Yesterday, I wrote about the 4 top reasons we just bought a Tesla Model 3 and decided to say goodbye to a 2015 BMW i3 REx we loved. Below are 3 more reasons — not as big as the core 4 but notable nonetheless. Were any of these critical in deciding to bring home a Model 3? No, but they were big improvements over the i3 that continually came to mind and helped build the case for the switch. In our first day with the car, each of them was already noticed and appreciated.
This factor seems much more important to other people, and I didn’t consider it a real factor for me until recently. However, with some life changes, it became clear that more range than our 2015 i3 offered would be quite helpful.
We’ve been driving a 2015 BMW i3 REx for 10 months (9 months from July 2018 to March 2019 and then also a few weeks in the past month). In those first 9 months, range was basically a total non-issue for us. If I recall correctly, the gasoline range extender (REx) kicked in just once. In the past month, though, we’ve been living in a different location and our 5-year-old daughter started kindergarten. As a result, we were pushing the limits of the i3’s electric range much more, frequently having to actually go somewhere to charge (not just charge when we go to places with chargers for other, normal reasons — to shop, play at the park, enjoy the beach, etc.). We even had the range extender turn on a few times before we got to a charger, which is a nice safety feature but is not fun.
Granted, we haven’t been super inconvenienced by the short range, but this month has been much different than the other 9, so the thought of a longer range Tesla — with easy Supercharging if we ever really need a boost — was appealing.
Also, even with the REx, I was a bit nervous to make a drive to another city (i.e., Disney World) with the whole family. Driving on the Interstate eats up range. Air conditioning in the Florida heat eats up range. And the weight of a full family and food for the trip eats up range. On the other hand, planning such a trip with the Model 3 is practically worry free. I’ve driven a Model S from Poland to Paris, and it is criminally easy to put the destination into the navigation system and simply follow the directions. Plus, 240 miles of range is plenty!
Yes, we got the Standard Range Plus, which is the lowest range Tesla. I know people routinely recommend getting more range, but as I noted above, even 60 miles of electric range basically works for us, so I imagine 240 miles will be more than enough to be comfortable and get back to only charging when I’m someplace I’d be anyway.
After one day with the car, I can already see it’s a nice, relaxing convenience to have so much range. It seems I won’t even really have to think about the range. There are many places we go that have ChargePoint charging stations. We just plug in when we get to one of these destinations (it’s fun), do what we’d do otherwise, and unplug when we leave. With the i3, filling up the battery still meant we’d need to charge the next day in many cases, so it’s something we had to pay attention to and plan for, but with the Model 3, it seems clear that we will stop paying attention to how much range is remaining in the battery and just live our lives as we would if it was a solar-powered car with infinite range.
Infotainment & Navigation
I was accustomed to driving a Tesla Model S in Europe before moving to Florida, since a couple of other guys and I bought one to run a Tesla Shuttle service out of Poland. When my family and I moved to Florida and got an i3, I definitely loved the car — and still do — but there’s absolutely no debating that it lacks a few of the benefits of a Tesla. One of the biggest ones that I thought about probably every single day with the BMW was the navigation + infotainment system.
BMW’s navigation system is what professionals and librarians in the UK call … total shite. Okay, it can do the job, but the system for inputting an address is absurd, and the screen is small and seems to be from another generation of society. I almost never used it as a result of those drawbacks. I sometimes used the screen to look at the streets around me and see where I was going, but it was so much worse than Tesla’s navigation screen that it was always at least semi annoying. Tesla’s navigation system, on the other hand, is brilliant. Seriously. It’s smart as heck. It’s amazing. I really wanted to get it back. That wasn’t enough of a reason to buy a Model 3, but it certainly nudged me in the direction of the “Place Order” button.
Aside from my moderate longing for Tesla’s navigation system, entertainment tech is the other shoe on this “infotainment” portion of vehicle ownership. BMW’s entertainment options are basically worse than its navigation system. We listened to the radio, a lot, and that’s about it. The fun thing for the little girls to do when sitting in the front seats? Change channels. The Tesla Model 3 has much better options. It has a giant touchscreen that actually makes you feel like you’re in 2019, plus all of those fun Easter eggs that make owning a Tesla such a joy. They may seem goofy, but they bring so many laughs and are superb entertainment for kids as well as adults. The girls love the drawing pad, fart app, navigation map, and more. Also, the sound system is way better than in the BMW.
Tesla: the ultimate fun machine.
As I’ve indicated before, these factors were not the most important for me, and they wouldn’t make me make the switch by themselves, but they were decently strong pushes toward clicking the order button, especially since I probably did think about them every single time I drove the i3. (Pro tip: a Tesla will spoil you.)
I could make this another point, but I’ll just slip it in here: the Tesla app is much better than the BMW app. They can do similar things, but the Tesla app functions much better and doesn’t take forever and a day to implement a command. I basically stopped using the i3 app, whereas I use and expect to use the Tesla app every day.
The i3 REx was a perfect size for us last year. Somehow, a year makes a world of difference with young kids. The legs got a bit too long, which led to a lot of seat kicking and/or cramped legroom for me while driving or parked in the student pickup line. More annoyingly, they started a routine of sibling fighting. All one of them had to do was lean over too much into the other’s space and the tornado of screaming and swinging started. (Side note: kids ….)
We’ll see how things go in the Model 3, but there’s clearly a lot more passenger space. It seems good for now, but the girls are still pretty close in the back seat — more so than I expected after being used to the Model S. (I knew the Model 3 was a bit narrower, but also knew that it’s still a relatively wide car.) We’ll see what another year does in this regard.
Aside from the passenger space, one of the obvious drawbacks of the i3 is the cargo space. The trunk is small, really small, and the frunk is basically useless. I know some people complain that the Model 3 isn’t a hatchback. I prefer a hatchback, too. But it’s really not a big deal and is a total 21st century 1st world problem. The Model 3 trunk is huge, plenty big for everything we’ll ever need to put in there and more. The big cargo space under the main trunk floor is perfect for groceries, so that they don’t fly around while I “boost” off the line at a red light. And the frunk is probably about as useful as the i3’s trunk was. It’s nice to have space for groceries again.
There’s no doubt about it — the Model 3 is beautiful. I actually think that a lot of people don’t consider a Tesla because it looks so dern good. They assume it’s in the price range of a Porsche or Ferrari or Aston Martin or something. I love the look of a Model 3, so I’m sure I’ll love seeing our white + black + white one on many a stroll up to the car.
And a Tesla is just cool. I don’t need to be cool. I loved the i3 and many people consider it totally uncool (though, on the street and in parking lots, people seemed to appreciate its interesting and sometimes attractive aesthetic). However, like other humans, “cool” appeals to me. The Fonz, Indiana Jones, James Bond, Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle — I like cool dudes and I wouldn’t mind being a cool dude.
Did beauty and the “cool factor” sell the car? I presume I’m more rational than that, but there’s no way to quantify how much of a role they played. What they definitely did do, though, is they made it a lot easier to make a purchase I wanted to make for other reasons. And they certainly contribute to the Model 3’s huge popularity and expected high resale value, a critical matter near the top of my list. We humans like pretty flowers, pretty sunsets, beautiful ocean views, and majestic mountains. We also like pretty tools that double as pieces of art. Franz von Holzhausen, Jerome Guillen, and Elon Musk certainly nailed the beauty target with the Model 3.
Also, come on, how can I be the director of CleanTechnica and not drive a Tesla? The Tesla short sellers and critics say that we’re on the Tesla payroll. It would be super impolite — maybe even sacrilegious — to not own a Tesla. Also, the point of CleanTechnica is to obsessively cover and inspire the cleantech revolution. When it comes to a daily driver, there’s no better way to do that than with a Model 3. After one day of driving it, it has already paid off (some of its cost at least) in those regards. But those are stories for another night.
If you’d like to buy a Tesla and get 1,000 miles (1,500 km) of free Supercharging, feel free to use my referral code: https://ts.la/zachary63404. The girls would appreciate it, and I’ll be sure to share pics of them Supercharging. 😀
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