Tesla’s Model 3 may still be a rarity on the road, never mind in dealerships, but one early owner is already taking his EV on a road trip – and recounting all the positives and problems along the way. The electric sedan has only just begun deliveries for non-employees at the California company, but that has only stoked the massive interest in just how closely it keeps to Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk’s promises.
The answer to that question, it seems, is “sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t.” Owner You You Xue’s so-called Tesla Model 3 Road Trip has shaken out some early glitches, certainly. They range from the fairly mundane, like warning lights for the tire pressure sensors not working as expected, through everyday annoyances, like knocking noises from the wipers and mistakes in how the car calculates charging rates.
Then there are the more worrying faults. They include an air bag warning light, some unexpected pops that led to their own warning notifications, and a music system that suffers weird crackling sounds, despite having been upgraded to Tesla’s premium version.
At the same time, it’s also proving to be a demonstration of what continues to help set Tesla apart from its auto-industry peers. A software update for the Model 3 has been released today, for example, and though you can’t install them while the car is charging, that’s still a lot more convenient than having to take it to the dealership as would be the case with most other vehicles. Tesla also dispatched a service technician out to the side of the road to address a touchscreen issue on the car.
The hope is that the new software version will fix some of the lingering glitches Xue has observed, like the UI on the central touchscreen soft-resetting during charging. He’s also seen the controls for the steering wheel adjustment freeze unexpectedly, and some lag from the rear-view camera. Nonetheless, Xue still seems impressed by the car, and pleased with his purchase.
His drive has also proved an unexpected way to give the Model 3-curious a chance to see the car in action. The automaker’s most affordable electric car was originally intended to be well into production by this point, but Elon Musk & Co.’s ambitious estimates have failed to pan out. Even had that been achieved, mind, with hundreds of thousands of people on the pre-registration list it’s going to be some time before a fraction of that number get up close with their car.
So, in addition to driving his Model 3, Xue has also been offering other reservation holders the chance to briefly get behind the wheel. With around 5,000 miles already covered in five days – and including a number of donuts, the road trip team reports – it sounds like this is a whole lot more than the “drive around the block” a typical car dealership’s test drive might consist of.