When I start talking to people about our daily life with an electric car it becomes obvious fairly quickly. There is a lot of misconception about how it is to live with an electric car like the Tesla Model 3. People think of it as life changing. But it really is a lot about habits. We get so used to them that even the smallest changes sometimes feel overwhelming. But the truth is, there is so much we can do to help the planet – so many small things – that adopting just a few, adapting and pivoting your life a little bit will make a difference in the time to come. For generations to come. For us, with the switch to the Tesla Model 3, these changes were small and for the better.
We were facing the choice. The same one we all face, if we choose to:
What can we do that helps the planet? Other than eating less meat, buying less stuff, clothes etc? We are driving 90km every day to and from work, in total about 30.000 to 35.000km per year in total, including weekend trips, vacation etc. Means of transportation has a large impact on our carbon footprint, so we decided to investigate electric vehicles. We started looking at the Kia Niro but we quickly decided that hybrid did not have enough impact, though it is a small step in the right direction. Obviously we also had to consider economy, and as it turned out there was a golden opportunity with the tax situation in Denmark, and a temporary initiative that was being groomed by the government as we were considering buying. Just before Christmas 2018 the legislation was done, introducing a relaxed taxation of electric vehicles during 2019 and partly during 2020. This was our cue. It meant we could buy the Tesla Model 3, Dual Motor, Long Range with Full Self Driving capabilities included (when it will be released by legislation, Tesla will be ready much sooner than law makers) at a very reasonable price. In total this car would cost DKK 552,000 and include a DKK 22,500 tax. Normally the tax on a car in Denmark is roughly 150% on the imported price including 25% VAT, so buying a USD 60,000 car and importing it, adding VAT and danish tax would normally have this car cost around DKK 700.00 or more. But we had to let go DKK 552.000 and decided we need to have this car for quite some years. Even though that is a lot of money you have to look at the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), which is far less in the Tesla Model 3 than the Volvo S60 diesel we came from.
Before we hit that order button on Tesla’s website we did think about how daily life would be. The thing is, we don’t have a charger at home and have some difficulty getting it installed due to the nature of the building we live in being of historic value and quite a distance to the parking lot. So we decided to go for a all-you-can-eat subscription with E-on, one of the companies having many chargers across the country, most of the 11kw and some 50kw. We decided we could do this. I am fortunate to have a job where I can work from anywhere, anytime, so I may be more flexible than most, but I do think that this way of working s becoming more and more normal for office workers.
A normal week with the Tesla Model 3
We live outside a small town that has a couple of chargers, one of them being a 50kw so called “fast charger”. It is not as fast as some other chargers out there, but until recently this charger could provide power faster than most cars could take in. Even the previous Tesla Model S as most people know. This has changed now and the Model 3 and Model S can both take in a lot of power. Way above 150kw.
We usually charge the car during the weekend when we do grocery shopping. The 50kw charger is 2 minutes walking distance to the shop so we park, plug in the charger, and do our shopping. Normally this takes about 30 minutes which will give us around 150km onto the battery.
Close to work there are a couple of 50kw chargers as well, and a couple of times a week I go to one of these chargers and spend about an hour in the car while a have a meeting using Microsoft Teams, or write some emails or do other work. I can do all my work using Outlook and a browser and an internet connection and I have all that with me all the time. This means I can work from anywhere, anytime. Even in the car. So the physical location does not really matter.
Life got better with the Tesla Model 3
If you have read any of the other posts on this blog (for example the road trip to Tuscany) you probably get the gist of our enthusiasm. At a glance, when telling people about it, it would be easy to get the impression that there are many compromises in daily life, to find time to go to the charger, to remember to charge while shopping groceries, always thinking about battery level and range. There is some truth to that. You will have to think about it but it becomes second nature, just as filling up your gasoline car did. The difference is, that you don’t feel you spend time on it anymore. You don’t go spend 5 minutes filling up your diesel car, getting your hands smelling of diesel, injecting your card to the machine, waiting to punch your pin. You park your car, insert the charging cable, and do something else while the car is charging. No time wasted, no dirty hands, payment handled automatically. And the best thing of all? It is better for the environment. If you are in the category of flat-earthers or those who do not believe in human made climate change you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog. It will be like Disney adventures to you. And if you are among the sceptics, that’s fine, fair even. A lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt is being spread about electric vehicles and their negative impact on the carbon footprint and that we “need to drive 500,000km before there is break even”. Well, remember to do your fact checking.
Fact is: it depends. On the country’s use of sustainable energy, the energy “mix” (coal, wind, solar, gas, etc.). In Denmark over 50% of the energy is sustainable, climbing every year. For a car like the Tesla Model 3 the estimates are that after 30,000 to 50,000km it has a friendlier carbon footprint than an ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) car. Add to that way fewer maintenance costs and associated carbon footprint and the fact that in the near future the energy mix will be even better, hasting its way towards neutrality, it is hard not to be optimistic about the future!
We tend to look at the current technology when we think about the future for mankind and the environment. Thing is, we cannot imagine the technology available to us even in the near future. Technology that will likely impact all of us dramatically for the better. Add to that the attention among governments, organizations and ordinary people, the urgency that has been created that we need to do something now. I am a fan of Greta Thunberg. Well, not her specifically but what she represents. Though I do not agree with her choice of words in her recent speech where she made it sound like being environmentally friendly cannot go hand in hand with economic growth and good business. I deeply disagree. The future is green. Both for nature and for our wallets.
As Bill Gates said: “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction”.