Hi everyone, this is a new blog site to track my travels to owning a Tesla and then life in owning the Tesla. I wanted to start the blog off with a little bit of background and then i’ll focus more on Tesla related items.
I’m an Engineer by profession and live in Massachusetts, USA in the New England area. This is not in a big area for Tesla yet and there are no superchargers in our state although some do appear on the coming soon list. Right now the closest supercharger station is East Greenwich, RI which is 40 miles from where I live and more than 60 miles from work and not in a direction I usually head.
Things are really bleak in states north of MA and even surrounding states like Rhode Island and Connecticut are pretty desolate of a Tesla presence. My guess is that perhaps they’ll push more on the North East US when the Model X comes out.
I drive quit a bit with an average right now of 90 miles a day adding up to 32K miles per year. Most of that is highway miles but often in heavy traffic on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
My current car is a 2007 Acura MDX with all the bells and whistles like the tech package, AWD, sport package, entertainment package, etc. I’m at 184K miles on it right now and averaging 20 MPG. It takes super/premium gas which is selling for $3.69/gallon in our area. That puts me close to $6K/year or about $500/month in fuel cost alone. Service costs outside of tires, inspections and wipers have increased from $0.02/mile to close to $0.08/mile over the last 6 years. Going back over the data its mostly oil changes, check engine things, belts, etc. Tires i’ve done really well with and have an average of 54K miles between tire changes with 3 changes so far since i’ve owned the car. I do the recommended rotation every other oil change and follow the oil change warnings that pop up as well as all recommended services. Tires have generally cost $1K for all 4 when I needed them. Below is a chart of the service costs excluding tires/inspections over the last 6 years and all done by my local Acura Dealer (great service team):
I believe in quality ICE cars the 200K mile mark is the old 100K mile mark. In about 6 months the MDX will hit 200K. Earlier this year I traded in a Lexus RX300 which was over 200K which I had put 140K on.
I’m not a big environmentalist but I do love the world God has created and hate to see us destroying it or abusing it. Planet Earth and Blue Planet are all time favorites for me. I’d rather go for a hike up a mountain or a park than visit Vegas. I’m a firm believer in capitalism and a free economy though and if we want people to make better choices the choices still have to make sense. Tesla’s current offering is right on the verge of making sense. More to come on that front.
I’ve looked on and off at Hybrid cars since they came out with the option of buying a Toyota Highlander Hybrid back in 2007 when I bought the Acura. Back then the Highlander lacked some features I really wanted and I had a problem with the premium they charged for the Hybrid. The Acura has been a fantastic car in reliability and is in great shape. The problem is the climbing mileage and service costs combined with my kid starting to drive this year and the need for another car.
As I thought through this a lot last year I kept coming back to the hybrids being a terrible compromise. They’re overly expensive because you have two complete systems in them, and then space/capacity is compromised to accommodate that. They also tend to have higher than average service costs due to the extra systems. They’ve made a ton of progress with the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and recently the Honda Accord Hybrid with those models pushing 50 MPG, but they all struggle with the cost for the extra systems and cargo room.
A co-worker mentioned Tesla to me early in 2013 and I looked at the company and car, then I looked at the price and laughed and kept on researching hybrids — the cost of the car was far beyond what I had ever paid before and seemed out of reach. The newness of the car and company didn’t concern me — i’ve worked in and been a founder of high tech startups for over a decade and am usually an early adopter. Its the price that hit me.
By December 2013 I had concluded hybrids have no real future (at least for me). Standard engines are getting more and more efficient with Mazda’s terribly named Skyactiv technology and competing with that was finally a fully electric car that was actually useful from my perspective. At an average of 90 miles a day of driving a car with a range of 37 miles wouldn’t work even if I could charge at work and home. Tesla made a lot of progress in 2013 it ramped shipments and got some real advocates both in the US and internationally. I started researching Tesla in earnest in December and bought a bit of stock in February which has done quite nicely in a really short time.
As I worked through things, one of the hardest parts was the cost justification. As much as I like a lot of things about Tesla as a company and the car, the “How much can I save?” section of their site was an insult to many readers for a lot of 2013 as they built in the residual car value into the cost of the car and did some other funny math. Fortunately they’ve pruned that section of the site down and its a lot simpler now. My next post is going to be about the cost analysis/justification for the Model S versus what would be my natural second choice — a 2014 Acura MDX.