By now, most of you have heard about the winter storm in Virginia that caused a huge traffic jam along Interstate 95 that stranded some people for 24 hours. There were people who claimed that such an event would cause problems for people who drive electric cars such as our Teslas.
Virginia traffic jam
There's a guy in Michigan who owns two Teslas, a Model X with the old-fashioned electric resistance heating and a Model Y with the newer heat pump heating. He calls himself Dirty Tesla because he lives on a dirt road, and he doesn't wash his cars much. He decided to do an experiment to see how his cars would fare in a traffic jam in cold weather.
Michigan has more than its share of cold weather. He picked a night where the temperature was predicted to vary between twelve and fifteen degrees Fahrenheit. Both cars were charged to 90% at the beginning of the test, and he left them out in his yard overnight, unplugged. He set the cabin temperature of both cars to 70 degrees, and he engaged the driver's seat warmer to level 3, the warmest level.
After 12 hours, both cars were fine. The Model X had used more electricity, but both were capable of going another 12 hours of simulated traffic jam without running out of juice. The car wouldn't last as long if the traffic jam happened when the car was at a lower state of charge, but that same thing would be the case in a gas car if it were stuck in a traffic jam with less than a full tank of gas.
Some of his commenters mentioned that if there were a winter storm that cut off electric power, then electric cars couldn't charge their batteries, but, he pointed out, gas pumps work using electricity. You can't fill your gas tank if the gas station doesn't have electricity.
He mentioned that keeping the car at a lower temperature than 70 degrees would prolong the availability of battery power. He suggested 60 degrees as a reasonable temperature. That's not an issue with a gasoline powered car. Since heat is just a waste product of keeping the engine idling, you can keep the interior of the car as warm as you'd like without using extra gas. One of the things he neglected to mention is that if a gas-powered car is stopped for a long period of time with its engine running, even if it's outside, there's a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning. There's no such danger with an electric car.
Here's some wintertime advice that's appropriate for both an electric car and a gasoline powered car.
He suggested keeping a blanket in the car during the winter. I thought that was such a good idea that I ordered some emergency space blankets to keep in my and my wife's cars. You might also want to keep some food that won't spoil, such as unsalted nuts. Keeping water in the car when you're not in the car is problematic since it could freeze and crack the container, but if you're going on a wintertime trip on a limited-access highway, you should bring some water with you.
Tesla stuck in Virginia traffic
Dan Kanninen, who used to work for the EPA drives a Tesla Model 3. He was caught in the traffic jam for 14 hours. He recently wrote about his experience in Teslarati.
Mr. Kanninen watched Netflix on his touchscreen while waiting for the traffic jam to end. He was comfortable in his car. At the end of the traffic jam, his car, the lowest range Tesla M3, still had 18% charge in it's battery. His car directed him to a supercharger. On the way to the supercharger, he saw long lines of cars waiting for gas stations to fill them up.
He made the point that EV owners who charge at home start each day with their programmed state of charge. That's usually 80% or more. Drivers of gasoline powered cars often start out with less than half a tank.
Henry Farkas is a retired country doctor. He bought his Tesla Model 3 in the middle of the pandemic.
Like other automakers, Tesla issues vehicle recalls (many involving minor software tweaks) when a
vehicle feature or hardware needs to be changed.
With the release of their latest
app update (version 4.9), Twitter user Tesla_App_iOS, noticed that Tesla added a new API that could potentially show vehicle recall information.
It didn't appear that the Tesla app was yet using this new API, but just a couple days later it can
now be seen in the Service area of the app.
The service section of the app is loaded via a webview, which is essentially a webpage that the app
loads when the user navigates to that section.
This allows Tesla to make changes to that section without requiring an app update to display new
Tesla, along with other car manufacturers, maintains a database of applicable recalls based on the
VIN of each respective vehicle, so Tesla already has all the information needed in order to
display recalls for your specific vehicle.
In the App
The Tesla app can now displayed vehicle recalls
Upon navigating to the Service section, Tesla will list any recalls available for your vehicle.
Tapping an individual recall will give you additional information.
Tesla also has a Learn More button that links off to Tesla's site, where they display detailed
information about the given recall.
Since the feature appears to just have gone live recently, it's not clear yet whether Tesla will send
a push notification to the owner when there is a new recall issued.
A notification could prompt the user to schedule service for critical recalls.
What is currently unknown is if software recalls will also be included in the app, or if it'll be
limited to recalls that require Tesla service.
Some software-based recalls, like the removal of Boombox while in drive are displayed in the
vehicle's release notes.
This is a welcome new feature to the Tesla app that makes managing recalls simple and convenient.
You can now easily look at or confirm if there are any outstanding recalls with just a few taps.
The feature is available on iOS and Android.
It looks like this feature may not be available in every region yet, as some users like TeslaChinaRider are not seeing it available in the app yet.
Tesla has a history of testing new features in select markets before releasing it broadly. Hopefully that's the case with this feature as well.
1. Your car better understands what is and is not drivable space.
This makes it more confident in easy situations, and more capable in tricky situations. Your car can
also now use medians for difficult left turns, and accelerates quicker to complete turns.
2. Your car now has a better idea of objects blocking camera views.
Creeping should be less scary.
3. Improved path predictions of where other others on the road will
be. This gives your car better decision making for turns.
4. Sounds like: Your car will drive itself to safety much more
smoothly if your car finds itself in a place it shouldn't be. Better problem solving?
5. Your car should better see the lanes on the road, and how many
of them there are, thanks to new data. This gives better turn confidence and path planning during a turn.
6. Your car is now trained on 180,000 new clips related to what
lanes look like.
7. Your car is less likely to panic brake in a yellow light
scenario, and has a better understanding of lane guidance when going through an intersection.
8. Road edges and road lines are now more accurate.
9. Your car now better understands visibility from the cameras,
thanks to 30,000 new video clips of training data.
10. Speeds of motorcycles, pedestrians and cyclists is now more
accurate. Plus, your car now better predicts which direction a pedestrian is walking.
11. Your car is now less likely to confuse a parked car and an
idling car thanks to 41,000 new clips of training data. This should result in fewer "phantom brakes" or
silly lane changes.
12. Your car now better understands objects that are far away from
13. Your car will plan a better path around vehicles with car doors
14. Objects that are not pedestrians, cyclists, etc, should have
more accurate speed predictions.
15. When changing into an adjacent lane, your car will look further
ahead at vehicle speeds. If somebody up ahead is braking, your car will handle it more
16. Your car used to only predict acceleration (Not speed) for
objects moving adjacently. Now your car will predict acceleration of all moving objects including
objects accelerating across your path.
17. New 3D models for vehicles on your screen. You'll also be shown
vehicles with their doors open.
18. Tesla retired a few old systems and gained 2 frames per second,
per camera, resulting in better performance while self driving.
FSD Beta 10.12 is currently only available to employees, but we
may see a wider release in the next couple days that includes public testers.
However, it could be several weeks before all current testers
receive this update.
More details will surely be uncovered about this beta in the
next few days. Stay tuned for more.
TeslaFi is a service that logs your drives and charging sessions so that you can later refer back to them. We highly recommend checking them out if you use your car for business trips and would like to keep track of reimbursements, if you like to see how much you spend on charging or if you just love statistics. View their about us page and see everything they have to offer!
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