Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Tesla Model 3: These are the Bells and Whistles I Want...

So from what I heard from Musk, the Model III will be about 20% smaller than the Model S and will not come with all the bells and whistles. So just for the record, here's the list of Model S features that I've identified that I would like to see on the Model III, or otherwise would be okay to go without.

In my limited understanding, Model S chose to go with aluminum because it's durable, and its light weight can offset the weight of the battery. For the Model 3, even Elon Musk has said that it will likely be a steel body and still be about 30% lighter than the Model S. Assuming steel is cheaper than aluminum, I'm fine with this.

I can't emphasize enough how important it is for the Model 3 to come with auto-pilot. This is a footprint to the future of mass individualized transport and needs to be there in the mass-market Model III if he is to get other auto makers on board. The expected widespread market means an massively larger intake of data that will speed up the development of this technology towards autonomous driving. If this is not present in the Model 3, all will be lost.

It could be argued that it isn't necessary to install such a large touch-screen between the two front seats. But in all honesty, large screens means less distraction because you don't have to squint to read the map or the various option buttons. However, I do think the price of exponentially increases with screen size, and may perhaps require Tesla to reduce the size in order to keep the price affordable. It would be sad, but it would not be a deal-breaker for me.

I guess it's just personal preference, but I don't use my sunroof that much as it is already. I have to admit that I am intrigued about having a bigger visual range while driving. But this is definitely more of a luxury than a necessity.

This one is a toughy. To start, having a single motor at the back wheels in a Tesla is not the same thing as with a gasoline car. The typical gasoline car is front heavy -- and disproportionately so. So while back-wheel powered driving may feel smoother in this type of car, it's the reason why it's a much more dicey drive in bad weather. The Tesla, on the other hand, has a low centre of gravity smack in the middle of the vehicle. This alone gives you substantially better handling and control. The second motor at the front wheels, which is a smaller motor, just increases the range slightly because you have more sources of regeneration. So while having an all-wheel drive is attractive, it's not as essential as it would be in a front-heavy gas engine car. For this reason, I've made my peace with foregoing the dual-motor to revert my extra funds towards other stuff, like...

When I went for my Tesla test drive, I seriously thought the best part was going to be testing the acceleration, or witnessing auto-steer. But by far the feature I got most excited about was the auto-park. The idea of a stress-free experience backing up your car into a tight spot delights me to no end. Now it's hard to imagine Tesla keeping the auto-pilot feature and not including auto-park, mainly because they seem to use the same 5 sensors built into the Model S. So I would assume that if Musk removes one, he'll remove this too... and in-so-doing, possibly remove a Tesla customer from his wait list. I simply can't imagine buying a Tesla without both of these features.

As insanely ludicrous as this feature is, the truth is that paying $10K for this upgrade is pure luxury and will have to remain something that the wealthy can have. Essentially a show-off feature, I would be surprised if Musk bothers making room for this option in the Model 3. It's definitely a show-stopper, but probably not worth the price tag.

I think many of us would agree that this is probably not an essential feature to have, or even to offer. Switching between comfort and sport mode was definitely illuminating, and while it's nice to imagine being able to choose between the two, having no option isn't really giving up much, in my opinion.

Likewise with this feature. I do have a very steep driveway where I've had other cars and even a moving truck scrape their bumper on the pavement trying to drive up to our front door. So it makes me wonder, if this option isn't there, will the car be high enough to not damage itself everytime I come home. In general, the idea of having the car lower itself at high speeds to reduce wind resistance and thus increase energy efficiency is brilliant. But probably not essential enough to boot up the price of the car.

I'm not sure if it was just me, but I was shocked when I found out that the LTE wireless service came with the car. I was sure this would have required another monthly subscription for the service. The fact that it is complimentary (meaning I can cross the border into the US and not even worry about roaming fees -- or any fees for that matter), blew my mind. But it makes me wonder how this affects the price of the vehicle. I don't know how long Tesla will be able to offer this if the car really does go to mass-market. Am I being nervous for nothing? (Clearly, I've never owned a car with wifi. Someone want to enlighten me on this?)

Um, I'm Canadian. Please make this an option, Mr. Musk. Full stop.

Up until now, I've never bought this upgrade in any car. Then again, my nicest car to date is a Honda Civic -- nice and loud, and clunky. There was simply no reason to get nice sound in your car if it's always going to fight against the roar of an econo-class transmission. Well, I look forward to finally having a nice quiet inner space to finally hear the beautiful overtones of my Rachmaninov piano concertos, or whatever awesome hit Ed Sheeran comes out with next. I hope this comes as an option.

I thought I'd throw this in here even if it's really not a point of contention. It will be interesting to see if they incorporate the Model 3 into the existing app, simply because it's hard to know which features in the app will remain to support the Model S, and which will go inactive if it is synced up with the new Model 3. Having never used the app (because I'm not yet a Tesla EV owner), this is something I guess I'll come to discover when it's my turn join the Tesla club.

Personally, I find minimal need to have my side-view mirrors tuck into my car while it's parked. It's a nice idea to reduce the amount of protrusion from your car, reducing its exposure to more damage. But sometimes having the extra mechanical feature is more of a bother than an enhancement. I watched a video where the car had frozen over enough that the side mirrors were stuck in the tucked position until the car heated up. I feel the same way with the door handles. It's a neat feature, but it feels like it's just something else available to break down (and I think there have been some issues with the earlier Model S's with the door handles). If the Model 3 were without these, I wouldn't miss them at all.

Well, it would be nice if I could somehow download my driving stats shown in the car into a spreadsheet so I can do my own analysis. This includes not just distance or power used by minute or day, but also stats like how much energy I regenerated on a trip. 

It would also be really cool to see a finger-printing technology to access certain features, removing the need for the use of a key fob or any other external device. I realize the doors right now can open without removing the fob from your pocket, but there's something about the idea of putting your fingerprint on the vehicle that really makes it feel like its your toy.

I'm excited about March 31st. I can't get a day off of work to line up to put my deposit down at the nearest Tesla store, so I'll just have to hope for the best that the site doesn't crash on April 1st when I try to do it online. Part of me is expecting to be disappointed at how little will actually get revealed. But whatever we get, it's more than what we have now.

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