The day before I left for Switzerland I sold my car – a 12-year-old Toyota Prius hybrid – with the intent of returning a year later and buying into the all-electric future. I selected the Tesla Model Y. I’ve had it for ten days now; read on for my first impressions.
To be specific, it is a Model Y AWD long-range, a ‘crossover’ vehicle somewhere between a sedan and an SUV. It has a hatchback and huge 68 cu.ft. cargo space, including a trunk under the rear storage area and a ‘frunk’ under the front hood. The dual motors (front and rear) are invisible underneath, as are the batteries, giving it a very low center of mass. Although they plan to sell a 7-passenger version, using the current hatchback space to squeeze in two more seats, I (and most reviewers) anticipate that won’t be comfortable. Five seats and a generous cargo area are perfect for me. It’s rated for a 316-mile range, which will get me to most places I need to go – and back.
I debated for weeks about which electric car to buy; there are many strong candidates, including the Chevy Bolt and the Nissan Leaf. Some of my friends own a Leaf and love it; others own a Tesla Model 3 and love it. I read dozens of websites and watched dozens of YouTube reviews (I especially like those from Ryan Shaw Tech). I built a careful spreadsheet to compare the specs and the costs. In the end, I was convinced that the Tesla Model Y, though most expensive, was the best car for me. For me, I valued the hatchback design, the large cargo space, the high road clearance, the safety record, the range, and the efficiency rating.
(BTW, if you decide to buy a Tesla, please use my referral link.)
Overall I am quite impressed and happy with the car. Some quick reactions:
- It is comfortable, quiet, and handles really well.
- It’s great to just walk up to the car, pull the handle, get in, put it in Drive, and go. No keys. No unlocking. No starting.
- Similarly, when I arrive at the destination, I just put it in Park and walk away. No turning it off, or locking the car. It’s all automatic.
- Indeed, because there are no keys – my iPhone is my key – I have twice forgotten to bring my keychain with me when I go to the office, and am unable to get into the office!
- Tesla brags about the power and the speedy zero-to-sixty specs… and oh wow, they aren’t kidding. The first time I really put the pedal to the floor it was like launching a rocket!
- Everything is controlled by the massive iPad-like screen in the front center. It’s great to have a rich interface for navigation, audio controls, and so forth, but I miss having tactile controls for some things – like adjusting the temperature, and opening the glovebox.
- The entire roof is glass, from the dashboard to the hatchback, giving the rear passengers a view of the sky.
- The ‘autosteer’ feature allows it to stay in its lane and to slow as-needed to follow the car in front of you, a sort of glorified cruise control. I like the cruise control but not the auto-steer; it hugs the center line and I see the oncoming traffic far too close for comfort.
- I look forward to using the ‘precondition’ feature, in which you can set the car to warm and defrost itself before you need to depart. Even the charging port now defrosts.
- Great legroom in the back – even for the center seat, because there is no center hump. (Dual-motor = one in the front and one in the rear, thus no drive shaft and no center hump.)
- Lots of little things – contactless smartphone charging, streaming audio (when in LTE service area), great audio quality, and a great app to let you control find the car and control certain things remotely.
It has a tremendously roomy interior, with loads of cargo space.
I installed a ChargePoint Level 2 charging unit in the garage, enabling me to recharge the car overnight. Not quite as convenient as using a Tesla home-charging station, but way cheaper.
I have not yet traveled far enough from home to need to charge elsewhere, but we did take advantage of a charger at the Mount Washington Hotel.
The navigation system works nicely and, so far, has worked even when the car has no cell service (which is common in NH, including here in the center of my town).
So, it’s a great car. My experience with ordering, payment, and (especially) delivery was not so great, however.
- I ordered it, like everyone, on their website. I even paid the deposit with Apple Pay. Very cool.
- Later, I heard from a sales specialist who emailed paperwork and requested information about insurance and payment. Once set up, I paid for the car using a bank-transfer – no checks, no paper needed. Pretty cool.
- However, it was never clear when I would receive the car, or whether I needed to register the car, or whether they would handle the registration.
- Finally, after about six weeks, I received word that I should expect delivery within the next six days and that I would hear from the truck driver to arrange a time for delivery. (I live too far from any Tesla outlet, so delivery is included in the price.)
- A few days later I got a call from the truck driver, a nice man with a pleasant Texas accent, telling me he was about 10 minutes away from my home and on his way. Ten minutes notice! Fortunately I was available, and was able to discern his location. He was heading, I knew, toward a bridge with a low weight limit and a one-lane dirt road with an even smaller weight limit. No way could he reach my house with that 18-wheeler carrying a dozen Teslas.
- I arranged to meet him at the off-ramp of the Interstate highway. When I arrived, in a light drizzle, he had offloaded my car and was preparing to leave. He checked my driver’s license to confirm my identity, and asked me to confirm the VIN number of the car; that was it. As he prepared to pull away, I noticed the car had no tags (no license plate). And, there was no title or paperwork.
- Long story short, I could not leave the car on the offramp, so I drove it home and called Tesla. They emailed me a license plate to print and tape to the car.
- About a week later, I received an envelope with the bill of sale and the title, finally enabling me to register the car.
- One Tesla rep called and texted me later in the day, to see if I had questions; a nice touch.
- Another Tesla rep arranged a service tech to come to the house to address the problems I noted at delivery, but later cancelled and I’ve not heard from her again. Helpful at first, not since.
- Another Tesla rep offered me a free detailing appointment – two and a half hours from home. Not helpful!
The truck driver told me he was delivering a lot of Teslas around the area. Clearly, Tesla had rushed these out the door so they could claim them as ‘delivered’ in 2020 Q3, which ended the day of my delivery, September 30. Here are some photos of what I found, once I got it home, washed off the road grime, and looked it over carefully.
The car interior was covered with stickers and inspector’s notes, clearly indicating they had rushed to finish the final prep on the car – and run out of time. I did my best to remove everything, but there is still some adhesive left on various places.
The exterior had stickers on the windshield, trim, and roof.
Anyway, it’s a beautiful car and I look forward to using it – once Tesla finally resolves the mess left from their rushed delivery effort.
Tesla really needs to get their act together: clarify communications between the order and payment, payment and delivery; provide meaningful notice of delivery (more than ten minutes!); complete all inspections and clean the car interior before delivery; provide and install temporary plates before delivery; install the front license-plate holder on cars destined for states where that is required; include a welcome letter inside the car indicating what should be found inside the car (hubcaps, license-plate holder), and what not to find (the title, the tags). In short, they really need to provide a positive customer experience to match the hype of their marketing.