Meet the Dude Who Lives Out of His Tesla

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Photo courtesy of Nico Nevolo

Nico Nevolo used to work for the Tesla corporation—first out of Los Angeles in the vehicle delivery department, and later at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco as an analyst. Now, eight months later, Nevolo has officially left the company. He lives full-time out of his Tesla Model X and claims he’s still “one of Elon's best salesmen,” spreading the gospel of Musk from his $82,000 electric dream car, working as a Lyft driver.

The 26-year-old has been living out of his car, making videos and documenting his experience for over the past year. “What I care about is electric vehicles, and spreading the idea of sustainable energy, and sustainable transportation. This is, like, my thing,” Nevolo said.

Inspired by the #VanLife movement—a phenomenon popular among millennials, where they pack up their belongings in order to live out on the open road—Nevolo took that concept one step further, based on his belief that sustainable energy is the way of the future.

“There are so many people that love van life, there are so many people that love Tesla, and there are so many people that love electric vehicles,” said Nevolo. To sermonize his sustainable lifestyle, Nevolo created the YouTube channel and Instagram handle @TeslaVanLife, posting video content and photos of his adventures driving—and living—in his Tesla.

The opportunity to purchase the Tesla came about when he was still employed at the company as a business analyst. Tesla offered employees the opportunity to purchase a vehicle “around 50 percent off.” He couldn’t pass up the deal. The one question remaining before embarking on this adventure: “Can I lay down in the back of a Model X?”

On the same day that he returned his apartment keys to his landlord in San Francisco, he picked up his new Tesla.

For the first seven months spent living out of his car, Nevolo was still working at headquarters. “At first, [my co-workers] were like, ‘What the hell are you doing?’ But when I outlined my goals and the logistics involved, it's super [logical]. It's orchestrated. I'm combining a whole bunch of costs,” he explained. Nevolo’s major goals include, but are not limited to, becoming “the first person to live an electric vehicle” and “an entertainment personality.”

By showering at his gym and storing food in an ice cooler, Nevolo set up his small home with a bed in the back.

Photo courtesy of Nico Nevolo

Since quitting Tesla—Nevolo’s main source of income has been providing rides in his home through the ride-sharing service Lyft. “If people think I quit Tesla, they're wrong. I still work for them,” he said. In some videos, Nevolo is shown asking his riders questions such as “Do you know what this car is? Have you heard of the company Tesla?” “I give every single Lyft passenger a pop quiz on every damn ride I do, because that's part of my mission. My mission is to spread the gospel of electric vehicles. That is my goal in life.”

Nevolo gave himself 12 months for his experiment. “If I didn't get [where I wanted to be] with my social media, then I would seriously reevaluate my situation—sell my car, and get a job if I had to. We've passed the 12 marker, I'm at 15 months now,” he said.

To help achieve part of his content goals, Nevolo did a collaboration with Instagram artist @ComboPhoto that was later featured on Tesla’s Instagram page. Another milestone he noted was a video feature with Dylan Magaster—a fellow VanLife enthusiast, and now, sailboat dweller. These pieces helped Nevolo confirm that he was on the right path.

But what he described as “the final validation” happened this past December. “Some electric vehicle article [featured] that [Magaster] video and wrote an article about me. They tweeted it, and Elon saw that tweet and ‘liked’ it. I was like, ‘Oh shit, this is rad’. I got all my validation. I can't stop.”

Nevolo’s 2019 goals include a podcast, more video and Instagram content. Life on the road provides him with what he describes as “luxury.”

“I get to be my own boss, live my own life, and create content.”

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