Buying a used EV: without the FUD

Guest post by TOCWA member Matt Kocaj

The influx of new electric vehicle models (EVs) and especially the recent arrival of the Tesla Model Y, heralds a rush of EV owners listing their “old” EVs for sale as they swap or upgrade to the new hotness.

I then saw this recent article by a well respected publisher in the Western Australian automotive community. It really ground my gears! “grinded my gears”? Who knows!? 🤷‍♂️ I was frustrated.

The article is a problem in my opinion because it might leave a used EV buyer to have misinformed expectations about electric vehicles and their batteries. So to set the record straight, I’m going to quote a few sections from said article, and correct the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). Hopefully those who care for the details, and getting an EV with as much range remaining as possible, will appreciate the following explanations.

EV Batteries degrade like your phone. But much slower.

Degradation is the natural chemical process that an EV battery undergoes as it’s used. As energy goes in and out of the battery many many times, it loses the ability to retain the same amount of energy as it did when it was new.

Various studies, and Tesla’s own data, suggests the average degradation is around 1 per cent of the original capacity per year.

It doesn’t work like this, firstly because degradation isn’t a function of time, but closer to a function of kilometres (km) driven. The more energy in and out of the battery (its “cycles”) the more degradation. Lithium based batteries have a finite lifetime. This is why your phone battery won’t last as long 2 years in, compared to when it was new.

Tesla battery degradation
This image was taken from an article on electrek.co which uses Tesla data.

As you can see the degradation is mostly linear after about 50,000 km. But in the first part of the EVs life the capacity drops a little faster. In the case of a Tesla we know that some vehicles have well over 90% of the original capacity after many 100s of thousands of km. Other vehicles may be closer to 80% like mine (~2.5y old and 116,000k on the odometer/ODO).

It seems that the less “work” the car does in terms of demands on the battery, the longer it will last. Many EV owners are quite happy to share how their batteries have degraded after 1, 2, 3 or even 5 years of use.

It seems that how an OEM manages a battery has a huge role to play in the longevity of the battery and minimising degradation. I know someone with a gen1 Nissan Leaf who is down to 50% of the original capacity. These batteries are not liquid cooled like a Tesla and generally considered some of the worst cells on the used battery market because of the poor design.

You should definitely ask about the battery degradation

But don’t expect too much when it comes to your local “automotive workshop”. They probably won’t have a clue.

Most automotive workshops should be able to access this data by plugging into the onboard diagnostics (OBD2) port, or in some instances it could be relayed using remote connectivity.

In the case of a Tesla for example, the data you’re after isn’t accessible simply by plugging in a generic OBD2 link. Tesla also doesn’t make it easy to find on the vehicle’s user interface or in the mobile app. You will need a bit of DIY to install a relatively inexpensive adapter and download an app to connect to the car and capture the values.

Read on to see some tips on getting the exact figures from your seller.

Don’t try to reverse engineer estimated range into battery capacity

Between them it allows you to calculate the battery capacity and compare it to the original capacity.

No, it doesn’t.

Most EVs have a series of complex formulas, variables and historical driving data that form the “estimated range in km” displayed inside the vehicle. It’s for this reason that it’s often not useful to try to estimate battery degradation working back from these “range” numbers. The only reliable way to know is to extract the raw values from the car’s computer and use those. One example from a friends Tesla:

full pack when new: 52.4 kWh 
nominal full pack: 48.2 kWh

Therefore this battery has 91.9% of its original capacity remaining. That’s about 8% degradation. That’s pretty normal I’m finding for a 2020 model and 24,000 km on the clock.

EV km and ICE km are not the same

Everything in a car is going to wear and degrade over time and especially when it’s under load or working hard. The moving parts are especially important in an ICE vehicle (Internal Combustion Engine; a non-EV) and this is why it’s conventional to use the km on the ODO as a primary indicator of the wear and tear and a big input to one’s assessment of the value of a used vehicle.

With EVs, this is not as important as the battery degradation. Yes, it will in most cases, correlate strongly with the km driven. But not always. An older EV driven very gingerly may have far less degradation than a near new EV with a young driver who wants to drag everyone at the lights.

An EV battery may be covered under a specific warranty

Tesla for example, quote a very specific warranty for various models ensuring that over a given lifetime (in years), a known capacity is warranted.

Tesla battery warranty: AU capture, Aug 2022

If the battery falls below this remaining capacity inside the age (years) or km driven, then the battery can be claimed for replacement under said warranty. This is good news for used EV owners and supports the real-world data we have measured above. A 10-year old Tesla is not going to be “dead” as I continue to see speculated online. It just won’t get you as far as it would have when it was new. Much like your phone. These EVs will change hands in the used car market for some time.

Ask your seller what the battery degradation is. It’s more important than km

Ask the dealer or private seller what the remaining capacity is. If they don’t know or haven’t already printed it out for you, they may know someone who can help them capture it and give you the figures. Use the above chart as a rough guide to see if the remaining capacity is average for the km on the odometer. This should give you an idea of how much work the vehicle has been subject to in its life so far. Higher values (remaining capacity) are obviously better and will correlate with fewer km driven.

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the answers you want or your seller strikes you as the kind that doesn’t really have a good handle on the workings of batteries, then reach out to the folks here at TOCWA. We have a very friendly community of EV enthusiasts willing to lend a hand or share helpful advice.

Happy (informed) shopping.

Matt is an EV and battery enthusiast. He and his children enjoy pulling apart kids’ toys and “upgrading” them with recycled lithium batteries. Matt has been a Tesla owner since 2020 and is passionate about helping others cross the chasm into the new world. Matt has friends that ride horses purely for leisure. Soon his friends with ICE cars will be driving them purely for leisure too.

copy of the original referenced article can be found in the Wayback Machine in the event the source is updated after publishing.

What accessories do you need for your new Tesla? Don’t spend a single dollar until you read this.

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.

Cables can be loaned or purchased outright from TOCWA.

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.

Dealing with Electric Vehicle Misinformation

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.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting Your Tesla

(Essential reading for new owners and a handy review for existing Tesla drivers.) Written by Pete Petrovsky

If this is your first EV or first Tesla, congratulations on taking the first step towards helping to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy with a car that is completely changing the entire automotive industry for the better. You’ll be glad to know you’ve ordered the world’s safest car, which is an absolute pleasure to own and drive and you can wave Goodbye to petrol station visits and most servicing. Did you know Tesla doesn’t have a mandated service schedule? That said, there are a couple of recommendations. How much will servicing your Tesla set you back? In Australia, the Tesla recommended servicing and maintenance will cost $111 in the first three years compared to $1,725 or about 15 times as much for an average Australian internal combustion engine vehicle over the same 3-year period. But that’s just where the savings begin. Did you know that even if petrol was free, you would still be better off with a Tesla? To find out how far ahead you can expect to be after three years see: https://www.tocwa.org.au/2021/11/26/tesla-model-3-economics-compared-to-an-average-australian-petrol-car/

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.

Paying For Your New Tesla

There have been a couple of instances in Australia where reservation holders had their email accounts hacked and consequently, while under the impression they were transferring their funds to Tesla, instead, they were unknowingly making the transfer to a scammer. I believe Tesla has now put in place various measures such as using your car’s VIN number as the account number but a good tip is to first transfer a negligibly small amount and check with Tesla that they received your funds and then use the exact same account details to transfer the balance. This is the method I used for our first Tesla in September 2019 and it worked well, however, with there now being a considerable backlog, you’ll need to allow enough time to ensure you are ready to take delivery as soon as your car is ready, otherwise you may run the risk of being pushed back in the queue as your car may be reassigned to the next reservation holder for that model car and trim. Please note, if you’re financing your Tesla and your bank or other loan provider is making the transfer for you this may not be an issue, but if you are going to be transferring the balance owing on your car yourself it pays to be cautious as you may not get a second chance.

Insurance

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.

Vehicle Delivery

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
  •  ◦ Autopilot
  •  ◦ 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

TOCWA

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: 

https://www.synergy.net.au/Your-home/Energy-plans/Electric-Vehicle-Home-Plan

Plugshare and Charger Network Apps

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.

An alternative is A Better Route Planner which can be found here: https://abetterrouteplanner.com/ and these are the Apple iOS and the Google Android versions of the app.

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.

Apple iOSGoogle AndroidWebsite
ChargefoxChargefoxChargefox
SmartchargeSmartchargeSmartcharge
ChargePointChargePointChargePoint
NextchargeNextchargeNextcharge

Chargers, Cables and Adaptors

Only cars ordered before 9th July 2022 will come with an included UMC (Universal Mobile Connector) which will work on a standard 10A home powerpoint. It will also come with a 15A adapter also known as a “pig tail” and you can also purchase other after-market tails such as the 32A, 5-pin, 3-phase one, which among many other places, can be found here: https://www.evseadapters.com/products/australia-32a-5-pin-adapter-for-tesla-gen-2/ or https://braumach.com.au/products/tesla-model-3-y-20a-gen-2-mobile-charger-cable-adapter-2017-22-aust-stock?

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.  

For more great information about charging your Tesla please see the following article: https://www.tocwa.org.au/advice/charging/

Accessories

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.

EV Knowledge

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’:

  1. 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.

As the table below illustrates, the fastest charging rates can be achieved between approximately 10% and 65% state-of-charge but for more tips on the best and most efficient way to charge at a fast DC charger or a Tesla Supercharger, please see this article: 100% a Waste of Time: Why charging to 100% is defeating the purpose of Superchargers

 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.) 

For further information please see: https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/support/after-taking-delivery and if you get stuck you can reach out by calling the TOCWA helpline on 6262 3131.

Pete Petrovsky

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.

100% a Waste of Time: Why charging to 100% is defeating the purpose of Superchargers

Pete Petrovsky 21/10/2021

Supercharging Karrinyup

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.

Test conducted with a Tesla Model 3 Performance charging from a V3 Tesla Supercharger at a 14-degree outside temperature with a pre-conditioned battery.

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.

TezLab power chart.

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.

243kW charge rate.

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.

Around Australia trips in a pure EV

DriverStart/End pointCompletion DateVehicle
1. Glen GeorgePerthNovember 2011MG converted Blue
2 Richard McNeallSydneySeptember 2016Tesla S Blue
3. Jeff JohnsonSydneyNovember 2016Nissan Leaf Blue
4. Sylvia WilsonGladstoneJuly 2018Tesla S Blue
5. Steve & Keita BurrellPerthAugust 2018Tesla S Titanium
6. Harald MurphyPerthNovember 2018
19 days
Tesla X Titanium
7. Wiebe WakkerDarwin/SydneyMarch 2019VW converted Blue
8. Richard SmithDarwinApril 2019Tesla X White
9. Linda RohrsGold CoastJuly 2019Tesla S Blue
10. Rob & Robin DeanPerthNovember 2019Tesla S Blue
11. Peter HayesMelbourneDecember 2019Tesla 3 Silver
12. John PaulMelbourneMarch 2020Tesla 3 Red
13. Jules BoagSydneyMay 2021Tesla S White
14. Michelle & Terry ArzanikowBallaratJune 2021Tesla 3 White
15. David McLeodWarnamboolAugust 2021Tesla S Blue
16. Phil SmithCairns August 2021Tesla 3 Blue 
17. David CoatesMelbourneSeptember 2021Tesla 3 Blue
18. Bill Gresham & John PhillipsCanberraJuly 2022Hyundai Ioniq Red
19. Jeff & Julie WicksGoldcoastJuly 2022Tesla 3 White
20. Tiff OvertonCentral Coast NSWAugust 2022Mercedes EQC400 Silver Grey
21. Harald MurphyPerthSeptember 2022 14 daysTesla Y White
#AUSYtour
22. Pete PetrovskyPerthSeptember 2022
17 days
Tesla Y White
#AUSYtour
23. Neil BoltonCanberraOctober 2022
17 days
Tesla Y White
24. Stuart McBainSydneyNovember 2022Tesla 3 White
Charge Around Australia
25. James TaylorPerthDecember 2022Tesla 3 White
26,604km
Not confirmed: Hilly Andy? Perth2021Tesla 3 Blue