The Model Y Experiment

In May of 2023, after many years of successful delay I let myself buy what is probably the ultimate no-compromise, do-everything vehicle currently in production, the Tesla Model Y long range all wheel drive.

One year later, I am absolutely enjoying the shit out of this thing, while racking up a surprisingly high 11,000 miles. Most of my driving has been road trips and camping trips throughout the American West including Colorado, Arizona and Nevada.

The car is a superstar at everything it does, with cavernous interior space, rocket ship acceleration, sports car handling on the curvy mountain roads, bulldozer grip in deep snow whenever you need it, private jet comfort and convenience for cross-country road trips … and yet it is ridiculously efficient, fast, and cheap to refuel whenever you need it. Just eight bucks (!) of my own clean local power gives me another 300 miles (500km) of range. And so far, the car has delivered perfect reliability, demanding nothing from me aside from a top-up of windshield wiper fluid.

After this year’s experience, I feel it is freaking insane that any other new cars are even selling on the US market. The only logical choice in the “midrange new car” price range is a Tesla. Otherwise, you might as well just get a nice cheap used Honda or Toyota for basic transportation, or a sturdy work van if you need to carry really big stuff every day.

Affordability Update!: Since I bought mine, these things have become even cheaper, as Tesla dropped prices and the US expanded tax credits. You can now get this insane supercar at around the same price as its obsolete gasoline competitors like the Toyota RAV4, Subaru Outback and Honda CRV (around the $40k mark, or even $35k in states like Colorado!)

Tip: Be sure to include “inventory vehicles” in your search and use Tesla’s referral program – at the moment with a referral link like this one you can get various discounts and freebies.

Useful Accessories So Far

Since my car is mostly for work, camping and long-distance travel, I have added a few things:

A subscription to the Tessie App to indulge my engineer hunger for extreme data on the car’s inner workings, efficiency, battery health over time, etc.

Phone holder that mounts nicely to the back of the screen

Waterproof floor+trunk+frunk mat set (great quality and way cheaper than Tesla version!)

Portable 12V fridge/freezer rolling cooler. OMG life changing if you like bringing your own food when you travel as I do! But shop around as there are many competing brands and temporary promos. Mine was $315 after coupon when I bought it. Seems to be very high quality, also accepts optional battery and direct solar panel input (!)

USB hub so I can plug in my music supply at the same time as the Tesla dashcam USB drive (both need to be in the glove box)

3″ Memory foam pad which I cut to fit the back perfectly to create a cozy bed

Or for the fancy option, here’s a pre-made bed for the car

Custom rack for carrying my tool box and bikes – you can get a commercial equivalent here.

Jacking pucks which allow me to lift the car for tire rotations and swapping out summer vs snow wheels/tires

Lugnut covers, just a little cosmetic upgrade to make the base 19″ alloy wheels look nice if you choose to take off the plastic wheel covers that come with the car.

Trailer wiring adapter so the Tesla’s round plug could power my construction trailer’s rectangular wiring harness.

Soon to come: the S3XY buttons kit which allows more control of the car with customizable buttons and an app which shares more engineer-type data in real time.

Unloading the tools and coolers on Gandalf’s first road trip
I built a special rack which clicks into the trailer hitch mount, to carry my largest toolbox for extra cargo space.

Most Unexpected Things So Far:

PRO: Eating Up Vast Distances
Every Tesla comes with a partial self-driving feature called “Autopilot” which does most of the work for you on highways and country roads. I first tried it out in 2016 and even then it was amazing, but now that I actually use it regularly it’s insanely useful. It feels like a very stern German Soldier is driving your car with wide eyes and tense muscles, staying perfectly centered in the lane and responding instantly if somebody in front of you slams on the brakes.

Because I’m generally not driving around in cities, about 80% of my miles on this car have been in Autopilot, and I find it makes multi-hour drives feel about half as long as they really are.

PRO: Camping!
I was hoping this car would be okay for sleeping in a pinch, but it turns out it is more than okay – it’s fantastic. Because of this, I have already spent about 30 nights camped out in all sorts of locales, sleeping in the cozy, flat, 6-foot long passenger and cargo area (the rear seats fold totally flat). And the glass roof makes for a very scenic moon viewing as you fall asleep, and nice views of the trees when you wake up in the morning.

Sleep mask recommended for sleeping in a glass tent.

I set it up with a nice 2″ sheet of memory foam that I cut to match the space, then just bring along my favorite sheets, pillows and sleeping bags. If you enable “camp mode”, the car’s climate control runs quietly in the background, sipping just a small amount of the huge battery’s stored energy to keep your air fresh and comfortable. And the space is actually wide enough for two people, as long as you’re comfortable being fairly close.

CON: I do sometimes get annoyed about how automatic everything is. For example, the car doesn’t have normal door lock buttons or a normal key fob unless you buy it separately. Instead, it unlocks when you approach the car with your phone in your pocket, and locks when you walk away.

In theory, this is fine. Except when it’s not. For example, when I’m at home with the car in my secluded driveway, or parked at a campsite, I don’t want it to lock. So I have to disable that feature by messing with the touchscreen. But then if I take the car to Home Depot or something, I have to re-enable it. And if my phone’s Bluetooth is off or in a bad mood for some reason, all of this unnecessary fussing gets even more ridiculous.

Similarly, you need to use the touchscreen to open the glovebox, or adjust the climate control, or change the windshield wiper settings, or turn on or off the headlights. Most of these things have automatic modes that are supposed to just work, but that’s dumb. I don’t want my car to “automatically” heat or cool itself to a specific temperature, I want to crank a knob to blow the right amount of outside air on my face based on my current needs. Which change depending on how I’m dressed, whether I just finished a hot workout or a cold swim in the ocean, who is in the car with me, and so on.

Oh, and in the next generation of this car (thankfully not yet), they are getting rid of the turn signal stalk and replacing it with hard-to-use thumb buttons on the steering wheel (!!!)

Elon has this infuriating slogan he likes to repeat that explains this car design philosophy, “All Input is Error”. I just happen to have the opposite philosophy, “Almost all automatic shit is error.”

Thankfully, the car’s numerous “settings” screens allow you fix a fair amount of the car’s silly defaults, and an aftermarket kit called the S3xy Buttons allows control lovers to add back in many of the physical buttons.

And it’s still infinitely better than any present-day Toyota, who makes cars so annoying that they beep inside the car when you are in reverse (??) and shred your eardrums with a shrill beeping every time you press the button to close the liftgate. But still, Tesla is supposed to be the cool brand, so let’s hope they keep making more improvements in this department.

Why did you choose this car?

Of course, I ordered mine with the tow hitch!

As of 2024 there are a lot of electric cars supposedly on the US market, but only a few solid, reliable ones in volume production – most of them made by Tesla. This is because the company has about a ten-year lead on everyone else, having started mass-producing electric cars in 2012 while most carmakers are just getting started now. In practice, this means that when you try to buy any other EV, you will find yourself talking to a car dealer who knows nothing about electric cars, trying to sell an inferior product at Tesla-like prices. (Did you know that the new Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid actually costs more than the vastly superior Tesla model 3!?!)

On top of that, Teslas are the only brand of EVs that can easily and reliably do road trips anywhere in the US, because they operate their own network of many thousands of reliable chargers, whereas every other brand is left to depend on a piecemeal of unreliable garbage networks like Electrify America (which also charge more for the electricity they dispense!)

Note that for anything other than road trips, the best deal is the 250-mile Chevrolet Bolt at only $20k after tax credits. But GM is ending production later this year so get ’em while you can!

All this will change within the next ten years, but for now Tesla is the only game in town for long-range road-trippable electric cars.

How long does the battery last?

Basically the entire life of the car. Tesla batteries are so far ahead that even the old 2012 models with 200,000 miles still retain an average of about 88% of their battery life today. Here in 2023, the longevity is even better yet.

What about the Environment?

Since the beginning, there has been a weird battle / conspiracy theory that says electric cars are actually worse for the environment than their gasoline counterparts because of either battery components, or the dirty sources of some of the US electric grid, or whatever. As a former electrical engineer who now specializes in clean energy, I looked into all of this and it’s totally wrong. The real story is this:

  • All cars are hugely bad for the environment simply because they are large and heavy chunks of manufactured metal and other minerals
  • Roads and parking lots are even worse so we should stop designing our cities around cars.
  • But electric cars are far less harmful than gas cars, because they avoid the burning of 50,000 pounds of gasoline over their lifetimes. Then, all those minerals in the batteries can be reused to build future generations of batteries as needed. As for the electricity: the US energy grid is fairly clean already and is rapidly moving towards being 100% clean. Plus you can easily generate your own solar power as I’ve been doing since 2018.

Why would you give Elon your money? He’s evil.

Because I buy products based on their engineering specs rather than the social media posts of the founder (who is only one of 130,000 brilliant hardworking people at the company).

I happen to disagree with Elon Musk’s behavior on Twitter from about 2022 onward – mainly the fact that he seems to be acting deliberately provocative and divisive, posting things like this:

Regardless of how you feel about the various political hotbutton issues, I just don’t see the point of an automobile company CEO posting shit like this. I think it’s counterproductive to put mean stuff out into the world, no matter who you are.

On the other hand, Elon is a self-admitted Asperger’s syndrome person and an extreme chronic workaholic who lives under constant stress and sleep deprivation. This causes people to behave in ways that most of us disagree with. So yeah, he can be grumpy and unpredictable and I wouldn’t want him for a boss. But he also has a proven track record of disruptive engineering brilliance, which is how the cars got to be so advanced and this one single startup company has changed the course of the entire planet.

Update: a lot of this self-destructive behavior makes sense if you read the new Walter Isaacson Biography on Elon.

So, while I wish he would get some sleep and start being nicer to everyone, the provocative tweets are not enough to make me rule out buying the cars.

How much does it cost to drive?

If you charge an electric car at home, the cost of the electricity is so cheap, it’s equivalent to getting your gasoline at about 75 cents per gallon. Forever.

On road trips where you need to travel more than 300 miles per day, you’ll be charging at a public charging network, which charges more for electricity than you pay at home. Tesla’s Superchargers charge an average of 35 cents per kWh (a bit more during on-peak hours, less during off-peak), which is equivalent to paying about $2.60 per gallon for your gasoline.

For non-Tesla drivers stuck using the janky Electrify America network, those prices are 48 cents/kWh and an unfortunate $3.60 per gallon equivalent. Which is another big factor in Tesla’s favor.

Do I need a special charger?

Not really! Every electric car (Tesla or otherwise) can plug into any standard electrical outlet and charge at a rate of about 3-4 miles per hour. But you can also set up a faster charger at home that can add up to 50 miles of range per hour, if you’ve got enough capacity in your electrical breaker panel. There are lots of options here, I covered some of them (including how to install one yourself if you are so inclined) in this Youtube video. See the links in the description.

How Fast Does It Charge?

The best answer to this is “about ten seconds if you’re charging at home because you just plug it in and forget it” But there are other answers too.

If you plug in at a typical public “level 2” charger, like the free ones you’ll see in the city hall or Whole Foods parking lot, or an average garage charger like this one from Amazon, you will get about 25 miles of range added per hour.

And when you need real speed on a roadtrip, Tesla’s Supercharger network will add about 200 miles of range to your car in the 15 minutes it takes to plug it in, find a restroom, and do a quick stretch and a few pushups before hopping back in for another three hours on the highway. If you’re stopping for an entire meal, you will find the full 300+ miles has been added back to your range.

Are you going to splurge and get the $12,000 Full Self Driving (FSD) option?

I think it’s a cool technology that will eventually change the world, and I’m actually testing it out right now thanks to Tesla offering it as one of their perks in the referral program. So far, it’s very impressive and promising but still not worth that price. The feature is also available on a subscription basis at $99 per month, which could already be worthwhile if you have either a long commute or a big road trip planned.

There are lots of Youtube videos demonstrating the ongoing progress of FSD beta and they seem very promising to me. I do believe Tesla will succeed eventually, but it might be 1-5 years before they get the system working better than a really skilled human driver, which must be thoroughly proven before it will earn approval to start driving unattended in most cities.

The reason it costs so much is that Tesla plans to keep grinding on this tech until it is good enough to function as a “Robotaxi”, aka an unattended Uber driver which allows you to send your own car out to work and earn income giving rides while you’re not using it.

What do you think about Tesla Insurance?

For the past fifteen years I had been using Geico insurance, which offered the best price on insuring my fleet of old, cheap cars. But when I got a quote for the new Tesla, Geico was no longer competitive. So I switched to Tesla Insurance.

I posted this initial update on Twitter, which got an unexpected 3.8 Million views due to a “like” from Elon Musk himself:

But then ironically, I ended up keeping Tesla Insurance for only the first two months and then switching to Costco insurance due to an even lower quote. Also, I found that the “telematics” feature of Tesla insurance, while a great idea, still needs a few bugs ironed out.

Most notably, their Forward Collision Warning feature was giving me serious dings on my safety score and thus raising my future insurance premiums, even when there was no possibility of a collision in sight. For example, when cruising slowly up to a green light or a stop sign where the car in front is gradually accelerating and you are gradually decelerating in order to match their speed and join the ongoing flow of traffic. The final straw was when this happened as I was carefully coasting down at only 15MPH at the end of my little residential street!

If the system becomes more intelligent and learns to separate super attentive driving like this, from the inattentive driving that actually causes forward collisions, then I’d love to return to Tesla Insurance and try it again.

Why did you get a new Model Y instead of a used one?

I do always look on the used market before buying anything new, whether it’s a car or a bike or a fridge. In the case of the model Y, I found that the used prices weren’t any lower than new ones (remember the number to compare when cross-shopping is around $40k since there are no tax credits for used cars here, and you still have to pay sales tax). Model 3s were a bit more widely available, but that car is of no use for my needs because it’s not a hatchback.

So for a used car, I take the price of its “new” alternative, and subtract about 20 cents per mile for the mileage accrued. So for example if a used car had 50k miles, I’d want it to be $10,000 cheaper than a new equivalent. With some fudge factor to account for the model year as well since newer Teslas tend to have more kinks ironed out and thus be more reliable. Of course, this implies that the car reaches almost zero value at 200k miles, which is *close* to being correct but still not quite right. So you can adjust this rule if you’re shopping on that older end of the spectrum.

I’ve always used some version of this equation when choosing between used and new cars, and usually it leads me to buying a used one. In this case, new was just a better value so I chose that instead.

More Questions?

Add them in the comments section below!

  • David April 27, 2023, 2:28 pm

    How do you feel using such a fancy passenger car instead of a van (or – God forbid – a pickup truck) for hauling tools, building materials and other bulky and/or dirty stuff ?
    Isn’t practicality compromised compared to your old van?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 27, 2023, 2:46 pm

      Yeah, it definitely doesn’t have as much interior space as the van. But I ordered the tow hitch option, so I can now easily haul my construction trailer which holds much more than the van anyway.

      The van had a hitch too, but the Tesla has a lot more power and control than a gas vehicle which makes trailer towing much less of a chore.

      Cargo bed sizes (approx):
      Full size Pickup truck: 5.5 x 4.5 x 2 = 50 cubic feet. Although not as useful because it is unprotected and hard to access from the sides.

      Van: 8 x 4 x 4 = 128 cubic feet, all of it useful

      Tesla Y: approx 6 x 3 x 3 = 54 (but irregularly shaped)

      Construction trailer: 10 x 5 x 2 = 100, up to 300 if you stack it high, but it’s also unprotected unless you get a closed trailer.

      But the construction trailer also has a ramp so you can dolly on really heavy stuff, and you can access it easily from any angle.

      Even better, it weighs only about 600 pounds when you are towing it, and then ZERO for that 95% of time that you don’t need the extra cargo space. So you get all the benefits of an aerodynamic performance car which is still very large inside, plus the benefits of 2+ pickup trucks whenever you click on that trailer.

      • Jon April 28, 2023, 4:50 pm

        What about charging while towing superchargers will need longer cord

        • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2023, 8:11 am

          For now, most people just disconnect the trailer before pulling into the SC stall, but I agree that Tesla should add some trailer-friendly stalls in the future (especially once their Cybertruck and semi are in bigger production)

          In my own situation, I won’t be taking my construction trailer on 150-mile-plus journeys so I’ll just charge at home as usual.

          • Mark April 30, 2023, 1:06 am

            I think the new v4 superchargers rolling out in Europe will come to the states soon enough. They have a longer reach cable, presumably to help with charging non-Tesla vehicles but will make things easier for outlier Tesla trailer situations.

      • Ted Kidd April 28, 2023, 6:11 pm

        1. When camping in a model Y you camp INSIDE the car, not in a tent. 2″ air mattress and camping mode on.

        2. Get the performance model. It has never had a smaller premium and is totally worth it.

        Enjoy the adventure!
        I love my Tesla’s

        • Andy Nilssen April 30, 2023, 7:58 am

          … though the performance wheels / tires will cost about 10% in efficiency.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 4, 2023, 3:57 pm

          I agree that the Performance version is a good deal for anyone who can benefit from even more insane speed and handling.

          For me, I would have bought an “anti-performance” version if they had it for a few thousand less: I don’t need AWD and a 0-60 in 4.5 seconds! RWD and 6.5 would be more than good enough for me, especially if it could come with lower weight and longer range. And probably a bigger Front Trunk as well, without the need to accommodate that watermelon-sized motor and gearbox beneath it.

      • Kendall Witt April 29, 2023, 7:29 am

        Hi. I appreciate the detailed insight. I drive a Lexus UX250h today and am considering going all electric. I have read the Tesla Y may be a rougher ride. Do you have any feedback on the suspension and feel of the ride? Thanks.

        • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2023, 7:57 am

          All the Teslas have a fairly sport-tuned suspension, which does indeed show up as being a bit rougher on bumpy roads. For me, this is perfect because it makes the car a lot more controllable (and also safer) in corners. And it’s certainly not unduly harsh, just a nice middle ground.

          I especially appreciate the sport tuning on mountain roads, which is most of my driving – 100% corners combined with steep climbs and descents, where you are betting the lives of yourself and your passengers on the handling and grip of your car!

          However, the Model Y was recently upgraded with a slightly more comfortable suspension that allegedly doesn’t compromise cornering ability. Also, if you choose the 19″ wheels and tires instead of the $2000 “upgrade” to 20-inchers, you end up with slightly taller sidewalls which smooths out the ride a bit too.

          The 19″ option is also more energy efficient (longer range), probably because of the taller sidewalls which reduces rolling resistance and aero drag on the backside of the wheel. Maybe a harder rubber compound too (bonus: longer tire life)

          • Jason May 4, 2023, 9:17 am

            FYI we own a Model Y & Model X. Model X with air suspension makes the ride WAY better. Love the Y for a long list of reasons but also have a healthy list of loves for the X.

            • Neki May 9, 2023, 10:59 am

              I’m beginning my search into EVs and I’d love to hear your reasons to prefer model X over Y !

      • Casey Miller May 1, 2023, 8:35 am

        A minivan has 8x4x4=128 cubic feet of storage, not 64 as was written. Pesky factors of 2!

        Congratulations on your new Tesla, makes a great deal of sense given your solar roof and CO location.

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 1, 2023, 1:30 pm

          Excellent catch, thanks Casey! I have now fixed that.

          I knew there was something fishy when the van was showing up as only having a bit more than a MiniBed American pretend pickup truck.

    • Michelle ML April 28, 2023, 7:03 pm

      I’ve had my model y for two years and I haul everything in it! I’m a Master Gardener so it gets dirty. The floor and bed liner I purchased keeps things in good stead and I can pull the back liner out to shakeout the dirt. All said, when I transition from gardening and more common activities the car transitions to a lovey passenger vehicle.

      I have the performance line range model, it’s fast and handles really well. I was a diehard BMW owner and I recently drove it through the mountains and was totally impressed.

  • Dawood April 27, 2023, 4:23 pm

    What do you think of the cybertruck? Will you be tempted to get that once it’s been mass produced ?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 27, 2023, 5:11 pm

      Oh man, no way! Pickup trucks are SUCH a horrible design, with a tiny uncovered cargo area that’s not even connected to the main cabin. And the CT in particular is so jacked up and huge, way too big for regular use unless you never go near cities. And then it’s far less efficient than the Model Y, despite the fact that they carry the same number of people.

      It really seems like the worst of all worlds and I don’t see why anyone wants these things, short of pulling a 25,000 pound horse trailer.

      If they make a Cyber VAN, preferably about the size of my old Odyssey, then I’ll be all over it.

      VW has one that meets this spec, called the – already on sale in Europe but a bigger US version coming here within the next two years or so.

      • Pierre April 29, 2023, 7:43 am

        Pick up trucks are also a hazard for road users. Pedestrians have 40% more chance of fatality if hit by pick up truck instead of low nose cars like most sedans or smaller SUVs. I just wish automotive refgulators eventually set requirements on pedestrian safety for cars manufacturers.

  • Chris O'Connell April 27, 2023, 5:42 pm

    I hate how the Model Y seems very wide, way wider than the average car, hogging up the road.. As a cyclist, this offends me.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 27, 2023, 6:09 pm

      The Model Y is 75.6 inches in width – about 2″ wider than the compact Honda CR-V crossover but 4″ narrower than the typical midsized SUV like a Ford Explorer. And a full foot narrower than some full-sized pickups!

      Yes, it’s big but not unreasonably so (especially if used very sparingly in cities as I advocate here)

      As a fellow cyclist however, I think we’d both agree that BIKES should be given first priority in a city, with dedicated trails and underpasses. Then cars should be a distant second, preferably mostly for the mobility impaired or people needing to carry heavy stuff or elderly family members and maybe newborn babies.

      If the city is designed properly, bikes and walkers should not have to care or even notice how wide or narrow the cars are because cars shouldn’t be allowed near them.

      • Chris O'Connell April 28, 2023, 4:18 pm

        Thanks for the details and the reply in general. I guess it’s a bit of an optical illusion where it seems wider than it is.

        • Jeremy April 30, 2023, 12:37 am

          For what it’s worth, I’ve driven a Tesla for 4 years now, and AutoPilot is VERY good at detecting bikers and will automatically move over in the lane when going past them.

          As someone who bikes, I would feel exponentially safer when a Tesla passes me than one of those jacked-up monster pickup trucks.

    • Adam April 28, 2023, 1:45 pm

      Not sure Chris, but you might be thinking about the Tesla model X (or S), which are noticably wider. About 3″ wider than the Y and 6″ wider than the 3

  • Joel April 27, 2023, 7:11 pm

    What are your thoughts on Full Self Driving (FSD)? Any chance that splurge makes it into the “Dedicated Money Wasting Account”?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 27, 2023, 7:12 pm

      No, definitely not! (And thanks for the question, I’ll update this page to include a full section on FSD)

      • Brian May 8, 2023, 8:18 am

        Your other post said “JUST BUY THE BREAD […] you are never going to […] think, shit, if only I had an extra $2.49 in there I would be a happier person.”

        Could the same logic be applied here? Is $15k too much to free up your attention and help pay for engineers to get us slightly closer to an age without drunk drivers, human taxis, etc.?

        • Mr. Money Mustache July 30, 2023, 6:39 pm

          I appreciate the challenge in the cost department :-)

          So, if FSD allowed me to sleep in the car and arrive at my destination, and do things like drop me off and pick me up at the airport, I’d consider it.

          Under Tesla’s the current pricing model, it may be a better value to just subscribe at $200 per month for any months that include super long road trips that are too much for just plain autopilot.

          Cool bonus: thanks to the referral program I have a couple of “free” 3-month FSD trials that I’ll have to use in the coming year, so I look forward to seeing if it makes road trips any better.

  • Rupert April 27, 2023, 8:22 pm

    The carbon footprint report that Volvo generated that compares the XC40 EV to the XC40 ICE is interesting. The ICE version starts out with a lower carbon footprint and the break even point for the EV version depends on the source of electricity used to charge it.

  • Max April 27, 2023, 8:25 pm

    Mr MM is on the Money! Best American product in many many years! Drivers in the entire world want one of these. A Concorde passenger ( now a GrandPa) told us, it reminded him of the plane taking off at Whiplash speed minus the Loud sound of RR Olympus Engines. There is simply no Substitute for a Tesla! Every other Legacy ICE/ EVs are just monkeys on a tree vying for excrements of Tesla! Musk is a clown ( Amadeus version of an Engineer) but US Tesla is the Best Bang for the Buck! Awesome OS, AP/FSD : Chopin in AP at 75 MPH in Congested/ Polluted/ Loud/ Road Rage fueled highways – is Utopia!

  • MJW April 27, 2023, 9:09 pm

    The Model Y just looks wider and taller. Like Mr. Money said, it is not as wide as midsized SUVs and 2.5″ wider than the Model 3 sedan.
    One thing Tesla should do better is have its autopilot recognize bikers better and automatically move over when possible – and slow down if not -, but without depending on the overpriced Full Self Drive Beta to do it.

    • Ernesto April 28, 2023, 9:01 pm

      Every Tesla on the road (w or w/o FSD) slows down to bikers, as we speak ;) [Note: they heard you …]

  • Linda April 27, 2023, 11:08 pm

    Enjoy your new EV! I have a 2021 RWD ID4 that I really like a lot (it came with 3 years of free charging at Electrify America tho I mostly charge at home). I’m in Wisconsin and while my range does take a hit in the winter it’s more than manageable for my driving needs.

  • Fred April 28, 2023, 12:10 am

    I own both a 2019 Model 3 and a 2020 Model Y, love both cars and I drive my Model Y from San Diego to Key West Florida and back 2 years now. It’s a great fun car to drive with plenty of space in the back. Maintenance, new tires and a cabin filter, that’s about it. We get updates almost monthly with new features we don’t have to pay for. On my road trips I’m on Autopilot about 90% of my trips allowing my legs and feet to not be fatigue at all upon arrival. The technology is amazing, I won’t be paying for gas any more. For those wondering about energy cost, on average $15 – $30 a month on your electricity bill if you change during non-peak hours. Those like myself with solar, free energy.

    Fred San Diego Ca.

    • SP April 28, 2023, 11:00 pm

      I’m in the Midwest and have made many cross country trips.uch easier to do than in my gas guzzlers. With FSD it’s a dream to drive. FSD allows you to look around at traffic and even enjoy the scenery. You arrive rested and relaxed like you rode the bus.

      Years ago before getting a Tesla we saw a woman in an old model S in rush hour traffic using autopilot, she was relaxed leaning back in her seat enjoying the drive. That’s when I knew I wanted one. 😊

  • Alexander Wade April 28, 2023, 1:17 am

    Good insurance companies don’t charge a large premium for a Tesla. Year depreciation is probably too high. Enjoy your new car.

  • Kiersten James April 28, 2023, 5:02 am

    What happens in the instance of losing power from a storm or the inability to charge it? At least with a hybrid you can put some gas in and get where you need to.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 28, 2023, 7:58 am

      In a power failure, electric cars are your best friend because they typically have many DAYS worth of household energy in the battery, even if only half full. So not only can you go somewhere, you can also run your basic needs from the car battery if you hook it up right.

      Meanwhile, gasoline pumps also run on electricity, so if there’s no electricity, there’s no gas either.

      Also, you can generate your own power from the sun striking your own property, so if you live somewhere with an unreliable power grid, you no longer need to depend on it.

      • S April 28, 2023, 11:27 am

        I’m curious how you plan to get the electricity out of your battery in the event of a power failure? Teslas don’t have V2G technology, so the only output is the 12V cigarette lighter.

        I survived the Texas freeze of 2021, and one of the most frustrating parts was having was having a huge 75kWh battery mere FEET from my gas furnace, but having zero way to take advantage of that.

        • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2023, 9:18 am

          Yeah, it is a little silly that Teslas don’t have the option for at least a 120V, 10 amp power outlet yet (until the cybertruck)

          With some light wiring, you can pull almost 500 watts from the DC-DC converter, which could be pretty useful in a power failure to keep your fridge running

          But for now the best solution is just a $500 1kWh “solar generator” from Amazon and a portable solar panel or two to keep it charged. This has more than enough juice to plug in the blower of a gas furnace and then Texans can stay warm if there is ever another big freeze / power failure.

          • Jerry April 29, 2023, 11:09 pm

            I’d like to replace my 1994 Toyota with an EV. The model Y would be fine, but will hold out till I see something with V2L. Off grid here, a 75kwh battery for occasiona use in a run of dark days would be worth quite a bit to me.

            Here’s an interesting thread where we learn that getting 400 VDC from the battery out through the NACS port is a software update away. More than just a little silly in my book, it’s a deal breaker. There are 3’rd party inverters available that could make good use of that 400 VDC.


            You are correct; functionally having the car export DC is no different than what it already does while DC fast charging.

            The real problem is that the current BMS firmware does not allow this. And even if you “trick” it to think it is fast charging, so it closes the contactors and puts 350-400V DC on the NACS pins, if you try to draw power out, the BMS faults and opens the contactors. If you also then fake some CAN signals to make the car think the heater, DCDC, and ac compressor are running full blast when they aren’t, you can get it 7-12kW out of it before it shuts you down…

            Tesla could of course solve this for their existing fleet with a simple FW update to enable V2L/V2G, but I don’t think they’ll do this until they have a solution to make that power useful like ford does for the lighting (Eg, an EVSE + house inverter + transfer switch (like their powerwall gateway).

      • Grwwww April 28, 2023, 11:47 am

        There are lots of people who don’t understand that EV owners almost always leave their homes with a full battery. Even during the day, as I come and go, my car is plugged in when it’s at home. Thus, if power goes out, I have enough energy to drive 250+ miles away to another place where I most likely can “live” and charge until power returns to my home location. But as you point out above, you can also hook up an inverter to your EV in many cases, and power things like a single room heater or AC unit and some lights. The high power side of an EVs battery is not something to mess with casually, so most EVs don’t just give you a 480v or 900v outlet to hook something up to. I have a 800watt inverter that I carry in my car. I hook it up to my 12v battery system, and “open” a door to keep the car running so that it will provide power to recharge the 12v battery.

        You can also live out of your EV. The A/C system can be used to keep the car’s temperature at a reasonable level for quite some time. You can park your car in the garage to get out of the hard winds or other weather problems because your car does not output noxious/poisonous gases while “running” the climate control.

        • Charles Burns April 30, 2023, 6:38 pm

          It is best not to fill the battery unless needed, but even at 60-70% full, I have never run into range issues within town. On road trips, of course, it is fine to more thoroughly charge the battery as it will not be at a high state of charge for long.

      • Ernesto April 28, 2023, 9:04 pm

        Pete, I guess you can install solar + storage to allow charging EVEN with the grid goes down …

      • John April 29, 2023, 9:41 am

        All good points. However, note that Tesla has not at this point enabled V2H (Vehicle to Home) or V2G (Vehicle to Grid) power transfer. There is currently no way to get reasonable backup power to appliances in your home from a Tesla. There are rumors that the CyberTruck may support it, and no word on whether this would be retrofittable on a Model Y or not if Tesla ever decides to support for new cars. You can use it for emergency power in the sense of car camping in your garage or driveway in cold winter or hot summer if needed, though.

      • Sean Geiger May 1, 2023, 12:32 pm

        If you want to have a grid-tied solar electric system at home without battery backup, note that selection of the SMA Sunny Boy inverter series provides an isolated 120 VAC, 2000 W emergency outlet. This runs only when the sun is out, and when the inverter controller is powered by a couple of 9 V batteries to bootstrap itself.

        I’ve got 2 arrays with 2 separate SMA inverters at my home in Louisville, CO, and actually used this feature when we had a power outage following a wildfire in Dec. 2021. I had run multiple emergency outlets from the inverters both to the kitchen (for fridge use) and to the garage (for EV charging of my Volt).

        • Mr. Money Mustache May 1, 2023, 1:19 pm

          Wow, super useful info – thanks Sean!

          • Sean May 1, 2023, 10:11 pm

            You’re welcome to come over and check it out sometime!

    • Jeremy April 30, 2023, 12:41 am

      > At least with a hybrid you can put some gas in and get where you need to.

      I think you forget that gas stations have electric pumps that require electricity.

      A 140mph storm hit our city and some areas were without power for 2 weeks. People were driving 30 miles away to get gas and those gas stations had lines.

      My electric vehicle was our bug-out vehicle as it had a full charge due to always being plugged in and had 300 miles range.

      When civilization breaks down gas is not the failsafe you think it is.

  • Dave April 28, 2023, 5:50 am

    Did you consider getting the third row seating? I need seating for six and I’m not sure about the sizing on the third row. I heard it’s pretty cramped.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 28, 2023, 7:53 am

      I’ve sat in there as a test, and found it serviceable except for the headroom (I’m 6’0 and 185 lbs). At my height or beyond, you have to duck your height under the glass a little. But it would be great for smaller people, especially children.

    • Ben April 28, 2023, 1:07 pm

      We just bought a 2016 Model X for about 40K. This has the option to seat up to 7 and even back back seats would not be cramped. HIGHLY RECOMMEND

  • Nick April 28, 2023, 6:22 am

    You arguably picked the best time to get a Model Y when not long ago they were going for $65-70K. With current pricing and tax incentives, it’s not far off from most other new vehicles.

    Elon aside, these are fantastic vehicles (I’ve had 2) with an amazing charging infrastructure and a software experience that just can’t be topped at the moment. I don’t think they’ll hold the lead forever, but they’re accomplishing the mission of leading everyone towards a sustainable future.

    I really appreciated your comments against all of the “problems” people bring up about EVs. Charging, Battery longevity, environmental impact. The less false information the better and hopefully it helps someone unsure into seeing the reality.

  • Isorry123 April 28, 2023, 7:22 am

    Great choice! We have a model 3 with FSD and love it. Currently waiting for cybertruck !

  • Spencer Jones April 28, 2023, 7:23 am

    Great choice! We have a model 3 with FSD and can’t drive a legacy car anymore as a result

  • JB April 28, 2023, 7:39 am

    Thank you for this blog. I’ve been looking into the model Y and am new to the “EV” game. Thank you much.

  • Freedom Farmer April 28, 2023, 8:03 am

    Congrats MMM. I’m stoked to follow all your future electrically powered adventures!

    My wife and I are close, but not fully at true financial indepndence and our 2006 Toyota Prius is on its last legs. Do you have any ev (or ice) recommendations for non-FI folks that need a new vehicle in the next couple of years? I liked the bolt, but saw that Chevy just announced they will be discontinued in favor of larger suv/truck models (the stupidity!).

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 28, 2023, 10:23 am

      The Chevrolet Volt from 2017-2019 is a great plug in hybrid which is an upgrade from the all-gas Prius experience. If you can find one at reasonable cost (under 15k)

      • S April 28, 2023, 11:31 am

        On a related note, I would love to see an updated “cars for smart people” article. Yours is I believe over 10 years old!

      • Joel April 28, 2023, 2:55 pm

        I am selling a 2016 Chevy Volt. If you live in northern California, hit me up! My Volt still gets up to 50 miles on a fully charged battery. I loved the car but it was a bit too small for our single car, 4 person household. We just bought a Chevy Bolt EUV, installed a hitch and a roof rack and am loving it!

      • Lisa April 29, 2023, 9:19 pm

        Hi MMM! It seems like they are only under $15k if they have 100k+ miles on them. It feels sketchy to buy a used car with that many miles. What is your advice for the mileage of used cars? I can’t figure out how to weight getting it as cheap as you can and spending more for less mileage. Thank you!

        • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 12:31 pm

          In the case of used cars not being appropriately discounted, I either delay the purchase until the market wises up, or consider other options, or buy a new car instead.

          Right now, the Chevrolet Bolt is still only $20k brand-new with tax credits, which is a great car at a great deal. Then you can drive it for 5+ years and still probably sell it for almost the same price, since I’m guessing there will still be a shortage of electric cars at that point.

          • Sean Geiger May 1, 2023, 12:06 pm

            I think you meant “BOLT”, MMM. GM discontinued the Volt a few years back.

            • Mr. Money Mustache May 1, 2023, 1:24 pm

              Oops, thanks Sean I can’t believe I had typed that despite having a number of friends with each of those cars. I have now gone back and edited my comment to fix it.

        • Tim May 25, 2023, 9:11 am

          Hi Lisa –
          Good quality cars laugh at 100k miles these days if they are even remotely well cared for. We have two Toyotas with 210k and 265k miles that I would drive anywhere. We’re not in the 80s anymore where 100k miles was nearing the end of life for a vehicle. Buy a well cared for quality car (such as a Honda or Toyota), and 100k miles is just the beginning. Also, I would prioritize a well cared for vehicle over one that was poorly treated with low mileage. A clean interior/exterior and some documented maintenance can be a very good indication of a well cared for vehicle.

          Lots of people use “reliability” and “safety” as an excuse to buy a brand new car, but it’s a farce. As a local used car dealer advertises “Everybody drives a used car”
          Happy Shopping!

    • Martin Birnie April 30, 2023, 8:56 am

      I’ve been in the EV ownership since 2012….first was a Volt..90 miles of commute everyday. Over my 18 months of ownership, 31 kmiles and 30 gals. Of gas. Blew past range anxiety about Feb of 2013. October of 2013, got a Tesla MS P85 and drove 2 commute trips per charging session. I used the Leviton L2 charger I installed for the Volt…using PSE utility at $0.12 per KW. Retired from Seattle area and moved to sunny, warm Bay Area. 2017 came and upgraded to Tesla MX for the extra room as we travel with 2 standard poodles.

      Fast forward to 2023..and there are many more choices of EVs. I would look at the not yet produced Volvo EX-90, it promises the V2G support to keep your home powered up. It’s a better ride, just as safe as a Tesla, and better quality. Yes, upfront expenses, but every year of driving pays dividends you’ll not get from any ICE, PHEV, or other EV not supporting V2G.

  • Carlos Galvis April 28, 2023, 10:00 am

    Thank you for easing the average person’s fear of EVs. Your thoughtful, unbiased, articulate analysis deserves it’s own column in major newspapers all over our great nation.

  • Tom S April 28, 2023, 10:05 am

    Interesting read and very understandable behavior from your life situation and needs.
    My situation does not call for a an SUV sized transportation solution now. I am very happy with our solar home charged 2021 LEAF and an ICE SUV for longer trips combo. But I am curious about one aspect of the Model Y – that huge sunroof and how tolerable it would be in the sunny Southwest climate or summer road trips.

  • Frank Pearman April 28, 2023, 12:04 pm

    Just placed my order for a model Y long range, before reading your good article. I own a 2015 Honda Accord hybrid, which is a series hybrid and at low speeds only one of the two electric motor/generators is connected to the front wheels so the car drives very much like an electric car and has convinced me to next go BEV. Back in October 2022 we were planning a road trip over Christmas and the New Year to Florida and my wife, who had read that Hertz was renting an electric vehicles, suggested we rent one for the trip. Not cheap, but a fraction of the price of a new one. My wife also wanted to be sure that we could make such trips without too much hassle. It took a little planning, my wife is good at that, to find hotels that would accept our dog and had a destination chargers. Over a month we drove nearly 3,800 miles traveling from Chicago to Key West and back. A couple of minor issues, but overall a great success. The vehicle route planning including superchargers and the remaining battery percentages predictions were excellent. Taking a 20 to 30 minute break every couple of hours actually works very well. Dog mode is also a great feature. If you are thinking of going BEV, but are not sure renting one might be a great option to find out. Looking forward to taking delivery and yes the recent price cuts helped making the final decision. White, black and white interior, and 19 inch wheels (no tow hitch).

  • Ny Money Hawk April 28, 2023, 1:17 pm

    I bought virtually the same car as MMM a couple months ago (minus the tow hitch). Traded in a 2004 Honda Accord. Love the Tesla so far. Until you experience the difference it’s hard to describe but it’s unbelievably better and more fun driving.

    I have an observation and a question on the charging.

    Observation- I get easily 5+ miles range per hour charging via a standard outlet. Tesla says 3-4 but I think it’s outdated and inaccurate. I heard they improved the underlying charging SW a year or two ago so maybe it improved and they didn’t update the estimate.

    I believe most people would get enough range just from a standard outlet, if they plug in overnight.

    However I have heard you lose some charging efficiency.

    Ie some amount (say 10%) of the electricity is wasted in the charging process and doesn’t make it into the battery, but a faster charging solution wastes a lesser amount (say 3%). I don’t the exact numbers but that’s the idea I have heard several places.

    So for me I don’t need to upgrade the charger for range and I would have to pay roughly $1400 (that was one quote; I am not comfortable DIY). From ROI perspective and hassle it’s not worth it, but I’m also conscious and factor in some the environmental impact of using less electricity. Wondering if any other Tesla owners have a view on the leakage in efficiency gap between standard outlet and fast charging solutions.

    • Adam April 28, 2023, 3:12 pm

      Interesting question, so I looked into this. Disclaimer – I haven’t done any kill-a-watt logging / testing on this myself, but I have read that the wall connector (220V) charges the battery approx 5% more efficiently than the mobile connector (110V), so increased power bill / resulting emissions would be in this range. I have averaged about $40 additional per month for charging my car in CO (Xcel energy is my utility & I drive about 12k miles/yr). For me, the 200V charging saves maybe $25/year on the bill. At .35 kg CO2/kWh, the 220V would decrease CO2 emissions by approx 60 kg per yr. Tailpipe emissions are around 1/3rd for EVs vs. ICE cars, so way bigger reduction there, but it looks like you could improve further by going with a 220V charger.

      For background, I bought a model 3 in 2019 and installed the 220V wall connector after having the car a few months. TBH I didn’t consider the efficiency angle. I did it mainly because I was getting a little frustrated at having to think about “catching up” on charging over the course of a 2-3 days if I had run the battery way down. The 220V charging is just so nice because no matter how low your battery is, it can easily be recharged to 100% (or whatever level you set) overnight. It just takes any mental energy for planning out of the equation.

      I’m not an electrician, but do have some experience with home wiring. I pulled a permit and DIY’d the wall connector install, which honestly wasn’t too tough – there are a lot of installation resources out there. If you read up on it you may decide it’s doable on your own. The biggest issue usually comes down to whether you have room / capacity in your existing box, and the run from breaker box to charger location. The PITA to upgrade your box or route that 4 or 6 gauge wire (depending on length of run) might be worth hiring an electrician! If you have room / capacity in your existing box and the wire routing isn’t too bad, the rest of it is really pretty simple. Of course 220V can be dangerous, so don’t attempt if you’re unsure.

      Good luck & congrats on your new ride – I think you’ll really like it.

      • Ny Money Hawk April 29, 2023, 7:11 am

        Thanks very much for the insights and feedback.

        I think I’ll probably just keep it as as for now but always have the option of upgrading in the future.

    • Ernesto April 28, 2023, 9:14 pm

      I’m assuming when you say standard outlet, you’re referring to a 240V NEMA 14-50 (or alike)? If so, you’re right = when you charge via 120/240V you’re using the on-board inverter aka you loose effciency since you’re converting AC-to-DC …
      Now, DC fast charging is way more efficient since it by-passes the inverter and goes directly to the battery. Now, frequent fast charging will impact the longevity of the battery for sure. However, Tesla’s have the best “pre-conditioning” algos out there ;)
      Enjoy your Model Y …

    • Peter April 28, 2023, 9:55 pm

      I have some data on this as reported by the car and gathered via open source software called TeslaMate. With a standard 120v outlet charging around 1kw/hr the car reports 80% efficiency. With a 240v outlet at ~9.6kw/hr it reports around 99% efficiency.

      • Ny Money Hawk April 29, 2023, 7:24 am

        Thanks for sharing the data. If it is a 20% loss that’s pretty significant.

        I have heard it also varies quite a bit based on the conditions, ie charging in cold weather is a bigger efficiency drain for the 120v because more goes to heating the battery etc.

        I haven’t crunched the numbers but I definitely seem to get a little more than 1kw per hour into the battery, like in 8 hours around 9.8 kw. So I think the drain is there but maybe less than 20% for me. Sometime when I have the spare time and energy I’ll try to calculate it for my exact situation.

        • Unlimited Solar June 12, 2023, 10:02 pm

          L2 charging is more efficient than L1, because the car goes back to sleep sooner. My old Model S uses a minimum of 300 watts while awake, all though the newer cars have much more efficient computers. Teslas stay awake and run safety checks while charging, but they use far less power while sleeping.

          After the charge completes, Teslas go to sleep, even while still plugged in. Then they wake up periodically to check the charge level. If they’ve used 2% since reaching your charge limit, they recharge again back up to your preset limit.

    • SP April 28, 2023, 11:23 pm

      I thought it was the opposite. Fast charging higher current creates more heat, more heat = energy lost. Slow charging is less current= less heat = less waste.

      You should charge off peak when there’s excess electricity and the only waste is not using it.
      We’ve been charging from a standard 120v outlet for over 2 years. Takes 15 seconds to charge, plug in when we get home, unplug when we leave. 😁
      I switched to time based billing and about to install 240v but lately I’ve found a free level 2 charger near my work and use that once a week. I have a full charge waiting for me after work.

  • Adam April 28, 2023, 2:05 pm

    Congrats on your splurge purchase MM – I’m going on year four with a model 3 here in CO and there is really no comparison to my old ICE vehicles. I would like the extra room of a Y, but jumped in before they were available. I am 100% aligned with your take on Mr. Musk – unnecessarily divisive, but doesn’t change the nature of the incredible Tesla product. Financially it makes sense to look at Total Cost of Ownership. Of course, insurance costs quite a bit more due to the value of the car and it being new. Likewise, the registration fees are higher than an old beater, but I believe those will largely be offset over time from the gasoline and maintenance savings. Resale value ends up being the driver of TCO for a relatively short ownership period. Impossible to say what the future holds, but the Tesla resale values have held up better than just about any new car in recent years. Analyses have found that a model 3 is cheaper to own than a Camry over just a few years.
    All in all I have to say your purchase timing with incentives in effect makes this a very mustchian move – enjoy!

  • Jeff Schank April 28, 2023, 2:41 pm

    Hello MMM,

    Did you consider buying a used Model Y on Facebook Marketplace? A lot of people don’t understand the future value of the 15K FSD upgrade so they tend to vastly undervalue it when selling the car used, especially if they have not seen V11 of FSD Beta, which in my opinion is the first time it is truly eye popping – especially since it upgrades the highway driving. I was able to purchase a single owner, clean title, 2020 Model y with 21K miles with upgraded wheels, white interior and FSD Beta for 40K. (plus 5% Wisconsin sales tax when titleing it). It still has plenty of factory warranty remaining as well. Cheers.

  • Mark Andrew April 28, 2023, 5:38 pm

    Congratulations on the purchase! I’ve been a long time reader and as someone who took the plunge on a Model 3 years ago, I’m thrilled to see it. Also really liked your explanation on the Elon factor (or rather non-factor) in your purchase. You’ll love the car, can’t wait to read your updates about it.

    FWIW – I get 4-5 miles of charge per hour plugging into a standard outlet. Many people have no idea you can even do this–this meets the needs of a ton of people!

  • Justin April 28, 2023, 6:37 pm

    Where did you get that roof spoiler for the Y? Looks awesome!

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2023, 8:08 am

      I used the famous Midjourney AI art program to generate the “Model Y at a campsite” image used in the original article as well as the one at the top of this page.

      It’s not really a model Y – more of a mashup of a model 3 and a Mazda3 hatchback, but I thought it looked cool and couldn’t get Midjourney to make anything better after quite a few different attempts. So I decided to go with this one. Until I can get a pic of my OWN model Y at a campsite in the near future!

  • Quiche April 28, 2023, 6:51 pm

    Nice purchase. We just picked up a LR AWD Y last weekend (7 seater). It’s incredible!

  • Jason April 28, 2023, 7:34 pm

    I’ve had a model Y for 2 years. Best car I’ve ever owned. It’s on track to be the best selling car in the world this year.
    Bonus for me is that I can charge at work for free!

  • Ian April 28, 2023, 9:35 pm

    Why did you go for the Model Y instead of the smaller (and less expensive, especially for the SR+) Model 3? Curious to hear your thoughts as the smaller, more efficient, cheaper car seems more your style.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 29, 2023, 7:21 am

      I agree, the model 3 is an amazing value for a car if your primary purpose is just to transport yourself and other people. And because of that, YES, most cars we see on the roads during the daily commute or errands should be the model 3 RWD or something similar.

      In my case, I use my bikes for all of those trips, and then I only use cars when carrying things too big for a bike trailer, typically for inter-city or inter-state trips. So I wanted something with a hatchback opening and lots of interior cargo space.

      If the model 3 came at LEAST in the form of a proper hatchback instead of the silly sedan shape with a tiny trunk opening, I would have probably chosen that. (I have rented them several times in the past and found it super frustrating to even fit in something as basic as a cooler or a sliding compound miter saw into the trunk!)

  • Jerry H April 28, 2023, 11:29 pm

    My problem with the Model Y is that, once I got one, I found myself driving a lot more since the cost of travel dramatically decreased compared to my already sort of efficient Jetta and because of its fun factor. Taking more trips to see the fam, driving my friends around town, car camping trips (love camping in the thing), etc… I guess it’s not really a problem, life is just more full.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 8, 2023, 12:21 pm

      Update from six months of ownership: SAME HERE!

      For example, I’ve gone from trying to be practical about airport transport (because it’s a 90 mile roundtrip to my house on a toll road so Uber is usually a better choice than driving) to now EVERYBODY gets the full pickup and dropoff service because why not!?

  • Jake April 29, 2023, 1:27 am

    Congratulations! I have configured a model Y with that exact same configuration. Haven’t pulled the trigger because my car is only 7 years old. Very interested in hearing your updates. In particular on cost (in dollars and environment) as you drive it and if you have any issues with road trips. I think my driving habits will be very similar to yours. I live on the west side of Denver, just installed solar panels that should have plenty of capacity for an EV, and mostly drive to Costco and Keystone, but take the occasional road trip (with a couple bikes on a tow hitch rack).

    • Ryan May 1, 2023, 6:25 pm

      I’ve had a Y for nearly 3 years and love it. However the energy consumption is 50% greater with a bike rack on the back. This knocks the highway range down to under 140 miles.

      • Mr. Money Mustache November 8, 2023, 12:27 pm

        I’ve done lots of bike rack driving too. My own testing showed only about a 15% hit to the range (with one mountain bike with XL frame and 27.5″ tires). Since I can get about 300 miles highway in normal conditions, the bike would cut it down to about 250 miles.

        I think the key is to keep the bike as low to the road and close to the car as practical. I welded up my own hitch-mount bike rack that is based on standard Thule trays, so I could set the bike exactly where I wanted it. Here’s a pic of it in action, carrying my bike AND a random table :-)

  • Steven Langston April 29, 2023, 3:16 am

    I too am frugal, except when it comes to my toys. A new Tesla M3Performance which is babied for battery care reasons, charged only when solar surplus is available and never thrashed. I also am an Apple ecosystem adherant.

  • Hirav P April 29, 2023, 6:00 am

    Could you please provide the source for 25 cents per kWh average cost for charging at Tesla supercharger?

    I bought a used Model S with free unlimited supercharging for life and have been driving that for the past 4 years so while I never pay a dime at supercharger I have seen average price to be around 35-40 cents per KW for the past year or so and this up from 20-22 cents per kWh average just 3-4 years ago when I bought my car.

    • John April 29, 2023, 10:53 am

      I wondered about the 25 cents average too. I also believe that is old data based on pricing I’ve seen when supercharging in the last year. Much more in the range Hirav found.

  • Mihai April 29, 2023, 7:44 am

    Congratulations on your Model Y, you will love it. Had mine for 2.5 years now and I still think it’s one of the best cars I’ve driven. Cheap to operate too, my only maintenance costs so far were $100 for new wipers and cabin air filters and $1400 for a set of new tires at 35K miles. And according to the in-app cost savings calculator, we are saving about $300 every month vs an equivalent gas car.

    I would like to say that your range/charging notes are not entirely accurate. 300+ miles of range should be considered more like an aspirational goal, achievable if all stars align: you drive 55-60mph on flat terrain, with no significant load and no AC/heating. More realistic range would be 250miles, and make that 200 miles in freezing temps. And considering the realistic range, to recover 200 miles at a Supercharger (which translates to 80% charge) you will probably have to charge for around 30-40 minutes. But you’re right on point about the prevalence of the SC network, compared to EA and others.

  • Rob N April 29, 2023, 8:28 am

    MMM, we too are part of the FI family and find it hard to spend in our retirement. I was not as young as you when I retired at 48 but every day is a good day not going into an office. We purchased our Model Y the day of the big price cuts (cheaper now by $1000) and we love it. Enjoy the Y and ignore the haters. I am sure you have read it but I recently read Die with Zero by Bill Perkins and it did significantly change my outlook to spend a little more on things like a Tesla.

  • TP April 29, 2023, 3:05 pm

    MMM, Congratulations on your new Model Y!
    I’m torn between the standard range and the Long Range (LR). Would you be able to share your thought process on the decision to go with the LR? Thanks a lot!

  • Allan April 29, 2023, 4:06 pm

    Have you considered looking into Tesla’s own insurance product? I hear people are savings thousands of dollars every years under their plans in some states.

  • Jeanne April 29, 2023, 9:49 pm

    MMM- the most telling fact I can relate to you is that both my boys are fans, in their late 20’s early 30’s. They. Are. Listening.
    Not that we always agree… but we appreciate the logical problem-solving and balanced human approach to lifestyle.

    I have a 2022 Model Y as part of my Tesla Ecosystem (Elon be a kind and benevolent all powerful one please).
    The solar roof and Powerwall have been a great investment more than financially. We have reliability in winter snow storms; power when summer wind storms threaten wildfires; power to sell back for future credits to our bill, and a car charging at a very low rate that has saved us money in gas and worry when gas is not available in our area due to storms.
    We also have the Tesla Starlink for travel and emergencies.
    But I do have to repeat the cliche, as you probably know now, that Tesla is a different paradigm.
    Range anxiety. Muscle memory- 40 years of driving cars and rolling up windows with a handle. The Digital Flood (that’s what I call it when my age might be part of the problem interpreting all the screen data- you may not be there yet).
    Winter. Dual motor is great, but the tires on the car you buy are optimized for performance and not extreme winter conditions. After a 4 hour nightmare that only ended with help from 3 different neighbors (who all got wine the next day), I finally got home one night in January. And this winter in Tahoe has been record setting, with over 45 feet at our house. So new serious winter tires plus traction pads, winter clothes in the frunk, tow ropes and hitches, shovels and road flares, snacks and water, we made it.
    Another lesson- if you change tires, you need these special jack pads you can order.. Maybe not if you do it yourself and are relatively smart, but Tires Plus insists.
    Anyway, my hope is you can find what you need and also what you want! . I LOVE this car even though I learned a lot the hard way. It is a delight to drive, to share and to ride in.
    One more note, the social side has been a bit wonky. Some friends are overly impressed. Some don’t notice. Some I feel compelled to explain to technically. Some I feel slightly apologetic to, since they don’t think past the California stereotype which is like any stereotype, only true SOMETIMES.
    It was a wonderful splurge, and by the way, I have also gone back to work in a great part time situation, which I am enjoying anyway, so my parting thought is: find your balance, and if Tesla is part of that, GOOD for you!!!!
    PS ny engineering son has worked for them for years so I really had no choice you know?
    Hold out for the Cybertruck. And do you LOVE Dogmode?

  • matt April 29, 2023, 10:21 pm

    Potentially stupid question – but how are you qualifying for the Federal EV incentive? Perhaps I’m grossly overestimating the amount of money a blog like this is taking in, or grossly underestimating the amount of deductions you’re able to claim come tax time – but the federal income limit is set at a rather conservative $150k.

  • Karl W April 29, 2023, 11:30 pm

    I drove a Model Y for a couple of weeks. In general I am sympathetic to the idea of an electric car, especially for anyone living and driving primarily in a city, where air pollution can be a big problem. But basically I hated the car, which is a strong verb for someone who has driven a 1985 Mercedes diesel for 20 odd years. The electric car concept has several shortcomings and this car in particular is kind of cheap for what it is and rides like a skateboard. Problems with the car:
    1. Suspension, as mentioned, is rather akin to a radio flyer wagon. Driving the model Y over speed bumps is like riding a bull, and the rest of it is so stiff in roll that any small surface irregularity causes your entire upper body to wiggle back and forth sideways.
    2. The interior is approximately the quality of a low end Toyota, only not as good as a Toyota. What they call Vegan Leather is the cheapest dollar a yard vinyl out of India. I bet Elon laughs every time he says Vegan Leather. Not much sound deadening. Lots of road noise. For 50 plus grand a Lexus is a vastly superior machine any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    3. Having to do everything on a screen is a special version of hell. Figuring out what submenu the power switch is on is really not anything I want to ever do.
    4. 110v charging is a joke. I couldnt get enough range overnight to drive to work and back the next day. This is a huge issue because installing 240v chargers in Los Angeles is just about impossible for anyone living in an apartment or condo, between permits, fights with condo owners, designing a system, finding someone to install it for less than a kings ransom, etc. I was shocked at how useless the car is on 110v
    5. The electric cars dont save any CO2 until you drive them for 5 years. I figure the most important thing any of us can do is to just not buy a new car of any type very often, from a co2 standpoint. Yes an electric car would come out better over 20 years, but just not buying a new gas (or electric) car every 3-5 years saves so much CO2 that the fuel you burn in an old diesel over 20 years is about a wash against an electric car every 5 years or four times as good as a new gas car every 5 years.
    6. Electric cars are really not that efficient. There are big transmission losses and inverter losses in electric vehicle power production and consumption which are often not included in any estimates of efficiency.
    7. Using the charger network on any busy weekend or holiday road trip is just a joke. Sure it only takes 30min for a full supercharge, but fat lot of good that will do when tbe line for the charger is 20 cars deep ir you drive 10 miles to a charger only to find a gas car parked in front of it or that it is out of order. We have about a tenth of the infrastructure required to convert even half the population to electric cars for primary transport.
    8. These electric cars are way too heavy. Dedicating roads to smaller electrics is the right thing to do to save co2. Electric Skateboards, electric bikes etc are vastly more efficient than electric cars but will never be as safe until infrastructure is dedicated to their use. Here in CA tbe weather is no excuse.

    Leasing a chevy bolt is a way smarter move than buying a tesla. You will need a gas car for longer trips anyway, especially in winter when battery range sucks. So a cheap electric car plus a cheap gas car is probably the best of both worlds.

    And yes, not spending money when you can afford to, on things you would truly enjoy or benefit from, is just a form of puritanical self hatred. Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Admittedly, most people cannot afford to spend much if they really think it through.

    • Ian May 4, 2023, 10:05 am

      If you’re comparing keeping a diesel car for 20 years, you need to compare it to keeping an EV for 20 years.

      That or compare new EV every 5 years to new diesel every 5 years.

  • Aubrey April 30, 2023, 5:54 am

    Is there a way to get email updates when this project page is updated?

  • Nice Joy April 30, 2023, 6:19 am

    Great job MMM. Supporting 100%

  • Charles Burns April 30, 2023, 6:30 am

    Congratulations on your fun new crossover! I think you will find benefit in some lesser-mentioned notes:
    – No more dodgy gas stations
    – What little maintenance does exist can come to you, on a day when Tesla will already be in your area so they, too, save time and electricity.

    If you want to maximize your battery longevity, consider reading at or other scientific sources, but the short version is: Keep your battery from high or low states of charge for prolonged periods. 50-60% is ideal, though wear increases exponentially at extremes. It isn’t worth stressing over, but it also isn’t worth charging to 90+% when your planned Costco trip takes only 5% capacity.

  • NK April 30, 2023, 9:12 am

    Congrats Pete! Quick question on the tax credit – seems like it has a cut-off based on net income, which I expect you or anyone else considering this splurge well exceed. How did you plan around that? Move income to another year or take more expenses this year? Or did you just add that in to the cost and still think it’s worth it?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 11:06 am

      Good point – I’m easily under that income limit these days, but many people reading this will be over it ($150k if filing alone, $300k for married filing jointly).

      So, yeah they would just have to update the numbers for their own situation and make the decision. Because I happen to get a particular enjoyment of not buying/burning gasoline AND the much greater handling and performance of a Tesla versus almost any other car, I’m willing to pay more for one. But the tax credits certainly help make it an even easier choice.

  • Aziz Hassouneh April 30, 2023, 10:17 am

    I really like the mental exercise you did to arrive at what makes a lot of sense in terms of justifying the purchase without abandoning the general posture of frugality. My story is that I have wanted a Tesla for 5+ years, I work in tech and so many of my friends and colleagues have them. However I shyed away from the cost, or the cost of any new car for that matter. However in January of this year when the new $7500 tax credit became eligble for Teslas again, I used that as an opportunity to look at the used Tesla marked and look for people wanting to switch up. I found someone selling a 2019 Model 3 Dual Motor with 73k miles on it, original owner, and I managed to bargain it to 25k. So my question is did you consider used before deciding on the full 52k price of a new one?


    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 11:04 am

      Congrats Aziz!

      In the case of the model Y, I found that the used prices weren’t any lower than new ones (remember the number to compare when cross-shopping is around $44k since there are no tax credits for used cars here, and you still have to pay sales tax). And the model 3 is of no use for my needs because it’s not a hatchback.

      So I take the price of a used car, and subtract about 15-20 cents per mile for the mileage accrued. With 73k miles, I’d want a used car to be $11,000-$15,000 cheaper than a new equivalent. With some fudge factor to account for the model year as well since newer Teslas tend to have more kinks ironed out and thus be more reliable.

      I’ve always used this equation when choosing between used and new cars, and usually it leads me to buying a used one. In this case, new was just a better value so I chose that instead.

  • Robin Mason April 30, 2023, 12:16 pm

    Congrats on the Tesla purchase.
    Did you ever consider the Rivian as it seems more useful to you than a Tesla with regards to construction and camping and I believe it gets more mileage per charge?
    I realize it’s probably around 80k in the US. Was it cost prohibitive?

    All the best and thank you for your posts.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 1:27 pm

      Hi Robin,

      Rivian is a great company, but the vehicles aren’t right for me because:
      1) far higher energy consumption (almost double the model Y!)
      2) Pickup truck actually has LESS useful indoor space than model Y, while pickup beds are mostly wasted space because the gear is hard to access.
      3) Their SUV (R1S) is more useful, but still not a great design because of 4)
      4) Vehicles are jacked up and optimized for off-road use, whereas I drive on roads so I want something that is low to the ground
      5) Long waiting list because they are just getting started in production
      6) Yes, the price is about double that of the model Y
      7) No supercharger network so it’s much harder as well as more expensive to do roadtrips

      Model Y is already a perfect vehicle short of being a minivan, so there really no competition for my use case.

      If Tesla made a RWD Model Y that was lighter and with even more range, I’d choose that.

  • James Lamm April 30, 2023, 12:42 pm

    Do you have cases where you have to wait very long for a charging station? If think that on road trips, there’s would be cases where all the available chargers would be in use by people inside a nearby restaurant and your have to wait a long time to access one.

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 1:19 pm

      There are definitely situations where the Tesla charging stations are overfilled and you don’t get a slot right away. Typically during peak road trip times like Friday afternoons and long weekend travel days, and especially at certain California stops where there are SO MANY TESLAS in the area.

      The longest I’ve had to wait so far was about five minutes, which I still consider pretty unpleasant – mainly because the queue of waiting cars feels a bit unruly and uncertain. Tesla is definitely expanding the charging network very quickly (although they’re also selling Model 3s and Ys very quickly), so we will see how this balances out.

      My main solution to this is to take advantage of my retired-man status to just avoid traveling during these peak times, which is what I have always done in the past even in the gasoline era. I love having the roads mostly to myself. And when you visit a Supercharger station that is mostly empty, it is a very pleasant experience – much nicer than being at a gas station.

  • Tyler Johnson April 30, 2023, 12:46 pm

    Thanks MMM,

    What color of of model Y are you getting? You have to pay $1000-$2000 to get any other color.

    I was looking at getting white. White shows the least scratches and also reflects heat. Also if I get bored of the color, I can get a wrap in the future.

  • Carlos Villanueva April 30, 2023, 1:06 pm

    After driving an Xa toyota scion for 19 years and a Honda Odyssey for 10, I upgraded my family of 5 to what I think is the sweet spot for transportation efficiency for the advanced mustachian family:
    – 2023 7 seater Model Y
    – 2023 Toyota Sienna Hybrid

    The above is the best money I have expend in a long time.

    Nowadays our kids almost always have friends tagging along so the 7 seater was a must.
    When I bike (3/5 weekdays), my wife uses the Model Y.
    We are filling the tank on the Sienna once every 1-2 months.
    I find that the cost for long distance travel is the same for the model Y and the Sienna so we used the Sienna for family travel, due to greater space.
    I do use the Model Y for Rock climbing trips and when traveling alone for work.

    I almost made the huge mistake of buying a Chevy Bolt. If it wasn’t for the Model Y price drop I would have been stuck with a car that would have been useless for Rock climbing trips or work travel. I feel that sources like Consumer Reports don’t emphasize this enough.

  • Frank Cicero April 30, 2023, 3:04 pm

    Hello , best of luck with your new dream machine . As for me I might buy a minivan and covert the inside to a camper and you would be amazed how relatively comfortable you could live in it .

  • Lee April 30, 2023, 5:54 pm

    MMM, could you tell me more about your towing experience? How many miles/kWh you are getting or ballpark lower efficiency? I’ve got an ‘08 Ford F-150 and the transmission is going out and I’m tired of having a 15 mpg truck. I only drive that about 4K miles a year because we I drive a Nissan Leaf as a commuter. Would love to trade for a Tesla and a 600 lb 10’ trailer. Are there limitations on how heavy the trailer can be and how much the Tesla can tow?

    • Mr. Money Mustache April 30, 2023, 6:36 pm

      Hi Lee, I haven’t even received the Y yet but I’ll do some numbers once I get a chance to hook up the trailer. The penalty of trailer towing grows exponentially with speed, plus I only tow around town so there’s no practical effect for me at all (because it will never use any significant portion of the battery charge)

      However, most people find that when towing a trailer at high speeds, their range is cut in half. For a super long range vehicle like the model Y/Rivian/F150 lightning, this is often still more than enough if you are using the rig for trades work or deliveries. It’s only the interstate travel trailer situation that would be inconvenient with an E-truck. Which is something I wouldn’t want to do with a gas truck either, because I don’t like burning so much gas.

    • Unlimited Solar June 16, 2023, 10:32 pm

      People are shocked when I make a delivery with my 5×10 trailer behind my Tesla, then even more so when I tell them Model S and X are rated for 5,000 lbs towing. Model 3 is 2,000 or 2,500 and I believe Model Y is 3,500 lbs towing.


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