To buy a car, you usually go to a dealership. You wait to see if someone is available. You wait a little more. That person comes to you. You look over the options, they attempt to sell you something else. You eventually settle upon something (or, of course, you leave and go somewhere else). Once you do that, if you don’t have the cash, you go to their finance person, run credit checks, talk about your options, and eventually come to a deal. You put down money. You get sold on services (tires, service plans, warranties, etc.). You sign many, many documents. You get sold on more services. You – after hours of waiting – get to see your car (assuming it’s actually available – otherwise you’ve just made a deal and will wait a few days to a few weeks). You’ll be rushed through a product demo. Anywhere from two to eight hours after arriving, you get in your car and leave.
With Tesla, most if not all of this takes place online. You order the car, and depending on the options it’ll take 2-3 weeks, unless you buy the 85KWh Performance mode, which can arrive in 1-2 months. I ordered the P85, and received it just over a month later. You choose all of your options online, everything from battery size to whether you want leather seats, and then put down $2500 to ‘reserve’ it. You get a few weeks to pull out before the deposit becomes firm, and the car starts being made.
From there, you can apply for financing online – and if you don’t work with Tesla because of your credit, they will find you a bank that will. Everything is done digitally – down to the signing of the car purchase agreement – and the services are offered up front. You can call and ask really, really stupid questions, like “what is a caliper” and “what’s a power liftgate” and “what is suspension” (I asked all of these questions). They don’t even laugh at you. But feel free to laugh at me.
In essence it’s not too dissimilar to buying things off of Amazon, except it’s a very expensive car.
An important side-note – I highly recommend the P85 option. It’s $10k more for 65 more miles of range, Supercharger capabilities and yes, 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds. I may not be a “car guy”, but I like making bad decisions. Constant full-throttle sprints up to 60 mph is one of life’s great pleasures.
When my delivery day came around, I went to Fremont to pick it up. The ‘delivery specialist’ was waiting for me. He handed me two pieces of paper. I signed them. I was walked to an iMac. I hit “accept delivery” on Teslamotors.com. “Okay, great. The car’s over here.” The car that had been sitting there the entire time that I assumed was a store model was actually mine.
When I originally ordered my Model S, the ‘multi-coat red’ looked kind of burgundy. Sort of stylish and reserved. My Model S was…a cherry red. What I imagined was going to be my sleek electric car was a big red sports car. What was I gonna do, ask them to go paint it a new color? I was stuck with it. It’s not so bad, aside from every person telling me how “cops pull over red cars”.
The delivery guy walked me through the car’s operation, helped me set up my phone and answered my incessantly stupid questions. At the end of it all, more Tesla employees were there to wave goodbye. One shook my hand vigorously and said “congratulations.” Everyone was so happy. I’m in PR and can spot a fake smile from space. These guys seemed to really like the idea of getting up and going to work every single day. When you’ve just made a major purchase, it helps to make the person feel like they’ve made the right decision.
When I bought my Volvo, they sort of grunted at me and handed the keys over while one guy cackled like a pawn shop broker.