A few weeks ago, I read that the federal tax credit for Tesla buyers will expire soon. Anyone who wanted one had to order it before Thanksgiving to guarantee delivery before New Year’s Eve, the deadline for eligibility.
I had long been curious about Tesla vehicles, and have seen quite a few on the roads recently. So, I went to the local showroom and talked to a salesman who filled me in on the all the cool aspects of the Model 3. After showing me the digital display inside and the beautifully designed exterior, he handed me the keys and let me take it out for a test drive.
Wow, was I impressed!
When I took it out onto a highway, the car’s autopilot mode kept me centered in a lane, then smoothly switched to the right or the left when I pushed the turn signal arm up or down. While I had to keep one hand lightly on the wheel at all times, I didn’t have to touch the floor pedals — as advertised, it’s the next generation of cruise control. The car isn’t able to recognize red lights and stop signs well enough to slow down for them, but it does so for any vehicle ahead of it. When I was the second or third in a line of cars at a light, the Tesla came to a stop right where it should, then resumed when the one in front of me did.
The accelerator took a bit of getting used to, in that the Model 3 didn’t cruise when I took my foot off. Instead, it started decelerating immediately, a very odd feeling. But I’m sure it would only take a day or two of driving to learn how to operate it comfortably.
My biggest problem with the Tesla Model 3 was it’s a little low to the ground, which is problematic for someone my size. It was very awkward getting in and out because my long legs didn’t slide easily under the steering wheel (even though it’s adjustable) until I was fully seated. I tried it several times, and it was never comfortable. In fact, it was enough of an issue to dissuade me from buying the car, particularly since — at age 61 — I don’t anticipate becoming more flexible over the next decade.
The other thing dissuading me was the price. The fully loaded version, with all the cool autopilot software and options I’d want, would set me back around $57,000, with a tax credit of around $1,800. Plus, I’d have to spend another $500-$1,000 to have a special charging outlet installed in my garage.
That’s a pretty big nut, nearly double what I’ve ever paid for a car. As much as I admired the Model 3, those numbers brought me back down to Earth quickly, especially after I remembered my current car is only 7 years old, with about 82,000 miles on it. I’ve never gotten rid of a vehicle with an odometer that low. Dealers hate me because, while I do buy my cars new, I hold onto them for an average 12 years and 150,000 miles.
In the end, as much as I’d like to have a fully electric vehicle as remarkable as the Tesla Model 3, I’m going to wait, for now.