July 25, 2021. A momentous day in history? Hardly. But a significant day for me nonetheless. You see, that’s the day when my wife and I finally decided to buy a Tesla. We have put in our order, our non-refundable deposit has been paid, and we have gotten confirmation from Tesla that our brand new pearl white Model Y will be available in November.
Why Did It Take So Long?
I have been writing for CleanTechnica or one of its affiliates for more than a decade. I have written thousands of articles, many of them dealing with electric cars and the batteries that make them go. I know the intimate details of how to compute true cost of ownership, the joys of one-pedal driving, and the ins and outs of charging an EV away from home.
For the past 3 years, a used Nissan LEAF has been my primary means of transportation. I am somewhat embarrassed to say — being a car guy from way back who drove an MGB for 20 years and a Miata for 20 year years after that and won multiple autocross and TSD rally trophies along the way — the LEAF is one of my favorite cars ever. I enjoy driving it as much or more than all those MGs and Miatas that came before it.
For me, it is close to being the perfect car, except for one thing — range, or rather the lack of it. My LEAF is a base model. No fast charging option, which means no trips of more than 70 miles or so. When my wife and I need to go further, we rent a car. It also has none of the electronic nannies — lane keeping, blind spot detection, emergency braking, and so forth — that are available on many cars today.
The LEAF showed us what driving an electric car is like. Call it a “gateway drug” if you will. It took away all our fears about driving an electric car and convinced us we never wanted to go back to the smell of exhaust, oil changes, and pumping gas. But we also wanted to move on to a more modern car, one with all the features that have become de rigeur today.
So Many Choices
The number of electric cars available to Americans has exploded in the past 2 years, and thanks to CleanTechnica, I have had the opportunity to drive many of them. I flew to Portugal to drive the Jaguar I-Pace, a car I absolutely loved. I also traveled to Zwickau, Germany, for the start of Volkswagen ID.3 production and San Antonio to test drive a Kia Niro EV. I find the Ford Mustang Mach-E very appealing. Kia and Hyundai have some exciting new offerings. And of course everyone is waiting for the Volkswagen ID. Buzz to arrive.
I have written articles about all of them, explored their virtues, and extolled their best qualities. In truth, many of them are fine automobiles and I would probably be happy with most of them. But they all have one thing in common. They are not a Tesla.
I consider myself reasonably well informed on most aspects of the EV revolution. With so many choices, why did my wife and I choose to buy a Tesla? There are several reasons.
- Supercharging — The internet is buzzing with stories about people who experience problems when it comes time to recharge their non-Tesla cars. Broken chargers, phantom chargers, chargers that require special memberships — the tales of woe are endless.
- Tesla is 5 years ahead of the rest — Whether it’s Volkswagen, Ford, or someone else, the tales one hears online about software glitches are legion. Yes, many cars today can be updated over the air and those glitches will be solved eventually. But Tesla has been doing this longer than anyone else. Its systems work today, not months or years from now.
- Resale value — No car is an investment, but Teslas hold their value better than any other electric car.
- Dealers — I spend a lot of time on the EV subreddit forum searching for ideas to write about for CleanTechnica. Lately, the horror stories about the scams and outright frauds perpetrated by dealers when it comes to selling electric cars are legion. Outrageous markups and add-ons — one Ford dealer charged a Mach-E customer $1000 for a set of locking lug nuts that can be bought online for $39 — are the norm. They use bait and switch shenanigans that would make a mafia don blush. Many dealers are trumpeting $7,500 online discounts that are nothing more than the federal tax credit that the dealer wants to pocket instead of the customer. I would rather have a colonoscopy than arm wrestle with another car dealer. It’s a more pleasant experience.
- Price — When all is said and done, a Tesla is priced fairly. I have been checking out the ID.4, the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kia EV6, the Mach-E, the Niro EV, and the Bolt. Many of them cost $45,000 or more. I found a new Bolt Premier online with an MSRP of $48,000. The Bolt is an OK car — I drove one once and enjoyed it — but it is no Tesla. Not by a long shot.
Why The Y?
It came down to a choice between the Model 3 and the Model Y. My wife and I wanted more range than the Model 3 SR+. The dual-motor Model 3 and the Model Y are pretty similar in price. (When you are spending that much money, a few thousand dollars is not that big a deal.)
Frankly, I like the look of the Model 3 better. It is sleek and svelte whereas the Model Y is more bulbous. But the Model Y offers some significant advantages, especially for people like me who are politely known as “older Americans.” It sits higher and is easier to get in and out of. Style is one thing, but creaky hips, balky knees, and aching backs really appreciate all that extra space.
Second, the Y has a hatch. My wife and I went to Home Depot this week to buy a small vanity for a renovation we are doing. When we got it outside the store, it just wouldn’t fit in the trunk of our Honda Civic. We wound up partially disassembling it and squeezing it into the back seat. We might never need to carry something that large again, but there is something especially appealing about having a hatch that can swallow all sorts of bulky items that would never fit in a Model 3.
People buy on emotion and justify their decision later with facts. That is wisdom that every professional salesperson understands. I have done my research, read all the articles, perused all the online car sites, and done all the calculations. The bottom line is, a Tesla without any sales incentives is a better value than all those other cars that have them.
My old Irish grandmother always warned me about being penny wise and pound foolish. Yes, I could buy an electric car for less money, but I couldn’t get a better value than the Tesla. And that’s the real honest to gosh, triple net bottom line.