On the Tesla Model 3, the first mass market EV

This week Tesla announced the Model 3, it’s affordable electric car. I’d like to share my thoughts as an EV owner.

Karen and I have owned a Chevy Volt for four years and a Tesla Model S for two and a half. Between the two we’ve driven over 60,000 electric miles. We’re still as enthusiastic as ever and will never buy another internal combustion automobile, we’re done with oil. In fact, we have an order placed for the Model 3.

At the time of writing, Tesla has over 276,000 deposits for the Model 3. This is more than twice what anyone expected. 115,000 of those orders were placed sight unseen before the car was revealed. Even though 276,000 is a fraction of a percent of all cars sold globally, this is encouraging. Consider that Tesla doesn’t advertise. They get all the word of mouth they need and they get free media attention. They’re newsworthy, controversial, and they’re disruptive.

How is Tesla disruptive? Name another car which gets better with age. Tesla has provided us about a dozen software updates which have added new features to the car. There is no need to go to the dealer for an update. Like an iPhone, the car updates itself over the air through its cellular data connection. These updates are free. Unlike other auto manufacturers Tesla doesn’t look at service as a source of revenue.

It’s not just about the car. Tesla understands the need for a rapid charging infrastructure. They’ve built out their SuperCharger network to cover 90% of the US. They have plans to double the number of SuperChargers by the time the Model 3 rolls out. Superchargers work, we’ve used them. They provide trouble free long distance travel.

The CEO of GM, Mary Barra, when asked if they had plans for a rapid charging network, replied, “We are not actively working on providing infrastructure.” As good as the Bolt and Volt are, GM just doesn’t get it, nor does any other legacy car manufacturer. They’re essentially building compliance cars and hedging their bets in case this electric car thing ever takes off.

Aside from Tesla and Chevy Bolt, all the other EV’s have around 100 miles range at best. They’re going to have to up their range to stay competitive. In a very real way Tesla is driving the industry forward. One of Elon Musk’s stated goals for Tesla is to force the rest of the industry into making EV’s. And that’s happening, albeit slower than some of us would like.

We’re all familiar with the negative effects of burning fossil fuels. Beyond the environmental damage and climate change there are the geopolitical costs of securing our supply of oil, the thousands of lives lost due to the unhealthy effects of air pollution, and the economic chaos tied to the price of oil.

The gravest threat our civilization will face is climate change. It’s already here and there will have to be immediate drastic changes to mitigate the worst effects. Scientists tell us we need to leave about 3/4 of known oil reserves in the ground. Electric cars powered by sustainable energy are one big way to help. The greening of the grid is happening now with solar, wind, and battery storage systems. We can get off oil if we want to, and you can help speed up the process.

Numerous political groups are lobbying the government at all levels to encourage green transportation and sustainable energy generation. Unfortunately, there are even more well funded organizations dedicated to the continued consumption of fossil fuels. Given the makeup of congress and many state legislatures, our side is not winning this battle any time soon.

As important as it is to keep up the political fight, time is of the essence. It’s time to put up or shut up. If you claim to be green, you’re running out of excuses. Now is the time to buy an Electric Vehicle and lead by example.

Order right away if you don’t want to wait three years or more for your Model 3. If you can’t wait, there are other choices. By the end of the year Chevy is coming out with the Bolt, a pure EV with a 200 mile range. The 2016 Chevy Volt has a 50 mile electric range before switching to gas. The Nissan Leaf recently upgraded it’s battery and has more range. There are EV’s from BMW and Mercedes now, and there’s a new Plug in Prius with a whopping 20 miles of electric range. Used Volts and Leafs are reliable and can be had for good prices. In some cases the payments may be less than you’re paying for gas right now. It’s like getting a car for free!

The huge number of orders for the Model 3 are evidence that there is growing interest in EV’s. I can see 500,000 orders before long. The Tesla Model 3 looks poised to become the first truly mass market EV.

Here’s to the new age of sustainable electric transportation!


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