A year in with Model 3, closing in on five years of EV life

posted by Jeff | Saturday, June 8, 2019, 11:27 AM | comments: 0

In August, 2014, we replaced Diana's Hyundai with a Nissan Leaf. A year later, we replaced our Prius V with a Tesla Model S. We're closing in on 4 years gasoline-free. A year ago today, we replaced the Model S with a Model 3 (last fall we turned in the Leaf for a newer one).

We put 12,503 miles on the Model 3, and it's certainly the best car that I've ever had. That probably doesn't mean a lot coming from me, because I'm not much of a car guy, and have driven Corollas and Prii my entire life. But despite my aversion to expensive cars, it felt important to get to an all-electric world. The convenience of it alone has been extraordinary. I didn't quite realize just how annoying stopping at gas stations was. Driving this powerful thing with instant torque also makes it seem like burning dead dinosaurs and generating pollution to get around is a barbaric, low-tech process that we should have abandoned a long time ago. Even an expensive, hand-built gasoline car, with thousands of parts, seems like an inelegant solution for transportation. That may sound uppity, but that isn't the intention. Objectively, an electric motor is a relatively simple device with few moving parts.

Think about where we've come in a short period of time. Five years ago, a viable, long-range EV cost almost $100k. Now you can get one for $35k. Heck, the leaf starts at $30k, and if we're being honest, 150 miles of range is enough for 98% of what most of us need in any given day. (Seriously, I've driven one day this year over 100 miles.) When you realize that you leave each day with a "full tank," and therefore don't need to charge anywhere but home, you realize that your car is more like a cell phone in the way you use it. We've only used a supercharger once this year (round-trip weekend from Orlando to Sarasota), using about $2.30 of power. Our cost per mile is about 3 cents on average.

As for the improvements of the Model 3 this year, they've been interesting for sure. Real world track measurements put the car at 0-60 in about 4.9 seconds, and a recent update tweaked up the power by 5%, so it's possible it may have gained another tenth of a second. They've added the "dog mode" to run AC when you leave a dog in the car, with the temperature displayed on the screen so no one freaks out. They turned on sentry mode, which starts recording on three of the cameras when someone or something approaches the car. They also have dash cam operation enabled now. Unfortunately they still need to make it so you can clear the USB stick of video files without plugging it into your computer, because right now the recording functions just stop working when it's filled. They've made improvements to summon, which I don't use. Navigate on autopilot is pretty amazing, because it can actually do a freeway interchange by itself. It's a pretty crazy world where a year passes and your car does more than when you bought it.

While Tesla wasn't impressive in the buying experience, and our one service experience was mediocre (had to have the windshield replaced), Tesla isn't as crappy a company on the auto side as it is in the energy business. It looks like demand is still strong this quarter, and I look forward to seeing the Model Y in a few years.

EV life is just normal for us, and it's better in every way compared to gas cars. We'll never go back.


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