• Tom Fleming

Tesla Time!

[adapted from original Facebook post, September 2019]

This post has been a bit delayed as I’ve been feeling a bit reticent about it. You might say it’s hardly the time, with everything that’s happening in Britain and the world, for posts of the ‘look at us in our fancy new car’ type, and if it were any other fancy new car, I’d be right with you. BUT...

I’ve been following Tesla since Elon Musk’s ‘Secret Master Plan’ blog post in 2006. It’s still online if you want to read it. Essentially it established Tesla as a company with the central aim of accelerating the world’s transition to sustainable transport; an aim since broadened: sustainable production and consumption of energy in general. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past fifteen years or so, or getting your news and opinions exclusively from our illustrious tabloid newspapers, the transition to electric vehicles is essential (but not sufficient) to doing anything at all to even slow down climate change, let alone stop it. Yes: there is much else to do, but fossil-burning transport is a major part of the problem facing us, and electric vehicles are a medium-sized part of the solution. So your vehicle choice is either part of the problem or part of the solution - simple as that.

We decided to be part of the solution as soon as we possibly could: for the past four years we’ve been getting around in a Nissan LEAF: first the original 24kWh model and then the marginally improved 30kWh version. Most of the time the day-to-day experience was already way better than the petrol-powered equivalent: the way any EV responds, handles and drives in general is just better. Maintenance costs are basically zero. Running cost per mile is amusingly small. Long journeys were a bit of a pain though, as the over-all proposition (LEAF range, charging speed, placement and reliability of rapid chargers) results in a certain elongation of the trip, much time waiting around at motorway service stations, spending regrettable amounts of money on sub-standard coffee, etc. Tesla’s ‘affordable’ endgame car was still nowhere to be seen and there was no way we could afford a Model S or X.

Anyway, HERE IT IS! The Model 3 is what we’ve been waiting for all this time, and after three years on the reservation list we finally took delivery last Friday. It’s just the best thing ever. The whole thing is as far removed from the fossil fuel experience as you can get, everything about the way it handles is just sublime, and any little imperfections are continually being ironed out via software updates. The LEAF already felt pretty different from the old bangers I was used to; this is on a whole other level. If you’ve never driven a Tesla, you should. It’s one of life’s little pleasures in an increasingly crappy world.

Most of my conversations about electric vehicles since we got our LEAF have been spent answering the same handful of questions (range, charging speed, charging cost etc) and then hearing some version of ‘Yeah, it’s a great idea and I’m right behind it but it’s not for me yet because…’. Much as I’ve wanted to put in the time patiently eliminating objections and winning people over, I’ve realised that it’s not really the point. If your starting point is that you will do the right thing for the planet as long as you aren’t ever even slightly personally inconvenienced... you get the drift. If you can stretch your outgoings to a Model 3 (and yes it’s a bit of a stretch for us in terms of fixed commitment, though not so much for any given month when we’d otherwise be spending a load of money on petrol), the inconveniences are gone anyway. Whether you choose a Tesla or another electric car, you’re making a net-positive contribution to a sustainable future, you aren’t pumping life-shortening particulates straight into the lungs of children, and.. oh hang on, that’s enough right there. So just do it!

On a personal note, my uncle (OK, father’s cousin’s husband, but I always thought of him as an uncle) Professor Peter Lawrenson devoted most of his professional life to the development of the Switched Reluctance Drive motor, a version of which powers our Tesla and contributes to its high efficiency. Sadly he didn’t live to see the day (and I’ve no idea if his patents are actually involved), but the fact still brings me joy.

Oh, and here's my Tesla referral link. If you use it to get a Tesla, we both get 1,000 miles of free supercharging. Win!