Like probably many families around Australia, we’re noticing the rising price of fuel and are becoming more conscious about our environmental impact. This along with car manufacturers focusing their production and marketing to electric vehicles, we’re now considering buying an EV as our next car.
Having never driven one before we wanted to have a proper try before you buy test, not just for a lap of the block near the car yard for a few minutes like you might get with a typical Tesla test drive. So we decided to hire an EV over the weekend to see how it would work, doing many of the tasks and things we do as a family of 5.
We picked up a Tesla Model 3 from SIXT car rental at Sydney airport, and were slightly disappointed the orange branded SIXT car wasn’t available. I was looking forward to blending in with the crowd as a shy retiring type.
The Tesla Model 3 is a family car but is also a luxury car and a sporty car all in one.
What did we find different about driving an EV?
I like to consider myself as reasonably tech savvy but I did need a little guidance in the carpark to get into the car. There’s a cool swipe function on the door that locks and unlocks the car with a card. The attendant could tell that I was green so also gave me a few simple pointers around where to put the swipe card and also how the shifter is on the right indicator instead of a normal gear stick.
You can really notice the difference with how you drive and just the responsiveness, it has great pick up when you put your foot down, very responsive compared to anything I’ve driven before.
Unfortunately no one challenged me to a pink slips race off the lights, perhaps no one was game. The other very noticeable change is how you slow down; in a normal car you’d coast into traffic lights or use your brake if you had to stop a little quicker. To conserve energy in the Tesla, the automatic setup is for the braking to be done to return energy back to the battery, so as soon as you take your foot off the accelerator it slows down very quickly. Only takes a short amount of time to get used to, but a very different feel and style. It’s all very smooth and not jerky at all.
The big and obvious change is the noise – it’s super quiet. It’s hard to get your head around that the car is actually running. As we were testing the Tesla as a family car, I have to mention, the highlight for the kids was no doubt the oversized touch screen and sound system. Probably shows the gap from our current 2012 Kia Sorrento to a new model Tesla. The kids loved to pump up the music. On our Saturday morning drive to cricket we played Rage Against the Machine, ‘Calm like a Bomb’ pretty loud to get in the zone for the game.
The screen and all the software only takes a short while to get used to. I found a very similar user experience to a lot of phones and computers, and after speaking to others that have driven EVs and Teslas it seems like we only scratched the surface on some of the different functionality and options that’s available including fart noises for the car horn, automatic parking and the speakers also working outside the car.
The Tesla Was Definitely A Crowd Pleaser
Notable for us and again showing the state of our current car, the kids couldn’t wait to get in the Tesla. Normally there’s multiple rounds of requests, followed by demands, and then threats for them to get into the car. Whereas the most repeated line we heard all weekend was ‘when can we go in the Tesla?’ That has to be a huge pro for many parents…
Had a few friends who were really keen to have a drive or check it out. One was so confused when I was giving him a rundown of how it all works and the setup, he kept asking how do you turn it on? Once he got that minor hiccup worked out he came back 10 minutes later from a drive with a big smile on his face and was very impressed as well.
The nicest moment of the weekend came when a neighbour spotted the Tesla in our driveway and came and asked if it was a new car. She said her son who’s twelve and a bit techie just loves them. I offered to take him for a lap around where we live, he was so excited and thought it was amazing, he said it was a rocket and every time I’ve seen him since has gone out of his way to thank me for the drive.
Is an EV practical?
Functionally as a fairly sporty family, the Tesla needed to handle our kit. It managed to fit the cricket kit and netball bag on the sport runs, not sure how helpful this may be but I can report that six 8-year-old kids after cricket can sit in it listening to AC/DC, ‘Thunderstruck’, turned up to max volume and be entertained for sometime..
Our conclusion on the Tesla Model 3
Overall we were super impressed with the Tesla as a family car. We’re now talking about buying one more seriously. Despite a lot of use, the car didn’t get below 70% charge, which given fairly heavy city use over a weekend around Sydney is a good sign as the majority of use we do is as a city runabout.
Using the Tesla as a family car for those living in the regions, we’d probably like to test drive going somewhere like to the grandparents in Young to see how the charging would work. Thankfully there are NRMA EV fast chargers in Goulburn, which is halfway and would be a great way to break up the drive. Chargers are also in Young itself. We probably also need to look at the power setup at home as well, creating an electric port in the driveway, looking into solar and also car charging systems that can speed up the process.
More information around purchasing electric vehicles can be found on the NRMA website