Product I Love: Tesla
August 16, 2022
Great products are something we can’t help but love here at Connected. From products that simplify investing to ones that keep your information safe and secure, we have eclectic taste, and this edition is no exception as we dive into cars and specifically the electric vehicle manufacturer – Tesla. Paul Sobocinski, Practice Director, Engineering details why the Tesla Model Y is his favourite product and it may have to do with simplicity, practicality, versatility, and safety.
There are plenty of products that try to improve our lives via bells and whistles but end up cluttering them with distractions instead. There are a few products that do the opposite. They eliminate the inconveniences, pains, and concerns that get in the way of enjoying life and time spent with loved ones. These are the products I love. One of these products is the Tesla Model Y.
My wife and I started researching new cars last year. By that point, it seemed clear that Electric Vehicles (EVs) were the future. Since launching their first generation roadster in 2008, I’ve watched Tesla redefine the public’s perception of EVs from being impractical, hobbyist vehicles to full-fledged automobiles having a mass appeal that is superior to their gas-guzzling predecessors in many ways.
I’ve also kept a close eye on Tesla’s product line. When the Model Y came out in 2019, I finally saw a car that I could see my family owning — practical, versatile, and safe.
What do you like about the product?
To put it plainly, I like its simplicity. Much of this has to do with the car being an EV, but it’s clear from the design decisions and aesthetic that Tesla maxes out the simplicity of its products — the Tesla engineers call it “undesigning”. This may be surprising to read, given that Teslas are known for their self-driving capabilities, but I’ll clarify this later.
What else is there to like about owning an EV? At first, I hesitated even talking to my wife about the idea. It seemed extreme. Initially, I thought plug-in hybrids were the more sensible choice: we’d help the planet by consuming clean power as much as possible, yet still have the gasoline option just in case. Once I began researching the details, however, I quickly realized that buying a plugin-hybrid meant getting the worst of both worlds. It meant having to contend with the combined weight of a battery and an internal combustion engine. It also meant maintaining twice as many propulsion systems in a single car — electric and combustive.
Buying an EV seemed to be the most sensible choice. We made the leap and haven’t looked back since.
What are your favourite benefits?
One of the most appealing benefits of the Model Y is its unparalleled safety. While traditional SUVs are notorious for their rollover risk, this is virtually impossible for the Model Y due to its low center of gravity. Teslas also come with a full complement of safety features which are common across many car manufacturers (ABS brakes, stability control, seatbelt pre-tensioners, airbags, etc.). Thus, the most important benefit of our Tesla turned out to be the one that we never need to think about.
The convenience of charging is a close second in terms of benefits. At first, we were warned about having to dish out at least $10K in home electrical upgrades such as replacing our panel, laying wiring to our garage, installing a custom wall charger, and so on. When we picked up our car, however, the Tesla specialist told us that we won’t need anything more than a regular wall outlet. Given what we were told up to that point, we found that hard to believe. But he turned out to be right. Our 110V garage plug gets us about 8km per hour of charge on a 12A current draw. We learned that this was more than sufficient for our everyday usage.
The third benefit is how relaxing and enjoyable Teslas are to drive. This is largely attributed to the car’s self-driving capabilities (also known as “autopilot”). It’s nice to make use of auto-steering and auto lane-changing when contending with rush-hour traffic. But it gets better: turning on “navigate on autopilot” allows the car to make lane changes and even highway exits completely on its own. Autopilot is especially wonderful on long road trips. Long-distance driving no longer feels draining because the car does 95% of the work!
Are you an advocate for the product? Do you find yourself telling other people about it and encouraging them to use it too?
Yes, absolutely. I have been encouraging my friends to look into buying one. They are expensive cars, but the gas savings are significant. They are also holding their value well for now, with some owners able to sell their cars at a premium (though this may be a short-term phenomenon caused by the long wait times for EVs). It’s also common for Tesla owners to rent their vehicles out on websites such as Turo to offset the ownership cost.
I’m also finding myself having to dispel many misconceptions around EVs and Teslas. The biggest of these is the belief that, because it doesn’t run on gas, the car is a hassle to own, drive, and refuel. On the contrary, I have found it more convenient than gas cars, as I can “refuel” the car at home. Further, the number of EV charging locations and networks continues to grow (Teslas can charge at most non-Tesla EV charging stations). As an example, Tesla has Supercharger locations in Ontario as far north as Sudbury and North Bay.
Are there any areas of improvement? What benefits would you like to see realized, or what would you like to see them get rid of?
I think the Tesla app store will unlock many enriching experiences that are simply unimaginable for gas-powered vehicles. Having zero emissions, Tesla users can sit for hours in a stationary yet “running” vehicle guilt-free. This already means that users can watch Netflix while their car charges or sleep in the cold wilderness while their Tesla keeps them warm at night.
But so much more is possible. While I’m excited to see what other Tesla users come up with, a few ideas come to mind. A stargazing app could recommend viewing opportunities for the stars, planets, the moon, and even future rocket launches based on the current time, vehicle location, and weather conditions. A sightseeing planner app could use NLP via a conversational UI to “interview” the Tesla user and, based on their responses, generate a sightseeing route for a city or town that they’re currently visiting. The two concepts could even be combined with data on lodging availability and EV charger locations to offer an all-in-one chauffer app that could plan an entire multi-day road trip.
We got a Tesla not because of what it can do today, but because of what’s possible tomorrow. FSD (full self-driving) is still in its infancy, and use cases for smart EVs are largely unexplored. At the same time, Tesla is leading the charge on both of these fronts, so both my family and I are excited to see what the Tesla engineers and the future Tesla developer community have in store!
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