My very first Tesla, two months later: Here’s how it’s going

My first Tesla was delivered on June 29, one day before the end of the second quarter (wink, wink, Tesla). So that means my husband and I have now been driving our Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus for two months. Here’s how it’s going. (Oh, and our car’s name is Nigel, since a couple of people asked.)

This is a follow-up to my first post, which was about becoming a new Tesla Model 3 driver. You can read that here: I just bought my very first Tesla. Here’s what happened.

A disclaimer: I am going to repeat what I said two months ago: This is my own personal experience, not a generalization of the Tesla experience. Others’ experiences will be different. While I have been editing stories and writing about electric vehicles for more than two years now, this is the first time that I have actually owned an electric car, much less a Tesla. I drove a Model 3 once with the fantastic Dory Larsen at Electrify the South. So I got a quick taste of Tesla Model 3s pre-pandemic, thanks to her. If you live in the Southeast US, get in touch with them – they’re there to help folks experience and learn about electric cars.

Model 3 delivery day Photo: Michelle Lewis

My Model 3’s specs

Once again, here are the specs on my Model 3, and I’ve noted how I feel about our specs two months on:

  • Standard Range Plus Rear-Wheel Drive – This was the right choice for us. Charging is no problem, as I don’t commute, and my husband’s workplace has onsite EV chargers. Plus, there is a Supercharger just 3.2 miles away (more on charging below).
  • Black and White Interior – This looks fantastic, and just as our publisher Seth Weintraub promised, it does indeed wipe clean easily. The white also doesn’t burn the heck out of my legs in the hot Florida summer.
  • Pearl White Multi-Coat – We still really like it. I never cared before about having a dirty car. Now I’m a fanatic about keeping our Model 3 clean. A big bird dropping hit the roof and I freaked.
  • 18’’ Aero Wheels – We like them. No need for 19″ Sport Wheels.
  • Basic Autopilot – Confession: We haven’t played with this yet. Florida drivers are too awful and the county I live in is too stop-and-start, with heavy traffic. When we go on a road trip, we’ll give it a go.
  • Pay Per Use Supercharging – This is fine. We mostly charge at home.

We ordered rubber mats for the front and back seats, and also for the trunk, within a week of delivery because we quickly got the carpets dirty. We didn’t buy Tesla mats, as they cost a bit more than we wanted to spend. We ordered Hebron mats from Amazon, and they’re robust and stay in place.

The Tesla app and premium connectivity

As any Tesla owner knows, the Tesla app is vital. That’s how we unlock and lock our car. That’s how one checks how much charge the car has, or how the home charging is going, or turn on the AC. That’s how I can find out if my husband is on his way home without bugging him. Heck, it’s the key to our Model 3 kingdom.

And I haven’t yet stopped getting my keys out of my handbag as I head for the car. Eye roll.

A Tesla app update just landed yesterday, and it’s as intuitive as the last version. It’s a major update, so it took quite a while to download. It looks great and has lots of new features, which you can read about here.

We also opted to pay the $9.99 a month for premium connectivity because we really like the live traffic visualization and live satellite view maps, and music streaming is a must (see below).

Personal settings

Now that we’ve gone from two cars to one – we’re cutting emissions and also don’t currently need a second car – this is a major game-changer for us. Get in the car, poke your name on the touchscreen, and the driver’s seat, wing mirrors, and other settings automatically switch to one’s presets. Now we don’t have to bicker about who didn’t put the seat back anymore. (Neither one of us ever put the seat back.)

It’s kinda like having two cars or your own Netflix profile. It’s the best.

Charging

The Mobile Connector for home charging comes in a square zipped bag that has Velcro on the bottom so it doesn’t slide around the trunk. But since we put a rubber mat in our trunk, it slides around. No big deal. It always lands in the accessible front corner anyway.

I got a quote from an electrician who specializes in EV home charging for a NEMA 14-50 exterior outlet, 70 feet from the electrical panel. The quote, which he based on photos I sent, came back at an eye-watering $2,110. Now, we could have insisted he come see us and probably moved the location of the outlet to cut the price down. But honestly, the 120v outlet does the job. I plug it in at the end of the day, leave it overnight, and the car is charged.

And as for our electric bill – and this is not scientific, before you all debate about my lack of accuracy in the comments – last year, in the same time span of July 26-August 24, it was $278. (It’s peak summer. It’s Florida. We use Arcadia.) This year, it’s $268.10. We got a Google Nest Thermostat in April and now keep the house at the Department of Energy-recommended 78-80F. And that $268.10 now also includes home charging.

We also got 1,000 free Supercharger miles in our “Loot Box” because I used my 9to5Mac colleague Chance Miller‘s referral code. He got 1,000 miles, too, for referring us. If I share my referral code with someone else, then the same thing happens again. Spread the free-charging love, people. Hit me up if you want my referral code.

Unlike the gas station, which was never fun, going to the Supercharger is super fun. I feel like I’m in the cool kids’ club. We pop into the Wawa, get ice cream or something else we probably shouldn’t be eating, and sit in the car and look at the other Teslas and their drivers (I’m nosey). We listen to music and just generally feel happy about the whole situation while geeking out on watching the screen:

We were at the Supercharger in Pinellas Park, Florida. Plus, there’s ice cream.

Driving

Driving used to be purely practical for me. Now it’s emotive.

For those of you who read my posts, you know I cover green energy and climate change. I recently discovered that “eco-anxiety” is a thing – and I definitely suffer from it.

But when I drive our car, I feel lighter and happier. I get to have fun without feeling guilty about creating emissions. For a short while, I can forget about heavy, scary things like the pandemic and sea-level rise.

I crank up the music (see below), occasionally accelerate quickly, simply because I can, and enjoy being a “petrolhead” without the petrol. I love how I can control the car with just the accelerator and how I can safely zip past bad drivers and slowpokes. It makes me love what technology can achieve at its best.

Music

I specifically headed this section “music” because we haven’t watched TV or played games yet, or even fully played with car karaoke. I don’t like watching TV in cars.

We exclusively use our Spotify account in the car. Or rather, my playlists, because you can’t switch accounts according to profiles, like you can with Netflix. If individual Spotify accounts could somehow be linked to individual profiles, that would be amazing.

Music is a huge part of my Model 3 driving experience when I drive alone. I turn the volume way up, and I lose myself in the experience of driving with a soundtrack. The sound system is great, and I can change songs using the steering wheel controls, so it’s safe.

Sentry Mode

I don’t know if Sentry Mode makes me paranoid or if my paranoia is appeased by Sentry Mode. I have never been this protective of a car before, and I’ve owned multiple new cars. If someone goes to open their car door next to me in a parking lot, I give them the stink eye. I won’t park next to pickup trucks.

I watch the Sentry Mode video when I return to ensure no one touched my car. I get cranky if someone drives too close. I have turned into one of those weirdos who park their cars away from everyone else’s. I’m now Nigel’s overprotective parent. Tesla, you’ve created a monster.

Insurance

I’m going to write about this in a separate post, but I’ll just say now that you definitely have to shop around when you switch from gas to electric. I am in an extremely expensive car insurance state — did I mention how crappy Florida drivers are? — and I saved a whopping $3,000 a year by switching insurance companies, from Geico to USAA, for the same coverage. Do your homework if you have an immediate need, and I’ll share more thoughts on this soon.

Wrap-up

Two months on, I love Nigel as much as the day he arrived. I’m still a newbie, and I’m excited to keep learning. You Tesla people are nuts. And I’ve happily joined your crazy club.

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