To Tesla, or not to Tesla?

I regard the new Tesla Model S as a proof of concept. Elon Musk and company have delivered a luxury electric vehicle with the range, comfort and style that we have become accustomed to from a century of driving vehicles with internal combustion engines. The only practical drawback comparing a Tesla and say, a Jaguar XJ-6, is that you can refuel the Jag in five minutes instead of an hour, or more. I could live with that, and I think most people could. Outside salespeople, or anyone that essentially drives all day to keep up with their business, will probably not live with all that deadhead time.

Consumer Reports gives the Model S 99 out of 100. Green Car Reports claims that in some ways of looking at it, the Model S is outselling comparable Audi, BMW, Daimler and Lexus models. All of that is good. But it is still a luxury car, and even with federal incentives and Tesla’s financing plan, owning one will cost about $1,000 per month.

If I was making $200K per year … yeah, I’d get one today, and try to drive it as little as possible. As it is, though, I’d have a hard time paying off a Volt before I retire. I could afford a Leaf or Fit EV, but if I had to buy a car now, it would be the Prius c.

A Fox Business article advises, Don’t Buy an Electric Car.

… I’m not a green Grinch. Our house is entirely powered by an enormous solar array. My wife has owned a Honda Civic Hybrid since it first came out in 2003. It just turned over 100,000 miles today. It’s a good car.

When it comes to energy and the environment, I like to think I’m a pretty sensible, practical person. But I wouldn’t buy an electric car if you paid me.

So what are his reasons?

Let rich people like rock stars and actors buy Teslas and Volts.

Can you afford a Lexus or a BMW? You can fall way short of being a rock star and still get yourself into a Model S. Yes there are concerns about battery life, but after the dead Roadster fiasco, Tesla is going a lot further than say, Nissan, in assuring customers that they won’t be stuck with a ton of dead lithium.

The car I want to drive doesn’t come in electric.

So did he want some exotic car, like a Boxster, or a Sting Ray? No, not exactly.

We bought the Honda Civic Hybrid because it looked just like a regular Civic.

I like the Civic, but I can’t believe that not finding an EV that looked as good as the Civic was the dealbreaker. The Leaf and the Volt are good looking cars. He just doesn’t want a car that usually has an Obama sticker on it.

You have to plug it in.

At home, overnight. Instead of lining up at some smelly pump island to fill it with more expensive gasoline.

The whole government subsidy thing.

Like the defense industry? or the agricultural industry? or private airfields?

Who says electric power is clean?

Electric power is no environmental panacea, but if you already have a solar array, it should be cleaner than gasoline ever will be.

I don’t like fads, … that are fueled by “bad science,” … man-made global warming, climate change …

It wasn’t that long ago that buying any sort of hybrid was a fad. And it wasn’t that long before that when only the very wealthy could replace their horse-drawn coaches with a motorcar in town. The idea that everyone gets to drive a car may well be remembered as a fad.

Update: Green Car Reports has a good owner-written comparison of day-to-day driving the Model S and the Volt.


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