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Passing on Tesla

I’m not the car owner in my partnership but let’s just say I have, um, influence. We currently drive her 10-year-old Subaru Crosstrek, which gets about 27 mpg on a good trip, burning gas like a climate change denier flipping the middle finger to the sky.

But we’re not deniers, and are very aware of our individual contribution. We’re also not rich, and the cost of EVs still feels far too high, except for the Chevy Bolt, which now starts at about $26,000 before the $7500 fed break.

That’s about our speed, but the Bolt lacks the charging speed and AWD we feel we need with regular 6.5-hour trips between western Michigan and the UP for her work, through sleet, snow, high winds, and whiteouts. You really, really don’t want to wipe out in February in the Seney in the middle of UP in any vehicle: spotty cell service, and not a lot of traffic. Taking an hour to charge 80% of the Bolt’s 258 miles of range makes a long winter trips almost untenable. When we head East it would be three stops to charge, adding 3 hours to a 9.5 hour trip.

So the recent Tesla price cuts are attractive: about $46,000 after the fed credit, though it’s still awfully high. The model Y is a fantastic car, with 330 miles of range, much more cargo space than what we have (we travel with Bear, a guitar, and some extra gear for my tinkering), and extra-fast fast-charging. It still feels too expensive for us, but the maintenance and fueling costs are far lower than an ICE, and it helps us do the responsible thing: almost eliminate our carbon footprint for driving.

Unfortunately I don’t trust Tesla anymore. Neither does she. This has nothing to do with Tesla itself, but Musk’s behavior. His investors must be going ballistic. He’s brilliant, and more importantly, incredibly driven, but he’s also erratic and it makes us wonder what we’re buying into for the next 7-10 years.

So we’re holding off for the moment, waiting for Ford, GM, Kia/Hyundai, VW (talk about trust issues), and others to come out with the range, charging time, and format we feel serves us.

What would change our minds? Were Tesla to replace Musk, we’d take another look, though his replacement appears to be in his own control, not his board’s. The Model Y certainly seems like the best car on the market–not just the best EV, but the best car. Ford turned us off with their price increase on the F150 Lightning, and wow–that was a fun test drive and we seriously considered it until dealers started charging double the base price and beyond.

In 3-5 years there will be a $20,000 EV with over 300 miles of range and a fast 80% charge in 15 minutes; that’s the magic price and performance mix for mass adoption. The Bolt is close and I bet Chevy picks up serious market share this year. We’ve been waiting a long, long time for this transition, and can’t wait to see all car companies battling it out to earn the business of everyone, not just the wealthy. We’ll enjoy the cleaner air, and lower impact on our shared environments.

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