500,000 Mile Electric Car Journey: The Starting Line
In late March 2021, just a few days after my 42nd birthday we took ownership of our first electric vehicle. A white, 2021, Tesla Model 3 Long Range AWD. This marked a few firsts for my wife and me. This is both our first white car, our first electric car, and the first car I plan to drive to half a million miles.
How did we get here?
I’m a car person, I have owned many different cars in my life. I enjoy driving when not stuck in traffic. My best friend and I would go on all-day excursions to different dealerships in college, test driving everything we could. One year we even drove a bunch of different vehicles after a foot-plus snowstorm. That was a lot of fun.
While I like cars, I don’t go crazy over horsepower or 0–60 times. I appreciate great vehicles when I see and hear about them. I think I have been in search of that one vehicle that fits the things I’m looking for. Misty, my wife, sees cars as something that gets you from one place to another and that’s their only value. I believe a car is part of you and is an extension of your personality, but I also do most of the driving.
I truly believe that electric cars are the future and something we must try to switch to swiftly to save the environment. When I was looking for a new vehicle in 2016, the Teslas were really the only EVs on the market that might have fit my bill. Unfortunately, the range, lack of a way to test drive, the bitterly cold climate in Wisconsin (hard on the battery), and service concerns were all issues I couldn’t look past at the time. Plus the Model 3 had not yet been released and the Model S and X were too expensive.
Beyond electric, I’ve been looking for a car that’s quick enough to overtake when you need it, handles well (fun to drive), and has excellent driver assistance for long trips. I thought I found that in my 2017 Audi A4. I had been in love with Audi since I first drove one during that snowstorm test drive. I begged Misty to allow me to get that car and on my birthday in 2016, we ordered one. I told her this would be the car we kept for years and years.
I really did like the car, but a few things started to stand out. The lack of updates to the infotainment system and car, in general, were both issues for me. I had one of the first vehicles of that model year and it had some software bugs that Audi had fixes for, but would not install for my car. Further, it was very low to the ground. Shortly after getting the car in June, we ran over someone's wheel on the freeway and it scraped the bottom of the car pretty badly.
Beyond that, everything about it was very expensive. The gas (premium only), the tires, and repairs. It handled well, it was fun to drive, had a great sound system, and was pretty comfortable, but it wasn’t what I’d hope it would be. After only about two years, I started looking for what was next. We had plans to take some long road trips and I thought an SUV might be better. Misty was not so happy about this decision.
In 2018 after more relationship testing, my wife agreed to trade the Audi for a Hyundai Santa Fe. We have had that since. It has been a great trip vehicle for us. We have driven from Wisconsin to Denver, moved from Wisconsin to California with it, and driven from California to Wisconsin and back to see family during the pandemic. All the while it’s been a comfortable vehicle.
When when we moved to California, we also sold our second vehicle, a 2013 Subaru Legacy which we both liked overall, but since Misty could take public transportation to work, there was no need to keep it. That left us with only the Santa Fe.
The Santa Fe was comfortable and had a ton of storage. It’s a solid car. But the handling was just ok, the gas mileage was less than stated and it had some strange transmission issues. The car would often elect not to downshift going uphill and we would lose about 5–10 mph while on cruise control. I often had to put it in manual mode and downshift it myself. However, if I were looking for a non-electric SUV, I would recommend the Hyundai Santa Fe or the Tucson. They are both solid cars.
Bitten by the Electric Bug
On the long journey moving out to California, our amazing friend Bryan offered to drive out with me so I didn’t have to drive alone with my dog. Misty was still working in Wisconsin so wasn’t available to help split the driving.
During the journey, Bryan and I needed things to talk about and listen too and he is a huge Tesla fan. We listened to episodes of the Ride the Lightning podcast and he got me a little excited about Tesla and electric cars in general. We even stopped at the Fremont Factory Showrooms, where he got to sit in a Model 3, take some pics, and buy a hat.
In the Bay Area, there are EVs everywhere you look.
That was not something I saw in Green Bay, Wisconsin. As time went on, and I saw how much pollution there is here, I wanted more and more to switch to an EV. I dream of living only off of solar power, which was the first step in my mind.
During the pandemic, I watched The Long Way Up on Apple TV+. It’s about Ewon McGreggor and his friend driving electric motorcycles from Patagonia to LA. While the bikes were cool, what really impressed me was this new EV company called Rivian. They are an EV startup that is about to release a pickup and SUV and also built delivery vans for Amazon.
Their truck, the RT1 was amazing. It made it from nearly the bottom of the earth all the way to LA. The hook was set for me. If an EV could do that, I could drive one every day. I thought about saving for a few years for the RT1, but it was just too expensive for us. I also thought about the Mustang Mach E. After weighing everything out, Tesla won out because of range, feature updates, and its Supercharging network.
It took some serious talks with Misty for her to agree to get the Tesla, one of which was keeping this car for the long term. That’s why I’m going to blog, create videos, and maybe even do a podcast on our journey to 500,000+ miles in our Model 3.
I plan to blog and post videos about:
- The total cost of ownership
- What I like about the Tesla and owning an EV
- What I think can be improved
- Taking longer trips (We’ll be heading back to Wisconsin this Fall and Bryan will be joining me for the return trip.)
- Updates to the car and software
- Updates in mileage along the way
- And more
In the next post, I’ll talk about the purchasing experience with Tesla. It was definitely different. Some of the experience is great, but there’s room for improvement.
One way I’m hoping to make this a great experience for everyone is by offering my Tesla referral code to anyone who wants to use it. If you are thinking about buying a Tesla, Solar Roof, or Solar Panels, please use this code:
If you purchase a car with this code we both get 1000 free Supercharger miles! For solar, you save $100.
Please feel free to leave comments if you have questions. I’ll be sure to answer those in either the blog or videos.