I hesitate to post this topic. I am a staunch environmentalist and fully support the electric vehicle technology. And in my view, Tesla's success or failure will be the success/failure of the industry. I'm all for being an early adopter and dealing with the kinks that come with that, but my experience so far with this car has been near horrendous.
I own a rather large environmentally responsible company. I write a blog and wrote on the topic of supporting Tesla- and the Washington Post ran the story... http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-02-03/business/36728936_1_electr...
I have put a deposit down for the X to replace our minivan. I'm eager for delivery, but my wife says she doesn't mind waiting- hoping that Tesla will work out kinks (explained later) before her car is made/arrives.
I really want to support Tesla, but my experience thus far with Tesla has been terrible:
Delivery was a bear. They said they couldn't deliver to my house because the truck couldn't get down my street. After eventually calling their driver at 4:00 to check in (I was told that he would deliver some time on this particular Saturday, but he never called to give me a time window), we arranged for pick up at school. My car was delivered with another owner's and mine needed full unwrapping, which I did because the driver was busy with the other car. Once done, there was glue on my windshield and windows. I went to the nearby hardware store to pick up some remover and got to work the next day. My car had 17 miles of charge on it when I picked it up. It's a good thing I lived nearby. The other owner's car was a wreck- the kid seats were uninstalled and his leather bucket seats were messed up. It looked like half of the leather was unfinished on them. He scheduled an appointment right away to have them replaced.
Driving the Tesla takes some getting used to. I hit a curb and got a flat. My bad. No spare. But whatever. Easy fix.
My brakes squeak, especially when the car is first driven for the day (maybe I can just hear it then). I asked Tesla to take a look at it and they said they couldn't hear anything when they drove it- but they lubed something or another. They still squeak.
I'm not a fan of some of the design. The center console is basically a floor with a couple of edges. It seems like wasted space and stuff pretty much just rolls around down there, in full view. The cup holders and armrests are an either/or situation. You can't have a drink and armrest at the same time. And no cup holders in the back.
I have 3 kids. I have to clean out the car every month, at least. I go to do that and to shake out the floor mats in the back. No floor mats. I call Tesla to tell them they forgot to give them to me- they say they don't come with the car.
I was thinking about taking my car to Maine on vacation, but after looking at the existing supercharging stations between DC and Portland, I realize that ain't happening. Why Tesla installed a 2nd charger in Connecticut before putting one in Boston (or DC, or Philly, or Portland for that matter) is beyond me.
I go on vacation and leave my car at a body repair shop (story coming later). I occasionally check in on the car's charge and see that it's going down into the double digit range, even though it had been charged to about 200 miles before I left. I call the shop and ask if they've turned the car off. They say yes. We call Tesla, which is nearby, and they run a charging cord over to the body shop and have me plugged in so the battery doesn't go to zero. What kind of environmental car bleeds out about 8 miles per day worth of energy? That's got to be the biggest vampire loss of energy of anything a person a can own!
Re: the body shop... My wife sideswiped a stone wall at the front right of the car. The fun really begins now. The car is bent up and scraped at that front right corner. She hit it at about 3 mph, so no crunching of metal or anything, but scraped up nonetheless. We call Tesla. They say the nearest/only "certified" Tesla body shop is in Annapolis, which is an hour away from where I live in the DC burbs. Why in the hell would they make the closest certified body shop 40 minutes outside of DC (where there are probably more Tesla owners than anywhere else south of NYC)?!? We send it to our tried and true body shop, which is about 1/2 mile from the Tesla garage in Rockville, MD. They are excited to get the car and call Tesla immediately to order parts. Here is how they described their experience dealing with Tesla...
"here you go!- 1st called down to the Rockville repair and was told to Call Tesla since we could only order parts from Freemont. L/m 6 different times for Jake-parts mgr. starting on 8/5. Called tesla back 510-249-3650 spoke with Jared? was told to email mailto:email@example.com%20 (sent several emails.) and was told that we would not be allowed to order parts since we are not direct repair. John the owner of White flint went down to tesla in Rockville again and spoke with the Mgr and they stated they couldn't sell parts to us on 8/9. After several attempts of trying to get a hold of someone in parts. On 8/12 John went back down to Telsa and told them what was going on and spoke to Lee from parts. He asked his boss again if he could just sell the parts to us and explained what was going on. He was the only one during this time who has helped us get the car repaired. The repaired should of taken 4 days not 3weeks of run around from Tesla trying to get prices and parts."
Yes- it took 3 weeks. No loaner offered. And, wait for it- $7000 ($5000 for the body repair- parts were $3500- and $2000 from Tesla to fix the air conditioning and alignment)! I have a picture of the accident. It wasn't bad- just some scrapes. If it had been a Toyota, it would've been $1300 and 4 days.
My kids sit in the back seat. One of them looks up about a week after I got it back and points out a big crack in the roof glass. I call Tesla, for the record- and ask if it's covered by warranty. He asks if anything fell on it. I said "no". He sounds skeptical- says I'll have to bring it in for him to look at it to be sure it's a stress crack rather than an impact crack. I say OK- when? He says anytime, but he doesn't have a loaner. I tell him to call me when he gets a loaner. A few days later, I open the sunroof and hear some crackling and popping- there is definitely something wrong with the mechanics of the sunroof.
A day or 2 after I got the car back from the body repairs, a light came on saying that my car might not start the next time I try. I figure it's just a glitch- like how a "check engine" light might come on when your gas cap isn't on tight. Car starts next time. About a month goes by- and yesterday I go to start my car to go home and it's dead. It's connected to the charger at work. The windows work, it's fully charged, but it won't start. I call Tesla and they start asking repeatedly if I ever let it go down to zero miles or if I've left it uncharged for prolonged periods of time. I told them I charge it almost every day and the only time it was not charged frequently is when it was in the shop- and even if I had let it go for a week or 2 uncharged, does that really warrant it not starting?!? They send a tow truck, with loaner. Takes 90 minutes, even though they're 15 minutes away. They pull up with a trailer and I inquire how they're going to get my car towed. The driver says he's going to drive it onto the trailer. I point out to him that the reason why I'm being towed is because the car won't start...
I call this morning to remind them to look at the roof glass and to also point out that now the sunroof isn't working right. The first thing out of the guy's mouth is- "Something fell on the car?" "No"- I reply.
I've had this car since April. It's got 6000 miles on it. I keep telling myself that Tesla will get their act together regarding service- that this will be the last time I have to deal with an issue from them. I so hope this company thrives, but they're making it damn hard for me to endorse them. People ask me all the time how I like it, and I say "it has great acceleration and a nice big screen", but to my close friends, I'm telling them to avoid the car.
A customer asked me on my blog how I'm liking it- I say it's great, but there are just some minor issues that come with a start up company. I'm lying, but can't lie much longer (starting with this post, I suppose)...