Yes, it's true, we ordered a Tesla

posted by Jeff | Friday, August 7, 2015, 10:45 PM | comments: 0

It's probably not a huge secret or surprise to anyone that has seen me write about my fascination with electric cars that we did, in fact, order a Tesla Model S. A 70D, configuration, actually. There's a part of me that wanted to largely not tell anyone beyond my immediate social circles, because people make a lot of assumptions about you when you buy something expensive. In fact, the psychology around that is probably what kept me from pulling the trigger for as long as I did.

My motivation is for science, progress, innovation, and being the nerd that I am, a relatively minor gadget fetish. But before I get to who buys a Tesla, and for what reasons, let me make something clear. While I don't owe anyone an explanation, understand that we're not rich. What we are is careful about what we spend money on when it comes to larger things. By not buying too much house, giant TV's, expensive clothes and other things that generally don't matter, we're able to save the shit out of our pennies. And we saved a shit load of pennies for the last 18 months, even after the requisite retirement saving. My friends started enabling me when I said I was thinking about it, and their opinions about why buying this car was OK were sound. When I really did the math, writing a big check was admittedly a little scary, but the cash flow in the long run was not.

I'm not a car guy. When we moved to Seattle, the Toyota Corolla I was driving was six years old. I only sold that one because I was so intrigued by hybrids. I think real car guys are into cars for the engineering and interest in the machine and its power and performance, and I respect that. They aren't into cars for status. I think one of my issues with expensive cars is that some exist strictly for status, and they're douchey and pretentious. I see a Cadillac Escalade, optioned out, and I think, "What value does that 15 mpg piece of fancy shit add to the world?" It's symbolic of excess. Conversely, I see something like a BMW 7-series and I think, "That's a fine piece of engineering," but since I'm not a car guy, I would never buy one. Experiences not stuff, I would say.

Which brings me to the Tesla Model S. It's the company's second generation all-electric car, and the first mass-produced EV to do more than 200 miles on a charge. It's the next evolutionary step beyond the Nissan Leaf, in my opinion, which is range limited to around 80 miles, but quite honestly an extraordinary "just works" fantastic car that I've really grown to love. The Model S is also the car that will lead to the Model 3, an "affordable" car for people who are feeling the future. People buying Teslas, according to recent research, come from a broad spectrum of income ranges and professions. As one guy at the store put it to me, "You'd be surprised how many people come in wearing flip-flops."

I think I'm going to start an EV blog. I want to write about the experience of being all electric. It's pretty exciting. In case you haven't read my previous posts about the car, here are some of the reasons I'm into it, as a non-car guy who doesn't think it's a douchey car...

  • It really is the future. Electricity can be generated from renewables, and renewables will replace fossil fuels. It's inevitable, and the right thing to do. The battery problem is essentially solved, and capacity just keeps getting better. In fact, even with a "lowly" Leaf, it's solved for 98% of driving. I know this because I've lived it.
  • Electric is more fun to drive. Ever do an electric go-kart? It's like that, only on the road. Instant torque, leaving cars behind at a traffic light, never gets old. Even in a high-performance conventional car, that launch isn't the same. And the 70D does 0-60 in 5.2 seconds.
  • The technological leap is both amazing and frightening. It's a car that can be altered with software.
  • There are very few moving parts to the drivetrain(s), and there's a beautiful simplicity to that. I mean, the two motors (in the case of the 4WD models) are connected to the axles. How many parts move in a combustion engine?
  • Honestly, this car is something to be patriotic about. It's made by an American company run by an immigrant that is the first successful startup in decades in an industry that hasn't got much right in the last 30 years. It proves that we can still make tangible things.
  • Owning one makes you a part of something important. The Model S funds the R&D of the next generation.
  • Sometimes, stuff can be a part of your experiences. If you can afford experiences and stuff, well, why not?
  • We've learned that all of the scary things about where you plug in aren't important. Your "gas station" is your house, and you leave with a "full tank" every day.
  • Tesla has largely solved the distance driving problem with supercharger stations all over the country, and more and more are going up constantly. They're free, and on average not more than 170 miles apart. Since you can charge to 80% from empty in about 20 minutes, that's a solid arrangement.
  • Yeah, non-car guy will admit it... it sure is pretty.

Delivery is next week. Can't wait. So far the buying experience has been pretty great, though it's coming nearly a week late (due to delivery delays, not manufacturing).


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