Getting in line for the new Tesla 3
by Rebecca L. Vidra, Lecturer, Nicholas School of the Environment -- April 1st, 2016
On March 31, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the new Tesla Model 3, an electric sedan that is much more affordable than the currently available luxury Tesla models. My daughter, Chloe (age 9) insisted that we get in line to purchase one, with a deposit of $1000. I haven’t been this anxious about queuing up to buy something since I tried (and failed) to secure tickets to Taylor Swift’s latest concert (the things parents will do for their kids!).
So why is Chloe so excited to own a Tesla?
This past semester, I decided to screen several documentaries in my Introduction to Environmental Science and Policy course. I wanted to engage students in current events but found that assigning academic and news articles resulted in many students not coming prepared to class. My hypothesis was that students would be more likely to watch films.
Based on the robust discussion and course evaluations, I was right. Students seemed to enjoy most of the assigned films and several suggested other films that we could use in the future.
Part of choosing films for my class involved watching a lot of environmentally-themed documentaries at home. For many of these, my daughters watched along with me.
Revenge of the Electric Car (2011) was a surprising hit with Chloe. She reports that it’s her favorite movie! She followed the stories of four electric car makers (Tesla, Nissan, Chevrolet, and a small boutique auto mechanic in CA) and was keenly interested in what happened after the movie was finished.
On our way to school, she eagerly scanned the roads for Chevy Volts and Nissan Leafs. But what she was really on the lookout for was…the Tesla.
Serendipitously, our neighbor has a cherry red Tesla model S and when he heard of Chloe’s interest, allowed us to take it out for a test drive (Note: I will not be discussing why my husband got to do this test drive instead of me but suffice it to say that I was miffed). Chloe checked out all the electronic bells and whistles, from the fancy control screen to the sleek battery charging device.
She came home from the test drive full of glee, having experienced the thrill of a high performance vehicle without any of the emissions or noise of a muscle car. She was hooked.
We often hear about how our kids need to be outdoors more, or taught to recycle early. We bemoan their early addiction to their devices and wonder how they will ever develop a strong connection to nature. But watching movies and riding in a car? Seriously?
Yes, watching environmental documentaries is not the solution. But, in this case, my daughter not only learned about the challenges of manufacturing electric cars. She came to believe that they are in her future. It’s exciting to think that her first car may not run on gasoline, although I’m pretty sure it aint’ going to be a Tesla either. I’m keeping that one for myself!