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Why Pigs Will Fly Before I Buy a Tesla

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

My husband and I decided to rent a Tesla during our summer travels to the Seattle area and other places in Washington State. We had never driven an electric vehicle before and thought this would be a really good learning experience for us.

Tesla SuperCharger StationMARCO VERCH/FLICKR/CROPPED/CC BY 2.0

Well, a full week test driving a Tesla clarified a whole lot more for us than a 30-minute test drive would have. The worst part of the Tesla experience was the stress of seeing the battery charge go down quickly and needing to find a charging station before being stranded! It’s a well known phenomenon called “range anxiety.” And it’s real.

We rented a Model 3 long range (supposedly 300 miles) but we didn’t go much over 150 miles before we felt the need to find a supercharger. Compare that with going nearly 500 miles in our Honda Accord before needing a gas fill-up. Also compare the 40 minutes you’ll spend at a supercharger (for maybe a 60 percent charge) with the five minutes you’d spend at a gas pump. Let’s just say that EVs are a poor choice for road trips.

But I can see how a Tesla would be fine for shorter commutes after which you plugged it into a charger in your garage overnight. It’s a fun car to drive. It has great pick-up! And the regenerative braking is an amazing invention that saves battery charge (just not enough charge!) Taking your foot off the accelerator slows the car down so much that you soon learn you don’t even need to brake as you de-accelerate on the approach to a red light. The tinted glass roof is cool too. But I personally would not advise buying or renting an EV today if you need to cover distances.

Another big concern is the potential risk related to personal security or just being hassled at charging stations. The superchargers were always unsupervised and often in out of the way places. Here’s one response I got from a blog reader on that issue:

Pretty much the worst thing about the Tesla rental experience is the primary selling point for me, the superchargers. I live in California so I’m using the showcase network, the ones in Santa Monica, on the I-5, at LAX, in Orange County, in Simi Valley. There are a lot of problems in the area if you pick a random gas station, but there are limited Superchargers so they all turn into these traps for people hustling for owners of cars worth $100k. So its prostitutes and prostitutes and then some pot dealer walking his dog, and prostitutes, and then a meth dealer with Arizona plates. It’s routine, it’s not occasional. Reader of

We also didn’t like dependence on a touch screen while driving. And we didn’t feel we got a worthwhile bargain with the charging fees versus gas costs. For more, read my Federalist article, I Rented a Tesla for a Week and am Totally Sold on Gas-Powered Cars.

Interestingly, there’s a “Tesla Fan Club” out there that hated my article. On Twitter a lot of the “members” of that fan club acted a bit like Harley-Davidson motorcycle enthusiasts would if you insulted their Sportster. Some claimed it was a “hit job.” One thought that since I wasn’t an “expert” on cars, I had no business writing about cars. And so on. But EVs are supposed to be the transportation wave of the future! As a driver and a consumer and I thought it would be worthwhile to help potential buyers and renters consider what could be in store for them.

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