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The Greenlight blog shares the latest, original, forward-looking research by UC Davis on the sustainable transportation, energy and climate-related challenges facing society. The blog highlights fact-based, data driven analysis and expert insights on the scientific, commercial, technological, environmental and societal issues related to the future of fuels, mobility and energy efficiency. Through this blog, workshops and publications, UC Davis seeks to inform and elevate public dialogue on government policy and business strategy.

Denae Wagner: 2018 Tesla Model 3

By Lois Kim |

Denae Wagner (and her Tesla Model 3) spot a rainbow! (Photo courtesy of Denae Wagner)

The Owner/Driver

Name: Denae Wagner

Age: 54

Occupation: Veterinarian
 

The Vehicle

Year/make/model: 2018 Tesla Model 3

Type: Electric

Years owned: 1 year and a couple months
 

The Experience

What made you decide to go electric and how did you decide what car to get?

I leased a Fiat 500e a few years ago and loved that car but the 80-mile range was limiting. I didn’t really know what a Model 3 was going to look like but as soon as I heard it could go 300 miles on a single charge, I put a deposit down.

How has the cost of purchasing and owning your EV compared to the cost of purchasing and owning a conventional car?

I had never bought a new car before the Model 3. I mostly bought used trucks, and my rule of thumb was that anything more than $10,000 was too much to spend. $10,000 won’t get you very far when it comes to buying an EV! I ended up borrowing from my credit union to purchase the Model 3, so my monthly car cost (to pay off the loan and for insurance) is about $1000 a month. My fuel cost is very low as I charge at work (UC Davis). UC Davis does add an EV charging fee to my parking permit but it is very reasonable. Before, I was easily paying 250 a month (often more) for gas. I have had no maintenance fees, other than adding some washer fluid. In an EV, there is no oil to change or other fluids to check. The only thing I have to do maintenance-wise is get the tires rotated.

What have been the biggest challenges of going electric?

For sure the cost. But there is something about purchasing an EV that made this purchase feel very different from any other vehicle I have purchased. Going electric was more than just a choice about how I get around—it was part of a commitment I am making to live a life that will leave a smaller footprint on the earth.

What are the biggest misconceptions of going electric?

That traveling and charging is a challenge.  Perhaps in some EVs that is true today, but not for a Tesla. In a few years, I suspect this issue will be erased for all EVs.

Denae and a friend during their road trip! (Photo courtesy of Denae Wagner).

Describe one of the farthest/coolest/most ambitious trips you’ve ever taken in your EV.

A road trip to Minneapolis with a friend this past summer—so very fun! I entered my destination into the navigation system and off we went. I think it was a 4,500 mile trip all said and done. Tesla’s network of superchargers made the trip super easy. In fact, we ended up visiting some places we otherwise wouldn’t have stopped because we needed to access the chargers there. I love taking trips in the Model 3. It’s so very comfortable and the car’s technical abilities really help remove the stress of a longer drive

Do you have any good stories about your experience as an EV owner?

I was on my way home during the summer road trip. It was early evening and I was somewhere in Colorado. There were storm clouds to the east but to the west the sun was setting. I was out in a stretch of nothingness and I noticed a motorist stopped by the side of the road with the hood of his car up. I pulled over and asked him if he needed help. He said his car was overheating and he didn’t have any water. I headed back to my car and grabbed a couple of water bottles and emptied them into a partially filled gallon jug I had for the trip and gave it to him. He didn’t say too much, but I could tell he was pretty thankful. I wished him well and walked back to my car feeling pretty thankful too, as I knew that particular problem was nothing that I would have to worry about…ever.

What is the number-one thing you think could be done to encourage more people to go electric?

Getting people behind the wheel to do a test drive. Once you see that an EV drives just as well—if not better—than a gas-powered car, going electric makes a whole lot of sense.