On Friday I was contacted by a researcher from Florida State University to be interviewed about what it was like to own an electric car. Mike's research was designed to find out what things led buyers to purchase an electric car. He wanted to find out if the electric car lived up to expectations.
I pulled into the stadium parking lot and noticed a Tesla parked there. I thought it might be the researcher's car. I figured I would park next to it and wait. When Mike showed up - he assured me that it was his dream car - but not his car. He was driving a Pontiac.
We had our interview - which will be another story someday. What changed everything for both of us was when the owners came to get in their car. I said to Mike - let's talk to them. He was too embarrassed - so I told him I would leave the window open and he could listen.
The Tesla owners were visiting from Tampa - taking their daughter on a campus tour. It was their first time in town and their first big trip in the Tesla. Boy - were they willing to talk and show off their new toy.
All I said was - that is my Leaf there - and boy I love your new Tesla 3. For the next half hour - no question was off limits. We were a mutual admiration society - it got so good - in minut4s Mike was out of my car and sitting behind the wheel of the Tesla.
BACKGROUND OF THE TESLA
Elon Musk is a $20 billionaire. He made his money on PayPal among other things. He has branched off into making spaceships and electric cars.
Nikoli Tesla was a scientist that invented alternating current and our present system of transferring electricity. Many scientists believe he did more to advance electricity than Thomas Edison. Musk named the car after him.
Tesla currently makes 3 models - Tesla Model S - Tesla Model X - now the Tesla Model 3. the Tesla 3 is the one that excites the public because supposedly at $35,000 - it will be the car for the masses - like the Ford Model T.
DETAILS ABOUT THE MODEL 3
It is a 5 passenger car that can be purchased with a 220 mile range battery or a 310 mile range one. It can go form 0-60 MPH in 5 seconds - faster than many Corvettes. The base prices is supposed to be $35,000.
When Musk announced the vehicle - 500,000 people put down $1000 deposits to buy them. They started delivering them in 2017 from their Fremont California plant. Tesla builds their own batteries in their $11 billion factory in Reno Nevada. They are currently producing 2000 cars a month - far slower than they expected.
OUR TESLA OWNERS
This family from Tampa had already owned 2 Teslas - a Model S and a Model X. Their 2 kids have own Chevy Volts - plug-in hybrid cars. They are super advocates.
Although Tesla Model 3 is hyped to be a $35,000 car - this one was loaded up to the price of $57,000. One big option was the $9000 lithium battery that extended the range to 310 miles.
I was surprised to learn that this Tesla is self-driving. On the interstate - the car drove 99% of the way for the 5 hours drive! It would speed up and slow down to any parameter you want. You can even set it to tailgate someone if you want :-) It can safely pass other vehicles.
I have told Lulu that the next vehicle we buy will be self-driving - a car or a camper. I like driving cars - but at age 70 - I realized that a computer would 100 times better than me - particularly at night. It will dramatically extend our adventuring into the future.
MY OPINION ON ELECTRIC CARS
I love electric cars - they are quiet - fast - efficient - dependable. I am not a greenie thinking they are saving the planet. Remember - most of our electricity is made burning - coal - oil - or gas. Pollution is made somewhere. I hope someday we will make most of our electricity from water power - wind power - or solar power. Countries like Ireland - Germany - and Holland do much of that now.
My big problem is depreciation. I will use my Nissan Leaf as an example. In 2012 - it cost $40,000. I did not pay that - the original owner paid that. I bought it when it was 2 years old for $12,000. Imagine kthat - depreciating $28,000 in 2 years! It had 30,000 miles on it. I have driven it for 4 years and put on 10,000 uneventful miles. I plug it into my garage every night. when it was new it got 70 miles to a charge. That has dropped to 50 miles a charge. Now the car is 6 years old and the book value has dropped to $6000. It is still a great ride around town and our favorite runabout. But when we want to go on a long trip - we take our 2016 Honda Van or our 2004 Roadtrek camper. Our Leaf gets the equivalent of 120 MPG in cost benefit. If gasoline shot up to $4 a gallon - electric cars would be popular. Right now with cheap gasoline - Americans are back to their Ford F150's and SUV's.
I love electric cars - and this Tesla Model 3 seems like the most practical one. The fact that it can drive itself is a big bonus. But for now - I will be happy driving my little $6000 Nissan Leaf. Some people drive electric cars because they are green - they want to save the planet. I like to drive electric cars because I am GREEN - as in I like to save money.
Lulu often says to me that when she met me in 1969 - I had a brand new VW Beetle that I paid $1600 for brand new. She says - think of all the money we would have saved if we just kept that one car.