Lease technology. That’s standard advice in the high-tech world because when something’s changing so rapidly it’s better to own the latest and greatest than to get stuck with the obsolete.

So, I leased my first Tesla—back in the Dark Ages. The year was 2015, to be exact. Model S 90 D, longest range available, which I recall was nominally shy of 300 miles.

I bought that car to encourage them. Someone has to lead the transition, right? And while I wasn’t quite on the bleeding edge, Tesla only sold 25,416 cars that year. (In Q3 2021 alone they sold more than 240,000.)

The car was a revelation to me—quiet, no maintenance to speak of, the best voice recognition I’d ever experienced, and of course that giant screen. Range anxiety lasted a few weeks until I got used to subconsciously monitoring charge status the way I used to make mental notes of gas station locations.

My last ICE car had been a Mercedes CLS-550, a high-end muscle car with over 400 horses under the hood, a reassuring growl when I pressed the accelerator, and plenty of torque. The Tesla drove better in every way. From a standing stop it launched itself like Secretariat on methamphetamine. Helped by the drag of regenerative braking and the low center of gravity from the battery-laden chassis, it held the ground around corners like a cheetah.

Three years later, there was no question what I’d do. I replaced that car with a leased 2018 Model S. The range had improved more than 20 percent, and the new car had a few more cameras, but other than that I was driving the same vehicle.

A month ago (after a couple-month delivery delay presumably brought on by the ubiquitous chip shortage), I pulled into my driveway in the new 2021 Model S Long Range. The excitement is back, friends. Tesla doesn’t rest on its laurels.

The yoke steering wheel in this car, which looks like its counterpart in an airplane cockpit, took some getting used to (after more than 40 years behind wheels that hardly changed), but I already miss it when I have to drive another car.

The stalks for shifting and signaling are gone, replaced by signal buttons on the yoke itself and screen swiping to go from park to drive to reverse.

And the driving experience has improved in small but impactful ways. The cabin is more comfortable, especially heating systems, which now warm faster than an ICE car that’s been sitting cold. A hold brake that engages automatically when the car is at rest (at a traffic light or stop sign, for example) allows for a great deal more one-pedal driving and, therefore, road feel. The blind-spot camera view shows on my screen when I signal for a turn, and the signal disengages when shifting lanes, not just after hard turns. Oh, and my range now reaches more than 400 miles—enough to drive to New York from my home in the outer Philadelphia suburbs and back again without recharging.

What about the vaunted autopilot mode? Still not ready for prime time, and I’d be the last person to recommend trusting it with your life. But here’s the thing about technology: barring a catastrophic miscalculation, it always gets better. Dirty energy powered my first Tesla. Today, I contract for wind energy off the grid.

As for those leased cars that I turned in—the way one might recycle a used cell phone or office computer—before the end of the their natural lives? Most certainly someone picked them up from the pre-owned market and improved their ride and their environmental footprint.

Each mile greener.