The Tesla Equations

Posted on June 1, 2014

I was dumbfounded by the price at first. This was not affordable, no way, unh-uh, no sir.

But… I had just sold a house.

I don’t like flaunting money. I feel uncomfortable talking about it even with my cello teacher. I just sort of awkwardly hand over the 25.00 USD and make goodbye sounds while backing towards the door. I even feel uncomfortable talking about it to you, you faceless masses who I may never meet. I recognize this for what it is: neurotic, though it is an undeniable part of me.

I did what any self-respecting nerd does: more research. Then I made up a pros-and-cons list when I realized I might be trying to rationalize buying something that I really shouldn’t be buying.


  1. Expensive - No ROI close to the VW.
  2. Flaunts money
  3. I park on the street at work – I’ll have scratch n’ dent nightmares.


  1. I want one / it’s cool / drool / pant / howl
  2. Safer than a conventional car
  3. Ecologically sound (naysayers are really bad at math)
  4. Wife wants me to get a new car
  5. No more gas stations
  6. More room for kids than the Golf

Here is the simplest version of the equation:

a + b + c < d + e + f + g + h + i Get a Tesla

It’s obvious what is happening here. I’m deluding myself. I need to attach some meaningful weights to these.

a’s coefficient is natural: the Tesla is four times as expensive as the most expensive car I’ve bought. My neurosis will not let b’s coefficient be any lower than 2 (until the equation works out in another way). The cool factor (d) may have some give, but I’d have to see it to believe it and I especially don’t want to over-value this.

Baseline result:

a = 4; b = 2; e = 2; g = .5; h = .25
$4a + 2b + c < d + 2e + f + .5g + .25h + i $
$7 < 5.75 $ No Tesla

So I monkey around with the numbers a bit. Having the oomph to get through a dangerous/blind intersection is worth a bit more in safety.

$e = 2.5 $
$4a + 2b + c < d + 2.5e + f + .5g + .25h + i $
$7 < 5.75 $ No Tesla

Also, I have wanted a good electric car since reading Popular Mechanics slightly before I could drive; that’s got to objectively count for a good bit in the “I want one” coefficient.

$d = 2 $
$4a + 2b + c < 2d + 2.5e + f + .5g + .25h + i $
$7 < 6.75 $ No Tesla

I’ve been late to enough meetings because of needing to fuel the firebox known as my engine. So there’s a slight gain there.

$h = .5 $
$4a + 2b + c < 2d + 2.5e + f + .5g + .5h + i $
$7 < 7 $ Almost there

Now I’m at the tipping point. A slight increase in the cool factor will make the equation balance in favor of buying the Tesla. It’s time to take Pat up on the invitation to come down to see her Tesla. At 3 in the morning, after having completed all this pseudo-objective rationalization, I write an email entitled:

May I invite myself (and maybe family) over (today)?