Cars at our coffee morning. Photo by Majella Waterworth.

30 Days With A Tesla

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Jack has been fascinated by tech for most of his life. After working as an electrician, he got a degree in computer science and introduced his students to the brave new world of the internet and digital networking. Although he is currently driving a Hyundai Accent, he is keen to get into an affordable electric vehicle. He has his eye on a BYD Atto 3. Just recently, he got the chance to spend 30 days with a Tesla Model 3 SR. He attended our coffee, cake, and EVs morning at Bracken Ridge Tavern last month (the next one is on the 18th of April if you want to pop in) and introduced himself to me as someone who had driven a Tesla Model 3 for a month and then gone back to a petrol car. I was intrigued and my mind played with all sorts of reasons. So, this morning we met at the BRT again and he told me the whole story.

It turned out to be a lot less mysterious than it sounded. Jack’s daughter had bought a white Tesla Model 3 SR, but the car had arrived early and she was still living in an apartment block with no garage and no access to charging. Not wanting to leave the car on the street and take the risk of vandalism, she borrowed the Accent and dad drove the Model 3. For 30 days, he enjoyed the minimalist interior. He still has the app on his phone and looked it up to tell me where the car was parked and that it had driven 3300 km since being brand new in December.

While it was in his care, Jack charged the Model 3 from his rooftop solar using a 10-amp power socket. He has a 15-amp socket available but chose to use the slower charger because that was how much spare power he had from the solar. “30 days without having to pay for petrol.” He sighed.

Jack is a “car guy.” In his collection, he has a Land Cruiser that runs on LPG (it has gone up in price but is still cheaper than petrol), a Trans Am, and a classic mini minor. As an electrician, he sees his interest in EVs as a natural progression. He just hasn’t got the vehicle yet (unless you count the electric ride-on mower he uses on acreage). He would have liked a Chevy Bolt when it first came out. Then he had a look at the Nissan LEAF.

Now he is interested in the new generation of EVs. He came to the coffee morning at the BRT to look at the cars and get some honest answers to his questions. Sadly, this month we only had Model 3s, Model Ys, and the BYD Atto 3 to show him. We advised him to join some Facebook owner groups — people are quite helpful and frank online. There is even a Facebook Chevy Bolt group.

30 days
Cars at our coffee morning. Photo by Majella Waterworth.

Jack wants a cost-effective EV. We discussed the BYD Dolphin, the Ora Cat, and the MG 4 that will all soon be on sale in Australia at a reasonable price. But, he also wants something he can take down a 300-meter dirt driveway to get to his property in the Sunshine Coast hinterland — so we went back to the BYD Atto 3, as it has more ground clearance.

30 Days
Jack’s hinterland retreat. Photo by Jack.

“The Bracken Ridge Tavern Coffee, Cake and EVs morning teas are a relaxed way to find out about EVs,” he tells me, “and the owners were very helpful.”

He has taken friends and other family members out and they all were impressed by the vehicle. His wife liked not having to make a special trip to get petrol before the 2-hour drive from their home to their getaway property as well as the obvious cost savings of not having to pay for fuel each week.

30 Days
Jack’s EV will have to negotiate this dirt driveway. Photo by Jack.

Other family members really liked the convenience of being able to turn on the A/C and cool the car before getting inside in a Queensland summer. However, none liked the sunroof and a couple had a hard time finding the door release to get out of the car, which were pretty much the only criticisms.

It did take a bit of getting used to how different the controls were to his everyday cars, but there is plenty of help available. The staff were very helpful when they took delivery, and are used to people being unfamiliar with the transition. They assisted them with setting the phone apps so that each person who would be driving the car — who vary from just 5 feet tall to well over 6 feet tall — would get their own seating preference. He suspects that this level of service is unique to Tesla rather than just being handed the keys and driving away, which was his normal experience.

The one-pedal driving was the most drastic change, with him being caught out a couple of times driving in the city when the car slowed down a bit too fast for the traffic lights and roundabouts, having to use the accelerator to slow the vehicle down rather than coasting to a stop as he’s used to. He got used to the change in driving style pretty quickly and it became normal.

He was really impressed with how effortlessly the Tesla went up and down the Great Dividing range just using cruise control rather than having to use engine braking which is how he normally descends.

He did experience some “range anxiety” and frequently checked the state of charge settings the first time he drove the car out of the metro area and main freeways where there is no shortage of charging opportunities, driving the car towards the bush where there are less frequent chargers. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he would still have over 50% left when he reached his destination after 2 hours of night driving up the highway with a 500-meter rise in elevation (which has a reputation for eating up the battery). Once he figured that out and got used to it, he could just relax and enjoy the drive.

Overall, he was happy to give the car back to his daughter and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Jack viewed the whole swap as an experiment, to see if he would enjoy driving an electric vehicle. He described it as “an extended test drive under real world conditions without the sales pitch.” He has decided that their replacement daily driver will definitely be a full EV rather than a hybrid, which was a consideration at one point.

The right time for Jack to buy an electric car is getting closer.

Photo by Zach Shahan, CleanTechnica

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

David Waterworth has 738 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth