Published on November 27th, 2015 | by Chris Dragon
November 27th, 2015 by Chris Dragon
In 2003, GM’s EV1 was actually ashamed to boost profits for GM and the oil industry. Toyota’s $42,000 RAV4 EV was additionally discontinued, partly because Chevron bought the apparent to its NiMH array and shut bottomward the array plant. At the aforementioned time, altitude change was exterminating absolute species and I acquainted an afire allegation to do article about that.
With no affordable EVs larboard on the market, I did the abandoned thing I could to absolute gas use — I got on a cat-and-mouse account to buy a 2nd-generation Prius. In Jan 2004, I accustomed one of the aboriginal few thousand cars produced. I’ve apprenticed that car anytime since, but alike 42 mpg is still afire too abundant dino juice.
Fast-forward to 2011 and EVs were back with a vengeance. Tesla’s Roadster was selling faster than Tesla could aftermath them and their Model S was about to be released. The Nissan LEAF debuted with an affordable amount and 74-mile ambit that made faculty to a lot of bodies as a additional car.
Unfortunately, the LEAF doesn’t accept abundant ambit for my ancestors because it takes over 30 afar aloof to get up the abundance area we alive (it takes 8 to 10 afar per 1000 basal climb). We could use a constituent amalgam like the Chevy Volt, but afresh we’d be afire gas for best of anniversary annular trip. Despite the admission of 7 years aback EV1, we still couldn’t accompany the EV revolution.
When the 2016 LEAF was appear with 107-mile EPA accumulated range, I assuredly saw our opportunity. I calculated that 101 artery miles would be aloof about abundant for best of our trips. For trips up to 200 or 300 miles, I could abide charging for 35 account every 60–80 miles. Our EV had assuredly arrived.
Or should we accumulate waiting? The 200-mile-range Chevy Bolt is declared to be advancing out in a little over a year. The botheration is that it looks like Chevy won’t accomplish added than 30,000 Bolts in the aboriginal year, so I apprehend the cat-and-mouse account to be long. The Bolt additionally won’t be abundant bigger than the LEAF for continued trips if Chevy doesn’t bound body a large, activating and reliable SAE Combo charger arrangement beyond the USA.
Whatever happens with the Bolt, it had been almost 12 years aback I got that Prius and I wasn’t accommodating to accord to CO2 pollution for addition year or added acquisitive for article better. I absitively to charter a 2016 LEAF for 3 years and afresh buy the best 300 ambit EV on the bazaar (likely Tesla Model 3).
I started watching LEAF account like a hawk, which additionally apparent me to a lot of Tesla news. One day, I came beyond this Tesla commercial:
It beatific a shiver bottomward my spine. In the commercial, the gas abject looks like the antique that it should be, while adumbration fireflies conductor in a new electric age. It evokes a faculty of adorableness and achievement that we can bandy off the shackles of big oil that accept captivated us for the aftermost 100 years.
But there’s article else… This was a fan-made commercial. Tesla, as a company, doesn’t accomplish commercials because articulate has gotten the aggregation added anxiety than it can aftermath cars.
Yet Tesla’s own customers still accomplish them free, professional-quality commercials. That’s awe-inspiring and wonderful.
There’s this perception that Teslas amount $100,000 or more. In reality, a base-model Tesla is $70,000, or $62,500 afterwards federal tax acclaim (if your income is aerial abundant to use the accomplished acclaim or if you let a leasing aggregation booty the credit). An EV abatement accessible in California reduces it to $60,000, and abounding states accept a agnate abatement or tax credit.
Then I read that a few advantageous bodies had gotten acclimated Teslas for $42,000 to $48,000. I accept those cars were awash to acquaintances of Tesla employees, but I anticipation I ability get advantageous and acquisition article in that ambit if I kept reloading the Tesla Certified Pre-Owned web site.
On 10/12/2015, about 6pm, a abject Tesla Model S 60 appeared for $50,000. That wasn’t quite in my dream amount range, but it was far lower than any added car on the site. Afterwards a lot of angsting (and allurement my wife to “talk me out of this”), I accomplished $50,000 was about what I would absorb to charter a LEAF for 3 years and afresh buy a Model 3.
So, with trepidation, I put a bottomward acquittal on the Model S.
And then, the wait.
I was added aflame than I’d been in years. I spent the aboriginal night barely able to sleep, and the abutting day expecting a alarm or an email that never came… I absent myself by doing analysis and my affection sank aback I apprehend that not all 60s appear with supercharger access. I’d assumed all Teslas could supercharge on a pay-per-use basis, but in reality you either pay for lifetime charging or you can’t supercharge at all. Frantic, I arrested the web advertisement for my car. It didn’t account supercharging. That would beggarly I’d accept to accumulate my Prius for continued trips and wouldn’t be rid of the gas burning that had become a aloft acumen I hated to go anywhere.
I larboard a bulletin with the deliveries administration allurement what could be done. They still didn’t alarm me by the abutting day, so I emailed online orders at Tesla Motors. Within a brace hours addition assuredly called. This ability be the aboriginal time I’ve gotten a faster acknowledgment by emailing a aggregation instead of calling.
At aboriginal I was told that I would accept to pay $2,500 additional tax to add supercharging. That could accept burst the deal, but I asked them to analysis if there ability be added cars accessible with supercharging in the aforementioned amount range. I got a alarm aback anon afterwards from Gavin out of the Costa Mesa account centermost who was “almost certain” that all CPO cars now appear with supercharging. An hour afterwards he had accepted that to be the case.
I was ecstatic.
I formed with 4 altered bodies during the commitment action and they were all amazing. Car salespeople accept consistently accustomed me a vibe of dishonesty, but cipher at Tesla gave me that activity at all. It was weird.
I got a accommodation with no botheration and begin the Geico gecko offers comprehensive insurance for ~$1100 a year. Some Tesla owners accuse Geico is adamant about advantageous Tesla-authorized shops while others say Geico is great. Either way, the amount was too adamantine to resist. Plus, I like geckos.
My dad agreed to drive with us to aces the car up in Fremont to abstain a commitment fee (“up to” $1500) by active my Prius back. I originally capital to booty the bus to abstain afire as abundant gas as accessible (sort of a allegorical gesture), but it would accept taken 4 altered buses, and if any were late, I would absence a affiliation and absence my commitment appointment.
Then article abrupt happened. The aboriginal day the car would be accessible to aces up was Oct 21st, 2015. That’s Aback to the Approaching day!
So I beatific an email about it to Gavin:
I set up with Jennifer in Fremont to aces up the car on Oct 21, 2015, which is Aback to the Approaching day! That’s the day the Delorean time apparatus went advanced to in Aback to the Approaching II. It’s additionally the aboriginal date the car will be accessible to aces up. So cool! I achievement you’ll action a alteration capacitor retrofit whenever that becomes an option!
I got this acknowledgment aback that fabricated me beam so wide, it about hurt:
This was the distinct greatest email I accept accustomed aback alive at Tesla! That is absolutely awesome! I will accomplish abiding to appeal Doc Brown as your commitment specialist day of delivery!
It was an absurd affair to aces up my affected car on a appropriate date from one of my admired movies growing up. The allowance of the car actuality accessible on that accurate day assume so small, it’s adamantine not to accredit some catholic acceptation to it…
Back to the waiting.
At one point, I was affective actuality from my 5-year-old corpuscle buzz to a new phone and I was about to move over Gas Buddy… aback I accomplished I don’t allegation that app anymore. In fact, that app will never taint my new phone. It was a startlingly-good feeling.
I thought it would be aching to advertise the Prius. I’ve had it for over 11 years and it’s never let me down. The botheration is artlessly that it burns gas. Over the years I’ve amorphous to feel added and added accusable active it as millions of bodies are displaced by cool storms, cool droughts, accept their homes destroyed by almanac wildfires followed by behemothic mud slides from austere slopes and almanac downpours, and on and on. So alike admitting I anticipate attentive of the Prius, I don’t absence it.
I’ve additionally appear to despise Toyota for continuing to antechamber adjoin accretion ammunition ability standards, acknowledging the altitude deniers of ALEC, bearing EVs in bare-minimum numbers abandoned to accede with California mandates, and for aggravating to butt bodies into cerebration ammunition beef (or “fool cells” as Elon Musk calls them) are the great, apple-pie approaching of cars. Allurement bodies to delay and delay for ammunition corpuscle cartage (just as George Bush did years ago) is artlessly addition adjustment of slowing bottomward the battery-EV anarchy we allegation NOW.
Budget EVs accept low accumulation margins, so Toyota isn’t abandoned in boring its feet. Alike Nissan, which has awash the best account EVs, about advertises them and doesn’t apperception that most dealerships beacon bodies toward their added assisting gas line.
But abundant ranting. Finally, the day arrived.
We backward in a hotel well to the east of Fremont so we could aces the car up aboriginal the abutting day. Hey, I may accept to buy a luxury-class car to get the EV ambit I need, but I don’t accept to pay Fremont-hotel prices!
When we larboard the hotel, my GPS was set for beeline avenue instead of fastest route. That was a bad abstraction because we were in a hurry, but it had an abrupt consequence: We concluded up active forth a artery alleged Tesla Alley for a acceptable allotment of the trip! Chalk up addition camp accompaniment acquired by an incorrect GPS setting.
Despite angry cartage on aback roads, we arrived about 25 account advanced of agenda and the aboriginal affair they had us do was booty a bout of the factory. This is area all Tesla cars are currently produced and the acquaintance was amazing. We signed a non-disclosure agreement, but I anticipate I can cautiously acknowledgment that they amusement their workers able-bodied and best looked happy. If you go watch this documentary, you’ll see a lot of the actuality we saw on the tour.
After the tour, aggregate went calmly and they abounding out all the paperwork advanced of time. There was no haggling over the price nor any inflation due to incomprehensible fees that abounding dealers like to tack on. There was aloof the price shown on the web site, additional 8% sales tax, additional California allotment and appellation alteration fee.
We went out to the car, they went over the aloft features, gave me the keys, and we were accessible to go. But first, I capital to bifold analysis that supercharging worked. I collection a few hundred anxiety and acquainted in:
We absolved to the Prius, got some stuff, said goodbye, loaded the Tesla, and then… the red arena of death. The arena of ablaze about the charger anchorage angry red aback I accessible it and wouldn’t let me bung aback in! On the dash-monitor it said 12V array voltage low, car needs service.
The bearings was ironic because Consumer Reports had aloof downgraded the believability appraisement of Tesla a few canicule earlier. We showed the botheration to the bodies we’d been alive with, they were abashed and got us on the account to accept a tech from abutting aperture appear look. Disheartened, I went aback to their lounge with the chargeless coffee, wifi, and tables with ability plugs for my laptop. Jennifer (the capital “delivery specialist” I’d been alive with) anon came up to me and said she acquainted bad, afresh handed me a acclaim agenda adage we should go eat wherever we capital while we waited for the car to be repaired. I took the agenda incredulously.
We went to Claim Jumper and had some of the best aliment I’ve had in a continued time. By the time we were done, the car was fixed.
The botheration was some array of heating aspect for the 12V battery. Cipher I batten to knew what it was or had apparent it abort before, but I later found online belief from a few added bodies that accept had the aforementioned botheration with that part. It makes me anguish about reliability, yet nobody complains about Tesla service. As continued as the car is beneath warranty, they fix aggregate for chargeless and alike accommodate chargeless towing, chargeless loaner cars… and allegedly sometimes chargeless dinner.
What happens aback the assurance runs out? I anguish about that but at atomic my car payments will be about done so I can allow to fix things. The array and drive alternation assurance lasts 8 years and those are some of the best big-ticket parts. Added genitalia that are activity to abort usually do so aboriginal in activity (due to architecture flaws or different defects) or backward in activity (due to abrasion and tear) with beneath failures in between. A blueprint of such failures over time looks like a “bathtub curve.” Afterwards 4 years, I should be accomplished the aboriginal abortion allotment of the ambit and be in the low-failure tub for a cardinal of years. I hope.
After active and unplugging the supercharger a few times and absolution it allegation for 10 mins or so, we got on the road.
The aboriginal time I addled the accelerator to analysis it, the dispatch addled my GPS off the dashboard and afraid my wife — and this is the abject model!
Everything was abundantly bland and quiet. Teller, of Penn & Teller fame, describes it as “piloting a big, catlike cat.” I can absolutely see that. And it is a big car — 2 anxiety best than my Prius and 10 inches wider. I’m not absolutely a big fan of big, but the size makes it actual stable, as does the weight of the batteries and motor actuality abutting to the road.
I capital to drive through Big Sur on one of my admired breathtaking trips to breach abrupt with my parents in Santa Monica. It’s a continued drive, but Model S can handle it:
Before I knew it, we were in admirable Seaside at the aboriginal supercharger. Like the Fremont supercharger, Seaside is affiliated to a Tesla account centermost and has a baby lounge with chargeless candy and drinks, TV, magazines, wifi, additional a bathroom. It was comfortable and the advisers were cool friendly.
Supercharging is abundantly fast aback you’re beneath 60–70% charge, pumping in about 120kW to add about 80 afar of ambit in 23 minutes. It takes about 40 account to add addition 80 afar of ambit and gets abundant slower aloft 90% allegation to assure the batteries. Thanks to the fast, low-end charging, we were able to allegation for decidedly beneath time than I originally accepted because best of the chargers were about 80 afar apart. Of course, if we had been able to leave earlier, we would accept chock-full for lunch/dinner and let it allegation for 60 account in adjustment to skip a charger or two.
If you’re advantageous abundant to accept a newer Tesla with beyond battery, afar are added alike faster. Analysis out this calculator for absolute estimates. Tesla is gradually abacus ability to the chargers to acceleration up charging time, but abandoned cars produced in the aftermost year or so will abutment the college charging speeds.
I originally anticipation we’d be accomplishing the drive 3 hours earlier, so we didn’t get a lot of time to acknowledge the drive forth the ocean cliffs during daylight, but I got a gorgeous account of the car at sunset:
Kinda does attending like a big, catlike cat, right? Aloof accessible to ambush on… a seagull… or something.
I hoped to analysis the administration on the ambagious route, but bodies were driving 35mph on the 55mph alley and banned to cull over to let the cars axle up abaft them pass. I had to delay consistently for a attenuate bit of beeline alley that accustomed passing, at which point we went from 35 to 80 in maybe 3 abnormal as we passed, and that was fun. Administration was amazing for the abrupt periods I was able to abide at 55 afore hitting the abutting apathetic poke.
I’m usually abrupt to get alley trips over with, but I didn’t apperception the 25-minute breach to allegation every hour and twenty minutes. I would amplitude my legs, deathwatch up a bit, and use the 3G internet that comes with the car for the aboriginal four years to research the abutting supercharger and address the accepted one as operational over on plugshare.com. Afterwards Seaside, we were the abandoned car at anniversary supercharger area and anniversary had 8 to 12 charging spots.
We fabricated it to my parents at about 1:30 am.
The Model S is abandoned about 6 inches off the ground, with a actual bland basal that makes it one of the best aerodynamic cars on the road. Unfortunately, I begin this makes it difficult to get accomplished the abject of my parents’ steeply-sloping driveway. Hitting the driveway at a 45-degree bend works for activity up, but for advancing bottomward it armament me to let the rear annoy abatement off the barrier at about bisected the curb’s abounding height. Bah. It makes me ambition I had the alternative amalgamation that lets you raise/lower the suspension.
Turning about at the top of the driveway additionally took added back-and-forth gymnastics due to the breadth and beyond axis ambit (37 anxiety vs 34.1 anxiety in the Prius) but I was admiring that it was accessible at all.
The aboriginal 3 outlets I approved active into for charging had the ground pin broken (apparently alfresco GFCI plugs don’t allegation to be grounded) and my dad lacked an addendum bond with a arena wire to ability calm outlets. So we had to bung into a alley aperture and leave a aperture abominably center accessible with the charger cable adherent beneath it.
I bought a 25′, 10AWG addendum bond for our abutting appointment and awful acclaim accepting one with you if you go to aces up an EV from a abroad location. I’ve apprehend that a accepted 16AWG alfresco addendum bond may waste enough voltage as calefaction that the Tesla will debris to charge.
I additionally best up this ball to accumulate the addendum bond accurate in the frunk. Did I acknowledgment Model S has a advanced trunk? It’s a abundant abode to abundance backing that’s adamantine to breach into and not in a area that most thieves apprehend to attending — at atomic for now. It’s additionally a abundant abode to abundance things you consistently allegation to accept with you like grocery bags, additional fuses, a annoy adjustment kit, etc., while abrogation the rear trunk pristinely empty.
So, I’m happy. I feel like I can go places again! In fact, I’m aflame to travel. Alike afterwards accepting the car for a month, I still attending advanced to activity out on brainless little errands. We aloof got aback from a affair area I gave rides to five bodies and both bodies who got to drive it said they were sold.
I can’t delay for the new crop of 200 ambit EVs to hit the bazaar and get this anarchy affective faster.
If you appetite to accompany the anarchy now, a LEAF with 60-70 afar of ambit larboard in the array can be purchased used for amid $9,000 and $11,000. Acclimated Volts are under $18,000. I aloof apparent the Tesla Roadster can be had for $38,000! The Roadster doesn’t accept the 4-year assurance of the CPO Model S and it doesn’t accept supercharging or as abundant cargo/passenger space, but it does accept over 200 afar of range.
If you alive in California, analysis out the assorted subsidies you can get over and aloft the federal tax credit. There are dozens of subsidies available, including a rebate for a new EV that is accustomed as a analysis of up to $5,000 rather than as a tax credit. A recently-added rebate is accessible if your assets is low or you’re accommodating to retire a communicable agent that fails California’s billow check. I accept the additional abatement applies alike to a used-EV purchase!
Since we brought the Model S home, I got a brace of Back to the Approaching things to go with it. We’re not accustomed to use affected authorization plates on the advanced bonanza out actuality in California, but I begin addition abode to arise a movie-replica authorization plate:
Beyond the cine reference, I now anticipate of the bowl as acceptation we’re out of time to get off of deposit fuels. Scientists accept been admonishing us about altitude change aback afore Aback to the Approaching in 1985, this year is likely to be the hottest year on almanac (again), and mother attributes ain’t gonna abide our BS for abundant longer.
So, accumulate an eye on those EVs, get on a cat-and-mouse list, analysis out the rebates, and accompany the anarchy ASAP.
Chris Dragon I grew up programming on an Apple IIe and now run a software company. Despite a abhorrence of ancestors camping trips, I’ve consistently had a abysmal affair for the creatures we allotment this planet with. In account of those creatures, I spent a cardinal of years alive at an ecology non-profit, but these canicule I aloof try to alive with sustainability and animate others to do the same. I’ve alike appear to abide camping trips!
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