I own a Tesla and this is what it’s like to drive an electric car in Charlotte

I own a Tesla and this is what it’s like to drive an electric car in Charlotte
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I am not what you would call a “car” person. Prior to purchasing an electric vehicle, I had an unmemorable Chevy sedan that required the passengers to manually roll the windows up and down and even had this thing you may have heard of called a compact disc player.

I didn’t mind any of that. I also really loved not having a car payment and not feeling any pressure to fix the myriad dings and nicks.

But as our family expanded, I accepted we did need to purchase a reliable vehicle to tote the mini one around in. The things that mattered to me most were safety, reliability and sustainability.

After doing a little research and test driving, I ended up landing on the Tesla Model 3 with the capacity to go 260 or so miles.

I’m typically not an early adopter, and I was nervous about purchasing a vehicle that I couldn’t fuel up. I’m about nine months in and so far? I’ve noticed a few challenges and many benefits.

Charging an electric car in Charlotte can be extremely convenient or a real drag, depending on what neighborhood you live in.

I currently live in SouthPark, and I’ve worked in two offices with charging stations onsite (Uptown and Mallard Creek). Not including the outlets provided in my residential parking garage, there are over a dozen stations within walking distance.

The SouthPark Mall and neighborhood Whole Foods and Harris Teeter are some of my favorite places to charge. Uptown is home to more than 60 charging stations – in parking decks, at retail stores or on the street.

However, for electric car owners who live away from the city center and key neighborhoods like the airport area and UNC Charlotte, public charging is more of a challenge.

A quick perusal of apps like ChargePoint and PlugShare (apps that list electric charging stations) show that in West Charlotte and parts of North Charlotte, primarily Black neighborhoods, there are virtually no public charging stations. Electric car owners in these neighborhoods would do well to install a home charger (and advocate for stations with their local council member). Most electric vehicles including Teslas come with a charger that you can connect to a standard outlet.

Electric cars are still interesting enough that strangers will stop and ask questions.

I’ve had countless conversations at a traffic light from people who gesture for me to roll down the window and ask me things like “So is that an iPad in your car?… Do you like that thing?… Does it go fast?…  How much did that spaceship run you?”

No one ever asked me a single question about my Chevy Cobalt. I’m retroactively offended on her behalf.

The fear of being stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery is generally unfounded.

The most frequently asked question I get is “Have you ever run out of battery?” I have not.

As it turns out, the makers of electric cars don’t want their owner to run out of charge and do all they can to make sure you’re aware of how much battery you have. Moreover, even someone with a commute from say, the exotic-sounding Indian Trail to Cornelius (and why would you live your life like that??) could do that commute round trip for three days before needing to plug in a car with a 260 mile range (some electric vehicles go even further).

I took a road trip to Atlanta, plugged up midway at a point when I would have stopped for a burger anyway, and continued on my merry way. Worst case scenario, AAA and Tesla Roadside Assistance will come to you and charge your vehicle if you run out of charge.

It’s pretty cool to be a woman driving an electric car.

The stereotype of a male software engineer Tesla owner who worships Elon Musk and geeks out about its features on their YouTube channel exists for a reason. Roughly 84 percent of Tesla Model 3 owners are male and the majority of Tesla owners are White.

A few weeks ago, while walking to my car, I saw a young caramel-hued kid peeking into the windows in awe. When he spied me and my mop of kinky curls approaching the driver’s door, his jaw dropped. Hey, I’m no Jackie Robinson, but it was fun to show him and his accompanying grandfather the features of the car (I started with the Whoopie Cushion).

In sum, I love that my car is the safest in its class (the lack of an engine contributes to its low center of gravity), it significantly reduces my carbon footprint, and I haven’t paid a cent to charge it. Did I forget to mention that most public charging stations in Charlotte are free??

Most importantly, I haven’t entered a gas station in months, which means I haven’t made an impulse purchase of pork rinds in just as many months. Look at that… my electric car just made me healthier.

tesla in charlotte

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