The above question gets asked on a regular basis on Tesla forums and there’s no perfect answer, what I will say with certainty is an accessory that’s very useful for one Tesla owner could be completely useless for you and vice versa. As the Grail Knight says “Choose wisely”.
To focus this discussion I’ll break it down into 2 areas – Charging assistance and finally Exterior and Interior Accessories.
Charging assistance – Charging also breaks down in to two areas, Home charging and Public/Travel charging. The set up you need at home depends on the average distance you expect to drive per week and if you’re planning to make use of home solar or the Synergy EV plan that’s available between 11.00pm and 4.00am. If you wish to ask a question about a home charging set up on any TOCWA social media make sure you provide as many details as possible for a faster and more accurate answer. Public or travel charging accessories/cables is often determined by where you you expect to charge in public areas close to home and the locations and frequency you expect to drive in country areas. Sadly there is not yet one single charging cable to suit all occasions, the good news is TOCWA members get access to loan charging cables until you’re confident you know which cable suits you best.
Exterior and Interior accessories – There’s no shortage of businesses in Western Australia selling Tesla accessories such as after market wheels, paint protection, window tinting and much more, there’s also no shortage of Tesla owners who’ve used these services, the most obvious advice I can give you is meet up with one those Tesla owners that have had paint protection, window tinting or other product installed for more than 12 months, check the quality with a keen eye and ask lots of questions.
Some after market additions can be very useful over the life of the car, some can be a huge burden, take the time to make the correct decision.
Don’t forget TOCWA’s Ask Us Anything every Wednesday evening from 7.30pm for some useful advice on charging and accessories and/or check out some articles on this website.
Social media can be very challenging day after day, handy for staying in touch with distant friends and relatives but an often a battlefield of mistruths, aggravation and division.
Like many other discussion topics, a mention of Electric Vehicles brings out a vast amount of opinions for and against, you have three main choices to deal with it:
1. Delete all forms of social media and live happily ever after.
2. Scroll fast without reading the article or any comments.
3. I highly suggest you take up one of the first 2 options but if you want to engage please read the following:
There are two main types providing negative comments against EVs, those that just don’t know any better and are just repeating information they’ve seen/heard elsewhere without fact checking and those that know full well the information they’re providing is misleading/false. The second type are generally repeat offenders as they have skin in the game so to speak.
Only engage if you feel it’s absolutely necessary, if someone comments “I’ll stick to my V8 thanks” leave it be.
Have quality Australian based articles on EVs ready to go and provide the link when necessary.
Keep your comments polite no matter how abusive others become.
Keep in mind your comment/answer is aimed at the fence sitters more than the EV naysayer.
Provide evidence based facts not opinion.
For some responses a photo is worth a thousand words.
Mention your “EV” rather than your Tesla, being generic keeps prevents the discussion being side-tracked.
Be ready for the goalposts to be moved, when they are your comment has hit its target.
Avoid climate change discussion, many on social media only care about themselves.
Discuss energy independence, fuel and servicing savings, safety, performance, convenience.
The 21st Century is a world of self interest, tell them what they want to hear.
With all that enjoyable, safe and low-cost motoring to look forward to, you’re no doubt eager to hit the road, but perhaps you’re wondering whether you know everything you should before jumping behind the wheel of your shiny new Tesla. While I aimed to be comprehensive, the following should not be considered an exhaustive list of everything there is to know about owning an EV, but hopefully it should make for a good and informative start.
You’ll want to ensure you take out comprehensive car insurance before driving your new Tesla for the first time. There are numerous variables that go into determining insurance premiums including the insured value, the excess, where and how the car is parked, your driving history, your demographics, the age of the youngest driver, your no claims bonus, personal versus business use, how much you expect to drive the car as well as optional extras such as a hire car and so on. It’s important you take these and any other relevant factors into account when arranging your car insurance. In terms of who are the most Tesla and EV friendly insurers in Australia, TOCWA members report the lowest premiums from RACWA and Budget Direct ranging between approximately $900 a year or lower to about $2,000 a year or more for a Model 3, but please do shop around as far and wide as you feel appropriate and please let us know if you happen to find better like-for-like rates with another insurer.
Before picking up your car I recommend that you download the Tesla app here: https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/tesla-app and set up an account. Tesla may have already let you know that the delivery experience will be fairly fast, possibly as short as 5-15 minutes. You may therefore want to consider reaching out to an experienced Tesla owner to run you through the controls and settings before you drive off for the first time. Alternatively please see this video about how to best set up your new Tesla I generally recommend setting the car up with the following options turned on:
◦ Lights – Auto
◦ Auto High Beams – Off
◦ Windscreen wipers – Auto
◦ Regenerative Braking – Standard
◦ Stopping Mode – Hold
◦ Charging – 90% for cars with NCA batteries or 100% for cars with LFP batteries
◦ Set speed – Current Speed
◦ Automatic Blind Spot Camera – Enabled
◦ Blind Spot Collision Warning Chime – Enabled
◦ Forward Collision Warning – Early
◦ Lane Departure Assistance – Assist
◦ Emergency Lane Departure Avoidance – Enabled
◦ Automatic Emergency Braking – Enabled
◦ Obstacle Aware Acceleration – Enabled
◦ Traffic Aware Cruise Control Chime – Enabled
◦ Green Traffic Light Chime – Enabled
◦ Walk-Away Door Lock – Enabled
◦ Driver Door Unlock Mode – Enabled
◦ Car Left Open Notifications – Enabled
◦ Lock Confirmation Sound – Enabled
◦ Close Windows on Lock – Enabled
◦ Auto High Beam – Off
◦ Display – Auto
◦ Brightness – Auto
◦ Trips – Rename the last trip meter to: “Lifetime – Do Not Reset!”
◦ Trips – Rename the second last trip meter to “New Tires”
◦ Trip Planner – Enabled
◦ Online Routing – Enabled
◦ Sentry Mode – On (Remember to turn back on after a software update.)
◦ Dashcam – Auto and On Honk (Remember to turn back on after a software update.)
◦ PIN to Drive – Enabled
◦ Glovebox PIN – Enabled
◦ Cabin Overheat Protection – On (Please note this will be automatically disabled when the battery state of charge drops below 20%)
◦ Software Update Preference – Advanced
At any time, but ideally prior to taking delivery of your vehicle, I would encourage you to become a TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) member. TOCWA is the officially sanctioned Tesla club for WA and a not-for-profit volunteer-run group facilitating communication, advocacy and community for Tesla Owners and reservation holders within WA.
TOCWA is always willing to help anyone considering buying an EV but for best value I would urge you to become TOCWA member as the cost is just $20 a year and I’d be surprised if you don’t get this back several times over. Firstly, as a member you will be invited to join the weekly ‘Ask Us Anything’ Zoom call run by the Club Secretary where you’ll get the opportunity to have your questions answered by veteran Tesla owners with years of invaluable experience. The Club Secretary and Chairman who are among some of the first Tesla owners in Australia, have driven well over 200,000 kilometres in each of their Teslas around WA as well as on trips across or around Australia and they and many other members are always happy to share their years of experience. You’ll also be invited to monthly in person Casual Meet Ups and many other events as well as being able to borrow charging equipment, spare tyres for long road trips and other equipment at no cost. You will also be able to purchase some chargers and other accessories at substantially discounted prices. Being a not-for-profit organisation, the club is able to buy in bulk or at wholesale prices and offer the items to members at no mark-up. For example, the club sells the Khons Kwik charger to financial members at $750. the cheapest price I’ve seen on the internet is $1,280. For full disclosure, I am a proud TOCWA committee member. To join the club please visit: https://www.tocwa.org.au/membership-join/
Synergy EV Home Plan
Once you’ve taken delivery of your Tesla, I recommend signing up for Synergy’s EV tariff ‘trial’. If you’re still on the Synergy A1 tariff your electricity rates won’t change apart from between the hours of 11PM to 4AM during which time your tariff will drop by about 30% from currently 29.3273 cents to 20.4651 cents. Whether you charge your car during this time or not, the tariff applies to your entire home’s electricity draw. If you are on any tariff other than A1, please give me a call to determine the best course of action.
In order to qualify for the Synergy EV Home Plan, you’ll need to provide proof of ownership but the car cannot be registered in a business name. To find out more see:
A must for all EV owners is the Plugshare App which lists most if not all EV chargers available to the public in Australia and around the world. The browser based version can be found here: www.plugshare.com and these are the Apple iOS and the Google Android versions.
You may also wish to download the following EV charging network apps and set up an account and a payment method such as a credit or debit card so that when you arrive at one of these chargers you can plug and charge without stress or wasting time worrying about setting up an account.
For a faster, permanently wired and wall-mounted home charging solution, you can consider the Tesla HPWC (High Power Wall Connector) https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/home-charging-installation/wall-connector The HPWC is very reasonably priced but the installation pricing from the installers listed on the Tesla website is in my opinion exorbitant. If you require an installer, or if you’d like to discuss other charging options please feel free to contact me and I’ll try to put you in touch with a reasonably priced installer in your area.
For charging at untethered public AC chargers you will require a Type 2 (a.k.a. Mennekes) EV cable which can be purchased from TOCWA or others such as https://evse.com.au/product/7-metre-type-2-to-type-2-ev-charging-cable-22kw/ Please note, these cables can come in various configurations. I recommend the 22kW 7-metre version. Although a 5-metre cable is considerably cheaper, it’s not uncommon to find yourself “ICED” which is where the EV charging bay is blocked by an ignorant or inconsiderate driver of an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. In these situations, the 7-metre cable should be long enough to reach an adjacent parking bay.
If you’re interested in buying accessories for your new Tesla, I highly recommend attending the TOCWA Ask Us Anything Zoom call and speaking to the existing Tesla owners first. In terms of vendors, this is the link to the official Australian online Tesla store: hhttps://shop.tesla.com/en_au There are also now many third-party vendors. The two main Australian sites are: https://tesloz.com.au/ and https://tessories.com.au/ but you can also explore Amazon and many other online shopping sites.
As a new EV owner there will be some new information you’ll want to take on board, including charger knowledge, public charging etiquette, and lots of Pro Tips that you will find helpful. As a minimum, it’s good to know about the ‘ABCs’:
Always Be Courteous
Electric vehicles are a disruptive technology and although it’s becoming rare, you may come across some people whose livelihoods or whose identity may be threatened by the rapid shift to sustainable transport. You may also find yourself ICED or there may be other situations where you’ll be tempted to let the person know exactly what you think, however, it is always best to remain calm, respectful and courteous and if all else fails it may be best to prevent any escalation and walk away. Please also remember that being an EV owner and/or driver you’re representing other EV owners and/or drivers.
Always Be Charging
Owning an EV is in many ways similar to owning a smartphone. There’s nothing worse than a dead phone and although it’s very rare for a Tesla to ever run out of charge you don’t want to find yourself in that situation so it’s a good idea to plan your longer journeys around charging points and to always have a contingency plan because you could get to a charger only to find it’s not working or taken up by another EV.
Although this is changing at a fast pace, you will soon learn that with Teslas still being a relative novelty, it’s not uncommon to be stopped by a curious member of the public who is fascinated by your Tesla and is eager to ask you about your experience. (The most common questions are: How long does it take to charge? What’s the range? Do you have to pay for the charging? How long will the battery last before it needs replacing?) It’s great to spend some time answering these questions but a good pro tip is to ask the person to wait one second while you plug your car in and ensure its charging. That way your car can be filling up with electrons while you talk, rather than finding yourself engrossed in the conversation only to realise you could have been charging for the last twenty minutes.
Always Bring Cables
As already mentioned, your Tesla will come with an included Universal Mobile Connector (UMC). If you’re using the UMC as the means of charging your Tesla at home, it can be inconvenient to wrap it up and take it with you each time and it’s easy to forget too, therefore, Tesla recommends the Tesla high Power Wall Connector (HPWC) but there are also other options. That way you’ll be able to always keep the UMC in one of the three convenient storage spaces of your car, either under the bonnet in the ‘trunk’ or in the well under your main boot or in the boot itself. Should you find yourself in a situation where you need to charge you’ll have a cable ready to plug into any 10A or 15A power socket or a 32A 3-phase outlet if you bought the additional adaptor pig tail. For a faster and more convenient charge, there are an increasing amount of Type 2 (a.k.a. Mennekes) AC chargers at shopping centres, fast food outlets and other locations and many of these are untethered requiring a BYO Type 2 cable. You may also choose to carry a 10A or 15A extensions cable.
Always Browse Comments
As already mentioned, the Plugshare app should be considered a must for any EV owner. One of its numerous handy features is to see if a charger is being used before planning to charge there, but It’s also a good idea to take note of the last successful charge and to read any comments that the person may have written. It may also pay to check the opening hours of the charger as some may be located behind gates that may be locked outside of opening hours. Some chargers such as those located at car dealerships may be reserved for the dealership during opening hours and kindly made available to the public afterhours. Using these chargers outside the public times may result in the owner making the charger unavailable to the public.
Adjust Battery Consumption
As already mentioned, it is very rare to find a Tesla run out of charge, however, should you find yourself in this situation, if you haven’t done so already, ensure you have set your destination in the car’s navigation system and follow any of the car’s warnings.
Another very good option may be to reduce your speed. You’ll be amazed just how much of a difference a drop in speed of 10km per hour can make. As a rough rule of thumb, it could reduce your consumption by about 10%.
You could also try to use the air-conditioning system or the fan instead of open windows or to use seat warmers rather than the heater in winter.
You may also consider increasing the pressure in your tires by pumping them up to say 45 PSI but only do so if it’s safe and always ensure you keep your tires below the maximum recommended limit.
Public Charging Etiquette
Last but certainly not least, a few things about public charging etiquette. It’s important to realise that an EV charging bay is exactly that. It shouldn’t be confused with a parking bay. Think how you would feel to arrive at a charger with a low state of charge in desperate need of a top up only to realise the charger is being taken up for hours by an inconsiderate EV owner who may have reached a full charge some time ago or worse still who hasn’t needed to even plug in. Furthermore, the Tesla Superchargers are now charging idle fees at a rate of $1 per minute, particularly when half or more of the stall are being used, so treating a public charger as a parking bay may prove expensive.
It may also be helpful to log into the Plugshare app to register your charging session so that others intending to charge at that location can plan their journey accordingly. Logging your charging session into Plugshare is by no means compulsory, especially at a busy metropolitan chargers but it may be particularly helpful at remote locations. Another useful alternative may be the Need to Charge service.
It’s also important to realise that there is no such thing as a ‘free’ charger, there are only complimentary chargers. This is an important distinction, because many businesses who have agreed to host EV chargers, (some after numerous pleas by EV enthusiasts), have done so in good faith for little if any monetary reward. If a business, agrees to host, service, maintain and cover the electricity consumption costs, not to mention the capital costs associated with procuring, purchasing and/or installing and commissioning the EV charger, the least we can do is to buy something at the business. It also goes a long way to explicitly thank the establishment for signalling and hosting the charger and it doesn’t hurt to leave a tip either. There are also some chargers such as the Biofil units running on used chip oil which require the manual starting of a generator, such as those put in with the help of Jon Edwards and the crowdfunding from the WA EV community at the Caltex service station in Jurien Bay or the Roadhouse in Caiguna. It may be worthwhile giving the business a call beforehand to let them know of your expected arrival time. Unless there are other EVs waiting for a turn, once charging, it’s advisable to charge for at least 20 minutes or so before the attendant has to return and turn off and pack up the charger. If you can’t charge for at least 15 minutes or so, please offer to pay for a full charging session as it can be annoying for the attendant to have to leave paying customers to come out to turn the generator on for you only to have to come back a couple of minutes later to turn it off to recoup a couple of measly dollars.
Lastly, a tip for new owners. If you’ve noticed your car only has a single reversing light, don’t worry there’s nothing wrong, the car only comes with one white reversing light on the left as the right one is a fog light. Hopefully this will save you a phone call to Tesla as they get a few of these every day. Update: Soon after this article was published Tesla began shipping Model 3s with two reversing lights. Therefore, there will now be some models delivered around the end of February or early March 2022 with a single reversing light but the later models will have two reversing lamps as well as bigger indicators. (By the way, some very early Model S cars also came with just one reversing light.)
Pete Petrovsky is an active TOCWA (Tesla Owners Club of Western Australia) committee member and a long-time EV enthusiast. He placed a $6,000 deposit for a Model X (#39) in 2014 but when it came to taking delivery he couldn’t justify the cost, so instead, he and his wife decided to buy two PHEVs and wait for the Model 3. In March of 2016 they bought the Holden Volt and a couple of weeks later the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, and on the day it was unveiled, Pete ordered the Model 3. After selling the Outlander, in September 2019, Pete took delivery of the Model 3 and despite still loving their Volt, Pete and his wife are now looking forward to ordering the Model Y as soon as it becomes available in Australia.
When he gets time, Pete posts videos on his ‘Tesla Ahead of the Curve’ YouTube channel. He is a long-term Tesla shareholder and over the last eleven years has been responsible for more commercial rooftop solar PV in Perth than any other individual. In 2016 Pete added grid electricity to his role and since October 2020 he has been Managing Director of Imppact Energy Consultancy. In July of 2011, Pete also installed one of the first ‘oversized’ 6KW solar PV systems in Perth, which to this day continues to power their home and both EVs with free sustainable energy.
As most EV owners will know, there are two main ways to charge an EV, AC or DC, but there’s also another less known and slightly more nuanced distinction.
A charger’s main purpose can be for rapid top ups or for longer perhaps even overnight charging and it’s important for EV drivers to understand this difference as it will not only save a lot of time, but it will also result in a better ownership experience for the entire EV community.
The main purpose of ultra-rapid DC chargers such as the Tesla Superchargers is rapid top-ups to facilitate convenient travel between built-up areas. This is critical in winning over the broader driving public who have concerns about charging downtime on long trips away from home. The problem is many new owners have misunderstood this and are in fact wasting a lot of their time charging at high battery percentages. How much time are they wasting? It depends on the vehicle’s next destination but as can be seen from the graphics below, it’s more than many drivers realise.
As the chart above shows, a long-range battery takes about the same time, roughly 14 minutes, to charge from 10% to 60% as it does to charge from 90 to 100%. In other words, you can spend the same 14 minutes topping up 50% at a lower state of charge (SoC) or 10% at a higher SoC.
50-60% SoC is a key level because not only does the time to charge each 5% increment begin to lengthen to charging speeds attainable at slower (non-ultra-rapid) DC chargers but generally it’s enough battery capacity to cover the distance between Superchargers on long road trips.
What is not illustrated on the graph is what happens once the state of charge reaches 100%. Once at 100%, the charge time jumps off the chart as it took me at least a further 19 minutes of trickle charging the last few watt hours and balancing the cells before I lost patience and quit the test.
As can be seen in the graphic above, at roughly around a 14% state of charge (SoC) the car reached its peak charge of 244kW but then this began to taper off down to 192kW at 30% SoC, then to 110kW at 50%, 81kW at 70% and 42kW at 90% before dwindling down to 5kW once it remained at 100% for almost 20 minutes.
Once at 100%, the time the car takes to completely finish charging is dependent on how long it has been since the battery was fully charged to 100%. The longer the period between full charges the longer it takes to balance the cell groups and the longer the battery takes its time at the 100% level.
Powered by a lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminium (NCA) battery chemistry, once at 90% or above, it is best to begin driving the Model 3 Performance (and Long Range) to ensure minimum long-term battery degradation. It’s not ideal to keep this chemistry above 90% or below 20% for extended periods of time. In fact, the above 90% charge level should be reserved only for times, when necessary, on longer stretches between chargers on country road trips. However, that said, it is also a good idea to balance the cells once every 3-6 months. The added benefit is that the battery management system (BMS) will also get a chance to recalibrate itself to ensure accurate battery range readings.
In contrast, it is ideal to charge the lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) battery chemistries, found in the Shanghai built and soon also in the Fremont built Standard Range Plus Model 3s, to 100% at least once a week and it’s also perfectly fine to charge to 100% on a daily basis.
Irrespective of the battery chemistry, however, to save wasting your time at Superchargers and unnecessarily taking up this important infrastructure, please be mindful of how busy the charger is. If you feel the need to charge to 100% and if you have plenty of time, during off-peak times when Superchargers are hardly used, it is perfectly fine to squeeze in every last watt but at busy times, vehicles taking up much needed charge bays while charging at a fifth or less of the charger’s potential is a burden on the infrastructure and not helpful to fellow EV owners.
Therefore, please consider only charging to a lower percentage and leaving the charging at the top state of charge levels for your home, BNB, or at overnight AC destination chargers such as those allocated to your room at hotels and EV-friendly resorts. You’ll only be doing yourself, your EV community and even potential new EV owners a big favour.
P.S. Special thanks to TOCWA Chairman Rob Dean for not only helping with this article but also for coming up with the idea for the test.
Independent Australian car reviewing website chasingcars.com.au have tested a Tesla Model 3 Long Range, Hyundai Kona Electric Elite, Nissan Leaf, MG ZS EV and the Audi e-tron 55 Sportback on a drive to exhaustion range test to determine which cars have the longest range and which cars have the most accurate range claims in authentic Australian driving conditions.