Navigation outside of 3G coverage areas

Navigation outside of 3G coverage areas

My Red P85 was just delivered yesterday - what an absolutely amazing car!!

One of the questions I had before delivery that frustratingly literally no one could answer, despite asking numerous people in different organizations, was if navigation would work when outside of a 3G coverage area. I live in a relatively rural part of AZ and this is clearly important to me.

So, I did a couple of tests and the good news is it is functional, albeit limited. Here's the scoop on what happens when you have no 3G signal:

* You CAN do a search for an address; it will locate the address and calculate a route. However, it will only show up on the left side of the instrument screen. In the map window on the 17" display, strangely, you do get a visual representation of the route, but no map!
* Turn-by-turn visual prompts and real-time route map updates happen as normal on the left side of the instrument display and the route selection controls are active and working on the 17" display. You get the usual audio prompts.
* No satellite view or traffic of course.

I had been told that GPS was integrated into Google maps only. Incorrect - the GPS functions independently, which makes sense given that location-based HomeLink works just fine (very cool, too). Thus, I was told you could start the route within a coverage area and continue if you lost 3G, but not start one outside of coverage. This was wrong. The instrument display for turn-by-turn is provided by Navigon (eg Garmin) which it why it is still functional with no Internet connection. This is what they are talking about when they talk about the free map updates. (Not sure how that occurs yet, though.)

I have not yet tried using the address book or other advanced searches, but the good news is you'll never be lost even of you're outside a coverage area. I'll post more if I find anything else of general interest.

Carefree | April 25, 2013

You are correct. With the Tech package you have navigation capabilities independent from Google Maps.

shs | April 25, 2013

I also live in a no 3G area and am glad that, as you state, you can search for an address without 3G signal and it finds it. In my case I do see the route on the main Nav screen, occasionally the road, but no "map". What is also interesting is that as you drive down various roads, the name of the road on which you are driving is constantly being updated on the central display. So obviously the Navigon software know where you are as well as where you are going, just like on my iPhone. I don't understand therefore why it can't display the Navigon maps on the central display if the google maps are not available. In any case, Navigation with the MS is great, even without 3G.

lov2krz | April 25, 2013

When I don't have 3G I don't get any map on my monitor and therefore no search field to enter an address. If I have google map and enter a destination and then loose 3G nav w irks as you say.

Where do you enter nav destination when 3G is not available?

shs | April 25, 2013

If I have the Nav window up, on top of the maps (even if the map is completely gray )I have a History button (which works) then a search field with a magnifying glass icon, and to the right a field where the street on which the car is located is displayed. These fields are always there for me (Tech option) whether or not I have 3G signal or not. Entries typed into the search field have to be an exact address, not Costco or a name or a business as that sort of Google search requires connectivity.

prytog | April 25, 2013

Thx, confirms my ordering tech package for garmin NAV, as we take many trips to non-3G areas
Our MS arrives soon

lov2krz | April 25, 2013

When I've had gray screen I haven't had a history or search window. If I understand what you're saying is I'll need to select Nav to display the history and search boxes even if there are no maps displayed.

RD7 | April 25, 2013

To do the search without 3G:

1. Hit the NAV button
2. You get the usual window with the History button and a search field
3. starting typing in the search field
4. You will get a dialog box that says "No connectivity: Find an address".
5. Start typing anyway, and after the address, city, and state have been filled in, the Find button will illuminate.
6. Press "Find" and proceed as usual.

BTW, I think I see how the map 17" map display is working without 3G. Think of it as layers - there is a foundation layer (the map) and an overlay which is your GPS information (current position, route). Rather than the GPS "telling" the map where you are, it seems to display it directly on the screen. Presumably, they share a single common frame of reference. As shs points out, it knows the street you are on and displays it even without 3G, and it also displays the route, so they seem to be acting independently. As I traveled in and out of coverage today, some map blocks were populated and others were blank, depending on how much data it had a chance to download.

shs | April 26, 2013

The other think that Navigon know on my iPhone (and iPad) is the speed limit on road where you are currently driving. It would be nice to have a little speed limit sign - ideally on the dashboard display behind the wheel, and the lady, as we call her, saying "caution" if one exceeds the speed limit by a preset amount. Better the lady telling my wife to slow down than me.

lov2krz | April 29, 2013

Rd_Redford, thanks. I'll give it a try

cerjor | April 30, 2013

Personally I think the GPS system it the weakest part of this outstanding car. Map is only available with 3G. No favorites. No waypoints which makes trip planning difficult. No direction-of-travel orientation.

420weblazeit | June 14, 2014

Can you manually install maps from a disc or by connecting it to a computer?

I was thinking of exporting a few to North Africa and if the maps used where of a generic format, I could get the maps, pop them on a disc and install them.

Any help with this? | June 14, 2014

@420weblazeit - Sorry no. Only Tesla can upgrade the navigation maps, and it is done through the 3G connection. While the navigation maps come from Garmin, there is no published format nor any means to "side-load" a different map into the Model S.

In case it wasn't clear, there are two map systems that work together. You don't need a live 3G connection to have full navigation on the instrument cluster (Garmin). These maps are updated infrequently, and I suspect are limited to a geographical area (i.e. cars for the USA market have North America maps).

The Google map requires a 3G connection, and is always up-to-date, and should work in all regions where Google maps exist.

Tesltoronto | July 8, 2014

Before asking this question, I thought I will volkerize the topic and came across this thread.

Teslatap: In essence, we can still use the GPS irrespective of 3G coverage. I think that is a good thing! For people who travel to the cottage country, many a times, there is no 3G network.