Hitting the 25,000 km (15,534 mile) mark in 8 months seems like a good excuse to let you all in on how things are working out for me and my Tesla Model 3.
Tesla had an amazing 2019, and about a hundred thousand Model 3’s where injected into the European market. A year ago the first few popped up here in Denmark, and now they are everywhere! And in November the Model 3 was awarded the title of Car of the Year in Denmark 2020. Simply amazing, but let’s find out if the car holds its merit, shall we?
Previously In My Quest For Net Zero
First, see: “My Quest For Net Zero & Beyond With Tesla Model 3 — Part 1.” (Odometer: 0 km)
Second, see: “My Quest For Net Zero & Beyond With Tesla Model 3 — Part 2.” (Odometer: 303 km)
Third, see: “My Quest For Net Zero & Beyond With Tesla Model 3 — Part 3.” (Odometer: 7,294 km)
Tune into my early expectations of the Model 3 after driving and owning many other electric cars here: “9 down, 1 to go — a personal tale of 7 years with electric cars.”
Also check out my initial ordering and decision-making experience: “How My Tesla Model 3 Order Turned From Super Easy To Super Confusing.” (Most of the confusion was on my part.)
Quick recap to explain the graph: It has an axis of chronology and an axis of liquidity, with one key number: “0.” The price of the Tesla Model 3 Long Range RWD was a big blow to my economic capacity the very moment I payed for the car. The quest is to get back up to zero as fast as possible. Remember, it’s not yet a quest for a completely environmentally net-zero household, we’re just talking money here. Reaching zero might actually encourage a new investment to tie my car, household, and solar array together: Powerwall.
So far it’s going very well getting back up to zero. Mind you, my financial situation has not changed (I only have a handful of Tesla stock, so that’s just a negligible upward dent lately), and I have in fact spent money on new tires, and a new windshield… Bummer, I’ll get back to that…
Part 4: The Long Wet Winter
My Tesla Model 3 odometer: 25,104 km (15,599 miles).
It’s been a long and wet winter. But no snow. We used to have snow, a lot of snow, but it feels like those times are gone. We had a record warm January, and I can only count a handful of frosty mornings since October. We had a record wet 2019, so the only things that stick to my memory are miserable wet, cold, windy, dark days for the last almost 5 months. Really depressing. However, I spent a lot of that time in my Model 3, and that is by far the best remedy I have yet experienced against the desolation of the Danish winter!
The following is a loosely categorized rundown of the last half year with the Model 3, and thus very concrete. If you just want a very subjective opinion about this car, and maybe something about how superior it is over all other cars as a daily driver, go ahead and read (or re-read) “Part 3 — Living with it” from last August. I know for a fact that it convinced at least one dude to ditch his Audi A4! Right now, though, just to be clear, it’s still too early for me to contribute long-lasting facts about owning a Model 3 (many others do that much better than me), but I have no intention of cutting you short — in the long run.
Tires and Wheels
Come winter, I was really in doubt whether to invest in some solid winter tires, maybe on separate rims, or try out some all-season tires. Since Michelin came out with its CrossClimate product a few years back, I have had my sights on them, and when I realized that they did well in reviews, especially the updated CrossClimate+ iteration, I chose to give them a go. I wrote a piece about my eventual choice of the CrossClimate+ tires, which spawned the usual discussions from two camps: “Only use dedicated tires for each season” versus “all-season tires are just fine.”
Well, first of all, we have not had any snow, and hardly any frost, but a lot of rain. The CrossClimate+ are super comforting in the rain, reliable, and predictable, as opposed to the original Pilot Sport tires. To those of you who wonder about their longevity, I have the first numbers in, and it will be interesting to see if they will manage +40,000 km (+25,000 miles) at the tread depth of 2 mm, at which point I probably will replace them (Danish legal low limit is 1.6 mm).
And how have these tires affected range? Hard to say, since I drove the original Michelin Pilot Sports in the summer, and the CrossClimates in the fall and winter, but I can tell you that my average mileage is exactly 201 Wh/km (323 Wh/mile) on the 10,552 km (6,557 miles) driven so far, including a bunch of very long trips at relatively high speed on the motorway.
So, why not keep those wheel covers on then and gain an extra couple of percent range? First of all, had Tesla not made such a good looking alloy 18″ rim, I would of course have left them there, but I just think those rims are gorgeous. In fact, I like them more than the bigger, more expensive 19″ and 20″ rims. Makes my slightly fatter CrossClimate tires shine too. Second, I found the edge of the covers had started to sand the paint off the rims where they touch, because dirt comes in and as the wheel rotates gets stuck there.
By the way, the range on the CrossClimate tires suffer noticeably more in rain compared to dry than the Pilot Sports did. I’m guessing it’s due to the rougher tread design.
Winter Kit & Seals
On January 6, an email from Tesla informed me that I was welcome to pick up a so-called “All-Weather Protection Kit” at the nearest Tesla store, apparently because I live in a country with a somewhat harsh climate at times. Well, that was in itself a gesture that made the day a bit warmer, and off I went to see what it was all about.
The box contained a few parts, meant for the front wheel arch only, and it was pretty straightforward to install. However, I do recommend finding a good video online of someone doing it first, if you intend to do it yourself. There are 2 options to consider: the “mudguard” (a hard plastic base plate) and the “splashguard” (a rubbery add-on). I went for the former only, because it does not change the visuals of the car too much, and does at least protect the paint from being sandblasted over time.
If you choose adding the extra rubbery part on there, please note that it only spares an inch or two in ground clearance, and from one of the videos I found, that makes it very likely to scrape, which sounds awful. Visually it also dominates a bit too much in my opinion. But very nice to have the option if you live in rough terrain.
I also chose to add some extra door seals. I had read about how these 3M profile seals reduce noise, and they do, especially high pitch. Also, a nice side effect of installing them is they prevent dirt spraying in at the door panels gaps, resulting in a cleaner look.
What can I say, other than this car is the most optimal daily driver you can imagine — it puts all others to shame, even the Model S. Why? Because it just fits. Like those favorite pair of jeans that you just feel comfortable in (the Model S is baggy pants, comfortable, but takes up a lot of space). Even Christian von Koenigsegg uses his Model 3 as a daily driver. That’s saying something, right?
I can’t speak for all Model 3 owners, and maybe I’ve just been lucky, but it all just works. There are no squeaks, no rattles, no whistling, no wobbling, no hesitation, no waste of space, no fuzz. Do I miss the hundreds of buttons I used to have? No. Do I miss the rumble of an engine assuring me it has the power to move me around? No. Do I miss gas stations? No. Do I miss oil changes? No.
The list is just endless. I really can’t be bothered with thinking too much about all the things I don’t miss. Frankly, I’m starting to forget. On a daily routine, the car just starts its day with me, waking up, heating up. Then we go for a ride to work, gliding through traffic silently. I drive a bit, the car drives a bit, showing me crisp and clear visuals on the most impressive user interface ever in the meantime. We go home together, plug in, and do it all over again the next day. Boring? No. Is your wife boring?
Occasionally, there are the long drives, and this is where the Model 3 Long Range shines. I’ve listened to friends complain about how their expensive non-Tesla premium EVs stress them out on the 350 km (217 mile) trips from here to Copenhagen because they need to charge too often, and I’m like, what? How can it be easier to travel long distances in a car at half the price? Well, enough has been written about this already, so I’ll just confirm that it just is.
If you don’t like researching car options for things like range and charging in an emerging market of electric mobility, then don’t, just buy a long range Tesla. In 20 years, when politicians and Big Auto have gotten their act together, you can buy whatever you want, but right now? Tesla. Long range. Period.
This is spoken not so much from a fanboy, but more from a guy who just doesn’t want to waste time and money. Oh, and then of course, there are the neat little tricks that surprise you and your passengers occasionally, like having the car park itself in a puddle after you have stepped out of the car.
In the sunny part of the year, it turned out to be very easy for me to micromanage my charging to optimize the use of my 4 kW solar array. I would simply set the car to charge at, say, 7 amps, and for a period of time that would correspond roughly to how long the sun would be up (you can manage this by setting the limit percentage of charge). So, if I arrived home on a Friday afternoon with 50% left on the battery, and a couple of hours of sunshine left, I would set the car to charge to 60%. Then, the next morning, as soon as the sun hit my solar panels with sufficient eagerness, I would set the car to charge to 90% (from indoors via the Tesla App).
A new thing I’m planning to do now is buy electricity from a company that has specialized in selling only wind energy, and apparently they are able to adjust prices locally, so that I can just look out my window on a windy day and start charging because it will the be cheape electricity from the wind turbines in my region. Clever! And who knew that owning an electric car could make you so aware of the weather?
Of course I do dream of a Tesla Powerwall, but truth be told, I really don’t need it. However, when the day comes that my roof needs to be replaced, I would probably let it slip in there together with a Tesla Solarglass Roof.
On those long drives, I just enjoy the Supercharger network. Again, no fuzz. It all just works. I haven’t had the pleasure of using the V3 chargers yet, but the software update with Netflix and YouTube solved any problem of having to wait. I rarely spend more than 20 minutes at a Supercharger, and I still haven’t paid for it thanks to all you kind people who have used my referral code.
Okay, let’s dive right in and talk numbers, even though I really don’t give this a second thought on a daily basis, because the Tesla infrastructure just works so well. Remember, on paper, my Model 3 Long Range RWD has a rating of 600 km (373 miles) WLTP in Europe vs. 325 miles (523 km) EPA in the USA (as ordered, prior to any software updates).
As I mentioned earlier, the energy efficiency has been exactly 201 Wh/km (323 Wh/mile) on my 10,552 km (6,557 miles) of driving with the all-season tires, so my guess is that when I hit one full year, it will land somewhere around 180 Wh/km (290 Wh/mile). I will get back to that when I have a full year of data.
Right now, with outdoor temperatures ranging from o–10° Celsius (32–50° Fahrenheit), the car will state a range of around 490 km (304 miles) at 100% charge, which, given a 75 kWh battery pack, seems optimistic. If you do the calculation of 75 kWh divided up into 0.201 kWh per km, you get 373 km (232 miles), which I can confirm is absolutely a realistic real-world range, and then some. If the battery does in fact hold 78 kWh of usable energy, it would set the real-world range to 388 km (241 miles). In any case, I can easily reach Copenhagen in the winter without any hassle.
If my estimate of a year-round average of 180 Wh/km (290 Wh/mile) holds up, we’re talking 417 km (259 miles) of real-world range. That’s good enough for me. I have no idea what the claimed 5% power and range increase in a software update a few months ago has done for me, but it probably didn’t hurt. Last summer the car would claim a maximum range of 518 km (322 miles), so maybe it will show 544 km (338 miles) come summer — who knows?
Bottom line is that I have enough range for anything I could possibly wish for, and in 20 years, when this battery is low on capacity, I will probably be able to trade it in for a super-duper high-tech new one with double the range!
Within the warranty, I’ve only had a piece of trim plastic and the roof cladding replaced, apart from the whole drivetrain being replaced prior to delivery, which was kind of weird but something Tesla did because they thought there was a sound at full acceleration that was not supposed to be there. Better safe than sorry I guess.
As mentioned, I got new tires, and apart from that, only one thing came as unwanted service: replacement of my windshield, which took a hit on the motorway. When I called up my insurance company, I realized I had forgotten to check the box that says free glass coverage! Bummer. DKK 7,500 ($1,096) to have Tesla replace the windshield. However, because of the hassle I’ve had with the B-pillar roof cladding, I got the price down to DKK 6,200 ($906).
That’s it. No other service done.
Here’s the part I’ve been, and still am, anxious about. With the accumulated mileage, it is now possible to come up with some stats on the running costs of the Model 3. Oh, and by the way, I was finally refunded the $500 overpayment for the car.
I had a very economically sensible Audi A2 diesel for 8 years, which holds my personal record of lowest running costs ever, and I will be comparing the Model 3 with the A2 going forward. Please keep in mind that many numbers for the Model 3 are estimates (like how do you estimate yearly service based on a set of tires and a broken windshield?), and I also had quite a few miles on Superchargers that are paid by referrals (but since I have solar power and electricity rates in Denmark are relatively high, it’s very hard to compare to fossil fuels anyway, other than that it will always be cheaper to run on electricity).
Since I have not sold my Model 3, and have no idea what it would sell for today, the worth of the car is a wild guess. That’s why I also included the numbers without the actual values of the cars: Running costs only.
In any case, my gut feeling is that the Model 3 will be a new record low in terms of total cost of ownership. Back in 2005 I was baffled by the extreme mileage of the Audi A2, and truth be told I acquired it for that reason (bought it used for half the price of new 4 years earlier). I didn’t want to burn more fossil fuels than absolutely necessary. In fact, prior to the A2, I had an old VW Golf diesel for 8 years too, and doing the same miles I eventually burnt half the amount of diesel in the A2.
I think that the yearly estimate of the running cost of the Model 3 will go up, but I’m confident it will never get anywhere close to that of the Audi A2. The Audi was a well built car, but it was nothing close to the comfort of the Model 3. So, essentially, what we might be seeing here is getting at least double on the comfort and power at less than half the price, when all is said and done.
However, what I sometimes get from people is: “Yeah, easy for you to say, I could never pay +$50K for a car.” Well, yes, I get it. 10 years ago I couldn’t either. But the thing is that 20 years ago I knew the day would come that I just had to be able to buy an electric car, and I knew that as a wannabe-first-mover it wouldn’t be cheap. So, I saved up, I paid as much off of my mortgage as possible, I drove shitty cheap cars, I went as low as I could on expenses on the Audi A2, and what do you know — I didn’t move first. I didn’t buy a +$100K Tesla Model S. I kept waiting, and then had myself a better car at half the price. So, I’ll say to anyone owning anything close to a new-ish midsize car these days: You might be able to afford driving a Tesla Model 3 right now. I’m driving a Model 3 today, because I still don’t want to spend more than absolutely necessary on a car.
But why a Tesla? Why not the Nissan, VW, or BMW EVs on the market? Because Tesla is the only company in my opinion that is 100% committed to this new paradigm of a fully electric and autonomous future. Big Auto is not, and mostly because it can’t be. What could one expect? Imagine a legacy auto manufacturer announcing that it will halt all production of fossil fuel based vehicles immediately, and only offer fully electric options — clean cut, no transition period. Not possible, and too late anyway.
It’s been fun to see the Model 3 invade the country and get all the positive reviews and sentiments it has gotten, despite the immense difficulty Tesla had with logistics. Remember my friend who was in a very complicated purchase situation with more than 20 emails, 10 phone calls, and 5 store visits due to errors in price, delivery dates, and configuration? That’s all forgotten now. He got his car, an SR+, and has already made a trip all the way to Spain and back. And he is one happy dude!
I’ve had a few phone calls from strangers who wanted advice on purchasing a Model 3, and I was careful only to tell these people what I actually knew. Some ended up trading in their old cars in favor of the Model 3. This one guy really needed the tow hitch, and I naturally recommended the AWD Long Range for that, but he ended up buying the Performance version, which does not have the tow hitch option. He told me he had an Audi A4 and his dream had alway been to own an Audi Quattro, so when he tried out the Model 3 Performance, he knew it would not get any better than that, tow hitch or not.
Well, what can I say? It gets under your skin.
All photos and graphics by the author, except stated otherwise.
Feel free to use my referral code (or anybody else’s) when you buy a Tesla in order to get some free Supercharger miles: jesper18367