When I took delivery of my Model S, the very friendly and knowledgeable person who walked us through the ins and outs of the car told us: “Remember, a Tesla is still a car”. Every time I talk to someone new to Tesla I use that piece of advice. Why? You’ve probably heard about Full Self-Driving, Navigate on Autopilot, Smart Summon, and all those cool features which may sound a bit overwhelming at first (or when you’re still doing your research before you make a decision about which car to buy). But here’s the thing, you don’t need to know about any of those features to drive a Tesla. Your car is a great piece of technology and you can learn and benefit from it when you’re ready, at your own pace. And meanwhile, you just drive it, like you’d drive any other car.
This blog post is not to try to convince you to get a Tesla, it’s also not about EV tax incentives or rebates, about how much it costs, about how to charge it, or about what the best accessories for a Tesla are. This post is about things that are fundamentally different in a Tesla car from any other car. Things about both the car and the experience of buying one. Without further ado, here’s my take on what you should know if you’re thinking about buying a Tesla.
1. Software updates
Even though I’ve owned my Model S for almost 2 years, I feel like I get a new car every time there’s a software update. And that happens every other week, or at least once a month. Software updates are received over-the-air, meaning you need a connection to the Internet but that’s it. Every time there’s a software update, the mobile app will notify you and the release notes will appear in your car so you can check what’s new. Sometimes it’ll be only bug fixes (especially after a major release) and sometimes it’ll be exciting new features. And maps also get updated over-the-air.
Will you get all the new features via over-the-air software updates? Well, it depends. If you buy a new Tesla today, you’ll get the latest technology and most likely all the new features. When I bought my Tesla, they told me it came with some hardware that was not being used at the time but that they were planning on using in future software updates (and so it happened, e.g. there were some cameras not being used which are now being used by Dashcam, Sentry Mode, and Navigate on Autopilot). That blew my mind by the way.
Some pieces of software of my car are now obsolete, e.g. MCU 1 and Hardware 2.5. So what now?
- MCU: With MCU 1 you can’t get Tesla Theater or Tesla Arcade, but it seems like Tesla is already working on a retrofit.
- Hardware 2.5. If you have purchased Full Self-Driving, the retrofit to Hardware 3 is included in the price and they should be able to perform it at any Service Center when it’s available for your car.
Other than that, you just live with it or upgrade your Tesla :)
2. Range anxiety
This is a very popular discussion topic, but let me tell you something, with an ICE car, you also need to pay attention to how much range you have left, so there’s nothing really new here. With a Tesla it’s even easier, because if you charge at home you’re car will be full every morning (or at 80% as recommended if you’re not going on a trip).
In my opinion, the important thing with an electric vehicle is not how much range you have (unless you have a very long commute) but how good is the infrastructure for fast charging. Today, no one can beat Tesla at that. Look at the current rates of the latest versions of the 3 Tesla models with V3 Supercharging:
Peak charge rate
For trip planning, you can check what Superchargers are on your route or you can use third party tools like ‘A better route planner’ which are really great for this purpose.
3. Mobile Application
This is an important one: Your Tesla mobile app (available for iOS and Android devices) is your key, it allows you to control your car remotely- not only locking and unlocking it but also driving, operating windows, turning on the AC (this is one of my favorites), and much more. And since recently, you can also trigger the software updates from your phone sitting on your couch :)
4. Customer service
You’ve probably heard or read about Tesla’s customer service not being as good as people would imagine. Well, if you ask me, Tesla is a very new company, it’s growing fast, and one of their growing pains is reflecting on their customer service, yes. Having said that, in these almost two years of ownership of my Model S, I’ve had by far more positive than negative experiences. But let me share these experiences a bit more in detail. If you’re curious to know more, I recently wrote a blog post about my experience going to the Service Center for the first time.
5. Buying experience
The experience of buying a Tesla is very unique. For starters, you can order it online without talking to anyone. (By the way, if you ever do it, and feel like we’ve helped you in any way, we’d be honored if you’d use our referral code: http://ts.la/ignacio9266). If you prefer to be advised before making a purchase you still can, of course, visit a Tesla store. And even if you order it at a store, the order will be processed digitally as well as all the paperwork that you’ll have to complete.
If you’re not happy with the car: you can return it! If you did a test drive, you have seven days to give it back (if not, only three).
What else? Oh, yes, my favorite: there’s no negotiation, prices are what they are and that’s it. In my opinion, this makes buying a Tesla much easier, faster, and transparent. No waiting for two hours at the dealership going back and forth with prices or anything like that. Although it’s rare to be able to get a discount, it’s possible to get upgrades at a better price (or even for free), especially towards the end of the year and if you’re willing to take a new inventory Tesla. Another way of getting things for free is with the referral program, for example, right now using any referral code you could get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging. Pre-owned Tesla are also a great alternative to get an amazing car at an amazing price with warranty.
Thanks to @MatthewHTennant for the chat via Twitter which inspired me to put this blog post together. Hopefully, it’ll be helpful for many future Tesla owners.
Do you have more questions? Please reach out! contact at tesletter dot com
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