App ideas for my car, the Tesla Model S

As I wrote about in my detailed Tesla Model S, the Tesla’s in car computer is brilliant, one of the car’s greatest features. Second only to the fact that the car runs entirely on electricity.

So it got me thinking about the inevitable future where anyone can build apps on Tesla’s platform. What apps (or types of apps) would be useful in one’s car?

For example, slacker radio is already available as an app in the car and it proves the “music app” category of apps.

In contrast, I find the web browser app (which is also already there) to be pretty useless beyond being a novelty during demos… “Hey look you can even browse the web from the car!

So here are some of my ideas:

  • Flight status app: whether I’m going to pick someone up from the airport or I’m flying out of town myself, the status of a particular flight is a piece of information that’s uniquely valuable to me when I’m driving in my car to get to the airport in time.
  • Calendar app I want read only access to my calendar while I’m driving. I’m heading into the office. What’s on the sched for today? Make each meeting’s location something that I can use to drive a search (and/or navigate) in the car’s existing maps app.
  • Nest thermostat control. I’m headed home and I want to set my home thermostat on my– turn on my home heating or cooling.
  • Directory of locations: I drive to my daughter’s dance class in Sugarland. I eat out at a few restaurants on a frequent basis (Chuy’s, a hotel near the office, etc). I frequently travel to my offices. Like your phone has a phone book of numbers, my car needs a directory of locations. It should be able to build the skeleton for this without much user input– just using GPS data and location name information from google maps. Then I want to search nearby these places and navigate to these places.
  • Google Now: as @existentialism pointed out on twitter, Google Now would be absolutely perfect for use in the car. Requires almost no input after it’s been setup and delivers useful information on the go.
  • Other music apps: as I mentioned in my review, Slacker Radio is a huge hit in my car. My girls LOVE being able to listen to anything they can think of when we go places. There’s no reason Pandora and Rhapsody and iTunes shouldn’t be side by side with Slacker in my car.

1000 miles in my Tesla Model S


So here it is…I’ve driven about 1000 miles in my Tesla Model S for an approximate cost of $36 (360 kW-hr at $.10/kW-hr). And no tailpipe emissions. Not bad.

If your car gets 16 mpg and a gallon costs $4, that’s $0.25 / mile vs $0.036 / mile– about a 7x difference.

UPDATE: My friend Aaron pointed out that in Texas (see this map), in terms of emissions, an electric car is competitive with an efficient ie 35 mpg car. Then another friends of mine, Packy, pointed out that natural gas economics have changed since the data used by UCS in the NYTimes map and that that’s changed the balance between coal vs. gas power. And this change skews things significantly in favor of electric cars (again, in terms of emissions).