How exciting! It’s rare that we get to experience something genuinely new and different these days, but that’s exactly what happened with our Tesla. Getting into the car one afternoon, the big screen flashed up with a message we hadn’t seen before: Software Update.
Other than telling me that the update would be done at 00:55 in the morning and that I could postpone it if I needed to (handy, as the system also warned me that the update would take one hour and 40 minutes and that the car couldn’t be used during that time), I had no clue what the update would include.
Previous updates had bestowed new powers on our used Tesla Model S since it first left the showroom – it didn’t have Autopilot and other driver assistance features when new; they came about courtesy of similar updates.
So it was with a new level of excitement the next morning when I approached the car and the door handles moved outwards to greet us – nothing unusual in that.
Getting into the car, the screen flashed up a new message where it usually shows my calendar appointments: “Update Succeeded – What’s new in this update?
“This release contains minor improvements and bug fixes.”
I can’t deny there was a slight sense of disappointment that my first ever vehicular software update didn’t produce something noticeable, but that was soon overcome when I realised just how ground-breaking this moment was for me. A free, over-the-air software update in my car. It’s something we’ve become accustomed to on our mobile phones, but not – yet – on our cars.
It’s been something I’ve been regaling friends with stories of and I’ve already had two of them seriously start to consider buying a used Tesla now knowing these software updates bring them up to a standard that’s not far off new.
Living with a Tesla is also something I’m being asked lots about by rival car makers. They’re all keeping a watchful eye on what Tesla is doing, many in advance of their own electric car launch. So they’re fascinated to know what it’s like from an owner’s point of view.
So far, this owner is thrilled to bits. This software update might not have made any noticeable difference, but it’s such a cool thing to have happened. And it’s another reason why the rest of the car world is going to be playing catch up with Tesla for quite a while yet.
Tesla Model S CPO used long-term test
First report: we add a used Tesla Model S to our fleet to see what it’s actually like to live with a Tesla every day
Mileage 31,000 miles
There’s a lot to get your head around when you’re a Tesla owner, not least the groundbreaking array of technology fitted to every car.
But if, like us, you take delivery of a Certified Pre-Owned Tesla, there’s something else that’s a bit unusual for used car buyers: our near two-year old Model S is better today than when it first left the showroom.
When the first owners took delivery, their rear-wheel drive 85kWh car was at the cutting edge of tech. As well as traffic-aware cruise control and forward collision warning, it had auto high-beam and a smart reversing camera.
However six months later, an over-the-air software update added Tesla’s now-famous Autopilot system, which will not only keep a measured distance from the car in front, but also keep you safely in lane when it’s engaged – with you in control at all times, obviously. The system will also change lanes for you if it’s safe to do so – just operate the indicator and the car’s cameras and radar will decide when it’s safe to move, then do it for you.
A few months after that, the car was upgraded again to be able to park itself in perpendicular parking bays, while Summon was also added. This lets you move the car out of a tight parking space via Tesla’s smartphone app without even being in it! I’m looking forward to that one.
The updates go some way to explaining why Tesla residuals are so strong – our two-year old car cost £59,800 with 31,000 miles on the clock. New it was £72,000. Spend £72,000 on pretty much anything else and it would’ve lost a whole lot more than £12,000 in a couple of years.
You always hope for a special occasion when you collect a new car, and collecting our used Tesla was no different. Our car was hidden under a cover at Tesla’s Heathrow centre, where Tesla’s Laura Hardy took us through every last aspect of Tesla ownership from the app to the Supercharger network, not forgetting the in-depth menus on the car’s massive 17-inch touchscreen.
With over 1000 miles covered in the first week, ownership has been painless, as has charging. As long as you think about your journeys before you go – and check where charging is available if you need it – you’ll be absolutely fine.
Taking my daughter back to university in Southampton from our home in South Buckinghamshire was a 150-mile round-trip. With 175-miles of charge left on the car before we left, the navigation confidently and correctly predicted that we’d return home with plenty of charge left. However, I checked that there were Tesla Superchargers near Heathrow and Winchester – close to either end of the trip – if I needed a last minute top-up.
Superchargers can provide half a charge in around half-an-hour – and free for cars registered before January this year. It takes rather longer for a full charge from my PodPoint home charger, or from the Tesla Destination Chargers that are dotted elsewhere around the country – including the public car park we use at work.
From behind the wheel, you’d be hard pushed to know my car was used. Newer cars have a slightly different interior with a centre console rather than the ‘yacht floor’ of my car – personally, I’m quite happy with the large storage area of the latter, while quality is still first rate.
And although the 85 model I’ve got has been superceded by the 90 and 100kWh models, you couldn’t describe my car as slow – it does 0-60mph in 5.4 seconds with that intoxicating instant hit of torque that makes it such fun to drive (and so good at overtaking).
My car also does without the air suspension of some models, making the ride a touch firm, but not uncomfortable. Talking of comfort, living with the car you realise how wide it is – not that it’s unwieldy on the road, but it’s a real benefit when it comes to interior space. My three adult-sized kids are comfier in the back of the Tesla than they have been in many large SUVs. The flat floor helps, too.
The boot’s big with a wide-opening, electrically powered tailgate and there’s additional storage in what Americans call the Frunk – or front trunk. Being British, I reckon it should be called the Froot – I’ll leave you to work out why!