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: