Douche for a Day: a Tesla 3 from Hertz

Happy First Day of Kwanzaa everyone. Let’s look at a popular product from an African-American automobile company…

During a trip to Houston, on my way back from trying to meet up with Hunter Biden in Pahrump, Nevada, I rented a Tesla 3 from Hertz. The rental of a BMW 5-series sedan from Sixt in Vegas ($430/week) had taken about 2 minutes: sit down, adjust seat/mirrors, add phone via Bluetooth, find Apple CarPlay on the screen. It took 45 minutes, two Tesla 3s, and three Hertz employees to get out of the Hertz lot. The first Tesla would not connect to my phone. On the second one, I couldn’t figure out how to bring up the navigation screen, which is not on the “all apps” list but is instead available only via a swipe down gesture.

Range anxiety began before departing Hertz. The company commits to charging cars only to 80 percent and the second car tried was at 86 percent. You’re supposed to return it at least 70 percent charged or pay $35 for the right to return it at least 10 percent charged. I chose the latter option and thus paid about 35 cents per mile for fuel (gasoline is $2.50/gallon north of Houston so it would have been about 8 cents/mile in a Toyota Camry). I’m not sure where the Tesla range numbers are coming from because the car was down to about 30 percent charge by the time I returned it 103 flat miles later, implying a total range of about 200 miles.

Presumably an owner who saves the planet 24/7 has his/her/zir/their car paired with his/her/zir/their phone. Hertzians, on the other hand, are given a keycard that has to be held up to the door frame to lock or unlock the car and must be placed in a specific center console position to start the car. The Hertz employees said that no customer had ever figured this out himself/herself/zirself/theirself. For the entire two-day rental, I was pulling the card in and out of my pocket. By contrast, the BMW fob stayed in my pocket for a week. The car would unlock as I approached, power up when I wanted to drive, and lock itself as I walked away.

The Tesla harasses you with beeps from the moment you sit down in the car. It’s alive and sees that you’re sitting, but complains that you’re not wearing a seat belt. Every time you return to the car. Tesla has thrown out the industry convention that the car won’t complain about failure to wear a seat belt until the car is moving or at least started.

The next immediate challenge is navigation. If you previously researched a restaurant or attraction in Google Maps then… you’ll get to rekey the name of the place into Tesla’s own navigation software. The car does not supply Apple CarPlay and therefore is not synced with your Google Maps history. The Tesla navigation software does not show the traffic lights and stop signs that show up as valuable clues in Google Maps via CarPlay. The lack of CarPlay was also painful as I tried to listen to an Audible book. One good piece of learning from the rental: never buy a car that doesn’t have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

Once on the highway, the interior is extremely loud compared to a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord. Wind and tire noise make it difficult to hear an audiobook and, unlike most other cars, the Tesla does not automatically adjust volume.

Maybe the noise is the price you pay for awesome sports car performance? The Tesla has some good numbers for racing rednecks in pickups away from traffic lights. Suppose that there are corners? Car and Driver found that the lap time for a Tesla S on their standard track was about the same as a Honda Accord’s (3 minutes, 17 seconds). For comparison, a C8 Corvette makes the trip around in 2 minutes, 49 seconds (the new Z06 C8 Corvette will likely be much faster; a 2019 high-power Corvette did the circuit in 2 minutes, 39 seconds).

I summarized the below photo on Facebook with “One of these machines requires hours of reading, intensive Web searches, YouTube video tutorial review, phone calls to experts, and in-person dual instruction to operate.” Why the complexity? Tesla has tossed out decades of user interface conventions developed by Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes, and BMW. Instead of a four-position switch for wipers, the driver is supposed to press a button on the left stalk and then turn his/her/zir/their attention to the central touch screen where different wiper speeds, including a not-very-smart “Auto” mode, can be selected. Instead of dedicated buttons to answer the phone, hang up, or invoke Siri, some combination of the multi-function wheels on the steering wheel will accomplish these tasks. Instead of dedicated buttons to turn on and adjust cruise control, one engages it with overloaded gestures on the shift lever.

I never had a convenient opportunity to charge the machine. I stayed at a Home2 Suites in The Woodlands on the first night and there were no chargers in the parking lot. I valet-parked at a downtown hotel on the second night and the valet said that he thought there were chargers in the lot and would try to plug it in, but that didn’t happen. (Contrast to Death Valley National Park where laptop class members can charge their working class-subsidized EVs with “free” (working-class-paid-for) electricity in the hotel parking lots.)

The price for two days of confusion and anxiety? $400 or just slightly less than what Sixt charged for a week of BMW 5-series plus the cost of gasoline to/from Death Valley National Park and around Pahrump.

17 thoughts on “Douche for a Day: a Tesla 3 from Hertz

  1. There is a fob that can be bought for Model 3 from Tesla, which works like for any other car. It looks like Hertz cheaped out and didn’t purchase them.

    For navigation you share from Google Maps into Tesla App and it instantly pops up as route in navigation system. But for this Tesla app needs to be installed.

    Perhaps Tesla is not best rental car for people who haven’t used it before.

    In other news we went to Florida for vacation and it’s fucking miserable here. I’m typing it from Frost Museum of Science which is full to the brim of the aquarium.

    • Come up to Jupiter! I cooked turkey yesterday to celebrate the impending arrival of Kwanzaa and, for the first time in years, nobody needed to go the hospital to address food poisoning issues. We’ll crank up the pool heat for you if you want to swim! The atmosphere could use some more CO2 right now.

      (By Wednesday, Climate Change will be over and the high temp will be 74 with bright sun.)

    • SK: Thanks for coming over yesterday. How good was the South Florida hospital system for the food poisoning that I assume you and the family suffered?

  2. > Wind and tire noise make it difficult to hear an audiobook and, unlike most other cars, the Tesla does not automatically adjust volume.

    This is inexcusable, especially in a car that cost as much as a Tesla. I know, I keep mentioning my 2010 Ford Escape Hybrid but I’m going to do it again. It’s one touch to hit the nav screen, second touch to select your destination. Then the nav system talks to you whenever there’s a turn or a stop sign. When I first got the car, it was running on Michelins that needed to be replaced. I bought a set of very aggressive Pirellis and I thought that was the lowest the road noise went. Boy was I wrong. I recently bought a new set of tires and the level of quietness in the interior completelybelies the price of the car. You can have a quiet conversation at 70 mph. And the sat radio and NAV system volume automatically adjusts and you can set how aggressive it is.

    This is a 12 year old Ford. To make it recognize your phone, though, you have to set each phone up once and then it’s automatic. Big deal.

    It doesn’t have Apple Carplay, because that didn’t exist at the time. But the newer ones do.

    I’m bitching abt. Tesla and don’t own one. That’s a little unfair. But not knowing uow to do proper noise insulation and driver ergonomics is not excusable at the price you pay.

    Ford is having trouble with Quality Control recently. I wonder where they got so off-track??

    • One thing about the Model S to keep in mind, both in terms of range and weight is that the battery weighs less than any other Tesla, or approximately 1,060 lb. The one in the model Y weighs the most at 1700 lb. This has something to do with both your range and rige quality. A Model S, despite being compact, weighs between 3,650 and 4,250 pounds depending on options I guess. This means that the suspension has to be tuned like a heavy car with a relatively light chassis and body. Well, something has to give, either ride quality (hard spring and damping for what is otherwise a light car) or the suspension bottoming out on you all the time with terrible handling. Given the speed the Model 3 is capable of, and the number of passengers it can carry, we know how Tesla chose to tune it.

  3. Whatever…I’m still driving my CD-equipped 2001 Ford Taurus and 2008 Honda Ridgeline!

  4. “One good piece of learning from the rental: never buy a car that doesn’t have Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.”

    I’d say the opposite….never use Android auto or apple CarPlay. Just use your phone and find a convenient mount on the dash so you can see the maps on your phone, and then you don’t have to fool with “smart” cars.

  5. This a bit off topic but somewhat related.

    A month ago, my trusted 30 y/o dryer gave up on me. In those 30+ years, I did only 2 repairs: replaced the drum belt — both times done by myself. The new dryer that I got from Costco is a Kenmore, was really cheap (floor model, gas dryer @ ~$400) compared to anything I can find on the market.

    This new one has all the bells, whistles and energy saving features. But you know what? It will not dry as good as my old trusted dryer. I have to turn off all the energy saving features and run it at maximum heat to get towels to dry.

    The point of the story: with all the advancement in technology and the extra cost being put into them, take Tesla and my new Kenmore dryer for example, the extra cost to get a bit more safety and #SavingThePlanet is no longer worth it. I think we reach the tipping point of safety and saving as such dumping more money and regulation is no longer paying off.

  6. “Dr” Phil:

    You are the reason TSLA stock is performing so poorly these past few months.

    Right-wingers like you hated Tesla and Elon Musk for years because, “Eww, they are trying to improve the environment.” Then Musk went off the right side of the kooky cliff, where the rest of the MAGAites and Q-Anoners live. “Free speech! (well, just for me and my people)” Maybe you have embraced him as a new found genius, but your love of a fellow Russian-loving anarchist doesn’t extend to his cars.

    • I’ve been a hater of Tesla products, other than Dog Mode, for years! See (“Absent spectacular incompetence by the legacy car makers, it is hard to understand how Tesla can dominate the market in the long term. When battery technology advances to the point that an all-electric Honda Civic costs the same as a gas-powered Civic, why aren’t Honda and Toyota the natural market leaders? What will Tesla know that they won’t?”; it has been nearly 8 years, which is “long term” by business standards so either I was dead wrong or the legacy car makers actually did exhibit “spectacular incompetence”)

    • Mike: This is hilarious, I appreciate the humor!

      Our host is the prime mover of the TSLA stock.
      Musk, who is old-left/libertarian, is a MAGAite.
      And we are back to the McCarthyist term of “Russian lover”.

      I guess the Virtuous will soon set up a committee for Un-American activities!

      (If you want to educate yourself, look at the 5-year chart and see where TSLA was at the beginning of 2020, before the free money, first from Trump and then way more from Biden, inflated the stock market.)

    • Anon: You raise a good point about the merits of McCarthyism. The U.S. government could hunt for people whose Twitter and Facebook profiles don’t contain Ukrainian flags and assume disloyalty. I looked at the chart as you suggested. The Google says TSLA was at $30/share in March 2020 (compare to $113 today; presumably the $30 number from 2020 is split-adjusted). The peak was $407 in November 2021. What made investors imagine the company had grown 5X in value over 1.5 years (let’s assume that much of the bump was due to inflation and near-zero interest rates, but that still leaves a 5X real bump).

    • @Mike, @philg: There’s an interesting article everyone might want to read, regarding the President of Toyota’s statements regarding Electric Vehicles, which I agree with. It’s rare to see the leader of a big Japanese car company speak so candidly!

      “That silent majority is wondering whether EVs are really OK to have as a single option,” Akio Toyoda told reporters on a visit to Thailand over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports(Opens in a new window). “But they think it’s the trend so they can’t speak out loudly.””

    • @Mike, this is all “Dr” Phil’s master plan, he is shorting TSLA not for self wealth, but for his secret master plan. What is this “secret” plan you ask? To instate Toucan Sam as our next president followed by replacing liberal judges with conservative ones.

      If I were you, I would start looking to immigrate to Canada. But make sure you are qualified, because unlike the great USA, Canada will only accept qualified candidates [1].


  7. Phil! It’s been decades, I think I followed your wonderful blogs and mind blowing photography on geocities!

    Very funny post.

    Sigh, yep there’s an evergrowing learning curve with these cars that makes them daunting if you don’t have someone orient you (or look at the videos – not something a renter wants to do), and if you don’t use your phone as your key you miss out on one of the biggest addictive features.

    When my girlfriend walks up to one of my cars it sets to her settings before she gets in. When I walk to it, it’s set for me. Others I send keys to, if they have Tesla accounts, their settings go to the car I’ve shared.

    Then there is pre heating/cooling, voice commands for just about everything, full self driving, never going to gas stations, waking to a full tank every morning, full self driving, no oil changes, car camping in any temperature, the list goes on.

    Once you get familiar, it’s over.

    I took 2 bikes on a 6200 mile road trip in August, bucket list rides like the ribbon in grand junction, slickrock in Moab, Cache and game creek in Jackson…

    Did a 1000 mile day coming back from Florida November 30.

    Happy to share experiences with you all day!

    – ted

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