A couple of weeks ago, on a particularly wet and gloomy day in the depths of English winter, I decided to go camping in the back of the new Tesla Model Y.
Exactly why I felt this was a necessary length to go to, purely to assess the roominess of the rear seats and boot, I still do not fully understand myself. It was a dumb idea. As was not bringing a sleeping bag. As was not sufficiently charging the car before arriving at the campsite. I am bad at camping.
Still, at least the trip did produce a few legitimately useful observations. Here’s what I learned from my night in the boot of a Tesla:
EVs are a camper’s delight!
Having an EV at your campsite means having access to heating and electricity on demand, without having to idle a diesel engine and contaminate nearby sheep and children’s lungs with nasty fumes. Some will say making use of your car’s heated seats on a camping trip is ‘cheating’. However those same people probably believe it’s a ‘cop-out’ to use a flushing loo so we musn’t worry too much about them.
Teslas are especially good at it!
While I really could have benefitted from access to a domestic plug socket in the cabin, as you get in the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, Teslas do at least have a dedicated ‘camp mode’, enabling you to leave the climate control running all night while you’re cosied up in the boot, preventing you from freezing half to death in the middle of the night. At least in theory…
Camp mode dies at 20%
…except that yours truly, Jack Scarlett, full-time car tester and EV expert, was too stupid to thoroughly juice up the car before arriving at the campsite. A combination of the running heater and bitterly cold outside temperature ate through the battery quicker than I imagined and, at roughly 2am, the car reached 20%. At which point it turns off camp mode, and the heating, to ensure you don’t wake up to an empty battery. A sensible feature no doubt, but I wasn’t grateful for it as I lay wondering which of my packed belongings would burn the longest and warmest if I were to set it on fire.
I am very tall
Now, not a new revelation, granted. But the point sure was slammed home that night. The Y is an impressively spacious car and the rear seats fold almost perfectly flat, creating what anyone below 6’2 would describe as ‘ample’ room to sleep. But I am 6’5. Or at least I was when I climbed into the boot that night. I am probably about 6’2 now.
Tesla’s build quality issues haven’t gone anywhere
This new model, which will surely go on to be Tesla’s most popular, would have been a golden opportunity to turn over a new leaf and finally address the brand’s notorious build quality issues. Sadly, it has not been taken, as evidenced by the sizeable panel gaps and shedding pieces of interior trim demonstrated by my brand new press car. At this point I can only assume Tesla deems these issues not ‘important enough to require action’. After all, every car they build flies out of the factory, so why slow production simply to build them better?
The competition is closing in
The Model Y is a very good family crossover but it hardly moves the game forward like Model 3 did – it basically IS a Model 3, with some additional bottom. As such, this car doesn’t feel lightyears ahead of its OEM rivals like the 3 did when it arrives. The ID.4 is comfier. The Ioniq 5 is prettier, and can charge faster. The Mustang Mach-E is better to drive. All of them are better built. And yet…
Tesla will continue to dominate a while longer
Yes, compared to some of its closest rival, the Model Y struggles in several key categories. Yes, with my own money, I’d have a specced up Ioniq 5 all day long. But make no mistake: the reign of Elon & Co is coming any time soon. Tesla still has two things going for it that guarantee it will continue to be the best-selling EV brand for years to come. First: reputation. At this point, people who don’t know cars but want electric just buy a Tesla, in the same way people who want a phone but don’t know tech just buy an iphone. It’s established itself as the go-to electric car thanks, in no small part to the other thing it has going for it: the supercharger network. It had been some time since I’d last used it, and I’d clearly since tried to convince myself that third party charging isn’t much worse – but good lord. Supercharging is like being in the future. You arrive, you plug, you charge QUICKLY, you leave. It’s truly tragic that this is still deemed impressive or noteworthy – that charging any car on any charger isn’t this straightforward by now – but it isn’t. And while that’s still the case, there will always be an extremely compelling reason to buy Tesla over any other EV.
Watch the episode on Youtube now.
About the author
Jack is a London-based presenter, writer, and expert in all things automotive. A lifelong car fanatic and recovering petrolhead, Jack is a fully converted EV evangelist these days and, prior to joining Fully Charged, spent two years launching and fronting a new EV media brand called Electroheads.