I test-drove a $100,000 iPhone (aka Tesla)

My friend Joel and I went to go test-drive a Tesla electric car yesterday in Washington, DC. And I have to say, it was $92,000 worth of good clean fun. (The car goes for around $60k, but by the time you add-on the extras, the price rises.)

testla-featred

The first thing I noticed when getting into the Tesla as a passenger was the handles on the doors. They don’t move. They don’t lift up, they don’t click, they don’t control some metal components inside the door. The handles stay in place, sense your hand, and the door clicks open. The same, somewhat unnerving, but ultimately quite cool, thing happens when you go to “lift” the handle to get out of the car. Pretty cool.

tesla-panel

Joel drives the Tesla down the section of Washington, DC’s Pennsylvania Avenue which runs from the White House to the Congress.

Joel took the first stab at driving. The first thing the Tesla guy told us to pay attention to was the lack of any engine noise. Being an electric car, it runs on a battery – there is no engine, there is no engine noise. We were in a parking garage, going up a ramp, and there was nothing but silence. It was wild.

The car has a huge interactive screen – you work it like you would an iPad, pinching and scrolling with your fingers. The screen has a GPS, but also controls the sun roof and much more. Among the screen’s features, a camera showing you a quite wide-angle view of behind the car (which includes your blind spot on the right and left).

tesla-display

The screen shows a rear view, but is large enough to show the GPS at the same time.

Joel drove all the way to the Pentagon, then I drove back. It’s a fascinating drive. The car accelerates quickly — more quickly than most cars I’ve driven in — and it slows down just as fast. An interesting feature of the Tesla is that when you ease off the “gas” pedal, the car starts to brake itself (in order to recycle the energy). The effect was enjoyable on the highway, but somewhat unnerving in city driving. You had to get used to only lifting your foot when you truly wanted to brake the car. In city driving, I found myself driving like a bit of a grandpa when I’d come to a stop-light — lurching a bit. But after a while I got the hang of it.

tesla-inside

The front seat was comfy. I found the back seat a bit small — not too small, but not large either. The back seat, and back floor, have no hump. Making it far easier to ride with 3 people in back.

Another neat feature, you can adjust the wheel for what kind of driving you want — a more responsive wheels that doesn’t require much movement, or a wheels that requires a lot of movement to turn the car.

As for the battery, it takes about 8 hours to charge on a 240 volt outlet (the kind your washer and dryer use). You can plug it into a regular 110 outlet, but it will take 3 days to charge. A full charge costs around $6 to $8, and goes around 300 miles. That’s about the price of 2 gallons of gas, which definitely won’t take you 300 miles.

tesla-plug

The car is plugged in, charging.

To recharge the car, they do have superstations around the country that you can use for free. You plug the car in, and in 20 minutes you get half a charge. I seem to remember being told that in 30 minutes you could get a full charge — though full is relative. They recommend you only recharge the battery to 80% to help extend the battery life. Here are the 115 stations in the US and Canada, and they also have 66 in Europe and 23 in Asia. And they’re building more. The supercharging stations are meant more for when you’re planning a road trip, and need to drive more than 300 miles round trip.

teesla-charging-stations

If you look at the chassis, you’ll see that the car really isn’t make up of much other than a small motor and some batteries throughout. I’m pretty sure when Joel and I stopped by another Tesla start back in July, they told us they also pack batters in the side of the car frame as well.

Rear of the car, with the battery.

Rear of the car, with the battery.

Front of the car.

Front of the car.

As we pulled back up to the dealership, the guy had me pull into a driveway and stop right before a gate that was up. The car dutifully warned me that I was 4 feet away from the gate with a quick noise, then as I got about 2 feet away it started beeping again. At the same time, the dashboard immediately started indicating how many inches I was away from the wall I was approaching:

tesla-dashboard

One interesting thing, when Joel was driving, and backed up into a parking space against a curb, it beeped to let him know he was 4 feet away, then didn’t beep again to warn him that he was getting awfully close to the curb. I asked the Tesla guy why. Because the car sensed that the curb was so low, the back fender would clear the curb so there was no need to warn the driver to stop – if Joel backed up too far, he would feel the wheels touch the curb and he’d know to stop. Again, pretty cool.

Overall, it’s like driving an iPhone. The entire experience, from talking to them in the shop, to driving the car, feels like you’re dealing with the cult of Apple. And not in a bad way. It’s fun. Even to a guy like me, who was never into cars. But I do like gadgets. And this was one big honking $92,000 gadget.

Our little baby, dutifully parked 18 inches from the gate.

Our little baby, dutifully parked 18 inches from the gate.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Duncan Watson

    Many hybrids are green washing vehicles and not very efficient. Additionally they still pollute more than an EV. I would say hybrids are better than traditional ICE vehicles but still a compromise.

    Attacking Tesla as the only EV bugs me. Tesla is the car that proves it can be done and that the automobile industry has a vested interest in oil and gas that is preventing EVs from being practical.

  • Same here. Meantime, hybrids are also great.

  • Duncan Watson

    The Tesla Model S is not the only Electric car. I lease a Ford Focus EV for $200/month. It fits my need for a commuter car for an affordable price while I wait for a cheaper long range electric car to be reality. There will be a cheaper 200+ mile range Tesla in a few years. I can wait.

  • Duncan Watson

    Gas taxes are not paying for the majority of roads, instead it is property taxes. In any case the real welfare road users are the trucks who do so much damage to the roads that it completely overwhelms the gas tax funds they contribute.

  • VulpineMac

    Good. That means you understand that I’m emphasizing those specific words for a reason. Trying to play games to belittle me is working against you, emjayay.

  • VulpineMac

    It was a ’79 Dodge Aspen SE, to be exact.

  • WeaponZero

    It would not take that many superchargers to cover everyone due to in-home charging.

    And everyone is not going to have one over night. If every new car sold today was an EV, it would take almost 2 decades to replace every car on the road.

    Tesla has plenty of time. Factor in during this time Tesla will:

    1) Add more superchargers

    2) Make superchargers charge faster

    3) Release cars with longer battery range. (Tesla Roadster is getting a 400 mile upgrade option)

    So again a non-issue.

  • emjayay

    The free charge is a miracle, like Jesus changing water into wine.

  • emjayay

    Wow. You must be a fast typer. And you are totally right in all your voluminous comments.
    Given the range anxiety, need to plan trips around charging times and places, time to charge, a chance of getting there and having to wait who knows how long, and other factors, I wouldn’t get one of these fab expensive toys in even if I could afford it. Like I said before, if I had a garage with room for a second or third car and had a defined commute of less than 50 miles round trip and could afford a vehicle for local use only I would definitely look into a Leaf. The $7500 subsidy from the taxpayers plus not paying for the roads I am driving on sounds great too.

  • emjayay

    Like I said before, if everyone had one the entire state of New Mexico would have to be covered with charging stations.

  • emjayay

    Doesn’t make any sense really, but CAPITALIZING random words ALWAYS convinces me ANYWAY.

  • emjayay

    Tax credit, incentive to buy less polluting vehicle, tax exemption, farm payment, whatever. All the same thing: subsidies paid by everyone. Including not paying the two cents a mile or so gas tax.

  • emjayay

    As my friend from Alabama likes to say “Y’all ah so smaht!”.

  • emjayay

    318? Musta been a MoPar.

  • VulpineMac

    That’s fine–as long as you realize that no one car meets everyone’s purposes. Now, why do you suppose Tesla is #1 in customer satisfaction?

  • evilattorney

    You can hate on the Volt all you want, but there is a reason that it has the second highest customer satisfaction rating for any cars (Tesla is #1). In the real world, I get between 40-44 miles per charge and 40mpg on gas in combined freeway/city driving. And you don’t have to guess about how much gas or range people will use in the real world, just go to voltstats.net and you can see actual data from thousands of Volt owners, downloaded directly from their car via OnStar. The monthly electric vs. gas average for all owners is just shy of 80%. That’s a lot of gas displaced without range anxiety issues.

  • VulpineMac

    To make it simple, for some–maybe the majority of Volt owners–it’s the status of the vehicle, not its real capability. In fact, you said so yourself with the statement, “… is important to some people for environmental and foreign policy reasons.” As for the 40-mile “average daily commute”, remember the definition of “average”; it literally means that the daily commute of a significant proportion of people polled for that study went notably more than 40 miles daily (I am talking round trip). In my own case, if I ONLY went to my wife’s place of work and back with NO side trips, then it would barely survive on electric power alone. Remember, the Volt’s average MEASURED range before starting the engine seems to run closer to 32-35 miles rather than 40 miles.

    However, I almost never make that run without a side trip which typically adds up to 10 miles for that specific loop and ignores the weekly need to make two additional 50-mile round-trip runs on the same day as that commute. The Leaf would come close to meeting that driving regimen, but lacks the size to meet my carrying needs comfortably. The Tesla Model S more than meets the needs by offering both the size AND the range with enough extra range available to cover an unscheduled run without having to plug it in to recharge for a few hours. Where so many complain about range anxiety with their electric cars, the Tesla has almost every DAILY driving experience covered, allowing you to plug it in only once in the evening to start the next day with a full charge where with even the Leaf you would want to plug it in every time you get back home, especially if you plan to take it back out later. Sure, the Volt has the gasoline backup engine to recharge the batteries, but now you’re losing the benefit for which you bought electric in the first place. Over-engineered; under-performing.

    I will agree that MY Jeep isn’t nearly as efficient as the Volt, but I do manage 23mpg or better on the highway (vs the 37 highway with the Volt) but I do wonder at the Volt’s city mileage once the battery runs down. My Jeep also isn’t nearly as aerodynamic as the Volt, whereas the Jeep Cherokee is notably more so and probably pushes nearly that 37mpg mileage (most likely around 32mpg if driven reasonably) on the highway–without losing performance in the way the Volt is already noted when the mechanical transmission finally comes on line. I will state that my Jeep Wrangler gets a lot better gas mileage, both city and highway, than my 1990 F-150 truck. On the other hand, my 1996 Camaro exceeded 32mpg (actual measured) back in 1996, so the Volt should be capable of far better economy and performance even when off of electric drive.

  • evilattorney

    Sure, you apparently have a longer commute than average and are only looking strictly at payback of the overall cost, when there are other factors. The average daily commute is under 40 miles, which means most people would be using mostly electricity with either the Volt or Leaf. Additionally, reducing gas consumption, even a little, is important to some people for environmental and foreign policy reasons. Finally, the driving experience of either a Volt or Leaf, while not on par with a Tesla, is still miles ahead of a combustion engine car like a Jeep. The silent driving, lack of vibrations, and incredible instant torque off the line are a huge upgrade.

    By the way, I don’t think you’ve seriously crunched the numbers on the Volt. It actually has a 9.3 gallon tank and gets 37 mpg when running on gas. There is no way you Jeep is nearly as efficient.

  • VulpineMac

    Aye, which also proves my points.

  • VulpineMac

    “This thread started off with people who’ve never posted here before touting the wonderful perfect awesomeness of the currently existing Tesla offerings and trying to make like it was an amazingly wise financial decision to run out right now and buy one.”

    And they’re right, for those people who can afford the up-front cost. The vast majority of people–apparently even including yourself–could probably do quite well with a Model S if they could afford the up-front cost, though I also acknowledge that a 300-mile trip to Austin, Tx would be out of the question UNTIL next year. In my own case, if I could afford the up-front cost it would be an almost perfect match for my usual driving routes EXCEPT for my annual trip to Chattanooga, TN where I could get just over half way before running out of Supercharger locations BUT will have that covered by the end of next year all the way down by either of two different routes that I typically take. That includes a station right in Chattanooga, itself.

    As for your ability to “think critically”, sorry. In my opinion you and the others aren’t thinking critically but rather rejecting progress simply BECAUSE it isn’t here yet. Since you just bought a new pickup truck yourself AND you’re apparently quite happy with your Prius, you wouldn’t even be considering a new vehicle for at least three years, whereupon the vehicles you’re lambasting now WILL be on the road (barring major engineering or financial issues) and your arguments will then be almost completely invalid. Even I am a conservative and I still know how to look and plan ahead rather than waiting for something to happen before reacting to it. I’m PROactive, not REactive.

    Hold it, what, “And as if that wasn’t enough, they then brought in a proposed $18k vehicle that won’t exist for 5-10 years, if it ever does”? I read every comment working down to this specific discussion and I never saw THAT statement. Even I will agree that such a vehicle is a near-impossibility because the price of all cars will be up another $5K or more in 10 years.

    My personal opinion of hybrids is that they’re over-engineered pieces of junk–no exceptions. I’ve driven a Prius myself and while I agree that they’re quite nice riding and get decent fuel mileage, they use the technology all wrong; gas/electric and diesel/electric have been in use for almost 100 years and average over 400 ton-miles per gallon; a mere 40mpg with a Prius is almost absurdly LOW compared to what it should be. The Volt itself? How many hundreds of millions of dollars were wasted just trying to design a special engine to run the generator only to instead drop an off-the-shelf engine in its place and even then engineer a complex mechanical connection from the engine to the wheels when the battery finally does run dry? Over-engineered idiocy.

    Tesla is doing it right. There’s a young man in Sweden (I believe) doing it right–he’s got an old BMW 3-series running AWD full electric that outperforms nearly every other sport sedan in Europe AND is using that car as a prototype to design and build 400-mile-range sport sedans and coupes. Yes, I know it’s not on the market yet–only Tesla is. For now. The point is that the landscape IS changing and you can’t make it go away by ignoring it. Rather than pooh-pooing what these others are saying are on the way, you should be researching for yourself to get the facts so you know truth from fiction.

    What bugs me is that too many commenters, both here and on other boards, try to claim certain technology is impossible–when the technology is already IN use and being improved upon daily. It’s not impossible. It’s not even improbable. It is here and the upgrades are definitely on the way. Holding anyone to a specific number is specious; the intent is to suggest range of price or mileage or whatever. The Model III IS intended to be in the $35K range and Tesla has officially announced that–before rebates/tax credits. Maybe he should have said $35K ± $3K, would that make you feel better?

    Or maybe you don’t believe the Jeep Renegade is coming? It’s certainly not on the new car lots, now is it? The point is that we KNOW certain vehicles are in the works and that it’s just a matter of time before they’re available. The Model X is due to start shipping within a very few months; 3-4 at most as I recall. The Model III is currently due to start shipping in 2017, no more than three years from now and quite honestly its biggest advantage is that the cost of the batteries alone will be cut nearly in half by the opening of Tesla’s battery “gigafactory”. This will not only reduce the cost of the batteries themselves for Tesla, but eliminate most of the shipping charges from overseas plants where the actual battery cells are currently made. This, and the slightly smaller size and lighter weight of the Model III are how Tesla plans to reduce the cost of the model by so much. Yes, there is conjecture, but it is EDUCATED conjecture based on a much broader view of the industry than most naysayers care to acknowledge.

    Will we ever completely stop using fossil fuels? Maybe, but personally I expect a minimum of 100 years before the coal and oil companies will be forced to shut down; too much of our infrastructure outside of motor vehicles still rely on coal, oil and natural gas. Until power plants can all run on either renewable sources or less-limited sources such as fusion (we’re getting closer, but we’re not there yet), heat and light and entertainment and just plain living will still require fossil fuels to power them.

  • VulpineMac

    While you are right that Federal recommendations are to take a rest break every 150-200 miles, let’s just say that I have a long bladder–I ride until I need to refuel and that’s typically 6 hours or between 300-350 miles. With that in mind, the current 250 mile (stretching it) range would force me to stop and rest about 30% more often which may be a good thing for me, but goes against my 40 years driving habits. Heck, I drove from Las Vegas, NV to Chattanooga, TN in 48 hours COUNTING all stops, back in the mid-80s when the speed limits were 55mph. Heh, I also managed 25mpg over half the trip with a 318cid V8 under the hood and kept it over 20 for the remainder of the run.

    If you want my honest opinion, while the batteries may be capable of extending the range of the car over 400 miles, I highly doubt Tesla or anyone else will push the range that far simply for safety’s sake. Once they reach that 400-mile mark, they’ll instead start reducing weight by using fewer batteries while keeping the range steady. That sports car you mentioned earlier? They may go with a 600-mile battery fully expecting the driver to drain it inside of 300 miles with the hard driving and lead-foot acceleration.

  • VulpineMac

    As I pointed out elsewhere in this discussion, for me, the Volt doesn’t cut it for economy, though at least it has usable size for me. It’s not that I carry any family–just wife and dog–but I carry TWO three-ball rollers (bowling ball bags) and those simply wouldn’t fit in a Leaf all that well and the Leaf could at least get close to my typical ‘daily’ route; the Volt wouldn’t even make it one-way on EV alone. As such and considering it only carries a 6-gallon tank, I’d still be refueling a Volt every other week, the same as I do my Jeep. In other words, it would only save me about 2 gallons of gas per trip yet even the Volt costs more than my Jeep did and would take more than 10 years to balance its savings vs its cost. For my driving now, the Tesla Model III–assuming a $35K price tag at 200 miles per charge–would do it in less than 8 years. The Model S would balance its fuel savings vs up-front cost between 10 and 12 years.

    You see, no matter what you drive and how you drive it, the choice of vehicle depends on needs as much as desires. I understand that most can’t afford a Model S now, but I’m also quite aware that Tesla simply can’t make the Model S fast enough to satisfy all the people who DO want one, so it really doesn’t matter. By the time the Model III comes out, they’ll be able to produce 2x to 3x as many cars as they can now and more adequately meet demand for any given model.

  • WeaponZero

    To note, the price Musk quoted for the 50k car was AFTER tax credits. Federal tax credit was 7.5k. 58.5k – 7.5k = 51.5k which is close enough to 50k price promised. Especially since some states give state tax credits like California giving 2.5k.

    The 35k number quoted is without tax credits.(the without tax credits was clarified). Now sure the car can end up maybe 36k, there is always room for margin of error.

    And I doubt the GOP would do anything to the tax credits. Keep in mind the tax credits were passed under the GOP. (People have to realize the difference between politics and actually doing something, end of the day the Incandescent bulbs was a money losing business was a losing business and the light bulb companies are the ones who lobbied for their removal)

    That said, the tax credit will expire naturally when manufactures sell 200k electric cars. Which means if a person wants a tax credit on a Model 3, they would probably have to buy it in the first year or it will expire.

  • What Tesla did was to give the 40kw buyers a car with a 60kw battery, but a software lock to limit the range to what would’ve been the expected amount for the canceled entry level car. And an option to pay money (a reported $10k) to remove the lock. The consolation prize, as it were, was additional acceleration performance associated with the better battery. Fair enough deal.

    The price on the entry-level Model-S 40kw 2012 was actually $58,500, bumped to $59,000 after the end of 2012.

    http://wot.motortrend.com/tesla-model-s-prices-bumped-by-2500-to-59900-battery-replacement-costs-8000-12000-298793.html

    The sub-$50k car was only a guess. Just like the oft-quoted $35k car that’s three years away. If we’re going to continue the game of semantics and nit-picking, this means there’s a good chance they’ll tout ~$35k for a car that actually has a $42.5k sticker price before the federal tax credit. Which, given two major elections between now and 2017, I’m not having a huge amount of faith in the GOPers to leave alone in the budgets.

  • WeaponZero

    Right, Tesla did promise a 50k car, the 40kwh. And due to limited demand on the 40kwh they discontinued it and gave everyone who ordered it a free upgrade to a limited 60kwh model for free.

  • One relayed remark doesn’t make an entire article ‘based on’. As for who to believe… well Elon Musk once promised an under $50k Tesla to be delivered in 2012. That car was never produced.

    He’s human, just like everybody else. And even he does not say the Model-3 WILL be $35k. He keeps saying “around”, which for most of us means “approximately.”

  • WeaponZero

    Well the LA times article mentions the Auto Express article. Also, taking a look Simon Sproule has only worked 2 months at Tesla when he made that statement. Compared to Elon Musk who is the CEO of Tesla. Which do you think is a more credible source?

  • You have no proof whatsoever that the two articles have anything to do with each other, other than the fact they made the common observation about the ‘E’ model joke being dropped in favor of Tesla-3.

    The LA Times article interviews Simon Sproule, Tesla spokesman and includes commentary from Jack Nerad, writer for Kelley Blue Book.

    The ‘Auto Express’ article, published by a specialty blog, quotes only Elon Musk, who is not quoted at all in the LA Times piece. And even that article says “around $35k.”

    You’re really reaching.

  • WeaponZero

    The LA times is known for spreading misinformation, especially concerning Tesla and electric cars.

    Here is the original article the LA times is based on, clearly says 35k.

    http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/tesla/87867/tesla-model-3-to-challenge-bmw-3-series-world-exclusive

  • It’s still ‘might be’ on $35k.

    http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-tesla-model-3-20140716-story.html

    The Model 3 will go on sale in 2017 for about $40,000, said Tesla
    spokesman Simon Sproule, although the price could change as the vehicle
    gets closer to market.

    16 July 2014

  • There are more alternatives than just the two, ‘working vehicle’ or ‘garage queen.’

  • Obtuse? Not at all. You jumped in this morning into an existing argument between people who were disagreeing about basic points of what exists versus what is planned versus what might be 4-5 or 10 years from now. And then started issuing challenges left and right, and asking questions that had already been answered, often multiple times.

    This thread started off with people who’ve never posted here before touting the wonderful perfect awesomeness of the currently existing Tesla offerings and trying to make like it was an amazingly wise financial decision to run out right now and buy one. Repeated false dichotomies: Either buy a Tesla and save lots of money on gas OR you can’t possibly own anything other than a gas-guzzler into which you’re obviously shoveling hundreds of bucks each month in gas. (Only Mr. Foster was willing to consider the alternatives, for which he has my gratitude and continued open mind.)

    When the dichotomy was refuted — not just by me, but by other regular Americablog commenters with the ability to think critically — the fans responded in a fairly typical and disingenuous debating tactic, shifting ground to a projected vehicle that won’t exist for 3 more years, claiming the price was all but guaranteed (even the original S isn’t the same price as was originally announced) and also claiming performance capabilities such as range which are purely theoretical at this time. Basically claiming that projections and theoretical stats were equivalent to reality. And as if that wasn’t enough, they then brought in a proposed $18k vehicle that won’t exist for 5-10 years, if it ever does — and then tried to position these fictions against not just current vehicle tech but against the worst and least efficient types available now. Then they trotted out a Tesla truck that doesn’t even exist beyond rumors at this point.

    No hybrids. No plug-in hybrids. No bio-diesel. And no other electric car alternative, apparently. Honestly, something like the Leaf or 80-100m plug in hybrid makes much more sense today.

    No assumption allowed but that everybody must be burning through hundreds of dollars in gas each week, and therefore we should all run out and apply for a $60k-100k car loan for the one type of Tesla that exists right now — a sports sedan. Because supposedly it’s totally beyond the break-even point on loan payment vs how much gas is being used.

    Even though for the average person of modest means, applying for a loan of that size would be met with laughter by the underwriters. Even though people should think about whether they need to save for their retirement and their kids’ college funds, and also remember that mortgage underwriters do look at your current monthly commitment when deciding whether to approve a home loan. And even though for more than just a few non-commuter and eco-conscious drivers like myself, that break-even point won’t exist until the $35k vehicle does. And even though these things called delays and schedule slips are commonplace in tech development. And even though some of us can run the numbers in a neutral way and see that right now and for at least the next 3 years (or longer) a vehicle of less-than-Tesla efficiency bought at half or less of the sticker price of the Tesla-S makes far more financial sense than the alternative.

    Don’t get me wrong: Electric vehicles are the way to go. Hopefully in my lifetime we will finally stop burning these fossil fuels and I totally applaud what Tesla is trying to do. But as I said, the argument you jumped into here today is one where the uncritical fans are trying to claim it makes total financial sense to buy a Tesla-S right now, this very day. For those who don’t have a big pile of money burning a hole in their pockets or scads of untapped credit available, it doesn’t. The average person does not have that kind of money laying around; the average person cannot qualify for an unsecured car loan that will be upwards of $60-100k, depending on money down and model chosen. And some of us have noted how in some of the wide-open parts of the country, there are nowhere near enough of those charging bays available to realistically consider taking a Tesla-S on long interstate road-trips, and furthermore that having to stop for half an hour for every 2 1/2 driving can be rather inconvenient. Factoring in depreciation as well as loss of credit resources makes the deal even worse.

    Instead, one guy jumps in with patronizing lectures about how nobody should be allowed to drive that long anyway. Then we get ‘Yeah, but we’ll have 1000mi batteries in a few years and every problem goes away” — as if that’s a valid reason to buy a car that right now can only be charged for another 170 miles in 30 minutes’ time, and that’s provided you’re close enough to use one of the very few superchargers scattered along the interstate corridors. Others who, after being challenged on very specific and easily calculated points of the costs associated with buying the currently available S-model, ignore everything and just say I’m not “seeing the big picture.” And of course my favorite are the claims not to be an uncritical fan of Tesla Motors, with nothing here but comment after comment about Elon Musk being the greatest most perfect human being genius ever and how even the vaguest of statements of intent from Tesla are equal to ironclad promises.

    I’m actually with you: In 5-6 years, we’ll probably be set to replace our Prius and we will consider everything available at the time. However, by then the Tacoma will be paid off, and so the decision then will be the same: Does it make sense to replace it? I absolutely would not rule out an electric truck, if such exists. However, I’m not exactly optimistic, because I’d have thought by now, a dozen years after the first viable hybrid cars were out, there’d be good hybrid trucks to choose from. There aren’t. Just the one, a Silverado/GMC model that has crappy reviews and worse sales.

  • WeaponZero

    The mistake you are making is in the ratio of cars to chargers needed. The amount of chargers Tesla plans to put up would be enough for at least 10% of the entire population of NM to have Tesla cars.

    Also, Tesla only is projecting information till end of 2015, or about 15 months. Where you get secret insider information for 24-36 months?

  • Teo

    You are right. Tesla says something similar to what you said. They say first 80% takes the same time as the remaining 20%. There is a graph near the middle of this page that shows charge percentage over time: http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

    I think what is important is that battery range keeps improving but the distance you can drive before you need to rest stays the same. The supercharge times with the Model S are already about the same as an average drivers rest times every few hours. For example drive 210 miles (80% of 265) then charge for 40 minutes. However as the battery capacity improves, it will be like drive 250 miles and rest for 40 minutes. Then 300 miles. Then eventually the charge you can get in 40 minutes will be longer than you can drive before you need to rest.

    The amount of miles you charge in 40 minutes doesn’t have to improve forever. It just needs to improve beyond how long people can drive in 4 hours. This is a limited number, maybe 320 miles and we are only a few years away from it.

  • Teo

    I think we will see 800 mile cars in 2025 and it will be a sports car because of the high battery cost. That is only 11 years away. Within 6 months the Tesla Roadster will get a 400 mile battery upgrade. Here is a news item about that: http://cleantechnica.com/2014/08/06/tesla-roadster-400-miles-range-battery-pack-upgrade/

    The 400 mile battery upgrade was announced by Elon Musk during the 2014 shareholder meeting. You can watch it here: http://www.teslamotors.com/2014shareholdermeeting

    The Roadster was discontinued 2 years ago. During the shareholder meeting somebody asked about a new sports car and Elon said they will build one after the cheap car. It should arrive around 2020. Tesla also said with that new sports car they will show what they do with their technology. It will be something special which requires a large battery. My estimation is that it will have a 600 mile battery and it will cost $200.000 and will be faster than comparable gasoline cars.

    Because lithium-ion battery technology improves constantly at 7% per year, just by replacing the cells in the 600 mile car, they will upgrade the range to 800. This is exactly what is happening with the roadster. The 400 mile batteries are the same size, same number and same weight. They are just replacing old cells with new ones to increase range from 211 to 400.

    You might be skeptical about the 7% per year battery capacity increase. Is that going to continue? JB Straubel, Tesla’s Chief Technology Officer says yes it will continue for 20 years more. He said that in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWSox7mLbyE

    I watch all videos by Tesla staff. Below you can find a list I created. I recommend Marc Tarpenning and JB Straubel videos along with Elon Musk.
    https://speakev.com/threads/tesla-videos-films-documentaries-and-audio-clips.3877/

  • evilattorney

    Well, obviously you won’t get a 200+ mile EV in the Leaf/Volt price range. That won’t happen for many years, until battery production increases substantially. But if you can’t afford a Tesla, the Leaf and Volt are affordable options to offset most of your driving to electricity. I’m on track to burn only a single tank of gas this year with my Volt, so for me, it is a very reasonable alternative. Plus, I don’t have to plan my road trips around where a supercharger is.

  • VulpineMac

    “In the meantime, because we live on a small farm, our most recent vehicle purchase was a 2014 Tacoma.”

    Assumption? I said IMPLICATION. I admit I don’t know what you haul in or behind that truck, but its mere existence on your farm IMPLIES that you carry things you simply don’t want to carry in your Prius and more frequently than just once a week. Usually a pickup truck is a working vehicle on a farm, not just a garage queen.

  • Make all the assumptions you like about my life and vehicle needs. So far you’re batting 0 for 5.

  • VulpineMac

    It seems you are being intentionally obtuse. While I understand that it’s not the perfect car for YOU, that doesn’t mean your arguments are valid for everyone else. I’ll admit not even I plan to buy a Tesla right away, but in another 5 or 6 years I may replace my current 25-year-old pickup truck with a Tesla truck–or sedan/coupe if I no longer need a truck. For me, the simple fact that I wouldn’t have to pay $50/week or more for gasoline is worth the higher initial cost of the vehicle when I tend to keep one until it becomes almost un-driveable. And since my average daily drive when I DO drive runs well over 50 miles and sometimes over 150 miles, even the Leaf has far too little range AND is far too small for my needs. I admit I don’t NEED a full-sized pickup truck, but I have to point out that even the Tacoma doesn’t get enough better fuel mileage to make the trade worth the cost.

  • No. We have a truck loan on it. But no, we do not put $600/gas in it each month because we don’t commute anywhere.

    Don’t tell me you’re going to try to say a Tesla-S is a perfectly viable alternative for a pick-up truck. Now you’re reaching. And last I checked, the S doesn’t come with a tow package.

  • VulpineMac

    So you paid for that Tacoma in cash?

  • Sure, you’re right. Because nobody but those with either $70-110k to throw away or enough spare credit and monthly income to qualify for a $1000-1800/mo car payment will have a vehicle which can use them. There just aren’t that many rich people living in New Mexico.

    Given a few thousand wealthy people and a few thousand more passing through each day, 28 bays is probably more than enough for as long as Teslas continue to cost more than many people’s houses.

  • VulpineMac

    You said you live on a farm/ranch, which implies much more frequent use of a truck than a mere “one trip into town and back each week” right on the farm itself. And my point was not in comparing reality to vehicles that won’t exist but rather in pointing out how much CHANGE we will see in that amount of time.

  • VulpineMac

    Ok, that’s carrying it to an unrealistic figure, Teo. All things considered, I highly doubt you’ll see even 800-mile range on an electric unless it’s a special-purpose vehicle intended for non-stop operations.

  • VulpineMac

    Did you know that two Tesla sedans drove from California to New York last winter to make the NY auto show using NOTHING but supercharger stations to make the trip AND that they had less trouble than the support crew driving conventionally-powered vans? They too worried about range between stations because — hey, it’s winter; that hurts battery power. But, not only did they reach every Supercharger station they’d planned, but arrived with a surprising amount of range left in the battery–meaning they didn’t need to be as power-miserly as they’d planned.

    Oh, they drove through two blizzards and a dust storm in that run.

  • VulpineMac

    You seem to think every Tesla car will need to visit these Superchargers on a regular basis. Why? When you can start your trip with a ‘full tank’ and 99% of drivers don’t even begin to drive 100, much less 250 miles on a daily basis, then there will be minimal demand at the Superchargers.

  • Now we’re back to comparing reality to vehicles that won’t exist for at least six years. A small truck in my garage versus a ‘rumor.’

    The Tacoma is driven only when we need to haul stuff. So we’re talking maybe one trip into town and back each week.

  • Couldn’t be bothered to read the other comments in the thread, huh?

    $700 year. We have no car payment because, in order to qualify to buy our current house a couple years ago, we had to pay off our Prius. Which was only possible because we only owed less than $20k on it.

    And no, the difference in gas price wouldn’t have covered even a single frickin’ MONTH of paying for a Tesla. So Bzzzzt! Try again.

  • VulpineMac

    I don’t think it’s as far in the future as you seem to expect. Sure, it won’t be ‘ubiquitous’ in five years, but at the same time I believe electrics will be significantly more popular than they are now–and the demand already is for 50,000 per year or more.

  • VulpineMac

    I disagree on the “great, affordable alternatives” for those two models simply because the Leaf simply doesn’t have the range (though it’s ok for strictly urban/suburban driving) and the Volt is only good for 35 miles or so in EV mode–after which it starts burning gasoline. Not cost-effective for the price.

  • VulpineMac

    No, you’re not. What you ARE making a mistake on is how much demand those Supercharger stations will actually experience, since they are simply unnecessary for typical daily driving.

  • VulpineMac

    While your math may be somewhat accurate, you ARE making invalid assumptions. Even you acknowledge that it will be a while before all those bays would see crowding and again you forget that they won’t NEED the kind of throughput that a gas station offers; the Tesla can START with a full tank and when it comes to urban/suburban driving the Tesla may never NEED to visit a Supercharger unless it is on an extended road trip–unlike gas-engined cars which have to visit them every 300-400 miles, no matter how driven or where.

  • VulpineMac

    Based on Tesla’s projected schedule, you should have a Supercharger within 50 miles of you by the end of 2015 and and a minimum of one (on two alternate routes) between you and Austin–plus one in Austin itself.
    While you are right that the infrastructure isn’t the same as gasoline stations, you must realize that it takes time to build such an infrastructure (it took a lot longer than 5 years to build America’s gas-station network, after all) and to be quite blunt you can ALWAYS start your trip with a “full tank”, which isn’t possible with a gas-engined car without an extra stop before you even get on the highway. Given time–and I am talking ten years or less–everything you’re complaining about may well be covered; if not by Tesla itself, then by some other company/organization to support that infrastructure.

  • VulpineMac

    Ok, you answered my earlier question. However, once that Tacoma is worn down a bit, Tesla has rumored that they plan a pickup truck for around 2020. Now think about how much fuel you’re putting through that Tacoma on top of your monthly payment.

  • VulpineMac

    I have a better question for you, Becca: How much per year do you spend on gasoline for your current car? Doesn’t that add up to roughly the difference between a Tesla and your car’s monthly payment (assuming you ARE paying that is) PLUS gas?

  • VulpineMac

    In speaking of the ‘bigger battery means faster charging time’, you’re referring to the 70% rule of capacitors (which is essentially what these Li/ion batteries are) which basically states that a capacitor charges 70% during a certain time period, then 70% more in a matching time period, etc. It takes forever to get to a full charge, but if you assume 40 minutes to 60kW (160 miles) on an 85kWh battery, then if you go to a 120kWh battery you reach 84kW or roughly 220 miles on a 375-mile battery. Now, considering that these figures seem confusing because of the odd timing, the math has to be broken down into more recognizable figures which is why they’re claiming half-charge in something like 30 minutes (for now) and converting charge time into expected range for simplicity.

  • With your every iteration of the ‘genius master plan’, as if claims equaled reality, you head further down the fanboy rabbit hole.

    Know how long it took before mobile phones were affordable for regular non-rich people? About 20 years.

  • I’m not making mistakes in documenting how many recharging bays actually and are projected to exist in the next 24-36 months by Tesla’s own estimates.

  • Teo

    Becca, they can not get to the cheap car without a few design iterations. When mobile phones first came out they were expensive too.

    This is Elon Musk’s master plan. Watch this video:
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/elon-musk-says-tesla-is-following-his-master-plan/

    This was explained in 2006 blog post:
    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/secret-tesla-motors-master-plan-just-between-you-and-me

  • WeaponZero

    You are making a few mistakes here though.

    1) 4 bays is the minimum amount of bays per station, but some have more

    2) 2 million people are not going to buy Tesla cars over night, as more people buy them, Tesla will add more bays. Just an fyi, Tesla can get a supercharger up in 6 weeks. Expansion is even simpler

    3) Most EV charging will be done at home, not at superchargers. Superchargers are for long distance travel. There may be 370 gas stations in Albuquerque area but I am guessing there are 0 gas stations in your house.

  • WeaponZero

    The car will be 35k starting, the 40k number is based on a confusion by the media when Tesla said “half”, same as the 30k number. Tesla has clarified that the car will start at 35k. Keep in mind a 35k EV is cheaper than a 25k gasoline car.

    And Tesla knows how much the batteries will cost, they co-manufacture them with Panasonic.

  • Right, so you’re totally not a fan-boy for Musk and Tesla… Uh huh. The sad thing is I do admire him and what he’s trying to do.

    What I don’t do is worship him.

  • “Might” start at $35k. Some estimates have put base price closer to $40k (I’ll try to be fair and not include the naysayers who think it will be more like $50k per car), which again puts it into the luxury car market. Thing is, nobody really knows how much these better batteries will cost, not 2-3 years from now.

  • The seven stations total scheduled from now until the end of 2015 will be able to recharge an absolute maximum of 1344 cars each day. (4 bays per station x 7 stations x 2 cars per hour if there was no gap whatsoever between charges, which isn’t realistic, but anyway.)

    We have roughly 2 million people living in the state. I think we have rather a disconnect on numbers. Unless you mean only people who can afford Teslas count as ‘population.’

    There are, by the way, nearly 370 gas stations in the immediate Albuquerque area alone. 7 supercharger stations across the entire state doesn’t even compare.

  • The Gallup and Farmington NM Tesla Supercharger stations each have 4 bays. (I found photos.) One is on the farthest western border of the state, the other is in the farthest NW corner. So, a grand total of 8 charging bays for the entire state right now. None in the primary metro corridor. None in the eastern 2/3 of the state and nothing in Texas until you reach Dallas/Austin. Better map out RV parks if planning a long trip in that direction.

    Supposedly (according to Tesla’s interactive map) they have plans to open new stations in Albuquerque, Santa Rosa and Santa Fe sometime in 2014 but I can find no mention of construction beginning. Two more stations in southern NM in 2015. So what’s that? 28 bays total in the entire state before the end of next year? If fully utilized (not possible, but still), this means a grand total of 1344 ‘supercharges’ maximum each day (7 stations or 28 bays x 24 hours x 2 charges per hour).

    Interestingly, I found nearly 370 gas stations in the Albuquerque metro area alone (source: online Yellow Pages). In a standard 8-pump station and allowing a generous 15 minutes between cars (10m is a more typical number quoted), that’s a theoretical possible 768 fill-ups per gas station, compared to a maximum of 192 for each 4-bay supercharger station.

    Basically, and I know I’m being somewhat judgmental and pejorative here but I’m going there anyway: It’s free fuel for rich people. Your average person with the average late-model gasoline engine will not enjoy the privilege of ‘free’ travel, not for a long, long time.

  • Fair enough, correction taken. ‘Impractically small’ adjective withdrawn.

  • I see the bigger picture just fine. I painted an entire financial landscape for you, and you seem to see none of it, and keep telling me to go look at and admire this other canvas that hasn’t even been painted yet.

    I just happen to be calculating and comparing current costs which you seem to keep wanting to project to cars with theoretical stats and pricing that will not exist for at least three frickin’ years.

    You’re the one who kept insisting the Tesla-S is a fantastic financial deal. It’s not. It’s expensive. Unless you pay cash, it’s going to ding your credit and almost certainly make it much harder to qualify for a mortgage or any other loan. A car payment of $1000-$1800 is far beyond the reach of most households.

    It’s only viable for the rich or people who apparently can’t balance their checkbooks because they only count the money coming in and none of the money going out.

    We can talk about the $35k or $18k electric Tesla that drinks air and shits rainbows when it actually exists and is available for purchase.

  • Teo

    This doesn’t change rest times. You should rest for half an hour every 3-4 hours. Using superchargers you can do this forever. If you want you can drive 24/7 in circles around the country replacing drivers. Even that would be fine with superchargers as long as you take adequate rest times. The standards required from commercial drivers in Europe are a good guide.

    “Breaks of at least 45 minutes (separable into 15 minutes followed by 30 minutes) should be taken after 4 ½ hours at the latest.”
    Source: http://ec.europa.eu/transport/modes/road/social_provisions/driving_time/index_en.htm

  • Teo

    Estimates are based on facts about lithium-ion battery technology. If you want to know more you watch these two engineers from Tesla:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWSox7mLbyE
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDCYoAQmmAA

  • Teo

    You can’t see the bigger picture. Tesla Model S was released in 2012. The $35.000 car is coming in 2017. An $18.000 is going to come another 5 years after that. Electric cars will be cheaper to manufacture and cheaper to run then equivalent gas cars. People are calculating how long until we get there. Elon Musk says less than 10 years.

    They will come up with a low deposit lease plan. The deposit will be less than you pay now for a new car and your monthly payments will be less than you pay for gas. They will integrate this with a solar city deal. You will get solar panels in your roof, a battery in your house for electricity storage and a Tesla you can charge at home and have a full battery every morning.

    Other car makers can not compete with this. Luckily Elon Musk released all patents. They can copy Tesla’s technology. Tesla doesn’t mind that.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/michelinemaynard/2014/06/12/teslas-elon-musk-take-our-patents-theyre-yours/

  • Teo

    These people care about the financial aspect. These will be the same people who switch to electric fastest because superchargers are free to use. The cost of superchargers is included in the purchase price of the car. Tesla installs, maintains and pays for electricity. Eventually all the electricity they use will come from solar.

  • Teo

    Superchargers are not going to be a problem in the future. Their use will decrease as battery capacity increases. Within 9 years Tesla’s battery capacity will pass the 500 mile mark. We are now talking “the most a person can drive per day” territory for the average driver. Eventually we will see 1000 mile battery capacity for the same price the 265 miles battery costs today. This will happen in the next 18 years.

    In the next years a cheap electric car will be cheaper to buy and to run than the equivalent gas car. Elon Musk said he would be disappointed if it took Tesla 10 years to get there. Do you want to bet against Elon Musk? Go ahead and short Tesla stock.

    This guy is a genius. Do you know their sales pitch to Solarcity customers? Check out their website. Their offer is no money down (zero deposit) and your monthly electricity bill goes down. Do you want that? Yes, please. Solarcity is grown 100% a year. SolarCity is the largest solar electricity provider in the United States. Elon Musk is the chairman and biggest shareholder. They will come up with an irresistible offer.

    Also you have to remember that petrol is running out. It gets more expensive to extract. The price will only go up.

    If people want to know more about Tesla there are plenty of videos to watch here:
    https://speakev.com/threads/tesla-videos-films-documentaries-and-audio-clips.3877/

    Here is a great one from one of Tesla’s co-founder.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDCYoAQmmAA

  • Alan Dean Foster

    “I guess the $7500 subsidy PAID FOR BY THE REST OF US”.

    It is not a subsidy. It is a tax credit. You get no money back from the government, nor does Tesla get any money. Tesla did get a government loan, which it has long since paid back, with interest. A bit different from, say, GM, etc.
    As to registration being subsidized, the intention is to encourage the purchase of non-polluting vehicles. I could have bought a big Mercedes, paid more in reg fees, and pumped out a nice batch of pollutants. As someone who says they get their power from solar and wind, I’d think you’d be pleased to encourage the purchase of emission-free vehicles.
    Concerning the fact that EV’s don’t pay road tax via gas purchases, that’s a real problem that will have to be addressed, and soon, as the proportion of EV’s and hybrids on the road continues to increase. Perhaps a fee paid at time of purchase.

  • Alan Dean Foster

    “an impractically small….”

    The model S seats 5 adults comfortably (no floor hump in the back seat) and additionally, 2 kids if you choose the option rear-facing kid sets. Alternatively, with the rear seat folded down, it has as much cargo space as many SUV’s (don’t forget…two trunks).

  • Despite this particular obvious Tesla fan having responded to my very first post in which I mentioned that my wife and I trade driving back and forth on long trips, he decided to lecture me anyway. Apparently thinks we’re a danger on the road because we don’t want to have to stop for half an hour out of every 2-3 driven.

    Also, apparently we’re horrible people for thinking that flying is a terrible waste of energy, inconvenient to the extreme, and damaging to the environment, as opposed to doing the road-trips increasing numbers of Americans are finding preferable.

  • WeaponZero

    The amount of charging stations that are necessary is far less than it seems. For one, there isn’t road accessibility to everywhere in the state, you only need charging stations by the road.

    Now I am not saying the 3 extra charging stations would cover the entire state by any means, almost full coverage will come by end of 2015. But those 3 stations will cover up the majority of the population and allow access to Texas and Colorado.

  • I just love how often they change the subject from the super-expensive car that exists today to one that doesn’t exist yet, which somehow is supposed to make me run out and buy the expensive one now.

  • I think it’s even more amazing how I should empty my savings, commit to a car loan bigger than my mortgage, and beggar my retirement so I can buy an impractically small and extremely expensive (but admittedly eco-friendly and fuel-efficient) $70-110k car…because supposedly there’ll be a better $35k electric car in 3-4 years, with batteries from a technology that doesn’t quite exist yet, manufactured in a factory that hasn’t been built yet.

    Because somehow saving $350/year on my gasoline bills makes it all worth it and all the other expenses (loan interest, higher insurance, 2-3x the purchase cost and far deeper depreciation) all disappear. How? MAGIC!

    I find myself wondering how many not-rich middle-age-crisis buyers out there are talking themselves into emptying their kids’ college funds.

  • emjayay

    If you care about equitably paying for things like for example roads and maintenance etc., you will realize that the free ride that electric cars now get will have to be dealt with eventually, which raises the price of driving them, obviously. Average gas tax in the US is .50 a gallon. The average car gets 24.6 mpg. So, an average of two cents a mile for mostly road use.

  • emjayay

    Wow, the price of any comparable car or less, and all those batteries too. It’s a miracle.

  • emjayay

    Wow, three more charging stations in a state that’s 121,697 square miles. In just one year, too.

  • emjayay

    Wow, you get registration SUBSIDIZED BY THE REST OF US, even in Arizona. Good deal.

  • emjayay

    It’s great that Mr. Musk can so accurately predict the future, with numbers and everything.

  • emjayay

    Another thing: electric cars are riding on roads (other than toll roads) they are not paying for. Everyone else is paying for them.

    I’m all for eco living – all my house electrons come from wind and solar. It’s a choice you can make in a lot of (all?) places. Meanwhile, my car insurance is cheap and my payments are zero. And it still looks like it came from the future.

  • emjayay

    And more cubic feet inside than the big Prius.

  • emjayay

    Some people actually travel with another person to do half the driving.

  • emjayay

    Try reading my comment a bit more carefully. The potential 3 or 4 hour wait was if the superchargers were all full with cars lined up.

  • I watched your video. What I saw was one young guy and four adult white guys, all of whom expressed primarily emotional reasons for their purchase of a high-end luxury vehicle. None mentioned having a spouse with whom they shared their decision. Nor having children. Nor needing any vehicle other than a smallish sports sedan.

    Your numbers make assumptions about both my driving habits and the gas mileage of the vehicle I drive, both of which are inaccurate because you took the default of 22mpg. I drive about 10k a year, often less. My Prius gets, on average, 50mpg. That means roughly $700/year spent on gas, assuming a price of $3.50/gal. Tesla’s own calculator lists electricity cost for the car at $350/year, for 10k miles.

    What it does not include is the increased interest payment involved with a car loan needed to cover a car that, at its base price with zero options, is twice what it costs to buy a fully loaded Prius with prepaid maintenance. Base price does not include local or state taxes, nor state registration fees. It does not include the mandatory insurance, which for a sizable car loan will have to include collision insurance sufficient to cover the value of the car. (Not mentioned is also the fact that most people do have a maximum outstanding loan liability limit before lenders will say, “Sorry, you just don’t qualify. Look for something cheaper.” But let’s assume perfect credit and unlimited loan possibilities for the moment.)

    A $35k car with $10k down results in about (over time) $417/year in interest payment (assuming 3.2% loan for 60 months). A $70k car with $10k down is about $1k/year in interest payments. $90k with 10k down results in about $1300/year in interest.

    “If I care about the financial aspect”, which I do, I am going to pay attention to all of the factors involved, including expenses which even Tesla appears to minimize and gloss over. I can’t blame them; they’re trying to sell luxury vehicles and to give people reasons to buy them. They’re not going to mention any of the reasons not to. As near as I can tell, they’re focusing entirely on fuel and maintenance costs and not on any other factor nor the bigger picture.

    I am also going to consider things like whether at car payment that is twice (or more) over what I can get for a comparably less expensive but not as fuel-efficient vehicle can result in money I can invest elsewhere for higher return. Depending on the choice, whether the stripped down bottom of the line Tesla variant or the increased battery or actually getting some or many options, the car payment difference is between $600-1200/month higher.

    If I were to take that $7.2k-14.4k each year and invest it instead, even a very conservative index fund would likely net a return of 5% or $350-700k year, compounded — and what’s more, at the end of five years, I’d have $35-70k saved in principle, plus another $3-6k saved on top of that. I also have to consider other factors such as the potential hit on my FICA score, as well as whether or not I plan to buy a new home or seek a second mortgage for home improvements. Y’see, my wife and I bought a new house just a couple years ago, and we were advised that in order to qualify for the lowest rate and the amount we wanted to finance, it was in our best interest to pay off that 2009 Prius early.

    The principle remaining was less than $20k at that point, so it was a stretch and we had to dig deep into our savings at the time. but it was possible. If we’d had, oh, $60-70k financed on a Tesla (or any other luxury car), it would have been impossible. We’d have an expensive sports car and still be renting…which means no home mortgage interest deduction, and no real estate appreciation — which has been pretty decent since we had the good timing to buy just past the bottom of the last price crash.

    Y’see, sometimes spending money doesn’t actually save it. That’s the mistake many people make when they don’t notice that a savings in one area (fuel, maintenance) might be entirely offset and wiped out by direct and indirect expenses, as well as potentially huge lost financial opportunities.

  • Alan Dean Foster

    Can’t argue with your economics. The whole planet is waiting for the model III. And a hybrid Prius is a fine car…my best friend has one of the first ones in CA, and it still runs fine for him.
    Dunno about the “recommended options”. I have a fully-loaded 60: $83,000 including tax. Not $70k, but not $111k, either, and I don’t miss the additional 57 miles of range.
    Another little-noted benefit/savings. 5 year registration in Arizona is $150.
    I’m 67, and I can’t wait for no robot to convoy me around.

  • Teo

    That’s fine. I wasn’t suggesting that a Model S is for you. I was responding to your claim that the Model S is “a toy for rich people who could still afford gas if it was $20/gal”. Watch the video and you will see that this is not the case. None of the four people interviewed could easily afford the Model S.

  • I don’t have $100,000 to spend on a car. What I do have is other priorities.

  • Teo

    Here is an interview with 4 Tesla owners. These are not reach people.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqZwmgvPmxk

    Also I’m not a Tesla fanboy. Check out the following topic I created about “Tesla’s misleading battery warranty”. Does it look like I’m a fanboy? A fan yes, a fanboy no. https://speakev.com/threads/teslas-misleading-battery-warranty.3832/

  • Not really, no, because almost nobody buys a base model. That base price also doesn’t include taxes and other fees. And it takes a battery upgrade ($80k) just to get the upper range on a Tesla. Their ‘recommended’ options push the price to $111k. I’m not interested in owning a car that would have a monthly payment higher than my mortgage.

    Make that base price $35k and I’d reconsider. When Tesla comes out with their version for not-rich people, if we needed a new car, I’d give that new model a fair shake. Also assuming they have a non-sports car version.

    Until then, I’ll prefer to stick to hybrids where available. We like our Prius and it gets fantastic mileage. I work from home, so there’s no commute; we fill the tank maybe once a month. Our fuel cost per year is less than $300-400, on average. Therefore the gas savings difference isn’t much at all.

    By most estimates, I won’t have to think about it for at least three years yet, possibly longer. After all, I’m 51 and I’m still waiting for the self-driving cars they said a generation ago were only about 10 years away… Just like fusion energy.

  • Alan Dean Foster

    Note: base price, $70,000.
    Less Fed tax credit: $7500
    Less approx. $1300/yr. fuel cost (the more you drive, the more you save proportionally).
    Less approx. $500/yr. maintenance.
    Factor over ten years.
    Price: $44,900
    Looking more reasonable?

  • I’d appreciate not being lectured. We get it: You’re a fanboy for the Tesla. Terrific, more power to you. May it one day be something other than a toy for rich people who could still afford gas if it was $20/gal.

    But back off.

  • Teo

    You shouldn’t be driving that long without stopping anyway. Driving 600 miles with two 30 minute stops is not bad. Superchargers are located in rest stop areas where there is a Starbucks, Subway or something similar.

    In Europe for commercial drivers it is illegal to drive more than 4.5 hours without stopping for 45 minutes. Source: https://www.gov.uk/drivers-hours/eu-rules

    In the US 4000 people a year get killed by trucks and 65% truck drivers agree that they feel sometimes drowsy while driving. Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/06/19/us-usa-congress-trucking-idUSKBN0EU21K20140619

    The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that … 5,000 or
    6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. Source: http://www.cdc.gov/features/dsdrowsydriving/

  • Good to know.

  • evilattorney

    Don’t waste your money on the plugin Prius version, just get the normal hybrid version. It only gets 6 miles of all electric range and even moderate acceleration causes the engine to turn on. It’s a total joke of a plugin vehicle.

  • We looked at the Volt, decided it was too small. If/when we replace our Prius, we’ll probably go for one of their newer plug-in models.

  • I think he meant, “Can’t drive from Boston to DC without stopping at least once for a recharge.” Possibly twice.

  • Teo

    Hi John, Here is a video explaining that. Watch for 2 minutes. It will start at the correct moment. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=109v4zygeEM#t=14m34s

    Hope to see more articles from you. You can check my video list about everything Tesla. Listen to the conference calls too (links on my list). Most Tesla news is based on these conference calls. https://speakev.com/threads/tesla-videos-films-documentaries-and-audio-clips.3877/

  • Teo

    What do you mean by “The most expensive Tesla can’t drive from Boston to DC”? There are 10 superchargers between Boston and Washington, DC. You only need to stop at one of them or ideally two. Here is a map http://supercharge.info/

    You said “One hour charges that take 3 or 4 hours?” Superchargers are much faster than that. Obviously you have no idea how fast they are. You start your journey with a full charge which gives you 265 miles range. You get 170 miles in 30 minutes. If you stop two times for 30 minutes, that is 265+170+170= 605 miles. Boston to DC is 438 miles

  • Teo

    Here is a great documentary about Tesla:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=109v4zygeEM

  • HeartlandLiberal

    Tesla’s megafactory for battery production announced in Nevada is going to not only support Tesla, but will over next few years improve battery technology dramatically, and influence the further development of electric and hybrid vehicles worldwide.

    Here is a very good article discussing the impact of Tesla’s advances in technology on this front, and Musk’s intention to do everything he can to spread adoption and use of the technology, including allowing use of patents.

    http://venturebeat.com/2014/08/01/how-teslas-battery-gigafactory-could-change-everything-not-just-electric-cars/

  • Teo

    Your price argument is valid and it is just a matter of time. Tesla is doing everything they can to force other car manufacturers to switch to electric cars while at the same time they work on their own cheaper car.

    Tesla is now making 50.000 cars per year. Next year they will make 100.000 cars with the release of Model X. Tesla is almost doubling production every year. Their Fremont factory has a capacity of 500.000 car per year. In a few years they will reach that capacity.

    They are building the battery Gigafactory in Nevada. It is bigger than the sum of all battery factories in the world. Elon Musk is doing everything possible to speed up the process but it takes time.

    You can read about Elon Musk’s master plan for Tesla’s here:
    http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/secret-tesla-motors-master-plan-just-between-you-and-me

  • Tesla Model S is better than a BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 or Mercedes S Class in every aspect.

    My wife and I are not poor by any means, but every one of the cars you mention is way, way beyond what we could afford.

    When a Tesla costs roughly the same as a plug-in hybrid, which we can afford but don’t own yet because we last bought a car in 2009 and they weren’t available then, and has comparable capabilities, we’ll think about it. In the meantime, because we live on a small farm, our most recent vehicle purchase was a 2014 Tacoma. Because the Prius is really not suitable for hauling manure or lumber.

    What I “have to remember” (sorry, but the lecturing tone really bugs me) is that even at 100% improvement, a high-end luxury car is not something I can afford or even want to buy. I’d rather take that extra $60k and put in a full-on solar electric system for our house.

  • We’ll see.

  • evilattorney

    After driving a Volt for several years now, I can’t stand driving our 2010 Prius. Once you go electric, you will never want to give up the instant torque and silent driving. The other perk is that electricity is much cheaper to drive on (my Volt is about 1/3 of the cost vs gas for our Prius). I’ve only burned a half tank of gas since January, so I should be able to get through the year using only a single tank.

  • Teo

    You have to remember that Tesla’s technology improves 7% every year. This might not look too much but it is 100% every 10 years. Tesla Model S is better than a BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 or Mercedes S Class in every aspect. It has the lowest center of gravity and the best handling of any sedan. It has faster acceleration than any comparable car. It has the most storage space of any sedan. It has the best safety rating of any car ever tested. It is outselling its competition in most countries. This is only now.

    In mid 2012 Tesla opened their first supercharger. It had a power output of 90kW. Then they were upgraded to 120kW. This is what you have in most of the U.S. On Tesla’s website the 170 miles per 30 minutes refers to these 120kW superchargers.

    However in Europe and Asia most Superchargers are now third generation with 135kW output. That is 50% increase from the original 90kW. The U.S. Superchargers will be upgraded to these.

    Also lithium ion battery technology improves constantly at 7% rate per year. The Tesla Roadster has 211 miles realistic range. Tesla said soon they will upgrade the battery to 400 miles. The Model S has 265 miles rated range, just by upgrading the battery to 400, you reduce the 170 mile charge time to 15 minutes.

    This is because charging is not linear. You might have seen the graphics on Tesla’s website. As the battery gets full charging speed slows down. Therefore bigger batteries mean faster charging.

    We don’t know the battery size of the cheaper Tesla car that is coming in a few years. If it has bigger batteries than 265 miles, then it will charge faster. Otherwise you can drink a coffee and eat a sandwich in 27 minutes (with the 135kW superchargers) every 170 miles while your battery charges for free.

    This is a quote from European rules regarding driving hours (search for drivers’ hours EU):
    “a break or breaks totalling at least 45 minutes after no more than 4.5 hours driving”.

    Your 15 hours drive with driver swap is not safe. The idle time of the second driver doesn’t count as resting while that person is in the car during the first half. You are likely to have an accident during the second half of that journey.

  • WeaponZero

    1) Is there a reason to doubt? Tesla will actually add 3 more superchargers to NM this year based on their projections. So far Tesla has been keeping up with their schedule.

    2) Right, so you will need new tires and wipers, that is maintenance. Other than that there again is no oil changes and other stuff related to the engine. Far less moving parts. And 3$ a gallon is still way more expensive than offpeak electrical rates.

    As for people you are describing, they wouldn’t be buying new cars to begin with. We are talking about new car market which is 15.6m per year just in US alone.

    3) 80% of America lives in Urban areas. And I am not saying eat 8 times between NM and California, but how often do people drive from NM to California, the answer is not very often. Now I am not saying how you should live your life, that is your choice, but to the MAJORITY you are describing a non-issue.

    And no, most people are flying for over 500 miles, your poll even indicated that 73% of the population would NOT drive over 8 hours. That is about 2/3rds.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that it is rose colored in any ways, but lets be honest, no car in existence works for “everyone”. Tesla in 2020 plans to produce 500k-700k cars per year, in a world market of 82.8 million cars sold per year, there is plenty of room to sell out.

  • (1) “Plans to”. We’ll see. The nearest super-charger station from where I live is about 350 miles away. At NM highway speeds (70-75 MPH posted), that’s outside the range of the current Tesla model. There are none between me and the Austin/Dallas area.

    (2) No car is maintenance free. Even the Tesla will need work now and then. As for gas prices, right now in NM it’s $3/gallon. What you have to remember is the notion of incremental expense. It’s why some people (stupidly) think rent-to-own is a good idea for furniture and appliances. It’s also why someone who can afford $50-100/week to fill up their car isn’t necessarily going to have the means to plunk down tens of thousands for a new vehicle.

    (3) I don’t need to eat eight times between NM and California. If one lives in a major metropolitan corridor, it’s easy to forget that in much of America, destinations can be very far apart. And no, I’m not going to fly. I don’t do that anymore. Quite a few people make that choice now: http://www.examiner.com/article/more-travelers-choose-to-drive-instead-of-fly

    I am not saying electric cars are a bad idea. What I am saying is we’re nowhere near rose-colored glasses territory yet on them. Right now, the plug-in hybrid remains the superior choice. If anybody can make it otherwise, Elon Musk is the guy.

  • WeaponZero

    Tesla plans to cover 98% of the US population with superchargers by end of 2015. So charging infrastructure will not be an issue.

    As far as costs for gas, I don’t know where you live that you get cheap gas but in the US the average family spends 2600$ on gasoline per year. Over 10 years that is 26,000$. Not cheap at all. And then there is things like brakes, oil changes and other maintenance items needed for the engine.

    And you have to remember, supercharging is free, so you supercharge while you eat. Also, statistically speaking, 99.8% of trips are withing 250 miles. Above 500 miles, most trips are by airplane.

  • Very nice car — wish I had one — but until they do start producing the lower-cost variant, the Tesla will remain a toy for rich people. 2017 is a fair ways off yet.

    However, even with a lower-cost version of the car, I do have to wonder if they’ll have enough recharging infrastructure in place to make it a practical choice for an individual or family that can only afford one vehicle. It may not seem like it, but gasoline is both (1) ubiquitous and (2) still obscenely low priced, compared to the actual costs directly and indirectly associated with producing and using it.

    As Emjayay notes, even a 30 minute half-charge cycle could be problematic, especially when we’re talking about interstate travel. Looking at their site, they say you can get a 170 mile range charge in half an hour at a super-charger station. So that would mean a half hour of down-time for every three hours of driving, roughly. I’m sorry, but that’s just not practical for long-distance travel. With a full tank in our Prius, and my wife and I swapping the driving, we can go all the way from Albuquerque to the SF Bay Area on three tanks of gas and about 15 hours, give or take. Even given super-charger stations, instead of three 10-minute stops (gas, restrooms), it’d be roughly eight 30-minute stops.

    I did see a demo a year or so ago, where they showed an automated battery swap option. You pull in, they remove your battery and, from underneath the car, install a fully charged one. This strikes me as a more viable option.

    Again, I’m not saying long-distance travel is always a factor. For most folks and most of the time, it’s not. If one needs a commuter vehicle where your schedule is predictable and you’re driving, oh, let’s say a max of 100 miles a day, an electric car is a great idea. What I am saying is a person who can’t afford to buy or keep more than one car will be faced with the choice, “I can buy a car that isn’t practical for long trips…or I can buy one that is.” Until Tesla cracks that problem — long range AND fast refuel — even a regular gasoline engine will tend to dominate the market (although hybrid is better, or electric with gas engine fall-back, like the plug-in hybrids).

  • WeaponZero

    What are you talking about? You could drive a Tesla from Washington to Boston with ease. There are plenty of superchargers along the way. On top of that there are also plenty of Level 2 chargers as well.

    And so you know, since EVs can be charged at home, supercharger charging would be less frequent then refilling a gasoline car. As you wake up every morning with 100% range. But overall Tesla plans to expand the superchargers so more buyers = more superchargers.

    Tesla also plans to offer longer range cars, the Tesla Roadster is soon getting a 400 mile upgrade option. Tesla Model S will get a 500 mile upgrade option later.

    As for as feel-able buttons and knobs, all the important ones are built into the wheel. There is 0 reason to play with the touchscreen while driving.

    In terms of ecological goes, production accounts for 20%, driving accounts for 80%. So no it is not ecological to keep a car for a long time. As far as parts going obsolete, don’t compare laptops to cars, there are regulations on cars that require that parts be available for at least I think 10 years after end of life of the vehicle.

    As far as screen failing, unlikely. I have never seen a LED blacklit screen fail on me. Now I am not saying it doesn’t happen but I have 10 year old cell phone with an LED backlit screen and it still works. The biggest reasons screens used to fail is CFL based backlighting, since LED backlighting came to be, screen failure became very rare.

  • WeaponZero

    Yes 2017 and 35k BEFORE federal rebate (not after).

    As far as GM introducing a 200 mile EV, yes and no. Based on information it will be a GM Sonic and limited to 1600 cars only over 2 years. My guess is it will be sold in California only.

  • WeaponZero

    The cars are hard to hack, Tesla takes security seriously. But obviously nothing in life can be 100% hack proof. Overall though it isn’t much of an issue because there is little value in hacking cars.

    Most people are hacked to turn their server into a zombie pc to attack servers. Individuals are rarely a target unless they can steal information in mass. Hacking a car while expensive is hard to steal, even most cars that are stolen are stolen for parts. But since Tesla buyers are unlikely to buy from black market parts there is little value in stealing the cars.

  • We have a Prius, 2009 model, before their ‘plug-in’ variant was available. Its highway range is over 500 miles. It also have a surprising amount of cargo space in the back. It pretty much addresses all of our needs and wants.

  • WeaponZero

    Well the car has 2 modes, standard mode and ranged mode. Standard mode it charges to 90%, ranged mode it goes to 100%. You can adjust the standard mode charging to any %.

    As for why they don’t make it smaller, simple, to let the consumer decide how they wish to use their battery. Look at it this way, if you can recharge in your garage every day, then it makes sense to do an 80% charge for driving around town and commuting to work. But say you go on a road trip you want the 100% range.

    To be more accurate, there is little issue charging to 100%. You just don’t want to keep the battery at 100% for a long time. (Yes, when your cell phone is charged and kept at 100% that is actually harmful to the battery but manufacturers want you to buy a new phone 2 years later so they don’t care. I wish they offered an option to charge to 100% at the last hour instead of remaining on the charger)

  • WeaponZero

    The Tesla Model 3, it will start in 35k (though might go 40k with options). It will be released in 2017. They already started building the battery gigafactory in Nevada to provide all the batteries needed to meet demand.

  • Eseell

    It’s true of other lithium batteries as well. Laptops and phones last longest if you keep them between 20% and 80% charge, but most don’t limit themselves the way that the Tesla can. 80% charge is good enough for most days’ driving, and if you’re road tripping you can set it to charge to 100% on those occasions.

  • Rambie

    Thanks for correcting my mistake.

    I looked at a Leaf, I didn’t care for it. I do love my CMAX Energi though.

  • Indigo

    I did. Those are the many hidden factors that keep me at a distance even though it’s clearly the wave of the future. Further future than the optimists hope, I suspect. But for myself, I drive an old Jeep. It gets me there. And it’s paid for.

  • SkippyFlipjack

    Why the 80% though? I know about draining to zero but hadn’t heard that about other rechargeable electronics.

  • Jim Olson

    Has to do with the science of batteries. Batteries only have so many recharge/discharge cycles before they lose the ability to hold a charge…your cell phone is exactly the same. While it’s not as important as it used to be in older technologies, rechargeable batteries like in your cell phone or laptop) should be run all the way down occasionally.

  • keirmeister

    They are indeed beautiful machines. I never got to test drive one, but did check one out at one of their showrooms in PA. Here in NJ, I see a number of people driving them, so I guess Tesla is doing OK.

    I read somewhere that Tesla is working on a model more in the $40K price range. I wonder how that is going.

  • evilattorney

    Here is a good post about the latest Model S firmware version: http://insideevs.com/tesla-model-s-firmware-6-0-video/

  • SkippyFlipjack

    They recommend you only recharge the battery to 80% to help extend the battery life.

    Why don’t they just make the battery 20% smaller and tell you to fill it up all the way?

  • evilattorney

    John, the other aspect that makes it iPhone-like is the firmware. Tesla is constantly updating the Model S firmware and pushing it out wirelessly to each car. All kinds of new features and improvements have been made since the Model S was released. It’s amazing to think that your car could actually get better and acquire new functionality well after purchase.

  • evilattorney

    Sounds like a Volt would address most of your concerns. You can drive about 40 miles on full electric, then it switches over to the gas engine and acts like a hybrid. There is a reason that the Volt is rated #2 in owner satisfaction for all cars (only Tesla has a higher rating).

  • evilattorney

    I think it’s more like 2017 and will be around $35k after the Federal rebate. In the mean time, the Leaf and Volt are great, affordable alternatives to a Tesla. Additionally, rumor is that GM will be introducing an affordable 200 mile EV for the 2016 model year.

  • Rambie

    Just this weekend I just got a 2014 Ford C-Max Energi (plug-in hybrid). I can go 20-miles-ish on batteries alone before the hybrid mode kicks in which provides about a 600 mile range. For me it’s a great mix of electric & hybrid as there are not many (or any) charging stations in my area.

    Like your concern, I don’t need to worry about charging midway on a trip, if I want to I can but unlike an all electric it’s not necessary. Sure my all electric range is short compared to a Tesla but it’s well within my day-to-day work commute and shopping range.

  • Rambie

    Maybe sooner, the Tesla 3 should be coming out in 2015 and have a base price around $30k USD.

  • emjayay

    And most cars are stolen for sellable parts that fit a lot of cars, which Teslas don’t have any of. Although when Russia has superchargers, watch out.

  • Right, just added it now, thanks

  • Dont know about hackable, but he told us they’re very difficult to steal.

  • emjayay

    But see my comment below.

  • Drew2u

    How hackable are the cars? Since everything’s digital, how easy is it for a 3rd party to access controls or information of the car remotely?

  • Oh, interesting, did not realize.

  • Indigo

    Sounds like 21st century fun to me. Maybe by 2057 or so, it’ll be viable transportation for the masses, affordable pricing, battery capacity that gets you places, and charging sites at the formerly oil-intensive service stations.

  • emjayay

    The Tesla prices reflect battery capacity. The base price is for one with a lot less. The “options” that raise the price are mostly or all battery capacity.

    Fine for local travel, not so good for longer distances. The most expensive Tesla can’t drive from Boston to DC, for example. You could schedule in a long dinner break at a supercharger station I suppose. I don’t take long dinner breaks on a trip like that myself. I’m not all that interested in adding an hour to a 7 or 8 hour drive.

    Besides, think about it: Gas stations on major highways can have a whole bunch of pumps. One interchange can have two or three or four stations with 15 or 20 spaces each. It takes 5 minutes to fill a car. How would it work if all those cars took an hour to fill? 50 acre stations with 1000 spaces? What happens when you pull in and cars are waiting? One hour charges that take 3 or 4 hours?

  • I test drove one too and boy it accelerates fast. I prefer driving than being in the back seat when it does that.

  • ToMarsAndBeyond

    Those things in the rear are actually the motors. The battery pack is flat at the bottom of the chassis.
    Nowhere else.

  • GarySFBCN

    Note that there are ‘fast charge’ stations – see the link below. Some of them do a full charge in about 30 minutes, but for some reason, they aren’t listed on the page.

    http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

  • B00Z

    You failed to mention the Supercharger stations scattered across the country that will give “half a charge in as little as 20 minutes.” And the charge is free!
    http://www.teslamotors.com/supercharger

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