Last month I had opportunity to drive some of the latest Mercedes models of different types through a rent-a-car agency. And they are very good to drive. But comparing with Tesla, not at the same level of experience.
Here is the list of my reasons to purchase one such full-electric car.
First, it is obvious for me that we all will soon have to give up from driving fuel-based vehicles and go with more sustainable and less-polluting cars. So, for me it was just a question which model to choose.
Second, Tesla is indisputably the best electric car. Comparing different options, we quickly see that German manufacturers wasted opportunity to lead in the development of this new generation of vehicles. There are new models , but only being marketed from this year. And I don’t like to buy the first generation of a product. Every new product brings some design or manufacturing problems and issues, which can be resolved only with the next design cycle. Tesla Model S was first produced in 2012, so the company had enough time to improve the original design and identify all major risks. And I appreciate very much this maturity. Then, there are numerous Chinese manufacturers and according to some recent market reports, China produces and buys more electric vehicles than the rest of the world combined. So, they have the experience and the technology. But here in Europe we don’t have opportunity to see and test cars like Geely Geometry A, BYD Denza or NEVS EV 9-3.
Third also, as I’m of Serbian origin, like the greatest scientist of all times Nikola Tesla, it has to be that I love this brand. And it is very nice to see that the name of this scientist who seems to be the only person who really understood our earth and its energy is being reestablished, especially after the proofs of recent times that Einstein’s theory of relativity can’t really explain the laws of universe.
So, my first impressions of Tesla Model 3.
You feel powerful. You feel the elegance of the white color and white interior, glass roof, and minimalist design. You enjoy in the silence, but the same time ,you know that you have an unparalleled Ferrari-level power of acceleration. I must say that one should use it very carefully, especially in the city where other drivers or cyclists don’t expect that you can jump so quickly from 0 to 50km/h. My Long Range model has 350 horse powers, all-wheel drive (4X4) and accelerates from 0 to 100 in 4 seconds. The Performance model is even more powerful and faster than this. The car is very very silent. And when you remove your foot from the accelerator, it activates generative braking which slows down the car more than traditional fuel-based vehicles. Something to get used to, but I like it. And while doing this, you hear a little sound like of a spaceship from SF movies. Wonderful!
Entertainment is fantastic. The car has a data SIM card and access to a Spotify account so now I can listen and discover music that I love, and simply add to my playlists. You can enjoy all kind of music (jazz, children, Bollywood etc). I’m so grateful that Tesla liberates me from stupid FM/DAB radio stations. But I can actually listen not only local, but also many world and foreign radio stations through the streaming service. The sound quality is so good that you actually prefer sitting there than in your living room. And the 38 cm touchscreen is large and very responsive to cover all dashboard information, driving visualizations, car commands, music and navigation map.
Apart from the touchscreen for the commands and dashboard, there are no other displays or buttons. Of course you have a lever to change from P to Drive or Reverse, and one for the turn signals and lights, and two buttons on thee steering wheel, and that’s all. The rest is available on the screen, the position of which is rather convenient. Where my hand was earlier to manually change the gears, I need to extend it only about 10 cm to reach the commands on the screen.
Fully Self-Driving (FSD) Capability is an option, which costs 6’300 CHF. I have just an autopilot, but FSD is easily upgradeable on the existing hardware. There are more and more self-driving features, and for more information on how this is implemented, check this video You will learn how sophisticated the chips, the neural networks and the datasets are so to enable this AI-powered self-driving car.
I plan to charge the battery mostly at home. Normal power socket can provide up charging of to 15 km/h, but the three-phase power enables up to 60 km/h. For my short distance rides, normal wall socket will be enough. The long range model with fully charged battery can go up to 500 km, so I think for my weekend trips or even holidays all this should be enough. And for longer trips there is network of superchargers to charge the battery in 25 minutes. The battery loses every day 1% of the energy, so that’s something one should also be aware of.
About the available space inside the car, it is interesting that under the front hood there is no engine. Instead, there is space for luggage. Rear section is spacious enough. In addition I also have installed a tow hitch for trailers of the weight up to 910 kg. Maybe not enough for the heavy and long campers for 4-6 persons, but it will do for the smaller ones.
Why Model 3 and not S or X ? Well, Model 3 is the most recent and the most technologically advanced. It is also smaller (4.7m long) and as I don’t have so much space in front of my house, it was a no-brainer I would choose this model. Dual motor for long range, with all options costs around 70’000 CHF. It is a considerable expense, but still affordable. And once you drive it, you can’t go back to the fuel cars. I think this was the idea : make a car not only sustainable but also enjoyable and available to the middle class.
With Tesla Model 3, and as of 2019, the history changes. Ordinary people like me can drive excellent and powerful electric cars, and the car manufacturing industry will see a lot of disruption in the next 5-10 years. I hope we’ll see more electric cars starting from this year, and not only cars, but also motorbikes – I think it is really pity that people here in Europe still drive petrol scooters and not the electric ones.
Does it mean that everyone should buy Tesla ? No, of course not, as there are many other brands (German, Chinese, etc). But think of the following fact: a normal fuel car produces around 200g of CO2 per km. For 10’000 km that people easily drive per year, it is 2 tons of CO2. And this is per car or per individual. As of July 2019, the measurements show that the atmosphere contains now 415 ppm of CO2, comparing to 390 ppm in 2010. And IPCC report states that 430 is the limit, above which we must not go if we want to be sure not to have a climate-related disaster, caused by more than 1.5 degree of the temperature increase.