I bought me a Tesla Model 3 in August of 2023. I did it mostly because I was bored but also to take advantage of the government subsidies that were available at that time. Hey, if the government wants to spend my taxes, they should spend it on me.
Right of the bat: The car is good. It has its flaws like most cars but also a lot of nice features to make up for it. Some quirks also arise from the new EV technology and neither Tesla nor the car itself can do anything to fix it.
But there are strong opinions on EVs from both supporters or opposers of the technology. Here I want to share my observations on some of the most common prejudices and also share some learnings of my own.

Claim: “Current EV range is sufficient! The average user drives less than 40 km per day.”

Well, that depends. Some european studies suggest that the average distance traveled by car every day is around 30-40 km (18-25 miles), while in the US it’s around 13 miles per day. The problem with averages is that they do not represent actual usage scenarios. People might live in the city and not use their car for 5 days a week and then drive 300 km in one trip on the weekend. Others will drive only 5km each day, bringing the average down, while some might drive up to 1000 km each day.
So if the current EV range is sufficient depends mostly on the kind of trips that you do. For me it’s about 10km of commute each day followed by 200 to 300 km trips about twice a week.
I got the Model 3 with the 60kWh LFP battery. In mild temperatures the longer trips are not an issue at Autobahn target speeds of 130km/h (80 miles/h). But when the temperature drops below 5 degrees Celsius the usable range drops significantly. Then I can only do about 240km from 100% to 0%. That’s less than half of the claimed range of 491km. The result is consistent with the findings of carwow Germany. On the other hand I always can use a Tesla Supercharger, but sometimes you just don’t want to spend the extra time.

You will have to devide for yourself wether these are numbers that work for you. Of course you can always opt for a larger battery. Currently the long-range and performance models still use a NMC battery that not only has a higher capacity but also better performance in low temperatures.

Claim: “The car will fail in winter”

As discussed in the previous section, the range will decrease significantly. But the car actually never failed on me. As long as the battery is charged, driving is as smooth as in the rest of the year. There are some quirks, though:
The car doesn’t like to be frozen. When there is a slight layer of ice or snow on the car, stuff stops functioning. Like the borderless windows: they will not slide down before opening. You can still open the door but Tesla recommends to not do that.
The ‘innovative’ door handles can get frozen in place. Then you cannot open the car doors. And once you manage to open them, the handle might stay in an open position and you have to press it down manually or your car door might open while you drive. This actually happened to me.
The car mirrors might get stuck. After an average snowfall and even after removing most of the snow, the mirrors wouldn’t unfold correctly anymore.
Unfortunately these problems don’t go away by preheating the car. Especially the mirrors and door handles just won’t become unstuck.

On the other hand the preheating feature is amazing. I will never buy a car without it again. Walking up to your de-iced car with a clear windscreen and rear window, heated seats and steering wheel in the morning is pure luxury. Especially when everyone around you is still doing it with ice scrapers. Also: you won’t get fined for doing it. In Germany it’s illegal to pre-heat your car by letting the engine run at idle and there is always that one douche who will rat you out for it.
Of course pre-heating requires some energy from the battery but unless you want to do a max range drive right after starting your car in freezing conditions, you won’t notice it.

Claim: “EVs are way cheaper to run than gasoline powered cars.”

I wouldn’t say that’s true all the time. Even after the recent price cuts a new Tesla is more expensive than a comparable gasoline powered car. So you are really relying on the fuel and maintenance costs being lower. I have no experience with the maintenance cost yet as my car is fairly new. When it comes to the fuel cost I don’t see a huge difference.

My last car was a gasoline powered BMW 1 series with an average consumption of 7l/100km. With todays fuel prices that would equal to 11,90 €/100km. My Model 3 consumed 22.90 kWh/100km over the last 3813 km. I measure at the charger so this number includes energy for pre-heating, charging losses and everything else. My driving style is very moderate. I rarely exceed 130 km/h and always drive in ‘chill’ mode.
I can’t charge at home and depend on the Tesla Supercharger stations and my ADAC EnBW powered charging card. One kWh costs me 0,50 € at an EnBW charger and 0,60 € at third party chargers except Ionity.

On average 100 km cost me 9,77 €. Not that much cheaper unfortunately. Ok yes, I took these measurements in winter. Let’s see what summer will bring.

Oh, but what’s definitely more expensive: insurance. More than 50% more than for my previuous car of comparable size and price.

Claim: “They will shut down power for your EV”

That didn’t happen to me yet. But I already had it happen that there was not enough energy available for fast charging. A few weeks ago there was an energy shortage in southern Germany. When I arrived at the Tesla Supercharger with a pre-heated battery my (and everybody elses) max charging speed was 38 kW.

Of course this is a direct result of the german government’s disastrous policies and not Tesla’s fault. But it might get worse. The European Environment Agency estimates that the EVs share of total energy consumption will increase to an average of 9,5% until 2050. Also, people will want to use that energy, even on cold, dark and windless days where windfarms and solar don’t produce energy. Luckily, the primarily expanded energy producers in Germany are: windfarms and solar.
The result is that Germany is above EU average in energy imports and has to import a lot of electricity for the especially high prices in times where only non-renewable energy is available.

So I guess the takeaway here is: Either produce the energy yourself or live in a country that doesn’t depend on energy mainly produced abroad.

Claim: “You will have nowhere to charge.”

Hmm, not true in my experience. There are a lot of chargers around and most of them are empty all the time. But I highly recommend you having the ability to charge either at home or at your workplace. Having to use a charger at a third place all the time is just annoying.

One of the main selling points of a Tesla in my opinion is the Supercharger network. The stations are well placed, there are plenty of chargers and they just work. Tesla is opening up it’s chargers to other brands as well. But then you have to pay a subscription fee to get the same price per kWh and don’t have access to all the chargers as of now.

Claim: “You will be charging constantly.”

You most certainly will charge way more often than you would fill up your petrol powered car. And if you regularly do longer trips you will spend some time pre-planning your charges to minimize time spent at superchargers. Sure, the Tesla has inbuilt charge planning for trips, which works well. But it can’t fix you starting the trip at 10% battery charge. You have to plan that yourself ahead of time. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that unlike in a gasoline powered car you will not use the batteries full capacity all the time. To protect the battery you only will empty it to 10% and refill to up to 80-90%. That gives you an even lower daily usable range of 80% of the already lower real range.

Claim: “EVs are like cell phones: worthless after 2 years.”

I hope not. But just in case, I chose the longer lasting LFP battery on purpose so that I can drive the car for a very long time without being forced to get a new one. As the battery is the single most expensive part of the car it also contributes the most to value depreciation that is based on the parts alone. Studies suggest that LFP batteries are more robust than NMC cells while the batteries used in Teslas already have low degradation even with high mileage.

But even if your car will last a long time, at some point you want to sell it. And then you will have to compete with the then current EV generation on range and price. An original base model Tesla Model 3 in 2019 with the 52kWh battery was around 46.000 € in Germany. The current base model with the larger 60kWh battery is 43.000 € and up until recently there were deals as low as 37.000 € available. In real terms, including inflation, that’s a 37% price drop for a better product with longer range.
Also, older cars from, i.e. Germany often get sold to countries of eastern Europe, the Middle East or northern Africa. That works well for gasoline powered cars, because you can operate them over there. But for EVs you need a way to charge the car. More often so, as the battery is degraded. But these countries don’t have developed charging networks or even have no charging networks at all. So a major outlet area for your old car doesn’t exist for EVs, further reducing the price.

Claim: “You will not be impacted by driving bans”

Currently not really a pro. I haven’t experienced any kind of real driving ban in Germany yet. And given the current energy shortage I even would recon it will hit the electricity driven EVs first. But that remains to be seen. Let’s stay positive and hope it doesn’t come to that.

Closing Thoughts

283 hp and 420 NM of torque are fun. Also, every longer drive in an EV is still a bit of an adventure, just not to the point of being unbearable like in the first generation EVs. Currently that outweights the additional troubles of driving an EV. I can only hope this won’t change in the future.

Update 2024-02-09: Better references and some clarifications.