Tag Archives: tesla

Tesla Model 3

John Gruber, writing about the Tesla Model 3 unveiling:

The crowd enthusiasm was palpable. Tesla took over 115,000 pre-orders before anyone had even seen the car. That is trust — and rather incredible for a car that they don’t intend to ship until the end of next year.

At the beginning of the presentation, Elon Musk references his “master plan” blog post, where he outlined Tesla’s plan to start with the luxury market and then use that money to build a less expensive car, and then use that to build an even more affordable car. That blog post was 10 years ago.

Vision takes time to execute. It’s incredible to reflect on the scope of what Elon Musk’s companies have accomplished. As I wrote about last year, Elon will be admired by my kids’ generation in the same way that mine was inspired by Steve Jobs.

Electric Beetle

As I’ve written about here, I have a Nissan Leaf and it’s the best car I’ve ever owned. When the lease is up in a couple years, I’ll reevaluate whether to buy a new one or switch to a different make of car, but there’s no question that I’m never going to buy another gas-powered car for myself again.

In addition to the obvious benefits to the environment, how quiet the car is, and being able to “fill it up” at home, the Leaf is also shockingly reliable. No oil changes, no random weird noises or parts failing that seem to regularly happen with every other car we’ve owned. Simpler is better.

We’re crossing the point right now where electric cars are not only better in a novelty way for early adopters, but just actually better. Every year there will be more electric cars on the road, from more manufacturers, and every year they’ll chip away at the traditional problems of cost and range.

And there’s even fun stuff like Zelectric Motors, which I discovered via a great video from The Verge. I always thought that if I ever had $60k to blow, I’d get a Tesla. I may need to consider these retrofitted classic VW Beetles instead. They look beautiful. (Although probably helps to live in the San Diego area just in case it does need the occasional trip to be serviced.)

My new electric car

10 years ago, when everyone else had cable, we were sick of the monthly bill and the mindlessly infinite channel list and cancelled it. I was happy to never have to deal with Time Warner again. But a couple years ago, we subscribed again to keep up with some of our favorite shows. Finally things are changing, and I expect we’ll cancel again before too long.

This on-again, off-again relationship with cable is also how we treat having a second car. Working at home for the last 13 years, even with taking the kids to school and various errands, my wife and I rarely need to be in two places at once. So we downsized to one car long ago, then got a second car for a few years, then downsized again a couple years ago. With my daughters to high school, I knew we’d need another car soon, but it was nice not having an extra car payment and even better to have an excuse to bike to coffee shops.

I promised myself and my son, who is already living in the future, that our next car would be 100% electric. I kept up with new Tesla models and their growing Supercharger infrastructure, but realistically Tesla is out of reach. There’s no way to justify the price for just driving to the elementary school a mile away, a nearby coffee shop, or around town every couple days.

So three weeks ago we picked up a Nissan Leaf. Because our needs (and battery technology) keep changing, we’re leasing it and we’ll decide at the end whether to pay the difference and keep it. It’s a fun little car, so quiet and effortless to drive, and the kids love it.

Obviously our “normal” gas-powered car will remain the primary family car and the one that we take on road trips. The Leaf goes about 85 miles fully charged and plugs into the normal outlet in our garage, as if we were just plugging in Christmas lights. I’ve also used the charging stations at Whole Foods, where I usually go for coffee and work once or twice a week. (We skipped the recommended 240V home charging kit for now, which charges significantly faster. For comparison, Tesla’s range is closer to 250 miles.)

While I’ve always been pretty good at hypermiling, the Leaf has made me even more conscious of it. I drove to my daughter’s basketball game in Georgetown last week, 30 miles away on the toll road. Sustaining 75mph is the worst and dragged my miles/kWh down a notch. On the way back, I drove the more direct, non-toll route and got significantly more efficiency at respectable speeds with some breaking.

But cruising down the highway it’s easy to see that this is the way the world should be, in time. Good new tech always reminds me of that first feeling we got when using the original iPhone, how it felt like the whole thing was from 5 years in the future. It’s not that extreme with the Leaf, but I still see a little of that, a glimpse that it’s more advanced than it should be. I think this may be the best car I’ve ever owned.