When a conservative and a liberal talk about Tesla

We sit down for a Q&A with Tesla Model X owner Randy Hansen.

2016 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
  • Image Credit: Sebastian Blanco
  • 2016 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X rear 3/4 view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X front 3/4 view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X side view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X side view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X front view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X rear view
  • 2016 Tesla Model X headlight
  • 2016 Tesla Model X logo
  • 2016 Tesla Model X wheel detail
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  • 2016 Tesla Model X side mirror
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  • 2016 Tesla Model X interior
  • 2016 Tesla Model X instrument cluster
  • 2016 Tesla Model X infotainment system
  • 2016 Tesla Model X infotainment system
  • 2016 Tesla Model X navigation system
  • 2016 Tesla Model X dash
  • 2016 Tesla Model X cup holders
  • 2016 Tesla Model X rear seats
  • 2016 Tesla Model X interior
  • 2016 Tesla Model X rear cargo area
  • 2016 Tesla Model X frunk
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It's not every day that the owner of one of the most interesting cars on the planet hands his keys to an automotive writer. Thankfully, we got to meet Randy Hansen on one of those unusual days, when he gave us permission to drive his Tesla Model X. It's his first X, but Hansen has bought five Teslas over the years. He paid for the latest (a second Model X) in December, but it still hasn't been delivered.

After a long and tremendously enjoyable afternoon of driving, I sat down with Hansen at his beautiful vacation home in Oceanside, California. We talked about Tesla, his reasons for loving the company, and why his right-leaning political views drove him straight into what's usually considered the left-wing world of electric vehicles.

As he said at the start of our talk, no one should be judging him just because he was mad Obama got elected back in 2008. That's what started his EV quest. In our talk, Hansen was one of the friendliest people you could ever hope to meet (remember the part about how he shared his $144,000 car with a stranger?) and it was nice for me, as a more left-leaning guy, to find common ground with him on a lot of issues. We laughed a lot throughout this is a long interview, which doesn't come across in the text. I'm certain that electric car fans of all political stripes will find something worthwhile here. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and because the way we talk doesn't always translate well to the written format. Enjoy.

ABG: You say you're loyal to Tesla, but what was it that got you interested in the first place? I mean, you can't be loyal to a company that you've never bought a car from, so that had to start somewhere.

"I'm kind of the antithesis of Elon Musk."

RH: You don't even want to publish this, but I was so pissed off in 2008 that Obama got elected, a part of this was he promised he was going to double the price of electricity. So, I'm kind of the antithesis of Elon Musk and clean air. I came at it from a completely opposite direction and I went, "What's the fastest tax deduction I can get because I am mad." And I was. I had always thought about solar, but my motivation that pushed my over the edge to do it, was the 35-percent tax deduction. I was just pissed, and I'm being honest. I didn't want my money going to the government. I'm tired of you guys calling me names and then taxing the crap out of me while you're doing it, you know?

ABG: Now, is that something you don't want published, or you just don't think is a good fit? Because I don't care.

RH: I'm just giving you the forerunner of it. People will read all that as political crap, life's too short I feel like. That motivated me to get going on solar, and I'm a technical guy anyway, a little bit. Always played with technology, and cars. I got digging into the solar, hooked up with a really good company. I said, "I'm going to put in a really big system." At the time SRP, our utility, was paying up to $60,000 at $3 a kilowatt. Three Sunny Boy 7000s will completely zero out my usage, and produce a surplus and then I'll de-rate them.

I put fewer panels on than the inverters could handle, because in Arizona I figure the heat. I ended up with about, at the time, a $150,000 system, a $60,000 rebate from my utility, a 35-percent tax break, and it came out, just straight out doing it, that my payback was eight to nine years.

Tesla Model S and X

At the end of the first year, the utility bought back my surplus at the rate in the agreement because they'd bought all my credits. They owned the credits, whatever my system produces, for 25 years. That's their motivation to buy the green credits. In the contract, it says they buy back my surplus at the Palo Verde nuclear generating station winter wholesale rate, which is the cheapest electricity ever. It's 3.4 cents a kilowatt hour. It's really a good system, very fair. I hate that the utilities are fighting that now, but during the day I give them a ton and at night I take a little back. They sell mine during the day at full retail price and then they pay me back at wholesale. I don't know why they complain about the arrangement, because they're making a spread every 24 hours on my surplus.

Then once a year they look at is your meter running backwards more than forwards. I oversized my system, so the first year they gave me a $250 credit. They'll never tell you what they're buying it for. I did the math backwards, and figured out they're buying it at three and a half cents per kilowatt basically. I said, "It's dumb to give it to them at that price. I should put it in a car." I started looking around for electric cars. At the time we had a couple of Smart cars.

ABG: The gas-powered ones, yeah?

"I paid an ungodly high price for my first Nissan Leaf."

RH: We were in our little three-cylinder putt putts. They're actually fun little cars to drive. We all liked them. For road trips I'd take my BMW, but for local errand running everybody drove the little Smart cars. Looking around in 2010, the only thing out there was the Nissan Leaf. I paid an ungodly high price because the first year they were like $42,000 or something and now you can buy them for nothing. I bought a Leaf and we really liked it, but it couldn't quite do what we needed, and there was nothing else. A year later I bought another Leaf. I figured, "Well if one's dead, while it's charging we'll ride the other one." We can increase the amount of all-electric driving because it's virtually a penny a mile to drive it. The Leaf gets 3.4 miles per kilowatt and the utility buys it back at 3.4 cents per kilowatt. It's easy math, a penny a mile.

Then it just got to where we were still constantly running into, well, we can't go here, and here, and here, and here and still make it back. We can't go to visit my wife's mom and make it back, so there's all these situations where we still were driving the gas cars. It killed me because I've got all this battery power. I've got all this cheap electricity, so I just searched. I mean I searched, and searched. At one point I had a deposit on a Fisker Karma. Then I went and test drove it and went, "Oh my god, this is a horrible car." It looks cool from the outside, but the interior was horrible. Everything about it was horrible.

At that point I had already decided on a full EV. You know, I don't need a hybrid. I'm either going to buy a gas car with a smoke stack or I'm going to buy a full battery car. The half step wasn't what interested me. None of the plug-in hybrids coming out in the future had the range. The Prius Plug-In, it pissed me off because why don't you guys put a 50-mile battery in there at least. Let me plug it in and only once in a while start the motor. Even the Volt is pretty limited in how much you can really do before you've gotta start the motor.

Randy Hansen Tesla Model X

"I found that I can live pure EV."

I found that I can live pure EV. I bought my first Tesla, figured I'm going to keep the BMW because I'm not really going be able to road trip it. Within the first year in 2013, Arizona got covered [in Superchargers] and now I can go to Vegas for my business meetings, or to San Diego, and if it's much farther than that, I fly anyway. It covered all of my routine travel needs really well, and if I'm going to go farther I'm going to fly.

When I finally got to the Model S back in early 2012, I ordered one, going "this will work." I don't even care if it's a crappy car. I just want a battery car that has the range to go all day long without needing to hunt down a charger and having to sit for two hours, slow charging somewhere to make it home. With Teslas you just never ever... You guys drove it all day today and you never even crossed your mind to think about charging.

ABG: It still has 100 miles on the battery.

RH: Ours leave the house in the morning typically with 200 or so miles on 'em. I typically charge to 80 percent. It's pretty rare on a normal life day that they come home with less than 100 miles remaining, which is where the Leaf starts. I've passed on my Leaf to my employees. I've got a couple of employees that take care of my properties there in Arizona. I just gave it to them as a company car, if you will. It's their car. Ironically about a month after I gave it to them the battery finally died to the level where it qualified for a warranty replacement.

So, they now have a 2010 Nissan Leaf with a 2016 battery in it. It's got better range, better cooling, and they love the car. They live 25 miles away. They worked for me for 20 years and when they retired, I said, "Come on board part-time managing my real estate." They drive to work, plug in, charge with my solar during the day, and then drive home. My other Leaf has already gone to another family member. It's killing him that Tesla's not delivering this last Model X because that's what frees up the Leaf for him. My EV world has been slowly contaminating others with the technology. It actually works.

ABG: That's what I find, too. Once people try EVs, they don't want to go back. They really enjoy all the benefits, but if you don't get in it the first time you may never know.

RH: A lot of people are worried. I get the same questions everybody does, "Aren't you worried about range and all that?" I worry less about it in my Tesla than I do in my gas car because I know every morning when I get in it that it's full. I never even look at it, I just know that it's full and I'm going to drive all day. In a gas car, the first thing you do is check. Oh, quarter tank, I better stop to fill up. It takes me two seconds to plug in because of the way my garage is set up.

When people say, "Isn't that inconvenient?" I'm like, "Not really." We plug in our cars every single time we pull in the garage. We're charging off solar so time and use doesn't really affect me in Arizona. I have started a little bit to set my time just to help the utility out. In the summer when they have peak load problems I charge at night. During the winter when it's no issue I just plug it in and charge them. I'll set a charge time during the month, too, on the cars. I'll charge at 11 and 1. I kind of stagger them because we have three of them charging in my garage right now. I stagger them 11, 1, and 2, so I don't have a massive load come on all at once at 11 o'clock at night.

ABG: You said before that you have to do set the preferences when you first get into the car. The Tesla is sort of a thinking car. The way you're describing this charging setup, you had to kind of plan things a little bit. It seems like there's a little bit of thought at the front end, but after that, it just works.

RH: I have to admit when I read the forums, there's a lot of people that needed the Model X. They ordered that, didn't ever buy an S and they waited for the X. Their first ever exposure to Tesla is getting in an X, with funky doors, whole new way of doing things, auto drive. It's almost overwhelming to someone that's never been in the world. That's one reason I've been so open about people contacting me through the forums and, "Hey, can I can look at your car? I want to see one. I want to learn a little about it."

"They get out and they're like, 'This is amazing. I just love it.'"

Just like you, I'll put them in the driver's seat and say, "Just go up the highway. We'll play. You can feel all the things. See how it works." It's amazing how many, after an hour test drive up Fountain Hills and back – I've got a route that's perfect to try all the different features and do it in a fairly short period of time – how many of them are like, "I love this." They get out and they're like, "This is amazing. I just love it." The first time you feel regen braking, you're like, "Really."

ABG: If I'm on a track in an automaker's car, I can be a little bit reckless but in this situation, but today I just wanted to see what it was like. Like I said, the X was very much like an S. You're someone who's driven them more. To you, what are the differences between the X and S?

RH: I think the S feels better just driving. Once you're settled in and driving, it's a little more performance-feeling car. You're lower and tighter. If I'm doing a road trip, I'll take the X hands down over the S. We took that car, my wife and I, and she'd never Supercharged. Her car in Arizona, that's got 50,000 miles, has only been plugged into a Supercharger once in its entire life. It's 100 percent a local car for her. She does all of her life locally. I drove it to Buckeye, Arizona, and plugged it in just to make sure it worked. I thought if she ever takes a trip out of town and takes that car, I want to know that when she plugs in it's going to work and I don't suddenly have a wife calling me going, "My car won't charge." I drove it to Buckeye, plugged it in, charged it 10 minutes and drove it home. It worked.

tesla model x with open doors

"Autodrive on road trips is amazing."

The car is just so comfortable. When I autodrive, I just rest my hand on my leg and loop my thumb over the wheel. It's nice to have your hands free. Even though you're watching, your hands are free to open a water bottle and get a drink. You're not driving with your knee. It's amazing on road trips how convenient it really is. I just normally just sit with hand looped over and I sit with this hand on my other leg. The cruise lever is right above it so if you want to bump up five, go down five, you just pop that. You use the cruise like a hand throttle. If your left thumb is looped over the wheel and you see a tire in the road or something, it's a tenth of a second to just grab the wheel and maneuver. Then just totally relax because you're not holding your arms up for 10 hours. Autodrive on road trips is amazing.

ABG: It's only going to get better, too.

RH: I'm pretty stunned how good it is already. People bitch about it. I'm like, I can go all the way from Indio to Palm Springs to Quartzsite and never turn it off. A truck comes up, I hit the turn signal. If the spacing is not right, it adjusts, pulls over. I pass the truck, hit the turn signal, pull back in. I'll go two and a half hours of non-stop driving and never turn it off.

tesla lineup

ABG: Hopefully, in a couple of weeks when they do the Model 3 launch, we'll know a little bit more but my guess is that the base Model 3 won't have that.

RH: My bet is that the base Model 3, to get the price point, and to be honest, people that want to buy it at that price point, they don't care about all that stuff. I see a lot of people on the forums that their only issue is affordability. I'm betting Tesla will come out with a bare, bare, bare base model. Now they're going to piss the world off because they're going to be just what they're doing with the X. They're only going to sell the highest-priced models in the beginning. That strategy is good for their cash flow to make their numbers look good and to be able to do what they're doing. It's really horrible for customers.

The Model X customers that want to buy a 90D, they're getting pushed to the back of 2016. They're accepting it. You see it on the blogs that, "Oh, that's just the way it is. They want to sell the expensive cars first." But I think they lose a lot of customers they would by saying, "If you've waited three years and your order number is 5,000, you get the next car off the line." If we lose a little this quarter, we'll make it next quarter because the people that are going to buy a P90D, they're going to buy a P90D. I don't think they're selling a lot more high end cars just because I can get it three months earlier, when you already waited three years for it.

ABG: Right. Do you think their overall strategy is a good one, though? It roped you in from a very different angle.

RH: I sympathize with Tesla. You're a young, struggling company trying to book sales, keep confidence in your stock. You got to get revenue. I don't know if I was in management that I would be making any different decisions. As a customer, you go, "Why did they do this? Why did they do that?" I've never been treated bad by anybody in the Tesla world. The service at the Scottsdale Service Center is incredible. The people are just friendly and nice.

"It's incredible to me how customers like me who reserved the car three years ago are being treated."

The issue I have with them now is it's incredible to me how customers like me who reserved the car three years ago are being treated. I paid full price for my next X on December 12. I'm assuming that from the time they invoiced me, they found some quality issue and they just weren't willing to ship those cars. It's big enough that they're stockpiling them and they're reworking them one at a time. I don't even mind that. I mean we all knew when we bought the first 1,000 cars [the Signature Series], we're going to be the guinea pigs. That goes with the territory.

My whole life I've always said I'll never buy a first model year car. Now, I'm not only buying the first model year, I'm buying one of the first 1,000. The one you drove is 265 and the other one is 732. It has totally shocked me that there has been absolutely no communication from any level of management anywhere to say, "Hey, we're working on your car. We've got this problem,' or even "we can't really tell you exactly because we don't want the stock market to go shit a fit." The communication is bizarre. It is bizarre, and that's coming from the most loyal Tesla guy in the world. I was told the first week of December, then end of December, first week of January, maybe February.

tesla model x at supercharger

The last email I got from the local delivery guy - who doesn't know anything, he just works at the local place and delivers it - he said, "Well, they're going to have all the Arizona cars delivered by the end of March." That's pretty specific. I expect in the next week or two the car will be delivered. They have been cleaning them out. There's probably 300 or 400 Model X buyers that got caught in the same situation I did. The first few hundred cars shipped and then they just stopped everything. I've got a few fit issues with the car. The Falcon doors at the bottom, if you notice, they hang out maybe an eighth of an inch. Visually, it looks fine but my detailer said, "Well, you're going to catch sand, mud and paint chips because you got this edge sticking out just a hair." When he detailed the car, he had to kind of clean it up already. There's things like that that you know each car built will get better. Let's adjust this. Let's tweak that until by the VIN 2,000 or something, they'll be building a pretty good car. I have no issue telling people it will be a good car. The first 1,000 are going to go visit the shop a few times.

ABG: Yeah, then it really comes down to what the Model 3 ends up being. To me, that was the story of today was trying to see how the X fits into the broader Tesla story line. Like I said, everybody who's criticized Tesla or said they're going to fail has been wrong so far.

"Tesla is so far ahead of everybody else. I mean so far ahead."

RH: They are so far ahead of everybody else. I mean so far ahead. Nobody's even on the same field. GM's coming out with the Bolt but I have yet to hear a comment on how you're going to charge it. The first thing you realize when you start driving Teslas a lot, traveling in them, is the charging infrastructure is half of the car. Without the charging infrastructure, the car is basically a grocery getter. I can run local errands but I'm not going to drive from here to Salt Lake City or something, spend five hours every time I stop or go searching for some Chargepoint charger in the back of bar somewhere. Tesla has a fueling system and it's an incredible fueling system. I've Supercharged hundreds and hundreds of times. I've been all over the Southwest and up to northern Utah and California. It's painless. It is absolutely incredible.

ABG: You said, if you imagined yourself as Tesla management, you probably would be doing the same things, so you're kind of like...

RH: Like happens with any company – Apple, Google, any of 'em – when there is no other game around, they can get a little self-important. "What else are they going to buy so we don't have to kiss their ass that much." I'm probably the last customer in the world that gives a rat about having my butt kissed or being given gifts and crap. I don't want goo-gags and things, but having $150,000 sitting for three months at Tesla and not getting a single personal call, email or, "hey, you know, this is what we're doing." Just like you would do with normal customer service. That surprises me. At some point, before Model 3 gets rolling, Tesla's got to come to grips with, "we need to learn how to be a more customer-focused, more responsive to customer communication." They're super responsive on the repair and service side. They made that their mantra from the beginning, that, "we're a little small company and our repair centers are far apart. We're going to have to really work hard to keep customers happy," and they've done that well with the roaming service and they've slowly tapered the service off as they've increased the capacity so you don't need it as much.

They're opening a huge service center within a few miles of my house, which'll be nice instead of driving 20 miles to Scottsdale. Most of the time, they come to my house, pick the car up, leave a loaner. The service side they've been real good, but on the buying side, I'm just a little stunned that there isn't a more focused communication. I don't mean General Motors advertising of the Super Bowl kind of thing. They've got an extremely loyal customer base and they run a risk of alienating it if they don't understand what a huge value that is. I've never in my life given some Autoblog a car to drive for the day that was a General Motors or a BMW or anything. Are you crazy? I'm not doing that.

ABG: And we appreciate that. But like I was saying, when the 3 comes out there'll be a different kind of buyer, people who have heard about Tesla, people who aspire to own one. That's going to be the one they want, so yeah, you're right. That's going to be real key.

RH: The opposite side of that argument is the buyer. The Model 3 could cut across a lot of ages and demographics. The under-30 crowd, I never run into anybody under 30 that doesn't go up the the car and go, "I can't wait until I can own a Tesla." In their world, that's what they aspire to. It's not a Ferrari or a McLaren or something, it's, "I want to own a Tesla." It's almost bizarre, I mean you drive through a coffee drive-through and the 20-year-olds working behind the window all know what a Tesla is. They're oohing and ahhing at the screen and going, "I just can't wait 'till I can buy one of those, those are incredible cars," and on and on.

Kid in a Tesla Model X

They're also, grew up buying everything from Amazon and buying their music from iTunes and online, they will be totally not bothered at all to go on the internet and order the car. Look at one in the boutique, read the write-ups, and then order the car. They could care less about going to a car dealership and having a salesman that knows nothing about the car asking around trying to sell them the lime green in the back because it's been on the lot for six months. The way Tesla sells cars will work in the under-30 demographic, and that's who they're going after for the Model 3 to a huge, huge degree. But they still somehow got to get their communication system better. Even their website, it's the coolest thing in the world. You order your car, a little thing shows up, you deliver all your documents online, here's your driver's license, your insurance card. It's all painless, you can do it sitting in your La-Z-Boy chair at home. There seems to be a hole in making that system close-looped. When I order from Amazon, I know within two minutes what time it's going to deliver. Then I can track it every step of the way exactly where my package is and when it's going to deliver, and Tesla hasn't gone to that next level of online sales and they're going to have to for Model 3, I think.

It's funny to say it, but the folks that can afford these cars are probably more tolerant. You wouldn't think so, and there are the people that buy a Cadillac and love going to the dealership and getting their ass kissed, but in my experience a lot of people who buy Teslas are just technology kind of people that, they understand the complexity of it. They're pulling for Tesla to get their stuff together and keep improving and growing and making the batteries better. I think, to a large degree, a lot of us are buying cars that would normally give you that plastic, fake, over-the-top customer care.

You go to any of the look-at-me brand cars and typically their waiting room and everything is just organized to make you feel like you're really important. That's never been an issue to me with Tesla, I just wish they'd tell me when they're going to ship my stinking car!

ABG: Well, you can't have everything.

"When you're an innovator, you're just gong to have to accept sometimes it comes with speed bumps."

RH: I'm pretty patient about it, I figure it doesn't do me any good to get on the phone and yell at people. I'm pretty sure, in the bowels of Tesla, there are a lot of people working hard to get things figured out, solved, built, and shipped. Me, as a customer, calling up and threatening them and being pissed off and yelling and ranting and raving is not going to accomplish anything. When you're an innovator on the front end of new technology, you're just gong to have to accept sometimes it comes with speed bumps.

ABG: You know, you're right. It would be nice to come with some form of communication.

RH: I hound the forums, I've been a pretty long-term fan. I usually just get on there to talk about knowledge. What have we learned about the cars, what's a smart technique for road-tripping. Do you charge to 80 percent or 90 and does it make a difference? The forums, the Tesla Motor Club, and the Tesla Motors forums are both great sources, and that goes back to buying my first car. Back then, none of us knew anything about them. It was like a huge learning experiment and all the owners shared knowledge and there was this base of pretty dedicated people that did a lot of research and shared their knowledge with others. It gave you this comfort level to buy the cars. It's like, "Okay, these aren't salesmen, these are real people."

tesla model x with open falcon wing doors

There's a guy in Wyoming called Bighorn that's been on the Tesla forum for three or four years. Back in the beginning of the Model S. You see one of his posts and you know this is going to be useful information. He's traveled in the cars, he's charged them. The owners that post on the forum know a hell of a lot more about the cars than the DS [delivery specialists]. Funny, I talk to them, they don't drive the cars, they don't live with the cars. They're like, "Oh, here's how the door works." I'm like, "Yeah, but did you know it'll do this, this, and this," and they're like, "No, I didn't know that."

I taught them more about this car by visits initially, because this is the first car that delivered in Arizona, there were three of them that delivered that morning. I had already read a ton about it and waited for it for three years. Got on the forum, reading, and was like, "Oh, let me show you how things work." I think when they were doing the orientation I showed them more about the car.

ABG: They come to you to learn.

RH: They'd barely seen one.

ABG: It's a reversal of the Genius Bar.

RH: It just landed in their delivery room and they were still learning about it. But if you live with it and drive it every day, you get to know all the little quirks and tricks and what works. My whole intent is, I'm ecstatically happy with Tesla products, I love driving them. I would have never thought it. I had a Dodge Viper SRT10 a few years ago. In fact, I had the first SRT10 delivered in America. It was a fluke. I had VIN 1 basically when they came out with the SRT10 so I've, over the years I've owned a lot of different stuff and I've been a car guy my whole life and enjoyed cars, and I thought - not having an engine, and engine sound and all the car kind of stuff that you associate with a car.

I have to admit when I pulled the first Model S in the garage, I excitedly opened the frunk, and I looked, and there's one service thing. I can service the windshield wiper. That's it. That's all that's visible. I looked over the whole car and I had an extremely sad moment when I went, "There's nothing to do on this car. There's no belts to check the tension, there's no 12-volt terminal to make sure they're clean," all the normal things, if you're a car person you're used to dealing with. Transmission fluid, power steering fluid.

You open the frunk and there's the one little blue cap and that's it. Put air in the tires and put a little windshield washer fluid in once in a while, and I've come to really enjoy that over the years, it's just effortless. You can just spend your time driving it and enjoying it. You don't have to constantly deal with a maintenance issue or service issue. Oil changes, my daughter's Lexus, at 5,000 miles it had to go in, spend the day, get the oil change and all the service done. With these, I take them in once a year.

ABG: It's a fascinating story, and it's one I'm glad to have followed and if I'm lucky I'll keep following it.

RH: You're kind of focused on the technology ... Reading through your articles when we first made contact. You're touching lots of different areas of green. What's your motivation in this?

ABG: I've always been a writer. I wrote my first news tip article when I was 16. I didn't know a whole bunch about cars when I started. I come at it more from the environmental side. The idea of moving around and people being able to be mobile without necessarily using up all of our resources, is hugely important, which is why car sharing is important to me. Which is why Uber and Lift play a role, which is why things that aren't cars play a role. Electric scooters. Then you come to this kind of car, and everything about it is fascinating. From the people like Elon who are pushing it with their personality, to ludicrous mode. What's not to like about this car?

RH: That's why I get the biggest kick out of Musk, he almost thumbs his nose at the world because EVs are supposed to be funky, ugly, ducky-looking. BMW builds the I3 and why do you have to make it look goofy?

ABG: See, I kind of like the way the i3 looks. I really like that car.

RH: For a short distance grocery-getter, an urban car, it is a design that...

ABG: It is a city car, I 100-percent agree.

"I don't want you to get the wrong impression with my whole Obama speech."

RH: If you're looking for a road car, a beautiful car. Okay, that's another little boxy city car. Maybe that's why it doesn't appeal to me. I don't want you to get the wrong impression with my whole Obama speech, but that was my motivation initially to do solar. To this day, we mulch and garden and we live on irrigated acre lots in Arizona. I raise citrus trees and donate buckets of fruit to the homeless so it doesn't go to waste in my yard. I can't possibly eat all the oranges and grapefruit and pomegranates that I grow. My dad was probably an environmentalist before anybody knew what an environmentalist was. He never threw anything out, he recycled everything, he reused everything. His garden was a foot and a half deep, a half-acre garden of the richest soil in the world because he mulched the leaves in. He mowed the grass and then dried the grass in the driveway, and stored it and fed it to the horses that we had so it didn't go to waste. I kind of came from a culture of, "You don't need to be dirty, you don't need to waste things, you don't need to trash things." My dad's mantra was, "You just always leave everything you touch better than you found it."

Kid in a Tesla Model X

"To me, Tesla was a natural fit. I can make my own fuel, I can drive clean, and I'm leaving a better world for my kids."

I looked at how we live in our world. You're producing buckets of used oil that have to be dealt with, and anti-freeze that's toxic that drains into the ground, and all those things. To me, Tesla was a natural fit. I can make my own fuel, I can drive clean, and I'm leaving a better world for my kids. The people that go, "Oh, the batteries, what are you going to do with the batteries?" Those batteries will get re-purposed into storage batteries, then they'll get recycled and reused into something else. The metal in them and the composites in them are too valuable not to get reused. I think the odds of a Tesla getting recycled and reused are way better than the odds of a Chevy pick-up truck. That's a cast-iron block, what are we going to do. We've got to tear it down, it's full of oil, we've got to cook it out, melt it. I don't see the battery as being a environmental issue. Some people get on Tesla, "Well they're heavy cars and they weight a lot." But they can weigh a lot and they still get incredible economy.

ABG: You don't feel it, this car doesn't feel like it's floating, but it's quick enough, even though it's so heavy.

Rh: The way Tesla put the weight, it's brilliant in their design. You look at Chevy Volt, they initially stuck it in a center tunnel and ruined the interior space. Tesla's brilliant to figure out a way to put the weight at the very bottom of the car and make the floor so you don't waste an inch of space anywhere in the cabin. The cars are rock-solid because it's like a keel on a sail boat. You got all that weight in there. You feel it when you drive, even on wet roads, that extra weight sinks you right in. You don't feel hydroplaning and weird things. The car is balanced front-to-rear, incredible. This car, for a big, bulky SUV, you could run the cones in it pretty effectively. It actually rides maybe a little firmer than people are used to spongy, soft rides.

We probably come at it from different cultural-backgrounds, a lot of the Tesla population. Somebody published the other day that the number one web-browser app accessed on Tesla is the Drudge Report. Some internet company that tracks that kind of stuff published a report that said one out of ten page views is the Drudge Report.

ABG: That's interesting.

RH: That tells you a lot of conservative-bent people that Drudge appeals to must own these cars.

ABG: And it's nice to have something that you can agree on right? Like when you do political stuff. Yes, people have differences, but it's more important to think of, "What are the things that we agree on?" and then you move forward from there. If you can all agree on electric cars then so much the better.

RH: I always tell people, "instead of talking about, you know we should do this and we should do that, why don't you just do it?" That's kind of how I've viewed it. I didn't know anything about Leafs, but I know I can charge it with my solar, I'm going to figure it out. I'm not going to sit around and say, "Well I'm going to wait until the government does it for free or gives me a bonus for doing it." The $7,500 credit for buying an EV is huge if you're buying a Leaf or a lower-price, limited range car. To most Tesla buyers, I think it's not even a significant factor in the purchase decision. I know in my case it didn't save me one tenth of one percent of my taxes, so the $7,500 has absolutely no bearing on buying a Tesla at this price point anyways. Now the $30,000 car, yeah that'll clearly be a factor for people. It helps offset the cost of the higher premium you pay to have the batteries."

ABG: Well again, thank you.

RH: I could talk to you all night about Tesla. I think my wife ratted me out earlier. "Oh, you want to talk Tesla? He's your man." I hate having that reputation.

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