On March 31, 2016, I stood in line with thousands of other people to give Tesla Motors $1000 in hard-earned cash to reserve the ability to buy a Tesla Model 3. The telecasted announcement was that evening, and over 100,000 of us (myself included) had put down a $1000 deposit on a car we had never seen. That was a leap of faith, and many of those people have gotten their cars by now, and going by responses I see on-line the overall acceptance of overwhelmingly positive. Some are complaining of fit and finish issues, but the common refrain is what a fantastic car this is.
Going by the Inside EV’s plug-in vehicle sales tracker, the Tesla Model 3 is selling at an enormous rate. In July 2018 they sold over 14,000 Model 3’s, and in August sales jumped to over 17,000. That’s an annualized rate of over 200,000 cars per year, but is only 4,000 cars per week. An article on Inside EV’s today claims new machines being installed in Fremont should push the production rate to 8,000 cars per week, or an annualized rate of around 400,000 Tesla Model 3’s.
Sales since the beginning of the year are about 55,000 Tesla Model 3’s, and the #2 car is the Toyota Prius Prime at 18,000 cars, followed by the Tesla Model S (14,000), Tesla Model X (13,000), Chevy Volt (11,000), Chevy Bolt (10,000), Honda Clarity PHEV (9,000), Nissan Leaf (9,000), and so on. To put that in perspective, Model 3 sales since the beginning of the year are about the same as the total of Prius Prime, Model S/X, Chevy Volt and Chevy Bolt. And, Model 3 sales are growing.
Clearly the response to this car is phenomenal. I think it explains the several years of relatively flat electric car sales. Everyone on the fence was waiting for the Model 3.
I just took the contrarian move of canceling my first-day Tesla Model 3 reservation.
I kept thinking and thinking and thinking about what are my real preferences. There is a Tesla fanboy inside me that wanted desperately to have a Tesla Motors car. After nearly every news article I wrote about Tesla I’d excitedly go to Tesla’s careers page to see if there was a job for me. But starting around the time I placed the Model 3 reservation, I began thinking about real needs versus perceived needs.
Cars must serve a practical purpose, for me. I want to carry cargo, and my household is a total of two people. I want to take longer trips. I am not happy with the Tesla Supercharger network being proprietary to Tesla Motors. I believe that car manufacturers should not own refueling infrastructure. I want more than 200 miles electric range, and a significantly fast recharge time.
The design of the Tesla Model 3 seems wrong. Instead of a large cargo area, you have a small hole going into what is a surprisingly large trunk area given the size of the car. But — I’d rather that Tesla had designed a hatchback version of the Model 3. That they did not do this really turned me off from this car.
I haven’t made a comprehensive look at the available or upcoming models. A hatchback Model 3 might have tipped me over, except for the price Tesla is currently charging.
The Chevy Bolt is interesting if a bit on the small side. Both Kia and Hyundai have practically sized vehicles with longer range coming soon. The 2018 Nissan Leaf was a turnoff when we saw it last year. The anemic sales of the Leaf are probably validation of that. The BMW i3 is interesting but out of my price league.
I’m not in a position to buy anything today, so am not in the market currently. When the lease on my Kia Soul EV ran out last fall, I bought out the lease rather than leasing something different. That move means I have an asset, the Soul EV, whose value can be applied to buying a new car when I make a decision, plus gives some time in which to more leisurely consider the available vehicles. At the moment I am content to wait for the market to mature some more.
Why cancel the Model 3 reservation?
As you can see at the top, my Tesla account said my car was ready to configure. So I went into the “Design Studio” and found this.
The least expensive choice is the long range battery and premium interior, for $49,000 base price. So much for the promise of a $35,000 MSRP for the Model 3. You’ll see it say the “standard battery” version is another 4-7 months in the future, meaning it would be next Spring or about 3 years after placing the deposit before I could order a car.
It’s not just this – my preferred color is “white”. That color is among the most visible colors, and therefore driving a white car should be safer than other car colors because “more visible” means “more likely to be seen” and therefore “less likely to be hit by other cars.” To get a white car in Tesla Land means buying the Pearl White Multi Coat paint at the princely price of $2000.
Sheesh. And getting into desirable options versus undesirable, the long range battery pack is up there, but the enhanced autopilot is not. That means my MSRP might end up at $46,000 or so.
I just cannot fathom paying that much for a car. It’s a car, not the second coming of Christ. Why pay a lot to buy a car? It just doesn’t make sense.
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