Autopilot and range testing on Tesla

Range

Today I drove 125 miles (201 km) to the airport and back. Initially, when I entered this trip into the navigation system, it showed that I will need to charge my Model Y Long Range on way back. It told me that I’m missing around 2-3% of the charge. It was frustrating because according to Tesla, my car has a range of 330 miles. I know that 330 miles is a range in close to ideal conditions but I was absolutely sure it will be enough to drive 250 miles.

Then I searched the internet and according to a few articles typical range is ¾ of what Tesla is officially stating. And ¾ from 330 miles is 247 miles, so only a little bit shorter than the length of the trip. My Honda CR-V has a little bit shorter range and I had no issues going to the airport and back with AC on and with 4 adults and many suitcases.

But because I cannot do anything about it, I decided to go anyway. I was planning to charge Tesla to 100% but I mismanaged it and I charged only to 97%. I had 3 adults and one 8-year-old kid. 3 big suitcases, 2 small and 4 backpacks, and a few smaller items. Everything fits nicely in the trunk.

When I started driving, navigation showed that I will arrive at the airport with a 49% charge left. But with every mile, it increases its projections and around the middle of the trip, it shows around 55%. I was driving 70 miles per hour and AC was always on. It was mostly sunny weather and the temperature outside was from 75F (24C) to 81F (27C).

I arrived at the airport with a 61% of charge. On the way back I was driving 75 miles per hour but there were a lot of traffic jams I was able to drive only about half of the trip back at 75 mph. The second half was about 30-40 mph. There were only 2 adults in the car and no luggage and I arrived home with 24% of the charge.

According to the Energy app, the whole trip I was driving 240 watt-hours per mile. Tesla has a 75kW battery and which means that the range is around 312 miles. And the same Energy app told me that I lost 1.8% due to driving faster than 70 mph and Autopilot did a few hard breaks that cost me around 0.5%.

And I also would like to mention that I did a few quite hard accelerations just for fun and I didn’t try to squeeze every single mile out of the car. I also had a few phones that were charging but they consume very little energy. As result, I’m sure that if I drove 70 mph and there were no traffic jams, I would probably be able to get a range between 320 and 325 miles in real conditions.

I think it is great because it is the similar range I got with my Honda CR-V and I would get a worse range in Honda when I’m stuck in a traffic jam. And while I’m subject of comparing them, I would like to state that Tesla Model Y is softer than Honda CR-V 2018 Touring with standard wheels. But Honda has more usable space. If my suitcases were bigger, I will not be able to fit many of them in Tesla.

Just as a note, my suitcases were not small by any means, but I had bigger ones. And if I put them vertically then the trunk door will not be able to close. In Model Y space from floor to roof at the point close to the back seats is much higher than the space from floor to roof close to the end of the car. In my Honda, it is almost the same and as result, it is possible to place longer and taller objects.

But if you have just a lot of suitcases, it should not be a problem as there is space under the floor and I put 2 smaller cases there. There are 2 big pockets on the left and right side and I put 2 backpacks there. And there is space in the front trunk. In my case, I don’t use that and I can see everything in my back mirror after I finished placing all luggage.

Autopilot

I drove almost all 250 miles on standard autopilot. I didn’t buy enhanced autopilot or full self-driving. I used whatever came standard with every Tesla. I drove manually only on the streets and in the airport. On a highway I always used autopilot.

A few times I was thinking that I’m too close to the left side of the road or I’m too close to another car and I moved the steering wheel and that disengaged autopilot. And in every case, it was just my feeling and the car was dead center on the lane. There were many places where it wasn’t easy to see lane marking and my Honda CR-V always lost lane and notify me that it cannot continue to keep in the lane. There were no issues with Tesla in such places.

Moreover, Honda CR-V disengages keep in the lane feature when the speed drops below 45 mph. And if it stopped for longer than around 10 seconds, it will not continue to drive until I touch the acceleration pedal. There were no such issues with Tesla. It was able to keep in the lane at any speed and at one time we stopped for around 1 minute and it continue to drive when a car in front of me moved.

It works quite well in strange cases when there were old lane markings and when old lane markings were painted black on top of them. It works well when there are concrete plates with clearly visible edges but lane markings were to a certain angle to them and were not parallel.

Issues

But there were different types of issues.

Tesla can read signs on the road and sometimes Tesla switched the speed limit to 40 miles per hour. I’m absolutely sure that there were no such signs on that road. And because I set up an audible chime when I speed over the limit it annoyed me several times. It just looks like a bug. I mostly drove on the left side of the road and perhaps it was hard to recognize the speed limit value. From my memory, all signs were 55 or 65, so it is hard to get 40 out of it. Maybe it saw speed limit on streets that were close to the highway?

Very often Tesla reads a 55 mph sign that is for trucks only and it also set the limit to 55 and also annoys me with a speeding chime. And I drove thru a school area and Tesla also thinks that it is a 25 mph road even though I didn’t drive during school time. This looks like a missing feature.

And next is the most annoying issue: Tesla activates wipers in autopilot mode though the glass is super clear and we didn’t have rain in the last few weeks. It activates quite randomly and frustrates me a lot. It didn’t apply any water and the wipers just go over the dry windshield. Eventually, it stops but it is super annoying. And it is not possible to switch off wipers in this mode and autopilot forces them on auto. But to be fair, all my other cars will make quite horrible noises when I activate wipers over dry windshield but on Tesla, it is really quiet.

As result, I applied some water to the windshield during driving because I thought maybe there are some buildup of dirt or dust and just to help the wipers a little bit. And now the driver’s and passenger’s windows are covered with many blue spots and blue smears. And it left smears on the windshield. I never had issues like that with any other cars I owned. It is not a big deal, just to mention it.

There was one case when the car decided to apply light breaks without any reason. It was a slightly curved area and I had cars to the left and the right from me and slightly ahead. None of these cars were trying to change lanes but my car decides to slow down.

The car accelerates a little bit too aggressively from a stop on autopilot and sometimes has to slow down just a second later. Perhaps it is trying to keep a set distance but with start/stop it is usually better not to rush and accelerate slowly. But this is a minor issue.

Conclusion

I’m quite happy with the range and autopilot. I usually do not drive more than 2-3 hours without a break and the range I saw today allows me to drive 3-4.5 hours which is more than enough for my driving style. Then I will need a break anyway and I will charge the car.

Autopilot works quite well and especially it is good when there are traffic jams as it reduces the load on the driver considerably. It is quite helpful as is and shows a lot of promise in the future. I drove around 240 miles with autopilot enabled and I didn’t have a single dangerous situation. Once it auto-corrected me. It was a really busy place and I don’t know if I did any mistakes because I didn’t have time to look back. But I think it will really improve the safety of driving.

I hope it helps someone.

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