Seven years ago, I put down my AU$1500 deposit and sat tight and anxious waiting for my Tesla Standard Range Plus (SR+) to arrive. Which she did, three and half years later. We watched videos, we participated in events. Tesla even brought out a left-hand drive version and we queued for one and a half hours so we could sit in it for 90 seconds. The Tesla representative had a stopwatch and we were quickly moved in and out. Now Tess is about to hit 100. Well, 100,000 km.
Why a Tesla, you ask — well, we wanted to do our bit for the planet and we had tried all the other electric cars that were available back then in Australia. That’s not many, I can assure you — the BMW i3, the Renault Zoe, the Hyundai Ioniq, and the Jaguar i-PACE. All fell short of our expectations. Or were ridiculously priced for what you got.
Now, Majella and I would give different reasons for owning a Tesla. We still care about the environment and we take climate change seriously, but Tess has given us so much more. Our lives are richer. Tess is just about to hit the 100,000 km travelled mark, and here is a reflection of our experience with it.
Well, she didn’t get a letter from the king, but as Tess hit 100K, she did get a visit from the Tesla technician. Every time we closed our boot, the reversing camera switched off and couldn’t use Autopilot either.
Tesla Australia had issued a recall to replace the rear wire harness, but then said they didn’t have any parts. … We’d be notified. Well, we weren’t, but it got so annoying that we arranged for a technician to call. As I write, Isaac (who used to work for Mercedes) is outside removing the old harness and fitting a new one.
He asked us how we were enjoying the car, and I replied that apart from the battery bursting into flames every week or so, it has been great. The wife still wants to upgrade to a Model Y. Let’s see how my Tesla shares go … still getting over the Twitter kerfuffle at the moment.
We have had three and a half years with a Tesla Model 3 SR+ in Australia. It has opened up a whole new life for us. We are both retired, and have plenty of grandkids to babysit and friends to visit. But, now, I have a new career writing about Tess and her friends. I get to hear and write about the most amazing stories. People are very generous with their time and information. I spent this morning with two engineers who ride “Onewheels” and have sat in on seminars on how to convert your car to an electric drivetrain. Many of the people I interview are CEOs of startups with grand visions of future technologies, like Janus Electric. Some have not had as much success. But the energy is there.
Why buy a Tesla? (Or any other EV for that matter.) When I am asked that question now, the foremost answer is because of the driving experience. It reminds me so much of driving my Mini Cooper S back in the ’70s, except that the Tesla is much more relaxing to drive on the long trips. Thrilling acceleration. “Go faster, grandad!”
The economics of owning an EV is worth checking out. As they approach price parity with ICE cars at the purchase point, it will be even more obvious that an EV is a smart choice. We have saved many thousands of dollars by using electricity and not petrol. We have paid next to nothing on servicing, and even registration is half what we used to pay for our V6.
Have things broken down? Yep. But everything has been fixed under warranty — the roof glass that cracked, the 12-volt battery that died young, the radio, the shonky ball joint. And smaller issues have been fixed in my driveway by the mobile technician or as an over-the-air (OTA) update. Over the years, I have gotten sick of changing vehicles and learning the new tech in the cars. So, buying a Tesla was going to be my last vehicle purchase — little did I know that the car changes frequently and I have to learn new gadgets and gizmos each time they do. Thankfully, Tess is always there with friendly advice (and not so friendly sound effects).
I shouldn’t complain about OTA updates. They have given us greater battery range, and Caraoke.
We have done a few road trips, once the COVID police released us from our suburbs. Every trip is an adventure as Australia slowly closes the gaps between high-speed chargers on the highway. If we were driving our petrol car, we would have gone faster and not had a picnic at Dingo, or made friends with the publican at Alpha who generously let us charge in his bottle shop on our way to Winton.
The Tesla has been a significant hit with the grandkids. First up, let me say I probably wouldn’t be driving them around so much if I was having to pay for the petrol. Two of my grandsons had had a particularly tough day at school, as boys so often do, and were sitting looking all grumpy in the back seat. On goes fart mode! And it’s smiles and laughter all round.
My granddaughters love Frozen, and we have sung “Let It Go” a thousand times. If we are parked waiting, either for an older one to finish school for the day or for daddy to knock off work, then Leon likes to play Beach Buggy with Ma. Seth gets us to drive slowly past his classmates and winds down the window as they chant “Tesla.” Now they believe that Ma and Grandad have a cool electric car.
We don’t miss the fumes, noise, and dirt of the petrol stations. Nor having to get all the kids out of the car and drag them into the office to pay for petrol. Now that we have a battery-powered air pump, we don’t even go to check the tyres. All of our garden equipment is battery operated also. No more fossil fuels for us.
We have found the people in the EV subculture (it is not quite a cult) very friendly and inclusive. We wave as we drive down the road and most of them wave back — Tesla and non-Tesla alike. With solar on the roof of the house and an electric car, we feel like we are doing our part to battle climate change. Preserving the planet for our grandchildren.
When travelling, we feel freer with our cash, supporting local businesses rather than the fossil fuel giants. The Tesla is a sexy, sporty car that we can be proud of, and the interior is easy to clean! (Back to the grandkids again!)
So, as Tess hits a hundred (thousand) and gets a new set of glasses (rear-view camera), I am reflecting on the joys and challenges of being an early adopter of EVs. Wouldn’t have missed this fun adventure for the world. Thanks, Isaac, and Elon, and all who have made the Tesla dream possible.
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