Today, everyone is crying out for long-term studies, which is more of a challenge in these short-lived times. In the age of agile development of many products, no one really knows how what we buy today can be used in the mid-term future.
In this somewhat different article on my blog, I am now trying to write a “rudimentary long-term” report. This blog post is not about virtualized applications, Smart-Home, or virtual reality. No, in this blog post I will dedicate myself to another topic that I have been dealing with for a little more than 6 years. It’s about the topic of electric mobility. More precisely, my personal experiences after 5,5 years and 150’000 kilometers (93750 miles) with a pure electric car. I think this is my first post that addresses a somewhat broader audience than my previous articles, which were more interesting for IT experts, “nerds” and smart home hobbyists.
Currently, this topic seems to be very well received and the media is full of lurid headlines about Tesla and other battery electric vehicles. There are already many “EV sympathizers” and just as many electric car haters. There are a lot of false statements circulating and a lot of people parroting.
In this article, I will not cover all these so lurid topics. I will not write about topics like ecology or sustainability of electric cars. I do have an opinion, but I could only cite countless existing studies which are credible to me. Furthermore, I have not done any practical research in this area myself. I’ve wasted too much time discussing these issues over the last 6 years, and I’m frankly tired of it. But here I like to refer to the “Mythbuster Elektromobilität” (in German) by Martin Rotta: http://www.mythbuster.ch. If someone wants to discuss these very controversial topics with me, let’s do it face to face and with facts as well as the necessary respect. I will ignore comments under this article on these topics.
How did it come about that I ordered an electric car?
I had the idea in mid-June 2015 that I would like to test drive a Tesla. At that time I had a Škoda Octavia station wagon with which I was quite happy. A car had to be suitable for everyday use and a bit sporty for me. Further, I had the need to be able to drive with the car also into the vacation. Also I had the need for my hobby, the Scuba diving in Swiss lakes, to transport 2-3 scuba gear. On June 30th I made my first test drive with a Tesla Model S P85. This experience was quite impactful, it was an iPad on wheels with incredible driving fun. An electric car converts the instructions with the pedal without any delay. Since my Škoda was dying, I had too many repairs, then I did a second test drive with a Tesla S85D on July 21, and then finally I ordered a Tesla Model S 70D.
There was only the Model S to order from Tesla and the smallest battery with 70 kWh has blown my budget least high. The D stands for Dual, i.e. 4-wheel drive, this was mandatory in my opinion because my commute led over the Frienisberg which was not really cleared in winter from time to time.
As options, I ordered the air suspension and the rear-facing child seats. On P for performance, a larger battery and the premium package with electric tailgate, front fog lights, ambient lighting, etc. I have waived.
Then the time had come, I became a Tesla driver
On December 30, 2015, I was allowed to pick up my Model S in Möhlin. Although the Tesla Service Center in Bern opened in January 2016, I didn’t want to wait any longer.
This is customer service
However, I came into contact with the Tesla service center in Bern in January 2016. The charging port, equivalent to a gas cap on a car with a combustion engine, did not close properly. It gave an error message on the onboard computer, although it was closed. After I asked in the “Tesla Fahrer und Freunde Forum” for a tip to solve this problem (https://tff-forum.de/t/fehlermeldung-chargeport-offen/9268), a friendly lady from Tesla Bern called me. She told me in her role as a service advisor, if I had time to drink a coffee in the lounge, that they would fix the problem within 15 minutes. So it was then also.
Tesla in everyday life
The first few months with my Tesla were rather unspectacular, though I’ve never enjoyed a car so much. I’m really not a car nut, but I was happy about my commute every morning. Vacation trips were a highlight, every charging station I had to photograph and post on social media 🙈 . When I went to Krk, Croatia for vacation in the summer of 2016, I thought I needed to do some planning. Which Supercharger will I use, can I charge in the destination, etc.? During the trip, I realized that I worried too much, with a Tesla it just works thanks to the Supercharger network. Even more so today than 5 years ago. Today I use it for planning long-distance driving (>600Km) https://abetterrouteplanner.com but only because of the trip optimization and not because it would not work otherwise.
I bought a maintenance service subscription for 1850 CHF for the first 4 maintenance service appointments, up to 80,000 km, which I would no longer do today. Every 20,000 km, a regular maintenance Service is not necessary for an electric car and not mandatory for Tesla to maintain the manufacturer’s warranty. Mostly the car was just checked, the batteries in the key fob (CR2032) were changed and the windshield wiper blades were replaced. Currently, Tesla recommends changing the cabin filter every 3 years, checking the brake fluid every 2 years, and replacing it if necessary. Be aware, my information that a service every 20’000 is not necessary is my personal opinion. I recommend that you make up your own mind and include the manufacturer’s recommendation in forming your opinion. Tesla has more information on service at https://www.tesla.com/support/car-maintenance.
In Switzerland, a good and recommendable alternative to the maintenance service at Tesla, especially after the warranty period by Tesla is, in my opinion, Remo Iseli, former working for Tesla, later Reego Basel und now in Seon with Teslabor (https://teslabor.ch). Remo does excellent, customer-oriented work.
Very shortly before the warranty period was over the 12V battery, which supplies the onboard entertainment system and the conventional onboard electronics, has told me with a message on the onboard computer that it no longer wants to work and must be replaced.
I also found out at the 80’000 maintenance service (50’000 miles) that one of the brakes is no longer ok. The brake was “rotten” due to moisture and too little use, so a brake pad had to be replaced. Since then, I always take care to break properly after driving in wet weather and after washing the car, instead of recuperating so that they dry a bit due to the frictional heat. The 12v battery was replaced under warranty. Brake service and replacement of the one brake pad I had to take over 580.- CHF myself.
In December 2018, I rudely “kissed” a curb on a slippery road. Since the Model S is really heavy, and I was driving somewhat briskly and the impact thus occurred at about 35 km/h (22 mph), the extent of the damage was severe. Some parts in the front area had to be replaced. This was extremely annoying since it was already the second comprehensive damage in which I had to participate in a deductible of 1000.-. But the worst thing here was my customer experience. The repair took only 3-4 days, but the wait time for the parts was very long. I was without a car for a total of 9 weeks. Tesla did not inform me about the whole time how to proceed. There was no replacement car.
So if I had to chart my Tesla experience now on Gartner’s hype cycle, here we are now at the bottom here in the Valley of Disappointments.
With the above-mentioned damages, I also first became aware that Tesla in Switzerland charges an hourly rate of 210.- CHF for work, which is rather high for an auto repair shop. Reego is here with 160.- CHF (as of July 2021) far below.
To cushion further nasty surprises and their financial impact, I have in July 2019 a 2-year warranty extension for 3200.- CHF concluded with Car Garantie via Garage Gubler.
In 2019, I upgraded the car to be compatible with the European standard for fast charging called “CCS”.
Another repair was due in the summer of 2020 because the eMMC chip went bye-bye. A Tesla children’s disease that affects, so to speak, all older cars from Tesla. More information about this here: https://insideevs.com/news/376037/tesla-mcu-emmc-memory-issue/
In 2021, I had still some minor repairs like a problem with the parking brake, the trunk lock, and the driver’s door handle.
Tesla makes minor repairs at one’s home or workplace with Ranger Service.
Furthermore, a major maintenance service at Reego revealed some minor damages, which also was repaired by Reego. There were 2 wishbones and problems with the steering geometry, also a childhood disease of the first 120,000 units of the Tesla Model S.
Battery (TLDR: no fear of degeneration)
To know how healthy the battery of my Model S is, Remo from reego Service read out the battery for me.
I now know that I still have a nominal capacity of 63.8 kWh.
Important! The battery of electric cars does not degrade linearly, most battery degeneration occurs in the first months of operation.
I can live with that just fine. I try to keep my Tesla always in the range between 20% and 80% when it is standing, which is supposed to be best for the lithium-ion cells according to different studies. If you don’t stick to this and often charge above 100% or drop deep below 15%, Tesla’s onboard computer will tell you to change your charging behavior.
The battery in my Tesla has an 8-year warranty with no mileage limit, and the same goes for the powertrain, i.e. the engine and transmission.
For me, there are 2 reasons that still speak for Tesla being ahead. One is the charging network with the Supercharger for long distances, which I will discuss later. The other is the software. Similar to a smartphone, the software of a Tesla gets better and better after delivery. The updates of the onboard computer come over-the-air via Wifi or rarely over the mobile network on the car. Although my “old-timer hardware” no longer gets all the new features, improvements are constantly coming free of charge.
You can see the latest improvements and history through 2019 here:
Charging network (TLDR: Range anxiety is a foreign word for Tesla drivers).
Tesla has faced the chicken-and-egg problem in electric mobility from the very beginning, dedicated itself to building a fast-charging network in addition to building its cars. This is known as the Supercharger network. This fast charger network is intended for long-distance travel and, as of today, charges at up to 250 KW are possible as long the car can take this power amount. The network of fast-charging stations, which are directly visible in the Tesla navigation system and are automatically integrated into the route planning, is growing exponentially. This is clearly visible at https://supercharge.info/charts.
So far, I have charged at almost 40 different Superchargers throughout Europe. In 5.5 years, I have never experienced a Supercharger being out of operation for technical reasons. So far, I have had to wait 2x because all the slots were occupied for about 500 charging processes.
Tesla’s “normal speed” charging stations, which can be found at hotels, amusement parks, campgrounds, restaurants, etc., and which Tesla calls “Destination Charger”, have been open to all car brands since the beginning. Here Tesla kept to the standard from the beginning. Every Tesla in Europe can also be charged at a normal Type2 charger.
The announcement by Elon Musk, the Tesla CEO, that other cars will soon be able to charge at the Tesla Supercharger is completely new. Since the launch of the Model 3 in Europe, the Superchargers have also been equipped with the CCS plug.
Cost overview (TLDR: tires are the most expensive)
I have written down all the costs I had to spend for maintenance, repairs, consumables like tires and accessories in a spreadsheet. All figures are in Swiss francs (CHF).
Here are a few important additions:
- As a “Tesla Early Adopter” I received Lifetime Free Supercharging from Tesla, further you can still charge many places for free. Therefore, the figure for electricity purchase is very low at 1658.- CHF. The Tesla S 70D consumes about 20 kWh per 100 km and 1 kWh costs about 0.23 swiss francs here. So if I had paid each kWh itself, we would talk about electricity costs over 150,000 Km of 6,900 CHF.
Fun fact: If you have a look at battery report above, you can see that I charged 20’578 kWh DC and 14’591 AC. No, I’m not nicely calculating this numbers, but every time you drive down a hill the car regenerate energy which goes into the DC charging counts.
- Cost savings on road taxes I have not included, these are different from canton to canton. In Bern, I had the first 2 years 50% discount.
- As unforeseen are the 2x deductible of the hull damage listed. These would not be mandatory 🙂
- The warranty extension was not worth it, too little was broken on the car during the warranty time. Nevertheless, it let me sleep more peacefully.
- The maintenance service subscription over 1850.- I would not buy today, but pay for the maintenance services themselves as needed.
- With the tires, I could make 2x a bargain and buy almost new 19″ summer tires from someone.
Now it was announced that from September the Model Y (Made in China) can be delivered to Switzerland. This is actually the car I would like to have as the successor to my Model S. However, from an economic point of view, it makes more sense to drive my Model S for a while longer, which is what I have in mind now. With the old nose cone (pre-facelift) I almost feel like a Tesla veteran 🙂 I may upgrade the onboard computer to also enjoy some of the new features that are delivered via software updates. At the moment I have a real range of 342 km in summer, which is enough for 95% of my trips. In addition, I have with this car lifelong free fast charging at the Supercharger. Back to the Gartner Hype Cycle, I see myself now on the plateau of productivity.
Would I buy a Tesla again and why?
In my eyes, Tesla is still a nose ahead, although I also quite like vehicles like the Škoda Eniaq, the VW ID4, or the Mustang Mach-E and would possibly risk a test drive. In terms of software updates, however, I still see Tesla way ahead. Also, the Tesla Supercharger charging network speaks for Tesla, here is exciting what happens now when Tesla opens the Supercharger network for all-electric cars. Above all, I’m wondering about the pricing policy here. Some fast-charging networks charge exorbitant prices for charging.
I hope you enjoyed my article about electric cars and Tesla. If you have a specific question, do not be hesitated to write me a comment below. Take care, a test drive of an electric car could be dangerous because you might want to change your car afterward. But if you really want to know if an electric car is something for you, I recommend not only a normal test drive, I recommend renting an electric car for a few days. If you live in Switzerland, I can recommend the company Tesla4All or EV4All.
Of course, I have various referral links where you can benefit when you buy a Tesla or Online services for any EV:
If you order a Tesla with this link, you get 1500Km of free Supercharging credit:https://www.tesla.com/referral/sacha3162
For the logging service TeslaFi: You can test TeslaFi 1 month for free with this link:https://www.teslafi.com/signup.php?referred=1monthfreefromsacha
If you want to test AbetterRoutePlanner, it’s free, if you want to use Premium, this link will give you 30 days for free: https://abetterrouteplanner.com/premium/?referral=OHZNSWLI
I have not received any incentive benefits or monetary compensation from Tesla, Reego Services, or Tesla4All / EV4All for my text. My recommendations are based on my honest and my own experiences.