I want to talk about Tesla the product rather than Elon. It’s a luxury status item, similar to other expensive cars (think BMW, Mercedes and Acura.) Like those brands, there’s an “entry-level” vehicle (the Model 3), but the base sticker price for that car is $40K.
Yet, even though Teslas cost $40K and up, the range of even the best one is similar to the range of any vehicle on the road on one tank of gas. Once the “tank” is empty, then filling up your Tesla (or any other electric vehicle) is a far, far bigger hassle than filling up a tank of gas. A gas fill is usually a five minute task, easily accomplished at gas stations everywhere. Charging an electric vehicle is a logistical exercise, requiring locating a working charger and then, depending on the charger and the amount of charge required, waiting 30-60 minutes. This is true even with the rapid charging capabilities of the Tesla or other electric vehicle manufacturers. There are also other issues, such as poor lithium battery performance in cold weather, manufacturers recommending keeping the vehicle at 80% charge, and the double whammy of poor mileage from snow tires combined with bad battery life in cold weather.
Realistically, when you buy a Tesla, you’re buying a vehicle best suited for commuting and driving around town. Every night you can plug it in at your home, and in the morning you have a fully “fueled” vehicle.
Around here, the commuter car role for a lot of suburban couples with kids is definitely not a Tesla — it’s usually a relatively inexpensive, relatively small car like a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. The adult with the longest commute gets that, and the other adult gets the family truckster, usually a minivan or a larger SUV.
This family is generally not interested in a $40K+ commuter vehicle. But, they might be interested in a $17K electric commuter vehicle, if one existed. Well, starting this year, it’s possible to get a decent electric commuter for $17K, after tax credits — the Chevy Bolt. The Bolt starts at $26K. If you have an adjusted gross income of $225K or less as head of household, and the car has a MSRP of less that $55K, you’re eligible for a $7,500 tax credit. In a number of states (including Colorado and New York), you’re also eligible for an $2,000 state tax credit. After that $9,500 tax break, your net cost is around $17K. Here’s a video showing the car and explaining the tax credit.
The Bolt is a decent EV. It has a range around 250 miles, a big electronics screen to show Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, and a bare-bones but acceptable interior. It is fine as a commuter and weekend errand-runner. Of course you can get a nicer car, but I think this is the kind of vehicle that, combined with the tax credit, will push people over the edge into an EV as a second car. This is the niche that makes sense for EVs as the technology stands today — a practical, affordable vehicle, not a status item.