For most of my recent memory, modern electric cars have been somewhere between quirky oddity and cars of the future. With gas-powered cars dominating every part of the automotive world, it seemed impossible for electric cars to really have a chance. But, when Tesla entered the scene in the 2000s, it showed not only that electric cars could be viable transportation, but it also showed that they could be better than gas-powered cars.
Tesla cars have several advantages over traditional gas-powered cars. Since they are entirely electric, their carbon footprint is lower than gas-powered cars, and they also have a better “fuel” economy. Tesla also offers more sophisticated technology, better performance, and lower maintenance than similar gas-powered cars.
Tesla’s outshine their competition in a series of different ways. Because of the very nature of their build, Tesla’s can offer performance upgrades, diagnostics, and software updates in a matter of minutes. Their electric motors offer instant torque and acceleration only rivaled by supercars. In this article, we’ll tell you every advantage a Tesla has over its gas-powered competition.
The Advantages of a Tesla Over Gas Cars
Tesla vehicles were once reserved for those with extra money to spend. Even though the overall goal was to help the environment, the hefty Tesla price tag wasn’t one that most people could afford. But in recent history, thanks to more affordable models and tax credits for those with energy-efficient vehicles, Tesla’s street presence has increased.
However, electric cars are not a new invention. Electric cars have been around for nearly as long as gas-powered cars. But, for a variety of reasons, the production of electric cars fizzled out in the early 1900s. Nearly 100 years after their initial decline, electric cars are back with so many new innovations that their gas-powered counterparts can’t keep up.
Gas-powered cars, for the majority of their lifetime, have been mechanical machines. Even though they have gotten increasingly more computerized, the heart of all gas-powered cars, the engine, is still a mechanical machine. It relies on making little gas explosions to propel itself, and if something’s wrong, you usually have to physically fix it.
But Tesla’s, for the most part, are not mechanical. They are electric, and they are computerized. They don’t rely on gasoline, they don’t need oil changes, and they are packed with cool hardware and software features.
According to Pocket Lint, Tesla operates through an operating system, kind of like your computer does with Windows or Mac. In a way, Tesla is like a computer on wheels. This technology allows for a large number of possibilities, including:
- Performance upgrades
- Easy Operating System Updates
- Games, Easter Eggs, and Extras
Along with being a pioneer in mainstream electric cars, Tesla is also at the forefront of self-driving cars. According to Wired, a problem with developing self-driving cars in the past is that most vehicles have to be retrofitted with cameras and sensors, and computers. Today, Tesla vehicles come with all that stuff standard – even if you don’t pay for it up front.
In comparison, there will probably never be a modern self-driving gas-powered car. According to Clean Technica, gas-powered vehicles introduce too much delay in the system to make a safe, self-driving car. While a Tesla’s computer can instantly hit the accelerator and move forward, a gas-powered self-driving AI is still at the mercy of a revving engine.
The birth of automobiles was closely followed by the birth of automobile racing. For as long as cars have been around, there’s been someone who’s wanted to make them faster. In the early days, it was all about supercharging and engine swapping.
Then, as time went on, car lovers started slapping on turbo’s, and nowadays, there are millions of things you can do to squeeze as much performance as you want out of your car.
But, even though their accessible, there is still something to consider: making a gas-powered car go faster requires a lot of hard work and a lot of money. A lot of performance parts cost somewhere between hundreds and thousands of dollars, and that’s just for the parts. It will cost another chunk if you want someone else to install it.
If you want to make your Tesla go faster, the process is very simple. You don’t have to swap an LS motor into it and stick a turbo and supercharger on it. If you own a Performance version of the Model S or X, all you have to do is buy ludicrous mode. Once you buy it, an over-the-air update is ready to be installed, and you’re ready to go. It isn’t cheap. Tesla has changed it’s price over the years. Ludicrous mode has had a cost between $5,000-$10,000. It was even included for a while on Performance models. But it’s quick and easy.
Easy Operating System Updates
With gas-powered cars, the procedure with bugs, updates, and recalls have pretty much stayed the same over the years. Usually, a problem will be found with your car, and the automaker will issue a recall. You have to take your vehicle to the dealership and wait for them to fix it.
With Tesla, it’s a lot easier. For many things, all Tesla needs to do is send out a wireless update to your car. I’ll use information from Green Car Reports to help illustrate this point. Back in the early days of the Model S, people were still getting used to the feeling of driving an electric car.
One thing drivers found strange was the Model S didn’t creep forward when they had their foot off both the brake and accelerator. In a normal car, doing so would let the car crawl forward very slowly, but since Tesla’s are all-electric, they don’t have to worry about an idling engine. But, since customers complained, Tesla released an update that installed a fake creep mode into their cars. This is an optional setting that can be enabled.
Games, Easter Eggs, and Extras
Elon Musk is known for doing fun and unconventional things with his products. From launching a line of flamethrowers to launching his car into space, he’s done some cool stuff. In true Musk fashion, all Tesla models are full of games, easter eggs, and fun extra stuff.
In the arcade screen there are many video games you can play on the touch screen infotainment center of your Tesla. Tesla vehicles have several games installed. These games have been added through free over-the-air updates. Games range from arcade classics like Tempest, Asteroids, and Pole Position to newer games like Beach Buggy Racing 2. Some of these games even offer controller support.
Tesla owners can change their navigation screen to make it appear as if they are driving down the famous Rainbow Road from the Mario Kart series. This is one of many easter eggs Tesla has added. To activate it, all you need to do is rapidly click the autopilot button four times in a row.
A few other easter eggs include:
- Volume knobs going up to 11 (reference to Spinal Tap)
- Air-Suspension equipped vehicles – Change your car avatar to the James Bond Lotus
- Charge your car to 121 Miles to activate a Back to the Future reference
- Tesla will play a random clip from Monty Python if you ask it to
Carroll Shelby once said, “horsepower sells cars, torque wins races.” A Model S P100D has about 500hp and 487 ft/lb. of torque.
These are pretty respectable numbers. To put it into perspective, the Mustang GT, Camaro SS, Corvette, and Scat Pack Challenger have about the same amount of torque and horsepower. All of these cars are known for their raw power, but the ludicrous mode model S will smoke all of them off the line.
This is because the Tesla has instant torque. Car throttle explains that in gas-powered vehicles, the car has to rev to reach its peak torque rpm while the Tesla’s torque is either on or off. Electric motors provide 100% of their torque as soon as their activated, which means they can put torque down instantly.
This instant torque gives the Model S with Ludicrous mode insane acceleration. To put it into perspective, a Model S with ludicrous mode costs just over $100,000 and accelerates from 0-60mph in about 2.4 seconds. Here’s a comparison of price between other sub-3-second 0-60mph cars. Check Road and track for more information on the times.
Price vs. 0-60mph in Seconds
|Car||Price in US Dollars||0-60mph in Seconds|
|Tesla Model S Ludicrous Mode||$100,000||2.4 Seconds|
|Ferrari LaFerrari||$1,416,362||2.4 Seconds|
|Porsche 911 Turbo S||$200,000||2.5 Seconds|
|Lamborghini Aventador||$400,000||2.7 Seconds|
|McLaren Senna||$1,430,000||2.8 Seconds|
|Audi R8 V10||$200,000||2.8 Seconds|
|Nissan GTR NISMO||$210,00||2.8 Seconds|
By comparison, the Ludicrous Model S is a pretty good deal.
According to the Verge, the Model S performance hit the quarter-mile at 10.4 seconds. Here are some other stock 11-second cars:
- McLaren F1
- Ford GT
- Pagani Zonda F
- Bugatti EB110 SuperSport
- Porsche Carrera GT
The Tesla is up there with some pretty quick cars.
Tesla’s are far more efficient than internal combustion-powered vehicles. Fueleconomy.gov lists the Tesla line as incredibly efficient. Tesla’s get nearly 100MPGe. Of course, not actually per gallon, but the electricity equivalent to a gallon of gas.
To put this into perspective, motherearthnews has a list of the most fuel-efficient cars ever made. At the top of their list is the Honda Insight. The Insight is a small, two-seater, a hybrid car. Even though it is listed as one of the most fuel-efficient cars of all time, it only gets 53MPG combined.
Now, 53MPG isn’t anything to scoff at. It’s actually really good. But, most Tesla’s at least double that fuel efficiency. While Tesla is not cheap by any means, owners will see some savings in the energy department. Investopedia claims driving a Model S 15,000 miles will only cost about $600 while driving a Camry 15,000 miles will be at least double in fuel costs.
It’s important to remember that even though Tesla’s are far more efficient than gas-powered cars, they still aren’t considered sustainable. According to Medium, even though you’re using electricity instead of gas, electricity needs to come from somewhere.
While you won’t directly be putting CO2 into the atmosphere with your electric car, the powerplants that provide the energy to charge your car still will. Unless you charge your car completely off solar panels, you’re probably still somehow burning fossil fuels while driving your car. Here are some of the most likely places where your energy is coming from:
- Natural gas
- Coal-fired powerplants
- Nuclear powerplants
- Hydro power
- Wind turbines
If a regular car is thrown out, most of its materials are recyclable. The same isn’t true for Teslas. According to Vice, the massive lithium batteries used to power Tesla’s are not great for the environment. However, there are companies working on “second-life” battery uses.
Luckily, according to Medium, Tesla is pretty good at recycling old batteries. So, while Tesla’s aren’t exactly sustainable, they do offer better efficiency and a lesser environmental impact than internal combustion engines.
Maintaining a Tesla
One thing you never have to worry about doing with a Tesla is changing the oil. Electric vehicles have far less moving parts. Less parts, less to maintain. Tesla changed their recommendation of an annual maintenance to a two year maintenance for new vehicles. Most of this maintenance is flushing the antifreeze used for the thermal cooling of the battery. They will also check tire tread wear to determine if a rotation is needed.
While gas cars aren’t necessarily hard to maintain, there are a lot more things to check, including:
- Brake Fluid
- Engine Air Filter
- Transmission Fluid
- Power Steering Fluid
And aside from fluids, there are many other things that can go wrong with a gas-powered car. In fact, so many things can go wrong with cars I’d have to write a series of books to cover them all.
You’ll still need to replace your brake pads like on a traditional car, but because of Tesla’s regenerative braking, you won’t need to change them nearly as much.
Accidents and Replacements
While they may be easier to maintain, they do have some disadvantages. If something goes wrong with them, you might be in trouble. According to Market Watch, one downside to Tesla’s is that most mechanics cannot work on them. If somethings wrong, you’ll have to take it back to a Tesla Service Center.
Another problem is how expensive the batteries are. No car is perfect. Sometimes things fail, and that’s consistent between gas and electric cars. The difference is, in a gas-powered car, if the fuel tank brakes, it is less than $1000 to fix. But, in a Tesla, if your battery brakes, get ready to shell out at least five-grand on a new one.
It’s important to consider that on the model S and X, bodywork is expensive. If you own one of these cars, try not to get into an accident with them. Tesla’s have aluminum bodies which is very expensive to repair. There are also no third party manufacturers for replacement parts at this time. You’re at the mercy of Tesla getting replacement parts to a body shop.
In conclusion, the Tesla model line has several advantages over traditional gas-powered vehicles. The amount of innovation packed into each Tesla vehicle is astounding, and there is no doubt that electric cars will soon replace the internal combustion engine cars we know so well. Multiple states have placed mandates to ban the sale of new gas vehicles. One such state is California, which has stated no new gas-powered sales by 2035.
Tesla’s offer far better technology to consumers than the Big 3, Japan, and any other non-electric automaker can offer. This is due to the fact that the car is entirely computerized. Tesla’s operating system acts as a sort of brain for the car. This allows Tesla’s to add innovations like auto-pilot, performance upgrades, and operating system updates wirelessly.
All Tesla models have amazing performance, especially when compared to their gas-powered counterparts. Their instant torque allows them to accelerate quicker than any other car in its price range.
The Tesla line up is incredibly fuel-efficient, with the line averaging the equivalent to at least 100 miles per gallon. No mass-produced gas-powered vehicle can come close to that kind of efficiency.
And, while accidents and broken parts may be more expensive to replace, general maintenance of Tesla vehicles are far easier and far cheaper to maintain than their gas-powered counterparts.
At this point, Tesla’s are already better than most gas-powered cars. In the future, battery innovation will continue to improve, further eclipsing the efficiency and range of gas-powered cars. As electric-powered vehicles become more popular, Tesla’s will become cheaper and easier to buy and repair.