Published on March 13th, 2014 | by Christopher DeMorro
Test Driving The Tesla Model S With A Tea Party Pundit: Part Three
“You know Chris, it’s a lot of money for a car,” John told me on the phone. “With the limited range, ya know, I just don’t think I’d ever buy A Tesla.” Fair enough, I thought. This is a guy used to driving long distances for hours at a time, and John isn’t one for sitting around idly. But what about the rest of the car?
“Some things I really liked,” John said. “That’s the best touchscreen I’ve seen in a car. Maybe the best tablet. And honestly, I think a lot of the technology is really cool. It all feels very new, and you know, it feels well put together too.”
That was honestly more positivity than I expected from him, though not the Tesla-loving revelation I was hoping for. He had plenty more to add regarding the whole experience.
“But I think there are a lot of things that would keep me from buying a Tesla, especially that back seat. I can fit seven guys in my expedition, but you couldn’t get four of my friends into that car. And the salesman could have moved his seat up a little bit more for me,” John said. “It was really difficult to get out of too. I mean, I had an easier time getting out of your car,” he said, referring to my 2012 Chevy Sonic. “All that money, and I can’t get out of the back seat?” He sounded incredulous. A long wheelbase version is supposedly in the works, which makes me think John’s is not an uncommon complaint.
“Also, I don’t think the store model is very good,” he explained. “You know, if I had my wife with me walking through JCPennys, we’d be stopping every ten feet to look at something. It’s not how I would try to sell that costly of a car, you know?”
“That brings me to another point; they should have a central inventory available for someone who wants to buy the car right now. I know they’re new, and there’s a waiting list, but I just think it’s a little ridiculous to have to wait that long for a car. A lot can happen in three months for someone to change their mind, and having to get permission to sell a car to someone ready to pay for it? They gotta change that.”
After our mutual experience, I have to agree on some points with John. I think sticking Tesla stores in the middle of the mall is an alright holdover for getting the word out, but ultimately, Tesla may want to adopt a more traditional car dealership look and feel. As clean and as nice as the store itself was, the jarring juxtaposition of a $90,000 tester car stored in the corner of a parking garage isn’t helping sway any fence sitters. With a dealership-type building, Tesla can control the entire sales experience.
“It also wasn’t as quiet as I expected,” John admitted. “But it’s still a cool car, and I think the technology has a lot of potential. I just don’t think it’s there yet, and the people signing up to drive a Tesla right now can probably afford two or three other cars, you know? You and me, we can’t really justify that. And I’m sorry, but even 30 minutes is too long to wait for a full charge. They need to come up with some kind of battery swap system or something.”
“Well John, they’re working on that too.”
So no, John didn’t magically come around and start loving the Model S. Even if he were a wealthy man, I doubt he’d ever buy one. But he seems to have a newfound respect for electric car technology, if nothing else, and he seems to take it more seriously.
At the very least, I don’t think John will confuse Tesla with Fisker anymore.