Our Shared Ongoing Battle To Not Buy A Tesla

Like you, I am pretty much resigned to the fact that I’m going to have to buy a Tesla at some point.

I can tell because I have read every last scrap of Tesla news and inadvertently memorized every last technical detail about the company and their cars and energy storage systems that has ever been printed or YouTubed. Since about 2012. When this happens to me for any product, whether it’s a new laptop or a different vehicle  or a house in a certain neighborhood, I usually end up buying it.

The purchase tends to happen when the list of justifications builds up to a tipping point where it starts to seem sensible. For the Tesla, these justifications are things like:

  • “I strongly support the company and its mission. Unlike almost any other big company on Earth, Tesla exists primarily to help out the human race. Surely worth a few of my spare bucks, right?”
  • “I can afford to buy it in cash without having to go back to work or anything extreme like that.”
  • “It’s the best car AND the best piece of technology in the world, and at least ten years ahead of the next best. Shouldn’t a lifelong tech expert like myself be taking a peek at the future?”
  • “It would be a lower-pollution way to replace some of my air travel, as the only car that can drive itself most of the time on long highway trips. PLUS, imagine the road trips I could take with my son! Mammoth Caves National Park! Lifetime Memories just like I have with my own Dad!”
  • “They are reasonably priced these days at “only” about $39k for a new Model 3 and even lower for a used Model S.”

In the past, my mind has made up similar justifications for other purchases like, “this lovely camera will help you create more engaging pictures for the blog.”, “this drywall hoist will save you a lot of time”, “you will make a profit by owning this high-end new laptop because it will encourage you to write more.”

And it’s not just me. As I’ve talked to more and more people about this, I find that most of us have some sort of Purchase Justification Machine running in the background of our minds. The PJM’s effects can range from very useful, like a carpenter buying a nailgun which will be used every day to make money, to completely disastrous, like the office worker who buys a $40,000 8-passenger Honda Pilot for his 12,000 annual miles of mostly empty driving on smooth roads, because “I need to make sure I can get to work in the winter, too.”

I like to fancy my own PJM as being at least a bit better than average, after all I have always maintained a slightly-less-ridiculous level of spending than the average middle class worker. Most of the things it has talked me into buying have indeed been things like nailguns or reasonably good quality clothing that just happens to be from Costco or the thrift shop.

Yes, there was once a brand-new $13,000* Honda VFR800 sport motorbike which destroys a lot of my credibility, but that was in 2001 long before Mr. Money Mustache was born.

But I can TELL that it is really grasping at straws when it tries to justify that Tesla. And that’s why I thankfully still don’t have a Tesla.

The PJM has done its work well, but I try to stay ahead of it by tossing in my own list of objections, like throwing gnarly stumps into a wood chipping machine to slow it down.

  • “You don’t even have anywhere to drive that Tesla, dude! If you had a mandatory 20-mile commute and absolutely could not move closer to your six-figure job, that would be one thing. But you’re retired and you bike everywhere, so a car is only for camping and hiking trips. Wait until you are further along in the child-raising project and have more free time to take off for month-long road trips.”
  • “You can’t just leave a $40,000 car out in the searing Colorado sun to bake and fade and collect birdshit, but you also don’t want to sacrifice an entire bay of your tidy workshop garage for a car. So you need to at least wait until you build that master bedroom deck which doubles as a carport, right? So you’d better get out the post-hole digger before you sign into the Tesla Design Studio.”
  • “No matter how much you use that car, it will always cost more per mile than cross country air travel even with full carbon offsets. So don’t get lured in by the nearly-free nature of electric car charging.”
  • “Make sure you try it before you buy it. Rent a Tesla from Turo or from a friend and try your first road trip. If you still crave one after that first thrill wears off, then we can talk.”

See what’s happening here? In order to keep ahead of the relentless efficiency of my Purchase Justification Machine, I just need to throw up nice, rational roadblocks to slow it down.

But the reason this is so effective is that I’m not just flat-out denying myself that Tesla. It’s pretty hard to tell yourself that NO, you can never have what you want. Instead, I’m just telling myself what things need to happen first, before clicking “buy” on the Tesla website.

And if these things are healthy, happy things (raising my son, getting other labor-intensive projects done with my own hands, and planning a great future series of camping and roadtrips), I divert my attention into living a good life right now, instead of doing the easy thing which is just buying myself another treat.

And the further I can delay this or any purchase, the longer my money can remain productively invested in stocks, and the more it prevents my PJM from locking its greedy crosshairs onto the next little lifestyle “upgrade” that it will find.

But this trick is not just for jaw-dropping electric sports cars. You can use it almost anywhere in your own life.

Kicking the Kitchen Down the Road

A friend of mine loves to cook, and has been pining for a kitchen upgrade for many years to make this activity more enjoyable. And I can’t blame him – his kitchen is indeed dated, as is the rest of the house. But he’s also in debt and not climbing out very quickly. And too busy to do the kitchen upgrade work himself, because work and kids suck up all his time. Should he allow himself to upgrade this kitchen?


BUT only after meeting a carefully considered list of conditions:

  • Quit Cable TV, Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, Twitter, video games, and other time drains. Because getting three hours of life back each day will give you more time to address other shortages in life.
  • Make sure you’re getting in at least an hour of outdoor walking and/or cycling every day. Plus, regular weight training. The joy of a new kitchen is nothing compared to the benefits of getting your heart, muscles and mind in better shape.
  • Use another hour of each day for cleaning, organizing and optimizing the house you already have. Is every drawer in the kitchen well-organized? Could you get more space by hanging up the pots and pans? Adding one of those large but simple heavy duty rolling islands with butcherblock top from Costco? What about just a super nice faucet for 80 bucks and a couple of nice track lights?**
  • How about the rest of the house? Are  the closets well-organized with optimal shelving? Is the garage spotless? Carpets DIY steam cleaned and rooms patched and painted nicely? Gardens and lawn tidy and peaceful?
  • How about the finances? Have you checked around for lower mortgage rates, home and car insurance, mobile phone plans, and canceled any unused subscriptions? Ask your friends what rates they are paying for all these things, switch to the best option, and you cut your bills by $500 per month, which will add up to pay for a kitchen pretty quickly.

See, instead of being constantly depressed because it will be years until you can afford that kitchen, you use it as a trigger to get busy and improve your entire life right now. Which gives you the feelings of happiness and control that were making you crave that kitchen in the first place. Or that Tesla.

And on that note, I am going to get out there and start measuring the post locations for my new deck.


The very day after I published this, I went down to visit a friend in Broomfield to chat and borrow some of his spare video gear (to help me delay purchasing my own, of course!)

But what should I find in his driveway, but a BRAND NEW Tesla model 3, long range all wheel drive in the same glowing red color shown above, which he had just picked up the day before.

I gave him the whole interview on why he bought it, because I know he doesn’t commute to work and has no need for a fancy car either.

They were the same reasons that I had listed above – he’s mostly curious about the future of technology, wanted to support it, and knows that Tesla is it. If it weren’t for Tesla’s existence, he would be perfectly content with a 15-year-old Honda. This company is really pulling out a unique set of buyers that no other car company could ever entice.

So we took it for a test drive. My diagnosis: very similar to the Nissan Leaf in interior size and tight, silent driving feel for standard urban driving – except much more artistic inside and out, and so fast that you literally start to lose consciousness and get dizzy under full acceleration. Kinda silly, but the very existence of cars is silly so you might as well embrace it.

Oh! And unlike the Leaf, when you fold down the rear seats and climb inside, it is plenty big and flat to sleep two people, which makes it a passable road trip mini-camper, even without a proper hatchback.

In the Comments: what is YOUR Purchase Justification Machine trying to make you buy? Have you already bought the Model 3 or are you still milking the 2010 Prius for all it’s worth? How long are you going to push your current smartphone until you allow yourself to replace it? Sharing your battles will give others the strength to keep their own procrastination game strong.

* I forked over $10,000 of my hard-earned cash as a 26-year-old kid in the year 2001, which is about $14,000 if you adjust it for inflation to 2019. But motor vehicles prices have risen slower than general inflation over recent decades, so I split the difference a bit here. But any way you slice it, this was a foolish purchase on my part!

** I linked to those because I have been using that particular track light everywhere in recent years – headquarters, home, and other projects. Way nicer quality/style than the options at Home Depot despite lower price. These LED bulbs are great for it as well.

  • Bob May 8, 2019, 3:22 pm

    Actually, my PJM wants me to buy a Tesla, too. Mostly for the same reasons you cited. Moving away from fossil fuels is a necessity, and someone needs to lead the way.

    Instead of opting for the Tesla, though (which I couldn’t afford anyway), I opted to lease for a few years. Normally I against leasing but I decided to go for it, hoping that the used electric options would be better in a few years. We shall see.

    • Anonymous May 10, 2019, 10:22 pm

      I leased a 2018 Leaf as well because if I would have purchased it, I would have a hard time selling it because how quickly the Leafs were advancing. The 2019 model has already increased the range by 50 miles. I compare it to how android phones were a few years ago : from one year to the next, huge advancements were made. My coworker had a really hard time selling his 75 mile range 2013 Leaf. Finally a lady in San Francisco bought it.

    • Greenbacks Magnet May 14, 2019, 10:41 am

      I think test driving or leasing is a good idea. Do not spend money until you are sure you feel good about your purchase. I try to do the following before I part with my hard earned dollars in order to build wealth:

      1. Wait 30 days before making a purchase
      2. Save until it hurts; aim for a minimum 40% of your income
      3. This is the 3rd thing, the hat trick is to max out your Roth IRA

      It took me years to go from saving $1 a day to $13,333 a year. I was only able to do that by not buying a luxury vehicle as I drive a Ford. I am at 200k miles and like the McDonald’s slogan “i’m lovin’ it.” I just saved the money I would have spent on a BMW and put it into my VFINX. That is how I got to my first $100k.

      Just my 2 cents.

      xoxo, Greenbacks Magnet

      • Cubert June 20, 2019, 3:51 pm

        All I have to do to rid myself of this “want” is imagine the horror of door dings. And the hassle of car washes, cuz who wants a Tesla to look like shiz after a midwestern winter?
        Then there’s the false fantasy of driving on an abandoned winding cliffside road, when in reality, your shiny new Tesla is stuck in four lane rush hour traffic with the rest of us shmos.
        No thanks, sticking with the FIT.

  • David May 8, 2019, 3:24 pm

    I’ve had my Tesla Model 3 Performance since December, and it really is as good as they say. I drove my daughter’s Jeep today, and it felt so quaint and….antique. The Model 3 is SICK good. Happily, I was able to pay cash and not add time to my FI date. TBH, I like it so damn much that I’d still get it even if it DID add some time haha.

    • Martha May 22, 2019, 10:30 am

      We got our Tesla Model 3 in December as well and love it. I’m pretty cheap when it comes to cars and I can say it’s worth every penny. We have no debt and this did not impact our retirement plans. It’s pure thrill.

      • Cubert May 26, 2019, 6:11 am

        It’s not helpful to read these comments. I want one too!!

        The block and tackle routine I use? I hate it when nice, new cars get dirty. I get bummed when a nice, new car gets stuck in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic. And it’s sad as all get out when junior flings open his mom’s subaru passenger door, right into that nice, new Tesla. OUCH.

        So I carry on bravely and put on a happy face, with my ’09 Honda Fit. (Also in sexy red.)

        • Pablo July 20, 2019, 11:03 pm

          The Tesla Model 3 come with sentry mode (but you probably knew that already :P) so at least you have proof that they accidentally (or purposefully) damaged the car so they would have to pay for the damages (assuming they aren’t flat broke).

          I really want a Model 3 as well. I was thinking of getting a Honda Insight 2019/2020 but it just might be worth paying more for a Tesla…

    • JK May 30, 2019, 5:44 pm

      Congrats but how can you say that spending 70K did not add to your FI date? You could have used that cash on on investments that could give you 6-10% returns and with that money in the car instead your FI date would atleast be a few months further away that what it would have been if the money was invested right?

      • Stephen June 24, 2019, 8:32 am

        Right. It’s possible he means it didn’t change his RE date. Because otherwise, unless you’re currently FI any non-necessary purchase delays your FI date.

  • Brian May 8, 2019, 3:27 pm

    As a happy Leaf owner, I won’t lie that I’ve had this exact mindset around a Tesla. I want one. I could afford one. However, I don’t NEED one. The technology is changing so quickly that I know I’d enjoy the thing for a couple months… but then I’d feel guilty about sinking money into a depreciating asset.

    • Matt May 8, 2019, 7:18 pm

      Great job holding off! I fight against my own Purchase Justification Machine regularly for things like a used S with the rear facing kids seats, or a 3 wheeled electric assist cargo trike that could take the kids to school for just a few thousand bucks (currently I’m working on convincing myself that even when they outgrow our bike trailer we can still always walk to school). That being said there are things out there which have fallen in price so much that buying them will literally make you money. In these cases our reluctance to purchase is screwing us.

      One example of this is solar panels. The ROI on panels is greater than that of bonds or CDs in most states in the country, and yet you don’t see them on all that many houses. Obviously shaded roofs, renters, and the general populace’s lack of assets have something to do with this, but still it’s surprising that there aren’t more of these money making marvels out there already. Even more surprising is that MMM hasn’t done more solar than they small array he installed at his co-working space (or maybe he has, but the blog post about it just hasn’t come out yet).

      Another example is used Nissan Leafs. I’ve seen 2012s for under $5,000. At that price many people could simply add a leaf to their already bloated car collection and actually make money just by shifting all the wasteful around town miles they put on their gas guzzler onto that Leaf. The fact that people aren’t doing this boggled my mind enough that I wrote a whole blog post on it.


      • Kyle May 9, 2019, 6:40 am

        I prefer the used Chevy Volt. Probably has nearly the electric range of a 2012 Leaf (2011-2014 Volts can go about 40 miles on battery), with no range anxiety because it can run on gas when needed.

        • Cory May 9, 2019, 12:23 pm

          Me too, would love a Tesla Dual Motor Performance Model 3, but just cant justify it. Volts are being sold dirt cheap now too.

        • Jane May 9, 2019, 12:54 pm

          Ah, but an all-electric car is much cheaper to maintain than a hybrid. It doesn’t even need oil changes, much less have a bunch of gaskets that will fail, etc.

      • Dan May 9, 2019, 6:50 pm

        Where can you get solar that meets those metrics? I’ve been searching and the ROI on solar is uneconomic at a 10 yr. Everywhere I’ve looked it seems like it is $1k per 1kW and another $1k per 1kW to install.

        • Stan May 13, 2019, 10:21 pm

          Try Australia Dan! Depending on the system, ROI on domestic solar is about 3-4 years these days. Granted the government will cover around a quarter of the cost of installation, but our ridiculously high power prices are the main driver.

          • Alfredo May 15, 2019, 7:24 pm

            Dan, here in northern Mexico the ROI on psolar panels is about 4 years… I already installed them and we are amazed…

        • Sandy June 22, 2019, 5:24 pm

          Yes, I was going to say the exact same thing. Please provide us with your calculations, Matt! No matter which way I figure it, I personally cannot justify the installation of solar panels. I would love to know how you have figured a positive ROI when it comes to everything involved in installing solar panels.

        • eric June 24, 2019, 8:38 am

          Here in Massachusetts solar is incentivized enough that the system I just had put on my roof will pay for itself in just over 4 years.

      • Uncle Alex May 19, 2019, 5:36 pm

        The thing I really want is one of those Tesla solar roofs. I see a few solar panels around town. While I like the idea, I really would prefer the aesthetics of solar tiles. With the Mansard roof on my house I could have twice the array, if only Tesla their production up and running.

  • Tawcan May 8, 2019, 3:28 pm

    I have tamed my Purchase Justification Machine quite a bit over the years. With more and more of my coworkers owning electric cars, it’s easy for the PJM to go out of whack and me get an electric car. Luckily it hasn’t happened yet.

    For purchases I like to look at all the different alternatives and debate with myself over whether it makes sense to purchase the item or not. Has worked so far. :)

  • ultrarunner May 8, 2019, 3:28 pm

    When I picked up my Model 3 I even said “Mr Money Mustache would definitely not approve of this.”

    Whoopsies. :-)

    • Adam B May 9, 2019, 1:19 pm

      Ditto… I had the same exact thought picking up my Model 3, especially since I last had a car in 2003. Sorry, MMM… there’s a chink in my PJM armor, and it’s the Tesla Model 3.

      • Jeremy May 22, 2019, 6:10 am

        It got me too. Traded in a 6 year old car with 20k miles on it (that’s how much I drive) for the Tesla 3. Saving close to 50% take-home across the board, my wife said I work so hard I deserve it…. got in early to take advantage of the 7500 Fed subsidy….
        PJM 1, Self-Control 0 :)

        It’s so amazing though you nailed all the great reasons :D

  • Mighty Investor May 8, 2019, 3:30 pm

    For me, it’s all about buying that latest and greatest smartphone. I have absolutely no need for the new one, but I come up with all sorts of fake excuses like that the battery is slightly less powerful than when I first bought the phone. But I’ve held off for a year now! My goal is to have this phone at least four years…

    I like the idea of leveraging this consuming urge to do OTHER THINGS that improve my life right now. In fact, I’m going to go research tax-efficient investing to make sure I have my assets allocated in the right tax-advantaged accounts, etc. Cheers!

    • Melissa the Roamer September 29, 2019, 3:09 pm

      I don’t have the urge to buy the latest phone. But I do get a lot of flack for it.

      My phone still works great . I have the Moto X I believe. And it’s got to be about 5yrs old.

      I like to delay stuff specially when things still work. My kids know how to work Alexa to play music. But the also know what tapes are because we had a stereo and Disney stories on tape. Finally the stereo crapped out so we got rid of the tapes.

      It’s funny but why get rid of stuff that works

    • BrynalanRayDog December 27, 2019, 3:41 am

      Yeah, pretty much agree.

      Had an iPhone 6 Plus until last year, when I finally decided upgrading to my current iPhone XS Max was without question a good move.

      Primarily, I realized I was spending a lot of ‘life hours’, over time, waiting for web pages to render, or for apps to process.

      And the new phone solved a whole host of problems, like having extremely good internet access due to a better internal modem (while friends had to struggle and find ideal reception areas more often than not).

      And since a primary use was taking photos, the new camera capability was nothing short of exhilarating.

      Footnote: Apple is no longer offering IOS updates on iPhone 6 and prior. Uh oh. Perfect timing, then.

      So now that the new iPhone 11 is out, triple cameras etc etc, I have zero interest in getting one. Not a compelling upgrade.

      And while I waited almost 4 years to upgrade last time, I’ll likely upgrade to whatever comes in late 2020, especially because of 5G. Phones as computers have become central to modern life, so trading up sooner seems like a good plan.

      Cheers !

    • Rick October 26, 2022, 6:31 pm

      I used to be like this with iphones. But I got to the point where they weren’t changing much YoY unless you are a professional photographer/videographer. So, I’m still proudly prodding along with an 8S late in the year 2022. No complaints.

  • Kyle B May 8, 2019, 3:32 pm

    I went through the same struggle and finally gave in and took ownership of my Tesla Model 3 long range back in September of last year. I only regret the purchase about 10% :) The car is amazing and is a absolute pleasure to drive every time I get in. With that said I also reached FI in 2018 so my final decision to buy the Tesla was as a reward for 13 years of super hard work and sacrifice. It was my cherry on top of my FI cake. I also pulled the trigger last year because of the federal ad state tax rebates which knocked $10k off the of price tag which was one of my PJM excuses for finally deciding to make the purchase. 9 months later and I would do it again in a heart beat but personally wouldn’t recommend it to anyone that is not already out of consumer debt and FI.

  • Euro Mike May 8, 2019, 3:33 pm

    You got my attention here. Tesla Model 3. Very tempting. Very tempting. But for now I keep resisting as my car is still perfectly doing its job. On the other hand, I am probably one of relatively few who can afford it, and I believe in electric cars, so if I don’t even buy one, how are electric cars ever going to take off? I think I’ll fold in a year or two… But I have given myself some larger tasks to do before I allow myself to click “order”.

    PS: I’m in for LR RWD which at least I can claim to my PJM that it is not an outrageous all wheel drive.

    • Eoghan May 9, 2019, 12:13 am

      Yeah I agree. Normally I agree with mmm but people need to lead the way in electric cars otherwise it won’t take off as quick as it needs to. Tesla proves they are capable cars and with dad it’s a no brained

  • Daniel Lund May 8, 2019, 3:36 pm

    MMM I’m pretty sure you wrote this exact article for me. I’m fighting the exact same PJM argument as you. I want a Model 3 and I’ve read everything in existence about them, but I just can’t pull the trigger without evaluating where I am and where the technology is right now. I’ve been ritualistically configuring and reconfiguring my “dream” Model 3 almost daily since they opened the configurator. Thanks man, really appreciate this article to help me keep some perspective.

  • Jeremy Stone May 8, 2019, 3:39 pm

    It’s a constant battle. My wife and I are still sharing the 2006 Honda CRV. I’m still biking to work (yes, in Houston as it gets hotter!). Still on the iPhone 6 (but could be cheaper). We did give in to a kitchen remodel a few years ago when everything was falling apart in our formerly state-of-the-art 1984 kitchen. Mostly my PJM talks me into buying comics or musical gear. :)

    • RocDoc May 8, 2019, 4:07 pm

      Good for you and biking to work in Houston. The summer heat and humidity makes it challenging.

    • Ian Mitchell May 8, 2019, 4:26 pm

      I moved to Austin in July, and I vowed to myself I would buy a car when I thought it made sense. Still haven’t.

      if you can bike to work when it’s a hundred degrees, or when it’s in the biggest floods in 50 years, you can bike to work.

    • Tara May 8, 2019, 9:16 pm

      We also have an 06 crv and our other car is an 00 tundra. Very tempted by the commenter re the 5000 leafs or a 2010 prius.

    • Arsen May 9, 2019, 10:18 am

      I’m in a similar PJM situation. I use a iPhone 6S Plus and drive a 2005 Acura TL with 140,000 miles on it (knock on wood). I am able to purchase the latest phone and a brand newish used car in cash tomorrow but have held off on doing so mainly because I know I’m lying to myself when I start justifying the buy in my own head.

      I just keep telling myself the truth “The car drives like it’s brand new. The phone does what I need it to.” Being honest with your thoughts is a crucial step in drowning out the PJM.

      • Chuck Albacore May 9, 2019, 2:39 pm

        “knock on wood”??
        A Honda isn’t even half way through its life at under 150K miles. That car is 100% awesome and reliable. It drives like it does bc it was designed to do so. We ALL have to re-set the bar for what age/mileage makes a car “old” – any car released after 2000 should EASILY make 100K miles and then for each year after that, CONSERVATIVELY add 10K miles (so a 2005 would be 150K).
        200K is the old 100K. And KBB (Kelly Blue Book) supports this; I am currently selling a 2007 Odyssey with 234,000 miles and the blue book value is still almost 5 grand!
        Repeat after me: 100K is broken in, 200K is “old” but still reliable.
        Rock on!

        • David May 10, 2019, 9:56 am

          In some parts of North America a car’s lifespan is determined more by age than miles. In New England most cars are too rusty to be roadworthy after about 15 years, regardless of mileage. The last time I retired a car because the engine or drivetrain was worn out was in the late 1980’s. The salt and calcium chloride that is spread on the roads to melt ice destroys the body and frame much faster than mileage destroys the engine.

    • Nadia Ewing May 11, 2019, 8:45 am

      Jeremy, nice to see a fellow Houstonian! And that you’re biking to work is encouraging. I don’t feel safe as a young female biking an hour ride (15 minutes by car) since I have weird hours and sometimes get off at 8pm when it’s dark. I would love to bike or walk… Ahh goals goals goals

  • Chris May 8, 2019, 3:42 pm

    I’m a proponent of clean cars and lowering environmental impacts, but not a huge fan of trying to justify a clearly unnecessary purchase. Of course, you can rationalize most purchases if you try hard enough.

    Keep fighting the good fight.

  • CapitalistRoader May 8, 2019, 3:47 pm

    “But you’re retired and you bike everywhere, so a car is only for camping and hiking trips.”

    That would be me. A couple of years ago I paid $5K for a 12-year-old minivan that will fit bikes inside or on top and sleep two comfortably. I put <5000 miles a year on it. Spend maybe a couple hundred/year in upkeep. I expect it will last me another five years.

    Unless they're your hobby, new and/or fancy cars are a waste of money. A used copy of the book Automerica (1976, by Ant Farm) put that idea in my head when I was a teenager and since then I've spent very little time or money on cars.

  • Jeff Novich May 8, 2019, 3:48 pm

    I completely understand this sentiment. I had this battle a few years ago w/r/t simply owning Tesla shares. I specifically purchased shares because I also thought “I strongly support the company and its mission.” But then I realized … a car company is a car company. And they just exist to sell more cars. I see Teslas on my bike rides through NYC. A car is a car. Electric cars are great, sure, but they still take up space, it promotes car-centric development, it needs curb space to be parked, it demands roads to be driven on.

    This is what I tweeted: https://twitter.com/jeffnovich/status/941720444822020096
    I now hold the honor of being blocked by Elon Musk :)

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 8, 2019, 11:44 pm

      Yeah, you definitely could have found a more effective way to say that to Elon!

      A bit of wisdom that I have really come to appreciate:

      You can choose to be snarky and tell someone how dumb they are.

      OR, you can try to convince them of something and possibly even change their behavior.

      But you cannot accomplish both at the same time. You need to choose one. Because the mind only opens to kindness and understanding.

      As soon as you are a jerk to anyone, even in the slightest, they close their mind and devote their energy to either hitting you back or removing you from their lives.

      • Jeff Novich May 10, 2019, 3:29 pm

        It was certainly a rage tweet haha. Probably should have sat down and written a more thoughtful blog post like you did :) I 100% didn’t expect him to see it or care, though.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 29, 2019, 6:37 pm

          In that case, I now feel compelled to offer Sermon #2. (and I think I need to put all this into a whole separate blog article someday!)

          Never write anything on the internet, that you don’t want everyone on the world to see forever, and have it be used in judging your character – including for future jobs, relationships, even decisions regarding law enforcement and credit worthiness. This is the new public square and I think we should all do our best to be polite essayists when we are speaking in public.

          And, every human that hears or reads an insult to their own character will tend to “care”, at least a little bit.

    • Dustin Branham May 10, 2019, 6:42 am

      I’m in your corner, Novich! Teslas are sorta cool, but they’re still cars. I cannot understand why MMM is SO rapt with something that cannibalizes efforts to truly reduce the influence of the car in this world like transit and bike-ped infrastructure. If our future is simply another (better) type of car, then I envision more sprawl and more confusion of the collective will to supplant car culture with active transportation / transit culture. I love ya, MMM, but don’t fall for this trap. It’s still a car.

    • Igor Getsin May 10, 2019, 1:45 pm

      I am with you. The only people buying Tesla are supporting environmental cause and can afford it and those interested in latest Tech (and can afford it).

      As Tesla makes 0 economic sense. None. I don’t know how one can make claims that it’s more economical unless they are being paid by Tesla to promote it. In fact any electric car except for Leaf makes zero economic sense. Makes zero sense as long distance car either, because superchargers are no longer free.

      The break even point for electric car vs gas is at least 10 years and way over 100,000 miles, by which point technology in your car is outdated anyways.

      Consider that Model 3 is basically a Honda Civic sized car and at $40k is double the price of said Honda with arguably less equipment. Auto pilot is an optional feature that brings the Tesla price even higher. Said Civic will need oil filter change and a few air/cabin filter changes. Civic will last about 7-10k miles between oil changes. Both cars would require brake and tire changes. So gas savings would be the quickest way to recoup the difference, but electricity is not cheap. Public charging is way more expensive than home charging. How many miles do you need to put on the car to recoup the difference in cost?

      And speaking MMM terms, how much extra income can this $20k generate invested in low cost index fund?

      • K smith May 29, 2019, 9:34 am

        Thank You! finally a response I can agree with. Looking at the Tesla site, they factor in a “gas saving”.. so, a similar car (Honda Accord) that is cheaper than the gas savings, pretty much negates the deal. Doesn’t it? I guess I am just not drinking the cool-aid yet.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 29, 2019, 6:41 pm

          Yes! If the Tesla figure after gas savings is higher than the gas car you’re comparing it to, the Tesla will indeed cost more to own.

          Unless you place any value on the quality of the car and driving experience, or reducing your damage to the Earth. Which are personal factors I realize!

          • Reade May 30, 2019, 11:46 am

            Do you really buy the reducing the damage to mother earth statement? I guess if you compare buying a brand new gas vehichle vs. TESLA, then ok that makes sense. But you are still building something that ultimately has extremely negative consequences to the environment. The goal should be how to elimnate the need for cars, by building better cities, more efficient public transporation, encourage the use of bicycles (or e-bikes for longer distances), etc. Even something a simple as encouraging more remote workers so we don’t have everyone trying to get to work at the same time can be immensely more beneficial than people just switching to EV cars. I know you are a big supporter of all of these as well. I’d much rather see Elon use his brillance to actually saving the environment rather than building a slightly less harmful product than the current gas powered car. I know that you are really are an environmentalist at heart, but ever time I hear the term “green vehicle” it really makes me cringe.

            • Ben June 10, 2019, 6:19 am

              I’m with you on this. It also fits within my ‘circle of control’ which I read about on MMM a while back. I can vote once every few years to change climate policy, but immediately I can ditch my car, ride a bike, encourage others do to the same and agitate for better local cycling infrastructure.

            • Bob August 15, 2019, 1:28 am

              In terms of GHGs, new EVs are still significantly better than used FF-powered vehicles.


              Ideally, everyone would dump their cars, hop into velomobiles tomorrow, and start building earthships, but until that happens I hope Tesla sells as many EVs, solar panels, and batteries as they can.

              More to the point, Tesla’s showing just how much other manufacturers are phoning it in with their EV offerings. It’s understandable that they would balk at building good EVs because they could undermine their FF-powered sales and hurt dealer profits from service, but the more Tesla pushes them the sooner they’ll have to take EVs seriously.

      • Mat Modena August 3, 2019, 6:46 am

        This is an interesting comparison to me since I just purchased a Standard Plus Model 3 and we also have a 2017 Civil Hatchback.

        I live in Quebec, Canada where our electricity generation is 99% renewable (hydroelectricity, and yes, I do understand it can be a damaging process to the local environment) and very cheap compared to some other places. (About $0.045/kWh USD). In Quebec, we also have $13K CDN in government incentives while all other provinces (other than BC) have cancelled these incentives which is one of the reasons I justified purchasing a Model 3 right now before they disappear in Quebec too.

        Our Honda Civic costs me about $2000 CDN in gas per year for 20K kms/year and a Model 3 will cost about $300 CDN in energy per year. I went for a road trip to Vermont last weekend (2x superchargers on the way, and it cost me about $5 for electricity for a round trip, game changer). After rebate, the model 3 S+ became a $42K CDN car, the Civic was about $27K. So what does that extra $15K get me?

        – Energy savings of $1700 CDN/yr (just this compensates for the extra cost of the Civic in 9 years)
        – my next maintenance is in 2 years, this will be an air cabin filter replacement and brake system flush. Model S extrapolations make it clear that overall maintenance cost is much less than an ICE car. This will account for even more savings over 10-15 years. (ex: brake rotor/pad replacement is expected at the 240K km mark)
        – We cannot compare a Model 3 to a Civic. I would argue that a Model 3 has luxury features that no other has as well. I cannot even buy a base model 3 series for the price of my Model 3, much fairer comparison in terms of driving enjoyment.
        – the Model 3 is the safest car in the world right now. You can decide how much value that has, but accidents do happen, you can’t predict them and if it means the difference between being paralyzed or bruised after an accident, I would gladly pay that $15k overhead
        – I have a 1-hour commute in the morning in bumper-to-bumper traffic and drivers are really terrible and selfish in the Greater Montreal area. Constant frustrations with the boldness and stupidity of other drivers stresses me out every single day. Now, I get onto the highway a little earlier (adds 5 minutes to my commute) but the car handles the stupidity of other drivers for me while it’s on Autopilot. My level of stress has dramitically reduced, I just observe the stupidity now instead of having it effect me and my decision making. May sound small, but this is a game changer for me.
        – For those who care about driving satisfaction, no comparison. The Model 3 is the quietest car I’ve ever been in, the seats are extremely comfortable and I can adjust lumbar!, the sound system is incredible, the infotainment system is the best of any car IMO, the driving dynamics in corners is extremely satisfying and you feel like you are in control all the time (safety) due to that low CG and impressive suspension geometry, of course the electric performance in acceleration and reaction time is incredible (if I need to get out of an unsafe situation with the civic, there’s a 1-2 second lag in reaction time through the transmission/engine), it feels much roomier inside and the braking reaction time is also much quicker and comforting in emergency situations due to the Regen deceleration with one pedal. I get a level of satisfaction/happiness I can’t explain since the car has very little compromise (fun, beautiful, smart, comfortable) and I’m actually driving slower/safer due to a much more relaxed feeling.
        – on the subject of the infotainment. My civic’s linux-based infotainment system from 2017 is already slow and out of date. Evolution of infortainment tech is much faster than the mechanics and this by itself makes any car other than Tesla an extremely unattractive proposition and I worry about depreciation for cars that cannot update over time. I’ve had my Tesla about 1.5 months and its had 4 updates which have brought new functionality and Autopilot improvements. We cannot ignore the value of this. This will make it possible for me to keep my car 10 years without getting sick of it. Honestly, how long will Android Auto/Apple Car play remain in their current form? All our infotainment systems are obsolete the day we pick up the car, unless OTA updates are possible.
        – Honestly, I’ve been through this battle and if you need to buy a car today and you want to buy it new, how can an ICE be justified right now? The Tesla value proposition in 2019 is already extremely enticing and makes all other cars feel like dinosaurs. I know this sounds snobby, but when I get back into the Civic, the overall concept of an ICE car just feels kinda prehistoric and nonsensical. How will the value of ICE cars not plummet in the next 5-10 years?

        I am normally wise with my money and I calculated comparison costs of buying a well-equipped CRV(something I could see myself keeping 10 years) and keeping it for 10 years, and even from a purely financial sense the large Honda comes out more expensive for me in Quebec and it was I’ll probably depreciate more over that time. Again, the driving enjoyment and stress relief in traffic cannot be compared.

        Just wanted to add my 2 cents, Tesla is motivated to build strong and reliable cars (they design for 1 million miles of operation like a typical semi truck) since they want a low-cost and low-maintenance robotaxi fleet. All other car manufacturers design in a way that will strategically keep you buying their parts, servicing the car and optimizing that balance between pissing you off with their depreciating asset but making money since there was no other option before. We are in a new world and there are too many factors to consider befor comparing a Model 3 to a Honda Civic.

  • Vagran Med May 8, 2019, 3:49 pm

    When Tesla makes an electric camper van, I’m pretty sure they’ll have a customer here

    • Steve May 9, 2019, 6:04 am

      And here. I think I would even sell my house and live in it.

      • Nick May 9, 2019, 12:14 pm

        VW Buzz launching 2022 ish. Might be what we are looking for

    • Stephane Boisjoli November 25, 2019, 8:48 am

      No electric camper van yet, but there’s some electric cars that can tow one. I suspect that a camper without a motor is probably more “Mustonian” than one with the motor (though as far as I can figure, neither are totally).

  • John C May 8, 2019, 3:49 pm

    Make sure you investigate the higher insurance premiums. My quick research as pushed me away from a purchase.

    • Caroline V May 9, 2019, 3:43 am

      You might want to check out metromile…$27/mo plus $.05 per mile driven. That’s for a 40’s driver with good history and 500k coverage. We got our TESLA in July-the day after I got diagnosed with cancer-YOLO vs FI. :-) DH loves that car. I thought Elon’s delivery timing was suspect.

    • Spencer D May 9, 2019, 12:20 pm

      I purchased a Model 3 December last year. My insurance premiums went up dramatically! And then I shopped around and changed companies. I now pay the same as I did before but with much better coverage.

      • Mark May 9, 2019, 2:35 pm

        Check Progressive, I was feeling the same way but got a very affordable rate from them!

  • Fred Lee May 8, 2019, 3:51 pm

    I’ve got a 2015 Leaf (bought used for $12K), and keep eyeing Teslas. I can afford one, but I’m not sure I want one. I’m saved by a few things:

    * The Model 3 is ugly. The outside looks squat and the inside feeds like an avant garde experiment gone wrong. No dashboard? No thanks.

    * The Model S looks great but build quality is suspect, and it’s 4 years overdue for a makeover.

    * The company has vexing and deceitful marketing strategies and is run by a very smart 4-year-old.

    * Even if you have a longish range EV, you still generally need a gas car. For my 100+ mile trips, I’ll just drive that, thanks.

    That said, my 2015 Leaf can’t reliably handle the commute for a new job I’m starting in a couple months. So that said, I’m upgrading. Not to a new Tesla, mind you, but to a 2018 Leaf with a 150 mile range (figure 100 miles in the winter). By going with the year old leaf, in the face of newer, 200+ mile Leaves, I’m saving $10K off the MSRP for a nicely equipped model. Another $10K of federal and state rebates brings the overall price down to about $19K. I’m pretty sure I can get $10K for my 2015 model (full battery capacity still), so the upgrade cost isn’t that much. About $20K less than upgrading to an ugly Model 3.

    • Noah May 8, 2019, 5:12 pm

      I’m seriously considering getting a Leaf now as well. I currently drive a CX5 which gets average mileage (27), but the rebates in CO right now are insane. $15k towards a new Leaf! My Mazda is paid off and I should get about $16k for it, so it would almost be an even swap, or a few grand if I opted for the larger battery.

      So this kind of goes against the whole “reign in the purchase justification” point of the blog. However I have no debt and a healthy savings, and I really want to reduce my carbon footprint.

    • Nath May 9, 2019, 5:29 am

      I’m not very confident in Tesla myself.

      The company is way way overrated and over-hyped by their boss.

      They had a unique product 5 years ago now everyone has an electric car for sale. But even so not everyone lives in a country or location that is friendly to electric power, So most people are still buying petrol or diesel.

      Also some people hate electric cars, they drive weird.

      To put things in perspective It cost over $1 billion to design a Ford Mondeo 20 years ago.
      How much do you think it would cost today to design a high-tech car from scratch?
      It certainly ain’t cheap to run a car company. The big players have much more shared technology and share engines and other components through the decades of operations.
      Tesla would need dozens of model variants to compete with the big players like Mercedes and VAG.
      Where are they getting that cash for research and development from? It’s all debt
      They will be out of business in 5 years, or sold off to a proper car company.

      • Mark May 9, 2019, 2:50 pm

        You really need to drive a Model 3, and when you get some time, do a little research, watch some YouTube videos. These are nothing like the “weird” electric cars you speak of.

        The company is building the most advanced car on the road today – by a country mile.

        The shared technology that the others have is exactly what is keeping them solidly behind and falling farther behind. They need a clean-slate design.

        This is not a fair fight.

    • Erik Harris May 28, 2019, 10:08 am


      “Ugly” is in the eye of the beholder, and while I much prefer the design of the Model 3 over the Leaf, you feel the opposite way, and that’s fine. Variety makes the roads much more fun and interesting, so I appreciate differing aesthetic opinions.

      However… You say that “you still generally need a gas car.” This is a common misconception, and it’s absolutely false. I’ve taken multiple 800+ mile road trips in my Model 3, each with multiple adult passengers and all their luggage. It’s the best road trip car I’ve ever owned, and you’d have to drag me, kicking and screaming, back to a gas-powered car. When, amongst my circle of friends, we’re going on a road trip, I always (happily) drive now, whereas we used to trade off the responsibility. The SuperCharger network is mature enough for me to easily and comfortably drive anywhere in the continental united states, and the charge times are fast enough that it’s not really a significant change compared to driving an ICE vehicle. Consider that most of us need to stop for food and bathroom breaks, and we can’t do that *while* filling a gas tank. We CAN do that while filling an EV, though, and by the time everyone in the car has had a chance to use the facilities and get a quick snack, the car generally has charged considerably more than needed for the next leg of the trip. And even though Superchargers cost 2-3 times as much as home electricity rates, they’re still a good deal cheaper than gasoline (leave with a full charge, and stay someplace with a free destination charger, and that cost just keeps plummeting).

      CCS and CHAdeMO networks are starting to make headway in catching up. That means that soon, this should be a reality for non-Tesla EV drivers, too. And at least within certain regions (e.g. up and down the coasts), this is already a reality for non-Tesla EV drivers, assuming they bought a car with a DC fast-charging capability (I was surprised to see that both Nissan and Chevy offer DC fast-charging ports as additional-cost options, whereas Tesla includes it with every vehicle).

  • Andy Pearson May 8, 2019, 3:52 pm

    I’m currently fighting the Purchase Justification Machine that’s attempting to convince me a new MTB would be a good idea to continue staying fit through the rest of my fifties.
    My current stable of a 1997 Marin Mount Vision, 2001 Marin Mount Vision and a Pace RC200 are currently doing the job nicely, in fact the Pace is doing a great job as a road bike and appreciating in value as the years go by.
    PJM does keep pointing out that bikes have moved on in the last 20 years and carry a host of cool features but so far I’m sticking with the Retro MTB’s

    • Paul May 9, 2019, 12:49 pm

      I haven’t purchased a new bike since college (that one was one of 2 bikes stolen on campus because car-jack in a u-lock). Since then, I’ve done some careful second-hand purchases that have served me mustacianly well. Through Craigslist or friend-of-a-friend networking, I’ve snagged a few awesome deals on barely-ridden high-end bikes for 20-30% of retail. My current MTB gives me sooo much joy. Especially because I know what a fixed suspension, 26″ wheeled, caliper braked, lead-framed (no… not actually) bike rides like on the rocky trails I frequent.

      If you ride regularly on imperfect trails, I know you’d appreciate >= 27.5″ wheels and hydraulic disc brakes. Bonus points for carbon frame, dropper seat-post, 1x gearing, tubeless wheels, full-suspension.

      p.s. Since my comment is off-topic for this post so far… I’ll probably be driving a Model 6 once I wear out my existing car which will take a while based on my driving habits (enough time to see whether Tesla craters into it’s hole of debt or sets up a production facility on Mars).

      • gary fischer May 10, 2019, 9:47 am

        Yeah, my bikes will always give me more pleasure and wellness than any car.

        • bigmig July 9, 2019, 5:48 am

          I enjoy my cars (older Bimmer and newer Maserati) , think Tesla’s are not that attractive and not convinced of company’s long term viability, but love my bikes. New one has 1500 miles for first 3 months. Fitness approaching or exceeding what it was 30+ years ago when I was racing. I commute on rare occasions – building has showers but no secure storage so it has to be a day bike can sit in a corner of my office. Could have picked up a Leaf for the price of the bike but bike provides so much more fun

  • Jonathan May 8, 2019, 3:53 pm

    I have been shopping for my next car for the last 3 years. I’m tired of banging my head every time I get into my 2007 Matrix. I am quite big and tall and I am only comfortable in big SUV. The only reason I resist is because i think hard before buying. I don’t use my car that much. Even less since I discovered mr money moustache last year. I always hope next year will come a big electric car. My matrix is still good.

    but damn I dream of the day i’ll Drive a big comfortable car!

    • M&M May 9, 2019, 9:37 am

      Depending how you feel about them, you might look into a Slug Bug. Google says they get better gas mileage than your Matrix and I’ve heard somewhere that the driver space is one of the largest for it’s class of vehicle.

    • Chuck Albacore May 9, 2019, 2:45 pm

      I have a friend in SF who is 6’7″ and comfortably fits into (and loves driving) his “new” Beetle (I think it’s a 2010?) So, no need for an SUV just ’cause you’re tall. Shop around more. The roof height on the Beetle (for example) I think exceeds an Escalade’s!

      • Jonathan May 11, 2019, 5:44 am

        Thanks for the tip!

        I’ll look into it. If I could avoid buying a big SUV and be comfortable in my futur car, I would be very happy.

    • Erik Harris May 28, 2019, 10:20 am


      It may be worth noting that I’ve seen a lot of people who are well over 6′ tall who have expressed a great deal of satisfaction with the space in the Model 3. One, who said he’s 6’6″ and finds that most cars (especially from Japanese-owned brands), even large ones (e.g. the Matrix), don’t allow enough seat adjustment margin for him to fit comfortably in, is the happy owner of a Model 3, and says it has plenty of room for him. If someone who says he’s too big to fit in a Matrix can fit into a Model 3, you probably can, too.

      Seriously, give it a test drive. The worst that’ll happen is that you won’t really like it.

      Or maybe the worst that can happen is that you’ll fall in love with the car right away. It didn’t take me long to decide this was the best car I’ve ever driven (including the dozens of different models I’ve rented on work travel. The 370Z was fun & fast, and the Infinitis, Mercedes, and BMWs I’ve occasionally gotten have been nicely equipped, but they’re all significant downgrades from my Model 3)

  • Joe May 8, 2019, 3:53 pm

    Regarding the Tesla; the battery technology isn’t quite there yet, I will consider it after they’ve proven themselves over the long term, and I don’t really like the way they look. However, I read an article about companies that are doing EV conversions on gas cars. That might be my first project once I’ve achieved FI. Mr. MM I could use a partner, it’s always easier with a second set of hands.

    My PJM runs overtime! But what helps me is thinking about money as chunks of my life, and I’m then I’m less likely to give into it.

    Keep up the pursuit

    • Bob May 10, 2019, 3:31 pm

      I agree it’s all about the battery lifespan, this is the major issue as once the batteries dead it’s curtains for the car. I am not sure how many people really understand how the uncharted the battery territory really is and currently fixing them or replacing them is not an option….

  • Dan May 8, 2019, 3:57 pm

    As someone who clearly does a lot of research: How would you compare the Konda to Tesla? I find Kona a lot more appealing, but I also have not spend inordinate amounts of time comparing them.


    • Euro Mike May 8, 2019, 5:27 pm

      Kona is good but much smaller than the
      Model 3, especially in the back seats but also in terms of cargo volume. Also higher so less efficient than the Model 3. No access to Superchargers which is quite important in the US, less important in Europe.

      In a nutshell: a completely different car that one would not normally compare at all with the Model 3 if there were as many electric models as ICE cars.

      • Andrew Mitchell May 8, 2019, 11:26 pm

        Yeah, the supercharger network makes a big difference in the US.

        Non-supercharger vehicles… get a new LEAF or similar for $13k after government and NMAC rebates, or $6k used. Use it for commuting, shopping and generally 80% of your driving, but you still need a gas car for vacations. If you can get a Kona for similar to a LEAF then sure, get a commuter car.

        Supercharger vehicles… use it for everything! Costs $30k for a used model S (get the 7 seat RWD version it is about as large as a minivan for people and luggage provided 2 of the people are under 10 years old). Supercharging on an old enough model S is free.

        If you want to see an example of the difference superchargers make consider MMM in Longmont wanting to make a weekend trip to Moab and compare the Tesla option (stop every 2 hours for 15 minutes directly along the freeway at fast food locations) to the alternative where there are very long sections of road without quick charging of other types, and what there is tends to be unreliable and in inconvenient locations..

    • Dean May 10, 2019, 7:43 am

      One of the biggest reasons that Nissan’s Leaf batteries have such bad capacity degradation (and Teslas don’t) is that Tesla uses liquid cooling. Nissan’s are passively air cooled, and temperature is a big factor in the degradation. (source: I have a Leaf in Florida)

      It’s not very well-highlighted, but you have to look carefully to see which new BEV cars have liquid cooling. (The Kona does not).

      Will it make it to 50k miles? Sure, but not without some degradation. Would I want to own it at 100k, or buy it at 50k and own it to 100k? Not unless it is heavily discounted.

      • Mr. Money Mustache May 10, 2019, 8:44 am

        Yep, Nissan Leaf batteries were a good starter attempt back in 2010 when they first designed the car, but it is getting increasingly ridiculous that they still can’t get their act together.

        Even more importantly, they don’t provide an upgrade path. Why can’t a 2011 Leaf owner at LEAST buy a 2018 battery pack, upgrading from 24 kWh (now degraded to 16 or whatever) to 40 kWh? Because Nissan is too large and bureaucratic to get this OBVIOUS thing implemented.

        Meanwhile, Teslas have allowed this from the start. You can buy an old 60 kWh model S and throw a 100 kWh pack into it, and it’s as good as a new $100k Tesla model S.

        Because of this, I consider the Leaf to only be worthwhile at low prices. I paid under $14k for mine brand new after all the discounts. But I can’t even imagine anyone considering the new 60 kWh Leaf “e-plus” model coming out, when you can get a base model Tesla for the same price. Tesla is so far ahead that their competitors will only earn sales from uninformed buyers.

        For example the Jaguar i-Pace or Audi e-tron? Not even comparable to a Tesla in any dimension, but they cost just as much. Keep trying, competitors!

        • Jason May 10, 2019, 9:22 am

          I doubt Nissan (and other traditional car manufacturers) will ever do anything that smart. I lost a lot of respect for Nissan when my electric radiator cooling fan burned out after 50,000km (that’s ~1000 hours of driving, or about 20 days of continuous fan operation for an electric motor at about 50% duty-cycle!). Obviously flawed engineering, but they refuse to recall it, despite it being relatively common issue, and want $1500CAD to replace “the whole module”. I have a $300 after-market version coming in the mail that I’ll install myself, but if they can’t build an electric motor to run for more than 20 days equivalent? And don’t consider that to be a problem?? That doesn’t inspire confidence that they are going to support old vehicles with new improvements like you suggest they should.

        • scott May 10, 2019, 10:09 am

          Wow! Your insights regarding the ridiculous the Nissan bureaucracy are really disappointing given that U.S. taxpayers heavily subsidized all those Leaf purchases for high income individuals. The basic inference is that the Leaf would have been a failed venture if their actual price was at or near MSRP.

        • Nathan May 10, 2019, 3:42 pm

          An interesting point about the batteries on Nissan vs. Tesla that I wasn’t aware of, thank you.

          I’d have to disagree on the “only earn sales from uninformed buyers” part, though. Even armed with the knowledge I have, I’d still choose a Leaf (or, more likely, an Ioniq PHEV, Niro PHEV, or Volt) over a Tesla. There are a lot of corporate reasons why, but from an end user standpoint; parts.

          In an ideal world where your vehicle is never damaged, I’d be fine, but it’s hard to even get Tesla to take a stance on repair specifications, much less get them to release those repair specs to body shops. Parts are damn near impossible to get, too.

          Since a car is a rapidly-depreciating expense, and not an asset, I’d be much more likely to go after a cheaper electric hatchback like the leaf, or a PHEV that would serve my purposes better on a long road trip, than I would a Model 3 style sedan. As for Jag and Audi… they’d never even be on my radar. If they were, I doubt I’d be on this site!

      • Igor Getsin May 10, 2019, 1:54 pm

        Hyundai Kona electric has lifetime (non-transferrable) battery warranty.
        Its a car worth considering, however, given non-electric Kona $20,000 before typical haggling its hard to argue that math just doesn’t work.

  • W Dean Pulley May 8, 2019, 4:00 pm

    My PJM is barking for the latest Oneplus 7 PRO phone, which comes out May 14th. Yes, it’s the best value in a top-end unlocked phone. Yes, it is my primary business tool. Yes, my five-year old Oneplus 3T is getting to be persnickety about turning off and on, and the hard-to-replace battery is dying.


    I am a pretty fair replacer of screens, switches and batteries – even the glued-in sort.
    A faster phone won’t make any productive work faster, but will enable better and more complicated timesinks.
    No, I won’t even notice the price, but the camel will get its nose under the tent, as the proverb goes.
    The previous whiz-bang model, a perfectly fine and incredibly fast device, will reduce in price $100 on that same day.

    The good news: my choice will not impact my happiness in any way.

  • Ryan May 8, 2019, 4:06 pm

    I’m still driving my 1992 Acura Integra (I’ve owned since ’97). It is started to get harder to find parts for it, so it might be time to replace it sooner than later. My PMJ has an uphill battle to fight because even if I have to completely rebuild the engine on the Acura, it will still be cheaper than buying a complete car. Of course it is an ICE engine, and being 27+ years old means that it is missing out on a lot of emissions controls, so it isn’t exactly the most green vehicle. But I know that if I wasn’t driving it someone else would be, so even if I got a greener vehicle, it would still be worse for the environment.

    • Brett May 9, 2019, 1:27 pm

      I drove a ’92 Integra from 1992 to 2013. Sold it to my neighbor who has a long commute and he put forty or fifty thousand miles on it over the next couple of years and then sold it when the A/C went out. I’d never even added refrigerant. I’ve lost track of it now. Off topic, but just had to chime in about the Integra!

    • Chuck Albacore May 9, 2019, 2:51 pm

      I have a 94 Accord and beg to differ: Almost every part I’ve ever needed (including full head gasket and timing belt DIY jobs) were available cheaply and quickly from Amazon. The few times I’ve needed something faster, my local auto parts store (here in Maine) has had what I needed. That Integra should be going strong for another 100K miles!

    • Cline May 13, 2019, 4:47 am

      The most green thing to do is keep a car on the road. Like has been said a car is a depreciating asset. You can pay with depreciation or with car parts. I buy cars at the bottom of the depreciation curve and fix them up. Currently driving a pristine 2002 BMW convertible. Costs nothing when compared to lost investment revenue if I paid cash for a Tesla!

  • Pierre May 8, 2019, 4:09 pm

    What about the fact that your Tesla will join a self driving fleet on it’s free time to earn you some $? 😉 Would that be enough to tip the PJM?

    • Kyle May 9, 2019, 6:43 am

      I don’t doubt this will happen eventually, but the proposed timeline is suspect. In the meantime, the car will be depreciating like any other new vehicle.

  • Matt May 8, 2019, 4:09 pm

    I’m surprised none of your justifications against the Tesla include “I already HAVE an electric vehicle.”

    My PJM is constantly looking at my empty Allowance budget and restraining me.

    • Mr. Money Mustache May 9, 2019, 3:05 pm

      The former Mrs. MM is the primary user of the Leaf, so it stays up at her place. Although we technically still co-own and share it – I can walk over and grab it whenever needed.

      It’s just that I really have nowhere to drive for weeks at a time, so there isn’t much sharing needed – the same reason I’m not really all that tempted by the Tesla.

  • D. May 8, 2019, 4:12 pm

    The lure of a VW camper van looms large in these parts.
    Not a factory built California, dumping £60,000 on that would be ridiculous!!
    But, you know, £40,000 for a converted builders van with a tiny kitchen, the roof cut off, a narrow bed and a heater wouldn’t be quite so mad, would it…… 🤪🤛

  • Adam May 8, 2019, 4:12 pm

    Pfft. We’ll buy a car when it has memory seats (to easily share between 6’2″ me and 5’3″ wife), a 150+ mile electric range, and can be had for <$24k. So far that's a whole lotta nothing.

    The trick is to create impossible goalposts. If such a car ever does show up on the scene, well, score! Meanwhile, can't miss what doesn't even exist.

    • Jon May 8, 2019, 4:59 pm

      If you look really hard you can find a used Model S for about $24k.

      • Kyle May 9, 2019, 6:44 am

        Not many exist for under $30k. Maybe if you found one with 150k+ miles.

    • Aaron May 8, 2019, 5:14 pm

      Model 3 is there except for the price… with requirements so simple anyway, the base model does the first two!

      Wait a few years and pick up a used one.

      • Adam May 9, 2019, 8:38 am

        So I’ll move the goalposts again, with something I forgot to include in the original comment: we live in an urban area where larger cars make no sense, and we’re a family of two plus a dog. So anything more than about 170″ long is out.

        Truth be told, a used Lexus CT200h with memory seats would probably do the trick if both of our cars died today. But we don’t need to replace a car just yet… so we’re happy to wait and let the early adopters get things ironed out before we jump in.

      • Caleb Clark May 10, 2019, 5:24 pm

        I agree. Three years old, used. Model Ss are under 40k, but high insurance. Model 3 require lower insurance. Used Leafs are great around town cars. My friends still has a gen 1. He did a huge spreadsheet to try and justify a used Model S, but it just didn’t make sense with the insurance.

        Personally, I’ve transferred my lust for a Tesla to Volkswagen’s upcoming ID line. I think they will make great stuff to recoup their reputation after dieselgate.

        I intend to be a one car family, near mass transit, with electric assist bikes within five years though.

        Until then, dreaming of an ID BUZZ and driving my 2010 paid for Corolla and 2009 paid for Forester family truckster will have to do.

        And investing in VW stock maybe.

        • Adam May 14, 2019, 7:01 am

          Oh heck yes. Everything I see about the ID.3 platform sounds revolutionary and practical. When they scale up and crank those out, I’d love to buy one off-lease with >200mi range in 2023 for $1x,xxx dollars.

  • Chris May 8, 2019, 4:14 pm

    I admit it. I purchased a Tesla…Model S. My PJM told me that because I could pay cash, can retire anytime (but choose not to), and drive it many kilometres on autopilot a year to see family and friends (less fatigued). I volunteer, still have a 40% savings rate even though I don’t need it, keep my phones for 8-years, blah, blah. At some point, if I can afford to burn the cash with no regrets, why shouldn’t I?

  • Nathan May 8, 2019, 4:19 pm

    I actually have no desire to have a Tesla. I’m currently driving around in a brand shiny new 2015 Honda Fit, purchased well below market value. I have problems with Elon Musk and his hostility to anyone critical of the car. I have problems with the absolutely insane rate of workplace injuries at Tesla.

    As someone in the automotive repair industry… I wouldn’t touch one. The build quality is lacking, there is no aftermarket for parts and OEM parts are damn near impossible to get. Backordered 45+ days. It’s not self-repairable, and being aluminum means it’s subject to aluminum rates for labor, coupled with the decreased repairability of aluminum. It is by far the worst car to repair–whether it’s a 3, an S, or an X (the worst of the worst, those stupid doors). The only things that come close are a Cadillac CT6, grey or red Mazda CX-5’s, and an honorable mention for the aluminum Ford pickups.

    • Gonephishin May 8, 2019, 5:26 pm

      Why only the red and grey CX-5’s? I was thinking about getting a used CX-5 soon, but am not tied to a particular color..

      • Nathan May 9, 2019, 10:29 am

        The grey and red CX-5’s are a new 4-stage paint, unlike the rest of the colors that are traditional 2 or 3 stage paints. It requires painting in a crosshatch pattern to match, is a total pain in the ass to blend, and that particular car has no good body line break points to end your blend for rear or front bumper damage, meaning you have to blend the quarterpanel up into the roof rail, or the entire fender and sometimes into the door.

        As another point of interest on the CX-5’s, parts are frequently backordered by more than a month, and the head and tail lights are pretty expensive (1700 for the headlight iirc, it’s been a while), and protrude from the vehicle in a manner that makes them easily damaged.

        • Zol May 9, 2019, 1:49 pm

          As someone who repaired damaged cars as I side hustle during my college years, I really appreciated the depth of analysis contained in this reply and the original comment. Thanks Nathan!

          • Craig November 10, 2019, 12:47 pm

            Yes thank you Nathan for those insights. Be sure to check insurance rates before buying a Tesla, they are very expensive to repair which results in big monthly premiums. For all the amazing things Tesla has accomplished it’s important to remember that they built the company lightening fast and on a shoestring budget. There is no getting around the fact that they’ve had to cut a lot of corners to produce 4 great cars in just a decade. There are going to be some big holes like Nathan described and worse.

            Also thanks to the author for another great article. I took your advice and Turo’d a Model 3 for a few days, put about 250 miles on it. Really cool car but several features became annoying over time and by the end I was ready to give it back. Oddly it made me appreciate my own car more. Will try a Model S next time and see if the joys are a bit more enduring, but for now am sticking with my awesome ebike.

            First world problems!

  • Anonymous May 8, 2019, 4:21 pm

    My PJM currently wants me to buy one of those electric scooters. $400ish and I’d get to work in half the time. But my 35 minute walk home is good for the waist and is prime podcast-listening time.

  • Jess May 8, 2019, 4:21 pm

    This is timely as our 1999 Corolla officially died yesterday and we are fighting the urge to walk in to a dealer and just buy a new car rather than second hand.

    A free standing IKEA butchers block took our 1930s kitchen from “we can’t really cook here and need to replace asap” to “why would we want to replace our charming and perfectly functional kitchen?”

    • tracy May 9, 2019, 12:54 pm

      I put together an IKEA butchers block, it came out great I love it. Also made my gross kitchen way more functional. Huge thumbs up.

    • Chuck Albacore May 9, 2019, 2:53 pm

      Just curious what “officially killed” your 99 Corolla? That car (IMHO) is immortal. So cheap to replace parts (or the whole engine). What happened?

      • Jess May 10, 2019, 3:53 pm

        I think the alternator belt snapped and took out the power steering somehow? I think it would be fixable but my husband just doesn’t trust it any more. Fortunately a friend just decided to sell his car so at least the new one is second hand.

  • Dave May 8, 2019, 4:21 pm

    I’m buying when I can get into a vehicle at 10pm leaving from Washington DC, climb in bed and sleep while the vehicle drives itself to the beach overnight to Florida. Kind of like the auto-train – without the train. Cars are so expensive, I can’t see spending the capital until it can do this task. I estimate 7 years from today at the latest. In the meantime, I’ll drive my 2017 Chevy volt for another 7 years on 97% electricity.

  • Jim Grey May 8, 2019, 4:23 pm

    My PJM is trying to get me to sink $300 into having my Nikon F2 serviced by the world’s leading F2 repairman. I shoot film as a hobby and love it, and my F2 will last the rest of my life after this service. It *will* be worth it…

    …*after* I get our financial house in order after several consecutive runs of bad luck last year ate up our reserves and put us in the hole
    …*after* I clear one particular large, expensive project off the backlog

    I also really like your suggestions about Netflix et al, exercise, and basic house improvements.

  • Mark May 8, 2019, 4:25 pm

    I ride my various bikes and smell the exhaust. Tesla’s have no such. Other electric cars don’t either. I used to live in California where they have a program to encourage electric car ownership. It works. Please just buy the damn things. Or ride your bike. Thank you.

    • Shane May 9, 2019, 8:25 am

      I completely agree with Mark.

      I thoroughly enjoy walking and biking with my children to & from school everyday. One of my favorite things to do after leaving the rate race & retiring. However, there are two things that annoy me: smelly & poisonous exhaust fumes and the noise.

      Please buy a Tesla, MMM. You know you want to…and, in turn, you would help influence others to do the same. A nice bonus is you could earn referral credits to score a nice Tesla Model Y for your future road trips with your son…or even score a sweet Tesla Roadster: https://www.tesla.com/support/referral-program

      • Jason May 9, 2019, 2:22 pm

        Cities full of Teslas will still be bad for walking and biking. The smog will be gone, yes, but the traffic will still be there, and parking lots will continue to space everything too far apart to make walking convenient.

        • lurker May 11, 2019, 8:27 am

          True. A car is a car is a car….the culture is wrong for our long term survival as a species…and what about the batteries? they recyclable? and how about the resources used to build a Tesla? be real folks….car clowns are car clowns…heading out for a bike ride…..cheers

          • Shane May 13, 2019, 5:12 pm

            Tesla is not only making an electric car. They are also shooting for an fully autonomous vehicle like many other companies (Waymo, Uber, GM, Ford, etc.). And with AV technology, there are those that are expecting a huge disruption in the automotive industry with a dramatic drop in car ownership and less cars on the road. I’m all about biking and walking. However, not everyone can or will want to. Here’s one of many videos that discusses AVs: https://youtu.be/rsHzaBQsK2s

    • MKE May 17, 2019, 7:59 am

      I occasionally visit a brother in California and never like the state. It’s all cars. Replace every shitty internal combustion in CA with a shitty Tesla, and California is still a clogged place. It would fix nothing.

      • lurker May 25, 2019, 11:36 am

        too many cars wreck everything, no matter who makes them or what fuels them…or how frigging cool they might be.

  • BC Kowalski May 8, 2019, 4:30 pm

    Funny thing is that the PJM has become a pretty small voice these days. It used to be easy enough to say “aha, just treat yourself,” but lately there just really isn’t anything major that I want.

    The closest I have come up with is a new phone – the newer ones have better cameras and for those times when I am somewhere and there’s a photo op and I don’t have my DSLR (photography is part of my job), the better cameras on the newer phones would help a lot. But it’s a somewhat rare situation and the phone I have now has sufficed. New bicycles are always tempting too, as the Commodore of Bike Fun it’s always tempting to upgrade the fleet. But the thought of more stuff cluttering my house stresses me out more.

  • Nick May 8, 2019, 4:32 pm

    I generally don’t comment on your articles, but this post is the exact battle I am going through right now. I have read books on Elon Musk, every article, listened to countless interviews and shareholder meetings. I do the same PJM and Roadblock method on a weekly or monthly basis. Soon though maybe the Model 3 will truly drive around and make people money via their Uber like service plan so it could be an investment vehicle in the near future if you truly buy into their vision. I do think this will happen, but maybe not on “Elon” time.

  • Daniel May 8, 2019, 4:32 pm

    I have a few cars, the newest is 1984, all restored and slightly collectible. My 1963 Ranchero pickup has been my daily driver since 2007, but it has been very tempting to buy one of these super fast new(ish) cars, especially having worked as a mechanic.
    While I wouldn’t say my alternative was a great financial decision, in the end I just started building a new turbocharged 500+hp engine for it, that way I still get to have my same old car, still use it to get building materials and move kayaks around, plus I’ll be able to out run most anything that a check book can buy.
    All up that car has probably cost me $10k now, including 12 years of maintenance (and upgrades), so I’m definitely getting my money worth out of it.

  • IalsowantaTesla May 8, 2019, 4:37 pm

    I cannot convince myself to not want a Model 3. I’ve tried extremely hard to provide justification why I don’t need one. The 2012 Leaf I have currently gets me to and from work. The car is entirely adequate, alas my PJM is in overdrive. The two things keeping it at bay is watching the mortgage decline rapidly to 0 and the desire to stay married. Since I am not in the position to purchase one, I convinced my father to do so. He is a proud owner of a Model 3. Getting to drive it unfortunately doesn’t diminish the desire to own one. Send help!

  • Dane Boat May 8, 2019, 4:42 pm

    With your keen technical acumen what insights/take-aways do you have from the Autonomy Investor Day presentation?

  • Jocko May 8, 2019, 4:43 pm

    We were determined to ride out our two(!) 2005 Hondas until my partner totaled hers in a fender-bender (all involved were fine; no hospitalizations). We also lust after a Tesla, and I even created a spreadsheet on how we could Turo it to recoup costs, and that our solar . After all was said and done, though, we went with a gently-used 2015 eGolf at a substantially lower cost. The latest and greatest is awesome to consider, but I can’t justify locking up that much money on a single depreciating asset, no matter how cool it is.

  • Gordo May 8, 2019, 4:44 pm

    Why do you keep talking about Tesla road trips? It has to be the worst car I can think of for long road trips, do you want to plan your entire journey around charging stations and long waits to charge?

    • Euro Mike May 8, 2019, 5:31 pm

      In a long range Model 3 that’s not really necessary anymore on most routes. For convenience you may need to spend a bit of time finding hotels that offer charging so you can charge during the night. But long distances are not a problem with Superchargers (and also other HPC CCS chargers in Europe). Navigation system will tell you when and where to stop to charge.

      • Chris Gerber May 8, 2019, 6:26 pm

        Agree with Euro Mike. Hasn’t really been a big deal. Car routes you through the chargers, shows how much SoC (state of charge) you’ll arrive with, and how many stalls are taken, in real time. I’ve done 2500, 2100, 1500, and 800 mile road trips so far, with no charging issues at all. Taking it on a 6000 mile roadtrip this summer and really looking forward to it!

        This is a handy site for pre-planning too:

    • Erik Harris May 28, 2019, 10:36 am

      Just the opposite. My Model 3 is the best road trip car I’ve ever owned. I’ve taken multiple 800+ mile road trips, and charging really adds a surprisingly minimal amount of time. A lot of people make the comparison between charge time and gas pump time as if they’re 1:1 comparisons… But you can’t do anything else while pumping gas, and more often than not, you need to satisfy other bodily functions after you finish pumping gas (which you can do while charging a car). And at least once we’re past our 20s, most of us need to stop more often than necessary to pump gas anyhow. My old Altima could go 550 miles on a tank of gas. I needed to get out and stretch my legs every couple hundred miles. With the Model 3, my need to get out and my need to charge are nicely aligned, and the end result is that only a few minutes are added to an 8+ hour drive. I’ll accept that delay of a few minutes given how much cheaper electricity is than gas, given how much cleaner it is, and given how much more fun this car is to drive.

      With a couple people in the car, a quick bathroom and snack break takes about as long as you need to charge most of the time, and that’s even more the case now that Tesla upped the Supercharger rates from 120kW to 150kW a month or two ago (I haven’t had a chance to take a road trip since then).

      The bigger problem is wanting to get back on the road and realizing that it’ll take a lot longer to eat a meal than to charge. You have to force yourself to slow down sometimes, even if that means finishing the charging session before you finish your meal. :D

      • Clark July 18, 2019, 4:28 pm

        I agree. We did a 7200 mile road trip. No deviations necessary for charging and if we decided mid route to go somewhere else, still more than enough superchargers. Camped in car and charged in campgrounds and slept with temperature at 70 degrees with no need to keep car running. Rarely do people who actually have one worry about ability to charge on a road trip. When you factor in charging at home, Teslas take less of your time to charge than using gas stations. 5 seconds to plug it in at home and 5 seconds to unplug it when you leave

  • Billy May 8, 2019, 4:48 pm

    This post speaks to my soul, I drive a 2012 Prius v, yet I torture myself looking at the Design studio every other day… I don’t own a house and have no place to charge it other than a super charger. I go camping a lot so a y would be much wiser. I’m still finishing off my student loans with every spare cent, but I want that model 3 so bad…

  • Ewan May 8, 2019, 4:54 pm

    Having owned an S for five years now (ok, in reality my wife owns it and I occasionally drive it for the long road trips): it’s been worth every penny in sheer joy for her. Customer service has been great and just this week got a LOT easier with a service centre 10 min away; but even for a long-time stickshift hot-hatch guy like me, driving it is a step-change up in fun.

  • Andrew B. May 8, 2019, 5:06 pm

    I’m still rocking a Surface Pro 3 from 2013, so this machine is almost six years old now. My PJM tells me that a) the battery has lost lots of capacity, so I often have to carry a charger; b) a new version would perform better in many, many ways; and c) this device is my main tool for digital work and play, so I deserve the best. On the other hand, my Surface Pro 3 works fine given my needs, buying a new version would set me back some $3,500 Canadian that I would rather invest and I hate the environmental impact of buying a new impossible-to-maintain computer sooner than necessary. So, after resolving to buy a Surface Pro 6 this summer, I’m now going to push that purchase off for at least another year and take pride in/pleasure from extending the life of my SP3.

    • E May 9, 2019, 6:53 pm

      Perhaps it’s time to replace the battery :)

      I’m always surprised how many people don’t think to repair electronics.

      • Andrew B. May 11, 2019, 4:59 am

        I’d love to replace the battery, but Surface tablet computers are impossible to maintain by the user (see their terrible iFixit score), and Microsoft charges an exorbitant fee (if they even service the SP3 anymore). The battery life suffices in many cases, and carrying the power adaptor isn’t too onerous.

  • scott May 8, 2019, 5:12 pm

    My PJM is constantly analyzing mountain bikes.

    My current dilemma: I recently crashed and broke my mountain bike. The frame is cracked and a replacement carbon front triangle is $900. The PJM is making the case for putting the $900 towards a new and improved $2k aluminum frame. I would then move all the parts from the broken frame to the new frame. I “need” a working mountain bike. The questions is do I reinvest $900 in “old” 2016 mtb technology or spend $2k on new a 2019 frame design.

    I am not a fan of Tesla. Given your engineering background I understand why you are. Everything you said about them is true but I think Tesla’s primary impact will be the perpetuation of our broken system built on a car based lifestyle and its numerous negative externalities. Without Tesla it might be more likely for the fossil fuel based car lifestyle to implode, collapse, and eventually give rise to more Happy City style walkable/bikeable communities. My concern is that Tesla basically gives a “green” rubber stamp of approval to wealthy people who design there lives around a 20 mile commute from suburbia.

    In 2001 I purchased a used 98 Honda CBR F3. Thankfully the years I spent on the that bike satisfied a lifetime worth of desire for owning a fast high performance car.

    • Eric May 9, 2019, 11:11 am


      Have you looked at the warranty policies of the mountain bike manufacturer? Many reputable frame builders will exchange a broken frame for a new one free of charge.

      Also, thankfully when I purchased my CBR600 the bike was about 12 years old and it was 2015, she needed a clutch so I only paid 800 dollars for her. I replaced the clutch for around 70 dollars and rode off into the sunset (actually commuted 20 miles each way on it, probably the most affordable way to do such a thing)

      • scott May 10, 2019, 10:15 am

        Yes. The manufacturer offers a lifetime warranty. But it’s for manufacturing defects. Not crashes. I submitted a warranty claim. The $900 replacement front triangle is based on their crash replacement pricing.

  • Aaron May 8, 2019, 5:18 pm

    I bought my Model 3 Dual Motor in March before I found MMM. As soon as I watched a few of the YouTube videos I knew that buying it was in direct violation of the principles of Mustachians.

    I love it though and so does my wife. It’s the safest car on the road too, so even better investment for my family! I don’t have regrets about it.

  • dave norfleet May 8, 2019, 5:21 pm

    I’m so thrilled you mentioned Mammoth Cave National Park. I grew up near and counted down the days until I was old enough to do the Wild Cave Tour. Now, I’m counting down the days until my son is old enough – just about 3.5 years. I hope you’ll take your kid with you when you go.
    Going through the Wild Cave Tour’s “Birth Canal” will make you forget what kind of car you arrived in ;-)

  • VJ May 8, 2019, 5:43 pm

    My PJM is currently nudging me to get an electric bike with a decent range. I commute half an hour each way and it kills me being in a car for so long.

    The electric bike would enable me to get back on two wheels, carry my dog and whatever stuff I need for the day, and still not have a significantly longer commute. AND it’s eminently likely I could sell my car if I got the bike, though that depends on other things as well.

    LOTS of purchase-justification! But I have debt to pay off, and I keep telling myself that I should ride one of my two existing bikes to work at least once a week for a while before I sink cash into an e-bike.

    • Jason May 9, 2019, 8:29 am

      Have you done the math? Selling a car would certainly fund an electric bike, but even if you have to keep it for occasional use, maybe a reduced-millage insurance rate, reduced fuel costs, and extended service-life of the vehicle may be enough to financially justify an electric bike? If it’s the difference between biking occasionally and biking nearly every day, I would suggest running the numbers. Conservatively, can figure on a 3-5 year life-cycle for the battery, and twice that for the bike.

      • VJ May 11, 2019, 1:44 am

        Thanks, Jason: good reminder. I hadn’t run the numbers properly for the option of not selling the car, so I did – and it does cost out over the medium term (~3 years). I don’t know if that constitutes a golden ‘Buy Now’ sign lighting up, but it’s given me food for thought!

  • Angie May 8, 2019, 5:47 pm

    I keep telling myself that maybe I could justify a Tesla once my 2007 Honda Civic needs to be replaced. She only has ~100k miles on her and is in perfect condition. With how little I drive I see another 10-15 years before I would need a new car. By then maybe the used Tesla market will be better anyway ;)

    • Dave May 9, 2019, 10:28 am

      I’m in the same boat. Would love a Tesla, but my 1995 truck with 275k miles on it still runs great and cost practically nothing to own/maintain. I figure it might be 10 years or more before I can justify needing a new car. But I do want a Tesla now… ;-)

  • kindoflost May 8, 2019, 5:55 pm

    I am way behind… I am looking at buying my first 2010 Prius this year or next.

    • EfficiencyNerd May 9, 2019, 12:23 pm

      Do it! I have a 2010 Prius with 183,000 miles on it. Still runs great. Part of me wishes it would hurry up and die so I can get something like a Prius Prime or Model 3, but in all reality I expect this guy to last quite a long time.

      • Chris May 30, 2019, 6:07 am

        Agreed. I have a 2008 Prius that just rolled 200K miles and is still going strong. Very few issues thus far. When the time comes, since we have solar on our house, we’ll move to an electric vehicle. But we’re waiting for at least 2020, when lots more models, competition, and lower prices will start to become available.

    • Eric July 6, 2019, 5:56 am

      Don’t worry about being “behind”.
      I’ve got a 2001 Honda Insight that I use most of the time, aside from winter months in Michigan. Great little car, cheap and easy to work on. At 60-75 MPG, I’m not complaining. Eventually I want a Tesla. But I’ll wait a bit longer for that purchase

  • peter stock May 8, 2019, 6:01 pm

    errrhhh, and the recycling costs of all that tech when it finally dies? unknown.

    there was an interesting and counter intuitive study a few years ago that assessed the full Life Cycle cost of various vehicles (read: cars and trucks) – including the cost of the engineers’ commute, the expected cost of recycling a hybrid’s battery, etc. etc.
    they concluded (and of course I can’t find the study now) that for Life Cycle carbon footprint the neck and neck front runners were…. Tada! a Sion and. … a Ford f150 pickup .Why a gas guzzling pickup? Not for its gas mileage (by a long shot), but rather factors like A) it doesn’t require a team of rocket scientists to design it, B) its steel body was easily recyclable and C) its tail lights were high enough off the ground that they wouldn’t get smash and so wouldn’t need to be replaced that often. among other factors.
    go figure!

    what does it cost to retire a Tesla? no one knows as it’s never been done.

    • peter stock May 8, 2019, 6:03 pm

      shit, can I delete that comment? this MMM post wasn’t about the virtues of Teslas. it was about NOT buying a Tesla.
      can I delete this?

      • Tallgirl1204 May 8, 2019, 9:16 pm

        Nooooo… don’t delete it. Bringing up full life-cycle costs is a valuable contribution to the discussion and I read it with interest. You just added another think-layer to the filter standing between desire and the purchase of any large item, really.

        • Jason May 9, 2019, 8:21 am

          I agree. I read the article but still planned on throwing in a dissenting opinion about the glowing depiction of Tesla, before I saw peter’s comment.

          As far as the “green” argument goes, electrification of private vehicles is a minuscule improvement. The embedded energy and lifecycle cost of a private vehicle is mostly in the manufacture, storage, and service of that vehicle, not fuel. An electrified fleet of private vehicles that continue to sit 95% of the time, and occupying multiple parking spaces within a city, is going to continue to have a big negative impact on both the energy efficiency and quality of life in our cities. It’s also such a massive environmental waste to have huge banks of valuable li-ion cells just sitting in peoples driveways pushing their shelf-life, rather than maxing out their discharge cycles in an intensive application.

          We should be focusing on electrifying our intensively used vehicles: taxis, buses, delivery vehicles, shared-vehicles, waste management trucks, etc. That would be, by far, the best use of limited resources to have an actual impact on air quality, energy efficiency, carbon emissions, noise levels, etc etc. Now, sure, buying a Tesla is supporting a new industry that will eventually electrify those vehicles, but so would *investing* in electrification companies like Tesla. The actual private car it’s self is still a big “green” negative and a drain on quality of life in cities (unless you plan on sharing it or putting it to intense work in some way).

          • Heath May 9, 2019, 9:59 am

            Cheers to this comment!

            I haven’t had a desire to buy a new electric car, mostly for this exact reason: new cars have a ridiculous carbon footprint, and I’d much rather spend WAY less money on a used car where my money won’t go directly into the further manufacture of more new vehicles.

            If you really want to go green, buy an old, fuel efficient car (I’ve got an ’09 Matrix), and keep it maintained. I’m pretty sure there are SEVERAL MMM articles about this exact thing… Oh look, here’s one now:

            OK, MMM, here’s another roadblock for your PJM: read your own article again :-)

    • John R May 10, 2019, 3:48 am

      Counting the commute time of the engineers that design a new vehicle has to be one of the most ridiculous reasons ever given for why not to buy an EV. Let’s not design *anything* new, *ever*, that way we won’t have to support those pesky engineers, well-known for being a massive drain on society.

      On a serious note, what gives greater value to society: all of us using F150s, or research and development being poured into new fields with tremendous potential long-term benefits?

      A Tesla is a very simple vehicle to assemble (and therefore dis-assemble) — have a look at the assembly line videos. Huge battery packs will be extremely lucrative to recycle, the motors contain extremely valuable copper, and the rest (apart from seats and trim) is steel or aluminium. No different from any other car.

      • Jason May 10, 2019, 9:13 am

        I snickered at that too. I think it’s a far better argument that *all* motor vehicles have a high lifecycle cost that typically dwarfs the fuel cost, if you consider manufacturing, storage, infrastructure usage, and recycling. Buying a new Tesla to replace a taxi will be a big boon, but for a typical commuter car that sits 95% of the time? That’s not likely to be all that much better than an ICE car, and significantly worse than just maintaining an older/used car, as MMM has advocated in the past. If Tesla ever works out that autonomous car sharing thing, though, that will totally change the calculus.

    • Ckarion May 18, 2019, 3:12 am

      Life Cycle Analysis can produce almost any answer that you want. One just have to modify the system boundaries. Another popular way to twist the results in the choice of electricity production mix. I have published scientific papers in the E-LCA (Environmental Life Cycle Analysis) field and know how carefully one has to study the in data used. That the study Peter Stocks refers to is shady is obvious from the inclusion of work related travel for engineers. They would have had a job regardless!

      In short, one should always keep in mind that LCA can easily be corrupted and is a common tool of ideology driven think-tanks and competiting businesses to badmouth new technology.


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For more casual sampling, have a look at this complete list of all posts since the beginning of time or download the mobile app. Go ahead and click on any titles that intrigue you, and I hope to see you around here more often.

Love, Mr. Money Mustache

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