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Tesla Model S: Green Car Reports

Life with Tesla Model S: out with the old, in with the new

2013 Tesla Model S owned by David Noland, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 20152013 Tesla Model S owned by David Noland, Catskill Mountains, NY, Oct 2015

Over the first three years of driving my 2013 Tesla Model S, there wasn’t a single time when I looked at another car and said, “You know, I’d really rather be driving that car than this one.”

Not once. The Tesla’s combination of performance, style, economy, technology, plus the addictive allure of electric acceleration, made it—to my mind—the perfect car.

Then, last year, with my car in for service, I drove a 2016 Tesla Model S 90D loaner for a couple of days

DON’T MISS: Tesla Model S battery life: what the data show so far

Wow: better acceleration. Better handling. All-wheel drive. Long range (46 more miles). Better efficiency (15 percent, according to the EPA, though I didn’t see that on the road.)

And some nice features I didn’t have, like auto-locking and turn-by-turn navigation.

The verdict was clear: I’d rather be driving the 90D.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

But a new 90D, equipped the way I would want it, then listed at $91,500.  With tax credit and trade-in, my cost to upgrade would have been about $44,000.

In the end, I decided the benefits of a new 90D weren’t worth the money.

Besides, I had my eye on a Tesla Model Y, the moderately-priced crossover utility vehicle that I hoped might appear soon after the Model 3—just about the time my odometer clicked over 100,000 miles and my extended warranty ran out.

GO WAY BACK: My 2013 Tesla Model S Electric Sport Sedan: Delivery at Last! (Feb 2013)

“I’m good with the old car,” I wrote at the time. “For now.”

Enter the 100D

That was then. This is now. And some things have changed in the meantime.

  • Since 2016, my financial outlook has improved. Only one year of my daughter’s college tuition left to go, and a very good year for one of my investments.
  • I turned 70 years old. For decades I’ve been saving and investing so I’d have money to spend in my old age. And suddenly, officially, here it is.
2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

  • I recently suffered a retinal detachment, an abrupt reminder that stuff happens. Tomorrow I could be blind—or dead.
  • Elon Musk tweeted not long ago that the Model Y was still “a few years” away. (And confirmed this week that it wouldn’t arrive until 2020.)
  • Tesla introduced the Model S 100D, with all the benefits of the 90D, plus an EPA range of 335 miles—a full 90 miles more than my current car.
  • Tesla introduced Autopilot 2.0, with the expectation of fully autonomous driving capability within two years.

CHECK OUT: Life with Tesla Model S: replacing the drive unit (aka ‘the funny noise’

Buying a new 100D made a certain amount of sense. It was cool and exciting. I had the means to do it. Life is short.

No free Supercharging

There was only one downside I could see: unlike my old 85, a new 100D would have to pay for Supercharging. This would add about $450 to the cost of my annual California trip, and $7 or $8 to my occasional lunches at a nearby Supercharged restaurant.

It’s not just the money. There’s something priceless about the feeling you get when you plug in for free, that vaguely nefarious pleasure of getting away with something.

(Even though, of course, you know it’s not really free, since it was baked into the original purchase price of the car.)

I would miss that feeling. Human nature is funny that way.

One tactic to keep that free-Supercharger feeling: buy a slightly used inventory 90D built before the pay-to-charge deadline of January 1, 2017.

I checked out a few, but none came close to my preferred options and color.

READ THIS: Why BMW uses Tesla electric cars to scare its staff into the future

And all of them were priced in the high 90s, only a few thousand less than a new 100D built to my specs.

The advantages of the 100D now looked overwhelming.

Beyond the strictly visceral lures—better acceleration, better handling, the cool new thing—there were some compelling practical advantages as well.

All-wheel drive will clearly help during New York State winters. An extra 90 miles of range improves my annual cross-country drive to California.

2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan on delivery day, with owner David Noland

The potential for full autonomy in a couple of years may come just when my own driving skills and confidence could begin to fade.

Pulling the trigger

The last nudge came a couple of weeks ago, when Tesla announced a $5,000 price increase on the 100D, effective  April 24. (The new pricing would include as standard the previously optional air suspension, so the net increase was $2,500.)

I had five days to beat the $2,500 clock. And so on April 21, I pulled the trigger.

My new Model S 100D will arrive in late June or early July.

Tesla Model S P100DTesla Model S P100D

Which options to choose?

The base price of $92,500 included an all-glass roof. I chose the following add-on options:

  • Midnight Silver Metallic Paint ($1,000). My current car’s gorgeous dark-green metallic paint is no longer available. Sad!
  • Silver Cyclone Wheels ($2,500). I’m perfectly happy with my current car’s standard-issue wheels, but I don’t like the looks of Tesla’s new ones. It sounds silly, but I’m willing to pay $2,500 not to have to look at the damn things every day for the next five or six years.
  • Premium Seats ($3,300). As my already-creaky body grows ever creakier, I figure good support is important.
  • Air Suspension ($2,500). My current car has air suspension only because  going without it would have delayed my original delivery date by several months. But I came to like it, mainly for its ability to automatically rise a few inches every time I pull into my driveway, thus facilitating the exit and re-entry of my aforementioned creaky body.
2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]2013 Tesla Model S electric sport sedan [photo by owner David Noland]

As for Autopilot, I decided to skip it for now and wait until full autonomy becomes available.

For me, the current Autopilot is neither sufficiently capable nor trustworthy enough. If I have to monitor a system that closely, I’d rather just drive.

But if and when full “go-to-sleep” Level 5 autonomy arrives, I’ll be happy to pay $10,000 for the software upgrade.

I also passed on the “P” performance option that adds another five figures to a total that had already just crossed six figures.

The total price for my new 2017 Tesla Model S 100D came to $101,800, plus documentation and destination fees.

Subtract my $1,000 referral discount—I referred myself—along with the federal $7,500 tax credit, and New York’s new $500 state tax credit, and the effective post-incentive total comes to $92,800.

Used car salesmanUsed car salesman

Trade in or sell?

In considering what to do with my current car, Tesla offered me a lowball $28,000 trade-in.

I was told that the upper mileage limit for a Tesla Certified Previously Owned car is 60,000 miles. Mine has 75,000 miles, so Tesla apparently wanted no part of it as a future CPO candidate. The company would have probably just sent it out for auction.

A quick check of Kelly Blue Book suggests my car would be worth $40,000 to $42,000 on the retail market, so I plan to put it up for sale myself.

Perhaps a future collector interested in an early Tesla Model S with a serial number below # 4000 will be interested?

In any case, that’s going to be a whole ‘nother story. Stay tuned.

AGR Daily News Service

Over the first three years of driving my 2013 Tesla Model S, there wasn’t a single time when I looked at another car and said, “You know, I’d really rather be driving that car than this one.”

Not once. The Tesla’s combination of performance, style, economy, technology, plus the addictive allure of electric acceleration, made it—to my mind—the perfect car.

Then, last year, with my car in for service, I drove a 2016 Tesla Model S 90D loaner for a couple of days

Wow: better acceleration. Better handling. All-wheel drive. Long range (46 more miles). Better efficiency (15 percent, according to the EPA, though I didn’t see that on the road.)

via Life with Tesla Model S: out with the old, in with the new

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