Why a Tesla Might Not Be the Best Call for You

There’s a lot to like about a Tesla. Whether you prefer a comfortable sedan or a high-performance car, you get plenty of both in the flagship Model S. Meanwhile, a Model X features unique falcon-wing doors and the type of power you won’t see in most SUVs. Both of these vehicles look great and stand out from the pack of cars on the road, too.

But owning an electric vehicle comes with a few strings attached. Even in a top-of-the-line Tesla, range limits will make some road trips difficult — if not impossible. Meanwhile, consumers will have trouble dealing with the growing pains upstart automakers tend to have. If Prius reliability is your standard, expect disappointment with a Model X in the garage.

In sum, there are plenty of people who shouldn’t buy a Tesla. Here’s why one of these performance EVs might not be the best call for you.

1. Charging problems

The Tesla Model S electric car during the the second press preview day at the 2010 North American International Auto Show January 12, 2010 at Cobo Center in Detroit, Michigan.

If you have an apartment it might be difficult. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

If you’re a homeowner and install a charger in your garage, you’ll never have a problem keeping your battery levels high. Home chargers deliver over 25 miles hour, making it convenient for a Tesla owner to top off the battery or power up overnight. On the other hand, if you’re a renter or own an apartment, charging might become a problem. You won’t have access to home charging, and using a Supercharger every day won’t work for various reasons.

2. Where the grid isn’t green

Map of electric vehicle equivalent mpg by state

If you want the greenest car, you need to drive on clean power. | Union of Concerned Scientists

They say the grid is always greener on the… In all seriousness, many states do not feature the cleanest electric grid. California and New York lead the pack on their respective coasts, bringing a Tesla close to the goal of “zero emissions.” However, in a state like Colorado where coal plays a major role in energy production, an electric car won’t be as green unless you generate your own solar power. Keep in mind that EVs are only as clean as the power they consume.

3. Reliability issues

Tesla Model X

The Model X still has some reliability issues. | Tesla

Old-guard automakers like General Motors, Toyota, and Ford have an advantage over a company like Tesla. When you invent a new species of automobile (i.e., the performance EV) and open your own production line, a company is going to have growing pains. Tesla persevered through reliability issues with Model S to bring its flagship model into the “above average” elite for 2018.

However, the Model X continues to suffer from several issues. In the latest Consumer Reports rankings, Tesla’s flashy SUV landed the worst reliability score of all. When paying around six figures for a new car, many people will find these problems unacceptable. In a Tesla, they unfortunately remain a fact of life. You need a certain level of patience to have the best ownership experience in a Tesla.

4. Cost of Model S and Model X

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 05: A Tesla model S sits parked in a new Tesla showroom and service center in Red Hook, Brooklyn on July 5, 2016 in New York City.

You definitely will need to be making good money to afford these. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Let’s face it: You have to be well-off to get the most out of Tesla Model S or Model X. Both start around $75,000 and average purchase prices near $100,000. If you have to stretch your budget to buy one of these models, you could end up in a tight spot, financially. Imagine getting close to paying off a Model X only to need several repairs outside of the warranty. Of course, you could always wait for Tesla’s affordable EV.

5. You’ll wait a good while for Model 3

Road shot of silver Tesla Model 3 on California coast

The Model 3 is on serious back order. | Tesla

The hype around Tesla Model 3 speaks for itself. Many think of it as a junior Model S or a stylish alternative to Chevrolet Bolt EV. However, the big difference between Bolt EV and Model 3 is availability. According to Tesla, new Model 3 orders will arrive in 2019 at the earliest. Consumers looking to get into an electric car in 2018 will have to look elsewhere. Even those who reserved a Model 3 on the first day have ditched their spot in line due to the long wait.

6. Adjusting to EV life

It’ll probably feel really weird at first to go that long without a fill up.  | Tesla

We can’t ignore range anxiety, the elephant in the room for all EVs. In a base Model S ($74,500), drivers can cover 259 miles on a charge. The range-topping model ($99,000) gives drivers 335 miles to work with a full battery. Clearly, that’s more than enough for daily driving needs, but road trips will force you to locate and utilize public chargers. Altering your route to charge your car can be a pain in the neck, and it’s an adjustment EV owners need to make.

7. Small EVs are greener

2016 Tesla Model S in red color

A smaller EV would be better for the environment. | Tesla

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, there are 15 electric cars with a better MPGe than Tesla Model S (104 MPGe). Compact EVs like Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt EV, and BMW i3 all top that mark by over 20%. When you get into a full-size sedan with the power of a Tesla, you are going to use more energy than the smaller models. It’s something to consider if going green is your top priority. A Tesla is green, but not the greenest.

8. Used EVs are more practical

There’s not much of a used market yet. | Tesla

If being practical is the key to your next EV purchase, look on the used market. Models like the 2016 Nissan Leaf are in hot demand on the used market because of the excellent value they offer consumers. We’re sure a used Tesla will some day cost less for consumers, but that day hasn’t come yet. Until it does, shoppers on the hunt for the best buy will have to look elsewhere. But don’t blame Tesla for making cars that hold their value.

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!