Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Three Years with an electric car in the UK (Tesla model S)

So its roughly three years ago that I bought my dream car, a Tesla model S 85D electric sedan. I wrote a blog post about it at the time, and another after a year of ownership. I thought it would be fun to look back after three years and see what I thought now I’ve owned it for so long.

So the first thing to note is that this is a model Tesla do not make any more. It has an 85KwH battery, and they only make 75 or 100 now. If I had to buy a new one now, I’d go with 100. I don’t *need* it, but I’d rather not go down to 75 given the fact I live somewhere so remote. YMMV. I still wouldn’t get the super fast P model or the insanely fast Ludicrous version. My car has the old fashioned ‘false vent’ front rather than the slightly snarly pinched front, which I prefer, but other than that, its pretty much the same car they make now. I have autopilot hardware 1, which sadly is not upgradeable. I would *like* to have AP2, but not enough to buy a new car, not for a long time anyway. AP1 is still pretty amazing.

In terms of reliability, its been superb. nothing has gone wrong *at all* since the original door handle issue I had, which was quickly and permanently fixed. I do get the occasional glitch with the playback of USB mp3 files or podcasts through the built in podcast browser thing, but a quick swap between sound sources almost always fixes it. This could also be something to do with the fairly flaky network coverage where I live.

Mechanically its been fine, no noticeable battery degradation at all, performance still awesome, same tyres, nothing replaced, nothing rattles, nothing broken. Still awesome.

Cost-wise its hilarious. I worked out recently I spend more money on having the car cleaned 4x a year than I do on my fully comp car insurance. ‘Fuel’ wise, it still works out at about 4p a mile, and its too new to need an MOT. Its been serviced once, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with it. I’ve never owned a car so staggeringly cheap to run.

Probably the biggest *problem* I’ve encountered has been my own self-imposed dumbness on charging it on two occasions (in 3 years). Once was me being really tired and not wanting to bother stopping on a trip back from London with a low battery, so ploughing on regardless, and having to go *pretty slow* for the last 20 miles to make sure I made it. Another was me forgetting to plug it in one day, and then going on a long road trip anyway with not quite enough charge, and very cold weather (reduces range slightly). This was entirely my own dumb fault, the car warns you and helps you manage it etc. I’ve never actually run out of charge or been stranded anywhere in 3 years.

The thing that surprises me about the car, is that in the three years that I’ve owned it, NOTHING has come along to compete with it whatsoever. The Nissan leaf is way cheaper but even the new version has tragically short range by comparison. The BMW i8 looks a bit ridiculous and is overpriced. The Audi e-tron and Porsche Taycan are apparently meant to be competitors, but neither is widely available and they have no supercharger network like Tesla does, nor are they able to buy direct without a middleman taking a cut. Most of the ‘tesla-killers’ are just fantasies in a legacy car company’s power-point presentation right now. Basically I am EXTREMELY pleased with the purchasing decision that I made. I was never really a car obsessive (despite making a game about them now) but I can honestly say its the best thing I have ever bought.

There is still part of me that would prefer to drive a Tesla Model 3 (not available in UK yet), although the crazy model S performance has spoiled me and I’d need a performance version. I would prefer its smaller size, mainly for ease of parking, but I have to say I really would miss the large touchscreen. The model 3 one looks tiny by comparison (although it still dwarfs those in most cars). In an ideal world I’d also have an all-glass roof, which wasn’t an option when I got mine (I have a sunroof).

I’ll likely keep the same car for a few more years yet, as there is nothing wrong with it, they hold their value very well, and the battery degradation is a rounding error. If you have off-street parking, and can afford one, I cannot recommend them highly enough. If you want a referral code (you get free supercharging for six months as I recall) mine is:

5 thoughts on Three Years with an electric car in the UK (Tesla model S)

  1. K100£/€.

    They even estimate the fuel savings over 5 years on the online buying form at K10, which already requires intensive car usage at expensive fuel prices, showing a ‘virtual’ lower price to in a desperate attempt to make believe it is anywhere near being affordable.

    I am glad wealthy people can enjoy ‘4p a mile’ cars. They need those savings the most.

    1. The first smart phones the first mobile phones, the first TVs, the first dishwashers were all very expensive. Then they became cheap and mainstream. Should a product never get made until we can be so certain of 100,000,000 sales of it and benefit from those economies of scale?

  2. Just wanted to say I enjoyed this review very much! I don’t own a Tesla, but I’ll probably buy the first practical electric van that becomes available. I know the S can technically seat 7, but I don’t think its extra room would be practical for everyday travel.

  3. Old time whiner, new time money grinder here. I don’t remember the nick I used to use when I commented to one of your blog posts like year or two ago how everything comes so easily to you and so on. You corrected me that actually you have worked hard for all you have and then I replied something to that.

    Well. I have a full time job now. I make okay amount of money, I live one of the cheapest flats in the capital area of my country and I put some money aside to trusts (unit trusts or whatever they are called in English) and some money I use to crypto currencies to do some toying around and speculation on stock markets.

    And my goal is to scrape up enough money in order to one day buy Tesla Model 3 when it comes available in my country too and I want to buy the most well equipped version of it as possible. That will cost like around 65 000€ if not even more but I have decided to buy that version and save up the money for it. :)

    The reason why I write this message is because you told in your message that you have actually worked hard towards all your goals to achieve them and that had an impact on me and made me realize that not everyone rich today is born with golden spoon in their mouth but some of them have made their wealth with persistent effort instead of getting it as legacy (or is it bequest). And that gave me determination to pursue what I wanted to achieve. I got the one of the cheapest rental apartments in the capital area and I turned it into a nice apartment (saved for soundproofing materials when I was unemployed), I got the full time job and now I’m actively exchanging crypto currencies to make some profit and I try to spend as little as possible and save as much of my salaries as possible so that I can one day buy the Model 3 I want. :)

    Thank you for your blog posts and this post gave me even more determination to work towards my goal so one day I’ll get the car I want. I really admire the ease of use of electric cars and the fact that how little you actually have to spend money to maintain them (and also the acceleration enthrals me). Let us keep up the good work towards our goals Cliffski. ;)

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