First, it is an amazing accomplishment for a startup car company like Tesla to even cross 1 million sales of a single model, let alone become capable of producing a million cars per year. This has become possible at Tesla because of Tesla’s production ramp in its California factory and its China gigafactory. With the Texas gigafactory and the German gigafactory on the cusp of starting production, Tesla will soon be producing five million cars per year. Bottom line: you can’t sell cars you don’t make, and Tesla is making an incredible number of cars.
Let’s Start with the Demand for Electric Cars
I’ve been driving electric vehicles for 7 years, driving three Nissan LEAFs. I have now driven my Model 3 for two years and 50,000 miles. My first EV purchase was on February 21, 2014, when I bought a 2014 Nissan Leaf SV with a range of 80 miles and a 24 kWh Battery. The car was limited to short errands and couldn’t easily make the 83 mile round trip to SLC International Airport. However, I was hooked on the numerous advantages of an electric car. The smooth silent operation and great acceleration of the car won me over.
My insight: You have the admonition of the 1800s: “Go West, Young Man!” And in the 1970s, in the movie The Graduate with Dustin Hoffman, the admonition for the future was: “Plastics!” I have come to believe that the admonition of the 2020s should be: “Never by Another Gas Car.” You may not be able to afford an EV right now or you can’t get your favorite model in and electric car. Stretch a few more months or years out of your current gas car and buy electric when you find one that suits you and you are able.
I learned that electric vehicle technology is so superior to gas-powered vehicle technology that I believe it is just a matter of time for EVs to dominate worldwide, like they are already doing in Norway with 85%+ penetration. (Note: Sweden is close behind with 50%.) See my list below of the advantages of EVs, including the parts in a gas car that an EV doesn’t have. I have come to believe that in my children’s lifetimes, gas vehicles will be looked upon like we now look on horses and sailing ships. They will only be used to pull hayrides and sleigh rides.
I also believe if you care about the future of our planet, buying an electric car is one of the most significant statements a person can make. If you buy an EV, it will produce no global warming, causing CO2 and no deadly air pollution while in operation. Think about that when you and 20 other cars are idling in the drive-through at any fast food location. I sit happily in my EV knowing that I only use a little electricity when I move forward, and I am emitting no noxious fumes for my fellow drivers to breathe.
The Reasons Why People are Buying EVs
- They are totally silent (backing out of the garage feels like you are being pushed by hand).
- They accelerate like crazy (merges, passing on a two-lane road, & beating the light are a breeze) .
- They drive as smooth as silk.
- They are a total hoot to drive.
- You never have to stop for gas (charge at home).
- No oil changes every 3,000 miles.
- No emission inspection annually or bianually.
- No scheduled maintenance every 5,000 miles.
- No twice weekly stops to fuel and handle a stinky gas pump.
- Fueling takes 5 seconds when you drive into your garage and 5 seconds when you leave.
- Note: for 95% of your driving, EVs are much more convenient than a gas car.
- In one million miles: in principle, only tires, windshield wiper blades and fluid need to be replaced/refilled.
The Long List of Things a Gas Car Has/Requires but an EV Doesn’t Need
- Twice weekly stops at a gas station to fuel and handle a smelly gas pump
- Scheduled maintenance every six months or 5,000 miles (driving to a car dealership and sitting there for an hour or more)
- Oil and filter changes (sitting at a grimy Jiffy Lube for an hour every 3,000 miles)
- Annual or biannual emissions inspection (waiting in a grimy station for 30 min)
- Transmission flush/fluid change
- Worn out belt replacement
- Spark plug replacements
- Brake pad replacement every 50,000 miles (EV brake pads will last 1,000,000 miles with regenerative braking)
- Timing belt replacement every 80,000 miles
- Water pump replacement (usually replaced with the timing belt)
- Emission-causing sickness and death
- Garage deaths from CO poisoning
- Oil (you never have to get a rag, open the hood, pull out the dip stick, and check the oil)
- Emission control system
- Catalytic converters (I spent $2000 replacing two on my Highlander at 90,000 miles)
- Exhaust system/pipes/mufflers (I’ve spent hundreds of dollars over the years replacing rusty pipes and mufflers with holes)
- Gas tank
- Transmission (I’ve had a least two transmission rebuilds in my life, at ~$2000 each)
- Transmission fluid
- Gas tank (I had to patch a leak)
- Gas gauge (I’ve had to replace a faulty gas gage more than once)
- Cooling system
- Radiator and hoses (I’ve had to replace several radiators because of leaks)
- Belts (modern cars have several belts that need to be replaced when they wear out)
- Antifreeze (needs to be flushed and replaced every 100,000 miles)
- Starter (I have replaced several starters and starter solenoids in my life)
- Alternator (I have replaced several alternators in my life)
- Fuel injectors (my son-in-law spent $4000 replacing clogged fuel injectors)
- Complex internal combustion engine with maximum life of ~200,000 miles
Note: 1) I personally have spent $7000 for an engine rebuild, and 2) An electric motor will last 1,000,000 miles.
Observation: An EV is so much simpler than a gas car that the maintenance must be significantly lower.
The Only Normal EV Maintenance Items
- Tires, windshield wipers, and windshield washer fluid
- Utah State Mechanical Inspection every 4 years (first 8 years)
- Cabin air filter every two years
I’m Compelled to Also List the Few Disadvantages
- Charging takes longer than gassing up
- The battery has finite life (but my Tesla battery will last ~1,000,000 miles with tender care)
- Out of charge: must tow
- Shorter range than gas cars
The Primary Reason for Buying a Tesla in Particular: Superchargers
We have a problem — my wife and I spend the winters in Utah and the summers in Wisconsin, so we must make the 1500 mile trek each way twice each year with our small rescue dog and many of our possessions. This means that we require a car that can travel cross country. By my third Nissan Leaf, I couldn’t bear to leave it in Utah, so I actually hired a car carrier to ship it to and from Wisconsin. Bottom line: I require a car which can travel cross-country conveniently.
Tesla is the only company that has an extensive charging network that allows its cars to make long-distance trips. It allows me to make that annual long-distance commute from Utah to Wisconsin and back. Not only does Tesla have a comprehensive Supercharging network that covers all major travel routes in the US, but it is also expanding the network like crazy. It is adding stalls on the most traveled routes every day. See the photo below of the formerly overcrowded Supercharger in Beaver, Utah, which was recently expanded to 32 stalls. Tesla is also adding Superchargers to locations off the major routes, like the two brand new stations at Marquette and Escanaba in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan
More Reasons for Buying a Tesla in Particular
- Tesla has the most advanced Automatic Driver Assist System (ADAS), with huge improvements to come very soon.
- Tesla has the most advanced Navigation and Infotainment Systems.
- Tesla is the only car company that has mastered frequent systematic software updates, so you basically get a car with new capabilities every few weeks or months.
- Tesla has 10 years of experience of successful EV production. (Note: Chevrolet has just recalled all of its Bolt EV and Bolt EUV models because of battery fires. It has shut down the Bolt factory because it still has not found and fixed the problem.)
The Primary Reason Why Customers are Buying the Tesla Model 3 in Particular
- It is significantly less expensive than the Model S and Model X but has nearly all the features and advantages of its pricier siblings.
- Many upper-income customers have no problem affording a Tesla Model 3.
- I believe there are large number of middle-income customers like myself who have made the stretch to buy the Tesla Model 3 even though it is in a price bracket they have never touched before.
How I made the stretch to a Model 3 which was more expensive than any car I had purchased previously:
My brother, a retired physician, and my daughter a VP at the time for Adobe had already purchased a Tesla Model S and a Model X, respectively. My brother immediately began using Tesla’s extensive Supercharger network to travel long distances across the country to visit his children and grandchildren. However, as a retired NASA scientist, those cars were out of reach for me. I had never purchased anything more expensive than our $25,000 2004 Toyota Highlander, which now has almost 300,000 miles on it. In 2018, Tesla released the Model 3 for a starting price of $35,000. We were maintaining both our house in Utah and our lake house in Wisconsin. There was no way we could afford the payments for even the entry level Model 3. Fortunately, interest rates had gone down again, so it made sense to refinance the house in Utah. I was able to trade in the Nissan Leaf and take cash out for the Model 3 on the home loan, so I was paying only 3% interest on the car and I was even able to improve my cash flow.
Bottom line: The Tesla Model 3 was so attractive me that I found a way to finance a car that was more expensive than any car I had purchased in my life. My rationalization: I was 79 years old, it was now or never, and if I kept it for 15 years. it would be the last car I would ever buy. Over 15 years, it would be less expensive to own than a cheaper gas car I might buy.
More Reasons for Buying a Tesla Model 3 in Particular
- It is a gorgeous car.
- It handles like a sports car.
- It has a gorgeous 20” horizontal screen that controls virtually all the car’s functions.
- It has a heat and air conditioning direction system that came directly out of the Star Trek Enterprise. The vent extends the full length of the dash board. The driver and passenger control separate air streams with a swipe of a finger.
- It has nearly all the features and advantages of the Model S and Model X, like a fabulous sound system, at a much lower price.
- Note: all of these reasons apply to the Tesla Model Y SUV, which has much more cargo room, as well. The Model Y is already outselling the Model 3 in the US. I most likely would have purchased the Model Y, but it was not available at the time. However, 95% of the time, the Model 3 fulfills all of my needs and it is $10,000 cheaper.
This is only the knowledge and experience of one owner, but hopefully gives some insight as to why Tesla is selling every Model 3 and Model Y it can make all over the world. When I bought my Model 3 in October 2019, I only had to wait a few weeks for delivery. Now demand is so high that delivery times are as long as 6 months.
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