There are simply too many interesting electric car options now, and all of them have way too long of a wait. There has never been a more interesting time to buy a car, and with my Tesla Model 3 lease about to end, I can’t make up my mind with what to get next. So instead, I ended up with four orders somehow between Tesla, Ford, and Rivian. After all of that, I’m still not even sure I don’t want to place an order for the Hyndai Ioniq too.
It’s both an incredibly exciting time and an incredibly frustrating time to buy a new car, especially an electric one right now. Most of the ones you see commercials for are still complete vapor, with no shipments actually going to customers, or incredibly obvious false information about the features and capabilities. Still, there are more options out now and more coming out every week than there were three years ago when I first leased my Tesla. Tesla has the Model Y now and is in a dominant position with the best charging network, but others are quickly catching up and becoming viable options.
After my first Tesla, I immediately knew I’d never go back from an electric car. The convenience as a daily driver with a short drive thanks to being able to top up the battery every night and never have to worry about gas, the huge reduction in maintenance (I’ve had none in three years), and how affordable electricity has been completely shifted my opinion on electric cars versus gas, and it certainly helps that overall they are a more sustainable choice. The performance of even my base Model 3 put every other car I’ve had to shame, including my Mini S, both Z4s, and my BMW 4 Series. Our few road trips relying on the Tesla Superchargers reduced the concern I had about range and charging. I decided early on that I wouldn’t be going back to a gas car again, but wasn’t sure what to do next.
Back in the winter, I decided to put an order in for a Tesla Model Y. At the time, the wait was supposed to be about 7 months, and would be timed perfectly for when my lease ended. The price increased right before, but I figured I could lock it in before additional increases, and I ended up with a price that’s now about 8k less than the current price. The Model Y offered more space which would be nice after years of jamming three car seats into the back of the smaller Model 3, and having to learn gymnastic moves to get all three kids in and buckled in. It would also have all wheel drive and much further range than my older Model 3, giving us more flexibility for road trips and getting around in the winter. I also thought that I had the option to switch the order to a Model 3 if I decided to do so closer to the necessary date since the wait was much shorter for one. I placed my $250 deposit and largely forgot about it.
A few months later, after doing more research on the car and seeing it more closely in person, I realized we didn’t need a second SUV with our Buick, and decided to go back to a Model 3 order. After calling Tesla, I was told that I couldn’t switch between models unless I canceled the old order and placed a new one, essentially throwing away my deposit and my spot in line. So I decided to place the Model 3 order as the estimated delivery time was now around the time my lease would end and I could figure out what to do about the Model Y later on. Even with going down to the Model 3, I’d have considerably further range than in my current standard range one, plus all wheel drive for the winter, allowing us to more easily get up to the mountains during ski season. Plus I’d have a variety of other upgrades that had been added to the car in the three years since I got mine. I already knew the Model 3 was great for our routine and with my commute being far more rare even than it had been when I first leased, it would be more than enough for me.
I decided to keep holding on to both of my orders, especially after discovering that Model Ys are reselling for far higher than the MSRP and I might be able to immediately flip it for profit. I’ll have to confirm once it’s closer to ready, but with the delivery date continuously moving back, it doesn’t seem like I’ll have to figure it out too soon.
There are many advantages to a Tesla over other EVs. The charging network is probably the top one. It’s incredible to know that pretty much anywhere you go, there will be chargers available, and any major highway will have reliable, available, easily discoverable high speed chargers. That is changing as Electrify America and other networks get built out and other manufacturers deliver more cars that encourage more charger build outs. The software in and out of the car is another huge advantage with an incredible mobile app and great mapping software in the car that makes it super easy to road trip.
There are some downsides though. The software isn’t perfect and it’s getting less intuitive in my opinion. While others are still struggling to figure out how to actually do over the air updates to the car, Tesla seems so obsessed with it that they constantly change major functions of the car which is confusing. It’s also frustrating that they take a not built here mentality and refuse to include Carplay, Android Auto, or any other service like Apple Music that they didn’t build. And while I haven’t had issues with quality like massive panel gaps, there are definitely some aspects where the build isn’t as good as the legacy makers like the suspension and noise dampening.
So, with the industry changing, I started to think about other options more as I continued to wait for my two Teslas. While I like a lot of things about Tesla, there was just enough I didn’t care for (including Elon’s continuous inability to keep his mouth shut and just grow the company), and enough growth from other makers that I became increasingly interested in other options. The more I learned about Ford and their EV efforts, the more interested I became in the Mustang Mach E. After consuming a ton of information from reviews and new owners, I decided it might be the right car for me. Though Ford still has issues to work out with software, not as much in the screen, but the actual car software for things like the charging rates, braking algorithm for regenerative breaks, and actually delivering updates over the air, they have many of the basics right. The info screen looks far more intuitive and useful than the Tesla one and allows Carplay which I love in our Buick, and the ride seems much better suited for family drives and actually fitting everyone in.
Unfortunately the demand for the Ford is just as high as for Teslas, and with far fewer cars coming from the factory, the demand has far outpaced the supply. They even went as far as to stop taking orders for 2022 cars in May because there was so much demand. Instead, it’s largely up to dealers to work with customers, often leading to ridiculous inflated prices over MSRP. So while I wasn’t able to technically put in an order, I did reach out to our local dealer about what I was interested in (Grabber Blue of course, all of the orders I would place are actually blue) and am on the notification list for new inventory, promising to confirm my plan once I actually know what’s happening with my Tesla orders.
Separately, our Buick is nearing the point where we said we’d considering trading it for something else. We actually bought it, bout had always said we’d probably keep it for around five years, or around the time when our youngest was in a booster seat and we didn’t need quite as much room. This won’t be for another year or two, but with the long waits for cars, I decided we should at least get on a list to make sure we didn’t miss out completely. I decided that the upcoming Rivian R1S SUV was perfect for us, and since the deposit is refundable, I wouldn’t be stuck with it if we changed our minds. As a full size seven seat SUV, it would be just as capable as our Buick, plus give us the option to use it for camping and other light adventures. Though they haven’t shipped many, the reviews on the truck have been overwhelmingly positive and with the same platform, the SUV promises to be just as solid. Plus, who knows what else will be out there in a couple of years.
Even with these orders and reservations placed, I’m still not sure I made the right choice. The somewhat recently introduced Hyundai Ioniq 5 has also been garnering great praise. It’s affordable, gets the federal tax credit still, looks awesome, has good technology, and has the best charging rate of any cars in the range, even better than Tesla. It’s probably just as impossible to get one, and I certainly don’t need another reservation, and I’d prefer to go American if possible, but I have to admit it’s a compelling option. It’s not like we take long trips where fast charging is required often, but having the ability to charge up as fast or faster than a Tesla, with more total range, is pretty compelling and could actually get us to use it more than the Buick. It’s a lot like charging with your phone actually. Most days, you just leave it plugged in overnight and the charging speed doesn’t actually matter since it will be fully charged by the morning. Since the car will be plugged in at home most of the time, it’s always going to be charged enough for what you need. The problem is on high use days when the battery gets low. Having a phone with a larger battery can help prevent you from running out of power longer, but being able to charge quickly, and having access to a plug, is important too. The Ioniq has both a big battery and fast charging, making it a great road trip car. Is it worth it for us to road trip a few times a year? Maybe not.
So as of now, I have three and a half reservations in, and yet no clear delivery actually in sight. I might end up making money on the whole ordeal, or bankrupting myself. Such is the state of buying a car right now, especially an EV which everyone seems to want. Though it’s a pain, it’s probably a good sign of how the industry is evolving and how much demand there is from customers to move to an EV. The sacrifices are few now, and with new cars, software updates, and charging network expansions, they’re getting even fewer as time goes on. Now that it’s about time to get my second EV, I can definitely say I want be going back to a gas car. Only time will tell how many cars I might actually end up with by this time next year.