My Quest For Net Zero & Beyond With Tesla Model 3 — Part 5

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

I have now crossed the 30,000 miles (49,000 km) milestone in my 2019 Tesla Model 3, in just over 16 months, and in October I reached one full year on a set of Michelin CrossClimate+ tires, which will give some precise range data, so this is a perfect time for an update.

Previously In My Quest For Net Zero

Current Status

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 (but could soon be) a quest for a completely environmentally net-zero household, we’re just talking money-on-hand here.

Anyway, due to unexpected developments, this graph is no longer entirely useful to anyone trying to figure out the true costs of owning a Tesla, because I messed it all up when the Covid-19 pandemic messed up the financial market in March. I bought a few tech stocks….

Let’s summarize to see how I got here. The following numbers corresponds to the periods on the graph above:

  1. Driving an Audi A2 a few years ago was not a bad idea in terms of financials. Not enjoying a large income, I needed to save where I could, and the sheer mileage on this small 3 cylinder diesel was phenomenal. Ending the period by selling it got me up to zero. Great!
  2. The Nissan Leaf was everywhere in this country. AVIS had bought hundreds of them and I leased a couple of them, as well as a Nissan e-NV200, at a reasonable price. Later on, AVIS took in the BMW i3 too. This was my chance to try out electric vehicles for real, not having the option to buy an expensive Model S, which had the range I knew I needed in the long term. Leasing EVs was a tad more expensive than running the Audi A2, but resulted in a stable financial situation nonetheless.
  3. My final lease of a BMW i3 ran out, and I did something stupid: I bought an old 1987 Volvo 240 and thought I would electrify it, which I luckily realized in time would have ruined me, so instead I fixed the original engine and drove it for a year while waiting for the one and only. Fixing and running this old gas guzzler resulted in a downward trend financially. Go figure.
  4. Finally, I got a Tesla Model 3 in the driveway, and a huge dent in my financials. However, since running costs are so low, the recovery became clear as day. Electric rocks!
  5. Then this crazy pandemic thing happened. I was struggling to make sense of what was happening, then I saw my chance, took a large cut in my savings on my house, bought as many tech stocks as I could, mainly Tesla, and bam! I had a 5-fold return in 6 months and sold enough stock again to get back to the point before I bought the Model 3. What can I say? Did I just get lucky? I suppose it was a gamble, but I still consider myself an investor since I plan to keep many stocks long term. In any case, I think it’s clear that the low running costs shows that going electric is the sensible thing to do in the long run.

I guess that’s that on the financials. From now on I’ll just enjoy those low running costs and advocate for the electric future in general, which will also be easier going forward due to the class of cheaper EVs coming to market, like the Peugeots and Citroëns, and eventually — but not least — the mysterious $25,000 Tesla in a couple of years.

Part 5: The Long Run

My Tesla Model 3 odometer: 49,174 km (30,555 miles).

Before I decided to mount all-season tires, I had the first long runs in the car. The most amazing trip was to IAA Frankfurt last year, where I saw the final design of the VW ID.3 and concluded that it would be very popular!

I wonder if we will ever see snow in this country again, but just to be safe in any condition, I chose the Michelin CrossClimate+, which I have enjoyed very much. They are comfortable, grippy in all conditions, and as it turns out: extremely durable. I have not rotated the tires yet, so the rear tires have a little bit more wear than the front tires, but I’m really surprised it’s not more of a difference, because I like to floor it once in a while, and I have rear-wheel drive only. Anyway, here are the averages over a number of measurements, and it looks like I will not be looking at replacing until late next year at the earliest.

The lowest legal tread depth is 1.6 mm, so 2 mm should be a safe limit, unless the rubber gets so hard that I have to replace early.

By the way, I sold the original tires at a fair price, so the extra cost of doing this switch is negligible in the big picture. My Model 3 being the super efficient RWD Long Range version, this is a recipe for lowest possible cost per mile, but how low?

I charge 90% of all driven miles from home.

I should also remember to mention that I chose a 245/45 size on the stock 18″ rims over the original 235/45 size because I think they are a better match. This also results in a little larger circumference of the tire and, coincidentally, this means the in-car speedometer is very close to the real speed. I kind of like that.

Charge & Range

16 months in, I see a drop in suggested range at full charge of almost 5%, but several conditions may influence this. The negatives would be general battery degradation, removing the aero wheel caps, replacing the tires, less economical driving style? (Ahem …) The positives would be software updates that improve system efficiency.

I think it’s obvious the car continually monitors the mileage (i.e., measures how far you actually drive per kWh used) and predicts range accordingly. So, this lower number is not necessarily a bad thing, and it’s for sure not proof that the battery is degrading. The range indication is very reliable on a daily basis.

To be honest, I do not think about efficiency that often anymore. I did that in the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, because I had to — otherwise, I simply would not reach my destination. With the Model 3 Long Range, I have crossed the barrier of range anxiety definitively.

From 0 to 49,000 km (30,000 miles), range down almost 5%. Note language and wheel configuration updates.

I drive a lot on motorways at speeds +120 km/h (75 mph), which is a good benchmark at not overpromising what this car can do. A full year on, the all-season tires have resulted in an average consumption of 177 Wh/km (285 Wh/mile), which translates to 5.65 km/kWh (3.51 miles/kWh), which is pretty darn good!

That’s 6,142 kWh used in one year. At the standard price of DKK 2.2 per kWh in Denmark, that amounts to DKK 13,512 ($2,134), which in the end is DKK 0.39/km ($0.1/mile). Not bad. However, in my case, I have solar panels and very generous people using my referral code now and again, so I’m one lucky dude to be able to say that energy cost is simply not an issue at this time.

Tesla V3 Supercharger, Ikast, the first in Denmark.

On a vacation this summer, we passed a new Supercharger station, and having read about the V3 chargers, I spotted the thin cable from far away. Oh boy, this is truly a step up. The V2 charging speeds of up to 150 kW are not bad, but it was often an issue at crowded chargers that the rate was cut in half when more people plugged in since a main cable was shared by two stalls. Not anymore. 250 kW dedicated to each stall is simply amazing! Clocking a charge to exactly 5 minutes one day gave me a top-up of 75 km (47 miles). Anyone thinking charging is a bottleneck for electrification of transportation simply has not contemplated what current technology can do.

Now, that’s what I call a fast charge!

Anyone new to the topic should know that with current battery technology, these charging speeds are only possible for the first half (or less) of the charge (ideally from about 10% to 50%), after which the speeds tapers off. However, with a large enough battery, you often do not need more than 50% anyway, and off you go.

This is all about to change, though. After what we heard at Tesla Battery Day, I think it’s safe to say that the new 4680 cell will be capable of much prolonged aggressive charging rates. But we will just have to wait and see.

Running Costs

Apart from insurance, road taxes, monthly fees to Tesla premium connectivity, home charging when the sun doesn’t shine, and occasional 3rd party charging (ironically, like when I saw the giant wind turbines), I have paid nothing else servicing the vehicle since I wrote part 4 of this series 8 months ago (Odometer: 25,104 km).

Before that, I did have some expenses, like replacement of my windshield, which took a hit on the motorway. I had forgotten to check the box that says free glass coverage in my insurance, but I got a discount at Tesla, so ended up paying only DKK 6,200 ($906). And as mentioned, I got the new tires but sold the originals at a reasonable price, so that set me back a total of DKK 4280 ($673).

Total running costs for the first 16 months of ownership is DKK 36,953 ($5,811). Subtracting rental income (through of DKK 8,090 ($1,272) gets me to DKK 28,863 ($4,539) total for the period. That’s DKK 0.59/km ($0.15/mile). Not taking depreciation into account.

I’m trying to illustrate actual costs by the thickness of the ring chart.

When all is said and done, there is little doubt that the Model 3 is destroying the otherwise very economical Audi A2 that I owned for 8 years. One thing is the very low running costs of any electric car. Another is whether a Tesla car in particular can eradicate running costs entirely by other means.

Good Business

I know that I’m lucky to be in a position already where I can actually make some money with my Model 3. Not enough to pay for the depreciation yet, I guess, but enough to keep it running. Well, maybe luck is just a part of it, because I planned for this for a very long time. I didn’t buy a relatively expensive Tesla to increase my expenses. I bought it because it was a way of decreasing my expenses.

The free Supercharger miles I get with my referral code helps a lot, so thank you all for that. I also rent it out once in a while, and I also use it as an example when I’m fortunate enough to be invited to give talks about electric mobility in general through my own business,

It’s not easy to get into the nitty gritty of electrical transportation and really understand why this matters, but in my talks I go very deep, and one of my key points is to make my audience understand what a kilowatt-hour actually is. My take-home message is this: “Lift an apple (102 grams) 1 meter and 1 Joule of energy has been converted, which corresponds to 1 watt-second. The rest is math.”

Giving a talk at a used car dealer who, among other local businesses, wanted to know more about electrification.

In the not so distant future, I see ride hailing as a real opportunity. The hardware is there, so all I really need is a software update saying, “Please confirm you want to use your Tesla as a taxi. Income will automatically be deposited into your Tesla account.” Are you listening, Elon? I’m good to go! Regulators are a pain, you say? Oh, well…

In the more distant future, I want to believe robotaxis will become a reality, which simply means I will remove the steering wheel from my Model 3 and let it run about and make money while I go fishing with my Cybertruck. Oh, how sweet would that be!

The End?

Is that it? Maybe. I just enjoy the driving. This car is a tool. Not a car in excess need of tools. Amazing, really. Unless something radical changes in my daily life with this car, like the game-changing robotaxi scheme, this will be it for now. Of course, there will always be the occasional adventure of Mr. Me & his noble steed Colin. I will try not to let you down.

All photos and graphics by Jesper Berggreen. If you choose to buy a Tesla, feel free to use my referral link to get lots of free miles:

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica TV Video

I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it!! So, we've decided to completely nix paywalls here at CleanTechnica. But...
Like other media companies, we need reader support! If you support us, please chip in a bit monthly to help our team write, edit, and publish 15 cleantech stories a day!
Thank you!

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Jesper Berggreen

Jesper had his perspective on the world expanded vastly after having attended primary school in rural Africa in the early 1980s. And while educated a computer programmer and laboratory technician, working with computers and lab-robots at the institute of forensic medicine in Aarhus, Denmark, he never forgets what life is like having nothing. Thus it became obvious for him that technological advancement is necessary for the prosperity of all humankind, sharing this one vessel we call planet earth. However, technology has to be smart, clean, sustainable, widely accessible, and democratic in order to change the world for the better. Writing about clean energy, electric transportation, energy poverty, and related issues, he gets the message through to anyone who wants to know better. Jesper is founder of and a long-term investor in Tesla, Ørsted, and Vestas.

Jesper Berggreen has 237 posts and counting. See all posts by Jesper Berggreen