I recently asked my friends about their Tesla S’s. My goal was to hear Tesla S owners’ real world experiences to help us make a purchasing decision. My husband was all ready to purchase the Tesla S with the 60 kWh battery but I, being happy with our Volt and Prius, was reluctant about the purchase. After reading the below email from an old boss (Robert B.) from Silicon Valley, I not only said “let’s purchase a Tesla S”, but also insisted it be with an 85 kWh battery. I greatly respect Robert on the this matter. Not only is he a car enthusiast, but he also has a very strong mechanical and electrical engineering background. If you or your spouse are on the fence about buying one, I suggest that you read his email below.
Hi Joanna! It’s been sooo long… P….. told me you guys are considering a Tesla and asked that I write to you about our experience.
We got one of the earliest “S” cars, the same as the ones they are shipping now, although the ones available now are even more advanced. I have to tell you that a Tesla S is not a car, it is a portal to another dimension. What sets it apart are two basically transformed experiences, both the Driving Experience as well as the Ownership Experience.
Driving it is like owning a Star Trek Space Shuttle. Instant and yet silent torque just sweeping you away at rates you cannot fathom. Instead of having an “Accelerator” pedal, you have a “Velocitator” pedal. What ever angle you have the pedal, you are going that speed, instantaneously. It is crazy-fun.
The Ownership experience is just as groundbreaking. Owning a Tesla is like belonging to a country-club. The dealership falls all over themselves to take care of you. I had a couple of major things go wrong and this is what happened:
- I was backing out of our driveway and didn’t see that the adjacent car had its front wheels turned-out. Going pretty fast, I caught the inside edge of the front bumper assembly on the tire of P…..’s car and stripped off, basically, the whole front-end. I stuck it back on the best I could and brought it in expecting them to tell me how many thousands of dollars in damage I did. They took a quick look at it and said “All you did is bust a bunch of penny-fasteners. We will have it put back together in 10 minutes – no charge”. They just want to delight.
- I spilled battery acid on the back carpet. I have wrecked car carpet before and it costs thousands to repair. They quoted me something like $600. I said “fine” and when I went to pick it up, the bill was $125. I asked them why and they said they figured out a cheaper way to do it!
Now compare that to the dealership experience of any of our other gas cars. We never leave the dealership without feeling totally raped. I believe the difference is that the Tesla dealer is not independent. They are just an office of the factory and want most to make their customers so happy they tell all their friends (…as you can see – it is working)
I know you have a family now so it also has to be pointed out that the Tesla got the highest safety-rating of any car, basically perfect scores in all categories. Then there is the unprecedented roominess. The back seats fold down and reveal a space plenty big enough to put a mountain-bike, without even taking off the wheels. Then there is a compartment below that, and a full “Fronk” – a front trunk with a ton more space – amazing.
Finally, one has to consider what would make an “S” lose value? It has no engine to count the miles on. It will never lose compression. The interior with its 17″ monitor and exterior design are basically 10 years ahead of everybody else, so what is going to age? Even the body can’t rust out from under you because it is all Aluminum! The battery can be replaced in 2 minutes and they will probably have an even more amazing one you’d want to buy before the original one wears out. Ilon Musk is creating a market for used Tesla batteries also. Remember, a “warn-out” Lithium Ion battery is still extremely valuable for stationary power applications. I expect we will get some trade-in value when that day finally comes. So what is the true cost of a car that doesn’t age?
If you decide to get one, be absolutely sure to get the “big” battery, the 85kW. That opens you up to cross-country driving and the use of Tesla’s free network of SuperChargers. It is a blast to use the SuperChargers as they are located in great places with lots of stuff to do/eat/shop, and it only takes 20 minutes to finish and drive another couple hundred miles.
There are three models with the 85kW battery, the low-end, with just weak 2-wheel drive, the middle, with two more wheels of (weak) drive, together making it super-fast, and then the crazy-fast one where the rear wheels have the upgraded motor. This one has a button called “Insane Mode”. I hope to trade up to that some day.
I recommend you get the smaller wheels, less wheel-more tire. The big wheels with the super low-profile tires are just expensive and I believe may be a harder ride.
A Tesla S transforms every trip into enjoying the journey as much or more than the destination. I sincerely hope you make the leap and can absolutely guarantee NO buyer’s remorse. You will shutter to think you almost didn’t get it.
The other end of the spectrum is a used Leaf for ~$14k if you just want to commute to work electric. I wouldn’t pay a penny more for any other electric car because the true value is strangled by the severely limited range and absence of a super-charger network. A used Leaf or an 85kW Tesla are the only rational EV choices.
I believe there are rebates on a new EV, but don’t have current status of those.
Sorry for the Novel. I just get so excited! I sincerely hope you take the plunge.
Take Care! -Robert B
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