Friday, October 26, 2018

Why You Should Buy a Tesla Model 3

My wife and I have driven a Model S for over 2 years, and a Model 3 for a couple months. We get a lot of questions about whether we like the cars, Tesla in general, and whether the “cheaper Tesla” is worth buying. This post is an attempt to answer those questions, clear up some misconceptions, and present a clear case why the Model 3 is a great buy if you are in the market for a new sedan.

Cost

Let’s start with the most important thing for most people who are buying a car - overall cost. The Model 3 is available in three trims right now (options add cost on top of this):


  1. Mid Range Battery: $46,000 and 260 miles of range
  2. Long Range Battery: $53,000 and 310 miles of range (includes dual motor all wheel drive)
  3. Performance: $64,000 and 310 miles of range (includes dual motor all wheel drive)


These numbers are all before incentives, if you buy the mid range battery and take delivery before the end of the year (difficult but possible) you will get a $7500 Federal Tax Credit, and whatever state incentives you have (Massachusetts cuts you a check for $2500). This means the car can be as cheap as $36,000 if you get lucky with the tax credit. Realistically you will take delivery after January 1st 2019, when the credit gets halved. Still, that’s $39,750 to drive a truly incredible car.


Using fairly conservative assumptions, you will save $700-$1000 a year on fuel. Most people keep a new car 6 years on average, so using the low end of the range you will save $4200 on fuel over that time period, bringing the price down to ~$35,000. You will also save money on maintenance, since an electric car has about 20 moving parts, while a combustion car has ~2000. This brings the total cost of ownership for a Tesla Model 3 over 6 years roughly in line with a top end Toyota Camry.


To be clear: I’m not saying this is a “cheap car”, or saying that everyone can afford one, I’m just saying that the mental cost model should be “brand new fully loaded Camry / Accord” not “super luxury sedan”. The car is more affordable than it might seem at first glance.

Charging

This is probably the biggest concern for new EV owners. I’m happy to report that it’s a total non-issue, and actually a big benefit over a gas powered car. If you spend a few hundred bucks to get a NEMA 14-50 outlet installed at home, you will wake up to a full car every morning. No more weekly trips to the gas station!


For long distance travel, you can take advantage of Tesla’s Supercharging Network, which will take you virtually anywhere you want to go. 20 minutes at the supercharger will get you roughly half a charge, so unless you are regularly taking trips well over 500 miles, this ends up being extremely convenient. If you are worried about the cost of Supercharging (since it’s no longer free with the Model 3), here’s a screenshot of our charges over the past two months:




A bit cheaper than a gas station, huh? Finally, you can get 6 months of 100% free supercharging by buying your Model 3 through my referral link. You can see the rewards I get here. There are some cool ones, but the point of this post isn’t to rack up referrals, it’s to get more people driving EVs and mitigate the impact of global warming.

Software Updates

Tesla still makes the only cars that get better over time with over-the-air software updates. Periodically, when you wake up in the morning your car has been improved. This can mean a sharper backup camera image, better navigation, easier HVAC controls, or even an Atari emulator built into the car. This is an oft-forgotten but extremely powerful feature.

Safety

Tesla makes the safest cars on the road, and the Model 3 has the lowest probability of injury of any car ever tested by the NHTSA. It’s hard to put a price on safety, but when my wife and son are riding around in the car on a daily basis, I’m comforted by the fact that it’s the best possible car to be driving.

Driving Experience

Yeah, the Model 3 is fast. If you buy the performance trim, it’s really fast. But more than that, it’s fun to drive, mainly due to what people call the “mind-meld”. In a gas powered car, when you press the pedal down you have to wait for the fuel to be injected into the engine, wait for a combustion cycle, and then wait for the engine to translate that energy into wheel rotation. When you floor it in an automatic, you also (usually) have to wait for a downshift. In an electric car, there is no delay, and no shifting. You just go. Combine that with wicked acceleration, and it feels like you are teleporting to wherever you want to be. Words don’t do this feeling justice - drive it to believe it.

Autopilot

This is a controversial feature, and costs an extra $5000. If you like it and buy it, you get self parking, traffic aware cruise control, summon (great for getting in/out of tight garages), and yes, the car will drive itself on the highway. Other luxury cars have similar features, but Tesla’s is executed well and it is extremely convenient.

Environmental Impact

I happen to care a lot about this, but not everyone does, so it’s at the bottom. EVs are dramatically cleaner than their gas counterparts, which improves air quality (more immediate health impact than environmental impact) and reduces the impact of transportation on global warming.

Wrapping Up

There are many more small features I could list here, but these are the big ones that truly differentiate it from other cars on the market. The Model 3 is an incredible car, and if you buy one I promise you won’t regret it.


Below is a short bonus section of FAQs that clear up some common misconceptions about Tesla and EVs.

FAQ:

  • I heard Tesla can’t produce these cars. Will I actually get one?
  • Isn’t the company about to go bankrupt?
    • Tesla just announced Q3 earnings, and made $312M in profit with $3B in cash on their balance sheet. They are planning on being sustainably profitable, and the company is in a great financial position. There was a rough phase when they were burning a lot of cash, but again that’s in the past.
  • How long do the batteries last?
    • This isn’t like a cell phone battery. The data shows that your battery will still have 90% of its capacity after 200,000 miles. As long as you take reasonable care of your battery (follow some simple instructions that come with the car) the battery will last many many years.
  • What about the Long Tailpipe? Isn’t the energy powering the car produced by fossil fuels? Doesn’t manufacturing the battery use lots of energy as well?
    • This article clearly debunks the Long Tailpipe argument. Short version, EVs are better than gas cars for the environment, but not nearly as good if they are powered by coal. This is an argument against coal, not EVs.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

React Boston: New England's First React.js Conference

I'm co-organizing React Boston, the first react.js focused conference in New England this fall!

The conference will be held on September 23rd-24th (this is a weekend), in the heart of Boston at Wayfair's main office. It will be a single track event with topics around React itself, Relay, GraphQL, React Native, and more. The CFP is open, and tickets are on sale now.

We really want this event to be a success, and we'd love to see there!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

What You Can Do About Global Warming

This was originally a Facebook post, but I'm preserving it here in a slightly longer format due to the transient nature of Facebook.

August 2016 was the hottest August ever. So was July. And June. And so on for the last 11 months. Here’s a scary animation. No country is taking this seriously, and if we continue on our current path the Earth will be uninhabitable in 100-200 years.

Global warming may seem easy to ignore, because the effects appear far off and irrelevant to people living in first world countries. Climate change denial (or even acceptance without behavior modification) is perhaps the most extreme example of Hyperbolic Discounting in the history of the human race. Partly this is because it can seem impossible to make any changes yourself that will have an impact. I hope I can convince you otherwise.

I’m sure you’ve heard about global warming causing stronger storms, rising sea levels, and a variety of other long term downsides that may or may not impact you. But did you know that global warming almost certainly contributed to the Arab Spring? Or that the coffee and chocolate crops are at risk? THE COFFEE AND CHOCOLATE CROPS. DO YOU REALLY WANT TO LIVE IN A WORLD WITHOUT COFFEE OR CHOCOLATE?!?!

I could write a long post with doomsday scenarios, but I’m more interested in changing behavior NOW, so we can mitigate the damage. Here are six things you can do immediately, in rough order of impact, that if everyone did would have an enormous impact on the problem:
  1. Vote HillaryI contend that no other issues in the political landscape today really matter. If we don’t solve this problem we won’t have a world to save. And we won’t have coffee or chocolate. Hillary Clinton is the only candidate with a rational approach to climate change (look at question #3)
  2. Fly lessIf you get on airplanes somewhat regularly, it is probably your largest contribution to global warming
  3. Buy an electric car -  As the grid transitions to renewable energy, auto transport will become a larger and larger portion of individual emissions. You don’t have to buy an expensive Tesla (although they are awesome), the Chevy Bolt is coming out imminently, is priced under $30K with tax credits, and has 238 miles of range
  4. Reduce Individual Energy Consumption - Switch to LEDs, get a Nest, keep your house a little colder this winter and put on a sweatshirt. Depending on how much you can change your usage, this could have a minor impact or a significant one. This will also save you money
  5. Stop eating beef/lamb/pork - Agriculture is a significant contributor to carbon emissions, and beef/lamb/pork contribute disproportionately
  6. Buy Carbon Offsets - TerraPass makes this very easy, and for <$200 you can make your family carbon negative. This can have a big impact, but I put it at the bottom because permanently reducing consumption has a double effect: slowing the greenhouse effect and preventing us from needing to offset so much carbon

I’m personally doing or have done all of the above, and I encourage you to do the same.
Remember, only you can prevent forest fires. I mean global warming. And also forest fires. Which are exacerbated by, and then subsequently contribute to global warming!

P.S. Keep those "the temperature has changed before" arguments to yourself. If you read none of the articles linked in this post, at least scroll through the chart here.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Composer: Getting Started" Published on Pluralsight

My second Pluralsight course, Composer: Getting Started, just went live! This is another course that's loosely based on a talk I've given in the past, with a lot more of the details fleshed out. The course covers the following topics:

  1. The Basics of Composer
  2. Including Third Party Code
  3. Autoloading Your Code
  4. Composer Scripts
  5. Publishing Your Own Composer Package
Check it out on Pluralsight today, and let me know what you think!

Monday, April 18, 2016

High Performance PHP: Now On Pluralsight

I've just published my first Pluralsight Course: High Performance PHP! I've spoken about this topic a number of times in the past, so it seemed like a good fit for my first foray into the screen casting world. This course also has much more that PHP optimizations in it. The five modules are:


  1. Optimizing PHP Code
  2. Choosing and Configuring a Web Server
  3. Database Optimization
  4. Performance and Load Testing
  5. Investigating Performance Tradeoffs of PHP Frameworks

Modules two, three and four are largely language agnostic, so even if you aren't using PHP you can get a lot out of this course.

Here's a demo clip going over the different MySQL forks and how best to configure MySQL:


I hope you enjoy the course, and I'd love to hear any feedback you have! Watch the full course here.