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.