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A little dose of reality

A little dose of reality

I took delivery on Jan 3rd, and absolutely LOVE my car, but as I've been reading all the Broder comments (I made some myself), and reading the other threads every day I wonder - this may be heresy - if we need to stop, take a breath and maybe stop smoking the Tesla weed for a little while.

Yes we all love the car; yes Tesla is doing some AMAZING things; yes Elon is an über visionary who is pushing the envelope and delivering on it, but:

  • they met the June launch date for the Model S but only by hand building a dozen cars, then not releasing another car for months. Marketing stunt by any other name.
  • many of the signature cars were really release candidate cars that did not have the fit and finish of even the early production cars (confirmed by a TM service tech)
  • the signature premium paid by signature owners enabled them to get their cars only a few weeks earlier, or in some cases a few weeks LATER than production owners
  • the signature premium, rather than providing a 'deal' by discounting the optional extras as a reward for dropping $40k on TM did no such thing
  • TM is consistently underperformed on all delivery date promises since the Founders Cars, the latest being the slip of the 40kWh cars. 5000 cars in year one? Try less than 3000.
  • I know we are early adopters, but the reality of the fit and finish of the current cars is FAR away from the expectations set by Elon when he was 'personally inspecting' the cars off the line. Body panels don't fit. Chrome isn't aligned. Scratches in paintwork. PPF applied over the top of paint problems...
  • and handles that don't work, and doors that open on their own! Seriously?
  • the delivery process has been less than optimal in many circumstances - cars getting lost, cars going into limbo, cars damaged during delivery, wrong cars delivered...
  • the level of knowledge of TM 'product specialists' leaves A LOT to be desired. The forums are full of stories of owners being given conflicting and flatly wrong information by TM employees. I know this is a startup, but its not that hard to train new employees
  • we are still waiting for a long list of items that have been promised in writing by TM - seven months after launch and we still don't have a parcel shelf??? Really???
  • TM has been very quiet about the performance of the car in cold weather, to the extent that it could be considered deliberately misleading.
  • Overall communication has been less than stellar. Yes GB has stepped into the forums a couple of times, but we shouldn't be comparing TM's communication with old Detroit. We should be comparing it against some of Silicon Valley's best and by that standard they are falling short, especially when their average customer is dropping $100k, not $2.99 in the app store
  • the whole temporary tag/title process seems to be almost a running joke

I'm not suggesting we don't cut TM a lot of slack. I'm not suggesting they aren't on their way to building the best car in the world. All I'm suggesting is that we need to inject a bit of balance into the conversation, and acknowledge the gaps where they exist. Toning down the hubris on TM's part wouldn't go amiss.

shop | February 20, 2013

Sorry, Nick. But there is nothing in your list that jumps out at me as being a big deal. Tesla is a startup company. Nothing in your list above isn't fixable. Now if superchargers didn't work, or the car broke down a lot, then I'd worry. But as a longtime reader of product forums, what I see on these forums isn't unusual.

Robert22 | February 20, 2013

Things always heat up a bit before reaching escape velocity. I'm still optimistic that will be the case here, but we certainly could do with a few beverage alternatives to Koolaid.

bradslee | February 20, 2013

Nick, your points are well taken. However, isn't it true that, though most of us at Forums praised MS and TM, we have also expressed various concerns and even criticism regarding MS and TM? I think that the discussions at the Forums are fairly balanced.

h8young | February 20, 2013

+ 1 Nick. Well said. Many of the issues you listed are the exact same concerns I have and why I had deferred my delivery as I would like to see Tesla do a better job in some of these areas.

skymaster | February 20, 2013

Nick, After reading all of your points and responding "No big deal" to every one of them....I still want to smoke the weed!

Hills | February 20, 2013

Agree with Nick. I have followed Tesla closely for over 2 years. Took delivery in early December. This company has tackled so many difficult hurdles it is unbelievable. Battery technology, motors, chasis, computer, computer UI, new factory, own stores. In Olympic gymastics terms, the degree of difficuty is is 15 out of 10! Most importantly, the company is succeeding!

However, the company repeatedly over promises and does not meet targets. Communications is less than steller? How about not good at all?

Yes, it is a startup. Vast majority of us on the forum are fans. We cut Tesla a lot of slack. The next stage of growth will be to convince those who are not early adapters. Tesla needs to improve its game, particularly communications.

Shelmire | February 21, 2013

Stick with the PRODUCT. Believe me, there are issues with all cars...Fords, Chevys, the whole lot.

Since they all over produce we don't see all the deformities, unlike Tesla where they are much more apparent with fewer cars.

I agree with Nick, but I just bought more stock because its the product and we will all tolerate it. I cannot see going back.

bsimoes | February 21, 2013

I think that TM had to give the lion's share of its attention to getting the production of the car going. After listening to the 4th quarter report last evening, it sounds like there were major obstacles to overcome. Most of those kinks have been worked out. We all know how hard it is to multi-task. This company had to be going is so many different directions at once, that I can't even imagine! Getting tires,getting superchargers online, getting stores set up here and overseas, getting people hired and trained...etc. etc. Most of those things will now be on an even keel, and they will be able to give more attention to communication.

I always think of triage. They had to take care of the "bleeders" before they could take care of the "paper cuts." Getting staff to build 1,000's of cars is more important than answering one customer's question...on one level. Arguing with myself, I could also say that a.) it's different staff who do this and b.)customer satisfaction is what this company has been and will be built on. In the end, though, I think that although Tesla had a mountain to climb, it is approaching the summit, where hopefully, it will be for a very long time.

village33 | February 21, 2013

Tesla, can you add a check box where we can mark threads like this "Short Seller Threads"? It's painful how transparent and repetitive the points are having been asked and answered over and over again yet reposted when the poster doesn't like that the points have already been refuted/dismissed and/or corrected/addressed.

TikiMan | February 21, 2013

So I guess Porsche could be very well F'ed as also!

In fact, with the trends in gas prices over the last ten years, most current car companies could be just a few years away from complete failure (not unlike GM was back in 2008).

David Trushin | February 21, 2013

Let's not get carried away with this folks. Every complex product has problems from time to time. I have purchased quite a few new cars, and it is very rare for them to be perfect when I get them. I had one that developed a drive train problem immediately after driving it from the dealership. I turned around and went right back and they said that they needed to keep the car for two weeks so that their transmission specialist, who was on vacation could look at it. I had another that had to be towed from my garage because the seatbelt interlock failed. I had another that lost 100% of its range in the winter because it wouldn't start when the temperature was less than 32 degrees F. The story goes on. Chrome misfits, paint issues. (American cars, foreign cars). The point is, most of the stories on the forum go like this: "I just got my car and I love it but .... was wrong with it. Has anyone else had this problem". A few days later followed up with: "I called service and they {replaced, fixed, adjusted, explained the correct procedure for, found a reference in the manual for} the ... and it works fine now. Maybe it would be a better idea to hold off on the first post until the problem is at least diagnosed.Some of the problems are systemic, some are one off. Point is, if you find service to be helpful, timely, successful in helping you should say so and if not say not.

hed | February 21, 2013

@David Trushin

Well said.

shop | February 21, 2013

David,I couldn't agree more. Frankly I'm getting a bit tired of forum posts where people complain about some minor fit/finish issues that Tesla service will fix. There are enough cars on the road now that we as forum members don't need to worry about systemic issues. Ie. if there was something truly bad about the car we'd know it by now.

Part of the problem, I think, is that with all the waiting and expectations, we want the car to be 'perfect'. I remember when I got my first Mercedes. It was a great car, but I noticed that the top window tint had a void that would cause the sun to glare into my eyes at a certain time of day. Well I complained to the dealer about it and got the "well that's how the car is made".

The model S is never going to be 'perfect'. No car is. I'm happy with awesome.

eltonf | February 21, 2013

+1 David Trushin

nickjhowe | February 21, 2013

@village33 - I'm long on Tesla. Bought more last week.

sunkat | February 21, 2013

I took delivery of my P85 on Jan 3rd.as well. My car and experience have been perfect.

RZitrin1 | February 21, 2013

I think Nick's issues are justified. I don't think he'd characterize them as complaints, but observations.

Look, I have had my Sig. #378 since October. I haven't had most of these problems, although the scratchy paint finish is one. And clearly they rushed to market, as they had to. No back seat cupholders?!?!

I had to bring my car to the Fremont service center for 3 days while they figured out why I'd lost my navigation, and finally replaced the whole screen and SIM card assembly.

BUT - and it's a huge BUT

This is by far, far, far and away the best car and probably the neatest "thing" I've ever owned. I look forward to driving it every day, even though I use it only 3-4 days out of seven. It's nothing short of a genius engineering job - body styling, speed and handling, drive train, computer, overnight improvements, my entire 40,000 tune music collection at my fingertips....

I bought stock in Tesla. Despite the bad 4Q report, I'm still way ahead of the game. I'm holding the stock until (I hope) it pays for my car. This is a work of true imagination and inspiration, and we should remember that big picture.

I have never drank the Kool-aid - I started a thread called "On one hand; on the other hand - but the big picture is we are there at the equivalent of the beginning of Nicola Tesla's AC.

I'll be realistic but still very happy I got to the head of the line and was one of the first.

Richard

alfafoxtrot1 | February 21, 2013

Its all a question of expectations. If you expect perfection, you will be diappointed. If you expected minor glitches given the abundance of new technology, manufacturing, and organization, then you should be thrilled. What did you think you were buying? Who did you think was producing it? The concerns are legitimate, but plenty of slack is warranted.

Sudre_ | February 21, 2013

I received my car withing the JAN delivery dat I was given with reservation 3270 back when I finalized. So my car was on times.

Most all sig owners got there car a month or more before they would have gotten their cars if they stay on the regular list. So they gotten the early. If res hold 8000 got his Sig in Nov then he got his car sooner than he would have if he did not upgrade. I am sure there were a few that got their cars later do to assembley issues. So one minute you knock Tesla for not delivering the next you bash them for holding a car until it is right. Pick one. You can't have both.
The Sig cost was for jumping the line and the Sig red. I don't know if other options were delivered with the car.
I never even entertained the idea of getting a Sig because I didn't get what the extra money was for. I guess Nicl feels suckered into getting the Sig (nick did you get a Sig?).

TM had adjust that delivery count lasst quarter. You probably ragged on them then too. Once was enough.

I am happy with the fit and finish of my car.

My doors handles have no problems.

My delivery went fine. There wasn't much information while the car was on the truck but it arrived in a reasonable. I was out of the country when it was ready so I was late getting the final paperwork signed. They still got me my car only a few days late. Can't blame them for me being late.

Yes the specialist all need to get on the same page. GM dealers need to stop lying to your face too. I wonder which will happen first?

I have no punch list items.

I am happy with the performance of the car in the 5-40 degree weather I have experienced. Not much in range reduction for me. Sub-zero temps I can not speak on. STL gets that cold rarely but if it does I am going to test out the range.

You brought up communication again. Yes I think most would agree that it is OK. Not what anyone would have hoped for. Same thing with most dealers. I guess in that regarud their new model for selling cars is not getting five stars.

I am still waiting on my plates. From what I understand it is the individual states slowing the process down or the owner not prpviding enough info. For example copies of personal property taxes for the last two years is recommend in MO. Realistically TM should get this stuff ironed out.

I only posted all this as a reminder that unhappy people post in the forums and they post over and over and over and over again. It makes it sounds like thousands of problems. In reality the problems are typically small and reposted too mamy times by the same person.

I bet this exact rant can be found from last week in a different topic. I don't care how many times it gets posted but that does not make these misc items more important. I would be more worried if people started reporting major issues like battery packs failing or burning. Not a missing shelf. . . OH NO.

Sudre_ | February 21, 2013

Sorry for the type O's. Its hard to proof read long posts on my tablet.

jk2014 | February 21, 2013

The reality is ramping to 400/week and meeting untested expectations is difficult to do. Especially difficult to anticipate an mitigate many of the challenges at the same time.

The car is fantastic. It's out there now. Time to show sustained profiitability. Have to gain confidence with the general public. Tesla has made te promise to do that.

Issues happen, but at the same time they are starting to be resolved and as they focus on the above, they will only get more responsive to the problems. I think we have to remember this as we move toward year end... Everyone will get their issues worked out.

sandman | February 21, 2013

@ Shelmire
I bought more stock today as well. Easy decision...

@ shop
"The model S is never going to be 'perfect'. No car is. I'm happy with awesome."

I too am "Happy with awesome". This is the best car I've ever owned. Ever. When I sit in any other car I feel like I've stepped back into the past. The noise, the smell, the ridiculous complexity of the car's controls...

I've got a list of maybe 6 things I'd like changed to the S, but I wouldn't wait another month for those changes vs. owning the one I have now.

shop | February 21, 2013

On the stock thing, I too bought some today. But be aware that at this price, it is very much a buy and hold. 1-2 years before significant stock appreciation is my guess. You can of course play the dips and rises 5% at a time, but the analysts are not bullish on tesla. I just read a Morgan Stanley report that weighted it underperform relative to other car makers. They are skeptical tesla can improve margins and sales to the right levels vis a vis current valuation. I think they are wrong, but only time will tell.

bradslee | February 21, 2013

@shop, I agree with you in your thought of buy and hold strategy. If TM can continue to have the growth of the demand and execute the production as the way it is now and indeed be profitable in Q1, I would have the full confidence in the upside direction of its stock price.

Tiebreaker | February 21, 2013

nickjhowe is not a short, he's a Tesla addict as most of us. Hey, he created volkerize.com! He's just a little bummed with the market today, he thinks he sobered up for a minute, but I am sure he is still dizzy with a face cramp from the Tesla grin.

The list of grievances is legitimate, but nothing is major. I have also had problems with new cars, from Ford to BMW, from failed transmission at 400 miles, to memory seats with mind of their own, from makers that have been making cars for 100 years...

I am a big fan of the technology, and a believer in Tesla, jealous at all you MS owners while waiting for Gen III. Give Tesla some time, there is so much going on, I'm sure it will be much smoother...

jk2014 | February 21, 2013

Shop --What to analysts know that you don't? They have no idea about Tesla. I wish it was a requirement for them to actually drive the car before they cover it. They get paid to throw conservative numbers, not to actually understand the execution potential in an untapped market space...

craigi | February 21, 2013

I appreciate seeing threads like this, especially since I pick up my S tomorrow after a "factory tour."

I'm pretty psyched to get my hands on my new car, but I'm also a bit apprehensive about the whole process and my plans to use the car (first big trip: from SF Bay Area to San Diego to Santa Barbara and back).

I'm pretty sure the car will not make it from Santa Barbara back home without stopping for a non-Supercharger (read: LONG) charge on the way up 101. Gilroy is just too far from Santa Barbara, even if I am booking the night at a special hotel (extra $$) just to get a full overnight charge. If it really goes 300mi, I could make it -- but there are quite a few hills on 101 between SB and Gilroy.

Regardless -- I'm up for the experience, and I have shifted my mindset from "get there as fast as possible" to "let's see if I can make it..." ;-)

KevinR.co.us | February 21, 2013

Thanks for the thoughtful post Nick...that's the best of what this forum is about.

wthieldelgado | February 21, 2013

Craigi, perhaps a stop at the Harris Ranch supercharger would make your trip easier, if you're not opposed to traveling on 5.

Chuck Lusin | February 21, 2013

@nickniketown,

Just because your brother has one, does not mean that you are forced into getting one also, even though we know you secretly want one!

Bennett R. | February 21, 2013

I agree with Nick. He wasn't blasting the company -- on the contrary -- but just observing that many people on the forum cut them too much slack. Some things that people complain about do seem kind of frivolous, but there are other things I read and think, "Man, I'm glad that hasn't happened to me!" Invariably, no matter how "serious" an issue might be, a number of people denigrate the complainant for even bringing it up. I think there is a certain amount of group-think going on, not willing to blame the company for anything.

That said, I am thrilled with mine so far! I have only had my MS for a little over a week. A day or two before I got it, a couple of people I know sent me the Broder article (which was before Elon's formal response came out), and the article someone wrote about the MS being a beta. I also read about some of the windshield issues people were having. For the first time I had (not regrets but) a little trepidation. Was I following my heart instead of my head by putting down more than twice as much as I ever spent before on a new car?

I have had none of those issues. My doors shut very nicely and firmly, like a MB. I had heard so many negative things about the sound system -- I think it is really nice. No problems with door handles, or windshields.

danielccc | February 21, 2013

Honestly I think the forums have covered all of these things and more. I don't see the weed being smoked here, really.

And Tesla has not been removing inconvenient threads as Apple sometimes does, to name one Silicon Valley example.

By the way, training people in quantity is very hard. Especially when there are so many moving parts and you need them to use common sense. Common sense is impossible to teach, so people need to be sized up and put in roles that match their ability to resolve correctly.

Tomas | February 21, 2013

VIN133 so I'm a fairly early car and luckily I haven't had as many problems as many others I guess. The car certainly has its quirks. I say quirks lovingly. Yes, I spent 110 grand and I suppose I should expect perfection, but I also knew what I was getting into-- not only it is the first production run of a new model, but its the first production run of a whole new car! I expected problems, but bought the car because Telsa is not just a car, it is a movement. Naive, maybe, but those who continually gripe need to be realistic. Thus far, Telsa has been more than responsive to the few issues I've had, and I'm sure that, with time, they will deliver on the promised upgrades.

My latest issue: the auto adjust for the mirrors stopped working when I did the latest SW upgrade. Annoying, but not that big a deal. I know I'm weird, but I actually found it kind of charming.

So folks, be patient. If you want tomato perfection, don't buy the car. Wait a year.

nickjhowe | February 21, 2013

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Like I said I'm an owner, I'm long on Tesla stock, and wouldn't give my car up for anything.

It just seemed to me that we might be getting a little carried away sometimes. "My door opened without any human intervention, but that's OK". Really?? Really?? Yes, my list had some things that might be considered frivolous, but there's also some things that you'd kinda expect not to be an issue when you drop $100k on something. QC anyone?

There's no way I'd have the ***** to try and turn an industry upside down the way that TM is doing so kudos to them, but I think we owe it to all the owners that come after us, and to the long term success of the company to hold TM accountable to the very high standards that Elon has publicly set. We'll all be better off for it.

moca | February 21, 2013

I think the attitude of top management is more important than anything else. I worked at startups before and I know startup products are full of problems. If management established the attitude to build the best cars, they will fix the problems. I am sure TM need to deliver as many cars as possible to keep the company live. Once you order the components, you have to sell the car to pay for the components. TM, keep up the attitude, build the best car and reshape the world. I trust TM is in best position to achieve it.

Brian H | February 21, 2013

nickjh;
QC cannot test for and prevent electronic Infant Mortality. That would require 100% "burn-in" of every component of every car. They can test vital systems, and can buy the best h/w, and react promptly when the rare exceptions (infant death) occur. Yes, Really.

portia | February 21, 2013

my door opened by itself, it was annoying, it never did when I was in Drive, it is Ok because Tesla fixed it.
I have a sig red and happy to get it sooner and love the color. How many people are on this forum? how many post vs look? why are you here? were you ever on a forum of your other cars? not me.
this is a car for the 21st century, and I am lucky to be driving one.

nickjhowe | February 21, 2013

"electronic Infant Mortality" Brian - most of the time I have absolutely no idea what the heck you are posting, or what kind of drugs you are on.

tsx_5 | February 22, 2013

Brian H,

It's not QC job to test for infant mortalilty, that is a design issue. Since you bring it up, you must be aware of the "bath tub" (search for "reliability bathtub"). So the early part of the curve is resolved by part selection - ie: use only parts that have passed that stage of thier lives. Since electronics have a long servicable life (some argue that life is near infinite), this doesn't add to the overall cost of those devices.

Brian H | February 22, 2013

If electronic circuits are going to fail, they tend to do so early, or not at all. In the biz, it's called "infant mortality"; it's the reason for doing "burn in". I thought the expression was clear enough not to need explanation. Apparently not.

Brian H | February 22, 2013

tsx;
yes, you're agreeing with me, really. What's your point? The chip mfr. is supposed to test for it, but weak infants do make it through. But higher quality and QC cost more. One hopes TM is buying quality.

Amped | February 24, 2013

brian, your generalizing QC to the electronics and the point was in regard to production/entire vehicle QC

Brian H | February 25, 2013

Much of the vehicle is electronic, so QC of the electronic parts, to the point of burn-in, would require each vehicle to be stressed in every electronic circuit for many hours. Impractical.

Upstream testing by suppliers is the way such issues need to be handled. There are different "grades" of chips and boards, etc., of course. You may well get what you pay for.

carlk | February 25, 2013

I have only been on this board for a week but I've already noticed nickjhowe is the biggest whiner here. :-( I feel for his wife/girlfriend if he does have one.

KevinR.co.us | February 25, 2013

@carlk I have to disagree with you. I've been on this board for 20 months & find nick's posts to be spot-on

nickjhowe | February 25, 2013

I've been called many things, most of them deserved, but not a whiner. Guess you can't please everyone.

Thanks KevinR. Appreciate it.

bradslee | February 25, 2013

@carlk,

I agree with KevinR that nickjhowe has made very positive contributions to this Forums with his comments and opinions. It is MS owners like nickijowe who have enlightened other MS owners through this Forums.

JZ13 | February 25, 2013

I applaud nickjhowe for his post. It's my belief that Elon WANTS critical input. (wonder why negative posts aren't removed?) And I bet he uses input like this to challenge his team to work harder, work smarter. Look, 98% of us in this forum love the car, the company, the founder, the movement, etc. So those that are attacking rational and unbiasec opinions are doing the brand a disservice. Tesla NEEDS HONEST feedback from it's customers. And it needs that feedback to be public so that he can jolt his team into fixing problems quickly.

Those that think a few negative posts will find their way into mass media hysteria are conspiracy theorists. The proof? It would have happened by now. And yet there has been no major story with it's roots in a negative post from this forum.

In fact, if there were a MAJOR problem that was reported here first....well MAJOR problems find their way to the mass media eventually anyway.

jk2014 | February 25, 2013

JZ --

People that love the car give constructive criticism. They don't come to forums to threaten lemons laws, proclaim the downfall of tesla, post false information, or try to spell check other posters for attention...

If you have an issue with your car, contact Tesla directly. If you feel as an owner that loves his/her MS and the need to share on these forums, do so in a way that gives perspective.

If you hate the car, then disregard and do whatever the hell you want. Some already do and that's fine...

Tiebreaker | February 25, 2013

I don't want to play anybody's advocate, but please make a distinction. nickjhowe is an long-time forum member and has contributed greatly. He also created volkerize.com, simplyfying the searches since there is no search engine for the forum. You may be mixing him with another nick...

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