Over the last decade, interest in electric vehicles (EVs) has been steadily growing, and so too has the number of sales. One of the major success stories of this new technology is Tesla, Inc. The California-based EV and clean energy company became the most valuable carmaker in the world recently, despite being only 17 years old. Its latest car, the Model 3, was its first attempt to make a more affordable EV, following the success of three previous models – the Roadster, Model S and Model X. 

Mandy, why did you choose an electric vehicle?

There were two reasons: wanting to minimise the impact I’m having on the environment and I’m also very interested in technology, so I liked the idea of being at the forefront of it.

Is this your first EV? Why did you choose a Tesla?

Yes, it is my first EV. I had my first ride in a Tesla back in 2016 in a Model S and it was just phenomenal; its speed is quite astonishing. I knew then that if I bought an EV it would be a Tesla, but there was no way I could afford a Model S. The day the Model 3 was announced, I put my order in and paid my deposit immediately, as I didn’t think there was another EV that really compared. Three years later, I received my car – the first Tesla Model 3 in Wellington.

What’s your daily use and have you been on any road trips?

I live in Raumati and commute 30km each weekday, to and from Wellington – and I often visit my parents who live around 70km north of where I live over the Rimutaka Hills. Early in the year I went on a 4,000km road trip. I travelled through Palmerston North to Taupō then on to Hamilton, Coromandel, Ōmaha Beach, back down to Cambridge, then back to Wellington and over on the ferry to Picton. From there, I made a bit of a detour to Nelson, back to Picton and then on to Christchurch, Arrowtown, Hokitika, Blenheim and back up to Picton.

Wow! How did you charge it on the journey?

I don’t remember how many charge stops there were in total, but I did stop at quite a few of the Tesla Superchargers on my way up the North Island. I used the ChargeNet network a fair bit, too. When choosing my accommodation, I always tried to find a place with a charger available, which is becoming a lot more common now.

Have you ever worried about range? How low have you gone?

The lowest I’ve gone is probably to around 40-50km remaining. When it’s fully charged the Model 3 has a 380km range so it’s not something I have to worry about often. On my road trip, the only leg I was slightly worried about was between Wānaka and Franz Josef, but it worked out just fine.

How do you charge it at home?

The car came with a Tesla home charger that I had installed in my garage.

What would you say are the main obstacles with EV ownership?

It’s not so much of a problem now, but my concern is whether we will have enough charge stations as more and more people start buying EVs. ChargeNet is currently doing a great job, but I worry it’s not getting enough support. Another downside is with the software updates. Every once in a while there may be a glitch; there was an update a while ago where the windscreen wipers didn’t work very well automatically so I had to activate them manually. This was fixed again in the next update.

Now that you have gone down the EV path, would you ever consider another internal combustion engine (ICE) or Hybrid?

No, I’m EV for life now! I recently flew down to the South Island with my parents and drove a hire car with an ICE, and to be honest it was a relief to get home and drive my Tesla again.

What’s the talk at the charge stations?

Most conversations are generally positive, with people talking about how they like driving their EVs. A lot of people talk about the future of EVs and what new models and technologies are in development.

Reported by Ian Green for our AA Directions Autumn 2020 issue

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