It’s been a tumultuous few weeks. Momma has long felt she needed a new car and struggled with what kind she should get. She shopped around at her usual dealership, but none of their newer models tripped her trigger. Same old, same old. Boring almost. As she thought about other possible makes and models, the Tesla came to mind. She’d seen a lot of them around lately and heard they were selling like hotcakes. At first she ruled them out, believing electric vehicles were just for liberal-minded environmental wackos — an association she did not want to have. But curiosity got the best of her, and Momma actually started thinking outside the gas guzzling box.
She had recently been reading books about electricity, of all things, including The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore and Edison by Edmund Morris. Both talked about competition for electrical advancement between Westinghouse and Edison, both of whom employed a genius Serbian immigrant named Nikola Tesla. Elon Musk, of course, named his hot selling car after Mr. Tesla. Momma has long had a secret crush on Musk (loved him on Saturday Night Live, loves his space exploration, and loves the fact that he moved the Tesla headquarters from crazy California to oil and gun rich Texas). Based on little more, she decided to explore his electric car.
So one day a couple of months ago, Momma drove to the Tesla dealership in Eden Prairie to check things out. She was surprised and disappointed to learn that she, a potential customer, was not welcomed with open arms. In fact, a Tesla representative (they really didn’t seem to have salespeople), told her if she wanted to drive a car and explore matters further, she would need an appointment. Grudgingly, Momma made an appointment with a rep named Garrett for the next day, but only after being assured by him that EVs were not just for liberals anymore.
When Momma showed up for her test drive, Garrett told her she would have to go alone, and this frankly scared her. The car was so different. Where was the start button? The speedometer? The temperature gauge? The gas gauge (oh wait — never mind!)? The heater? The radio? The little clock? The engine for that matter? All the car had was a computer screen in the middle of the dashboard she was used to. Did she really dare drive it by herself? (At this point, she didn’t even know that the Tesla could indeed drive itself.)
Garrett reassured Momma that she could do this, asking her if she’d ever driven a golf cart. Well, duh, she said, of course she had. Is the Pope Catholic? He said the Tesla operates just like that. Go, drive it.
Turns out it was easy to drive and by the time Momma got back to the dealership, she was almost confident. When Garrett came out to meet her, he told her about a nifty feature on the computer screen called Dog Mode. As you might imagine, now he really had Momma’s attention. Garrett demonstrated by pressing the Dog Mode button and a depiction of a dog and this message took over the screen:
The AC is on and it’s
Momma was positively electrified! Now she could leave me in the car while she ran errands and no one would call the police! And I would be in a controlled comfortable environment! The car would be almost a dogsitter for her! Sold, she thought. Out loud she said, “How much?”
After Momma gave Garrett the “downpayment” of $100.00 (yes, you read that right), she started wondering about the details. Could you give me a brochure? asked Momma, curious about the length of her new Model Y. No, said Garrett, Tesla doesn’t use paper advertising materials. Trying to be hip, she said, “Of course not.” She, after all, knew what a computer was. Later, when Momma foolishly asked him for a business card, she realized her faux paw and quickly added, “Oh yeah, right, that’s so yesterday, isn’t it?” Oh well, she thought, she really didn’t need all that clutter around the house, did she?
The deal done, Momma drove away observing all the old-fashioned, soon-to-be-obsolete, combustion engine cars on the road. She almost felt sorry for them. She was going to be so ahead of the game.
Then she started getting into the nuts and bolts of her new purchase.
First of all, she would need to plug the car in, so she hired an electrician to install a super duper 240 volt outlet in her garage to the tune of $750.00. Later, she desperately hoped they had installed the Nema 10-50p type that seemed to be required. Then she started worrying about the cost of the electricity she would burn (use?) so she looked up rebates and rates on the Tesla site. There she learned that Dakota Electric would give her a $500 rebate for installing its (really big) connector box to the outside of her house so she could take advantage of its off-peak rates.
She then called another(!) electrician who said he could install the box, but the rebate wouldn’t cover the entire cost (of course not, thought Momma, now quite grouchy about the whole thing). He also explained that the normal rate of electricity was about 12 cents per hour and offpeak could be as low as 7 cents, but with the program Momma had selected, “Time of Use,” the rate would be about 40 cents per hour if she plugged the (damned) car in before 10 p.m. But not to worry, the electrician said, she could program the car to start charging whenever. Momma’s head was now spinning. She knew she wouldn’t be able to program the Tesla, so she would have to set her alarm to get up and plug the car in at 10:00p every night. This Tesla thing was starting to take over her life.
Next, she learned online (it was almost impossible to speak with someone at Tesla to ask a question, she fumed) that the portable charger that came with the car did not give optimum charging. If she wanted that, she would have to order the futuristic looking $500 wall connector, which gave her a higher rate of charge and would save her from having to use the portable charger that she really should, apparently, just leave in the car in case of a depletion emergency. The slick wall connector would have to be hard wired to the 240 outlet, and she would have to hire an electrician — again! — to come out and do that, too.
What was Momma thinking, she wondered, when she irrationally plunked down $100 and ordered something she knew nothing about? She has spent many sleepless nights trying to figure out what to do about the car. Not that she doesn’t have time. Due to high demand, her estimated delivery date has been delayed to mid-November or December. Should she cancel? But then she wouldn’t have Dog Mode, she lamented, and she would have put an expensive new outlet in her garage for no reason (unless she wanted to move her dryer or oven out there).
In the end, Momma decided she would go ahead with the car. It helped that Tesla was nice to her when she payed them a surprise visit this week and they readily answered her questions. Oh, and she loved that they let me try out Dog Mode.
Momma just hopes she doesn’t have to pay for the car in Bitcoin.
Lina, Amped Aussie!