My Advice on Buying Solar Panels and Electric Cars

By JIM SMITH

In the wake of last Saturday’s green homes tour and electric vehicle showcase, I’d like to share the advice I give to people who ask me about investing in solar power and buying an electric car.

As much as I wish it weren’t so, you will not recoup what you spend on solar panels, insulation and other green home improvements for your home when you sell it. As with any improvement, you will receive a percentage of what you spend, but it will not be anywhere near 100%. Only make those investments because you’ll enjoy the comfort and savings for at least a few years — and because it’s the right thing to do.

Regarding electric cars, I recommend buying a used EV. The used car industry has yet to properly value used EVs. Currently electric cars are devalued the same way gas cars are devalued, which doesn’t make sense. Consider a 4-year-old gas-powered car with 100,000 miles on it. You can probably get it for half its original price, because so many components, such as transmission, timing belt or fuel pump, are worn and might fail. But none of those components exist in EVs. There are under 50 moving parts in a Tesla. The same age EV is simply as good as new.

A used Tesla built before mid-2017 is an especially good deal, because lifetime free supercharging transfers to the buyer (unless purchased from Tesla). I’ve seen many Tesla Model S cars for sale online under $40,000, less than half their original price. Here’s one I found just now on autotrader.com….

Electric Vehicle Events in Golden & Denver

This Saturday, Sept. 14th, from 10 am to 3 pm, Golden Real Estate is hosting National Drive Electric Week in our parking lot at 17695 S. Golden Road in Golden.  This is our 5th year hosting the event.  From Sept. 14 to 22 there are 307 events around the country, nine of them in Colorado. In addition to ours on Sept. 14th, there are events in Denver on Sept. 19th, Pueblo on Sept. 14th, Longmont and Ft. Collins on Sept. 15th, Avon on Sept. 18th, and Colorado Springs, Durango and Grand Junction on Sept. 21st. Info on all of them is at DriveElectricWeek.org.  What’s so cool about this event is that there are actual EV owners showing their own vehicles, answering questions and sometimes offering rides “around the block” to interested visitors. There may also be dealers who can offer test drives of their EV models. At press time, 19 such EV owners had registered to attend our Golden event.  On the website you can register as an EV owner or as an attendee. We’ll also have a booth from Ecology Solar, which sells home solar systems to fuel your EV as well as power your home, and Pedego Golden, a new bike shop, will be giving free test rides on electric bikes.

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