Convince me

Convince me

I am a reservation holder for both S and X. I live in Belgium, Europe. We are allowed to drive 120km/h (75 miles/h) on the highway, 70 km/h (43 m/h) on "normal" roads and slower in city centers.

I have carefully explored the Tesla websites of all continents/languages over and over again. I digged through the forums and have seen every movie there is to see on youtube about model S/X. I consider myself in the "Tesla-zone".
Still I wonder if there are things I overlooked.

So I ask every acquaintance with a critical mind : Convince me to terminate my reservations. Give me a good reason why I shouldn't buy the tesla model S nor the X.

In the beginning most people are skeptical. All the usual arguments emerge. Most of them are not relevant.
There are some arguments that make sense and are already know to us Tesla believers.

1. The range of 480km(300miles) will be sufficient in 95% of the cases. What will you do in the other 5% ?
2. The battery is not ever lasting. Let's say a minimum of 8 years or 100.000 miles. When it breaks down you have to buy a new one (expensive ?). The older your car gets, the less money you get for it.
3. The range of 480km(300miles) is on everage speed of 88km/h (55 m/h). How will it be affected when driving faster. (Germany has no limit on the autobahn, so reload every 200 km/125 miles ?)
4. In Europe we can charge on a 3-phase charger. This will still take 4-6 hours. What if, for any stupid reason, you need to recharge during the day? (If Murfy is around, this will be in the morning when you need your car)
5. The quick charger of 45 minutes uses 70 amps, which are not (yet) available in Belgium. How will you handdle that?

How do you see these arguments ? Do you have other related arguments of your own? (Emotional arguments on style, color, tast, comfort, etc. don't count)

I am still in the zone, but trying to bring down the euphoria by reasonable arguments.
Maybe the disadvantage of being served later with the model S (end of the year, beginning next year) becomes an advantage. We are obliged to wait and see the reviews of the US users.

Volker.Berlin | 16 mars 2012

Ha! I love that kind of questioning... Let's see.

1. What if you need to go more than 300 miles? You could go by train or by plane, which may be more convenient anyway, depending on your transportation needs. You could rent an ICE car (or swap cars with your friend, who will very likely be more than willing to give away his ICE in exchange for a Model S/X for a week or two). Personally, I presume I'll limit my daily mileage to the range of the car and take the opportunity for an additional overnight stay to visit friends or do some sightseeing.

2. Battery degradation. The nice thing about the battery is that it degrades "gracefully". That's in sharp contrast to typical ICE diseases: After 8 years/100 kmi an ICE is pretty likely to suffer one failure or another. When that happens, it just stops working and you can't go anywhere except to the service. The battery on the other hand will no longer have the same capacity and power as a new one, but it only slowly gets worse. So you can simply continue using your car just as you normally do, except that acceleration will need the additional second or two to get to 60 mph, and your long trip range is a little more limited. I expect that it really doesn't make a difference at all in city driving.

Don't forget that Tesla guarantees a certain level ("close to new", presumably something like 70% at least) of battery capacity for 8 years and unlimited miles (for the 85 kwh battery). If they decide to guarantee it, that means that they expect the average battery to fare better than that by a comfortable margin. To me this means that I can relax and postpone any battery related questions 10 years into the future -- and the answers 10 years down the road will be very different from the answers I can come up with now, with today's battery technology and cost.

3. How is range affected by different travel speeds? I'm very curious about that myself. For sure you cannot go 110 mph for hours on end -- but then again, with an ICE you burn a whole lot of fuel in doing so, and the traffic rarely permits for such a traveling speed, anyway. You still have the top speed available for occasional fun, but on the long trip its not such a bad thing to go at a lower average speed. In fact, if traffic or construction work forces you to slow down, you'll see an immediate benefit in range -- in contrast to ICE cars that have infinitely bad mileage in stop-and-go traffic.

I'm in Germany and I like long Autobahn trips. For these reasons, aerodynamic wheels and air suspension are on the top of my desired-options list: The improvement in aerodynamics that comes from these options will help for the range curve to decrease less sharply on higher speeds.

I'm in contact with a person at Tesla who will likely provide some numbers to illustrate the range/speed relationship for the Model S. As soon as I have anything, I'll post it in the forums.

4. What if your car is empty when you want to leave? Well, tough luck I'd say. But I think this is a very hypothetical issue: If your are driving around town, you have to not plug in the car for a couple of days in a row to make that happen. At some point, you will probably plug in and top up the battery before you've driven all those 300 miles.

On a long trip, you will have a careful eye on range and charging, anyway. You just won't forget to plug it in, and if there's a charging failure, you will be prompted by your smart phone app, so you can take action before you need to go again in the morning.

Also, there is no requirement to change the battery from empty to full before you leave. If in fact you find your car empty in the morning, you can still plug it in for half an hour or an hour at most and you will be ready to leave (if it isn't for a long trip, in which case you probably double-checked your charging status the night before).

5. Where in Europe can I do the 45 min quick-charge? No idea. I assume that Tesla's super chargers will become available over here as well, although only at select locations at first. We will learn more about that when Tesla prepares for the roll-out in Europe, i.e., a few months from now.

Maybe the disadvantage of being served later with the model S (end of the year, beginning next year) becomes an advantage. We are obliged to wait and see the reviews of the US users. (steven.maes)

I concur.

ManuVince | 16 mars 2012

1. Well you can rent/borrow a more traditional car. Or take the train. And that's only temporary until the adequate charging infrastructure is there. Then you can go as far as you want.

2. The battery is guarantied for 8 years, so it still be good after 8 years. By that time, batteries will be cheaper and probably better (meaning have a greater power density). So instead of changing car, you will just replace your battery : much less expensive.

3. I have no answer to that question, we need to wait and see real usage. But I believe unless you drive the car very very fast, it should still stay in the 350/400 km range, which is what is considered reasonable to drive without taking a pause. So you will have to stop anyway.

4. I don't understand that argument. At home you charge overnight (everybody needs to sleep ), if you forget, you can't blame Murphy for that :-)

5. There is a heated debate about that, and a lot of potential customers (In europe and Japan) are requesting Tesla to support (or have an adapter) for CHADeMO standard. It will be widely deployed in Europe in te next months and allows to charge in about an hour and a half. Considering that there are more and more European car makers going for EVs (full electric or plugin hybrids : Renault, Audi, BMW,..), so there will be for sure quick charge solution growing in the next year. A lot of new EVs are announced for release in September which coincide with Paris Auto show. in the meantime, it is careful planning, or you are back to point #1 :-)

Wanting a Tesla is being an early adopter. That requires a bit of faith, but not that much ;-)

steven.maes | 16 mars 2012

Thanks for your thoughts. Are there any other arguments/restraints that you've heared from people, where you thought, mhhh they might have a point ?

Regarding number 4. I was just wondering about any situation where this might happen. For example, you come back from work, and have been driving sportively. When you arrive home you need to go to another place you didn't think of, or you couldn't have forseen it. (Your child cut his/her finger and you need to go to the hospital, an urgent appointment, etc.) Then you discover there is not enough power left to get there ...
Or during the night when charging, the electricity master switch turns down... (Hi Murfy) etc.

I know these are exceptional situations, but they make me wonder...

My ego would hate to hear the "told you so", when this would happen :-)

Mycroft | 16 mars 2012

In those extremely rare, virtually assured not-to-happen situations, I'm sure you could find a neighbor's car to borrow in a pinch or call an ambulance or taxi.

By the way, the devil who always causes things to happen at the worst times is named Murphy, not Murfy. ;)

steven.maes | 16 mars 2012

:-) Thx for the name correction...

I guess your right. Taxi would do just fine in most situations...

Volker.Berlin | 16 mars 2012

On top, just to have another argument handy when discussing with your friends, there are a lot more parts that can break in an ICE than in an EV. The slow charging problem is unique to the EV, but the general unexpectedly-unavailable problem isn't. It may even be more frequent with ICEs. To illustrate: Your EV will never, ever, not start in a cold and foggy winter morning... And don't forget that even ICEs need batteries to get started, and that these batteries are a (relatively) frequent cause for not being able to leave on time...

steven.maes | 16 mars 2012

I get your point, but... I drive a toyota land cruiser. I never had any problems with it. It stood outside for a week at minus 15 on a ski-trip. Turned the key and it started. Never ever a battery nor a mechanical problem. But then again,... it had to have a maintenance every so much kilometers.

Jason S | 16 mars 2012

I'm getting the perf version, most likely, so I'd have the large battery. I think a day or two of sporty driving wouldn't deplete my battery to below 50%. However, if there was no gas in the car... then there is no gas.

The car has a 'limp home' mode so I presume you'll never park it in that mode then attempt to get somewhere else fast. You may get home with a low fuel gauge, figuring to drop by gas station in the morning but you wouldn't take that car by the gas station on an emergency -- you'd take a different car.

Sudre_ | 16 mars 2012

Quotes I have heard. They are easy to argue down to nothing. Some are just ridiculous. These are not my opinions!

6) "If Tesla goes belly up your warranty and car parts are gone for the most part. Ask a DeLorian owner? It's a new company and as soon as the big car companies reverse engineer Tesla's advantage, make one small change, and get their own patents, they will under cut Tesla into bankruptcy."

7) "Electric cars cost too much money. At least $10,000 more than the average car in it's class if not twice that. Tesla has no chance of succeeding just look at the low sales from the Volt, Leaf and Smart cars. Once the few thousand Green EV nuts have their cars Tesla will never sell another one."

8) "If EVs were the way to go all the big companies would be making them."

9) "Tesla doesn't honor their warranties. They should just replace whatever goes wrong with any Roadster no matter what to get good press. It's obvious this company is doomed once the Model S's start bricking."

10) "There is no where to plug them in to charge unless you have a garage. Too many people rent property. It's hard enough to find parking in a big city much less find one with a plug."

11) "You can not safely charge in the rain or any bad weather, you will get electrocuted."

12) "My wife can't manage to put gas in the car or keep her cell phone charged. How in the hell is she going to manage doing that with an EV? How do I go rescue her if you can't just bring a gas can?"

13) "Eletwic caus au stoopid" translation "Electric cars are stupid"

14) "Battery acid will spill all over you in an accident."

15) "The battery will burst into flames in a fire."

16) "The car will burn down your house like the Volt while your sleeping. Once a few dozen of those happen and people start dieing no one will ever want one."

I could go on an on.

Brian H | 16 mars 2012

About Murphy, he has a relative called Muphry. Causes postings with corrections of others' posts to have errors themselves.

kbekaert | 16 mars 2012

I'm also from Belgium.
If you have a reservation number that is less than P360, please cancel that. So I move a place in the queue ;-)

Butch | 16 mars 2012

I have Roadster #433 and have a reservation for Model S Signature #40. My Roadster was delivered in May, 2009. Here are a few of my answers.

1. Plan ahead or use something else. I split my time between Boulder, CO and Pagosa Springs, CO. The drive is 288 miles and takes about 6 hours in the mountains. Most of the time, I fly my own small airplane between the two places, but I have done 2 round trips in the Roadster. The EPA range of the Roadster is 245 miles, but to to that on the highway, you have to drive at 52 MPH (more on that below). I carry the 40Amp mobile charger with an adapter for the popular 50A/240V RV/Range plug in the U.S. There are multiple RV parks at about half way. They all charge me $5 for a few hour charge. (It's great to see the Roadster parked between a pair of RV's.) While the car is charging, I either walk into town for lunch/dinner or pick up some food and go to the RV park's rec room that usually has free wifi. I found an RV park where you can do a 1/2 day white water raft trip from the park. I'll probably try that next time.

3. Take a look at for a very interesting and informative discussion of the Roadster energy usage and range. I would expect the Model S to follow a very similar curve with a few more W/mi at each speed. As you go over 50 mph, the energy usage per mile (W-hr/mi) is dominated by the aerodynamic drag. This aero component of energy per mile goes up as the square of speed (power goes up as the cube of speed). The EPA range of the Roadster is 245 mi and the battery has 53 kW-hr of energy. That means the EPA energy per mile is 216 W/mi. Looking at the graph in the blog above, that corresponds to a speed of about 52 mph. From this graph, we can look at a few interesting points.

4/3*216=288W/mi or 3/4 range at 68mph.
5/3*216=360W/mi or 3/5 range at 80mph.
6/3*216=432W/mi or 1/2 range at 90mph.

Go fast and your range goes down quickly. With my aggressive driving style, heating, and air conditioning, I average more like 290 W/mi and get about 3/4 of the EPA range. Also, the Roadster normally gives you 80% range for everyday driving. Keeping the batteries between 10% and 90% capacity (80% usable), increases the life of the batteries. Whenever you enable the charger for max range mode, you get a little warning that you are using up more battery life.

4&5. The Supercharger will use way more than 70 Amps. The "High Power Wall Connector" will draw 80 Amps and will need a 240V circuit with a 100 Amp circuit breaker! That charger will do a full charge in 5 hours or so for a 300 mile battery.

ddruz | 16 mars 2012

@Butch, Thanks! That was GREAT information for everyone.

Timo | 19 mars 2012

To add Butch #3, Roadster and Model S will have approximately same air drag. Model S is much more aerodynamic than Roadster, but it is also close to equal amount larger so CdA where Cd is coefficient of drag and A is frontal area results are approx same.

What makes Model S use more power is weight. Model S is heavier, so it has bigger rolling resistance. Unlike air drag that is pretty constant at any speed, so when you look at the chart at just add constant value enough that you get 300mile range with 85kWh battery at 55 mph and rest follow approximately same curve.

300 miles / 85kWh at 55 mph is 283Wh/mi

(just for fun I played with the excel sheet you can get from that page and got 460+ mile range at 20mph. If your normal commuting average speed is low you get a lot more than 300 mile range :-))

Wh, not W (watt (W) is unit of power, watthour (Wh) is unit of energy) You use approx 15.6kW of power at 55mph (Model S).

steven.maes | 19 avril 2012

I'm in Germany and I like long Autobahn trips. For these reasons, aerodynamic wheels and air suspension are on the top of my desired-options list: The improvement in aerodynamics that comes from these options will help for the range curve to decrease less sharply on higher speeds.

I'm in contact with a person at Tesla who will likely provide some numbers to illustrate the range/speed relationship for the Model S. As soon as I have anything, I'll post it in the forums.


Any news yet Volker ?

I'm still convinced buying the S. I will have to figure out an other way of transportation for trips to Spain, Austria or Italy. It is not practical to stop 3 times for several hours on a trip of > 900 Km.

But on the other hand, so far I haven't heared any logical argument to terminate my reservation. So untill now the European pricing can be the only thing to stop me ...

steven.maes | 19 avril 2012

Sorry Volker, wrong html tag

Volker.Berlin | 19 avril 2012

Steven, thanks for asking. I'm still bugging the guy once in a while, but to date I do not have any news in that regard. Now he is on honeymoon for two weeks... oh well ;-)

Brian H | 20 avril 2012

Being in love, in the presence of a beautiful woman, and lazing around on vacation all have definite negative measurable effects on IQ. And he's being hit by all 3! (Some of the effects are permanent, btw.) So I'd keep my questions simple when he gets back.

BYT | 20 avril 2012

@Brian, is that like the effect a Wedding Cake has on the brides libido? It's Friday and I couldn't resist... ;)

Volker.Berlin | 9 mai 2012

Steven, the numbers have finally become available. They have been posted today on Tesla's official blog:

steven.maes | 10 mai 2012

Yes Volker, thx, I did already see the news. So driving 120 km/h will give you a range of 362 km, under perfect conditions. This should be enough for daily driving to and from work. Longer trips will still be an issue I think.

I am wondering though what the European price policy will be. I wasn't fond of the "European prices will be slightly higher" quote.

Vawlkus | 10 mai 2012

Well, it's not free to ship a car across the ocean. Until Tesla has a second manufacturing plant, all their cars must be built in the US and shipped overseas.

Volker.Berlin | 10 mai 2012

Vawlkus, I agree. On top of shipping, currency exchange uncertainties are a real issue, too. Just as Steven, I'm obviously not fond of a "Europe premium", but it's hard to argue with the facts.

steven.maes | 10 mai 2012

I understand that there will be extra costs to ship the car outside the US.
I was referring to something else. I only hope they are not going the apple way (dollar = euro).

Brian H | 10 mai 2012

No, I think they were talking about real world exchange rates, not arbitrary policy like that! Elon was particularly proud of the reception of Tesla in Norway, and I doubt he wants to bring all that to a screeching halt!

Timo | 11 mai 2012

OTOH with VAT included the actual price for the car will be close to dollar = euro for most European countries. Norway is an exception to the rule.

steven.maes | 11 mai 2012

I did assume that the current prices where VAT included ...

Volker.Berlin | 11 mai 2012

Steven, US prices are always quoted excluding VAT b/c VAT is different in different states.

steven.maes | 11 mai 2012

Thx for the info.

Brian H | 11 mai 2012

And the term "VAT" is not really correct in the US; there is no such animal on the books. Sales taxes vary all over the map, from minor to malevolent (CA).