Reader Rant: About My Tesla 3 . . .

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Here’s the latest reader rant, along with my reply!

Peter writes: I did pay over $50k for Tesla 3 but will get $7,500 tax credit. I think Tesla is making roughly $5k on each car. I bought it mainly to feel good about not being dependent on big oil and coal and to set a precedent. I will only drive it locally, so it will run on Sun ? source only. We have 31 modules on our roof. Still, I’m on the grid, like all of us.

My response: You make my points for me! Obviously you’re affluent enough to not have to worry about the cost of a new car, much less gas. You bought your Tesla to make a statement – to “feel good” – though I’m baffled by your feel-good statement about “not being dependent on big oil and coal.”

I am grateful for the existence of both as they provide me (and others) with inexpensive, convenient energy which does not require government mandates or subsidies nor impose time-wasting hassles on me.

Most of us cannot afford a $50,000 car or the thousands you spend on your solar array.

Teslas are toys for the virtue-signaling affluent. You’ve said so yourself!

And Tesla is not making “roughly $5k on each car.” They are taking a net loss on the “sale” of each car. And so are taxpayers like me, who were forced (via subsidies) to “help” you buy your $50,000 virtue-signaling electric car.

. . .

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  1. People who buy an industrial product to ‘stick it to big oil’ and other fossil fuels providers strike me as similar to the folks who worry about buying BPA-free packaging for their food and who won’t use a microwave but then smile and breathe deeply at a new car smell.

    You want to make some sort of change in your life for a substantive point, or as a signal to others? Fine, fine. I only ask that you don’t make such an *empty* change. Go full subsistence farm, live up in the mountains off the land. Go nuts! Do whatever you want! But buying a large, heavy, electric car, produced and transported by industrial infrastructure and players, using plenty of hydrocarbons in the paint, fabrics and upholstery, all the plastics, etc., all at tremendous energy cost, is like buying a fast food burger with large fries and then ordering a diet soft drink. It’s contradictory at best, counterproductive at worst, on a spectrum from empty gestures to quixotic tilting at windmills.

    Meanwhile, I’ll run my old Corolla until the engine goes, and if everything else is still solid I might even put in another motor if that’s ultimately cheaper than replacing the tough little toaster with something else. I may not pass muster with you that way, but I’d wager it’s at *worst* a wash with the brand-new Tesla, given up front energy investment to produce and deliver as opposed to my “energy-amortised” hooptie, if maintained. Not even like I’m keeping an old conversion van to run around town or something.

    • Excellently said, Mike!

      The only thing I’d add is that every EV buyer is by definition affluent – as the least expensive EV is $30,000 to start (no options) and most are in the $35,00-$50,000 range. This makes them by definition indulgences. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but it’s of a piece with designer shoes or a stay at a fancy hotel. By all means, enjoy it – assuming you’re paying for it and not forcing others to.

      But stop it with the virtue preening. You’re not “saving” anything.

      • I’ll even allow the notion that they really think they’re doing good, not just signalling, hence the spectrum I mentioned.

        The issue then, though, is an ignorance of the realities of our industrial and transportation back-end, as well as a basic ignorance of thermodynamics and arithmetic. Might not be so contemptible on intent, then, but still consequentially awful if you work from good intentions but only know enough to enact counterproductive measures.

        Most people don’t think about secondary effects. Most people I meet will agree easily with me that cities are the best traffic/use scenario for EVs, but few have considered that there are fewer garages for home charging there, and stare stunned when confronted with that. They also lock up when you remind them that the most populous cities are precisely where the existing electrical grid is weakest and in most dire need of modernization and repair, but that EVs would greatly increase grid load on an already great demand.

        We honestly expect most of these folks to consider the production energy cost, or to consciously realize how much of the BOM is petrochemical whilst they smile contentedly as their car ‘dances’?

        Surely, they *ought* to, but I can’t say I anticipate it. Most people just don’t think.

      • Anyway, if any of the ‘planners’ were truly worried, they’d look to encourage a very cheap efficient car, no matter the powerplant, to supplant all the 97 Buicks running around. Pretty sure such an effort would do more *net* than a few luxury EVs. It belies either their institutional incompetence or their actual intent that they do not, and instead prop up niche-market products. It makes a consequentialist argument against it all, which is more persuasive at large coupled with a principled argument against market interference than either might be alone.

        If the effect is nothing worthwhile, why have the loans, the subsidies, the tax refunds at all?

        (Sorry for the double-post, and thanks for the reply!)

  2. Buying an electric car does not make one independent of big oil. Just about everything that built that car runs on hydrocarbons. Especially the mining operations to get all the ores and the extraction of the needed elements to make it work that are above and beyond that of an ICE vehicle. Big oil got paid up front. There’s a reason why big oil doesn’t stand in the way of the agenda. Maybe the TM product makes it to break even, maybe not. I just don’t think these are will make it long term even if we assume the battery and drivetrain to be perfect. My reasoning is that TM has intentionally made it so that 99% of owners will give up after the warranty runs out or they have a minor collision with something.

    From my causal look at things it seems TM not only not helpful in keeping the vehicles on the road or returning them to the road they are downright hostile to it and use the software to drive that home and the inflated costs for body repair. They want to maintain control of the product after you bought it and make it needlessly difficult for you to keep it longer than they wish. It wouldn’t matter what sort of car they made this alone is enough.

    Now for some old car it might be a pain finding parts but I know that the manufacturers and dealers won’t not sell me a part that’s still around. Meanwhile TM refuses to sell parts to owners for current product. If TM is this way with current product what is it going to do when the cars are older?

    Those who stick it to big oil are those who convert to fuels they grow and process themselves without big oil’s products or those who build their own electric cars from junk and then run off their own solar, wind, water generation. Notice that these people are generally not celebrated but socially attacked as nutters and legally by government enforcers.


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