My Tesla Model S – 18 months later

So I’ve had my Tesla Model S electric sedan for 18 months now, and driven it a modest 11,300 kilometres to date. I suppose it is time to report in on my experiences so far. I will mainly discuss the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Although not the most exciting topic, TCO is on everyone’s mind when they see someone such as myself driving a “luxury” car, EV or not.

First off, I have to say, the Model S is the nicest car to drive I have ever owned. It is fast, comfortable, predictable, and is very inexpensive to run. Not that saving gasoline costs is a motivation to buy such an expensive car, but the cost of electricity to run the vehicle comes in at about 4 cents/km, whereas my previous Honda Accord cost about 18 cents/km! If I was commuting, the running cost would be a more important consideration, but I’m retired, so my use is mainly running errands around town with the odd modest road trip thrown in once in awhile.

Driving personal vehicles is the biggest single source of carbon emissions in the developed parts of the world. By driving a purely electric vehicle and using hydro-generated electricity to power it, I have halved my personal carbon emissions!

The number one question I get from people is about recharging and range. The automotive press have finally given up publishing the sensationalized stories about running out of charge when driving an electric vehicle (EV), because frankly, that virtually never happens. My experience with my Model S is the same as when I drove a Honda Accord: you fill it up when it needs it and before you go on a road trip. For local trips, I recharge my Model S using a 50 amp stove plug service in the carport every few days, so there is no range anxiety with my Model S because it’s always “full” and ready to go. Additionally, I find it very nice indeed to never have to go to a gas station…no stinky hands, spilled gas, waiting in line, or being annoyed at the price of gasoline! Of course, when I point out there are way more recharging points in the city I live in than gas stations, that usually gets an incredulous look as well (but it’s true).

Tesla's 2016 Supercharger network
Tesla’s 2016 Supercharger network

When I take a road trip off Vancouver Island, I can often make use of Tesla’s own Supercharger network, which doesn’t cost a thing to use (included in the vehicle purchase price), and which covers southern British Columbia and Alberta, virtually all of the USA, as well as southern Ontario and Quebec. Connecting my Model S to a Supercharger gives me a mere 20 minutes for my bathroom break and to find a cappuccino or other snack before it’s time to carry on with the road trip. The range for my Model S is about 425 kilometres, which exceeds my personal “range” (by a fair margin) while on a road trip!

Insurance for the Model S for me living where I do and the age bracket I’m in is only about 20% higher than I paid for my Honda Accord Crosstour. If I lived in Vancouver or other provinces, rates would be higher, but I can’t speak to those areas. My insurer is the Insurance Corporation of BC, a crown corporation. Private insurers have much different rates based on different criteria, but from what I’ve heard from both Canadian and US Tesla owners, their insurance is reasonable once they shop around a bit.

The superb handling of the Model S is what convinced me to buy this car, and it continues to amaze me, making driving a pleasure again. The cornering is superb, the acceleration is nothing short of astonishing, and the quiet cabin and smooth, composed ride is so relaxing. The always-connected to the Internet feature allows Tesla to deliver a vast selection of media to entertain everyone along the way with unlimited Internet radio and other programming, live navigation updates while the vehicle is underway, and the latest vehicle updates are installed without ever having to take the car to a service centre. All updates are free – bonus!

My Tesla Model S being repaired at my home
My Tesla Model S being repaired at my home

Speaking of service, Tesla’s vision of service is something to behold. We are all used to enduring the dealership service desk, where the customer is considered a rube to be exploited at every opportunity. The service bills can be astoundingly expensive even for modest vehicles these days, and switching car brands doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference. Car dealerships are all the same: they exist to extract as much money from you as they can. Tesla Motors on the other hand is different…really different!

Tesla doesn’t have dealerships. They sell direct to their customers. You sign up for a test drive online, and if you like the car, you go back online to purchase the car at fixed prices. It’s a real breath of fresh air dealing with Tesla and their (noncommissioned) staff. They are helpful, courteous, well-informed, and don’t pressure you to buy their cars or their services. When you need service, those fixed fees come into play again. However Tesla honours the warranty, no matter if recommended service is done or not. My experience with Tesla service has been nothing short of amazing!

Safety isn’t always the first consideration when buying a car, but eventually we all get to experience how safe our cars are, since accidents are inevitable these days. Tesla builds the safest cars currently on the road. Whether it’s a Model S sedan or a Model X crossover, Tesla vehicles are at the top of the list when it comes to ensuring their passengers survive motor vehicle accidents. Tesla isn’t satisfied with the high safety ratings they achieve with their vehicles. They actively work to make their vehicles safer by implementing new features in both their new models, and even implementing safety features retroactively into vehicles already in their customers’ hands through over-the-air feature updates and voluntary recalls. Read their website to learn about autopilot, self-parking, automated lane changing, and other technologies they are implementing to keep us safe by helping Tesla drivers at every opportunity.

My Model S doesn’t have some of these advanced capabilities since it is a year and a half old, and yet I really appreciate my vehicle’s tilting rear view mirrors, proximity sensors, and gorgeous high resolution backup camera that automatically engage when I’m parking or backing up. The titanium shield under the car and the fantastic crumple zone in the front trunk assure my safety should something go wrong while I’m driving.

I will never go back to owning or driving an internal combustion engined car. After driving the Tesla Model S, it’s obvious to me that fully electric vehicles are the way to go…no debate about it in my mind.

I have always gravitated to cars which exhibit timeless styling, and the Model S is right up there at the top. Admiring stares as I drive my Model S and people coming up to me to ask questions when I’m parked validate my purchase decision every week I own this superb car. I realize my enthusiasm for Tesla and their products can get a bit tedious…but if you want to read more, browse their Customer Stories. If you have questions about EVs, I’m happy to answer them (use Comments below), but you might also want to watch some of Tesla’s videos for background info on the basics of EV ownership. I encourage you to take a test drive!

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