GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - It’s one of the most interesting cars in the country.
As quietly as it performs, it’s showing itself in South Mississippi, thanks to a few who are willing to make a big investment in the short-term to save money down the road.
The Tesla has a lot to offer the techno-geeks, but fans said there’s a lot of simple function behind the flash.
“You try to think, ‘I need to start my car.’ But there’s nothing to start,” said first-time owner Jason Livery of Gulfport. “So, when you get in, it’s like you put your foot on the brake, put it in whatever gear you’re going to go and that’s it.”
Jason Livery and his wife Christy made a bold move to take advantage of a Tesla tax incentive. They drove their two standard cars to an Atlanta dealership, traded them in and came back all-electric.
The experience wasn’t without a few initial fears.
“My mind was going a million miles an hour trying to ... I was just nervous,” he said. “I wasn’t sure what I was doing if was doing things correctly.”
His wife was unsure as well.
“I actually wanted to stay up and watch YouTube all night to find out how to drive this thing,” Christy said. “So, it was very scary to me. Like autopilot, how do I drive this thing? It doesn’t have a motor.”
With some good training, the anxiety didn’t last long.
“Within like 10 minutes, I had it figured out,” she said.
Jason’s got the hang of the autopilot feature, and his biggest concern was resolved with research.
“There’s Tesla superchargers all over the country on every major interstate everywhere,” he said. “Seeing all that and seeing all the research, I’m like, ‘Well, we’ll never have an issue with charging. So, we went ahead and pulled the trigger on it.”
Jason said the investment can be frightening. His 2020 Model X was about $98,000, and it doesn’t stop there.
Insurance and license tags are costly; it requires stronger wheels to support the increased weight, and it doesn’t help that Mississippi charges a tax on electric cars to make up for tax money not spent on gasoline.
Jason said it’s worth it, especially since Tesla is making more affordable models, some running in the $40,000 range.
“People look at the Teslas and they say, ‘Oh, they’re so expensive.' But, by the time, you factor in maintenance on your vehicles, oil changes, brake jobs, the gas - depending on how far you drive on your daily commute - it all evens out," he said.
Friend Chris Sweebe, also of Gulfport, helped guide the Liverys on their purchase.
“I love this car,” he said. “This is the best car I’ve ever owned.”
His main reason to purchase his car wasn’t just to save money.
“The reason bought this car is the performance and the technology," he said.
In fact, the car is constantly downloading new programming, so the technology always stays fresh.
Sweebe also likes the attention.
“They’re rare,” he said. “So, if anybody sees this car driving down the road, they’re like, ‘Oh!’ They know exactly that it’s my car.”