I’ve gone through a time warp and I’ve left you all behind. And nothing can ever be the same. It’s as if light streaks beamed me far into the future and the world is a different place. I have to say, it’s a bit surreal. Because now I’m tooling around town seeing things in a whole new way. It’s electric, my car, and her name is Naomi. With the fun I’m having, I can promise you change is good.
And it just happens to be necessary. It’s critical that we revolutionize our transportation sector and that will be with electric cars. But don’t worry, we can have a little George-Jetson-like fun while we do it. I can see clearly now — the transportation sector is majorly outdated, so obviously a lead contributor to climate change and is ready for complete sector disruption.
Last generation car
In 2007, I choose a hybrid car after having my eyes opened wide by the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”. I was a single, working mother stretched to the limit to keep all the balls of life in the air. But I knew when it came to replacing my car, I had to make a conscious-consumer decision. I invested a few extra thousand dollars for a greener car even though one salesman told me it was a waste of money. By 2016, I realized that my now ten-year-old hybrid car was going to need to be replaced sometime in the near future. It was time to consider what my next car would be. I quickly realized it had to be an electric car. And I heard Tesla would soon be taking reservations for a new, more accessible model.
Next generation decision
I put my deposit on Tesla’s Model 3 on the day reservations opened. It was Thursday, March 31, 2016, around 1:00 pm when I finally had a chance to make it to the dealership that day with my daughters in tow. Signups were easy. I made my deposit quick and easy and was on my way. Now the wait began.
This electric car had yet to be shown to the world. The spectacular unveiling was early that evening. But it didn’t matter to me what the car looked like or what other amenities would be packaged within. The starting price point was in my range and it would be electric, done. When I watched the presentation, I was unsurprisingly thrilled. Back to waiting.
The Painful Wait
After 18 months, it was utterly painful to wait. I didn’t want another single tank of gas. As a Climate Reality Leader (trained in 2015), I knew in exhaustive detail the full caliber of the climate crisis. I needed to be part of the change to make things right. Now. ASAP. I considered canceling my reservation and priced out other electric cars, but I could see that the other models weren’t going to fit our lifestyle. We needed to take 100+ mile trips with some degree of practicality and a car that I was truly going to be happy with for the next ten years. I waited it out.
My number came up in April 2018. What joy! Unfortunately, it was short lived. I realized it was prudent to await the dual motor version to deal with rural, unplowed roads we encounter in our winters. A long summer ensued with a college daughter home which left us with four drivers on two cars. Many spats ensued between teenagers and adults while my husband and I wondered how we were owners but seemed to warrant access to neither.
The two-and-a-half year wait was finally over on Mon., October 1st. I can’t believe my blue electric car finally sits in our garage. How I do love it! (BTW, it’s named Naomi after Naomi Klein and Naomi Oreskes.) Of course, the car has many delights as the brand delivers. I trusted Tesla’s reputation for luxury and safety would spill over into their mainstream model and it most certainly did. I had never driven a Tesla before I took delivery that day, so it was pretty funny for my husband and daughter to see the dealership employee try to teach me.
Tesla (similar to Apple) delivers an advanced product that shows us a future we didn’t yet know we wanted. The styling of the car serves up a very different manner of interaction which is glorious. The simplicity is astounding. The key is a phone app (and backup card). There’s no engine so no startup procedure — just put it in gear! All the functions required are incorporated into the screen interface: odometer, wipers, climate (including the direction of airflow), glovebox, radio, heated seats. I’ve already had a software update! I can now view my calendar and get internet access on the screen.
Running my errands around town, I’m largely unnoticed for the radically different functionality of my multi-ton innovation that I maneuver through my town’s streets. People don’t see that beneath the car’s underbelly is a large rechargeable battery that powers my four wheels. I blend in with other sedans, yet the body is sleek and modern in an understated way that only grabs those who are paying attention. That’s part of what I love about Tesla — they designed a beautiful car within existing visual vernacular rather than making it look noticeable futuristic.
At stoplights now I’m abhorrently aware of the discharge spewing from the tailpipes of almost every car around me — in a way that even as a staunch environmentalist I had looked beyond. It’s willing laps of disbelief — we will ourselves to disbelieve that we are spewing toxins into the air we breath contributing to our own demise. We’ve completely blinded ourselves from seeing this. And the little puffs we see are a fraction of the invisible gases that are accumulating in the atmosphere — 400,000 million tons of heat-trapping gases per day. I recall seeing an x-ray-like video that exposes the full pollution discharging from the hundreds of cars on a freeway.
And then there are the omnipresent gas stations occupying countless street corners. It gives me a thrill to know that I’ll not visit one (for gas) again. It’s so liberating. Bye-bye. As I slowly adjust to being free from petroleum, I grow in despise for what they represent — degradation of our health, livelihood and our Goldilocks, once-in-a-galaxy planet which allows us life — and now I’m officially done with them. We thought we didn’t have another option (which is why we look the other way), but alas we always did. Not everyone realizes that electric cars were squelched by fossil fuel companies decades ago. Now, people are more aware and there are finally entrepreneurs who are able and bold enough to make this superior technology a reality and are scaling it. Finally. They’re baaaaack and I do believe they will finally displace the ol’ combustion engine at long last.
Adjusting to the Future
Of course, there are adjustments to owning an electric car. I’m gladly making those adjustments. They are totally doable, people. The battery is suggested to stay within a range of 30–90% of a charge to extend the life of the battery. That cuts into my range for sure. I hadn’t banked on that, but I’m adjusting. I’ve been charging weekly at a nearby super-charger. It takes an hour, but I jump on my email and social media which I would do anyway. It’s interesting seeing the other electric car owners come and go.
I had hoped I wouldn’t have to install a charging port at our home as we will move in a couple years. But, my weekly driving requires a charge up once or twice each week to stay within the recommended range. I obtained multiple quotes to install a charger. It requires a new pull directly from our electric panel. The best quote I received was $1000. We’re going to bite the bullet as the convenience will be great and it’ll be a wash by the time we sell our house. With any luck, it’ll be an amenity for a future home buyer. How amazing to wake up each day with a car ready to go?! I’ll only ever have to make a stop for ‘fuel’ when taking a road trip.
Friend With Benefits
By Tesla’s general estimate, I can expect to save $500 per year on gas. Charges have seemed to cost me about one-third as much as gas would for the miles covered. There are to be significantly fewer upkeep costs as there are so few mechanical parts. I haven’t gotten fully up to speed on maintenance, but it seems quite minimal. I’ll likely start an economic analysis of ownership, perhaps a spreadsheet, as I have done comparing our home energy use since switching to wind energy via RECs.
Ultimately, the joy of driving far outweighs the relatively small inconveniences. The power it has is incredible. Do all electric cars have zero to sixty galactic-warp speed? It sure is nice when you need to pull out onto never-ending street traffic. I literally feel as if I’m operating a car with super powers. It also seems like a lot of people are trying to drag race with me. Usually, I ignore this but occasionally I blow them away and beam up to the next town in a second or two. 😉
It’s only been three weeks, but my world feels utterly different. It’s amazing how quickly the future can come and, believe me, I’m not looking back. I hope that my ownership and knowledge will inspire others to take the leap into owning an electric car sooner than later. Tesla is certainly showing the scalability of this. The Model 3 was the fifth best-selling car of all models sold last month in Sept. 2018.
When one considers the big picture — accounting for all the externalities associated with the status quo, dirty fossil fuel industries — why wouldn’t you choose to make this wise consumer choice? Rest assured, the future is electric and it’s fun. Could you be a part of the solution with your next car purchase? Let me know if I can inform your decision-making further. In the meantime, let’s do the time warp again!
P.S. Even if the electricity used to charge your electric vehicle isn’t wind- or solar produced, it’s still better for the environment. See this chart. And things will keep getting better over the years. If you’ll charge at home, consider opting into renewable energy as we do — it’s available throughout the country no matter where you live, even if you rent! Again, options will keep getting better and better. Welcome to the Sustainability Revolution!