“Tesla Drivers Are The Same As Harley Riders”

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So asserts John Jensen, who rides a Harley-Davidson Sports Glide and drives a Tesla Model 3 Long Range. Both groups have strong brand loyalty, have their own owner groups, and love to customise. They buy things for their cars that other car owners and bike riders wouldn’t, even wheel hubs that light up. “Are they just big kids?” I asked. Elon certainly includes items in his cars that appeal to the inner teenager — who doesn’t love “fart mode,” for example? Do Harley riders?

He tells me that Harley-Davidson nearly went broke — just as Tesla also flirted with bankruptcy. What saved Harley-Davidson was merchandising, the Harley-Davidson shop. John sees huge connection between how the two companies operate and build their fan base. The Harley is just a bike — but not just a bike. With his Teslas and his Harley, John enjoys the trip — the enjoyment of getting from point A to point B. Sometimes he will go out of his way to prolong the trip. He loves riding his bike so much that if he has a 5 km trip home, he makes it a 20 km journey because of the joy of the ride. Tesla drivers could be the same. Both his vehicles are red of course.

John’s Harley and his Tesla Model 3. Photo courtesy of John Jensen.

Tesla and Harley-Davidson have something bigger to share with their customer base. It is almost spiritual. John has a tattoo: “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand,” it says. He believes that Elon has inculcated this philosophy. If people ask, “Why do you have a Tesla?,” he responds with: “Book a test drive.

Initially John bought a Tesla because “it was the right thing to do environmentally.” He lives in a unit and would “rather run a car on Australian coal than on Saudi oil.” Though, we did talk about how the grid is getting greener every day. Currently, in the middle of the day, over half of Australia’s electricity is coming from solar.

John and his wife have owned the Tesla for about 4 months. For half of that, John has had a broken arm. He still drives his Uber car, but “the Mrs. won’t let me drive the Tesla.” So now that the arm has healed, I ask, “What vehicle do you prefer to use?” He tells me that it depends on the road. “If I was going to the pub 10 km down the road, I would jump on the Harley and make it a really enjoyable ride.” He rides with his neighbour. Their wives come down in the Tesla and join them later.

I asked him if he had any reactions from his Harley group, like Kav had, but he says there have been none.

John is a retired electrician and is keen to see his unit block make EVs welcome and accommodate their charging needs. He has lived in his unit for 3 years. It comes with a lock-up garage. The unit was purchased off the developers plan and John insisted that a power point be placed in his garage, as he had a Hyundai Ioniq PHEV at the time. This was duly written into the contract and he now uses it to charge his Tesla. He had no conversations with the body corporate about charging the PHEV.

When he acquired the Tesla 3 months ago, John thought he would do the fair and right thing and offer to pay the body corporate for the electricity being used. After all, the Tesla was using much more power. John sent an email to the body corporate asking them to raise an invoice and charge him for the electricity he was using. Through the Tesla app, he was well able to provide the data about the costs involved. He schedules for off-peak and low-amp charging to manage the load.

Another unit owner has an MG ZS EV and has asked the same question. So far they have both been told “You can’t charge an EV.” Apparently, “It will overload the building!” He responded: “I wasn’t asking for permission. I just wanted to know how to pay the body corporate.” He sent them a picture of the contract where the power point and its purpose were explicitly stated a month ago and he hasn’t heard anything since.

The unit developer planned for grey nomad. The garage has high clearance and space for owners’ caravans. There are plenty of power points, and owners use them. How can the body corporate say: “You can plug in this appliance, but not that one.” The people who bought their Ioniq are having other issues with their body corporate. They solved it by running a cable from their electricity metre to the garage. Now the body corporate is making noises about the possibility of the car catching fire. Of course, it won’t.

In contrast, the unit block next door has a power point for each unit installed in their parking garage — each one individually metred. John wants to pay for his power, so he tells me he is keeping a record and when the cost reaches $98 (there are 98 units), he is going to write a note to each unit holder and tape a $1 coin to it. “But that would be really silly, wouldn’t it?” I think John is channelling his inner Harley rider. In Australia, we call this sort activity “stirring the possum.” Stir the possum has been Aussie slang since the 1900s, so named because a sleeping possum does not take well to being stirred up. Stir the possum can also mean to instigate a debate on a controversial topic, especially in the public arena.

He wants to make his point, and pull his weight.

John’s Tesla Model 3 and his Harley. Photo courtesy of John Jensen.

John and his wife have talked to a lot of tenants — an informal survey, if you like. Nobody has disagreed with their plan. The body corporate is worried that John’s actions will mean that eventually there will be so many EVs charging that it will overload the system. Did I mention that John is a retired electrician? “What about off peak?”

There are plenty of public chargers around the area where John lives at shopping centres and elsewhere, so 90% of his charging can be done away from home. He just likes the convenience of charging at home, and the feeling that he is paying his way. In the meantime, he will stir the possum until the issues are resolved.

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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 748 posts and counting. See all posts by David Waterworth