2018 Tesla Model 3 – driving for Lyft for fun

This post is kind of lenghty, but I think well worth reading. I split it into subsections:

Introduction, Model 3 on Lyft, Lyft driving in general and the conclusion. 

Introduction

I am no stranger to teslas performance and autopilot, we replaced our last gas car end of May 2016 with a Tesla Model X, after the last time teslas stock was recovering from being artificially suppressed by lots of ‘creative news’ about car fires (despite gas cars having more such), or about how they are never going to build model x etc, and I had just kept buying on the downturns including some options. So in a way you could say tesla shorts paid for my Model X, which I also justified as a means to validate my investment.

You gotta live with it to really know its potential. And so after being wowed by owning the Model X, and my mind blown by Elon’s presentation of the Model 3, I had the hopeful expectation when I reserved my Model 3 that this still holds true, even at half the cost of a comparable model S. But I have to admit I was somewhat concerned that the economy ‘model e’ would have sacrifized some of its tesla appeal in order to get to that price point.

I can now confirm, the ride in the Model 3 is legendary and no downgrade, especially if you like dynamic, sporty driving.

So when I got my Model 3 in January, I did expect it to be more fun than the 2015 VW eGolf it replaced, but I had no idea how much more fun. I ended up putting more than 6000 miles on the car in just a few months and found myself tooling around in the mountains and playing with cornering, hugging the apex, learning how to use autopilot driver assist to my advantage in dynamic driving, enjoying different seat settings while in stop and go traffic etc, loving the streaming of about anything in highest audio quality. Autopilot is really a god-sent in stop and go traffic, turns a commute nightmare into a relaxation opportunity. Check out this small video from my commute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aB_uGz_6gI

And eventually I realized, I am spending an hour before work each day just having fun driving around, which seemed like a waste somehow. So I was ready for my next adventure: Signing up to drive for Lyft. 

           

Obviously this pays a lot less per hour than my day-job, but the idea is to do this only for fun and when doing unproductive car fun-time anyways. If I am already spending extra time in the car, I might as well pick people up and bring them to where they need to be.

It took me about 3 days from the idea to giving my first ride, which is pretty amazing IMHO, the longest wait was for DMV and background check, which took about a day to show up checkmarked in the app.

Since I drive this car so much, its uniquenesses seems normal to me now, but to have passengers that mostly never have seen one before is an interesting way to look at it with fresh eyes.

Model 3 on Lyft

I love how I can just put my personal belongings into the frunk and have an empty clean trunk for my riders,  most important when picking up from the airport.

The door handles and controls however are definitely not intuitive for a first time rider.

Almost every single passenger is confused at first about how to open the door, both from the outside as well as from the inside, there was exactly one that just figured it out right away.

My quick intro is ‘push the bigger piece of the handle with your thumb’ and then they say ‘oh wow, cool’ and it works.

When they want to get out, there is confusion again. I tell them ‘push the little switch with that white line’ and point to it. Again you would think that would be annoying as an experience, but somehow they find it amazing again, they somehow like how the door pops open and they just push it out. And maybe also because of the rest of the experience.

Another point of confusion is the window control. Nobody opened the door yet by accident, but especially when driving in the dark it is not obvious at first on how to control your window, and I often just do it for them. I learned how to turn on the lights in the back for them from my screen, and that helps.

A definite plus however is performance, looks, quality of the music streaming and voice control.

I usually ask them if they want to listen to music, and if they have a favorite artist, then use voice control to start for example like ‘play phantogram’. 

Often they say: ‘I listen to anything’ and so I challenge them a bit with bassnectar, and let them know they can change their mind anytime. Turns out they more often than not actually like it.

Also I get to listen to cool music I didnt know about before, and get delighted responses like somebody asking for coldplay and it happens to pick their favorite song. I get comments from audiophiles how unexpectedly excellent the sound quality is.

My favorite new song I am super grateful for learning about is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98bi0dxJGGc 

People are generally wowed by the quality of the ride:

‘I must have gotten a silent upgrade, normally its priuses or something’

‘this car really has pickup’ 

‘this feels more like riding in a train, I mean the road bumps you still feel but there is no vibrating and shaking, its like gliding really’

‘wow, I didnt notice that all-glass roof until now’

So far have been able to maintain a clean 5.0 driver rating, probably in part because of the unexpectedly awesome car  🙂

LR Range is more than enough for me, since I don’t drive all day, and the car is super efficient since I drive a lot more conservative and mindful about comfort when I have passengers.

I end up using less than 220 Wh/mile on my rides. When I have fun between rides I can consume closer to 270Wh/m 🙂

One sunday night I wanted to see how far I get with a full charge, filled it up to 310 mile range, and started driving at 8:30pm. By 1:30am and 11 rides later I had enough fun, and still 180 mile range left, and headed home, parking with 144 mile range in my garage, having driven 134 miles and consumed 36kWh of energy, which thanks to home solar I can recharge for free, but at the californian supecharger this would cost me $9.36

Lyft driving in general

People are generally very friendly and reasonable. Most don’t tip. The ones that do surprise you.

Driving late at night means driving more drunk people which carries the risk of soiling your car, but also results in more interesting stories to tell at parties (no names mentioned obviously) but so far so good. Driving before work is better than driving at night.

I now also always carry some water with me, that people are really thankful for, i.e. when they come from a long sunny day in the city and are all dehydrated.

Lyfts driver app has a red overlay of areas with surge pricing in effect. I spent a few hours taking screenshots every now and then to log when they start showing up and going away. 

Chasing the red (surge rate areas) was often not useful for me, typically evaporated before I arrived, and I get reasonable amounts of rides wherever I am in the SF bay area. I talked to another new driver and he had a similar experience. 

I don’t think I average more than $20/h, especially factoring in driving to pickups etc, last sunday night I did average $26/h thanks to more tips and surge pricing than usual.

I usually use destination mode on my way to work. It’s rare that something comes out of it. The controls for it are not easy to use, and if you correct it too often then they lock you out of using the feature with ‘you used it six times today, try again tomorrow’.   One time when returning from a Palo Alto trip back into the city with destination mode it routed me through the airport to pick up a family with luggage. He said he also has a Model 3 on order and was thrilled to be in the front passenger seat. 

By default the app is set to NOT use the bluetooth for the traffic dirctions, but still tunes out the music on bluetooth you are playing from your phone, then only announces its directions on the internal phone speaker which means you can’t hear it very well. I changed it in the app settings, but the voice quality is a lot less pleasant than the tesla one, so I am considering turning it off and asking people for the destination address and put that in with ‘navigate to’ voice command to demo the capabilities better.

Also a pity that the app is not integrated into the big screen, it is kind of annoying to look far down below the screen where the phone dock is. I wish tesla would get us a webbrowser like in the model S/X, maybe the touchscreen web interface of lyft driver would be sufficiently supported that way. It appears the app is halfway a webapp anyways, i.e. when I switch to the dashboard. I ended up buying a hands-free magnetic phone holder to have it higher up at the b-pillar so as not to block my view, but am concerned that it may be in the path of an airbag in case of a bad accident. Have to find out more about this.

Conclusion

I am super thankful for this opportunity to help people get to where they want to be while getting them interested in electric driving (if they ask). I love meeting all those different types of people, having good conversations, learning about new music and seeing the excitement when they get their first ride in a tesla. They give a consistent 5.0 rating and positive feedback all around.

Share the Love – if you want to sign up too, consider using my referral code https://www.lyft.com/drivers/WILL53406 and get the same bonus as me ($1.55 for every ride you do in first 60 days, capped at $775)

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What if… cars moved people, objects, energy on demand

What if a car driving a person was just a side effect, one of its on-demand purposes fulfilled.

What if you did not own a vehicle but it would be available anytime like über from close by, and when not driving you or anybody else, it will function as a receiver and giver of energy, drive to a charging station, when fully charged drive and park at a building that needs more power as a power building block. It can fulfill energy, people and object transportation needs.

It will never sit idle uselessly, just moving to where it is useful.

Idea published by Michael Will March 15th, 2016, feel free to use, don’t patent it as its already published.