Tesla owner Glenn Berry asked me to write a blog post explaining why I don’t own one yet, so here goes.
I live in downtown Chicago at the corner of State & Randolph. Parking spots in my building don’t have electric chargers, so to put one in, I would need to buy a spot ($50k-$65k), then get the homeowners association to allow me to get an electrician to install a charging outlet. I don’t own my condo – I’m renting my condo and my parking spot – so this cash outlay doesn’t make much sense for me.
The nearest building with charging is Interpark at 20 E Randolph. They have exactly two parking spots with chargers shared for the entire garage. If you use one, you have to come back to move your car after it charges, or leave your keys with the parking staff so they can move it for the next person. (In that case, when you’re ready to come back and drive, you have to go to the parking attendants first, get your keys and your car’s location (which can be anywhere in the 9-story garage), and then go to your car.
Yeah, uh, no.
And if I even tried to foist that on Erika, she’d kill me. She hasn’t had to fill up a car in over a decade – we jokingly call it Magic Gas Tank because it’s always full.
The other common issue with electric car ownership is range anxiety – worrying about how far the car will go. That doesn’t bother me at all during the summer. I do take road trips a lot, but I’m the kind of driver who likes to stop for extended periods to eat. Stopping for an hour every four hours isn’t unusual at all for me.
However, range anxiety in the winter kinda blows, and I’ll give you an example. Last winter, I took a road trip to see my parents in Michigan – 195 miles door to door, well within Tesla’s range. Halfway through the trip, I got stuck in a snowstorm and had to get off the road. I pulled into the first available hotel, slept overnight, and then took off again in the morning. Had I been in a Tesla, I would have been in a tougher spot – I couldn’t have left the car out in subfreezing temperatures, started up, and made the rest of the drive home.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m wildly excited for the future when electric cars are affordable, easy to charge, and fit into my routines. If I could just get a home charger for $2k-$3k, that’d completely change the way I feel about electric cars. But spending $70K minimum on the car, plus $50k on the parking spot – those numbers just don’t make electric cars economical for me today.
I’m willing to spend less on something that’s less convenient – but I’m sure as hell not willing to spend more.
Same here. Even if we ignore the charging problem, it’s still way too much $$$ outlay for something that doesn’t fully suit my needs. I can own a regular gas car and Leaf for less money and have more utility. Tesla’s prices are just way too high.
Interesting The extra 50k is a bit too much. I spend 100 pounds a week on petrol as a consultant and I can get a tesla for 650 pounds a month I need a new car anyway which would cost at least 200 a month if I leased it so for me it is very close to being a possibility. I am all for electric cars the sooner the better so next year I will have to take a serious look. 🙂
I find the tax incentives repulsive. Why should a “rich guy” get 7500 in tax CREDITS to buy something that he can afford without the credits? This is a regressive tax on the poor that then need to spend more money on vehicles with outlandish “safety” features mandated by gov’t that merely add curb weight, causing transportation to be even more expensive for the poor. It’s ridiculous that VW has a 300 mpg vehicle in Europe that will never be seen here. (BTW, I’m not a socialist).
I can’t quite work out how I feel about the tax credits. I think we as a society should encourage sustainable fuels (and food) but I have no idea what’s the best way to do that. We do already have a gas guzzler tax and that simply doesn’t work to discourage people from buying fast cars.
Uh, you need a home first. Then get the charger and the car.
I’m tempted, but not sure my profile for driving would work. Lots of sporadic trips, and charging might be an issue.
Hahaha, and somehow I don’t see home ownership in our near future either. We really like moving around.
I own what is, I think at the time at least, the cheapest car in America (Nissan Versa) which runs close to 40mpg and has carried a family of four across the country several times in the past few years with no trouble whatsoever…great vehicle for the money. But I do very much look forward to the slightly surreal time when I will be called upon to blog a justification for NOT owning a Tesla! 😀
I am actually working on a blog post in response to Brent’s post. In the meantime a short rebuttal…
The Tesla Model S is not for everyone. It is rather expensive, although less so when you factor in the tax credits (that Dave finds repulsive), and the reduced operating and maintenance costs.
Still, I would not try to argue that it would be less expensive to own and operate a Model S compared to the average ICE vehicle.
Elon Musk made the Model S to show that electric cars can be better than conventional internal combustion engine cars.
The Model S is making the upcoming Tesla Model III (which is supposed to cost about $35K and have a 200 mile range) possible. The Model III will be the mass market car that many more people will be willing and able to buy.
By the time the Model III is available in 2016/2017, the public charging infrastructure will be much better than it is today.
Glenn – yep, agreed. I’m curious to see how the Model III turns out – and I’m even still curious about how the X turns out.
To be clear, I love the Tesla. I just don’t like when the government subsidizes some things at the detriment to others. Let the market decide.
I first rode in a Tesla Roadster around, maybe 2008. I own some classic cars that tend to win awards at car shows. I won Best of Show, runner up was a Tesla Roadster (they were still pre-prod at the time…I think). The owner graciously asked me if I wanted a ride. Sure. I buckled up and we pulled up to the line. He asked me to change the radio station. As I reached for the dial he put the hammer down. The torque was so incredible I could not reach the dial and my hand smacked me in the face.
His roadster also played background “IC engine and tranny” sounds to simulate, I guess, the feel of driving a real IC vehicle. With the soundtrack off the thing was near silent…which is creepy with that much torque.
All around…really cool car.
Dave – yeah, the performance is awesome. It’ll be so much more usable now with the all wheel drive too, and I love that Elon Musk pushes those boundaries too.
Now, if you were Larry Ellison, this post would be entitled “Why I Don’t Own an Ohio-class Ballistic Missile Submarine….Yet.”
Is having a car pretty useful in downtown Chicago? I’m curious how easy it would be to get by with public transport supplemented by Lyft and Zipcar (or their competitors).
James – we cut back from 2 cars to 1 when we moved here. We use public transit, Uber, and Zipcar a lot to offset the need for 2 cars. Dog ownership and road trips make zero car ownership tough though.
[…] prompted some spirited discussion on Twitter on Fraiday, where my friend Brent Ozar made the case that a Tesla Model S does not make sense for him, due to his living situation. Brent is obviously far more familiar with his daily life and […]
I fell in love with the Tesla Model S the first time I saw one. I’ve embarked on a quest to save up enough to pay for one with passive income (besides SQL, my hobby is finance). I’m blogging the journey at http://roadtoatesla.blogspot.com
Brent, you should do an update on this. So many electric cars so little time.. I just bought a Jag F-Pace but I seriously considered waiting for a loaded Model 3. The main reason I didn’t is because so many new players are hitting the market in the next 5 years. There is going to be a crap ton of innovation done over this period.
Also, Miyako wants the VW Microbus when it comes out in 2022.
Those F-Paces are gorgeous – really sharp design. What color did you get?
I bought an Audi RS6 and blogged about that one a while back:
I sold it a few months later when I realized the battery was going dead faster than I had chances to drive it. A 400+ HP barnstormer just doesn’t make sense in downtown Chicago. I decided to wait until we move out to somewhere with less traffic before I buy another sports car. (Still just have the Jeep and the Infiniti.)
I should have added too – now I’m in a building where you can’t even buy an extra spot. I’ve only got one parking spot, so the Infiniti is here, and the Jeep’s up at my dad’s. (Going up there tomorrow, coincidentally.)