VERY disappointed with Navigation and Traffic Management

VERY disappointed with Navigation and Traffic Management

Let me preface this by saying I LOVE my 85kw MS. I've never been that into cars, but this thing has made me a zealot.

However, as a major league techno-nerd, and after driving around in my MS in southern California for the last four weeks, I am greatly disappointed by the navigation system; ESPECIALLY traffic-based route alternatives.

I am at a complete lose why my two year old Droid Bionic using Google Navigation not allows me to scroll through route alternatives based upon distance AND traffic estimated time of arrival, but my brand new MS cannot. Google's crowd-sourcing traffic is, IMHO, an absolute killer app. I live in, arguably, the traffic capital of the world where there are always a plethora of other potential freeway routes, and Google Nav on my Droid is SPOT ON when estimating arrival times and suggesting alternate routes.

Unfortunately, the Tesla Nav is absolutely horrible in this department. Unless you are on a traffic-free route, the ETA is absolutely useless, thus even if it currently suggested alternatives that were distance-sorted, they would be useless unless you tried to eyeball the traffic colors on the map.

PLEASE Tesla, I'm back to using my smartphone for nav which kinda defeats the purpose. Oh, and while you're at it, please fix the ability to actually SEE the traffic colors that are on my route but are completely hidden by the gigantic BLUE navigation route line. Again, Google Nav does this brilliantly on the smartphone. Oh... and allow me to orient my maps as north or driver direction. Oh... and I want a pony.


jemartin | 13 mei 2013

It's hard to argue with your points. There is indeed room for improvement. I'll say this:

- I use my MS nav screen w/ traffic (tech package) all the time, and more than any nav device or app I've had. The sheer size of the display makes it so much more usable than my android phone for example. This makes up for some of the limitations.

- I trust that future over the air updates will take care of most limitations. I'm glad that Tesla spent more time on the more critical features and didn't try to spread their limited resources thinner.

- I believe that the north-up direction of the display is a limitation of how fast the massive display can refresh. I'm used to it and I'm not expecting to get direction-up anytime soon.

Eletrek | 13 mei 2013

Interesting as it is my understanding Tesla Nav is provided by Google, so there should be little difference between the nav on your phone and that in your MS.

jeffaa | 13 mei 2013

Maps & Search are provided by Google. Actual navigation is provided by Garmin.

riceuguy | 13 mei 2013

Yes, it sucks. I assume they will fix it, but agreed there are major flaws, including the poor ETA, lack of traffic reroute (or even manual reroute for detours, etc.), and not being able to see traffic due to the blue line. I have avoided using Google nav on phone out of pride in the car, but may have to go that route (pun intended) soon!

stevenmaifert | 13 mei 2013

Good reason to skip the Tech package if the major reason you are getting it is for the Nav. Location accuracy has been an issue too.

mrspaghetti | 13 mei 2013

The good news is, with all that traffic you get to spend more time in your car! :)

(And I know it's redundant, but this would be a non-issue if they'd clone your phone screen to the touch screen... I'm just sayin')

pwasserman | 13 mei 2013

Bah! I thought it was Garmin. Sorry... but at least in personal/car navigation, that is a business model that will die a slow death since everyone will have GPS nav in their phone in the near future. Funny... I just did a Google search and Forbes has it as the #5 most shorted stock on Nasdaq. I personally can't argue with that.

But this, of course, begs the question: why use Garmin at all when the Google Nav is flippin' brilliant!?! Whatever the reason, I REALLY hope Tesla listens to its customers on this issue as we all want the ability to say I love EVERYTHING about my MS.... and not say "everything BUT" which I did for years on my BMW 745i's "poke in the iDrive"....

riceuguy | 13 mei 2013

@stevenmaifert, my location accuracy has been frightening (I can see which side of the garage the car is on, and I once called my wife to ask if she had really parked my brand new car under a tree!)

@mrspaghetti...not gonna happen as long as you can mirror video from the phone to the screen!

BYT | 13 mei 2013

If there was an option for Smart Phone mirroring, that would be a great alternative solution. I don't want my map on the Nav to point anywhere but North since it point's in the HUD window and that is good enough for me. All the other options would be fantastic that pwasserman suggested.

eltonf | 13 mei 2013

I've been a bit disappointed with the built-in nav as well. I end up using Google Maps any time there's traffic. I also HATE the big blue line as well. It completely covers the road making ambiguous actions like following a fork left or right very difficult. I've also found the built in nav to be completely wrong on occasion. At times it will tell me to turn right when the blue line clearly goes left for example.

amirm | 13 mei 2013

Glad to see the confirmation for not buying the tech package. I don't see how TSLA can have the resources to compete with Google NAV.

stevenmaifert | 13 mei 2013

@riceuguy - Sorry if I wasn't more specific. Agree the position accuracy of the current location symbol on the Google map is spot on. I was referring to those who have reported on other threads that they have entered an address in the Navigon TBT and been directed to the wrong location.

EcLectric | 13 mei 2013

I have to agree on the blue line covering the traffic color. Also, I was going to brag about having to type in only the first 5 letters of the restaurant name before the restaurant name and address filled the first choice... but when we 'arrived' I found we were on the wrong street (E. Grand Avenue vs Grand Avenue) and so we had to find the place ourselves. It would have been so nice...

dmunjal | 13 mei 2013

I would like to see a proper heading for the map. Don't know why the graphics couldn't keep up. Sometimes I zoom in to the max and the map refreshes very well. It would be even better with cached apps.

As for traffic, why can't the Garmin use traffic info from Google or from it's own source. Regular Garmins can do that.

dmunjal | 13 mei 2013

Should be cached "maps" in the previous post. | 13 mei 2013

@pwasserman "begs the question: why use Garmin at all when the Google Nav is flippin' brilliant!?"

I agree with most the points above, but the #1 reason Garmin is there are for the times when you loose cell phone coverage. Being 100% dependent on Google (or any other 3G based service) will leave you high & dry as go through a dead zone and/or area of no coverage.

That said, perhaps a better mix could be made where Google is the primary, and Garmin the secondary nav, only used when 3G is lost. Likely far more complex to pull off, but it could be what's needed.

eltonf | 13 mei 2013

@amirm the built in nav still works well most of the time. There are just a few head scratching features or errors that are annoying from time to time.

Ksamuellee | 13 mei 2013

Acura has the real time traffic, both highway and surface roads, built in its navigation system. Is it too much to expect the real time traffic info in Model S?

cerjor | 13 mei 2013

Every time this topic comes up I have to say that, IMHO, the mapping is the weakest part of the car. I wish the maps were onboard and not dependent on 3G. I would like to have waypoints. I would like the choice of direction up or north up. How about me using my own mapping program via a usb port?

bp | 14 mei 2013

I used the navigation system in my previous Lexus all of the time, because the integrated real-time traffic system would warn me about upcoming traffic problems on my route.

The Model S should have even better road and traffic data - but the software is extremely limited - TODAY.

Unlike my Lexus - which used the same nav software over the 6+ years I had the car - which required $250 per year to update the maps (so they were only a year out of date) - the Model S has the potential to be improved through software updates.

It would be helpful if Tesla could provide a roadmap of planned software enhancements - items such as music storage or nav system updates.

rlarno | 14 mei 2013

I believe that the Tesla OS will become a weak point if they will not open it up with an SDK so that 3rd parties can build apps that can integrate into the UI.

I'm a huge fan of Tesla, so I only write this to express my opinion on how they could improve the car and the cars to come.

Having read-only access to a lot of the car's information (as currently also available via the iOS/Android App) such as current range, current location, current speed and direction, etc. would allow better targeted navigation aids. There is a huge difference in doing daily driving and doing a (multi-day) road trip. The current navigational aids hardly cover the road trip scenario, while that is the part that could benefit the EV's best.

e.g. being able to integrate Cloudmade new Hybrid SDK inside the Tesla would be great, and remove a lot of the friction of today's 3G/Wifi based solutions.

wheatcraft | 14 mei 2013

Addresses of places (including Points of Interest) is obtained from a "universal" database that all GPS/Nav manufacturers use (don't recall the name). So when there is an inaccuracy of the location of a particular place, it is equally inaccurate across all brands. My street (in Reno) is called "Heatheridge", but all GPS brands have it listed as "Heatherridge" (two r's). It wreaks havoc with friends and plumbers who try to use their nav system to find my house!! | 14 mei 2013

@Ksamuellee "Is it too much to expect the real time traffic info in Model S?"

Not at all - The MS does include real-time traffic, without any additional cost or annual renewals.

Schlermie | 14 mei 2013

I've noticed you need to manually refresh the traffic data on the map, or else you'll be looking at stale traffic data when you first turn on the car. I'm not sure how often the Model S refreshes the traffic data, but it doesn't seem often enough.

BYT | 14 mei 2013

@Schlermie, good to know since I had been sitting in traffic a lot lately while the map showed green the whole path... I was like, WTH?

eisnerw | 14 mei 2013

Apparently, the browser in the Tesla does not support geolocation (the HTML 5 getCurrentPosition method). That is really too bad, because the car obviously knows where it is. If geolocation were supported, we could simply switch to Waze and be done with it.

I, too, have been disappointed with navigation. At a minimum, I would like to be able to touch the map to create a destination or waypoint, be able to specify whether I want north-up or track-up, be able to search for detours, etc. It would be even better if I could interact to move the route, the way you can on Google Maps, and interact more effectively with the turn-by-turn list.

The idea of a two-screen navigator is intriguing, but that, too, is a disappointment. It would be nice if I could interact with the driver's panel to change the view (I prefer flat to 3D), zoom, etc.

I feel that current implementation is impressive for a prototype, but no where near adequate for a production vehicle. That said, I've experienced a lot of built-in navigators and, IMO, only my 2001 Lexus and other Toyotas of that era had an acceptable one. (For some reason, Toyota has moved backwards from their excellent navigation apps that worked well with touch screen to the present ones require interaction using a joy-stick). I hope that Tesla has an opportunity to see how well Toyota/Lexus USED to provide navigation so they have a reasonable model for their improvements.

eisnerw | 14 mei 2013

I'm surprised by the negative comments about the traffic. I, too, have noticed that you sometimes have to fiddle with the screen to get the current traffic (delays are probably due to poor 3G connectivity), but the latest traffic is, in my experience, VERY accurate. Traffic provided to other built-in navigators through XM is outdated and useless. Google computes traffic in real time by using the natural feedback it gets from individual cars requesting maps. You can't get much better than that.

weeandthewads | 14 mei 2013

I am hoping v4.5 has some simple improvements. Like being able to see traffic conditions when the system is navigating, the blue line buries the traffic conditions. Being able to store & maintain a list of important locations. Most importantly would be to allow the screen to orient so the direction you are heading is always up the screen. Having North at the top requires thought. | 14 mei 2013

@rtesta - all good features, but what been shown the next update, 4.5 (beta), it has none of these changes you suggested. Maybe a later version. | 14 mei 2013

@rtesta - all good features, but what been shown the next update, 4.5 (beta), it has none of these changes you suggested. Maybe a later version.

stsanford | 14 mei 2013

I would personally love to be able to download and install Apps... Secondary revenue stream for Tesla... an App Store.
I would use Waze, it's what I use now in my other cars, I almost never tough the built-in Nav.

ljhills1 | 13 september 2014

I am now completely convinced that the problem I have been having with the nav screen not keeping up has to do with the CARRIER throttling the data when the network gets busy. My nav has been unusable for the summer in East Hampton, NY. Now, a few days after Labor Day and the tourists are mostly gone and there is no traffic on the road, the Nav screen is always up to date, and I am driving faster. Sometimes I can even go 40 miles per hour.
I am sure that after all the resets and aggravation trying to fix the issue that the fact that the network is less crowded the carrier has opened up th flow to the car. I am sure they know who is getting "free" sevice and who are the paying customers. Wish I had options because I need the nav during the season more than off season.

Brian H | 13 september 2014

Is it possibly coincidence, aka a network bandwidth upgrade? Have you asked? Seems that service/bandwidth demand can only go up, and there must be some accommodation for that by carriers everywhere.

SUN 2 DRV | 13 september 2014

ljhills1: To test that theory I'd think you could set up your phone as a hot spot and connect to your Tesla via WiFi to see if that works any better.

mathwhiz | 13 september 2014

@ljhills1 — Sorry to ask but, it seems unclear... Am I right that by "nav", you mean the Google Maps feed on the main 17" display? If so, at 3G in-motion speeds, you're gonna have map update problems, esp in heading-up mode, magnified during turns. North-up mode will help, but map redraw will be problematic at best, more so during net congestion and/or spotty cell reception. If you want mapping to perform, you need local data.