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Friday, June 6, 2014

Arrival of the Fittest

She's HERE!   It has been a very packed first week with "Serena".   Yep, we named our car.  It's the first time we've been nuts enough to do it-- and after a week, I must say, she's earned it.   This car has so much personality and is so lively, you can't help but think of it as more than mere machine.   That's not to say she's perfect but after a week it's hard to imagine ever buying another gas car.
Serena is a DEFINITE improvement to our quality of life and-- like all big improvements-- this one came to us by way of the Home Depot.  
I mean, I get everything else from Home Depot... why not an electric car??

Unlike many of the home deliveries, our car didn't arrive by enclosed carrier but the truck was still long enough that navigating the hills and turns of our neighborhood was going to be a problem.  The night before delivery the dispatcher called and Alice setup a 9am meeting at the Cranberry Township Home Depot (Serena and I found ourselves back there today-- for legitimate reasons, not because we were celebrating our anniversary together or anything weird like that.  Really!)

Even before the last kid hit the school bus, Jake whooshed into my driveway.  If I was going to need a ride to get my new car, who better than Jake and what better than another Tesla to do it in?  Imagining that I'd be flustered, I really wanted him along with his keen Tesla-owner eyes to make sure I didn't miss anything significant.  It's a good thing too as he took most of these pictures!
Rolling up we saw Serena immediately.  She'd already been unloaded and was sitting like a princess in the middle of the outer parking lot.  On the trailer were 2 more cars.  A blue P85 bound for the Devon Service Center (just outside Philadelphia) and a louder, slower car with less room in it.   Why??
The P85 was located too high to get a VIN number off it but I have been watching the forums this week to see if anyone claimed it.  No luck.  It's my understanding that at this time there are about 50 Teslas in Pittsburgh but close to 500 in Philly-- so the odds of that new owner posting on the big forums are pretty low.
Okay, back to OUR car.  After 8 weeks of waiting (and longer than that wanting) it's a little weird to just roll into a parking lot and get in your new car.  It really feels like there should be more steps involved in taking delivery of something so significant... but all I had to do was sign one paper (Bill of Lading) and we were done.   The truck driver took off to make his next delivery leaving Jake and I making slow laps of the car checking for any sign of damage or defect.  None were apparent.
First time in the seat!  Interior had that new car smell that we've missed for a very long time-- a wonderful leathery aroma.  


A mere 13 miles on the odometer-- good thing I'm not superstitious!!  The glossy horizontal obeche wood looks great with the tan and grey as it has both those colors hidden in its layers.  So this is what a brand new Model S display looks like!  Nothing assigned, low miles, dead flat energy graph.
The deluxe plastic "blue feet" floor mat seemed very low rent compared to the rest of the car.  Oh yeah, that didn't stay there long.  Underneath were the new style plush floor mats but we'd be replacing them with the Tesla Weathertech mats when I got home.
I'm willing to bet money this is the first time the Cranberry Home Depot has had 2 Teslas in its parking lot.  Doubt it will be the last.
Continued inspections-- the paint was SO much more dynamic than the website shows and even better than I'd expected.  Photographs don't really convey the variations it displays but maybe you can see how much more blue it looks in this picture compared the greener grey in the picture below?  It's a very interesting color.
Closing the frunk for the first time was a little nerve-wracking.   After reading about the crease some folks have gotten from improper hand placement I was really anxious.   I've had it open dozens of times this week and never had a problem getting it to gently "snick" the second latch-- and no signs of bending.   Even so, it's off-limits to the kids and likely to only be used for road trips.
Looking more blue here again.  Car was quite clean and I haven't yet seen any signs of paint imperfections/swirls or any of the spider marks others have had on theirs.  It just looked spectacular.
More grey in this picture, right?   The color is so variable!   I can't wait to see what it looks like after the detailers put their elbow grease into it and the sealant (Opticoat Pro).  The shape of the car is superb but those rear hips are my favorite part with the complex curves of the duck-tailed hatch being a close second.  
Having circled the car multiple times, poking and prodding everywhere, we were amazed that store security hadn't yet called the police about the weirdos in the back lot.   Rather than press our luck, we decided maybe actually DRIVING the car would be a good quality control measure to take.  Oh... wait, we can't do that yet.  One more thing to do...
Programming in my profile.  If the empty energy display was cool, the virgin profile page was awesome.  How many cars can you program YOUR NAME into??   Someday I hope they upgrade the software to a HAL9000-like voice so she'll greet me when I get in.  "Good morning, Matt.  Where shall we go today?"

We checked all the critical screen functions.  When verifying the web browser was working it first loaded up The New York Times website.  Cheekily left-leaning Jake said "Who programmed in that liberal rag?"  Right-leaning me turned the tables on him as I silently started typing in the Drudge Report address...  just to skew the results.  That got a good laugh.
First stop would be coffee at Generoasta in Warrendale.  Where else??  We drove in various formations through Cranberry to Warrendale, each enjoying the view of our newest companion.   It's hard to beat the awe factor of moving around in traffic in two futuristic and rare (around here) cars.  Warping about in formation we were getting a lot of stares.  Generoasta was where we'd spent many Tesla filled mornings but arriving with TWO Teslas was a definite first.  Jake didn't seem to mind sharing the spotlight.  Good thing I pulled in second-- my parking sensors fired right up (surprised me actually) to prevent any Tesla-on-Tesla violence.  Did not want to be "that guy"!
It was a nice morning so we spent longer than usual admiring the view.  Finally.  Ahhh.....   Then a handicapped van pulled up and Jake casually commented about the potential for the lift to gouge my car.  Shortly after a brand new Jaguar convertible parked next to his car I remarked how L O N G the doors were.  Uh-hem.   Two can play at that game.
Jake's generous ways couldn't be undone by sharing the Tesla spotlight and he recommended a stop by his house after coffee to get some more essentials.   He'd already blessed me with most of the cleaning products available in North America but there were a few more tidbits to add on, like the black "T"s for the wheel center caps.  A very patient "Mrs. Jake" returned home and saw us geeking out, shook her head, and disappeared, presumably to call the authorities.  I escaped just ahead of the nice men with butterfly nets.
Finally home!   I gingerly pulled Serena into the garage.  The garage is a pretty standard size but the Tesla is about 6 inches WIDER than our already full-size Chrysler.   So...  slow.  Slow was my max speed.   Can I just say again the parking sensors are superb?  Really nice.
You can see the Tesla parking sign from Jake welcoming us home.  I folded the mirrors in out of an abundance of caution but rarely do anymore.  Already I'm getting jaded!  The car clears the door easily with them out but if I think we'll be walking around it a lot I will fold them in.
VERY metallic grey with the flash, eh?  The folded mirrors sort of look like someone pinning back Serena's ears.
Last October-- actually on the weekend of our first order-- I finished installing my NEMA 50 amp plug in the garage.   We tested it with Jake's car over the Winter just to make sure the continuous draw was stable and then shut off the breaker.  I "ceremoniously" turned it back on once Serena was parked.  Then I realized that the weight of the mobile connector (the black/metal box that follows the plug) was going to be tugging on the plug.   So...  before I could charge I had to figure out a way to hold it up without stress.  I'll post more about that later-- but I actually think my solution is quite clever.  (back pat)
With a little driving under my belt you can see the energy graph has changed quite a bit.  Rut ro.  Not a lot of regeneration going on here... but definitely several significant "Tesla grins" being generated!  I've settled down a bit now but the thrill is still there.   As was pointed out to me by some other owners:  "with great power comes great responsibility."
Still working down that initial charge.  Serena came with the battery at nearly full-- I think it was 255 miles rated (out of a "possible 270" I've yet to charge to)-- and I was working it down steadily.  If you compare to the odometer, I drove 11 miles but shaved 22 off the rated range!  Ha!  Apparently you can generate pretty horrific efficiency stats when practicing rocket launches.  I'll file that away under "handy info".
Speaking of handy info...   Tesla didn't attach the window sticker to the window, but we did get one (along with a very nice calendar featuring lots of grey Teslas!).  This is the fuel cost section of the sticker and I have to say that the assumptions are pretty wonky-- meaning I think the underestimate the fuel costs-- but it is nice to see it confirmed by the federal government that my tailpipe is clean.  
Going into this purchase we knew the car was safe-- built like a TANK-- but seeing the maxed out scores on the Monroney was a nice reminder too.
When the roof crush test was done the Model S reportedly BROKE the machine.  Looking at the hefty b-pillar and roof arch, it's easy to imagine why.
I just HAD to see if the car was easy to back into the garage.  You would not typically do this because on a gas car you'd end up with all sorts of exhaust fumes trapped in the garage and working their way into the house.  Not a pleasant potpourri for your home.   With the Tesla, however, backing in is no problemo!
The charging cord is a little tighter but still plenty long to reach the chargeport (hidden in the driver's side taillight reflector).  Another bonus of backing in is that the driver can enter/exit in the most spacious part of the garage, the shared middle.   Parking sensors on the Tesla measure the distance TO THE INCH (impressive) so, in our garage, you stop when the distances becomes just less than 20" so there is room to walk around the car... and this is the same whether backing in or going forwards.  Love it!
No sense leaving Serena home alone when it came time to go to work... after all, I still had 233 miles of range to work off.  I wanted to hit the Cranberry Supercharger as soon as possible to verify there were no problems.  This picture is courtesy my coworker.  It's rare to get pictures of me since I'm normally behind the camera, so I'll post whatever I get!  At least there will be some proof to my grandchildren that I existed.
All in all, a VERY good day.  This picture was more for Jake's benefit... but I also thought a silly picture would be a good way to end this VERY long post.

Oh-- why "Arrival of the Fittest"?   We call the car Serena.   It's the first time we named a car.  Ever.  Look at those curvy hips and muscular elegance and there's no doubt it's a female care.  Names starting with "S" seemed appropriate for the "Model S".  Serenity is a good description of how effortlessly fast the car can whoosh and waft around.  Serena conjures up a very well-known and athletic tennis player.  Like that player, Tesla (the company) has quite a bit of swagger but can generally back it up with their astounding car.   Like that player, the car is pretty large but has lots of power, speed, and muscular hips.

 In short, "she's a big a girl but she's got moves."

If driving were a competition... THIS is the fittest competitor and we welcome her arrival.

Another blogger matched my thoughts just a few days earlier-- READ HIS POST HERE.
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