by Nate "Buster" Jaros
photo courtesy Autoblog
Exactly 20 days after placing our order, I was excited to see that we now have a VIN number assigned to our car!
The new VIN appears on the My Tesla webpage right next to the delivery timing notification (which hasn't budged by the way). There are a few VIN decoders out there and after some careful scrutiny and number decoding, I was happy to see that all the major stuff on our VIN matched what we ordered.
As far as timing and what it all means...no one but Elon knows. There are reports on the Tesla Motors Club forum that people who ordered a Tesla the same day as me, or thereabouts, got a VIN assigned within a few days or weeks of their order. Why ours took three weeks is a mystery.
Another interesting story is a fellow I "met" on the forum also ordered an Obsidian S75D, nearly the same day as ours. He also got a VIN assigned today too. I wonder if they assign VINs in batches based on color or drivetrains? I guess it would make sense to build "like" or similar cars on the production line to save time and improve efficiency?
Who knows? But I'm excited!
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
I have a pilot coworker friend, who can’t stand the idea of a Tesla. His name is Bob and he constantly badgers me and exclaims all the negatives of owning an Electric Vehicle (EV) even though he’s never owned one. His biggest gripes about EVs is that they take so long to “fill up” with juice, and that on a lengthy road trip his son’s 1986 Geo would beat a Tesla in time to get to the destination. He’s probably right. On that account.
But there are a few things that Bob hasn’t considered, he has missed the point and loses time and dollars every day owning an ICE (internal combustion engine).
Can owning a Tesla really save you time and money? I think it can, here’s how.
Let’s first look at time saved by owning a Tesla. This was something I never even really considered until I saw the YouTube video below from Like Tesla. They do a pretty good job breaking down some of the economy of owning a Tesla and comparing it to a Typical ICE. We’re going to take that concept one step further here.
Bob drives a Hyundai Genesis. Not the little two-door ‘sport’ thing coupe Genesis, but the full sized, four-door sport sedan that is similar in size to a BMW 5 or 7 series car. More on that later. What I found interesting (according to Like Tesla) is that the average American drives 37 miles per day, and gets 24 miles per gallon. This equates (on average) to having to fill up their car with gas every nine days. If it takes just five minutes to fill up the tank with petrol, that comes out to about 200 (202.77) minutes every year filling up your tank with gas! That is 3.33 hours of time filling up your tank every year. This doesn’t include waiting in line at the pumps either, which can more than double this figure if you live in certain areas of the country, or you are a member of certain bulk stores that sell gasoline that always seem to have long lines.
For me, in my eight year old Ford Fusion Hybrid, I drive about 100 miles a day to commute. I have to fill up once every seven days on average. Multiply that by our same five minute factor and I spend over 260 (260.71) minutes per year at the pumps. That is 4.33 hours I spend standing at a service station every year.
Bob’s big Genesis is a second generation Genesis with the big engine. According to the internet he gets 23 MPG on the highway and averages 18 MPG overall. And with a daily commute like mine, I am guessing he has to put fuel in his car every seven days or so, like me. I think it’s fair to assume that Bob also loses over four hours a year at the pumps.
So how does a Tesla save you time? We’ll 99.9% of the time you “fill up” your Tesla at home, in your garage while you sleep. Which costs you no time at all. Road trips are a different story, and I get that. Maybe we can compare those times in a later article. But for now, we can say that Bob can save about four hours a year of time if he had an EV.
Doesn’t sound like much? What would you do with four hours (or double that for pump lines) every year? And consider that over the average life of a car that’s 34+ hours (~70 hours if you have lines) standing at a smelly gas pump!
A Tesla can save you money too. For the sake of this argument, let’s just look at the money savings of fuel and energy costs for a few vehicles. I know the Tesla costs more to purchase than a comparable ICE, certainly more than the Hyundai Genesis, and it’s way more than a typical smallish commuter car. We can look at those economics later. For now, let’s assume you are set on a luxury/premium sedan. What does it cost to fuel each?
My little Hybrid typically drinks 15 gallons every seven days. I know this from eight years of ownership. And the price of gasoline fluctuates too. According to AAA, the 2016 USA average gas price was $2.24. Our current (as of this writing) price for gasoline across all the USA is $2.47. In Nevada where we live, it’s a bit higher. But let’s use the national averages for the cost of a gallon of gas to help us compare. Taking both averages into account, let’s just say that gasoline costs the average American $2.25. Fair?
So my 15 gallons every week comes to $33.75. Let’s assume that we do that for 52 weeks and we get an annual gasoline bill of $1755. Yowza!
Bob’s thirsty Genesis doesn't get the 37-39 MPG that I get in the soon-to-be sold Hybrid. Let’s assume he also drives 100 miles a day and gets the rated 23 MPG highway. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say all he drives is on the highway. No city driving. With that he’ll need 30 gallons a week costing him $67.50 a week. For the year that costs $3510….of low grade gas. I’m not positive of his engine, but the V8 car requires premium, the V6 version can run on regular.
A Tesla costs far less to charge due to the price of electricity versus gasoline. A typical 85 kilowatt hour (kWh) Tesla battery takes about 95 kWh to charge up (due to line losses, on board charger, etc) from zero to full. A more typical 50% daily charge up (from 40% to 90%) takes approximately 60kWh. In Nevada, on the special EV energy rate plan where they want you to charge at night when less energy is being pulled from the grid, EV owners pay $0.04 or $0.05 per kWh at night. Knowing that, I can predict my daily “fill up” of my new Tesla to cost me either $2.40 or $3.00. That’s a bill of $16.80/$21 a week or $873/$1092 a year to fuel my Tesla. Call it an average of $980 per year to fuel the electric beast.
With that knowledge, I’m saving myself $775 over the Ford Hybrid, and over $2500 a year in “fuel” alone over the Genesis!
And since we’re comparing to a Hyundai Genesis sedan, it’s interesting to note that a new Genesis model, tricked out with AWD and similar features as my Tesla costs $60k. My Tesla costs just $12,500 more than that. If you haven't figured this out yet, it will take exactly five years for me surpass the TOTAL COSTS of the Genesis (with regular unleaded, not premium gas, and all highway rated economy). At the five year point, Bob and I break even on the prices of our cars and fuel.
If you compare to a higher end BMW, Mercedes, et cetera, then that break even point narrows even further, shrinking to closer to two to three years. Additionally, if gasoline prices are higher in your area, or you have solar or utilize the free supercharger network every so often then expect the Tesla to breakeven with a similar luxury/premium sedan even sooner.
Bottom line: if you plan on owning a Tesla for longer than five years…it will save you money in the long run! And we didn’t even talk about oil change wait times and costs.
Want FREE supercharging for LIFE on your Tesla? Please use my referral code.
Video courtesy/credit to 'Like Tesla'
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
Well, after you order your car, the wait begins. If you're like me, you'll check your My Tesla link (above photo) daily to see if anything has happened. Sadly...it has not.
After the three day grace period ends your My Tesla page will look like the above, and you'll get an email saying your order is locked in and set. Key highlights on the My Tesla page are that you will have been assigned a Delivery Specialist (DS) in your area, and on the bottom right you can also see a predicted delivery timeline. It's quite a broad range of dates.
I'm told that the DS is really your go-to guy or gal when it comes to anything and everything involving the delivery of your car. I'm guessing that the DS will keep me informed, help set up a delivery date and time once things get closer, and generally be my 'friend' through the process. I did email my DS to say hello and inquire if she had any insight or more accurate delivery timing insight...but I have not been worthy enough to command a response. Time will tell huh?
Rumor has it that the DS can pull up info on your specific order and see what date the predicted build might start. That would be cool to know...the car's birthday.
Aditionally, you will also get links on the My Tesla page to all kinds of documents. The most exciting (if you can call it exciting) is a link to the Owner's Manual. I've started to go through it to get familiar with some of the sections.
Stay tuned, I'll keep this up-to-date when I know more.
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
Ordering a Tesla is pretty easy, when you get right down to it. You have the option to go into the “showroom” (which is called a Service Center by the way) and have a “representative” or "product specialist" (not sales person) help you configure and order the car. Or the second and best option in my opinion is to just go online and order.
I pulled the trigger last night on my new Tesla, and here’s what happened!
Just like we all learned in pilot training and survival school for us military guys, planning everything out for the flight makes it all go a bit smoother. If you’re like me, in the weeks and months leading up to your Tesla or EV purchase you will be online a lot studying options, colors, packages and planning for what car you might like to order. There is a lot to look at and consider.
CPO Car or Not?
One possibly option that I will talk about briefly is the Tesla CPO. CPO stands for Certified Pre-Owned, and much like all other major auto dealers you can buy a CPO Tesla. Usually these CPO cars can save you a lot of money too, depending on how many miles and what options you want on the car. Check out the Tesla website to see what’s in stock now, you can even narrow your search by color and price.
Originally I was set on getting a CPO car. I wanted to save some money and I heard that the preowned cars were not too shabby. From what I’ve heard in the community most CPO cars arrive looking pretty great. Tesla does a nice job refurbishing them. But there have been some poor examples of this as well, and people have received their CPO cars looking somewhat “ratty.” Tesla Motors Club online forum is littered with bad and painful CPO deliver tales. But I am sure that is rare.
The other disadvantages of a CPO Tesla (and why I went with a new car) was that the CPO cars come with the remainder of the eight year battery and powertrain warranty. So if your CPO car is four years old, you only have four more years on that drivetrain and battery…and a lot is still unknown on how that system will fare as the cars age. The oldest Tesla Model S on the road today is a June 2012 car…so it’s just five years old.
You do get a new “bumper to bumper” warranty with the CPO. Either a four year 50,000 mile warranty, or a two year 100,000 maximum odometer warranty…depending on the age and miles of the car at the time of delivery. So that can be good. But for a guy like me that keeps a car generally eight to ten years on average, the CPO warranty doesn’t make much sense.
Lastly, I went with a new Tesla order because the CPOs I was pricing out and looking at were nearly the cost of a new Tesla (for me). So to get a new car and eight years or battery warranty, and all the bells and whistles ordering a new car for a “few dollars more” just made more sense. That’s a great Clint Eastwood Western movie by the way!
Of note, Tesla does not build cars by model year. If a Tesla is a 2017 car, it was built in 2017, etc. Keep that in mind when shopping for a CPO. Additionally, only new cars receive a $7,500 federal tax credit.
Ordering the Car
Okay, it’s time to order. This is what I did, and I’m guessing it might be similar for a CPO car, or maybe even an inventory car.
The first thing you need to do is get a friends referral code. Mine is here if you need one. This ONLY works on new Model S and X cars and will save you $1,000 and give you unlimited free supercharging for life.
If you order after 31 October 2017, Tesla is saying that the $1,000 credit you get is going away!
Once you have that referral code, click it and it will take you the Tesla configuring page (like you’ve been to a thousand times already) called the design studio and from there it’s simple. You just build and click on the options you want until you are happy with the car. Double check everything, but if you later find out you made a mistake, or want to change your mind on some option or even the paint color you can go back and adjust it.
After you build your car and click submit, you will need to fill out some basic info, and give a credit card or Paypal for the $2,500 deposit. Once you do that you click submit and that’s it! A page like below comes up, and then you get an email confirming everything. Exciting!
Confirmation page above. Top of the Email they send you below.
Don’t worry either, if you have buyer’s remorse or want to make a change, Tesla informs you that you have three days to do so, and then your deposit and order become “locked in.” After all of this you will be taken to another Tesla page where you will need to start to upload a few necessary items. This stuff can wait, or you can do this immediately, it’s up to you.
It looks like the below photo, with your car at the top and "tasks complete" circle in red.
Telsa wants to know your address, get a copy of your drivers license and insurance information, and a few other basic items about any trade in vehicles and if you plan on leasing, paying cash, or using a loan to pay. This page (seen above) becomes your account page, and you can log back in at any time to update stuff, or I presume to get more info on the production and delivery of your car.
All in all it is pretty exciting! Not just the fact that you just ordered a seriously awesome car, but that there was no hassle, no bargaining, no back and forth with a pushy dealer…you just click and buy.
Like the car itself, this is the way of the future.
by Nate "Buster" Jaros
The first thing I learned about Tesla happened almost six months before I got serious about purchasing one. This learning wasn’t just the typical how far can it go, how fast can it go, oh it has a big touch screen kind of learning. No, I’m talking about the sit down and get serious learning that needs to take place before you belly up to the showroom and plop down some cash like you might do when buying a regular car. And because we’re pilots…we have to plan this stuff!
If you really want to step into the dark (and often seedy) underworld of owning an Electric Vehicle (EV) you most certainly need to do your homework. And sure, yes you need to start to understand things like charging speeds, self presenting door handles, supercharger throttling, what CHAdeMO means and a host of other new terms and concepts, that are quite literally totally foreign.
One way to start to get a lay of the new EV land is to go online. Preferably to a great community of current Tesla and EV owners. See what they have to say. What are their likes and gripes, and start picking their brains. I recommend the fine folks at Tesla Motor Club for a solid and friendly online discussion forum, as well as Teslarati for general news and up-to-date articles.
Buying a Tesla (and I haven’t even done it yet) requires a lot of planning. It’s a whole new EV world. You’ve been swimming in the shallow end of the Big Oil and petroleum pool all your life, you’re now about to go surfing in the EV ocean. And that ocean is new, cold, and turbulent.
Typical Prep Items
Some stuff I really focused on and learned when beginning in-ernest plans for Tesla ownership was to figure out how I was going to fuel this monster. You just plug it in…right?
Well in actuality, there are a myriad of ways you can power your EV, and you need to figure out what works best for your driving styles, your home, and your wallet. Let’s look briefly at each of these.
If your driving style takes you around town mostly every day, maybe delivering kids to school, picking up groceries, a run to the local gym, etc…then be honest. You can probably suffice with a Tesla or EV that has less battery quantity and less onboard energy storage. But if you commute a significant distance every day, you will need something larger in the way of power and batteries. You might even need a way to charge your car while it rests in your office parking lot. You need to be honest with your driving style.
Based on that, you also need to look at your home. Most EVers charge their vehicles overnight at the house, at least according to the stats on the internet. Wiring up some kind of electric outlet in the garage is pretty straightforward, and Tesla even has basic schematics and fact sheets you can print out and hand to a electrician who knows nothing about EVs. Different EVs have different requirements for overnight in-garage charging, so explore that a little. Most seem to like 240V (volts) like a dryer-type outlet for faster and more efficient charging. Consult your EV’s makers for details.
Oh, you live in a condo or apartment? Good luck. You’ll have to do some serious work with your landlord to encourage him or her to think about the costs of installing EV charging on the property. It’s a definite hurdle.
Below is my 240 Volt NEMA 14-50 install.
Lastly is your wallet. I’m not talking about the price of the car, I’m focusing on just the at-home stuff that is going to be needed.
That electrical install can cost anywhere from $250 to $2000. If your house is “wired” for higher amps (higher energy draw), and your breaker box supports and has open spots for the correct circuit breakers, then you’re in business. If not, it can get pricey. Copper wire and breakers are a significant material cost. I’ve even heard about some Tesla owners having the city come out and trench out their yard to install newer high capacity, high amp power lines. Ensure your home is ready to handle the higher loads.
The good news is that a typical Tesla can save you five times as much cash (or more) when it comes to gasoline versus electricity. Especially if you charge your EV during “off peak” hours which a lot of districts offer. As a side note, a co-worker of mine spends a calculated $1 a day driving his Tesla to and from work. We each do about 85-90 miles a day. That drive currently costs me about $10-$12 a day in my ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car getting 38 MPG.
Do You Road Trip?
I believe that the profitability and sustainability of any car company that wants to mass produce an EV will be hinged upon its ability to provide quick and widespread charging options…worldwide. Tesla is, ahem… on the road… to doing just that. You’ve probably heard about its vast supercharger network which as of this writing there were over 5,000 superchargers globally, and about 400 in the USA with plans on doubling those by the end of 2018. They also have over 9,000 “destination chargers” with plans on taking that up to 15,000 as well. Destination chargers are compatible charge ports you can use at a hotel or restaurant. Some malls are even putting in various EV charging stalls with compatibility to all types of EVs.
All these chargers are great! Just as soon as you realize that it takes about 30-40 minutes to charge your Tesla battery to 80% of it’s rated capacity. That might be enough to get you to your next charge point, but it might not be either. It will be some time before you can pull into a power station and charge up your EV in the same timeframe as it takes to fill your current ICE car with fuel. THAT is a huge deal breaker for some people, especially if you’re road tripping or traveling long distances. This fact can increase the time of your journey immensely.
Most owners say that the charging wait isn’t so bad, especially if you can pair it up with restroom and food breaks that you might already be taking. I haven’t experienced it yet, but I know it’s a concern for my copilot and crew.
The good news there is that for Model S and X owners…supercharging is FREE! Forever! That’s right, top ‘em off and go! Forever! Supposedly for the now emerging Model 3 owners they will be given some sort of annual supercharging credits to use, like some kind of futuristic handouts. Model 3 owners wont have free reign of the superchargers. Time will tell how that goes for Tesla.
Of note, here in the USA, Europe, Japan and China there are rapidly expanding networks of EV charging options that are being installed by other auto makers. Nissan, Toyota, and to some extent Chevy are all beginning to lay in their charging infrastructures. Of course none of these systems are identical, all with non-standardized plugs. I’m researching adapters now, as it seems that a few will be needed if a prudent EV owner would want to take advantage of another EV charge network while on the road. Some networks are free, some cost money, and all charge at different rates it would appear. I hope to experience this more soon with my Tesla and do as many EV owners do and collect a “hit-and-run” bag of wires, adapters, and cables that should theoretically allow charging options anywhere one might travel.
courtesy Will Fealey
Final Thoughts on Planning for an EV
I have to admit, I’m excited to step into this new world. I can’t wait to avoid the fuel lines of lemmings at Costco, and not having to crawl underneath my car every 5,000 miles to unleash a hot black goo, and locate a responsible place to recycle that stuff.
We haven’t even broached the subject of environmental concerns with EVs. Maybe at a later date? I’m pretty excited that theoretically my zero emissions car will save the planet and make it greener (albeit at the cost of producing a premium sedan and at the cost of producing electricity at my house via some unseen methods that my State decided upon). Theoretically an EV that runs off of wind, hydro, or solar power is said to be extremely green.
Those environmental concerns aside however, there is a lot to consider when looking at the EV world. I do think it’s the future of personal transportation (sorry Big Oil). But the only question remains…is that future here now, and are we ready for it?
Stay tuned for my next article about ordering the Tesla!
If you are thinking of purchasing a Tesla, hit me up with questions and consider saving $1000 on your order and getting FREE unlimited supercharging for life by using my referral code. This offer is only supported by Tesla until 31 Oct 2017!
Why am I so intrigued by the Tesla?
Is it the lure of electric power and freedom from fossil fuels? Is it the sleek awesome lines of the car itself, reminding me of some of the fine aircraft I've seen and flown? Perhaps it's the technology, and futuristic capabilities the car delivers. I've always wanted my own X-Wing Fighter.
The following is my journey into Tesla Model S ownership. The family is ready, the timing is right, and I'm ready to leap from the relative safety of oil and gas to a new world of electric motors and charging stations. Maybe it's the future?
If you're interested in following my story, either because you are a pilot, or a Tesla enthusiast, or maybe even a Tesla owner already...please tune in here. I aim to document most of the process and hopefully pass along some things I learn along the way.
With that, here goes! Thanks for reading!