Why I’ll Never Buy a Gas Car Again

Daniel and his wife take delivery of their Model S.

Twenty seven thousand miles and 11 months later, one thing is absolutely clear: I’ll never buy a gas car again. Now — to be fair — I obviously had to be an optimist to begin with in order to justify purchasing this premium-priced sedan. But my optimism regarding the viability of fully electric vehicles during this stretch of Tesla-only use has increased. And it’s worth noting that during this entire period, Model S was not only the primary car in our household, but the only car. My solidified confidence in electric vehicles after such extensive use, therefore, makes this a story worth sharing.

Feel free to call me biased. However, my passion and enthusiasm for Model S is founded on a real and thorough experience. The car, along with the experience that comes with owning it, inherently solicits approval. It’s not my fault. I can’t help it — the experience has been a step up from a gas car in every way, thus euphoria ensues. It’s Elon Musk and his team of hard working engineers, along with Tesla’s eternally toiling and prolifically spawning robots, fault. They’re the ones that made the dang car.

Fortunately, I’m not alone. Love-struckness is a nearly unanimous owner symptom. And it carries over to auto magazines, auto experts, and reviewers; Model S is frequently lauded as the best car ever made.

But let’s break this down list-style. Here’s why a Tesla electric vehicle has me seeing gas cars for what they really are — outdated, noisy, inefficient manifestations of an industry trying to squeeze marginal innovation out of an inferior approach to powering four wheels (Maybe that was a little harsh. But don’t take it personally — this disdain for internal combustion engines is another irrevocable spell cast by Tesla’s Model S).

1: All the power you want. Every time you pick up your iPhone and scroll through your Facebook feed, you expect the rate of scroll to reflect the strength and momentum of your touch. Press a key on the piano and you expect the loudness and softness to mirror the strength or gentleness of your touch. This is good, sensible technology. Wouldn’t it be nice if it could be the same way with cars?

In a gas car, a hard push on the accelerator at a given speed produces unpredictable and disproportionate power. The foot comes down and parts grunt, struggle, and kick around, finally offering whatever that particular gear has available at the moment.

In a Tesla, you’ll get exactly what you want when you want it, and in direct proportion to the touch, push, or stomp of your foot. Want 100% torque from zero miles and hour? You got it. Want every bit of acceleration available to you at a given speed? It’s waiting for your stomp.

And while we’re on this topic, I’ll introduce you to a new way to accelerate your car when it’s fully electric: kicking. Acceleration in a Tesla is so responsive to the exact force of the accelerator pedal that kicking, versus stomping, actually makes a difference.

85 kWh Model S acceleration.

Enter Motor Trend’s auto experts after test-driving Tesla’s P85D Model S:

Essentially, the two motors’ email-instant reflexes mean the stability control system is the drivetrain itself — and vice versa — not a Band-Aided layer of throttle- and brake-mitigating technologies overlaid on a big-inertia crankshaft and flailing pistons accustomed to Pony Express reaction times.
Consequently, the easiest way to flatten your retinas at a dragstrip isn’t by just stomping on the right pedal. Instead, you draw your foot back and kick the living hell out of it. (I’m serious.) Your foot’s flying start at the pedal means the potentiometer opens the battery’s electron floodgate that much sooner, and without the teeniest tire chirp, the P85D accelerates at the highest rate the road’s mu (its coefficient of friction) allows. It’s surreally efficient.

2: Charging is a convenience, not an inconvenience. One of the common misconceptions about electric cars is that charging is an inconvenience. Maybe this is the case for plug-in hybrid owners trying to use their limited electric range in an attempt to save money on gas, or for owners of range-limited fully electric cars like the Nissan Leaf, but it’s a different story when your electric ride gets over 200 miles.

Model S charging at home.

Here’s how it has worked out for us. In one year, we drove our Tesla far more than most people drive their gas cars. Yet despite our heavy use of Model S, charging was rarely a concern. Every single day we started with all the charge we desired. Even more, we hardly ever stopped anywhere to charge. How is this possible? Simple: We charge at home.

When your electric car can charge well beyond your average daily driving (including two trips from Colorado to California and back, we drove about 80 miles a day), plugging in at home is pretty much all you need.

Imagine someone filling your gas tank for you every day, even if you didn’t need it. No more worrying about when you’re going to go empty, or trying to plan when and where you will fill up your tank.

And long-distance travel is perhaps even more exhilarating. About every 3 hours or so, we stop for about 30 to 40 minutes at strategically positioned Tesla Superchargers and get all the juice we need to make it to our next stop. And it so happens that 30 minutes is just about right for grabbing a snack, stretching your legs, and taking a bathroom break. Why so exhilarating? Charging at a Tesla Supercharger is completely free … for life.

Tesla fast-growing Supercharger network.

Sure, some might argue this charge time is a negative aspect of owning a fully electric car. But the gained freedom from having to stop and refuel during local weekly driving is well worth longer break times when traveling long-distance. Even more, better batteries and improved charging infrastructure will only make charging faster in the future. It’s very possible future electric cars will be able to charge up in about the same time it takes to fill a gas tank. Sure, these feats won’t likely be achieved for another decade or more, but what will the argument against charging be then?

3: How did flammable, explosive gas tanks, oil changes, subpar warranties, and lawn-mower sounding internal combustion engines ever make sense in the first place? After you own an electric vehicle for this long as your sole means of transportation, your view of gas cars evolves. You wonder why we haven’t tried electric cars sooner. There’s simply no way a technology forcing us to frequent stations for pumping flammable liquid into a large tank is going to survive over the long haul. Toxic fuel flowing through an oil-ridden, clunky, complex, awkwardly shaped, giant internal combustion engine just doesn’t sound as normal as it used to. This antiquated technology also happens to eliminate the possibility of having both tons of hatchback space and a large front trunk at the same time.

Tesla’s lovely frunk.

What about that muscle car roar we’ve adored for so many years?

Don’t worry: the superior acceleration and power of a much-quieter electric motor, grows on you. It doesn’t take long for the Star Trek spaceship sound of a powerful electric motor to convince you it means business. The motor commands your respect and you obey — whether you set out to appreciate its electric crescendo, or not. Meanwhile, engine noise begins to lose its romance. Big trucks and sporty cars reveal their secret: the loud noise is simply evidence of a struggle with physics.

Then there’s Tesla’s mind-boggling eight-year, unlimited mile warranty for the motor and battery, reminding you of the simple maintenance profile your getting when you buy a fully electric car. Taking it to the next level, the company will still hold up its end of the warranty even if you abstain from purchasing a service plan and choose to never take the vehicle in for an annual service. This warranty carries over to unlimited owners.

Another bonus: Your brakes are going to last much longer. Regenerative braking does the work most of the time, charging the battery while it’s at it.

You’ll get in the habit of always topping off your windshield wiper fluid, though. Since that’s about the only regular maintenance required by the owner.

And some wonder why Tesla doesn’t sell its cars at dealerships, where the majority of profits are made from maintaining and servicing vehicles…

4: Storage galore. Since the battery is conveniently aligned across the floor of the vehicle and motors are tucked away on the axels, you get tons of storage in a Tesla. For the Model S, you’re talking front and rear trunks and 60/40 folding rear seats with 63 plus cubic feet of total storage.

Since there is storage in front as well as the back, Tesla provides an option for rear-facing seats for children. The kids love them. Best of all, it’s a nice bonus for when we have company over and want to go somewhere. With 5+2 seating, we fit the family and two guests in the car when we need to.

5: They’re safer. Who wants a giant rock in your front trunk when you run into an object head on? I’ll take a larger, well-designed front crumple zone any day. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agrees, giving Model S the highest safety rating of any vehicle — ever. It turns out fully electric vehicles, when they’re built the Tesla way, are safer.

This post isn’t aimed to boast. It’s not even meant to serve as praise for Model S (though this is an unavoidable byproduct). I’m simply stating the realizations I believe many people will have over the next decade as Tesla and other auto manufacturers ramp up production of fully electric vehicles, and as newer models (like Tesla’s Model 3) are launched at lower prices.

The case for electric cars is better than you think. Ask a Tesla owner and they’ll tell you. Or, just wait until you try owning one for yourself — I’ll bet you’ll never buy a gas car again.

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