What It’s Like to Own Model S Long Term

Receiving a software update in his Model S takes Dante Richardson back to being a kid with a bag of Cracker Jacks. With every bag he would wonder, ‘What’s going to be in this one?’ There was always a mystery toy waiting to be discovered.

With his Model S updates it’s a feeling of excitement and anticipation. He especially likes knowing that the changes being made are things that are going to be helpful and useful to his driving experience.

Richardson, a physician who lives in Washington DC, is one of many Tesla owners in love with a car that keeps updating itself. The over-the-air updates add all kinds of functionality and features to Model S from trip-planning tools to location-based smart air suspension.

Over 120,000 miles driven

Software updates are just one of many reasons Richardson’s affection for his Model S has grown over the two years he has owned it. “I don’t know if it’s the software updates or some of the other changes that have occurred with the car, but I find myself increasingly enamored and happy with the car as time has passed,” says Richardson. And he has plenty of data to draw on: he has driven the Model S more than 120,000 miles, further than any other individual Tesla owner on the planet.

Richardson has long been interested in electric cars and in 2009 was planning to convert his own internal combustion engine vehicle to electric. He joined an electric vehicle club to find out about the latest technology and in the midst of his research came across the Tesla Roadster, the electric sports car that accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and gets 245 miles of range. “Fantastic,” he thought.

While the two-door car didn’t exactly suit his driving needs, it put Tesla on his radar. In 2010, he discovered Model S was on its way. “Fantastic,” he thought again. Richardson placed an order immediately. The day he took delivery of his Model S in December 2012 he set off on a trip from Washington DC to Miami, FL, a distance of more than 1,000 miles.  

Free traveling thanks to Superchargers

Richardson’s first drive required extensive planning and overnight charging stops along the way. It took more than a week. Now, things have changed.

Superchargers now cover the country, enabling free electric travel up and down the coasts and across the country. There are more than 190 Supercharging stations in North America, covering more than 80 percent of the US population. Recently, Richardson did the same DC-to-Florida trip in just 15 hours.

“It’s mind boggling how much things have changed,” says Richardson. “Never in my greatest imagination would I have thought that Tesla would have made this much progress with the Superchargers this quickly.”

After 120,000 miles, Richardson is well accustomed to life in Model S. “I’m always in the car!” He lists acceleration, handling, cold-weather performance, and storage space as his car’s standout benefits. But the killer advantage is a driving life that no longer revolves around gasoline.

All electric

Richardson has a Volvo C70 hardtop convertible that is hardly ever driven. “I love my Volvo, but every time I take it out of my garage and I get a whiff of the fumes, it catches me by surprise because I’m not doing it every day.... It’s not a subtle reminder.” When he takes the Volvo to the gas station, he forgets which side his car’s tank is on.

He has no such trouble with the Model S. Its fuel is electricity, which never smells or splashes on his shoes. And it never needs him to find it at a gas station – it comes right to his home. “Over the long term,” says Richardson, “it’s really so pleasant to wake up to a car that is full of fuel.”