I Think I May Have Purchased My Last Car

We all know that a vehicle is “totaled” when the cost of repair is higher than its value after making the repair.

With electric cars such as Rita’s and my Teslas, the math changes rather dramatically. Except for collision damage (which is less likely because of the cars’ advanced driver assistance features), it’s hard to imagine a repair that would not be worth making.

The typical car with an internal combustion engine is often totaled because a new engine or transmission, like many other drive-train related repairs, can easily cost more than the resale value of the car. Not so with an all-electric car such as our Teslas.

Only 3% of the metal in a Tesla is steel — the body and frame are aluminum — so rust is not an issue.  The two electric motors, which are not prone to failure anyway, could be replaced in 15 minutes. There is no transmission, timing belt, fuel pump, exhaust system, etc. In fact there are reportedly fewer than 50 moving parts in the entire car. 

The battery, which barely degrades at all, can also be replaced in minutes, not hours, and, like the two motors, is warranted for eight years, unlimited miles. For me that equates to a 250,000-mile drive-train warranty. If, say, the battery needs replacing 10 years from now, the cost will probably be $5,000 or less by then — well worth the expense.

As you probably know, the operating system of the car is regularly updated by Tesla “over the air” for free. Our two cars have many features and functions that they didn’t have when they were built years ago and will have even more features in 2047, when I turn 100.

So, whereas one can speculate on the useful life of a traditional gas-powered car with a steel body, you really can’t speculate on the life expectancy of an all-electric car.

If you buy a Tesla, you may want to put it in your will, because it may outlive you.

Would you like to learn more about electric cars? On Sat., Sept. 14, from 10 am to 3pm, we’re hosting an EV round-up in our 17695 South Golden Road parking lot. Get more info at www.DriveElectricWeek.info

Some Reflections on Our 4,800-Mile Tesla Road Trip

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my 50th reunion at MIT. What I didn’t say in that column was that Rita and I drove there in our Tesla Model X. After the reunion, we drove north to visit my sister Susan in Maine, then into Canada to explore Quebec City. Returning from there, we drove past Toronto the morning after their NBA victory, noticing many “We the North” banners. Over a 16-day period, we drove 4,800 miles strictly on battery power, stopping at gas stations only to clean bugs off the windshield.

This was our second cross-country trip in the Model X.  The first one was to Seattle a year ago.  Four years ago we drove to Connecticut and back in a Tesla Model S.

People always ask whether it was hard finding charging stations. No, that’s never an issue in a Tesla, because when you put a destination in the navigation system, it identifies the Supercharger locations along the route and directs you to them like any other destination and tells you how long to charge to reach the next one. These locations are usually adjacent to the highways you’d travel anyway, so it adds little distance to the trip, and the charging sessions are rarely over 50 minutes. Best of all, since we enjoy lifetime free supercharging, the electricity was free. The only cost of the trip was the wear on the tires, various tolls, food and lodging.

I used the Tesla’s self-driving feature constantly to maintain my desired speed and to stay in my chosen lane. Cruise control is automatic, slowing down based on the vehicle ahead of me and maintaining a safe separation. These features make driving far less tiring and far safer. The car would alert me if it didn’t sense my hand on the steering wheel for 30 seconds, which is a good safety feature.  I wish you the same opportunity.