If you haven’t been following the EV news, you may have missed the EV boom underway in Tennessee.
In September, Ford announced a $5.6 billion investment in West Tennessee for a production campus it dubbed “Blue Oval City.” The 3,600-acre hub will serve as an assembly complex for the company’s F-Series electric vehicles. The campus, which is supposed to be carbon neutral, is expected to accommodate around 6,000 employees.
The new F-150 Lightning has over 200,000 reservations and Ford has increased production plans to 150,000 units per year. Ford is also doubling production of the Mustang Mach-E to 200,000 to meet strong demand for its all-electric SUV.
GM is investing $2 billion to upgrade its Spring Hill plant to manufacture the new electric Cadillac Lyriq. Nissan is investing $1.6 billion in a lithium battery plant near Smyrna to support the Nissan Leaf and has been manufacturing electric vehicles in Tennessee since 2013. Denso, a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry, invested 1 billion to Maryville to produce advanced safety, connectivity and electrification products for hybrid and electric vehicles. And VW invested $800 million last year to upgrade its Chattanooga plant to make the all-electric ID4 SUV that’s now on sale.
In total, Tennessee has built more than 159,000 electric vehicles since 2013, with an additional $11.9 billion in direct investment and 10,200 new high-paying manufacturing jobs expected in the state.
While I was disappointed that Tesla didn’t choose Tennessee for its new manufacturing facility, Tennessee has done a pretty good job of paving the way for a new, cleaner electric future.
Personally, we’ve clocked 75,000 miles in our all-electric Model 3. The battery is at 96% range when we got it. Luckily that wasn’t a problem as 299 miles is enough for any trip around town. On trips, Tesla quickly built the SuperChargers in 1,257 locations, with 225 more under construction. Thus, autonomy while traveling has never been a problem. With the new V3 SuperChargers charging at 250kW, the car charges over 1,000 miles per hour, well above the 640 miles we saw when we bought the car nearly four years ago.
With over-the-air updates, the car is now much better than when we bought it, with the majority of those upgrades being free. These “free” updates included a speed boost that dropped from 0 to 60 by 0.3 seconds, numerous infotainment updates ranging from car karaoke to a Christmas light show and a mode romance that displays a warm crackling fire and plays soft jazz.
There’s a camp mode so you can sleep in the car with the HVAC running for several days to keep you warm or cool, so don’t believe those Facebook posts of a snowstorm on the highway telling you leaving blocked, because the opposite is the reality. A dog mode keeps your pets comfortable if you leave them in the car.
Security camera monitors record from the seven on-board cameras if there is detected motion near your car. Plenty of new games, the ability to play Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, among others, when the car is parked, and heated rear seats are some of the upgrades that have been enabled since we got our car.
The only upgrade I spring for was Enhanced Auto Pilot. It makes driving on the highway relaxing. With adaptive cruise control, if I get into a slower car, the car senses it before me and turns on the turn signal, indicating it wants me to pass. If I confirm, he moves into the passing lane, and once safely past, he will turn on the other turn signal for me to back up. It’s still not perfect, but better than the other options I’ve tried.
It’s refreshing to have a car with no scheduled maintenance beyond tire rotations. Even the brakes are still stock with plenty of life from regeneration. To be honest, I had two issues, a seat wiring harness and a squeak in the control arms that needed attention after my warranty expired. But at $300 total, it’s not the end of the world.
So, for one, I’m encouraged as we move towards that cleaner, greener, and actually cheaper future.
Dave Hrivnak is a retired engineer and author of “Driving to Net 0 – Stories of Hope for Carbon Free Future”.