I vowed that my next car was not going to set tire treads in a gas station. I have a solar powered house and the idea of plugging my next car into my roof gives me a green thrill, even if it doesn’t make much practical sense-yet.
Last week I prodded my partner Amir, who is a real car guy, to check out the new Tesla with me. The Tesla is to the automotive industry what Apple was to computing: A fresh approach to something we’ve been doing the same way for years.
The first thing that comes out of your mouth when you see this car is a soft whistle. Keep in mind that Amir has no patience for the Leaf, Prius or Volt (other clean cars). In his mind these are just compromises littering the highways. But once he sat behind the wheel of a Tesla, he said, “Now this is a car!”
Before getting in the car, you unplug it from the wall. The sensual door handles glide out from the door frame beckoning you inside – no key. Then – you just put your foot on the brake and… nothing happens. At least that’s what you think. But your electric chariot is humming and ready to rock, she’s just silent. I tightened my safety belt knowing that Amir was going to test the 0-to-60 MPH- in-under-4-seconds claim in short order.
As predicted, not even outside the underground garage, Amir had this puppy in Mach 2. I was half waiting for a flight attendant to come down the aisle and check my safety belt. Holy shit, this thing was fast and it can go 240 miles without an electron refill.
The next thing you notice, once your eyes return to their sockets, is the central dashboard. Imagine a stunning display as large as two stacked iPads that probably control every aspect of the car and your life using a web browser, Google maps and an assortment of apps. Forget about texting while driving. Here, you have to keep drivers from uploading their blog posts while on the move. You can even eliminate the blind spots by turning on a rear view camera. In short, this is a back-to-the-future experience, beautifully done.
I can keep going, but that’s not the point of this post. Although I do have to add that it comes with an app that allows you to pre-warm or cool the car from bed. And if there is a problem, the Tesla technicians just log into your car remotely. No oil changes, no tune ups. It makes the 3,000 mile oil change ritual part of the Old Testament. Goodbye Jiffy Lube.
After all is said and done, the basic Tesla model sprinkled with leather and tech goodies costs about $1K/month to drive for 3 years. At that point, if you choose, you can return the car and Mr. Tesla will pay off the rest of your loan. It’s financing imitating a lease.
Once I heard the price, I ruled it out. My current car costs half as much, which is still too expensive. But that is why God created partners.
“Ronen, forget the money. Will you be comfortable driving this car? If so buy it.” Amir very eloquently took the money excuse off the table and since this would be a business expense and also come out of his pocket, this was a significant dare.
He was right; the crux of the issue is my image. I would not have a problem riding a $10K bicycle, but expensive fancy cars are not part of my personal brand. A little voice would argue that the extra money spent on this car can feed a small African village for several years, or can be better spent loading up the college savings account.
This thing screams status, which I detest. But on the other hand, it can plug into my solar roof and completes a clean and green story that I want to believe in. And if I want to stay out of the gas station, it’s a very tempting and innovative solution.