This revelation has hit me at different times in different ways, but the headline above struck me today and inspired this short piece. There are several ways that living with a Tesla makes you feel like you’re living in the future. I’m sure I’ll miss some here, but the ones below stand out to me.
Entertainment is half the experience. We typically think of a car as a mode of transportation. The fun it provides is just in moments of fun driving, right? Well, with a Tesla, there’s an enormous amount of entertainment at your fingertips. Today, my family and I spent a while playing Stardew Valley after picking up one of my daughters from school. We’re all a bit obsessed with it. It’s a fun game and we probably never would have discovered it if it wasn’t in our car. Naturally, it’s quite obvious that others cars in the parking lot anywhere you go don’t have a gaming console featured prominently in the middle of the dashboard. Sometimes it’s perhaps embarrassing to be parked somewhere and playing a game, sometimes it’s funny, but most of the time there’s some level of feeling, “Wow, we’re living in the future!”
Video games not for you? No worries — there’s also Netflix, YouTube, and Hulu. Not interested in watching something on Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu? Sorry, I don’t believe you or you’re not human. You may say, “I can watch something on my phone.” Yes, you can, and you can also eat plain buckwheat and Brussels sprouts every day for dinner. The video and sound system in a Tesla Model 3 or Model Y are wicked. It sort of feels like being in your own mini theater (if the lighting is right). It’s a really enjoyable way to watch a movie, watch a show, or discover a goofy YouTube video. Again, you can’t really do this without also realizing that you’re abnormal — maybe even weird — and the other cars you see all over the place every day don’t have this mobile home theater option.
I don’t think Tesla will hold a monopoly on this feature forever. And that’s the point. In time, more and more vehicles will include this level of entertainment. Eventually, we will probably have robotaxis running wild on every street, and a central focus in them for passengers will be the entertainment options they offer. A Tesla vehicle clearly isn’t there yet — you can’t play Stardew Valley or watch The Umbrella Academy while driving around — but it is several steps further into that future than any other automaker.
Over-the-air updates. I think we’ve gotten about a dozen updates in our Model 3 in our nearly 13 months of ownership. Indeed, the ability to play Stardew Valley or watch something on Netflix, YouTube, or Hulu was added with one of those updates. A handful of others have provided significant improvements to semi-autonomous driving capability. One recent one added Polish as a language option, which is cool for us since my wife is Polish, I lived in Poland for a decade, our daughters were born in Poland, and it’s fun to see everything on the touchscreen in Polish.
I’m used to getting these updates, but they are always fun and feel futuristic. Spend some time on “Tesla Twitter” and you’ll see Tesla owners routinely freaking out about these software updates — impatiently waiting for the next one and releasing their impatience on Twitter, or excitedly raving about a coming update or one that was just installed. These updates are fun. They make your car feel like new from time to time. They add useful and fun features. And we are super aware that these updates are unique to Tesla, an expression of the future coming to the entire auto industry eventually.
Drive quality. The quiet, clean, subtle electric motor and the powerful instant torque that come with it make the driving experience very different compared to a fossil fueled car. Going back to a fossil car for any period of time is shocking. The rumbling feeling and the noise quickly make you wonder if it’s broken, if there’s something wrong you should have checked out immediately. All the buttons, knobs, and lack of a big touchscreen make it feel more like an old rotary phone. Actually, in some ways, that comparison isn’t even strong enough. Imagine if your old rotary landline telephone rumbled, shook, and spit out harmful pollution.
When I left a red light today, it was a little surprising and odd to see another car zip off at about the same pace as me. It was a Chevy Bolt. Indeed, a Bolt doesn’t have the acceleration of a Model 3, including my lowly Standard Range Plus (SR+), but it still has instant torque that leads to a rather different experience and quicker move off the line than gasoline/diesel powered vehicles. It’s unusual to not leave the other cars far behind after leaving a light or stop sign. I do ponder pretty much every day what it will be like several years into the future when most cars on the road are electric. What will that experience of leaving the light be like? How will driving patterns shift?
Perhaps none of these things seem amazing to you right now. But I will say, as someone who covered Tesla long before I bought one, they stand out much more on a daily or weekly basis than they did before I had a Tesla. It’s sort of magical. What do you think?
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