Tesla Weekend Social 2017, a visit to Paramus, NJ

A week ago, January 21, 2017, my wife and I were on a trip to New York and planned to visit my cousin and the new addition to his family in Randolph, NJ for the day.  This is one of my cousins who had kindly housed us both heading to Maine and back from Maine during our Here, There, EVerywhere cross-country trip of 2015.   We were staying in Manhattan the night before and had some time before we were scheduled to see them on January 21st, so it was a welcome surprise when we received an invite to the first Tesla Weekend Social of 2017. We wanted to see what has changed since the first social that we attended last year.

We received the following email on the 14th of January.

TESLA
Weekend Social
Please join us for a Weekend Social New Year celebration at your nearest Tesla location.

Kick off 2017 alongside fellow owners, enthusiasts and Tesla staff. Family and friends are also welcome. Seasonal refreshments will be provided.

To attend an upcoming event near you, please RSVP below. We look forward to celebrating with you

After some challenges obtaining a confirmation (apparently there were some back-end issues that was communicated to us and eventually fixed,) we were able to get a confirmation to be added to the attendee list at the Paramus, NJ Sales, Service, Delivery Center and Supercharger location.  Since our family commitments were not until the afternoon, we decided to head over to Paramus, NJ to attend the first Tesla Social of the year and to spend a few hours with some New Jersey Tesla folks.

To provide ourselves with the most flexibility for this visit, we rented a car from Hertz.  Unfortunately, unlike our experience renting with Hertz’s On-Demand 24×7 product from a few years ago, there are no longer any electric vehicles in Hertz New York locations (nor is the 24×7 product being offered in the USA.)  So, we had to rely on driving an ICE vehicle for this trip, a Ford Focus.

We arrived at the location about 15 minutes before the scheduled 10:00 am program and secured a spot near the front of the store.  Here is a photograph of the area by the entrance of the store that we parked our rental car in.  We were originally parked right beside the HUGE ICE SUV on the right of the photograph.

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Upon exiting our rental, one of the employees requested my keys to move the vehicle to the back of the store. It’s a rental and I had some items in the car that I didn’t feel comfortable to be in a section that I can’t see the car in, so I asked if he needed to move it, that he move it somewhere closer. He decided to move it to the other side of the parking lot, away from the entrance and across the superchargers at the location.

This location was not nearly as convenient as the customer parking spot that I originally used, but I figured there must be a reason why he needed to move my rental.  However, as you can see from the first photograph, this was a strange request as our original parking spot was right beside a large ICE SUV and another ICE vehicle.

We checked in and signed into the paper sign-in sheet that the store had placed at the entrance.  Here is the walkway to the entrance and the sign in is to the left of the photo.

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Directly ahead of the entrance is your typical Tesla Service Center entrance reception desk. (This is not normally situated in a Tesla Store). Remember, Paramus is a combination Sales, Service, Deliver Center and Supercharger location.

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For the event, the store personnel provided coffee, bagels and other breakfast items along the credenza under the apparel, beside the Design Studio wall.

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I walked around the area to get my bearings and took a peek at the Delivery Center part of the store and saw an X and an S awaiting their new owners.  It seems that the New Jersey folks were not one of the stores that cover the vehicles in some sort of drop-cloth as I’ve seen in other Delivery Centers.

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Not being used to weather, we originally walked in with our winter travel coats and realized that there was no place to keep our jackets.  Rather than wear our jackets the whole time, I decided to return them to the car.  I had to look for the employee who took our rental key to get access to the rental car and place our jackets in there. Once I located that employee, who is nameless, not to protect the guilty, but because he never took the time to introduce himself to me. I found the car tucked in between several inventory Model S that they have on the lot, and not by any customer vehicles.

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The rental car was nicely surrounded by Teslas, but I did not ever notice any other customers vehicles being collected in the same manner as our rental car.

It appears that we were particularly targeted for this as when I walked by my original parking spot.  Another monstrous ICE SUV was parked there and not another Tesla or anything related to the event.  I was a little miffed at this considering the fact that all other customers were able to park in the customer section and our little rental car was summarily moved.  Either way, that’s a section of improvement for Tesla Paramus.  Either valet park all cars, or leave them be.

This particular event at Paramus seemed to be more casual than the other Tesla Social events that we have attended in the past. There did not seem to be an agenda and we spent a long time talking to the Tesla employees and fellow owners before we were brought into the lounge for the group discussion portion of the event.

Prior to being brought into the lounge for the group discussion, we spent a lot of time with two members of the staff who were very attentive and we wanted to commend them. Monica and Joey (didn’t catch last names). Monica moved to Paramus, NJ from Pasadena, CA and Joey who just started a few weeks ago.  They were very eager and helpful.  Monica has been with Tesla for a while and we discussed her move to New Jersey from California as well as my wife’s Roadster and Joey, as a new employee, was effectively being trained by us as long-time owners of Tesla.

Don’t get me wrong, I can spend HOURS talking Tesla with people, it’s just strange to invite a group of owners without seeming to have a plan for their time.

We waited until about 10:45 am before the program started.  However, program might be a generous word for this event.  It seems that it was meant to be very free-flow and I suspect that an agenda and some structure could have helped make the event better. The format was very open and thus had a hard time maintaining a flow.  There were many owners there.

 

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Topics ranged all over the place and it was interesting to hear information that was directly contradictory to advice that I have received in Southern California regarding tire rotations and the like from Tesla Service personnel in New Jersey. Perhaps the difference can be attributed to the difference in climate and weather between the states.  In hearing from those involved at the location, it seems that folks around New Jersey have to go through a lot more tires than I do in Southern California.  I didn’t want to be the cause of ire from other owners, so I politely kept this information to myself.

Another subject that was brought up was regarding the $0.40 per minute supercharger idle fee that was recently enacted by Tesla.  It seems that these concerns are quite universal and the discussion around this was interesting.

After the group discussion wrapped up, a few of the New Jersey owners joined us in conversation as they were intrigued by visitors from California attending their session.  It seems that there is currently not an official Tesla Owners club for the New Jersey area and I spent some time explaining how the Orange County, CA club operates versus its other brethren in other parts of the world.  Several of the New Jersey owners seemed interested in forming one for their area and I handed out club cards for them to reach out for more information.

We also discussed Roadster ownership versus Model S as well as our visit to their state from our trip cross-country and how relatively easy and enjoyable that trip had been.

In the end, it was just as advertised, it was a Tesla Social, but one without an agenda.  I felt that an opportunity was missed in that this was the first social after some drastic changes in ownership for those that take delivery of a Tesla after the removal of the included supercharging for the life of the vehicle policy was replaced with the new pay as you go system.  Additionally, it’s been a few days since the release of the Tesla Model S and Model X 100D top range versions of those vehicles and it would have been good to have been provided some sort of presentation on those.  Alas, this was not the plan for the day.

We spent some time with yet another early Model S owner discussing growing pains and we took our leave so that we can head out to visit my cousin and his family.  We said our farewell to the two Tesla staff members, Monica and Joey, who provided such good company and service and left for the day.  These two counterbalanced the unnamed employee who saw it fit to move our Ford Focus rental while leaving all other vehicles unmolested.

Trip to our first Tesla Annual Meeting – Southbound (Day Two)

Missed Day One? Here’s a link.
Looking for my thoughts and theories on the point to the long history lesson covered at the meeting. Here’s a link.

So, after a longer than normal drive with several hours in bumper to bumper traffic, we awoke from the second day of our trip refreshed and eager to get to the Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) annual meeting. As we’ve normally virtually attended these meetings in the past (here’s a link to the 2016 meeting,) we didn’t know what the processes and procedures were to attend. The meeting was scheduled on May 31, 2016, 2:00 PM Pacific, at the Computer History Museum located at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043.

When we went checked in to the hotel on Day One, we had 202 miles of range left. More than enough to travel the few miles between our hotel and the meeting.

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Based on our start of day statistics, it looks like we only lost two miles overnight and the distance between Gilroy and our hotel was fairly close.

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We wanted to give ourselves the option of skipping Gilroy on the drive home. So we knew that we wanted to be “near maximum” when we leave on our drive back to Atascadero or to Harris Ranch as we haven’t decided our Southbound route yet.  If we were to leave the Annual Meeting fairly early in the day, we contemplated the same route that we drove Northbound. However, at this point in our journey, we didn’t know what we were in for at the annual meeting.

We had originally planned on getting to the Computer History Museum for the meeting by 1pm.  However, our fellow Tesla Owners Club of Orange County (OC Tesla (meetup group and our group page on TMC) members that we caught up with at Gilroy the previous day provided us with some hints as they’ve been driving to the meetings for years.  We had planned to meet up with them in line for the meeting, and sit with them inside.  They were planning on charging and then having an early lunch at an Italian place nearby, the same restaurant that folks at TMC planned on having a meetup after the meeting.

We played it by ear and arrived at a fairly empty Mountain View Supercharger at the Computer History Museum, so we plugged in to give us maximum options on our route after the meeting.

Mountain View Supercharger – Computer History Museum

We visited the Mountain View Supercharger for the first time during our insane round trip 22 hour drive to Silicon Valley and back.  This same supercharger was launched at the 2015 Annual Meeting and what made it significant was this was the first liquid cooled supercharger and had the thinner cables.

Here are the pictures that I took last year to show the difference in cables:

The first two pictures are of the supercharger at Mountain View.

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and these are the standard ones at Harris Ranch that I used to compare them to.

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I took pictures of our statistics from the hotel to Mountain View Supercharger.

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And figured to fill it up so that we can be close to 90% when we roll off. I wanted to charge the car enough to run the preconditioning intermittently as it was a hot day and the car was unplugged. The stalls were relatively empty for the area (meaning there were at least two stalls available at all times.)

We went to line up for the meeting and joined our friends from the OC Tesla Club around 12:15 PM for the 2:00 PM meeting. I estimated our place in line to be 30-40. Since our wait for the Model 3 was in the slowest line ever and took five hours, waiting almost two hours for the start of the annual meeting would be a piece of cake.

We had good company and we spent the time chatting about Tesla and other things with our friends.

In the parking lot directly in front of the line were two Teslas with the current design aesthetic. I was hoping for a Model 3 to be at the meeting, but none were there.

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Still, the new fascia on the Model S does grow on me.

I don’t remember what time they had us go into the building, but I suspect it was around 1:00 PM, if not 1:15 PM. I took the photo of the display with the welcome to Tesla Annual Meeting around 1:25 PM and that’s after we’ve been in for a little while.

The process of checking in was quite orderly.

The Tesla employees checking in attendees required proof of Stock ownership for the relevant period, so if one had the proxy to vote their shares with them and/or holdings statement for the shares for the relevant period then they let you in.

There were two stamps that they used to identify people. One for shareholders (which got you into the room for the meeting) and another for guests (which got you to a different room that looked like it had a closed circuit feed of the shareholder room.)

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We both had stamps to get into the shareholder room and proceeded there. We took a seat on the left side four rows from the front. The “best seats” up front and center was reserved for the board members, but the rest of the room was pretty much “first come first serve”. We were glad to get there with early with our friends because the room filled up quickly and we had a great view of the meeting.

Here’s what it looked like when it was still relatively early:

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I grabbed a physical copy of the Annual Report and ballots so that we can vote our holdings. One of the things I don’t normally carry with me is a pen. Luckily my wife carries one in her purse because voting at the Annual Meeting actually requires a pen to fill out the ballot. I know, so wasteful with all the paper, but give us a break. It’s how it’s done.

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I was a little “shy” to take pictures of the early parts of the meeting because the procedures to the meeting emphasized a “no recordings” line and the like. However, everyone else was snapping away. So, I ended up taking pictures at the meeting with my phone. (Yes, I know, peer pressure! 😉 If my friends jumped off the cliff, I might just follow them. 🙂 )

Here is Elon and JB talking about AC Propulsion:

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Covering Daimler’s investment and life raft to Tesla.

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Tesla Energy and the Power Wall

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Model 3

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Getting all the long term talent to join them on stage.

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I have a few more in my theories on the history lesson post or on my flickr stream. I stopped taking pictures during the Q&A period.

It was a long meeting and that really provided us with clarity on our route and plan. We originally skipped lunch because we had breakfast at the hotel and were not ready for an early lunch. We were tempted to try to join the TMC group, but we weren’t done with the meeting until early dinner time and we needed to head South. So, we ended up just going on the road and determined to take the I-5 route.

Before we exited the building, we did stop by to check out a display on the Google Autonomous Car.

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Here’s a quick shot on the inside:

Looking down.

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Looking forward.

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So, we decided to roll-out and see if we can make it to Harris Ranch for dinner.

Gilroy Supercharger

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However, we hit a lot of traffic and I couldn’t make it all the way to Harris Ranch and proposed we stop off at one of at In-N-Out instead. Luckily enough, there’s one just around the corner from the Gilroy Supercharger. Even though we could’ve skipped Gilroy to make it to Harris Ranch, we decided to plug in while we had dinner.

The thing about traffic is it’s very efficient for the consumption of energy as we averaged 279 Wh/mile, lately it’s been the passenger’s needs that ends up motivating usto stop on these drives. This time, it was for hunger.

It was interesting to do this drive between Gilroy and Harris Ranch after finally getting some rains this past year. However, the effects of the drought are still evident.

This little duck pond by the side of the road in Gilroy showed up on the GPS last year and was dry. And it looks like it’s back now.

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I wonder if that pond will be there throughout the summer, or whether it will evaporate again.

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We left a lot later than we thought so much of the drive for day two will be in darkness, but we’ll at least have light for some of the more interesting parts of the I-5 route.

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We got to the area of the reservoir between Gilroy and I-5 at dusk, so my wife tried to take as many pictures as she can so we can see if it received strong relief from the rains this past winter or not.

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I think it looks better, but not much relief.

And just before we reached Interstate 5, we descend upon darkness.

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Since we filled up at Gilroy, we had enough charge to drive all the way to Tejon Ranch and skip Harris Ranch and Buttonwillow to make it all the way home. However, we’ve never been to the Buttonwillow Supercharger and I wanted to check those out.

Harris Ranch Supercharger
Remember what I said about having enough charge…

That’s what the navigation is saying when you end up at a supercharger that you can skip.

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We had to stop, ’cause of other needs, and it’s not because the car needed a charge.

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The temporary superchargers have been removed and replaced by augmented by more superchargers. Interestingly enough, there are 13 superchargers at Harris Ranch. Which means, folks should try to grab 7A as it is not paired with any other stall. It was pretty empty when we got there, so I skipped that choice.

I was able to capture a pretty cool dark red glow of Tesla Superchargers in the darkness. If you couldn’t tell from the panoramic, stall 7A (#13) is at the far right of the picture, and we’re parked at stall 6A (#11).

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With the travelers needs taken care off, we took our leave and proceeded toward Buttonwillow supercharger. Granted we had enough energy to skip that and get to Tejon Ranch (40 miles further) comfortably, I wanted to see Buttonwillow and “add a supercharger” to my visited list.

Buttonwillow Supercharger

The last time we stopped off at Buttonwillow, we were actually there to use the truck stop across from where Tesla eventually added the Buttonwillow supercharger. It was also at this stop where we noticed a trailer full of Teslas being sent from the factory.

Spotted a Coil of @Teslamotors Model S heading off to their new owners at Buttonwillow, CA

This time, we were across the street by the Starbucks.

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I think the official sponsor for the parking lot might be the hotel next door, otherwise it’s a big, empty parking lot. What is disconcerting regarding this supercharger location is one has to park with your back to the street. This is normally not a problem, but when one stops at 11:00 PM, one can get paranoid. Granted, the location was well lit, but the lighting made one feel like a spotlight was on one’s self.

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As previously mentioned, we didn’t have to stop here, the trip planner was recommending that we stop at Tejon Ranch, so we had to estimate our own “fill up” at the location. We stopped for about thirty minutes before we proceeded to drive straight home. Since we were at the location after 11:00 PM, none of the nearby businesses were open. The truck stop across the street was open 24 hours a day seven days a week, if one needed to use any facilities while charging here. This is a situation similar to the Tejon Ranch stop, so if traversing through the area during “off-hours” and facilities are a consideration, I would suggest the Buttonwillow one anyway. The truck stop is closer to the Buttonwillow one than the ones at Tejon Ranch.

Purposely skipping the Tejon Ranch location can “play with one’s head” because the toughest incline of the drive (aka the “Grapevine”) starts just South of Tejon Ranch and there was always something comforting starting that incline with a “full” tank. We’ve often measured a 40 mile loss in the ten mile ascension in that drive. (Granted the next twenty miles barely consume any mileage at highway speeds, but it’s that initial climb that throws me off.) Working off previous experience and mental note taking that we had from Tejon Ranch, we saw that “starting off with momentum” for the climb, i.e. from driving from highway speeds for 40 miles before making that climb up the “Grapevine”, means that what used to cost us 40 miles in range only cost 35 miles based until we hit the summit and had the downhill and regeneration for the remaining 20 mile descent into the Los Angeles area.

Home

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Interestingly, the longest part between stops on today’s drive was the one between Buttonwillow and home. Additionally, I drove at my vehicle average in consumption during that portion of the drive 308 Wh/mile.

The great thing about the drive was that it gave my wife and I time to digest the presentation that we attended and discuss some of our theories. These discussions yielded the previous post.

Looking for Day One of the Drive, click here.

Trip to our first Tesla Annual Meeting – Northbound (Day One)

Go ahead to Day Two. Here’s a link.
Looking for my thoughts and theories on the point to the long history lesson covered at the meeting. Here’s a link.

For as long as we’ve owned stock in Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) we’ve always submitted our votes via the Internet and virtually “attended” the annual meeting via a live video stream over the Internet.

Last week we decided to attend the Tesla Annual Meeting in person.  The meeting was scheduled on May 31, 2016, 2:00 PM Pacific, at the Computer History Museum located at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043.  Tesla’s annual meeting is also available online.  I felt that Tesla’s point to their meeting was important enough for its own post.  Day two of this drive is here.

Now, those not familiar with California geography might think that this is a quick drive down the corner, but Mountain View is in Silicon Valley and we live in Southern California, so, it’s the opportunity for another Tesla Roadtrip.

As with other Roadtrips, we start with tracking the miles and energy use of our drive.  We started the trip at 57,372 miles on the odometer and a 90% charge at 228 miles.

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Not quite the energy use at ZERO, we used a little bit of energy to stage our car in our driveway.

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It was worth it… Considering this will be the cleanest our Model S will look after this drive.

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Now, in contrast with our trip last year which took us up to the Bay Area in one day, we’ve decided to split this trip into two days. This post will cover the first day’s drive and activities.  Day two’s activities will be posted at 10AM Pacific Daylight Time/6PM BST, June 9, 2016.

One of the big challenges is the annual meeting is held at 2:00 PM and we would have to leave very early on the 31st to make that drive versus the drive last year where the event we were attending was later in the day. Besides, it was the opportunity for us to take the “longer and more scenic” route to the Bay Area, the US 101 drive. The last time that we took our car through that route was on our Factory Pickup weekend in 2013.

Since it was a Holiday, the traffic around town was relatively light.

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A lot of the traffic was on the other side of us, and this is the part of the 405 where we have to make our final decision on staying on going on US 101 or go to I-5. We opted to stay with the plan.

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One of the reasons we decided to take the US 101 route is because we’re driving up to Silicon Valley on the Monday day of the Memorial Day weekend.  We anticipated a lot more traffic on I-5 and figure that the route will be a wash.  Not sure whether or not this ended up being the case, but that was my internal justification for taking this route.

The great part of taking a different route is you get different views for this long drive.

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When we did this drive in 2013, the only supercharger in the Los Angeles area was the one at the Hawthorne Design Center.  As mentioned earlier, we rolled out of home with a 90% daily charge at 228 miles of range, more than enough to make it to the superchargers at Buelton.  However, we rolled off without grabbing any coffee, so we opted to stop off at the Oxnard Supercharger.

Oxnard Supercharger

This was not our first time at the Oxnard Supercharger.  The in-car Tesla trip planner had us originally skipping this supercharger, but we’ve been in the car for an hour and a half when we got to the area and I wanted to stretch my legs and grab coffee.  So, we stopped.

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Figured to go grab some coffee at Starbucks and get some electrons and stretch my legs. The Starbucks for this charging station is not directly beside the location (It’s at the corner of Portico Way and Town Center Drive.) It’s a short five minute walk from the charging station, but we figured to get enough of a charge to skip the Buelton Supercharger instead by stopping at Oxnard.

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This particular charging station was relatively free when we got there, but it seems that many that needed to use it started arriving as we rolled off. As we were preparing to leave, I noticed that one of the vehicles that pulled up had Indiana plates that I figured to strike a conversation with the “out of towner.” It turned out that the owner of the Indiana plate Model S just moved to the area over a month ago and was on his way to Santa Barbara Wine Country. With the the driver and passenger fueled up, we headed North.

The next supercharger was Buelton and we had enough to skip that supercharger and head to Atascadero instead. The Buelton supercharger is the first supercharger North of Santa Barbara and on a holiday weekend, we expected traffic to hit us in Santa Barbara.

Normally we would expect to see some nice sunny beach pictures off to the side of the drive, but we were pretty much overcast on the beginning part of the drive, so here’s a beach shot.

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Not much to brag about.

And that traffic that we expected in Santa Barbara, we were not disappointed.

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We were pleasantly surprised because they were headed back to the Los Angeles area and not joining us on our drive North.

And, sure enough as we clear the beach portion of this part of the drive, the sun decided to show.

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Buelton Supercharger

So, we were planning on skipping the Buelton Supercharger, but I really should have just ordered a Tall Latte at Starbucks and not a Grande. Though we had plenty of charge left to make it to Atascadero, I figured to do a quick pit-stop at Buelton.

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We only traveled about 80 miles from Oxnard, and the car can outlast me, but I always figure if I need to stop, I might as well make it a multi-purpose stop.

The Buelton Supercharger is located at a Marriott and they are in the middle of renovations at this location that is expected to last a few months in 2016. Buelton is right beside the Santa Barbara County wine region and as such we get treated to some nice views of grapes that are growing.

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Though, I was teasing the better half at this point and discussing with her whether these were the “raisin” farms. Come to think of it, if someone can plant grapes to make wine, why would you plant grapes to make raisins? Or sell grapes for food instead? The thoughts that pop up on a drive.

When we drove this on our Factory pickup weekend, we were nearing the end of our journey and it was very early in the morning. It was nice to be able to see the scenery on this drive. However, we had some strong flashbacks of our time in Vermont and New Hampshire.

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At least in California, our BEAR signs are a LOT more cute.

And another 80 miles later, we’re at Atascadero.

Atascadero Supercharger

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The Atascadero Supercharger stop is another legacy stop for Roadster owners. When one walks from the Supercharger to the Rabobank there is an EVSE there (now converted to J1772) that was originally configured for Roadsters.

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When we were there charging, a Honda Fit EV was there charging at full 6.6kW speed. The Roadster is capable of charging at 70A (not sure if that means 16.8kW or 17.5kW) and many of the Roadster owners donated HPWCs to form the precursor to the Supercharging network. There are still some of these chargers out in the wild (the one in Harris Ranch, for example is still there and set up for Roadster charging) though many have been converted to J1772.

This particular location was the busiest of the ones on the drive North so far.

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And we decided to stop here because there was a very imposing string of red on our route ahead. I contend that this is the holiday traffic headed home and wanted to ensure that we topped up to be able to drive in comfort and maximize cooling. The temperatures outside were in the 90s and sunny now that our drive was more inland. Go figure.

As long as this drive has been relative to our usual I-5 route, it was a little refreshing because there were lots to see.

Even things that we are hopefully shutting down as we move to a more EV centric transportation network.

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Such orderly plants.

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Of course, more and more fellow Tesla travelers on this route.

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It’s not all solar either. Wind is there too.

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At first, I had designs on “going off-route” and checking out the supercharger in Monterey Bay, but the traffic on this Holiday weekend had something to do with changing my mind.

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We spent a lot of time in traffic because I did not want to follow the GPS which kept trying to re-route us around the traffic and onto “less traveled” routes. We spent the time entertaining ourselves with interesting visual clues.

Like the multi-colored “cow”.

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Or the “Cell tower Trees”

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The traffic was relentless and accompanied us through the trees…

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and open spaces

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It wasn’t until we were near Gilroy when traffic lightened up.

Gilroy Supercharger

We could have skipped Gilroy and checked into our hotel, but I wanted to take a break because of all the time we spent in bumper to bumper traffic. Besides, a strategy that we often use for visiting the Bay Area is to supercharge enough “driving around” charge once we hit Gilroy, so we decided to do that.

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Because of the elevation differences and the heat, our consumption on the Atascadero to Gilroy stage of the drive was pretty wasteful. I have averaged between 307 to 309 Wh per mile for as long as we’ve owned the Model S and the leg between Atascadero and Gilroy we used 346 Wh per mile. I wonder what the readings would have been if we were rolling along rather than stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. I would surmise that it would be even worse consumption figures.

Gilroy was packed.

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If in a pinch, however, there are two NRG EVgo CHAdeMO/CCS combo chargers across from the Superchargers.

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or one just waits.

Either way, we waited and charged up. As packed as the location was, no one had to wait. As we were nearing time for us to go, we actually ran into a couple of Tesla Owners Club of Orange County (OC Tesla (meetup group and our group page on TMC) members who were also headed to the annual meeting. We spent a few minutes catching up and making plans to meet the next day. Before it got dark, we rolled off to our hotel.

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We grabbed some dinner and then headed to our hotel.

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So after 438 miles of driving, we checked in for the night.

What wonders will we see tomorrow at the Annual Meeting Day?

We didn’t know at that time and went to bed.

Day two of this drive is here. For my theories on the point and meeting content, click here.

What was the point to the Tesla History Lesson during 2016 Annual Meeting

Looking for the Drive Report/short roadtrip?.  Here’s Day One – Northbound and Day Two – Southbound.

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We attended the Tesla Annual Meeting in person on May 31, 2016, 2:00 PM Pacific.  The meeting was held at the Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043 as well as provide the annual meeting is also available online.  Needless to say, we’ll provide a drive report follow up soon (Day one of the drive released now.  Day two of the drive scheduled 6/10/2016 at 10AM PDT/6 PM BST.)

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Having only attended the Tesla Annual Meeting online, we didn’t really know what to expect on this trip.

The formal part of the meeting was short (a little under seven minutes)  There were only three things to vote on and that part was very quick. Nothing against the meeting that Todd Maron ran, but we drove up to the meeting for the second part of the meeting – the part of the meeting that Elon Musk leads.

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So, Elon, accompanied by JB Straubel, decided to give the attendees (and those that watched online) an approximately three hour recap of Tesla history as they recall it.  As the saying goes, “History is written by the victors.”  I won’t be analyzing the recollection of those there, I wasn’t, but those long-time Tesla customers that were there seem to remember different stories throughout the years.

What I wanted to focus on is “what was the point of recapping Tesla History” for the Annual Meeting.  I think a few of Elon’s statements at the start of his portion of the meeting holds a big clue on what the whole point was.  Elon’s statements that I would like to focus on are: “The decisions of the past inform the decisions and motivations of the future.” as well as a few minutes later “…made with the right motivations… We say the things that we believe, even when sometimes those things that we believe are delusional.”

So, why the three hour history lesson?  I have a few theories and I’d like to go through these theories.

My first theory is this is Tesla’s first annual meeting to introduce future owners, i.e. the hundreds of thousands of Model 3 reservation holders, to Tesla. They want to start to manage the expectations of future Model 3 owners and let them know what they’re getting themselves into.

The second theory is to show the significance of the pending launch of the Tesla Model 3 to the mission of Tesla.  Time and time again, the Tesla “Secret Plan” has been brought up to show the plan and method that to bring about Tesla’s goal to electrify transport and lead the industry to move off fossil fuels.  This goal is integral to their DNA and though they had done this first by building the Roadster, followed by the S and X, the 3 is the goal.  Providing a mass-market, affordable electric vehicle (EV) that surpasses its internal combustion engine (ICE) counterparts is what they want to achieve.  The history lesson provided that directly in their talk and actions.  The significance of providing the Tesla patents for use by their competitors speaks of how much they believe in that mission.  It’s been almost two years since the publication of that policy and the fact that none of their competitors have taken them up on any of it is not Tesla’s fault, it’s on their competitors.

The third theory has to do with what has happened a few weeks earlier, in the midst of the departure of a couple of key production executives (article on Bloomberg and Fortune (though a little over a week later, Tesla hired an experienced Audi executive (Peter Hochholdinger) to lead the production efforts,) Elon announced the movement of the production targets from 500,000 units from 2020 to 2018. This move shocked the public and reverberated throughout many of the discussions on Tesla stock since.  There was a lot of skepticism held by many (including this author prior to the history lesson on May 31st) that this change to the target of 500,000 units from the 2020 deadline to the 2018 deadline is an improbable, if not an impossible one.  There were many automotive analysts and other smart people in the automotive industry that let the public know that this was simply impossible.

I bring this up because, I believe that one of Elon’s points in describing Tesla’s history is to show the many times that the company faced seemingly insurmountable challenges and what they did to overcome such challenges.  Throughout the approximately three hours of the discussion, Elon and JB discussed the times when Tesla faced challenges that were more dire for Tesla and how they prevailed.  They also discussed times that Tesla’s momentum of growth, (as I see it, the percentage year over year of vehicle production) has been greater than the 500% required to grow production from 100,000 vehicles to 500,000 vehicles.

Snapshot TSLA 2016 Annual Meeting

For example the differences between 2012 and 2013 production is a factor over 5x the previous year’s production (4,846 vehicles in 2012 and 27,644 vehicles in 2013). Furthermore, throughout the presentation, Elon and JB introduce us to several members of Tesla that have been with them “since the beginning” and show the creativity that these personnel exhibited to show how they solved problems that occurred in the past.

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They showed that a lot of these folks have been with Tesla over a decade and that these are the same people that spent their time focusing on enhancing and fixing issues that were in the product.

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Throughout the history lesson, Elon and JB showed that Tesla’s talented technical folks solved seemingly insurmountable problems by focusing and coming up with creative solutions.

In discussing “physics-first principles” and using the term “building the machines that build the machine”, Elon is telling us that he and his talented team will focus on fine-tuning the factories (both the Tesla Fremont Factory and the Gigafactory.) In discussing the future he wanted us to think of the factory as a product. He mentions his belief that “the potential for improvement in the machine that makes the machine is a factor of ten greater than the potential on the car side. Maybe more than a factor of ten…” Later on, Elon discussed the exit velocity of production at the “advanced car factories in the world” to be close to making a car at every 25 seconds, but that means that 0.2 meters per second, and that this not much faster than a tortoise, and he is looking to get Tesla’s “machines that build the machine” have an exit velocity equal to walking speed or a meter a second of production. Considering that the “advanced car factories” build more ICE cars that are inherently more complex than the electric cars that Tesla builds it is not inconceivable to see that there are production gains and performance gains to be made by fine-tuning the factory. In addition JB mentions that by shifting design resources that have been focused on improving the car to focus on improving the factory they are finding tens to hundreds of a percent of efficiency gain that are both phenomenal and close at hand.

Needless to say, we were duly impressed with the extended length Annual Meeting last week. I think that Tesla did a great job of communicating the three points that I thought was the goals for this meeting. I truly hope that Tesla’s talented employees are able to improve on the factory (i.e. the machine that builds the machines) to the factor that Elon and JB had communicated. As for the drive to Mountain View and back for this trip, I have published Day One of the drive hereI published Day Two of the drive here.

[EDITED 2016-06-07 2:52 PM Pacific Daylight]

A day after publishing my post, Tesla stock soared $11.66 (5.28%) during the trading day.  Some would say perhaps it was my comments that drove it up, alas, it wasn’t my article.  Ron Baron of Baron Capital was extremely bullish about the company, and echoed comments similar to theory #3 of my post.

Looking for the Drive Report/short roadtrip?.  Here’s Day One – Northbound and Day Two – Southbound.

Tesla Weekend Social

This past Sunday, April 17, 2016, my wife and I attended the Tesla Weekend Social at the Costa Mesa (California) Sales and Service Center.

We were sent this invite a few days ahead of the first ones on April 14, 2016.

Tesla Social Invite

Tesla Weekend Social
We are excited to invite you to the launch of the Tesla Weekend Social series at your nearest Tesla location.

This new event series was designed exclusively for owners. Over a light breakfast, you’ll have the opportunity to engage with Tesla product experts, learn more about latest product features and speak with fellow owner enthusiasts. We look forward to seeing you this month as we take a closer look at Summon.

To find the event nearest you, select a date below.

We were intrigued to attend this Weekend Social and though the invitation from Tesla was to feature the Summon beta that has been deployed to Auto Pilot (AP) enabled newer Model S. Our current Tesla Model S version of AP is “yours truly” pulling the car in and out of the garage to let the better half in and out of the car.  After all, with the S and Roadster in our garage, it’s a tight fit.

Why would we join a Tesla Store event focused on a feature that we don’t and can’t use?

  1. As investors in TSLA, we wanted to see what sort of response this sort of activity does (it looks like good demand generators for S and X, or the very least solidify customer loyalty.)
    • Many people own older non-Auto Pilot Model S.  Demonstrating the features of newer Model S might be the motivation to push one over the edge to upgrade a car.
    • There is always a feeling of “what’s next” with Tesla, besides with the announcement of the new “nose” and design refresh for the Model S, I wanted to see if we would catch one “in-person”. (spoiler, we didn’t)
  2. We wanted to see what sort of thing Tesla would cover
    • It mentioned Summon, but this “Tesla Social” thing looks to be the start of something bigger, so we wanted to see what it was about.
    • I never know if there’s something new that I would pick up from others.
  3. We really like to be social with other Tesla folks. So, thought, why not?
    • Besides, the OC Tesla Club (Orange County, California) that we help organize with our good friends Mark L (and his wife Anna) and the group’s founder Tan just registered as an official Tesla Club with Tesla Motors and wanted to “lend a hand” and see if anyone else would want to join the group.
    • We expected there to be questions from new Tesla owners and thought that we can help cover anything else and free up the Tesla employees for other things.

Apparently we weren’t the only ones interested in this weekend’s activities, here is a thread on TMC on the same thing.

So, what was it like?

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We arrived at the store at 9:58 AM and proceeded to enter the facility.

There was already a crowd of folks that were asking questions of the Tesla Costa Mesa store manager, Gavin Torres, with questions.

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As you can see in the pictures, there were a bunch of folks there for this Social. I would estimate that there were 50 people that showed up to the Tesla Social. Not all were there on time, but on a rolling basis, I would guess that many.

The Summon feature, as with many Tesla features, has been demonstrated by many others in videos on Youtube and those videos were more dramatic than the Tesla Social event.

Here’s the one with the guy using it to pick him up from the rain.

Here’s one where the owner is getting the car out of its garage.

and the official video from Tesla.

The store manager at Costa Mesa had the forethought to staff for success and each group had a Tesla employee demonstrating Summon (and answering a ton of Tesla questions that had nothing to do with Summon.)

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The group we were with was interesting in that he used a pole that was in the parking lot to show how sensitive the sensors were in the car to understand the existence of the pole and route around it.

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The car he used to demonstrate the feature had to be parked closer because he had used it a few minutes prior to show the basics of Summon, and it was already parked pretty efficiently.  Having seen this feature in action before, I was interested to see if there was anything else that I could learn about it, and there was an interesting way that the instructor discussed initiating Summon from within the driver seat and the front panel without using the fob or app.

As with many places that reported on their Tesla Weekend Social activities, after the official demonstration, many were treated to a “show and tell” by those in attendance with Model X.  The Costa Mesa location was not an exception to this.

There were three Model X owners there and one did just that.

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In all, we stuck around to talk with other owners and answer questions about Tesla. the owners ranged from folks who just picked up their cars to others, like us, who’ve had their cars for years.

Was Tesla successful in getting us to upgrade our S? Not exactly… It did reaffirm our desire to have these features on our Model 3, when that gets delivered.

Since we arrived so close to the start and it seemed like they started early, I found out that the first 30 minutes prior to the start of the demonstration was spent fielding all sorts of questions from the owners that were present.  This speaks of a need for Tesla to perhaps be more thorough in their delivery process in showing folks what they need to know during the pick up.  Granted, the over the air updates change the look, feel, and behavior of the car that being trained on a feature that suddenly shows up is a challenge for Tesla.  However, taking the steps to add these Tesla Social series will allow those that suddenly have new features show up in their car with a forum to ask Tesla how to properly use these features.

It is commendable to see Tesla start to do ownership outreach in this manner throughout its Sales Centers.  In the meantime, hopefully, resources from the ownership community, such as our OC Tesla Club, Tesla Motors Club forums, Teslarati, and others can all be there to provide much needed assistance.  I’ve asked fellow OC Tesla Club members to make new owners aware of our club’s existence so we can alleviate the crush on Tesla’s employees on questions that can be easily answered and demonstrated by the owner members.