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Tesla buying guide: How to decide among the Model 3, Model S and Model X

• https://www.cnet.com

Since Tesla began operations in 2003, the electric car company -- named after 19th- and 20th-century inventor Nikola Tesla -- has been a gamechanger for the automotive industry. In just 16 years, Tesla has become one of the most important automakers in the business.

Never mind just electric vehicle sales, the Tesla Model 3 is now the best-selling luxury vehicle in the US overall, with more than 140,000 sold in 2018. The Model 3 helped the startup car company achieve 197,517 total sales last year, according to industry sales tracker GoodCarBadCar, allowing the all-EV luxury automaker to rank 20th among the top 35 auto marques sold in America. That ranking means Tesla's 2018 sales bested brands such as Chrysler, Acura, Cadillac and Infiniti.

As Tesla's popularity grows, it still has some hurdles to overcome, including build quality and reliability issues. For some customers, those issues have been exacerbated by Tesla's lack of a traditional service network. There's also ongoing concerns around the company's financial condition.

It's also a good idea to assess how your location and lifestyle will blend with an EV. Living in a rural area far from Tesla's Supercharger network could greatly impact your ownership experience. The answer, of course, is to ensure that you have access to Level 2 (240-volt) charging. The latter can run roughly $2,000 to $3,000 to have installed in your garage or parking space. Yes, a standard Level 1 (110-volt) connection from a common household electrical outlet will charge a Tesla, but the charge rates are problematically slow -- only about 5 miles of range per hour of charging. That means even a base Model 3 with the 220-mile battery pack could take more than 40 hours to recharge.

(Need to know more about keeping your EV juiced up? Our Electric Car Charging 101 Guide has you covered.)

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