Tesla Model S in Albuquerque's 'snowstorm' during NY-to-California road trip [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
But in the end, it all came down to peace of mind—a commodity of which I am quite fond, and for which I am willing to pay.
And so I wrote the check for $4,000.
Version 7.0 for the have-nots
The big news recently in Teslaworld has been the rollout of Firmware version 7.0, the latest addition to the autopilot suite. (Cue the look-Ma-no-hands YouTube videos).
But for the 40,000 of us Model S owners with cars built before September 2014, without the requisite cameras, radar, and sonar hardware, the 7.0 rollout has been an exercise in autopilot envy.
Still, 7.0 included a few crumbs for us autopilot have-nots. Among them:
Tesla Model S redesigned instrument cluster, Version 7.0 operating software [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
*Redesigned Instrument Cluster.
Graphics have been tweaked and some readouts added, with others moved around. Although Tesla crows about the redesign being “modern” and “clean,” it’s pretty minor stuff.
Oddly, the battery state-of-charge/range bar has been downsized and removed from its prominent central position just below the digital speed readout. This change baffles me; for any electric car driver, the range/SOC is a major focus.
In its place is a silly little picture of the car, a drone’s-eye view from above and behind. The picture animates in response to lights and turn signals. Big whoop.
One thing I do like is the addition of an info readout for each individual trip. Previously, there was a “Since Last Charge” readout of miles, kilowatt-hours used, and efficiency. You could also keep track of two specific trips manually.
But the new readout starts from zero each time the car is placed in Drive, so you know exactly how you’re doing on that particular trip, in addition to that particular charge.
The new “this trip” readout replaces the kWh-used number with a time readout. I’ve found the trip time function to be quirt handy. (The kWh number remains in the “Since Last Charge” readout, where it’s more relevant.)
2013 Tesla Model S in Florida, during New York to Florida road trip [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
*Touch Screen Graphics Upgrade
Again, Tesla makes a big deal about the “new, modern look," but I can barely see a difference.
*Improved Climate Controls
Tesla says “The system will now reach your desired temperature more quickly while using less energy.”
I guess I’ll just have to trust them on this one; there’s no noticeable change from the driver’s point of view.
Tesla Model S at Supercharger site in Ventura, CA, with just one slot open [photo: David Noland]Enlarge Photo
The torque sleep technology from the dual-motor Model S has been applied to the single-motor rear-drive cars. According to Tesla, “When at a standstill, the motor will now completely de-energize and seamlessly re-energize when needed.” This allegedly improves efficiency.
No claims for increased range are made, and I’ve noticed no change in day-to-day efficiency. Good to know it’s there, though.
Overall, then, for us have-nots Version 7.0 is no big deal. But Elon Musk has tweeted that 7.1 will have a major UI (user interface) upgrade that will presumably apply to all cars.
This could be tricky; user interface is a notoriously subjective arena. Some may love an entirely new way of dealing with their car, some may hate it. I wonder if 7.1 will have a “Delete” option for those who like their Teslas just the way they are.
In the meantime, I’m still hoping for the so-called “smart” wipers to get an IQ upgrade from their current 60 or so, as well as permanent hill-hold and an automatic power cut-off whenever the brake pedal is pressed.