amazon, Home Depot, Lowes, Best Buy. No dice. Looks like I might just have to wash my dishes by hand for a while.
I took my car to the Tesla Service Center this morning for two very minor repairs. A new owner gets 24 hours after delivery to report any defects, and then these are repaired free of charge. (In my case a tail light cover had a slight chip on the corner, and the trim on one door was slightly misaligned).
Here’s the Tesla supercharger station at the Northgate Mall off of Interstate 5.
It’s super-easy to supercharge the car. The hardest part for me is to back it nicely into the charging bay in one go. (It’s a new experience for me to use a car with a rear camera view for back-in parking, but I am learning quickly).
Park the car, plug it in. No credit card, no PIN, no thumb print or retina scan :), no nothing— the charger knows it’s your car, and how you will pay. Relax or go grab a coffee, and monitor to see when it’s done.
Well, the wait for my Tesla Model 3 (Long Range AWD) car was over on Wednesday.
A Tesla delivery person showed up with my car at my house shortly after 10.30 am. I signed some papers and handed over a check. We linked up my phone with the car, and that was it, for the delivery.
As for getting behind the steering wheel, completing the setup of the car on the touchscreen, and starting to drive it: I am very fortunate to have friends that have been Tesla owners for awhile, and that have provided me with invaluable pointers and ‘tech support’ from the day I had put in my order nine weeks ago. It would have been a very steep learning curve, with many stumbles, without them.
The 15-in. touchscreen shows the car’s position in traffic, its speed and a navigation map with (optional) driving directions. The screen is also the interface for entertainment and a host of other controls for the car.
There is a standard turn-signal stalk & a gear selector stalk (R N D P) by the steering wheel, and buttons on the wheel for volume control & the sideview mirrors.
Modern cars are all high-tech, but Teslas are still several notches above that. The software that controls the car’s interface and functions will be updated from time to time through my home wi-fi network. The car has no key: your phone is the key. ‘The car knows you want to drive when you get in’, as Elon Musk likes to say. On long trips, the navigation map will work out which chargers to go to, and will indicate how many open chargers are available at nearby locations.
My car came standard with some Autopilot’ functions – which I can choose to engage at any time. I opted out of getting the ‘Full Self-Driving’ functionality. (‘Autopilot’ is an advanced driver assistance system: automated steering within a clearly marked lane, and matching the car’s speed with that of surrounding traffic. ‘Full Self-Driving’ is automated driving functionality that actively guides the car from a highway’s on-ramp to off-ramp, including lane changes, navigating interchanges, automatically engaging the turn signal and taking the correct exit).
I love the high-tech, but at the end of the day I am just thrilled to have a car that drives on electricity. No more fill-ups at the gas station for me. I hope that in the not-too-distant-future, all the cars in the world can become electric.
The body is mostly steel, with some aluminum. The 2021 Model 3 replaced the chrome door handles, side mirror trim, window trim, and camera covers with a black finish. It has a double-paned windshield, a powered trunk, and a new center console. Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection. Curb weight is 4,072 lb (1,847 kg).
Two electric motors (‘dual-motor all-wheel drive’).
Front motor: Alternating Current (AC) Induction.
Rear motor: Alternating Current (AC) Permanent Magnet.
Automatic, one-speed fixed gear, 9:1 ratio.
82 kW-h capacity. Rated range of 353 miles (568 km).
Aluminum, aerodynamic covers. Four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock braking system; regenerative braking to extend battery power.
LCD touchscreen in landscape orientation that combines the instrument cluster and infotainment. Heating and air-conditioning cooling efficiency increased by heat pump with octovalve.
Another week, and still no call from the Tesla dealership (saying ‘your Tesla is ready for pickup’).
I still don’t have my vehicle identification number (VIN), though, so I did not really expect a call this week.
The VIN is needed to finalize/ update one’s auto insurance policy, prior to taking delivery of the car.
A Tesla bot or a Tesla person did send me an e-mail today, saying ‘We are working to get you behind the wheel of your Tesla as soon as possible‘.
Here’s a new BMW i3 that I found this morning, on the way to the Safeway grocery store. (I tagged along for a little test drive of one in 2014).
I see more Tesla Model 3 cars here in the city than I do BMW i3 ones. Or could it be that I have eyes for Teslas only? That’s definitely possible.
I went to the BMW website and mocked up an order for a BMW i3, and the car actually comes to a few thousand more ($44,450 MSRP as built) than Tesla’s Model 3 Standard Range Plus (cheapest Model 3).
This for a compact car with a 153 mi range vs 263 mi for the Tesla & 42 kWh battery vs. 54 kWh. The BMW might be more suitable for navigating the narrow alleys and cobblestone streets of old European cities, though.
Apple announced today that iOS 15 will enable the iPhone wallet to store ID cards and driver’s licenses (and maybe vaccination records?).
That’s good news for people like me and Willie Geist of NBC. (See below. He lost his wallet today).
Here’s a little Chevy Bolt from Oregon getting charged at an Electrify America charging station here on East Madison Street on Capitol Hill.
It’s early days for building out the charging network. There are 612 of these EA stations across the country with 125 more coming online soon. (There are 168,000 gas stations in the United States).
These charging stations are for out-of-town or out-of-state travelers. In general, it’s much, much more expensive (up to 3x, 4x more) to charge one’s car at these stations, instead of at home.
On top of that, we have the cheapest electricity in the country here in Washington State at 8.53¢/ kWh (source: electricitylocal.com). At this station, the charging cost is $0.43/ kWh, or $0.31/ kWh plus a $4 monthly fee.
Tesla cars can be charged here, but Tesla has its own charging station network (cost is about $0.28/ kWh).
P.S. I see that Associated Press reports there are roughly 42,000 public charging stations in the United States, but only about 5,000 are considered direct-current fast chargers. The Biden administration is looking at incentives to encourage companies and governments to build 500,000 charging stations nationwide by 2030.
This Sunday, it will be 7 weeks since I had placed the order for my car.
The delivery timeframe is 7 to 10 weeks, so I hope it will not be long now.
Hopefully, everything is running smoothly on the Tesla assembly line in Fremont, California, without a major backlog of computer chips or other parts.
I am sure they use just-in-time manufacturing, also known as the Toyota Production System (TPS). Toyota pioneered and adopted the system in the 1970s. Its success relies on steady production, high-quality workmanship, no machine breakdowns, and reliable suppliers, though.
It takes about 4 days from raw materials (such as coiled aluminum plate for the body panels) to a fully assembled car.
Four weeks had gone by, and this morning it was again time for my little rental car to go back to Hertz, on 8th Avenue in downtown Seattle.
The pictures are from my walk back, along Pine Street, and up to Capitol Hill.
We are continuing the transition to Tesla Vision, our camera-based Autopilot system. Beginning with deliveries in May 2021, Model 3 and Model Y vehicles built for the North American market will no longer be equipped with radar. Instead, these will be the first Tesla vehicles to rely on camera vision and neural net processing to deliver Autopilot, Full-Self Driving and certain active safety features.
– Posted on Tesla.com
My Model 3 will come without forward-facing radar sensors, and will instead rely only on the input from the car’s eight cameras, for its autopilot, full-self driving and safety features.
It seems to me that this approach simplifies the input that Tesla’s proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) software has to process. Maybe the radar does not add anything significant, to what is already collected by the cameras. (Or worse: the radar and a camera provides conflicting input to the AI software).
I would think that under conditions with poor visibility, though: fog, or a rainstorm or a snowstorm, radar could be a great help. (If one cannot see, it’s time to pull over and stop driving, of course).
Thu 5/27: Consumer Reports pulled its “Top Pick” status for Tesla’s Model 3 and Y vehicles built after April 27, while the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety plans to remove the vehicles’ “Top Safety Pick Plus” designation.
The U.S. government’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is no longer giving the Models 3 and Y check marks on its website for having forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning and emergency brake support. – reported by Tom Krisher from Associated Press.
Ford is signaling that it thinks mass-market buyers are ready to trade their V-6 and V-8 engines for electric motors, and I think they are absolutely right.
– Eric Tingwell, Car And Driver, May 20 2021
Yesterday, the Ford Motor Company unveiled the electric incarnation of their popular F-150 pickup truck*, the 2022 F-150 Lightning.
*What the iPhone is to Apple, the F-150 is to Ford. They sell 900,000 F-150 pick-up trucks every year.
The F-150 Lightning can go from zero to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds. It can tow up to 10,000 pounds.
Ford says the battery can be used as a power source to power a house for up to three days, or say, to power electric tools at a work site. The standard-range battery is expected to be good for 230 miles on a full charge, and the extended-range battery for 300 miles. The base model will start at a very reasonable $40k or so, making it one of the least expensive full-size pickups on the market: gas or electric.
How many F-150 owners, or aspiring owners, will go for the F-150 Lightning? Time will tell. I hope they will sell lots and lots of Lightning.
HOUSTON — Panicked drivers scrambled to fuel their vehicles across the Southeast on Tuesday, leaving thousands of stations without gasoline as a vital fuel pipeline remained largely shut down after a ransomware attack.
The disruption to the Colonial Pipeline, which stretches 5,500 miles from Texas to New Jersey, also left airlines vulnerable, with several saying they would send jet fuel to the region by air to ensure that service would not be disrupted.
-Clifford Krauss, Niraj Chokshi and David E. Sanger writing in the New York Times about panic buying of gasoline in the Southeast
If you are in the market for a new car, buy one that runs on electricity.
Here’s the 240-volt adapter for charging my Tesla’s car battery. (I had to buy it separately; it does not come with the car. Now all I need is the actual car with its battery, right?).
I will need a new electrical outlet, connected to a 240 V circuit, in my garage, similar to the one that I have in my basement for the clothes dryer. The standard 120 V outlet will actually do the job, charging the car. It will just charge a lot slower, up to 8 miles (of battery range) per hour vs. about 30 miles per hour for the 240 V outlet.
Think of electricity current (electrons) as water in a pipe, and voltage as the pressure that is applied to push the water through the pipeline. High voltage pushes more electric charge per second through the charging cable, and gets the battery charged quicker.
Just for fun, here’s a table with examples of electricity flow, current and voltage.
One ampere of current is one coulomb of charge moving past a given point per second. One coulomb is exactly 1/(1.602176634×10−19) elementary* charges.
Patience is a virtue.
– Origin unknown, possibly Cato the Elder in the 3rd or 4th century, or from the The Canterbury Tales, written during the 14th century.
Here’s a sneak preview of the electric car that I took for a test drive today.
I actually put an order in for one as well.
It’s a 2021 Tesla Model 3.
I picked the the long-range model (average of 353 mi on a full charge), with all-wheel drive, deep blue metallic color, standard 18’’ aerodynamic wheels, all-black interior — and steered clear of the ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ option (that’s an extra $10,000).
I am going to have to be patient, though.
The delivery date is 7 to 11 weeks out.
It’s official: my Toyota Camry is going to be written off, and not be repaired.
I’ve told everyone I know for four years that my next car is an electric car, or no car at all*.
*Use Uber and the train or bus here in the city.
Since we’re still in a pandemic, and it would be so much more convenient to have a car, I am about to pull the trigger and put in my order for an electric car. (It’s from a company that is named after the last name of Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist Nikola Tesla).
‘The effort to move the giant ship was assisted by forces more powerful than any machine rushed to the scene: the moon and the tides’
– the New York Times
Word came on Monday morning that the Ever Given had been freed. It was towed to the Great Bitter Lake for a final inspection. The last thing authorities would want to happen, is for the ship to break down on the way to Port Said at the northern end of the Canal.