I think I’ve just bought something that will SAVE THE WORLD. Something undeniably important for the future of humanity. I helped save the world.
Alright, there might be a little hyperbole there. Let me rewind and take a pill…
See, the thing is, I’ve just reserved a Tesla Model 3. And this car will probably save the planet.
I’ve been an electric car driver for several years now. I do it because my EV is good, of course. But if I’m honest the real reason is that the car represents something that I feel very true strongly about. I detest complacy – especially when it comes to issues we can all do something about. Burning very old dead creatures to make our vehicles move is irrational. Just think about it for a second: you’re using technology that is over a hundred years old to move yourself around and the only good reason for doing it is that everyone else is doing it. Animals that died hundreds of thousands of years ago are being put into your car and you’re exploding them to push pistons that make your wheels turn. The gasses left cover after the explosion go straight up into the atmosphere where they can’t escape into space, and instead form a blanket around the earth slowly warming it up. This is causing catastrophic events.
And, you know what? You could do something about it. Right now, you could do something about it.
See, the thing is, it’s really difficult to move away from something like fossil fuel central heating: the alternatives to gas are either prohibitively expensive (geothermal installations cost upwards of five figures) or unnecessarily arduous (installing a modern pellet-fed wood burner needs regular maintainence and cleaning out weekly).
But changing your car is something everyone does fairly regularly. It’s something you’ve probably done yourself in the last few years. Maybe you’re due a change now? Whatever the situation, you need to look in to alternatives. Don’t just blindly accept the status quo. Think about what you’re doing to yourself and everyone else and make a more selfless, informed choice.
Hybrids are shit – don’t believe the hype. Any vehicle that still requires fossil fuel to functional normally makes no difference to the move away from that fuel type. Don’t do it to save a few quid at the pumps. Move away from petrol or diesel because it’s the right thing to do as a citizen of this planet. Wake up and smell the ashes.
Enough eulogising. Back to the topic at hand. Why is the Tesla Model 3 such an important vehicle? How can it change the world? First of all Tesla is the company established by the Bond-villain-in-waiting Elon Musk. Great name. Great man. Great wodge of cash after selling his share as the founder of PayPal. When he’s not flogging battery powered cars, he’s shooting rockets up to the International Space Station, or giving presentations on how many home batteries it would take the rid the world of its carbon-spewing ways. He’s the only person I’ve ever seen give a credible and coherent answer to the question about what the alternative is to coal, gas and nuclear power. His plan is to coat the planet in solar and use batteries to store and even out the supply. It can be done. He and his company have shown us the maths. Elon dreams big, but that’s what we need in today’s world: people who can see a problem, devise a potential solution and use the free market to mobilize the answer.
Tesla make cars and batteries. To save the world, you need better batteries. To make better batteries, you need lots of demand to support huge investments in research and development. To create lots of demand for batteries, you need a product that requires storage of lots of power. An affordable, mass-market practical electric car is that product. However, to make a mass-market affordable electric car, you need huge economies of scale. You need to be able to invest large sums of money and create and iterate EV drivetrain technology to the point where it’s reliable and scalable. To do that, you first need to create a proof of concept.
Back in early 2000s, Tesla Motors released the Tesla Roadster. Essentially a Porche chassis, but with electric car gubbins. This turnkey solution allowed Tesla to make their first tentative steps on the road to mass market. After the Roadstar came Tesla’s most successful and effective electric vehicle to date: the model S. By every measure of a good vehicle, the Model S is a superb example. But, due to it’s relatively limited volume, it had to be a premium product and that meant it had to be expensive.
Yesterday, Tesla announced the Model 3 – this is the car Elon wanted to create all along. The previous two (actually three) were commercial test beds on the way to the Model 3. And this wasn’t some secret machevellian plan cooked up in his lair – Mr Musk has always been very open and honest about his strategy. He even thanked Model S and Roadster owners in the Model 3 unveiling presentation for helping him get to the Model 3.
The reason the Model 3 is so exciting is what it stands for. For the first time, there is an electric vehicle that has everything you need to be practical, useful, enjoyable and functional. Tesla’s network of super chargers allow you to drive the expanse of the country (and Europe) and plug in after 200 miles. That figure is the kind of range that remotes range anxiety completely. Most daily journies are less than 30 miles, and most longer-distance journies are covered by one supercharge in 30 mins. Not to mention that electricity provided by superchargers is completely free.
The Model 3 stands for change. Stands for a legitimate alternative. Stands for a solution to a problem we humans face that someone has come up with the answer for. If Musk and Tesla can do this for the world’s energy problems, why can’t some equal visionary do it for cancer? Or our quest to reach Mars? Or our understanding of dark matter, multiverse theory and quantum mechanics. Curing hunger, poverty and ultimately, world peace. Making countries less reliant on a fuel sourced from potentially volatile, ransom-wielding rouge nations has to be better for the stability of the planet.
These are all very lofty concerns. Considerations that affect several billion people. Problems that require massive coordination, sea-change, investment, vision, foresight, tenacity. But there are people out there willing to risk everything to push the world along this path. And you can help them. You can make a difference.
Right now, you can reserve a place in an event that will be considered by historians as the point humanity saved itself from itself. Never before has buying a car meant saving the world.