Last Thursday (on March 31, 2016) Tesla started taking preorders for the Model 3. Starting at $35,000 – the Model 3 is the affordable version of Tesla’s all-electric vehicles. I was seriously considering joining in on the excitement. But at the last moment, I hesitated. Something seemed wrong. Did Elon Musk seriously expect me to put down $1,000 on a car that I didn’t even see?
I have been looking for a sexy, yet affordable, electric car. While the Model S is amazing, $70,000+ is more than what I want to spend on a car. That’s why the Model 3 was so interesting. It seemed to be the car for the masses. With a $7,500 federal tax credit, the cost of the car is in range of traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles. After years of searching, this seemed to be the solution. Yet, I didn’t go for it. While there are many Tesla stores in the NYC area, I didn’t visit a single one. Late that night, when preorders were available via the Internet, I simply opted to fall asleep.
When I woke up the next morning, on April 1st, I quickly checked the Internet. So, what does this car look like? Considering the sporty look of the original Tesla, and the classy appearance of the Model S, I was expecting to be impressed. Tesla makes sexy cars. But as soon as I saw the Model 3, I felt disappointment – but I also felt relieved. I knew that I had made the right decision. The Model 3 didn’t seem to be the car that I was looking for. It’s like the car has no face.
It’s that front bumper. It’s so strange. It’s so plain and yet sticks out so far. I think it’s ugly.
I hate going to car dealers. I like Tesla’s direct approach to sales. I like that they’re shaking up the industry. I really wanted to like this car. So, I tried to push forward. But then, I saw the interior of the Model 3. It’s so sparse, so utilitarian. I like buttons. I like a normal dashboard. I want to drive a car, not an iPad with wheels.
So OK, maybe I can imagine the front bumper with a license plate. That should break up the drab appearance. Maybe I could even get past my aversion to the dashboard arrangement. Yet, there’s another problem. By the time I could purchase this car, the tax credits are likely to have expired. That dramatically raises the cost of the car – without adding additional features.
I really like Tesla motors. Elon Musk is one of the technological revolutionaries of our age. But the Model 3 and the preorder scheme, I didn’t like it. The idea of preordering a car – before you could even see it – felt like an April Fools’ Day trick.
Yet, that’s just my opinion. It probably doesn’t mean much against a quarter-million preorders. I might not like the car, but others obviously do. This is a tremendous success. No matter what car I drive in the future, I look forward to breathing cleaner air. The electric car revolution is here and Tesla is leading the way.