This is the Tesla Model Y I did a test drive in at the St. Pete location. I ended up going with a Model 3 instead.

There are definitely some pros and cons of being an electric vehicle owner in Tampa Bay. While Florida is way behind other states in offering incentives to go electric, EV life here is pretty decent. We don’t get extreme cold. There are plenty of places to charge. And we have our own Tesla facilities to buy one or get it serviced. But do you really save money? How much does your electric bill go up? How long will the car last? All those questions I’ll do my best to answer here.

I’m now 2 months in as a Tesla owner. The honeymoon phase is over. I don’t park a mile away anymore when I go to Publix to avoid getting my car door hit. I don’t handwash the car every 3 days like I did those first few weeks. And I no longer get on 3 hour long YouTube binge watching sessions to learn about every hidden feature or reviews of those “must-have” Tesla accessories on Amazon.

So… do I have any regrets about going electric? Zero. And chances are if you know someone who has an EV, they wouldn’t give it up to go back to gas. The people you usually hear complaining about Teslas… don’t drive Teslas. They’ve just seen the overdramatic TV news stories or heard someone with a political agenda complain about them. Those who spend time in one usually want one.

I did NOT think I was a candidate to be an electric vehicle guy. I always thought they were too expensive. Plus I can’t charge one at home. So how did I end up behind the wheel of a Tesla?

While visiting Las Vegas for a concert festival in October, my buddy from California rented a Tesla Model Y. We didn’t do much driving. Most of the trip was spent crowd surfing and moshing. A definite mistake for someone my age. But when we were in the Tesla, I couldn’t stop marveling at the cool features. The 3 second zero to 60 thing on the Las Vegas strip was a rush. But the automatic driving and other techy toys and tricks were what sold me. When my friend showed me how to make the car fart, that was it. I knew I was getting one as soon as I got back to Tampa. And I did.

I was able to get a base Tesla Model 3 for under $40,000. Plus when you figure in the 2023 government tax credit of $7,500, I basically got the car for $32,500. I always thought Teslas ran closer to 6 figures. But $32,500 seemed pretty close to what I’d pay for an old-fashioned gas car. So I went for it. Here are the 3 big pluses and minuses so far.

  • PRO #1: Gas Prices Going Up and Down... Don't Care

    No brainer. Of course the biggest pro of having an electric vehicle is never having to buy gas again. It’s been awesome not having to watch gas prices. You know how it goes in the Tampa area. Prices go down by a dime every week and then out of nowhere they skyrocket 50 cents overnight. People love to praise politicians when prices drop or criticize them when prices jump. It’s the oil companies screwing with us. They control your wallet.

    I love not being a pawn anymore in the oil companies’ game. I love not having to pump gas. I love not having to smell like gas when I fill up.

    Right after I bought my Tesla, prices went under $3 for the first time in a while. It irritated me for a minute. Then they went right back up. It’s nice not even caring anymore what gas prices are. I pay a fraction to “fill up” my EV compared to what I paid for gas… whether gas prices were up or down.

  • CON #1: Tampa TV Stations Getting It Wrong

    By far the most annoying part about owning a Tesla has been getting forwarded links to anti-Tesla news stories by old fashioned gas car drivers.  People watch the slanted TV news stories and just assume my car catches on fire every other day. Ever seen a car fire? Probably. Was it a Tesla? Probably not. Cars do sometimes catch on fire. And yes when it’s a battery vs a gas car, it’ll burn longer. Guess what? Fires are not good in gasoline powered cars either. Fortunately it’s not a frequent occurrence in either. TV news loves to try to scare you. It keeps you watching.

    All of the Tampa TV stations and national networks ran the same copy and paste story about a “recall” this month.  There was no recall in the sense you and I think of a recall.  I didn’t have to take my Tesla back to a dealership.

    You know how your cell phone gets updated every once in a while?  That’s what a Tesla does.  Tesla issued an update that makes sure people using the autopilot are actually paying attention in case they need to take over.

    Tampa TV stations ran with the headlines about how there’s a “recall” due to the self-driving feature, as if it was dangerous.  It’s not.  I’ve used it for 2 months and can personally attest that my Tesla drives better than you do.  It actually follows laws you and I forgot the minute we passed our driver’s license test as teenagers.

  • PRO #2: Self Driving

    Speaking of self-driving, there was a moment I knew I would never drive an old fashioned gas car again.  For Thanksgiving, I had to fly in and out of Orlando’s airport.  I HATE doing that drive on I-4.  Tampa International is far better.  But unfortunately, Tampa wasn’t a reasonable option for my trip to I had to fly out of MCO.

    When I got back to Florida, it was raining and humid.  You know what happens in Orlando when it’s raining and humid?  Tourists don’t go to Disney or Universal.  Instead they get into those rental cars they’re unfamiliar with to drive on the highways they’re unfamiliar with.  Traffic was a MESS.  After hours of traveling, I can’t tell you how AWESOME it was to get in my Tesla, hit the lever and let the car deal with all the traffic.

    Sure I had my hands on the wheel and took over a few times.  But the self-driving feature let me relax while my Tesla slowed down in heavy traffic and even changed lanes for me when it was safe to get around the tourists near Disney World.

  • CON #2: Political Agenda People Judging Me

    I hate politics.  People who spend every moment of their spare time watching the cable TV channel that spins the news the way they want to hear it weird me out.

    Live life.  Sure you should vote.  But live and ENJOY your life the other 364 days.  Ever since I got behind the wheel of a Tesla, the left wing wackos think I’m some Elon Musk fan boy.  The right wing wackos think I’m some tree hugger.  Politics had NOTHING to do with my choice to buy this car.  It’s just frickin’ FUN!

    Many say a Tesla is just an iPhone on wheels.  It’s pretty accurate.  I love never having to fill up, worry about oil changes or a timing belt needing to be replaced.  It’s great to know the only real maintenance I have to do is rotate the tires or maybe refill the windshield wiper fluid.  I can instead spend my time making my car fart or letting it drive me to the beach, while I check out the eye candy.  Oops was that out loud?

  • PRO #3: Charging ... Now

    I never thought I was an EV candidate.  There’s no place for me to charge at home.  So owning an electric vehicle never seemed possible.  It was on that Las Vegas trip when I learned about Tesla’s network of “superchargers.”  They are all over Tampa Bay at Wawa locations.

    Charging your Tesla costs about $10-20 at a Wawa.  And the part that I thought would annoy me most has oddly turned into one of my favorite parts about owning a Tesla.  Filling up at a gas pump takes 5 minutes.  A charging session can take up to 20.  I’ve grown to really enjoy those 20 minutes of me time.  I can get a sub (I love the Italian subs at Wawa) or a coffee.  I can clean my car.  I can fiddle with my phone and catch up on social media and email.  Those 15 minute charging sessions once or twice a week have been a welcome forced chill relaxation time.

    Wawa isn’t the only place to “fuel up” around Tampa.  If you go to the Hard Rock, you can charge for free there.  Well, free as long as you do well at the slots and blackjack tables.  Even a couple St. Pete Publix locations have free charging while you shop.  I hope eventually all Publix stores follow their lead.

  • CON #3: Charging in the Future

    Here’s the one downside I can see coming as electric vehicles become the norm.  Although there are plenty of spots me to charge right now, yesterday I encountered my first wait to charge.  The Wawa in Pinellas Park had every charging stall in use when I pulled in.  I have heard this is a thing in California, but here in Florida, I’d never had to wait to charge until now.

    As Teslas and other EVs become more affordable, hopefully Florida will be able to keep up by adding more charging stations.  Most who have an all-electric car probably charge at home.  But for those of us who don’t, availability of those public charging spots is crucial.


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