As of July 2021, Mike and I have been the happy owners of a Tesla Model Y (affectionately referred to as Ysabella) for exactly one year!
To celebrate the milestone, I thought I would share 12 things (representing 12 months in the year—I’m very clever) you might be interested in knowing about driving a Tesla Model Y in Alberta.
I had intended to post this in July but, life, lol so you get it now in October!
This list is entirely based on our personal experience, so may differ from others’ experiences.
You could also consider this a sequel to my original Tesla Model Y blog post: Pros and Cons to Owning an Electric Vehicle (Tesla Model Y) in Alberta, which I first shared back in March 2021.
That Tesla blog post was really well-received. Thank you for all of your lovely messages and comments, and big thanks to those of you who purchased your Teslas using my referral code (mike67381)! Sadly the referral code program was shut down as of Sept. 18, 2021, so no more referrals for now but I’m leaving the link and code up in case they reinstate it at some point.
If you’re new to my blog, I must reiterate the following before you proceed:
- I am NOT a typical “car reviewer”
- This IS my personal blog
- Therefore what I choose to focus on, and how I choose to write it is entirely up to me and if it’s not for you, you actually don’t need to send me a mean message lol
Seriously, I got a lot of mean messages from people who didn’t like that I used so many “lols” in my last personal blog post about owning a Tesla. You can actually just close the tab or window if you don’t like what you’re reading. Also this is not an automotive magazine, so I can use as many lols as I want? So, if any of that disclaimer bothered you, if seeing this lol -> lol <- bothers you, feel free to exit the page right now, thank you! My comments are also moderated so if you feel compelled to post something mean, it actually won’t see the light of day. So just don’t?
With that said, I’m excited to share with you:
12 Things To Know About Driving a Tesla Model Y in Alberta
Based on my experience owning a Tesla Model Y in Edmonton, Alberta from July 2020-2021
One year with Ysabella, my Tesla Model Y.
Note: Professional photos used in this post were taken by Dallas Curow Photography.
Additional context: Our Tesla Model Y is a 2020 LR (Long Range) AWD (All Wheel Drive) – SUV
Also: this post is NOT sponsored by Tesla (though I would definitely partner if they asked lol)
1. There aren’t any issues driving it in Alberta’s -40C winter
This question comes up often when people talk to us about the Tesla—”how is it in winter?”
The answer: excellent! At least, based on our personal experience (and the one winter we’ve had it).
I’ve had many a previous winters pre-Tesla, worried about whether or not my vehicle would start (even when plugged in!) and that just wasn’t a worry at all with our Tesla. Another big concern pre-Tesla in Edmonton / Alberta winters was whether or not I would not be able to brake properly or slide into oncoming traffic in the intersection. Stress!!! But with the Tesla, no stress! Not a worry.
The Tesla does lose range a bit quicker than in optimal weather, but that’s not an issue for daily commutes. Otherwise it starts great, is super cozy and warm inside the vehicle (heats up quite fast). Teslas have regenerative braking too which means when you let your foot off the pedal it basically halts the car instantly. We turn our acceleration and braking to “Chill Mode” during winter so the sudden start/stop isn’t too much of a shock in the snow/ice so there’s no slip or slide concerns (this may be more dependent on the tires you get though, we do change to winter tires during winter).
I would say the auto pilot is a bit dicier during winter if snow is covering up lanes and the camera can’t see the lanes properly, but generally the auto pilot is dicy in bad weather anyway (rain, fog or fierce winds) so I would just drive normally without auto pilot at that point, which is a difference with winter driving compared to other times of year. But overall—no winter stress with a Tesla!!
2. We save a lot of money not paying for gas
Truly, with the amount of driving I do, we have saved so much money not paying for gas.
Based on the calculation I shared in my Pros and Cons Tesla blog post, even with a slightly higher electricity bill, we end up saving close to $200 per month compared to what we were paying pre-electric vehicle for gas/electricity. * Note this would change depending on what your typical electricity bill is, how often you drive/fill up gas, and fluctuations in the market, but especially with how pricy gas has been over the last year ($1.41/litre?!)—not filling up has been REALLY nice.
If we do have to use a destination or supercharger outside of our garage, the cost is so minimal (like $7-$15 on average per charge), and even then, we haven’t had to pay for most of the last year as you get free supercharging kms if people use your referral code (mike67381), and thankfully, people have been using ours! As noted above, the referral code program has ended (as of Sept 2021) so I unfortunately can’t offer you any free supercharging kms (and you can’t get me bonus ones lol) but honestly the cost to charge up on road trips is really so nominal compared to paying for gas, and you don’t have to worry about that for daily commutes as it just rolls into your monthly electric bill and that ends up being significantly less than filling up at the pump.
3. Charge anxiety is really the only downside to owning a Tesla
I can say that a year into Tesla ownership, we definitely have *less* charge anxiety than we did in my first blog post after just three months of driving an electric vehicle, though worrying about where and when to charge and if we will “make” certain longer routes on our current charge is definitely still the only downside of owning an electric vehicle (in our opinion).
The longer you have your electric vehicle, the more chances you’ll get to try different routes and the more opportunities you’ll get to push your charging comfort levels though.
Three months in we charged up in Red Deer AND Calgary on our way to Canmore/Banff, and now, one year into EV ownership, we’re good to go straight to Calgary without a charge, or just a Red Deer charge before heading straight to Canmore/Banff. We know we can make it.
* Note—this changes a bit during the wintertime and again, comfort levels. As I’m a like-t0-have-my-phone-fully-charged-all-day kind of person, especially in winter when your EV is more likely to lose charge faster, I would err on the side of caution for charging up before final destinations.
I still don’t want to be low, but I am definitely not as anxious if let’s say there’s 25% charge left as I get to my destination (context: I would never allow my phone to get down to 25% lol), but that’s in non-winter conditions. I would play it a bit more safe during winter conditions.
Also as time goes on, more charging stations and infrastructure is being added everywhere, so it’s definitely not as stressful as being an EV owner a few years ago! For instance compared to a year ago, we can now easily head over to Jasper, Alberta as they’ve just added superchargers in Edson and Jasper! Hooray for more charging infrastructure.
But certainly being worried about where to charge, when to charge, how often to charge, how fast or slow to drive to ensure we make it on our current charge, whether weather will affect our charge, is all part of the charge anxiety that often comes with owning an electric vehicle, and is really the only downside (for us anyway) to owning our Tesla—but that anxiety really only comes up for road trips—not daily commutes—and that longer distance anxiety is being addressed with time. The longer you wait to get an EV, the more new infrastructure will be added.
We have certainly seen our charge anxiety ease over time, the more we drive and push our limits and the more charging stations get added for those longer trips.
Note: if you have an EV or are interested in an EV that isn’t a Tesla brand, the infrastructure note would be similar. Non-Teslas also have “superchargers” (they don’t call it that lol), but basically various levels of charging outside of your home. Generally, infrastructure for all EVs gets better overtime.
4. It’s fun to watch Netflix or YouTube in the vehicle while you wait
Super fun! Someone is running late? No worries, I’ll just throw on YouTube. We have to wait for the vehicle to supercharge on a road trip? Let’s watch Netflix while we eat. Just want to kill time for whatever reason? Turn on the in-vehicle entertainment! There are also games (though I’ve literally never played one lol) but I just think it’s such a nice perk to be able to watch videos or catch up on a show if we need to kill time in the car.
When you purchase a Tesla, you get one year of connectivity (car Internet) for free, and then you have to pay after the year is up (so sadly, we now pay for car Internet) but it is worth it for the Spotify access, YouTube/Netflix, etc.
5. Teslas are so fast, so quiet and so smooth
I remember a friend of mine drove Ysabella, our Tesla, during a road trip in the past year, and when we had to pass a slower semi truck, she was nervous about whether the Tesla would accelerate fast enough. She didn’t know much about Teslas, and said her vehicle is really fast but she’s found other cars she’s driven not as fast. I literally laughed out loud, like, yes, the Tesla is really fast, the acceleration is actually ridiculous, we’ll be fine. After she sped past the semi truck, she admitted “okay, that was fast.” lol I realized afterwards it probably came off a bit snotty that I laughed in her face about comparing an older, non-Tesla vehicle’s acceleration speed to a Tesla’s acceleration speed, but seriously—it fast!
It takes about 4 seconds to accelerate the Tesla Model Y up to 100 km/h if you wish (I mean, there’s really no everyday scenario where you’d ever need to do that, but that’s just as an example of how fast it accelerates).
The Tesla is also SO smooth.
I take this for granted because I’ve really only driven the Tesla in the past year, I don’t really notice it anymore, and so when my friends come into the car, or help drive during work road trips, they often say how much smoother the Tesla is than their own vehicles. Much less bumpy, much less shaky. Just smooth.
And of course—the quiet. It really sneaks up on you. Which means you have to be a bit more vigilant in like parking lots to ensure no one backs into you or walks in front of you because they don’t really realize you’re driving, but the quiet is really nice (and something that new passengers tend to notice right away as well). The Tesla is literally soundless (unless you hear the vibration and sound of my BTS jams playing from inside the vehicle lol).
6. It’s cool being part of an electric vehicle movement
Back in February, a study found that 70% of Canadians are considering an electric vehicle for their next new vehicle purchase. That probably explains why my first blog post about our Tesla—listing Pros and Cons—has been so popular, as people look to make that shift.
The shift is also being driven by the federal government’s mandate to have 100% zero-emission vehicle sales by 2035. Almost all major car brands have come out with hybrid or full EV models now (including an electric F-150).
If you drive, and are looking to upgrade your vehicle, be assured this EV shift *is* for you!
7. The frunk in action always turns heads or gets curious glances
The frunk—the front trunk—of a Tesla always turns heads! That’s some of the fun to being a Tesla owner. People aren’t used to seeing you open up the front of your car and place groceries inside. Because there is no engine, the front trunk is basically used as storage.
Usually if I’ve popped open the frunk and someone is nearby, they’ll remark how cool that is, or ask what it’s like to own a Tesla. Or, there’s just a lot of curious glances, which makes sense because it’s an unusual sight! I love using our frunk!
8. The car is regularly upgraded via software updates
We haven’t needed an oil change, or maintenance on our Tesla and its been over a year!
The vehicle gets regular software updates, which is really just getting a notification on our phones, making sure we’re connected to Wi-Fi, and hitting update. Then the next time we pop into the vehicle it tells us what they’ve fixed or new features they’ve added. So easy and slick.
9. Driver profiles are so convenient
In a Tesla, you can set different things like distance from wheel, seat adjustments, left and right side mirror height, steering wheel position, preferred display, light settings and more—and save it to unique driver profiles so when you come into the vehicle and it detects your phone key (more on that below), it auto adjusts to that driver’s settings. This is SO convenient, especially because Mike is a pretty big guy and I’m a pretty small girl (well, I’m not that small lol but I do need to be very close to the wheel so adjusting in between drivers with our previous vehicle was annoying lol).
I’ve also had friends drive during work road trips so it’s super convenient to set their settings too.
10. Controlling climate and aspects of the car by phone is great, as well as the walk-away lock and phone start
If you can’t tell by this point, I really love the convenient aspects of owning a Tesla.
Here’s a few more things about it that are just so convenient!
- You can set up your smartphone as your vehicle “key” so I don’t use a car key or even the key card that it comes with, I just know that if I have my phone, I can get into the vehicle
- I love that you can set it to lock when you walk away from the vehicle. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed this feature until I had to rent a car on a recent work trip and kept having to juggle bags, cameras, etc. to lock the car with my keys then put the keys away
- Also using your phone, you can set climate control inside the car so you can get it warm or cool before you hop in, and also check temps (or set Dog Mode) if your dog or friends are hanging back in the vehicle
- Mike also likes that he can check the app on the phone to see where I’m at if I’m doing a road trip as it also shows your location while you drive
- You can also open the trunk, frunk, and manually start the car using your phone too. If you aren’t sure if the walk away lock feature worked, you can also check on your app and lock or unlock the vehicle manually from your phone too
The only possible downside to the phone controlling the vehicle is when we did have -40C weather, although the Tesla itself started just fine, my phone tends to lose battery quickly in the cold, so I was a little worried if my phone died, I would not have been able to unlock and start the vehicle lol. This is resolved if you also carry around your Tesla key card but I don’t do that (why carry two things? lol) but if you do then phone dying is not a concern really.
11. Teslas do not stop you from hitting curbs (lol)
Aside from charge anxiety, perhaps my only other gripe about the Tesla is that while it’s supposed to be one of the safest vehicles that exists, and I love doing auto pilot and eventually we will get full self driving, currently, as of this blog post, my Tesla really doesn’t actually stop me from hitting curbs, which is super annoying, lol.
Like, you know how to exit off freeway ramps, you can switch lanes on your own, you can alert me when I’m a few cm away from another vehicle if I’m parking, but if I’m getting too close to a curb, or just about to hit one, you won’t tell me or stop me?! Bit of a flaw there, if you ask me, lol.
Yes, I know some of you may just say, Linda, could you just pay attention and try not hitting curbs? And of course I can do that, but I’m just pointing out that it’s weird that this vehicle wouldn’t know how to stop that from happening given how smart and safe it is in all other aspects. Right?!
12. But it is really cool that it drives itself!
Still the coolest thing about the Tesla is that it can drive itself. A lot of newer vehicles do have smart cruise and lane control now, but when we got our Tesla, we had never experienced that before, so thought (and still think) it’s amazing that it slows down if someone slows down in front of you, that it keeps you within your lanes, that it can exit on or off freeway and highway ramps, and that it can switch lanes on its own. The lane switching really wows our new passengers lol.
It can also technically be summoned, roll in and out of its parking spot, and ‘come to you’ the driver (but those features aren’t great yet). Soon (eventually?) it will also have FULL self driving. Right now you need to check in regularly to let the vehicle know you’re still paying attention, as you should be lol and it doesn’t auto take the on/off ramps for exits or make full avenue/street turns on its own quite yet—but it will! For now I definitely would not trust Ysabella to drive fully on her own (she can’t! Also see the curb hitting section lol). But when you buy a Tesla you can buy into the full self driving (which we did) because it locks you into the lower rate for it (even though it isn’t available for everyone yet—they’re piloting it in the U.S. first).
So that’s just 12 of my updated thoughts on owning a Tesla, over 12 months after our purchase, from the perspective of an average, non-car-person, who does drive a lot for work.
We absolutely love it and will not be going back. It’s been a dream vehicle, it’s utterly convenient, saves us money, is good for the environment, and it’s cool as heck.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment or send me an email or note on social media, I’m happy to answer any questions based on my personal experience with a Tesla and I’ve just loved all the messages I get from people who say my Tesla blog(s) have helped them make their decision!
In that blog I include cost information but figured I should paste it here too:
How much does a Tesla Model Y cost?
I’m going to caveat this by saying I am not a financial expert or advisor OR a car expert in any way, lol and obviously everyone’s situation is going to be different, so you may look at this and think, wow that is crappy, but from our perspective, we think it’s pretty decent.
Something that surprises a lot of people we talk to about owning a Tesla is the monthly cost—in that, it’s not as pricy as you might expect. Many people we’ve talked to tell us they pay *nearly* as much as we are paying each month for their new car payments, and let’s face it, the Tesla is a lot nicer than most other car brands LOL. You’re also saving money on monthly expenses and long-term maintenance expenses.
So we pay $749 per month for our Tesla on an eight-year term (loan). This monthly cost was calculated after a $20,000 upfront payment. The total cost of our Tesla Model Y was $84,000.
Now there’s some Canadian data that reports on average, current monthly payments on a new vehicle ranges between $490 to $570 per month. So $749 isn’t *too* far off the higher average reported there. And the more you can pay upfront, the lower your monthly payments will be.
So in conversations we’ve had with a few people, they were surprised at the $749/mo in a good way—because they expected it to be much higher a monthly payment.
I think maybe there’s a mystique about Tesla as a brand that makes people think it’s too expensive or out of the realm of possibility, but lots of people buy brand new cars and I think it’s quite reasonable not to discount Tesla without looking more closely at down payments, loan/lease and monthly rates. It’s not a cheap vehicle for sure, but it’s not so unrealistic, is more the point I’m getting at.
Fully recognizing that $749/month or a $20,000 down payment on the vehicle may absolutely be unrealistic for people and everyones situation is unique—obviously if you live and work and play close within walking distance and don’t drive often then a Tesla would not really make sense for you lol. If you live in a remote part of the province or country or drive long distances for work where the electric infrastructure isn’t quite there yet, it’s likely not for you.
Or, an EV may be for you but not a Tesla due to the cost—in which case, there are many other electric vehicle options or hybrid options that are not as pricy that could be a great fit too!
But I wanted to be transparent about what we’re paying in case you are considering going down the electric vehicle road, which as mentioned, more Canadians (70%) are considering these days.
Two more things:
1. The Tesla Model Y is an SUV with a hatchback trunk so it’s super spacious and we can bring our dogs along with us for rides and adventures!
2. As of Summer 2021, Edmonton is home to a Tesla centre which means you can check out vehicles in person there, book a test drive, and for those who have Teslas in area and need to bring it in for service (or for instance, swapping to winter tires), you can now do so in the area instead of driving to Calgary (which was previously the only Alberta Tesla centre option).
P.S. Use my Bubbles Car Wash Promo Code!
Since I got Ysabella, I really wanted to keep her clean, so I partnered with Bubbles Car Wash, a family-owned operation that started on Whyte Avenue in Edmonton 40+ years ago.
Now they have locations across Edmonton, Calgary and Kelowna!
If you care about your car, getting it washed and cared for through Bubbles is highly recommended—they do a combination of hand and machine wash and if you’ve never actually been into their lobby, it’s so chic! Also feels like you’re part of a cool club lol.
If you are so inclined, you can reference my code BUBBLESLINDORK for different discounts at different times of year (note: the most current promos are reflected here):
- Jan to March 2022: $10 off any wash package
Bubbles is also unique in that they offer an unlimited wash membership! Super handy.
Be sure to mention BUBBLESLINDORK if you go to get specific deals each month this year!
We also gave our Tesla Model Y a GT Quartz Ceramic Coat job courtesy of Bubbles and would highly recommend you do the same for your car! We actually regret not getting it done as soon as we got the vehicle (but you can get it done whenever you decide now is the time you want to give your car more shine and protection). The coating basically makes your vehicle water and contaminant-resistant, which means it’ll last longer and look a LOT better (especially through very dirty Canadian winters). It makes it a lot harder for your vehicle to get chipped too. And it literally just looks like brand new, all the time.
Again: this post is NOT sponsored but my Bubbles partnership made a lot of sense to reference in this post as people who get Teslas probably also want to invest in keeping their new vehicle clean/protected.
And here’s a few more photos of Ysabella during summer and winter!
You can also check out these groups / resources to learn more:
- Electric Vehicle Association of Alberta
- Tesla Owners Club of Alberta
- EV Society – Canada’s largest electric vehicle advocacy group
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