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Road Trip. During Christmas of 2022, I decided to do a long road trip with my family to Melbourne. I decided to see how the Tesla charging network and my Model 3 we bought almost 15 months ago would perform on the road.
In preparation for this trip I took time to consider the needs of what might be required. Some of the considerations included the items below.
List of items
- Tire compressor.
- I recently backed a “Kickstarter” in which I received a small compact tire compressor. It was designed to be a simple small and competent tire inflater for several purposes including vehicles.
- Extra charging cable.
- I purchased the blue charging cable from apple that allows for charging at third-party chargers with a bring-your-own cable.
- Tire repair kits
- A friend of mine mentioned he has used the tire repair kits that plug the hole so you can make it to the next town to have it fixed. I purchased some of these, so I had resources in case this eventuated.
- Alcohol-based window cleaner
- This was essential to allow for the cleaning of windows due to bug splatter and the removal of bugs from the fender when charging.
Planning the trip
I spent several hours planning the trip not just through the tesla app and vehicle display but through several other applications.
- A better Route Finder
- This app allowed me to look at the possibilities of charging accommodation and time travelling
- Plug share
- This was very handy to find any other charging points that may be available close to the tesla chargers in the case of not being able to charge when tesla chargers might have a long wait.
- Charge Fox
- Allowing the ability to charge at their sites if required.
- Allowing the ability to charge at their sites if required.
- RACQ Roadside assistance
- If an issue arose, I could get assistance if required.
Road Trip. The road trip was planned to start a couple of days before Christmas day, and it would take us 3 days to get there. As it turns out it only took 2 days with long days and lots of driving.
The first leg of the trip started at 3:30 am in the morning, this was intentional as we aimed to miss the Gold Coast Highway morning traffic that is notorious for being horrible and slow. Thankfully we missed this traffic and made good time for our first destination for charging at Maclean.
Charger – Knockrow
Knockrow charger is one of the more picturesque chargers around. We arrived early morning which meant that not many people were within the area. It sits on a river next to a restaurant and just up the road is a small country town post office and general store.
The general store was open, so we got a coffee and something to eat. We then went and sat by the river and had a relaxed time while waiting for the vehicle to finish charging.
The next couple of chargers that we stopped at were similarly placed in nice surroundings, next to vineyards, shopping centres and the like.
As we moved into Victoria after going through NSW, we found that the roads travelled through some of the most open and beautiful landscapes. In contrast to NSW where there are lots of large forests and bushland next to the freeways, in VICTORIA the fields were spotted with trees and large open fields with lots of livestock to be seen.
The stops along the way included places like “Oliver’s” which offers good wholesome healthy selections of food catering to Gluten and dairy-free options.
Model 3 Travelling
Road Trip. Our model 3 is a 2021 build standard range with no FSD or Enhanced Autopilot. So, on a trip down it was great to understand the benefits and disadvantages of this configuration.
First and foremost, range is king. Due to cost when we bought the Model 3, we had not been able to buy a long-range Model 3 and that has always been a question for us
The Model 3 standard range did not skip a beat, it performed as well as expected if not slightly above.
The distance between chargers was not so much that you would arrive almost on 0% if anything I generally arrived with 10-20% of the charge still available.
This surprised me as I had anticipated more issues with distance. So, the query of “Long-Range” versus “Standard Range” did not really matter.
I had a full trunk and frunk load with more in the back seat, so the vehicle was even heavier than usual, and it performed exceptionally well. Range Anxiety with this extra load did not have any impact.
We covered on the drive down almost 1800km on the way down and we charged approximately 6-8 times over the duration.
We arrived in Melbourne and enjoyed a wonderful Christmas with family and friends
Tesla Christmas Present
I have always wanted to understand the benefits, and disadvantages of the Enhanced Autopilot systems so it came as a big surprise to find that Tesla released for 30 days to the ability for all Teslas to experience enhanced Autopilot across the Christmas/New Year period here in Australia.
I was extremely impressed with some aspects and frustrated by others. Of course, I worked out workarounds and streamlined the capabilities attributed to the Enhance autopilot.
The first thing to note was the activation of the Enhanced autopilot. Firstly, entering a destination was necessary for the delivery of the enhanced features. The auto lane change was one exception to this rule as it also worked when in standard autopilot.
The first time I drove it with Enhanced autopilot and turned it on the two blue lines that outlined the lanes on the screen merged into the one leading line in front of the vehicle’s image.
This helped to show its path and guide the car through the navigation. On many occasions, it performed amicably, but on some occasions, it was hard to determine if it would or would not work.
The vehicle found exit and entry points a breeze for the most part with a few small exceptions. It took turns on freeway interchanges extremely well and navigated through traffic with ease.
Where it did find some challenges was the transition from lane to lane. The auto turn was mostly consistent and worked well however it did tend to suggest turning to the right-hand lane often even if there was no reason to do so.
This was above all else the most frustrating thing. On many occasions, I would cancel the suggested upcoming lane change as there was no reason to change the lane.
One of the more unusual behaviours came when I was driving in the right lane and attempting to merge back to the left lane using enhanced autopilot systems functionality. I would indicate to go to the left lane, I found when there was no other vehicle in the left lane ahead the system just would not engage. No matter how much nudging of the steering wheel to confirm lane change the system did not do it.
The results would be the autopilot disengaging, it just continuing in the right lane and the system disregarding the request, or the screen displaying that auto lane change is not available at this time.
Besides these frustrations, overall I was most impressed with where it is at currently. Does it need more work to meet expectations, of course, but it is early stages of development for right-hand drive countries in my opinion and I think Tesla might need to give the system some attention.
I would think that the data they were able to get from all the different vehicles using it over this period might give a clear indication of areas for improvement. Let’s hope so.
The Return Trip
The return trip was again long, and we visited mostly the same superchargers on the way back. Having enhanced autopilot was so much better than autopilot for one specific reason.
I didn’t have to turn it off to change lanes 95% of the time. In the included version of autopilot that comes with all Tesla’s it disengages when trying to change lanes. If no other feature for standard autopilot could be included, it would be this.
We again made it in two days and even though we were not as tired as we would have been driving another vehicle without autopilot. The energy it takes to concentrate on keeping the car between two lines cannot be understated.
Tesla does this extremely well in standard or enhanced autopilot and the level of fatigue does diminish with this capability.
I had a wonderful time driving the Model 3 and I can say without hesitation it is one of the best vehicles I have ever owned.
One last Observation
The Supercharger network needs to grow. Sure, we were lucky not to have to wait at any superchargers along the way but the number of Teslas and electric vehicles we identified on our drive was significant. Australia is only getting to 4-5% of recent purchases being electric, but that is only growing.
Tesla needs to increase their number of chargers, along with other vendors. It is imperative that this happens with great expedience.
With Tesla opening their superchargers to other electric vehicles this will only increase demand and at most charging sites 6 seems to be the maximum on this road trip. That is not enough if more and more Teslas and EVs are coming into the market.
The trip was amazing, the enhanced autopilot was worth experiencing and the fun, family, and memories we made during this time cannot be replaced.