From Model T to Tesla, transportation and times changed

By Wanda Philips | March 31, 2022

Life can be fun at any age. It’s not always easy, but with a little luck, some curiosity and a few well-chosen friends,  it can happen.

A friend, Carol, who lives in the place where I live, asked if I would like to see her nephew Lance’s car.

Well, heck, I can see all the cars I want on the highway. What’s so great about this car? I soon found out.

Lance drove the car to our front door, got out and gave a demonstration. His red, electric Tesla Model 3 car entertained us for 10 minutes in the parking lot with a light show accompanied by music from the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Its lights winked and blinked, the outside rear-view mirrors waved back and forth, the windows rolled up and down, and the music played on. 

All the while, Lance ran the show and car with his telephone. Lastly, he hearkened the car to come to him, and it turns around and parks by his side like some well-trained dog in obedience school.

That’s only a part of the story of Tesla. TIME magazine just named the company’s owner, Elon Musk, Person of the Year for 2021. He is the creator and CEO of the most valuable car company in the world. TIME magazine referred to him as “a clown, a genius, a visionary, an industrialist, and a showman,” and reading about his achievements, I certainly agree.

Here’s what I like about that car. Elon Musk is a fanatic when it comes to pleasing his clientele. Rather than spend money on advertising, he makes his product so cool that owners market his product to others for free.

Musk maintains a Twitter account, and owners may take any car problems directly to him. Lance related that when his back window got cracked, he called the Tesla company, and soon workers came to him and put in a new window. 

Another time, his friend thought the windshield wiper button was in an awkward spot on the end of the turn signal stalk. So he called to Tesla, and soon a handy button appeared on the touch screen panel, which is used to control most functions.

Lance pays $2.50 for a 90-mile charge. Gas for the same distance would run around $10 assuming you get 30 miles to a gallon. A full charge will take you down the road around 250 miles before you need another charge. By then, it’s time for a sandwich anyway. Find a charge station.

No doubt most people worry about charging the car. At his home in Seattle, Lance had a charge station installed in his garage for $1,800. Sounds expensive, but you don’t need to go to the gas station anymore. 

When he travels, he said, most hotels, grocery stores, libraries and public places have charge stations.  Here in Wichita, he takes his car to the zoo for a charge.  

Another convenience: There is no need for a maintenance check-up. Remember, there’s no motor needing filters, gas, anti-freeze or oil changes. Owners pay $10 a month for services such as radio, navigation aids, heat and air conditioning.

Lance stated the car is also comfortable. He can transport five people in his car at a time.

Oh, yes, I learned a new word coined by the Tesla people: frunk. Since there is no engine or other paraphernalia under the hood, the Tesla has an empty space that is the front trunk or frunk where you can put your suitcases. There’s more space than I thought.

When I was 13 years old, I learned to drive a Model T in the pasture. Times do change.

Wanda Philips recently moved to Wichita from Iowa.