By on September 17, 2009

Am I blue? (courtesy

It’s now been four months since I sent in my $5,000 deposit on a Tesla S all-electric four-door sedan. I still think it’s a cool car, but so far I’m very disappointed in Tesla’s communications with us S owners. After an initial flurry of messages confirming the order, assigning me a production number, and inviting me to the opening of the New York Tesla store, I’ve heard exactly zilch from the factory.

Perhaps naïvely, I’d assumed that as a paid-up member of the Tesla family, I’d be receiving a steady flow of updates on the car’s development. How’s the testing going? Any big design changes? What’s up with the new S factory? I haven’t a clue. I was also expecting some customer surveys, asking us about our preferences for cost-vs-range, or electronic gizmos in the cockpit. Again, zilch.

There is an “Owners Only” section of the Tesla website, which requires a user ID and password. But it’s also a disappointment: a few tired old press releases and some desultory owner comments, mostly related to the Roadster. Under the discussion category “Model S development progress” I found mostly other S owners crowing about their sequence numbers. The last “owner update” on the owners-only section of the website is dated June 23.

With 1500 S customers putting down at least $7.5 million in deposits, you’d think Tesla could afford to hire somebody to send out a monthly update on the car. But apparently Tesla doesn’t put much stock in such mundane stuff. The company’s general on-line newsletter—-available to anyone—has made only one appearance since April. There was only one newsletter for the entire year of 2008. I sure hope their customer service on the car is better than this.

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26 Comments on “Tesla Roadster Buyer Report 2: Crickets Chirping...”

  • avatar

    Doesn’t really sound promising, does it?

  • avatar

    Methinks the purchaser is expecting a bit much. After all, he’s just put down a deposit on a car, not joined the Royal Secretive Order of the Grand Poobah’s.

    The bit about being a “paid up member of the Tesla family” made me chuckle. Excuse me, you put down a deposit on a car that may (or may not) appear. You puts down your money, you takes your chances.

    You’re a customer, not family. Get used to it.

  • avatar

    Sounds pretty much par for the course to me, an Aptera preorder. Just seems to be the way these things go.

  • avatar

    Maybe they’ll sell you matched luggage designed just for the Tesla “trunk” and other accessories for the car… possibly some stock ???

    Sounds like the Tucker business model: ambitious plans, not enough $$$ to back them up.

    I hope you haven’t been taken. I would be nervous too.

  • avatar

    Shouldn’t this post be titled “Tesla Model S Buyer Report 2: Crickets Chirping”? I mean, that is what he is buying. Not to mention, with over 700 Roadsters delivered so far, the backlog is nearly done and the wait time from purchase to reciept is about 2 months for a Roadster, so the current title makes it seem like a Roadster customer doesn’t hear anything, which is untrue.

  • avatar

    Gimme a “P”…
    Gimme an “O”…
    Gimme an “N”…
    Gimme a “Z”…
    Gimme an “I”…

    What does it spell?

  • avatar

    Yes a deposit does not equal ownership in any way.

  • avatar

    As one of the original owners of the US Ariel Atom back in the Brammo days, I can tell you this is par for the course. I had a 6 month wait, and heard next to nothing about my car for months until it actually started to get built. Luckily, other owners ahead of me kept the Atom community informed of their car’s progress, so at least I knew something was getting built at the factory.

    You have put a deposit on a car with a 2 year wait, get comfortable.

  • avatar


    I’m curious – what expectations did they set regarding progress reports?

  • avatar

    They do call it vaporware for a reason.

  • avatar

    The headline and image are rather misleading since the author is talking about the S sedan and not the roadster.


  • avatar

    It takes several hundred million dollars to even develop a car on a shoe string budget. There are some financial requirements that just can’t be beaten. Kinda like the law of physics.

    In the aviation world, there’s a guy that is famous for coming out with an innovative design, building a prototype or two, taking in MILLIONS in deposits, shipping some parts of the kit planes out, and then declaring bankruptcy. Sad part, he’s done it at least 1/2 dozen times.

  • avatar

    @David Noland:

    You should probably browse/join forum, if you didn’t already know about it. Pretty much any Tesla news (good and bad) gets posted up there, and there are plenty of depositors there in the same boat as you.

  • avatar

    So, in my line of work I see this all the time. An individual comes in with unrealistic expectations, doesn’t express those expectations to me, then is pissed off when I don’t meet those unrealistic expectations.

    I, too, have $5000 down. I know the car isn’t expected until almost 2012–2-3 years from now. How many significant updates do you really think there should be?

    The one or two times I had questions I sent an e-mail or called my representative in the Chicago store and got a quick and informative reply.

    Further, I took the responsibility of keeping up to myself. I follow the information at the “owners only” community and the forums. I know that no decision has yet been made on a plant site. I doubt they’ll solicit our opinions, outside the above mentioned forums which both have Model S design suggestions threads.

    I, too, would love frequent updates, but if the updates didn’t actually have news they’d be a waste of my time. The few they have sent out have been informative.

    Now, when we get 6 months out from production I expect news…and if I’m not getting it I’ll be ticked too. But that gives me until about Jan. of 2011 or longer before I’m gonna start to fret.

  • avatar

    Both the title of the article and the picture used are misleading. Regarding the missing development updates and non-existent feedback loop, I have to ask, do ANY carmakers do this? This is an industry where the players keep their cards close to the vest, and with good reason. To expect any visibility into the development process or major management decisions is simply being unrealistic.

    That being said, I hope these guys do deliver on the sedan and say nay to the naysayers. These guys are the face of the new American automotive industry, for better or worse.

  • avatar

    I just don’t understand.

    I ask with genuine sincerity, why on earth do you want one of these things?
    I can maybe understand an “impulse buy”, drive it off the lot, grow bored with it and unload it six months later, but to wait 2-3 years to do that?

    I would trust Tesla about as much as Lehman Brothers.

  • avatar
    Mirko Reinhardt

    It’s now been four months since I sent in my $5,000 deposit on a Tesla S all-electric four-door sedan.

    Will there be a sedan version of the S? All the pictures I’ve seen of the S look like it’ll be 5-door hatchback.

  • avatar

    Hmm… that reminds me. I bought a preorder on this great videogame called Duke Nukem Forever a while back and haven’t heard anything. Maybe I should check up on how it’s going. I’m sure if there is a problem I’ll get my money back.

  • avatar

    Dear David,

    You just gave your money away to a company that grabbed a Lotus chassis and a bunch of cell phone batteries and called it “revolutionary”. Then, still failed even though they were using tried and true off the shelf technology.

    You gave your money away to a company that at one point wrote in their website a 256 mpg “equivalent” economy and made no comments to correct fanbois claiming the car was “zero emissions”.

    You gave your money away to a company founded by dot-com millionaires that had nothing better to do and just woke up one day and thought: “I like cars, why not create a company?” But with no idea of what automotive engineering is.

    I am sorry, but I am not sorry for you.

  • avatar

    I’ve been really excited about Tesla for a long time, but they’ve been WAY over optimistic about the Model S for a very long time. It’ll either be way late, way more expensive, or most likely, both. After the Tesla “bloodletting”, my hopes were severely diminished even from that.

    Meanwhile, Aptera seems to have used some “outside the box” thinking to make an extremely practical commuter car at a realistic (for what it is) sounding price. They made it simple and light engough where it actually has a chance to be profitably produced at a small scale at that price ($40k) without subsidies. I now think that THEY will be the ones who’ll make the electric car commonplace.

  • avatar

    Cheer up. At least your deposit wasn’t on a 2009 Bugatti Veyron.

  • avatar
    healthy skeptic

    > I now think that THEY will be the ones who’ll make the electric car commonplace.

    I think in the end, the traditional car companies are what will make the electric car commonplace.

  • avatar


    Look guys, there is nothing Tesla or Aptera can do that BMW, Merc or FIAT cannot do, and in a much much shorter development time. Tesla or Aptera don’t have any patents, trade secrets or superior knowhow to really compete against real auto companies. On the contrary, they have much inferior knowhow. Any BMW engineer could lecture the most knowledgeable Tesla worker on anything, including fuel efficiency.

    In short, Tesla is just a fad that is going to die and be forgotten soon.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    From a interview here on CBC TV(Newsworld) there are many people in this Country who have also put money down, I am afraid they have been taken for a Ride and not likely to see there Money or a Car for the future, its like buying a “Pig and a ”
    Good luck to all the suckers out there, more Money than brains I expect!

  • avatar

    As a marketing guy I completely agree with the writer. Here Tesla has an incredible opportunity. Not only have they conned $5000 out of you but they have the opportunity to turn you into the best type of advertising and EV advocate – the word of mouth type who will extol the virtues of the Tesla S sedan long before it is out. Your first adopters, that fanatical market base that advertisers and marketing folks are thrilled to find.

    I understand completely. And Tesla should be writing press release after press release as well as general marketing fluff and getting it out to anyone who will listen so that before this vehicle gets even 6 months to production even non-auto industry enthusiasts will have heard of it.

    It’s really too bad is all I’m saying.

  • avatar

    Tesla means Dale car in english

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