Tesla Roadster: Ownership Experience

Elon and his followers like to tell you how easy it is to own an electric car: no more oil changes! Think of how much time you’ll save not getting gas! Hogwash. EV’s have their own special needs.

When I drove the 500e, my biggest hassle was getting a spot at my workplace (free charging is a corporate perk). I had to drive around multiple charge sites looking for a space, and sometimes had to walk up to 10 minutes back to my office. No gas stations, indeed.

The Roadster takes a lot more TLC than the Fiat. The battery is huge, and arranged in a big cube, so the internals tend to get hot. If you don’t cool them off (using the car’s HVAC), they tend to stay hot, which isn’t good for the battery. Considering the battery is many tens of thousands of dollars to replace, it behooves one to take good care of it, meaning you have to pay attention to how you charge it, cool it, and discharge it.

Some of the many recommendations I’ve come across on the web:

  • Plug it in right after driving, limiting the current to about 12A. This encourages the Roadster to run the HVAC, getting the battery down to about 26C.
  • Don’t leave it at full (well, ‘full’, which is 85% usually) charge for long periods. Try to time your charge so that it hits full about an hour before you intend to drive it (you’ll notice this conflicts with the item above).
  • Give it time to ‘balance’, which happens after a full charge (conflicts with the item above, again).
  • Don’t stomp on the pedal until you’ve driven for a few minutes.

All this makes this car feel like a prototype more than anything. In fact, I’ve ordered a micro controller that will help me automate most of this, because the daily routine is driving me nuts. Give me an oil change any day, for pete’s sake. (and a side note: yes, the 500e also has to keep it’s battery in a narrow temp range, but a) it was a lease, so I didn’t worry about it too much, b) it was a smaller, flatter battery, so the heat dissipated faster, c) it was much quieter (the Tesla sounds like a hair dryer when the A/C is running)).

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