Three Years and Counting

Well, it’s been three years since Lee and I took the electric car plunge and purchased our 2014 Nissan Leaf. After 46,000 km, the Leaf is still working great and still fun to drive. I thought it would be a good idea to give an update.

As expected, since most of our driving in the greater Fredericton, we save time by skipping past gas stations and simply charge while we sleep. More than once I’ve shaken my head at the Costco gas bar lineups while driving by.

Driving beyond the greater Fredericton area involves careful planning based on where chargers are located. Even so, we’ve managed to pull off two trips to PEI, a trip to Halifax and a tour of the south shore of Nova Scotia. While we can only drive 100-140 km per charge, the spacing of the chargers on the south shore tour conveniently allowed us to be tourists while the Leaf charged.

Pre-heating the car and seats in the winter has become second nature. Getting into the Camry and waiting for the heat to come from a slowly warming engine is so much more a drag in contrast.

Speaking of contrasts, another biggie is the act of reducing speed. The Leaf happily slows by using regenerative braking. This means that, as my foot reduces the pressure on the accelerator pedal, the Leaf slows by charging the battery. The result is that the brake pedal is used far less in the Leaf. (By contrast, the Camry keeps insisting that I have to grind the brake pads into dust to slow down, while the engine continues to burn gas.) Oh, and as a bonus, after 46,000 km, the brake pads on the Leaf still look great.

Leaf maintenance has been as advertised. An annual battery check is all the power train needs. We also replaced the cabin air filter a couple of times and the brake fluid once. The brake fluid is an interesting one. The maintenance schedule for all Nissan vehicles now recommends that the brake fluid be replace annually. The Nissan dealership’s service manager said that’s crazy and recommends people not to do it. As an experiment I had him drain and replaced the brake fluid once after a couple of years. The fluid that came out looks exactly like the fluid going in. Case closed on that one.

How about fuel savings? After the first year I calculated the saving on driving the Leaf instead of the Camry. At the time the cost of gas was bouncing around a $1 per litre and we had driven 15,000 km. The net savings were about $1,000.

Over the most recent 12 months we drove 9,000 km in the Camry. Expenses totalled $870: $700 for fuel and $170 for oil/service. Items such as insurance, registration and tires changes are excluded since they are unfair to the Camry. In the same period, we drove 16,000 km in the Leaf. Expenses totalled $420: $335 for electricity and $85 for a battery check (they actually did the check for free but that’s another story). So the Leaf cost us less than half the money to drive almost double the kilometres. Not bad!

In hindsight we could have probably done without installing a charger in the garage. We could have charged by using the cable which came with the Leaf to plug into a regular outlet. In fact, during our 2016 tour of southern Nova Scotia we often plugged into regular outlets instead of chargers because it was more convenient. The 2018 Leaf comes with a cable which can be used with 240 volt outlets, like an outlet for an electrical stove. That means a 2018 Leaf owner can get the speed of a charger by simply installing a 240 volt outlet – much cheaper.

The main drive battery of an EV degrades over time. That’s expected and normal. In fact I often get asked how much the battery will cost when it’s time to replace it. It’s kind of like asking the owner of a gas car owner how much it will cost to replace the engine. The answer, for both questions, is that I never expect to have to replace it. The battery is expected to last about 10-15 year and under warranty by Nissan for eight years. Normally degradation after two years would reduce the battery capacity to about 85%. After three years we’re only dropped to 89% so I’m pretty happy. Why so good? Well, first because of the cool climate we have in Fredericton for most of the year. Second, we rarely charge the Leaf to 100% since lithium batteries prefer to sit around with a partial charge.

So, what’s gone wrong with the Leaf in three years?

  • The passenger side door lock button failed after two years.
  • A piece of plastic under the charging port cover fell off in the winter when the plastic got too stiff to stay clipped on.
  • Last month some surface rust appeared on the bottom of the driver’s side door sill.

All of these problems were fixed by the dealer under warranty.

Unfortunately, the Leaf cannot fulfill our desire to drive electrically everywhere. It does not have the range for long trips. Sure it has gotten much easier now to reach Moncton and PEI with the new fast EV chargers installed along the Trans-Canada. I’m very happy that NB Power, with NRC funding, got them installed. But I want to drive to Halifax, St. John’s, Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver. No matter how well it has performed, the Leaf was not designed to handle that kind of challenge.

So on March 31, 2016 we put $1,000 down on a Tesla Model 3 reservation. The Model 3 has up to 500 km of range and access to the Tesla Supercharger Network. That means we can drive for 3-4 hours and recharge in the time it takes to have lunch. Tesla has received about 1/2 million reservations for this car. That number, and the fact that we live outside the USA, means I don’t expect to see it until the second half of 2018. Once it arrives we’ll say good-bye to the gas car. At that point we’ll only have two gas powered devices left: the mower and snow blower. Their days are numbered.

What about Hydrogen?

Last spring the New Brunswick government created a committee with a mandate to make recommendations on how the province should respond to the threat of climate change. The committee sought input from both expert witnesses and the general public. I prepared both a written brief and made a presentation to the committee – simply as a concerned citizen. Here is an excerpt from my brief on a topic which I have not posted on previously.

What about Hydrogen?

Electric vehicles (EV) also include a category of vehicle which uses a tank of compressed hydrogen as the main energy store rather than a battery. These are known as fuel cell vehicles (FCV). The fuel cell component in a FCV uses hydrogen to create electricity which is then used to power an electric motor. The primary advantage FCV have over BEV is a faster refuelling time. The fastest chargers so far still require 30-60 minutes to fully recharge the battery in a BEV. Refilling the hydrogen tank of a FCV requires about the same amount of time needed to refill the tank of a gasoline/diesel vehicle.

While having the advantage of quicker refuelling, FCVs have a long list of disadvantages:
1. Most hydrogen is produced using a fossil fuel: natural gas.
2. The energy requirements to create, compress, distribute, and convert to electricity make hydrogen 2-3 times more expensive as a fuel source than simply charging a battery.
3. The hydrogen molecule is very small hence difficult to contain.
4. Hydrogen is explosive and burns with an invisible flame.
5. FCVs must fill from a hydrogen filling station. Most of the time, BEVs are charged overnight at home.
6. A FCV must have access to a hydrogen filling station locally and where ever it goes. A BEV can be easily charged at home and, given enough time, anywhere else with a basic electrical outlet.
7. Estimates for installing a hydrogen filling station range in the area of $1–2 million. Estimates for high-speed BEV chargers are roughly in the $30-60 thousand dollar range. 

One of the largest proponents of fuel cell vehicles is the automotive giant Toyota. Toyota has worked on the development of FCVs for 23 years and invested several billions of dollars. As of May 2016 only 210 of Toyota’s flagship FCV, the Mirai, have been sold in the US and all of those were sold in California, the only state with hydrogen filling stations.

So I couldn’t find much to recommend about hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. In fact, since I wrote my brief, sales of battery electric vehicles (like my Leaf) increased by over 7,000. During that period maybe a few dozen Toyota Mirai were sold in the US. Also during that period, Toyota’s fuel cell technology partners, Honda and Hyundai, have hedged their bets by announcing battery electric vehicles of their own.

Of course, you never know. Fuel cell technology could surprise everyone and make a break through which resolves all or most of its issues.  While you’re waiting for that miracle, may I suggest a nice Leaf, Bolt or Model 3?

What’s the big deal about global warming?

I recently read Six Degrees: Our Future On A Hotter Planet published in 2008.  The author, the highly acclaimed Mark Lynas, uses straightforward terms to describe the effect of global warming. The sources for his book are peer-reviewed, scientific articles published by relevant experts.

If you need motivation to act in the fight against global warming, then this is the book for you. The book is available at amazon.ca.  If you’d rather watch the movie than read the book then you’re in luck; watch National Geographic’s “Six Degrees Could Change the World”.  

Here is my ultra-short summary of the book. As you read it, keep in mind that implementing the Paris agreement will only limit us to 3.5C of global warming, not the necessary goal of less than 2C. We could see up to 4C of warming by 2050.  

 

0.8C of warming.

Today.  Longer droughts, more destructive storms, more intense heat waves and some ocean rise.

 

1C of warming.

More severe storms, more drought, more heat waves and some more ocean rise.

 

2C of warming

Even more of above. Over 1/3 of all species committed to extinction by 2050.  Complete loss of summer north pole ice cap which increases warming because ice reflects solar heat & water absorbs it.

 

3C of warming.

Even more of above. Start of a new type of storm: category 6 super-hurricanes. Tens of millions of climate refugees move north to find food due to extreme drought and heat. Mid-west USA returns to dust-bowl of 1930’s but this time it’s permanent.  Drought causes loss of Amazon rain forest (which produces 20% of world’s oxygen). Overheated soil bacteria go into overdrive and release huge amounts of carbon dioxide which is likely to push us to four degrees of warming.

 

4C of warming.

North Pole almost ice-free. Collapse of Greenland ice sheet. Antarctic ice sheets start to collapse. Melt water pushes sea levels up by as much as one meter every 20 years.  Major coastal cities flood, including New York. Half of world’s food baskets turn to deserts. Sub-arctic land warms up enough to grow crops but most is highly unsuitable for crops. Mass starvation is a danger for most the world’s population.  Back-to-nature survivalists find there is no nature to retreat to as millions leave cities. Thawing of huge permafrost bogs in Siberia may push us to five degrees of warming.

 

5C of warming.

At this level of warming scientists have few studies and evidence to draw upon. The last time the world was this hot, the ocean could not sustain oxygen-based life and massive pockets of methane hydrate explosively released from the ocean floor.  The methane hydrate raises the global temperature even further. Major military powers such as China and USA are likely to invade northward to find escape from severe drought and heat. The release of methane hydrate will push us to six degrees of warming.

 

6C of warming.

Mass extinction of most life. Humanity’s survival in doubt.

 

This book was written in 2008.  Since then global warming has already had more impact than expected. Additionally, new projections from improved climate models describe faster warming than previously predicted.

 

Write your MP.  Write your MLA.  Paper, email, facebook, or twitter. Let them know you’re concerned. Urge them to act promptly and decisively.  Support carbon pricing, support hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal power, support electrification of transport and support energy conservation measures.

 

We can still save our planet but we need to act!

Two Years Later

leaf-purchased-2014-moncton

During last weekend our Leaf became two years old and rolled up 33,000 km. We both still love driving it: quiet, peppy, and reliable as always.  This post is a quick update on how the Leaf’s doing.

As I mentioned in my Battery Life post the drive battery gradually loses its ability to hold a charge.  The battery is now at 90% capacity which means it can hold 90% of the charge that it did when it was new. When the battery is 10-15 years old, it is expected to slide below 70%.  That’s plenty of capacity for our local driving and, for those keeping track, yes, the Leaf still has plenty of charge for the drive to Saint John. Newer EV models now use a water-cooled battery which reduces capacity loss to less than 1% per year.

The only maintenance so far has been the annual battery check ($43), a cabin filter replacement ($40), and winter tires. Thanks to our regenerative braking, the brake pads are well less than half worn. I still expect the brakes to outlast those in our gas car by years.

That’s it for now.

Coal Powered?

One of the arguments I’ve heard against driving an electric car is that coal is used to produce electricity. The argument continues that since coal produces more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than gasoline then it’s better to just drive a regular gas car.

The problem with that logic is that no power grid in Canada is fed purely by a coal-fired supply.  In New Brunswick, where we live, about 60% of the power is generated from low or non-emitting sources.  In the province with the dirtiest grid, Saskatchewan, 20% of the power is from low or non-emitting sources. In Quebec, the province with the cleanest grid, over 99% of the grid is powered from hydro.

Let’s compare the emissions produced from driving 100 km in a fairly efficient gas car (7 L/100 km) to driving our electric Leaf.

For the gas car the calculation is pretty simple. According to the USA EPA, when a car burns 3.8 L of gasoline it produces about 9 kg of CO2. Based on a fuel economy of 7 L/100 km a gas car produces about 16 kg of CO2 every 100 km.

For the electric car we first need to figure out the emissions produced  when power is generated. The power companies mix of generation types (see references below) and IIPC emission figures are all we need for calculating CO2 emissions for each province. Here are the emissions, on average, for 1 kWh of power generation in three provinces:

Provincial Emissions Rate

I chose these three provinces because Saskatchewan had the dirtiest grid in 2015, New Brunswick is where we live and Quebec has the cleanest power in Canada.

Next we need to calculate the amount of power which must be generated to charge the Leaf. On average our Leaf reported traveling 6.4 km per kWh. After adjusting for grid losses (18%) and Leaf charger efficiency (90%), the amount of power which needs to be generated to send our Leaf 100 km is 21 kWh.

To calculate the emissions produced for a 100 km trip we just multiply 21 kWh by the average emission rate for each province. The emissions amount for the gas car are included for comparison.

Provincial Emissions Per 100 km

So! Even using the dirtiest power, driving the Leaf would produce only 70% of emissions produced by the gas car! In Quebec it’s over 30 times cleaner! Using an electric car is much cleaner than a gas car in any province;  in addition, it will continue to get even better as power grids continue to clean up.

So when are you going electric?

 

References:

  1. New Brunswick power generation: 17% hydro, 30% nuclear, 19% coal, 3% oil, 12% wind, 16% natural gas and 2% biomass. From NB Power 2014-2015 Annual report
  2. Saskatchewan power generation: 42% coal, 34% natural gas, 14% hydro, 3% renewable, 4% coal with carbon capture, 3% wind and 3% other. From SaskPower
  3. Quebec power generation: 95.5 hydro, 3.0% wind, 0.8% other renewable, 0.5% nuclear, and 0.2% coal/oil/gas. From HydroQuebec

 

 

 

South Shore Toured

We had a fun week on the road in Nova Scotia: good food, beautiful scenery, friendly people and some neat historical stops. Of course there were a few twists, given that our transport was our electric Nissan Leaf.

What’s it like going on a 1,000 km trip in an electric car with a 100-140 km range? Well, we did a lot of planning to ensure that the route has chargers/outlets not too far apart. Even then you can run into the odd snag.

After a foggy two-hour crossing on the Fundy Rose (Saint John – Digby ferry), we headed to the charger at the Digby town hall to top up the Leaf before heading to Yarmouth for our first overnight stop.  Instead of a charger this is what we found:

Digby Town Hall missing charger

Just a smashed corner and a dangling wire where a charger used to be. Not good. There are no other chargers listed in PlugShare (www.plugshare.com) for Digby, and it was Sunday so the town hall was closed. Lee spotted a regular electrical outlet next to the front door so we decided to plug into that and scout around to see if we could find a faster charge elsewhere.

After a short walk we found the Digby tourist information center and explained our situation. In true small town hospitality, they tracked down everyone they could think of who might be able to help even though most of these people were at home since it was Sunday.  They were unable to find a charger but we did find out what had happened.  Three days prior to our arrival, a fellow accidentally plowed into the corner of the town hall with his car. The charger had been removed until repairs could be completed. Bad timing on our part.

In the end, using the regular 110 volt outlet instead of a level 2 charger increased our Digby stop from a one-hour supper stop to a three-hour visit.  So instead of exploring Yarmouth that evening we explored Digby.  Just proof that a good plan still needs flexibility.

Digby was the only place where we didn’t get to use the charger we expected.  In Yarmouth the EV charger was right where PlugShare said it would be – in the free central parking lot. We charged for about 10 minutes then headed over to the hotel for the night.  The hotel directed us to one of their regular outside outlets so we could plug in for the night.  Although Yarmouth had two EV chargers available for use, we ended up using the hotel outlet for most of our charging since it was so convenient.

In fact, during the tour we were able to charge overnight at each of the five places we stayed using a regular outside outlet. Almost half of the power required for the trip ended up coming from these convenient outlets.  At the NS Power small business rate ($0.155 including tax), the cost to the innkeeper for each of these overnight charges was pretty small – about two dollars.

In Shelburne the charger was conveniently located in a free public parking lot next to the waterfront. Liverpool does not yet have an EV charger, so we plugged into the regular outlet at the local tourist information center. At the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Center in Bridgewater there were fourteen chargers! That’s what PlugShare indicated but they were still quite a sight!

In Chester the charger location was not only convenient but had a view:Chester Charger

 

Our charging in Halifax, Grand Pré, Avonport, and Kentville all went off without a hitch. Before leaving home, PlugShare alerted us that the charger in Middleton was not working. We had enough power to get to our next stop but we decided to send a PlugShare charge request message to a fellow EV driver in Kingston.  He was happy to oblige so we added a Kingston stop to the tour, top off the Leaf charge and exchange EV stories with a new friend.

To charge at Annapolis Royal I needed to provide a little EV education. This village near historic Port Royal did not have a community EV charger so we planned to charge at the B & B at which we were staying.  The initial response from the owner was to say that it would cost $20 for us to plug into their outside outlet. After we arrived I talked to the B & B staff about just how little electricity the Leaf would use. We charged for free.

We’ve learned a few things about touring with an electric car with a 100-140 km range. First, you do a lot of planning to ensure that the route has chargers/outlets not too far apart. Second. you drive (more) conservatively (90-95 k/h in a 100 k/h zone) to improve mileage to ensure you can get to places near the edge of the car’s range. Third, your priority at each destination is to start charging before doing anything else. Lastly, you need to be ready to handle some surprises like a missing charger or an interrupted charge due to a blown circuit breaker.

As Canada’s charging infrastructure rolls out, trips like this will become far easier.  As hotels, restaurants, etc. install chargers, EV drivers will be able to easily access another charger if the first is unavailable. More chargers also means less planning about charging – probably less than the planning most of us do now for when to fill the gas tank.

The other change coming that would have made a big difference in this trip is the increase in the range an electric car can go on a full charge.  By 2018, the minimum range for new EVs will be 320 km and shortly thereafter many cars are likely to exceed that. With that range we would only have needed to charge three times on our tour and most of that could have been overnight.

So how’d we do? Our total trip was just over 1,000 km. We found lots of places to charge the Leaf.  Although we were surprised by a missing charger the worst adjustment to our schedule was a two hour delay. We finished another road trip without tailpipe pollution and, even though NB and NS power generation uses some coal and oil, far less greenhouse gas emissions than our gas car would have.  Feels good. Looking forward to the next time.

Mileage

Last Friday I noticed that the fuel efficiency or “mileage” display in the Leaf indicated 8.0 km/kWh. (“kWh” or kilowatt-hour is the amount of electricity required to light ten 100 watt light bulbs for an hour.  One kWh costs $0.12 in New Brunswick.) The Leaf’s mileage has been improving each month since hitting the usual low of about 5 in mid-winter. This latest milestone, brought on by the warming spring weather, made me reflect about how my perspective of the value of tracking mileage has changed.

Ever since getting my driver’s license at age 16, better mileage simply meant saving money. The better the mileage the more I had to spend on other things.  My 1977 Honda 750 Supersport motorcycle was a fun ride but at 80 miles to the gallon (mpg) it was also incredibly cheap transportation.  Later on Lee and I kept things thrifty with our 1985 Camry which beat 50 mpg.

Now with our Leaf, improving mileage is no longer about saving money. Well, it does save money but the amount involved is tiny. If the mileage in our Leaf drops 10% then the cost of electricity for our Leaf rises $2 from $23 to $25 for a month (1,300 km). With the Leaf I only focus on mileage when we’re going on a trip because better mileage means more range.

My typical out-of-town trip is to Saint John. That’s 108 km one way. The Leaf can hold a charge of about 20 kWh. At 5 km/kWh the Leaf could only go 100 km (20 kWh x 5 km/kWh) on a charge so travelling to Saint John wouldn’t be possible, forcing us to use our gas car.  At 6 km/kWh the Saint John trip is a breeze. Definitely a reason to know what mileage to expect and plan accordingly!

The range of electric cars and the number of high-speed chargers are both expected to grow dramatically over the next couple of years.  The 2018 Tesla Model 3 and the 2017 GM Bolt will have a range of at least 320 km. The 2018 Leaf is expected to match that. Long range models for 2020 have been announced by many other manufacturers.  The recent federal government budget includes funding for high-speed chargers along all major highways.  Increased range and good access to chargers will mean long distance travel in electric cars will require no more planning than when using a gas-fueled vehicle.

For now, mileage determines whether our trips will be fueled by gas or electricity but very soon mileage will get relegated to the dusty corner of interesting but unused statistics.

 

 

South Shore Tour

In 2014, a month after buying our Leaf, we headed out to PEI on our first electric car road trip.  In 2015 we did our second trip, this time to Halifax.  For our third trip, this year we’re going to drive the complete southern circuit of Nova Scotia.

Our grand tour includes taking the ferry from Saint John to Digby then visiting Digby, Yarmouth, Liverpool (Hell Bay Brewery!), Bridgewater, Lunenburg, Chester, Halifax, Avonport (quilt shop!), Grand Pré (Just us Coffee!), Kentville, Middleton, and Annapolis Royal.  Our previous trips to PEI and Halifax involved multiple 2-3 hour charging stops to get to our destination.  This time we’ll be able to get to each destination on our tour with a single charge. At each stop we’ll plug in the Leaf then wander off to explore. Yup, on this road trip the Leaf will be waiting for us to finish exploring rather than us waiting for the Leaf to finish charging.

The first part of our route includes crossing to Digby on the new Fundy Rose ferry.  While talking to the reservation agent I pointed out how handy it would be if their nice new modern ferry had a charging port on board for electric cars.  Hint! Hint!

Charging the Leaf on the tour will be mostly free since many Nova Scotia communities have installed Sun Country Highway chargers.  These level 2 chargers are installed in public locations and are free to use.  Kind of a thank you for not producing emissions. One charger which is not free is the fast (level 3) charger in Halifax.  There are only two of these fast chargers in Atlantic Canada so, even though we don’t need to, we’ll probably pay the $5 for the thrilling experience of filling up in 20-30 minutes instead of two hours. Ah, what passes for a thrill for us these days…

As I mentioned, most places we plan to explore have level 2 EV chargers.  Plugshare.com shows us where they are, whether they are working and when they’re available.  The charger in Kentville was last reported as broken so I’ve asked, through Plugshare, a fellow EV owner to check it out so we can plan appropriately.  Lunenburg does not have one but the owner of the B&B is allowing us to plug into one of their regular 110 volt outlets. Annapolis Royal does not have one either but the B&B owner wants $20 to use their 110 volt outlet.  Hmm. An overnight (10 hour) charge would use about $2 (12 kWh) of electricity. $20 for $2 of power seems a little steep so I plan to skip that offer since we won’t need a charge at that stop anyway. I do plan to quiz the B&B owner about that rate though.

We’re both looking forward to the trip.  We’ll get to visit places we’ve enjoyed before and places neither of us have ever been even though we’re both Maritimers! I’ll let you know how it goes when we get back.  Here’s hoping for sunny skies, warm days and speedy charging!

 

Braking News

Earlier this month the Leaf’s tires got switched from winter to summer.  I asked the technician to check the wear on the brake pads when he did the switch.  Afterwards he said the brakes were “practically new”.  Not bad considering that our Leaf is now over 19 months old with 26,000 km (mostly city).

A week later I took our gas car, a Camry, in for the winter/summer tire switch.  For the Camry, when it’s time to switch the tires then it’s also time for an oil change and service.  Those goodies added $150 more to the cost of the appointment.  Hmm. The good news is the brakes on the Camry also looked “practically new”.  They better! They were replaced only eight months and 11,000 km (mostly highway) ago.

The Leaf’s regenerative braking seems to be stretching the life of the brake pads as expected.  It’s still early in the life of the Leaf though so I’ll update you on this later on.

 

 

 

 

Tesla Fever

Tesla Motors had not even shown a picture of the new Model 3 but on Thursday, March 31, tens of thousands of fans lined up outside of Tesla showrooms to make a $1,000 deposit on one.  By the end of Saturday, just 3 days later, over 276,000 deposits had been made.  Now, after just one week, over 325,000 made!  Crazy eh?

As I mentioned in my January post, Leaving Gas Behind, Tesla is one of the best contenders for having an electric car popular enough to significantly displace gas vehicles.  The response to last week’s Model 3 unveiling seems to suggest Tesla is on track to do just that.

Here is a recap of the Model 3’s main features:

  • access to Tesla supercharger network
  • range of 345 km per charge or better
  • 0-100 km/hr in less than 6 seconds
  • head room for people over 6′, both in front and back
  • comfortable seating for five adults
  • Five star crash protection rating in every category

Considering plunking down your own $1,000 deposit?

Cons:

  • You can’t order a Model 3 just yet but you can make a reservation for ordering one.  Your $1,000 deposit just give you a spot in line so that when they start producing Model 3’s you can order one.
  • Tesla is currently predicting deliveries to start by end of 2017 so most people won’t see their car until 2018 or 2019 or even later.
  • The $1,000 is refundable but only if Tesla Motors is still around to do it.  The company looks like it has a great future but is so young that it has yet to make a profit.
  • You don’t really know what you’re buying.  A prototype was shown and driven on March 31 but the final production version won’t be ready until sometime in 2017, at the earliest.
  • The first version of anything is usually not the most prudent choice.  You’re more likely to experience bugs which will only be present in the first few cars. That’s what happened with Tesla’s Roadster, Model S and Model X.
  • Tesla service is legendary but the closest service center for Atlantic Canada is currently Montreal.  Are you ready to trust there will be one closer by the time you get your car?

Pros:

  • The sooner you reserve the sooner you’ll be driving what is likely to be an exception zero-emission car and be able to stop burning gas.
  • You can change your mind anytime up until you make an actual order and get your deposit back.
  • Tesla has a history of exceeding customer expectations for their products.
  • Placing a reservation now, at the time of writing, you are not going to get one of the first 300,000 cars so you are less likely to experience the earlier bugs but will still probably get a Model 3 before 2020.
  • Tesla continues to aggressively expand their supercharger, store, and service center locations. So it’s likely that a closer services center will be will available by the time you get your car.  Also, don’t forget that there is very little routine maintenance on an electric car.

So from a prudent financial perspective it would be best to hold off on doing anything until other have purchased and driven the Model 3.  So what did we do?  At 11:30 pm (Atlantic) on March 31 the Tesla online reservation system opened up and I booked our Model 3.  Crazy eh?