First v9 Day Trip
in our Model 3

Mark D Larsen

A Road Less Traveled
(Click to enlarge)

Yesterday there was a meeting of the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association that I wanted to attend. The day trip turned out longer and more unique than I anticipated, for reasons that I’ll describe below.

NOTE: You can click on any of the following photos to enlarge them.

In the morning I awoke to find a notification that the v9 software update for Correcaminos was pending. I started the download immediately, and was amazed that it only took about 10 minutes instead of the predicted 45, thanks to our WiFi connection.

When I reset the trip odometer to start the journey, I was intrigued by the changes to the touchscreen’s display. Like I had mentioned in my last feedback, the time and temperature were now on the upper left side of the navigation screen.

One of the new features that I was curious to see was the energy efficiency screen. Here you can see how its 30-mile “Consumption” graph plotted the two extremes of climbing to Utah summit and then dropping back down again on the road to Mesquite.

A few more miles down the road, I noticed that the screen had another graph for “Trip.” Apparently when you enter a destination for navigation, it plots the battery percentage when you started, where you’re at, and predicts the result when you arrive according to your driving habits.

I was able to verify that the screen now displayed cars, SUVs, trucks, even a motorcycle in front of me on the highway. I will observe that the images were rather “shaky,” with odd glitches like showing two semis instead of one in an adjacent lane. On the plus side, when changing lanes, it now displays a dotted line for the one you’re crossing.

As you can see, the “Consumption” graph when I arrived at the destination was much flatter and thus more consistent than when crossing the summit earlier. Unfortunately, I discovered that the Model 3’s GPS had directed me... to the wrong location! I then had to use my iPhone’s GPS to guide me to the right building a couple of miles away.

I was impressed, nonetheless, that the “Trip” prediction had proved spot on with the energy percentage upon arrival. After the meeting, I drove a few miles to the Superchargers in the southern end of Las Vegas, where 3 of the 10 units were unoccupied on the map. However, when I arrived I found that those 3 units were broken, and other Tesla owners were piled up to use the 7 working chargers.

I didn’t want to brave the traffic and road construction to the Superchargers in downtown Las Vegas, so I decided to drive out to the new site in Henderson, where 11 of the 12 chargers were unoccupied. I plugged in there, and the touchscreen above predicted that it would take 50 minutes to recharge to 90%, so I went into the convenience store to get a sandwich.

While eating my sandwich, I received a notification that the supercharging was “almost complete,” with 20 minutes remaining. I believe that this is another change in the system, which used to give only a 5-minute warning.

As the stopwatch above shows, instead of 50 minutes, it actually took only 39 to add 169 miles of range. According to my back-of-the-envelope calculations, that’s 4.33 miles-per-minute. Not bad!

The touchscreen now displayed that I again had 282 miles of range for the journey home, for a cost of $6.84. However, that was only an initial estimate.

As you can see, “My Tesla” page shows that the final cost deducted from my account was $7.08, i.e., nearly 4.2¢ per mile. Hey... that’s not bad either!

I had charged to 90% because I wasn’t sure how many miles I would need to take a different route home. Since I had driven east to Henderson, I decided that I might as well take the Northshore Highway along Lake Mead to again connect to I-15 at Overton.

I was glad to have made that decision. I enjoy driving backroads much more than freeways, and the desert scenery didn’t disappoint.

Now and then I would pull over to take photos of Correcaminos with Lake Mead and red rock formations in the background.

Here is the “Consumption” graph when I arrived home, again plotting the climb and then the descent over the Beaver Mountains.

I had driven 319.4 miles on the day trip, so I estimate that the drive to the Henderson superchargers and the afternoon tour along Lake Mead had added about 60 miles to the usual round trip to Las Vegas. The energy efficiency of 235 Wh/mi translates to 4.26 miles-per-kWh, much higher than the EPA highway rating of 3.65. No complaints!

I discovered that, 8 miles before pulling into the driveway, I had crossed the 9K threshold on the odometer after nearly 6 months. I have obviously driven Correcaminos farther, faster, and more often than our former LEAF, which didn’t reach that milestone for well over a year.

There is another feature of the v9 upgrade that I tried out on this day trip: the ability to record dash cam videos from a front camera. Above is a one-minute clip when exiting the canyon and seeing the Kayenta cliffs behind our home.

I used an 8GB USB thumb drive for the dashcam experiment, but discovered that the feature uses only up to about 2GB of storage. Apparently it records an hour’s worth of dash cam in one-minute, ~30MB clips. After it accumulates 60 clips, it then starts to overwrite the oldest ones. Consequently, when I got home, and loaded the thumb drive into my computer, I found that I only had clips for the last hour on the journey home up over the summit. There were no clips from the outbound journey, let alone along the Northshore Highway. I suppose that this means, if one wants to record a longer trip, it would be necessary to swap thumb drives every hour on the hour. My take is that, given such limitations, and the poor quality of the clips, the dash cam feature is only useful as intended: to record evidence of a mishap or accident during the last few minutes of driving, just in case one ever needs it in court or for insurance purposes.

But I have some good news about the dash cam feature as well. This morning I went out into the garage to conduct some experiments with the USB ports. I found that it is possible to use a USB splitter to plug in both a dash cam thumb drive and our Jeda Pad. They both work at the same time!

This photo shows my old USB hub with Tamara’s side of the Jeda pad and my SanDisk thumb drive both plugged into two of its ports. If you enlarge the photo, you can see that Tamara’s phone is indeed charging on the pad.

And here is a closeup of the touchscreen showing that the dash cam is in fact recording while the phone charges.

The camera was simply staring at the garage door in front of Correcaminos, so I opened it to verify that the dash cam was recording video.

And finally, while experimenting with the v9 features, I also learned something that I didn’t know before. Specifically, it is possible to connect Tesla’s WiFi to the internet using our iPhones as “hot spots.” In this photo I have selected my phone as an alternative WiFi connection instead of our home network.

And here I have also added Tamara’s phone to the WiFi menu. I purport that this capability might prove useful when running the v9 web browser on the touchscreen if and when “hot spots” happen to have a stronger signal than the car’s telematics while on a roadtrip.

Tamara and I have never been too keen on computer games, so I doubt we’ll play around with the Atari easter eggs very often, at least not unless Tesla adds a version of “Pong” to the selection. Of course, I’m sure there are many more v9 functions that I have yet to explore, and look forward to the learning curve.