Kim Java on the Tesla Community, First EV Purchases and More
The Tesla community has grown immensely in the past decade, but some key voices in the community have been around nearly since the beginning. One such person is Tesla YouTube channel host Kim Java, with whom EVANNEX recently spoke on the phone about her thoughts on how the auto industry has changed, what people can expect when buying their first electric vehicle, and the intersection of tech people and environmentalists in the Tesla community.
Above: A Tesla Model Y at a Supercharger (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).
Kim tells us that the Tesla Model X has been her family’s main vehicle, but that they also have a Model 3. While her husband typically drives the Model 3, Kim drives the Model X around with the kids, and she’s spent the past several years covering her experiences with the EV.
You can read Kim Java’s full interview with EVANNEX below.
EVANNEX: How did you get your start covering Teslas?
Kim: It was a complete accident. We were one of the first to order the Model X, and they had a ‘Meet Model X Day,’ and we recorded it to share with some of our family that lives on the West Coast. We put it on YouTube to share it, and people just started asking us questions about the Model X.
When we actually received our vehicle, we just tried to make some videos to answer peoples’ questions, and the next thing we knew we had a channel. It was like, we didn’t even realize there were so many other people interested at the time.
EVANNEX: Any potential future updates you hope to see from Tesla?
Kim: I would like the screen in the back to have Bluetooth capability for the kids in the Model S and the Model X — that’s a huge one that I’m hoping to see. There are a couple of different things I want to see with that rear screen. You know, I love having it, but it’s kind of frustrating that if the kids are watching it, I can’t have anything, like music, going for me in the front. So that becomes an issue, but I do like having it. It’s nice for road trips.
I also want to add something about Full Self-Driving. Obviously, there's still lots of room for improvement with FSD. I think FSD is a great enhancement of the driver experience, and I’ve seen a lot of improvements overall, contrary to the FUD some saw during the Super Bowl's anti-FSD ads.
What bothers me the most is the way Tesla handles FSD transferability. I do believe it should be transferable if you upgrade your vehicle, and not something you should have to buy again each time. We have it on our Model 3, but don’t have it on our new refreshed Model X. We had it on our last two Model X’s and chose not to rebuy it again a third time. Would have been nice if one of our previous purchases was transferable.
Personally, I just don’t think that is right. It also seems strange to me that it is transferable when you sell your car privately, but wiped when you trade in. Tesla can’t have it both ways.
EVANNEX: I know you’ve covered this in some of your videos before, but what are some things you think potential Tesla buyers should know that often get overlooked?
Kim: So we did make a video actually kind of all about a couple of little things. I forget the title of it, but it was just like some hidden expenses about the vehicles being heavy, going through tires, and things like that that I think a lot of people don’t necessarily realize.
But there are also still a lot of misconceptions out there about driving electric, that ‘they’re going to have more problems,’ where we’ve been driving one now for like seven or eight years — Tesla specifically but we’ve been driving EVs for almost 10 years — and the maintenance issues are so few and far between. It’s been very smooth, and I think a lot of people still think, you know, 'you have to take them in for oil changes,' all those types of things. And they don’t realize how smooth it is in terms of ownership.
I do have that video that goes over a couple of the hidden expenses that we discovered in ownership, but really, in the long run, it is so much cheaper to own an EV if you’re looking at just your monthly expenses.
EVANNEX: I think it’s true that a lot of people don’t really realize those things until they get into their own EV.
Yes. And I think in our bubble of people that have been driving them for a while, we kind of forget that to the average person, this is still pretty new for them.
That’s one of the things that I try to focus on in my channel; people that are new to EVs. What are some of the things they think and what are some of the questions they’re going to have? I try to make it so that everybody can understand it and not just tailor it to the EV enthusiasts that already kind of know everything.
EVANNEX: Any specific highlights or favorite Tesla stories you’ve covered in the past?
Kim: When I went to the Cybertruck event, that was such a cool experience getting to go inside the Cybertruck. And being one of the first to do that is definitely a highlight, and something that I’ll never forget.
Above: We Rode Inside The Tesla CyberTruck! (Video: Kim Java / YouTube)
EVANNEX: Are you guys signed up for a reservation for the Cybertruck, or do you have any plans to get one?
We are. We did, but I go back and forth on if I am going to keep the reservation. I want it, but then it’s also like practicality. Do we need it? Where are we going to put this, you know? We only have a two-car garage. Is it really feasible to keep collecting Teslas just because I want them? Is that smart?
Obviously, I can make videos with it, but at the same time, I can find other people that have it to make videos with it, so we kind of waver back and forth on if we’re going to keep it or not. I think if I do keep it I’m gonna have to start a little rental car company with my fleet of vehicles here just to make it worth my while or something. [Laughs]
EVANNEX: What makes the Tesla community unique compared to other automotive communities?
Kim: Tesla is really the one main vehicle community that I’ve ever been a part of. I know that Jeep has a huge following, and my husband was a huge Jeep person before we became Tesla people. But I think a big part of the community is just this whole Master Plan and wanting to make the world a better place — that aspect of it. I think it’s really like Elon. If Tesla didn’t have Elon it probably would not be the same, because we’re all inspired in a certain way. So it’s not really just about the vehicle. It’s transitioning off of oil; it’s changing this whole industry.
And also, I think a lot of people like to root for the underdog. It’s not anymore, but you know, that was the case when Tesla first started, so we’re just wanting to sort of give it to the man. So I think that really is a big part of it.
Plus you get a lot of tech people. When you look at regular cars, they were not tech vehicles before Tesla. So all of a sudden, now there are all these people on YouTube that were like tech reviewers that have switched over to covering Tesla. So you get this crowd of people that thinks differently.
And they’re following it for different reasons. So you have the people that are in it for the sustainability, and you have people that love tech and are all about what is the best tech out there. So you get an interesting mixture of people together.
I also think it’s become a very big thing where once people do get into Tesla, they become die-hard loyalists to the brand. Then they can’t drive anything else.
EVANNEX: Are there any specific questions you think I missed that I should ask, or any other things you want to mention?
Kim: You had talked about different YouTubers that people should follow, and I kind of wanted to talk a little bit about how with Tesla it’s become this whole YouTube crowd of people covering the vehicle, which I hadn’t really seen. Obviously, YouTube’s changed a lot over the last like 10 years.
But when I first started making videos, the only people I knew that were making videos about Tesla were Björn Nyland and I think Cayman Auto actually did a couple of videos with Tesla. But that was it. There was not the social media like it is now, and I think it’s really interesting to see how over the last eight years really, [it has grown so much]. Now, there are so many people in this space covering Tesla and EVs, all over YouTube and TikTok, and there are a lot of people now covering [Tesla].
It’s just really interesting because you get these different perspectives about it. Some people are just covering just news, some people are doing mods, some people are showing the road trips, and you get a little bit of everything.
In terms of the community, there are so many different options now to get information. And then obviously with you guys and different blogs and podcasts, it’s just really interesting to see how people develop a passion for the company and EVs in general, and they want to share that.
EVANNEX: Yeah, it is pretty crazy how much this whole community blew up online when the first Tesla Roadster was only produced 15 years ago.
Kim: It’s really crazy. And I remember those first couple of videos that I made that were like, not even really videos. One of my most popular videos on YouTube is like me talking about our Model X key fob. But I didn’t realize I had like a full YouTube channel and we had recorded like five videos in the same day and I wore the same shirt, and I didn’t think of YouTube even like a business back then. It’s just this silly little video answering questions about a key fob that became our most popular video.
Now if I made that video, no one would have watched it because there would have been a hundred other videos. But at the time, it was so popular because there was nothing out there about this type of stuff.
The whole industry has changed so much, and it’s kind of cool to see. I think it encourages people to make better content. You know, like you guys too — you’re like ‘let’s have this blog and talk about the news, but then let’s do these influencer spotlights.’ It’s just really interesting to see how everything’s evolved over the past few years
You can find Kim Java’s YouTube channel here, and you can get exclusive content by supporting her work on Patreon for as low as $1 per month.
Above: 5 Hidden EV Expenses No One Will Tell You About (Video: Kim Java / YouTube).
Updated: 2/20/23 with added notes from Kim on Tesla's Full Self-Driving.