My first all-electric car

Angie and I purchased a 2018 Tesla Model 3 last week. This car represents a number of firsts for us:

  • our first electric car
  • our first new car since 2002
  • our first car from an American manufacturer

And it’s certainly the nicest and fastest car we’ve ever had. It’s really cool!

I’m not a huge car guy, although I do love my two old Toyota Land Cruisers and I take some pride in acquiring and maintaining interesting old cars for my kids (old Mercedes 300Ds and a VW camper van). I’d really prefer to not have any cars at all, but instead use feet, pedals, and shared transport to get around. But in our current life stage, and where we live and where I work, having a car is useful.

At this point, only the long-range battery pack (~310 mile range) is available, which adds $9K to the “base” price. That’s a lot. Do I need it? No. I’m not unhappy that I got it though, so good on Tesla I guess.

In 2002, our kids were little and we bought a new Honda Odyssey. Nice van. Hated it of course. It was a minivan! But that was a good inflection point for us — we decided that we weren’t going to buy a new car again until we could get one that was all electric.

We waited 16 years for the right car to happen. Truth. I remember quite clearly on March 31st 2016 when Tesla was showing off the Model 3 prototypes, and opened up reservations for deliveries that wouldn’t happen for 18 months. I was sitting on the couch watching a replay of the reveal, and plunked down the $1000 to get in the queue. Certainly an impulsive decision, but it felt like our opportunity to get a decent electric car.

There are some good alternatives out there now. For a lot less money, the Bolt is uninspiring and has the fugly GM design choices, but is by all accounts a really good car. The new Leaf looks less like a deformed insect than the prior model, and also seems like a good choice. On the higher end, the Jaguar I-Pace will probably kick ass, but I’m not sold that it’s a better bet than the Model X. Tesla’s supercharging network is still a competitive advantage.

If you’ve followed the interwebs and feel concerned about the Model 3’s quality (fit and finish, manufacturing concerns) or the minimalist and software-driven interior experience, well, all of that is crap. Quality is high, the design is beautiful, and the minimalism and touchscreen approach are the future of cars. Well, at least the future of cars for humans to operate. The premium interior isn’t anything like, say, a new Volvo, but it’s still very nice. The driving experience is awesome. This thing is fast, quick, corners well, and stops well.

I don’t have autopilot configured. Can’t comment on that. It was a big enough step for me to move to a car with integrated bluetooth, antilock brakes, and a rearview camera. (Yes, my other cars are that old). I’m good with still being in charge of the vehicle’s operation.

The relative simplicity of an all-electric car really appeals to me. Absent are so many fluids, bearings, belts, hoses, sensors, fittings, etc. Fewer things to go wrong. Not being dependent on dino fuel is nice as well.

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