My Car or Our Car?

I’ve been a Corvette guy since 1988.  A 1988 C4, a 1998 C5, and finally, a 2006 C6 Z06 that I picked up at the factory in Bowling Green, Kentucky and drove home to California on what is left of the old Route 66.

I love powerful, fast, good looking, American-made muscle cars.  My wife, Sharon, on the other hand… not so much. She tolerates them. 

The Corvettes have always been my cars. Even though they have dual memory for the seats and mirrors, I never had to worry about changing settings because I was the only one who drove them. She drove the C4 a little and in an emergency situation, the C5. She has never touched the C6. When I asked her why, her response was, “I don’t like the attention.” Granted, a blonde driving a Vette does get a little attention.

During my Corvette years, I started to develop an environmental conscience.  I started feeling guilty about the carbon, and the oil, and the pollution. The EV1 came out and I liked the idea of an electric, but it was so UGLY. Sorry, but I just can’t handle covered rear wheels even if it does help the drag coefficient. I wanted a performance electric car!  But there weren’t any. So I did other things. We bought a Prius in 2006 and installed an 8.5 kW PV solar system. I now had an environmental car and a muscle car, but I wanted one car that was both. My conundrum was even documented in an October 2006 NY Times article called “Searching for the Sex Appeal in a Hybrid.”

Then one day, I saw something on the web called the Tesla Roadster and thought, "this looks perfect!" I mentioned it to Sharon, and she said, “sure, get on the list.” She was just treating it as another one of my car toys that she didn’t really care about, but was happy to let me get (great wife, eh?). As a former Silicon Valley engineer, I decided to wait for year two of production (because Rev. B is always better than Rev. A). I signed up immediately when Tesla opened up the list for the 2009 Roadster (now called the 2010 Roadster 2.0).

Thus began the agonizing wait. There were some test drives… The car was smaller than I had originally thought based on scale-less web photos (I envisioned something Corvette sized, not being very familiar with Lotus at the time). I got the garage prepped with power and a new epoxy floor as I waited.  I put the Tesla logo on the inside of the garage door. And I waited. In May of 2009, I received my first delivery from Tesla - my MC240 mobile connector! Here it is in the garage with a beam of light shining on the box from the skylight:

How ironic. A connector for charging, but no car!

Finally, on July 14, 2009, my Roadster was ready for pickup: Roadster #517. The 17th 2010 Roadster 2.0. Mine. Gimme!

I love my new car. Love it, love it, love it. Guilt free, crazy fast, good looking, and built in California!

But now to the real reason for this story:

Shorty after we got the Roadster, Sharon asked if she could take it to her golf lesson to show the Pro.  “Hmm, you’re going to mess up my seat and mirror settings,” I said. (I was actually glad she wanted to drive it).

She put her clubs in the trunk and took off.   I started sweeping the floor in the Tesla bay (because usually if the car is gone, I’m gone with it). I was still sweeping when she returned, pulled partway into the driveway, and stopped.

The top was off the Roadster, so I could see her perfectly. She yelled: “I LOVE THIS CAR!!!”

Huh?  You mean my car?  I realized at that moment that our “Tesla Dynamic” had changed forever. It was now OUR car. She could not believe how fun it was to drive the car. The instant torque and the strong regen were addictive. The silence!

Sharon tells a story of two NASCAR fans who walked in front of the car at a traffic light crosswalk and one said to the other: “That car don’t make no noise!”

From that point forward we had a new rule. The Tesla goes with the person who will either drive it the most miles in a given day or who will be promoting it (promoting takes precedence).

What about Sharon’s comment about not liking the attention in the Corvettes? I guess she made that up, because she gets WAY more attention in the Tesla than she ever did in any of the Vettes. I do too, but I like it. It’s a different kind of attention, she says – not about her, but about the statement the car itself makes. We have a term that we have coined that refers to the extra time padding you need to add on to trips due to the inquisitive public. We call it “Tesla Time.” As in, “you didn’t add in enough Tesla Time to get to that meeting, did you?”

We’ve now had the car for a year and have put 8,500 miles on it.  It’s been to Disneyland via the “Rabobank Trail” (a network of Tesla Home Connectors that Tesla, Rabobank, and Solar City were kind enough to install at Rabobanks along 101). It’s been to Napa, and Sacramento, and Monterey. Not to mention many round trips into San Francisco for Giants games and dinners and shows. It’s also been to Coalinga where a Tesla Home Connector was installed thanks to the hard work of fellow Roadster owner Earl Cox, who donated his. Unfortunately, the I-5 route still needs one more charger further south to make the Bay Area to LA run without having to find a campground to recharge.

Oh, and our electricity bill for “Tesla Year One”? $57. We had been running an electrical surplus in prior years, and I thought I would still be at Net Zero or below, but the heavy winter cost us some solar production.

How’s the Corvette taking all this? Well, it has become “plug-in” of sorts. It sits on a “trickle charger,” under a cover waiting, for the occasional long road trip - its only reason for living. So sad.