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  • December 10, 2020 7:32 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    Hibernating Snakes Halt Gigafactory Berlin Construction -

    In order to build their upcoming Gigafactory Berlin, Tesla had to clear a portion of a forest which caused many problems from local environmentalist groups. Firstly, Tesla was required to relocate an endangered bat species from the land in the first phase of construction. Recently, the local environmentalists sued Tesla because the land that they are in the process of clearing is home to hibernating (technically brumating) snakes and Tesla was forced to halt construction for a couple days until the court ruled that Tesla had already moved as many snakes as they could and they were cleared to continue the construction process. It is awfully ironic that a company aiming to reduce global warming and harmful emissions is experiencing pushback from environmentalist groups in the area.

    Tesla Has a New Leasing Experience -

    In an effort to further simplify the car purchase and ownership experience, Tesla plans to launch a new leasing experience in 2021. As can be seen, the new experience aims to streamline the entire process of leasing a vehicle and enables the customer to do everything themselves, without the need for Tesla employees to get involved. The new system enables owners to, extend leases, transfer a lease, purchase a leased vehicle, sell their vehicle to non-Tesla dealers, report a total loss, and request a lease termination. It currently appears that every lessee will have access to the experience in 2021. This is a big step forward to streamlining the ownership experience, as all of these actions would traditionally require a phone call.

  • December 03, 2020 8:53 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    FSD Beta Wider Release On the Way

    In a November 29th tweet from Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk, he announced that the wider release of FSD beta will come in approximately two weeks. Currently, the feature is only accessible to a few lucky testers chosen by Tesla to carefully test the software and send feedback. Tesla is often releasing new versions of the software to the current beta testers more than once a week, each time improving the system. The reason why the process of beta testing is so crucial to a software system like this is that there are so many edge cases that rarely ever happen while driving that the software needs to be prepared for and know how to handle. There are also vastly different roads all over the country, and many difficult situations that arise. Once the system is released on a wider scale, it will only be available to those who have purchased the FSD upgrade, and have the latest version of Tesla’s hardware (included on all cars built in or after April 2019). When Navigate on Autopilot first came out, the software was a bit shaky and the lane changes were not as smooth or natural as a human driver, but over time the system improved and now is much better and more natural compared to when it first came out. This will likely be the case for FSD beta too, there will be moments when drivers have to disengage the system, but the system will improve itself with time thanks to the advanced machine learning capabilities. 

    Heat Pump Effectiveness Proven -

    When the Model Y initially came out, one of the most important features, especially for those of us in the northeast, was the heat pump. The heat pump enables the car to keep the battery at a reasonable temperature without wasting too much battery life. The feature has now trickled down to the Model 3 as well and a recent test conducted by an owner who has a Model 3 without a heat pump in addition to a Model 3 with a heat pump to see just how much of a difference it makes. He set the heat in both of the cars to 70°F and his conclusions were that the Model 3 without a heat pump required 2,170 watts to maintain the temperature whereas the Model 3 with a heat pump only required 735 watts. The findings definitely show that the heat pump makes a difference in how much energy is required, but it will be interesting to see if there is an even larger efficiency gap if he performs the test in colder conditions.

  • December 02, 2020 6:49 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    I came across the WATCH FOR TESLA app a while back and find it useful, so here’s some details.  It’s only for Apple watches at this time and costs a few dollars in the App Store, but no ongoing subscription is required. (Disclaimer: I have nothing - zero - to gain from the app sales)


    The app basically allows you to do everything from your Apple Watch that you can do from the Tesla app on your phone, including lock/unlock, vent windows, enable remote start, start/stop charge, etc. I find it convenient (and kinda cool) to run the car from my watch, especially if my phone isnt’ immediately available. With both the car and the watch on internet or cell service, you can work solely off the watch, but if there’s a dead zone where you’ve parked, for example, then you’ll need the phone or key card to run the car.

    It can handle multiple vehicles easily - our M3 and Y run off the watch - and toggles back and forth with a swipe. It sets up on the watch as a “complication” - a function that you access with a touch. On one of my watch faces, its in the upper right (red circle) - and shows the amount of charge on the last active vehicle.

    Setup is pretty easy, there can be some bugs or mis-strokes, but no worse than many ther apps in my experience. Getting the image of the car(s) was a bit tricky.  The app only runs on the watch (not the phone) and security log on is through your Tesla app user ID/password or a security token process (which seemed excessive to me.).  Plenty of support available.

    The website https://www.watchfortesla.com has good functional description, FAQs and more.  The developer is from Denmark, and is incredibly responsive and supportive for questions and suggestions on a GitHub page: 


    Thought it would be useful info for some TOCNY members, if you were looking for a good Apple Watch app for Tesla.

  • November 25, 2020 10:50 AM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)
    On November 18th, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with Peter Gordon, Owner & EV Parts Guy at EV Recycling Company LLC here in Rochester NY.

    If you're not familiar, Peter specializes in Electric Vehicles and is dedicated to supplying the best quality used parts for reuse on EV repairs, modifications, and projects. He is working to find the best Second Life applications and end of life recycling methods for all EV parts and HV Batteries that are no longer able to be used in vehicles.

    I could go on and on in this blog, but I will let my video HERE speak for itself. Keep your eyes open for future videos like this going forward, I’ll be calling them “Cogs Vlogs” :)

    Link to video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Onr8ULpEGW4&feature=youtu.be&ab_channel=Rick

  • November 23, 2020 4:46 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    Well after almost exactly 2 years and 34K miles I had my first oops with the Model 3.

    10/17/20 Deer Accident – Early morning, rural area, deer hunters about, I should have been more cautious, had police report.  Deer hit pas corner and flew over car and over my wife and daughter’s head in back seat(glass roof)– Made Tesla service appointment on app.  Called Insurance company hot line.

    10/20/20 Insurance appraisal at home –Appraiser commented not much damage for killing a deer at 60 mph.  He also mentioned that Tesla replacement parts are cheaper that other companies since there is no middle man taking a cut.  Several calls with Insurance corporate office included comment that they were mailing a check today.  Questioned why a check since body shop had not seen car and had not created a final estimate.  It’s the way it is done……..

    10/21/20 appraisal $4,400 received via email – Tesla service station emailed to say work direct with Fetzner collision the only authorized shop in these parts.  Emailed with Fetzner and after reviewing picture they estimated $7K but same $2,500 for parts, labor was the difference.  Fetzner ordered parts.

    10/24/20 Insurance check received $3,900(less deductible) and deposited

    11/02/20 Found out with Covid that rental car pricing is much higher.  Fetzner suggested using Enterprise since they are close to their location so no Uber or family member drop off.  But insurance only covers $20/day and going rates are more like $60!

    11/03/20 Dropped Tesla off at Fetzner in Rochester/Greece NY – They stripped down car and ordered a few extra parts.

    11/11/20  Update given- Completion delayed due to two small frame pieces needed replacement, wait on parts.

    11/12/20 Fetzner emailed with several legal forms to sign allowing them to drive my car and have full access.  Handled electronically using DocuSign.

    11/20/20 Picked up car from Fetzner – Final cost $8,900, I paid the original check amount plus deducible and Fetzner received balance from insurance.  I had to sign a ADP2 form and so did Fetzner.  I sent in a MV-104 form to DMV.

    New hood, front(bumper & 3 sensors), pas fender, pas headlight, parking light and a few brackets totaling almost $4k in parts. Labor was split about equal between body, paint and mechanical.  The main battery was disconnected, firmware re-flashed and sensors/camera re-calibrated.

    Car looks new and even better than new as paint looks richer/deeper.  Fetzner agreed and said the Tesla factory paint is a bit thin.  So even though the accident was confined to just around the pas headlight the total front of my car was painted  Both fenders, hood, bumper new paint and front doors blended.  Fetzner was even able to handle the NYS Inspection that was due this month.

    I hope this helps others understand the Tesla Body Shop process in western NY. 

    -Regards Ant

  • November 19, 2020 9:40 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    V11 Coming Soon -

    In a recent tweet by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, he stated that a new software update is coming, leading many to assume that he is referring to the highly anticipated yearly update. The yearly update is so significant because it is akin to a new Apple iOS software, just for Teslas. This year’s release has several anticipated features, with the most anticipated likely being the FSD beta. Another highly anticipated feature is one that other car manufacturers have had for a couple years now, a top-down 360° camera. As with last year’s update, this year’s will also likely include more games in the arcade. There will also likely be many more features, “so many things you may want & some you didn’t know you wanted” as Elon stated. The current Tesla FSD Beta has been making a ton of progress recently, as updates are sent out to the select few that are graced with the early access version weekly.

    Model Y Gets the Same Updates as Model 3 -

    There have been many small hardware updates to the Model 3 being put into production over the recent months, and most of them are now making their way into the Model Y. The updates include, auto-dimming mirrors, silver scroll wheels on the steering wheel, a storage device for Sentry Mode and Dashcam, an updated glovebox, and laminated windows. The only update that Model 3 received that has not yet been added to Model Y is the new center console. Tesla will likely wait until some of the previous inventory of Model Y’s with the current center console are sold before making the switch.

  • November 18, 2020 6:44 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    On November 14, 2020, TOCNYS Niagara Frontier held the first odd-month meet 'n' greet event at "Chargetowaga" since our March meetup, this time with a special twist: We invited members to bring some nonperishable food to donate.

    The last time we teamed up with Giga NY, back in June, 2020, we assisted those in need of healthy nutrition thanks to two Model 3s brimming with donations.

    Brisk but sunny, this past Saturday's socially distanced gathering was a hit! No less than nine members and six of their guests met to get new-owner questions answered, chat with old and new friends, and—last, but definitely not least—haul out frunks full of grocery donations.

    A few group snapshots later, Ludicrous Member Christy Willams-Wood, her daughter Olivia, and Ludicrous Member Kenny Martin joined Yours Truly to transport the collections via mini caravan to the FeedMore WNY food bank warehouse at 91 Holt Street, Buffalo. (Near the destination, it attracted the attention of one exuberant neighbor who greeted us on site, telling us what a rare and wonderful sight it was.)

    FeedMore staff also emerged from the warehouse to see the spectacle of three 3s and then receive the epic haul of groceries . . . all 191 lbs. of it! That's right, enough that they summoned (well, the old-fashioned way) a forklift with a friendly driver to assist. Make that an electric forklift!

    A hearty round of thanks to all TOCNYS members and guests who participated. If you missed out, fear not—we are planning future charity events, including a collaboration with some local surprise entities that stands to be even more rewarding for everyone there. Please stay tuned and be sure to catch our likely virtual meetups to be held during the colder months.

    Personally, I would like to share that this event showed off TOCNYS Niagara Frontier at its finest yet: a diverse team of owners, uniting above and beyond the brand, at a time when meeting in person has never been trickier. And we are only beginning to realize the potential all of us have together. Excelsior!

    [PHOTO ALBUM: https://photos.app.goo.gl/X3WoABb2d96yfKAD8 ]

  • November 16, 2020 7:19 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    As a society, we tend to overlook the differently abled people in our communities. Unless you are someone or are close to someone who has physical challenges, handicap parking spots and accessible buildings may not make an impression on you. However, for those with limited mobility, these are just a few of the things necessary to function on a daily basis.

    One such accommodation is hand controls for vehicles to allow those with limited lower body mobility to drive. Tesla and other modern vehicles can present issues with installing hands controls due to changes in the construction of late model automobiles. With the advent of digital controls replacing the mechanical linkages of years past, connecting mechanical devices for pedal controls is problematic. These devices used to attach to the steering column for structural support, but steering columns are no longer structural.

    At least one means of installing hand controls has been developed for cars like Tesla that doesn't rely on the steering column as a structural member. We appreciate the quality work that companies such as Agor Enterprises in Penfield, NY (https://www.agorenterprises.com/) do to install these devices. Agor fabricates a custom baseplate to which the manufacturer's devices are attached during the installation. This is attached under the front seat bracket so that no drilling or alterations to the structure is needed. One such device manufacturer is Veigel (https://www.mobilityinnovators.com/products/primary-controls/hand-controls/) who offers many options for their controls. 

    Next, a mechanism that looks like a gear shifter is attached to the baseplate, then to the brake and accelerator pedals.

    Finally, a spinner is attached to the steering wheel. Now the vehicle is ready to be driven, but only by someone who has been professionally trained to drive with adaptive devices. These programs are available through local agencies such as the Al Sigl Center in Rochester, NY (https://www.alsigl.org/) and consist of several sessions over a few weeks. The driver then gets their license restricted to hand controls.

    The operation with hand controls is fairly straightforward, but takes the practice afforded by the training to safely master driving with hand controls. The driver uses their left hand to steer with the spinner while the right hand controls the brake and accelerator. The "shifter" is pulled back to accelerate and pushed forward to brake. The brake position has a "hold" button, but Tesla owners already have that as a standard function. The hand controls do not interfere with the normal operation of the pedals by someone using their feet. 

    Once having a vehicle equipped with hand controls and completing the training, the driver is now ready to join the world in everyday activities. In the US, the ability to drive oneself is critical in most areas and, with this accommodation, those with lower body limitations can fully participate in the community. 

  • November 12, 2020 9:58 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    20,000th Supercharger Deployed -

    Tesla announced last Sunday that the 20,000th Supercharger had been deployed, a massive step for the company and Tesla owners worldwide. Tesla has been making a massive push recently to deploy more superchargers and this can be seen in New York, as 20 new superchargers are stated to be coming soon on Tesla’s website in the state alone. It has also become apparent that Tesla’s site is not the best source for tracking upcoming Superchargers, as many charging locations, such as the recently completed Water Mill Supercharger and the upcoming Riverhead Supercharger were not listed as upcoming on the website. The rapid growth occurring these days is highlighted by the fact that there were only 17,500 Superchargers in early September. On top of installing so many new Superchargers, Tesla has also been making a push to expand their Destination Charging network, to make road trips easier and more convenient for Tesla owners all over the world.

    New Winter Wheel & Tire Available for Model Y -

    Last week, Tesla launched the new wheel and winter tire package for the 19” Gemini wheels, and this week they continued the trend by doing the same for their 20” Induction wheels. Many automakers do not offer a specific option for winter tires and instead just make all-season or summer tires standard. Teslas perform fairly well in cold weather, especially the new Model Y due to the heat pump feature that saves battery while in cold temperatures. The very advanced traction control system also helps Teslas have supreme composure and traction in snowy and icy driving situations.

  • November 09, 2020 12:26 PM | Stephen Pallotta (Administrator)

    Powering Up with Tesla Solar - Preparing

    So now that we’ve approved the layout for the Tesla solar panels, it’s time to approve it and move on with the process. For us, the process would have gone more smoothly had we not made a couple of mistakes in the submission. We’ve been making a lot more contacts with our Project Advisor in the last couple of weeks to straighten out errors. The process for approving the Tesla Solar layout requires that the initial forms be filled out correctly.

    Two key elements factor into ensuring the layout is correct from the beginning. First, filling out the submission must be accurate from the very first keystroke. I misunderstood a couple of items and got into a set of problems that are still being worked out. Read every single line on the layout carefully. First, it’s important to know whether you’re looking for Partial or Full Home backup. We chose Full Home, but Partial Home came up on the layout. Second, the Backed Up Loads showed two items that we do not have at our house. It shows us with an electric range, which we replaced with gas a few years ago. I don’t recall this being an item for selection on the submission and I certainly wouldn’t have selected it. A Well Pump is also listed. I was confused when I was completing the submission and selected this thinking that they were referring to a sump pump, we are on municipal water.

    The Project Advisor has forwarded the changes to the engineering team so that they can adjust the layout if necessary. I suspect that there won’t be any changes to the system size (8.16 kW) or to the storage (2 Powerwalls) as the demand is likely outset by not having either an electric range or a well pump. If you do run into problems with your design, text your Project Advisor. I recommend asking them to call you as a conversation seems to work significantly better than an email or text stream.

    Now we sign for payment method and various related documents. Just as ordering a Tesla vehicle is accomplished through the Tesla website, so is all of the Tesla Solar and Powerwall installation. Going to your home page, you’ll see Solar Panels (if you ordered Powerwalls, they’ll be here, too), vehicles, and Tesla Shop orders. Selecting Manage under Solar Panels, will bring you to your Tesla Energy page where you can review, edit, and approve your energy project. Payment method will also appear here. There are several options including cash, loans, and subscriptions.

    Visit https://www.tesla.com/support/energy/solar-panels/after-installation/billing to see these options. Clicking on the View Order Details link will give you a summary of the order.

    Once everything looks accurate, then it’s time to pull the “solar trigger.” On the Track Your Order page you will have a link to approve you order. This is necessary to proceed to the next stage of getting the local permits. You will have a number of documents to either upload or sign electronically. Be sure to scroll down on the page to see the documents. These will need to be signed in order to proceed to the permitting process as it gives Tesla permission to act on your behalf to contact the various authorities.

    My next step in the process was to determine where the Powerwalls could be mounted. It would have been simple to mount them in the basement next to the main electrical panel. This would have been immediately inside from the electric meter and below the bulk of the solar panels, thus shortening the wiring needed. This looked good until the Project Advisor let me know that it could not be there per New York State Fire Code as indicated in the following excerpt. I suggested outside by the electric meter, but Tesla engineering indicated that the weather is too harsh for that location.

    R327.4 Location. Energy storage systems shall only be installed in the following locations:

    1. Detached garages and detached accessory structures.

    2. Attached garages separated from the dwelling unit living space and sleeping units in accordance with Section R302 of this code.

    3. Outdoors on exterior walls located a minimum 3 feet (914 mm). from doors and windows.

    4. Utility closets and storage or utility spaces within dwelling units and sleeping units.

    R327.8 Fire-resistance rating. Rooms and areas containing energy storage systems shall be protected on the system side by no less than 5/8-inch Type X gypsum board or equivalent, installed on the walls and ceiling of the room or area. Attached garages containing energy storage systems shall be protected on the system side by fire-resistant construction in accordance with Section R302.

    FIRE AREA. The aggregate floor area enclosed and bounded by fire wallsfire barriers, exterior walls or horizontal assemblies of a building. Areas of the building not provided with surrounding walls shall be included in the fire area if such areas are included within the horizontal projection of the roof or floor next above.

    Finally, I chose the garage as the only viable option for mounting the Powerwalls. I looked at the house side of the garage as it has the necessary fire barrier, but there are so many electrical runs and outlets, plus an outside faucet that this seemed difficult at best to accomplish. I finally decided on the opposite wall of the garage. I moved the tools and tool rack to the shed and laid out where the Powerwalls could go. This will require approval by Tesla before they can proceed, but I expect it will be acceptable. Unfortunately, now the wiring will have to run the length of the house, probably through the basement to the main electrical panel.

    This is where we are in the project. Now we wait for permits and an inspection by the installers before the excitement begins. Well, I guess it’s more like until the excitement continues. We already have the Tesla Solar sign up in anticipation.

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