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Tesla Model S - Gas Free No Gas

Freedom from Gasoline

My primary car starting in 2001 was a then-new BMW M3 E46. It was nimble, it was quick, it was exciting, and it was stylish and well admired. I enjoyed it for years, and it was the right car for me then. It was so successful and redefining its part of the industry that many other automakers spent years creating their own answer to that edition of M3.

As time went on, I married and started a family. After a decade of M3 ownership my family was about to outgrow my M3, so I paid attention to the newer line of cars. I rode in a colleague's 2010 4-door M3, but came away with a surprisingly negative impression: how could BMW forget the M3's soul? Then I looked at sport sedans from major automakers and discovered that they could not outperform my M3. I was sorely disappointed with the (gas car) auto industry: how could they become so complacent and neglect to significantly improve upon late-1990's technology?

So I waited and held out as long as I could looking for something clearly, not incrementally, better.

I did not seriously consider Tesla until I sat in a store-demo Model S in early 2012, and it really got me thinking. After researching the Model S after its initial launch, I committed to buying one in August 2012.

2001 BMW M3

Carbon metallic black M3

Comparison 2013 Tesla Model S P85

Blue Tesla Model S

275 milesMaximum range on a fill-up265 miles
19 city / 21 highwayMPG / MPGe89
$55-$60 (Premium gas required)Cost per "fill-up"Under $10
Drive to a gas station every few daysTypical refuel/recharge scheduleMidnight to 3 am
15 minutes driving + 5 minutes refueling and paying + Gas Station Line ... waiting Human time spent per typical refuel2 seconds conveniently plugging in at home Tesla Plug In
VariableTypical daily starting range240 miles
4-ish Seats5 + 2
2 Doors4
3.2L Inline 6 (E46)
- hundreds of moving parts,
rubbing, vibrating, and shaking
Engine/MotorRear-mounted AC induction motor
- no permanent magnets, no rare-earth metals,
no brushes, one moving part
6-speed manualTransmissionDirect 9.73:1
- no gearbox, no clutch, no torque converter
$900-$2000 per year; $5500 in 2011 Maintenance costs~$500 per year (prepaid $1900 for 4 years)
333 hpPower416 hp (320 kW)
8000 rpmRedline18,000 rpm
4.6 seconds0-60 time4.2 seconds

The M3 is an excellent car. I enjoyed it for over a decade, and, short of a V12, it's definitely the best-sounding gas engine I know with its inherently balanced inline-6 engine. (The V8 has power in a small space, but I don't like the V8 sound: LLRRLR)

But as good as it is, the M3 has been clearly surpassed. Now that I drive the Model S, the M3 and all other gas cars feel clunky and lurchy and powered by outdated, noisy, overcomplicated monstrosities. They're not fun anymore. I found I no longer like the rumble, the shake, the smells, and the noises of the gas engine and its transmission, jiggling my innards and wearing me out after a long drive. While I still admire the engineering accomplishments the M3 represents, it also represents the pinnacle of the bygone gas-engine technology of the 20th century. My feeling is the same I would have for a beautiful 19th-century-tech steam locomotive: I can admire its impressive engineering, but why would I possibly want to own one? Especially next to a 21st-century Model S.

Carbon metallic black M3 Lake Arrowhead
M3 in Lake Arrowhead, 2003
Goodbye to the Past and Hello to the Future

Within a month of owning the Model S, the M3 sat, un-driven. In fact, it was the M3's battery that failed a month after my Model S arrived, ironically because I neglected to charge it, requiring a visit to the BMW dealership to replace. Over $600 later (more than the price of an everything-but-the-tires Model S annual service), it was restored, and I bought and hooked up a battery maintainer and filled it with a gasoline stabilizer.

Meanwhile the Model S exceeded my expectation to assume the practical daily family car role and relegate the M3 to be the "fun car". Seeing little sense in paying for insurance and preventative maintenance for a car I barely drive, I couldn't even rationalize keeping this gas car as a "toy" or "trophy", proving I'm no Jay Leno.

Blue Model S Lake Arrowhead
Model S in Lake Arrowhead, 2014
So, in June 2014, after 13 years being its first owner and primary driver, I sold my M3. While I have a lot of great memories using that particular M3, like I would for a house I used to live in, I also celebrate my freedom from gas-engine technology, not for the environmental effects, but because I'm no longer troubled by its many inconveniences and costs. I'm done with gas. Maybe that's the way it should be.

The Dependable, Reliable Electric Family Car that Leaves the Competition in the Dust

I hardly drive my wife's car even though my name is on its title, so for all practical purposes I have only one car now. The Model S is my primary, daily family vehicle, and the "fun car". At 23,000 miles and 18 months and counting and with the performance, the convenience, the savings, the capacity, and the driving pleasure, it's working out beautifully.

I am gas free.

Dean E. Dauger holds a Ph. D. in physics from UCLA, where his group created the first Mac cluster in 1998. Dr. Dauger is the award-winning author in multiple American Institute of Physics' Software Contests and co-authored the original, award-winning Kai's Power Tools image-processing package for Adobe Photoshop. After founding his company, Dauger Research, Inc., its debut product, Pooch, derived from Dr. Dauger's experience using clusters for his physics research, was soon awarded as "most innovative" by IEEE Cluster and continues to revolutionize parallel computing and clusters worldwide with its patented technology.

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