One of the things I told myself back in 2010 when Nissan was announcing its Leaf EV was that Hermes, my 2000 VW Golf TDI, was the last Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle I’d ever buy. Thanks to the work of Tesla, that goal may be achievable.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, has stated that he wants to build a sub-$35K EV with 200 miles of range. Our current EV, the 2012 Nissan Leaf, has approximately 70 miles of real-world range, despite having been marketed at 100 miles. So it remains to be seen if the Tesla Model E (as it’s being called) will get 200 real-world miles. However, if he delivers it, here’s how it will play out…
As it stands now, we can get to anywhere in the Denver Metro Area — and, more importantly, back home again — with a full charge in our Leaf. But that leaves little margin for error including detours, additional waypoints, and bad weather. Plus the battery pack will slowly degrade over the years, rendering the vehicle less useful on the far end of its range. That’s one of the reasons why we leased. That and the lease cost about as much as ongoing fuel and maintenance for my existing car.
This is where Tesla comes in. They’re building a supercharger network that will eventually cover the U.S. (I’m impressed with their progress). The reason I have the Golf hanging around is for longer-distance trips that cannot be covered by the leaf, and for towing the folding trailer. This year to date, we’ve driven the Leaf 13,826 miles and the Golf 1,523 miles, meaning the Leaf has covered almost exactly 90% of our driving. But that’s not entirely fair because I didn’t buy snow tires for the Leaf and instead used the Golf since it already had snow tires on it. Anyway, once Tesla gives their EVs the same range as regular ICE cars via their Supercharger network (i.e., unlimited range), we can get rid of the Golf entirely. Tesla’s next car is supposed to come out in 3-4 years or so (just the length of another Leaf lease?).
So really the Leaf is a way for us to bide our time until the ICE-killer Tesla arrives for the masses. Their Model S looks like an amazing car, but it costs about three times more than what I’m willing to pay for a depreciating asset.
Elon, I’m counting on you to help me keep my promise to myself. You hold up your end of the deal and in the meantime I’ll save my extra income for when I can buy one of your cars.