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Going green: Portugal Cove-St. Philip's man trades gas guzzler in for Tesla

Jon Seary owns only Tesla Model X in Atlantic Canada

Tesla Jon Seary

Jon Seary's new Tesla Model X SUV is the only one of its kind in Atlantic Canada. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

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A man from Portugal Cove-St Philip's says shelling out extra cash for an electric car will have a big long-term payoff — and he should know. Jon Seary owns the only Tesla Model X in Atlantic Canada. 

"It takes no gasoline, there's no oil to change, there's no exhaust or transmission," Seary told CBC Radio's Weekend AM

"You can't call this a minivan."

According to Seary, Tesla Motors is on a mission to create electric cars that perform as good as their gas-guzzling counterparts, if not better. 

Seary, his wife and their four children drive around town in an SUV crossover. The four-wheel drive vehicle can seat up to seven people.

Tesla Jon Seary doors

Seary said these Delorean-style doors are a great feature when you're parked in a tight spot. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

He said the driver and front passenger door are pretty standard, but the rear doors "open over your head and out of the way." 

Seary said the "falcon wing" doors are great for parking in a tight spot. 

Loading groceries into the fronk

His vehicle also has "a fronk," or a front truck, where the engine should be. According to Seary, his wife gets a kick out of the strange looks that come from loading groceries into the front of their SUV. 

"People come over and ask if they can help, 'Are you having trouble with your engine?' And no, there's no engine in there."

Instead of an engine, the Model X has two motors — one over each axle. 

But Seary said it's not all about appearances. Without an engine, his Tesla cruises along almost silently. 

Jon Seary Tesla front trunk

No engines necessary. This front trunk, or 'frunk,' provides extra storage under the hood. (Heather Barrett/CBC)

Much like a cell phone, Seary said Tesla owners anticipate when to charge their battery. He plugs his vehicle into an outlet in his garage most every night.  

"That allows the car to charge in two to three hours after a full day of driving, depending on how much distance I went," he said. 

No oil changes needed

Seary drives about 20,000 to 25,000 kilometres per year and estimates his electrical bill will cost about $500. He figures he's saving $4,000 per year on gas alone.

Seary's vehicle has a base price of about $85,000 to $90,000, but he said Tesla is coming out with a new model that starts at $35,000 US.

'There's no gas tank to start leaking, there's no transmission…' - Jon Seary

But Seary said he's done the math and the numbers add up. A similar-sized, gas-guzzling SUV or van would cost him about $60,000 — not including regular maintenance checks, replacement parts or oil changes. 

"There's no muffler in this to rust out, there's no gas tank to start leaking, there's no transmission. It's just a much more fun vehicle to drive. And I'm not even beginning to talk about the environmental aspects," he said. 

CDN International Autoshow 20160211

The Tesla Model X is shown at the 2016 Canadian International Autoshow in Toronto in February. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Prss)

Seary said electric vehicles require one-eighth the amount of service as a gasoline vehicle. 

It's recommended he bring his car to the nearest service centre, located in Montreal, once a year. But even that isn't mandatory.

On Tuesday morning, Tesla owners on the Avalon are meeting near Signal Hill to trade stories and tell people about their experience with going green. 

"Once people realize that once you can buy a vehicle … [it's] never going to require you to go to a gas station again … it's comfortable and it's quiet and it's just a joy to drive … the demand is going to skyrocket as the price continues to decline."