The delivery of our Tesla Model S last Friday culminated over two years of wait. We put a $5,000 deposit in October, 2010 and waited our turn. California start-up Tesla is a new kind of company that builds only electric cars. And as if that's not innovative enough, the purchase process is quite novel as well. While we were waiting for our own car, we borrowed one for an early look back in November:
After going out on a limb and laying out our deposit, we endured a long period of silence. It was only this past September that we got an e-mail prompting us to spec out the car with options, exterior and interior colors and, of course, the size of battery. We opted for the largest 85 kwh one as most buyers do, according to Tesla. We also checked off the $1,500 on-board chargers that are needed to optimize charging with the $1,200 Tesla-dedicated High Power Wall Connector. The car starts at $57,400 with the base 40 kWh battery. Each battery step-up (to 60 and 85 kWh) is a $10,000 option so with the battery we chose it's a $20,000 upgrade. Other options add up quickly, so with the tan Nappa leather, large sunroof, and air suspension (which is on all early builds) our total sticker price came to $89,650. Electric cars are more expensive than comparable conventional cars, but the Model S would be most naturally compared to an Audi A7 or Porsche Panamera, which can get to that price level.
We used a private e-mail throughout the process so to not reveal our identity. All documents were signed electronically online through a very user friendly and interactive website. When the help of a human being was needed, a live voice was promptly available at the other end. As we approached the delivery time, coordination was done through a private cell phone. We had the option of picking the car up at Tesla's service center in Queens, NY or for it to be delivered on a flat bed. We chose the latter.
While it was indeed a long wait, the process was refreshing since it was done on my laptop from the comfort of my study at home, interacting directly with the manufacturer, eliminating the need to go to a dealer, and having the car delivered by a knowledgeable Tesla employee. So not only has Tesla reinvented the car, it has also turned the buying process upside down, and in a good way.
We can't wait to pile some break-in miles on our Model S and start testing it.
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