In a garage in Englewood, N.J., the low-slung Tesla Model S seems small next to a midsize Mercedes-Benz SUV.


The Tesla Model S is many things to many owners, and when you're retired and don't drive as much as you once did, it's likely the cleanest, most efficient luxury car around.

On Wednesday, I had errands in Englewood. N.J. -- a 12-mile round-trip from my home -- and according to my emissions-free Tesla Model S, used 4 kilowatt hours of energy.

On the instrument panel, "Since last charge" tells you how far you've traveled and how much energy that took.

I charged the car overnight with a 240-volt socket in my garage, paying Public Service Electric and Gas Co. about 12 cents per kilowatt hour, but the utility also exacts a delivery charge -- for a total of about $1 for my round-trip to Englewood.

Solar panel factor

I've had my Model S since mid-April, and the one long trip we took -- to Montreal for the International Jazz Festival -- benefited from free charging near Albany, N.Y.; in Vergennes, Vt., and at the Tesla dealer in the French Canadian city.

At home, more than 60 solar panels on the roof generate solar credits that I can sell to my utility through a middleman.

The solar credits once were worth a lot more than now, but I still receive about $1,000 to $1,200 a year from their sale to PSE&G.

Since 2009, when the first set of panels were installed, I've also been able to write off their cost on my federal taxes.

So, taking all of that into account, I may be paying nothing to charge my Model S.

At the Basin Harbor Club, a resort on Lake Champlain in Vergennes, Vt., I charged my Model S at no cost on June 27 for the final leg of our trip to the International Jazz Festival in Montreal.

At Tesla Montreal, I charged the Model S at a free Supercharger, and enjoyed an espresso in the lounge. That charge left me with enough range on July 6 to reach the Vermont resort where we stayed overnight as my car got another free charge, before completing the trip to New Jersey. I also bought a lined Tesla Men's New Corp jacket for $100.26 Canadian after a 20% owner discount, and charged it to a Visa card. I was billed for $81.49 U.S.
In the garage of the Complexe Desjardins, an enclosed shopping center under my hotel in Montreal. I drove the Model S to a lower parking level, where the nice people at Auto Bella charge $20 Canadian ($15.96 U.S.) for a hand wash and interior cleaning and vacuuming (closed on weekends).



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