The rest of the car industry envies Elon. Not because his cars are superior – but because he gets away with things they’d be boiled alive for doing.
These include selling a car that hasn’t changed significantly since its introduction more than six years ago but which still gets fawning reviews, building cars so expensive to repair their design is arguably defective, making claims about his cars that are egregiously false and making outlandish promises about his cars that are routinely broken.
The Model S is ancient –
Introduced way back in 2011 as a new 2012 model, the top Tesla is now an old Tesla. Other than a few software “updates” and the addition of a more powerful all-wheel-drive model, the current model is fundamentally the same as the original model. If the Model S were any other car – including an IC-engined economy car – it would be styled, rightly, as “dated” by the car press. Most current-era non-electric cars get refreshed after two or three years and are usually completely redesigned within four or five years. This is particularly the case with high-end cars, whose high prices are justified at least in part by their newness. Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Lexus would be laughed out of the room if they left a car on the market for six years-plus without a major redesign. They’d have to be massively discounted to offset the massive depreciation.
Only Elon could get away with selling a six-year-old car as a new car.
And he does so, in part, because he doesn’t sell them. He gives each away at a loss – the difference subsidized by the taxpayer and “carbon credits” extorted from other carmakers – who have no choice about updating their cars.
If they plan to sell any – which they have to do, because there are no subsidies for them.
Teslas are economically unrepairable –
Waiting around for hours while your Tesla reboots is just one of your worries. If anything hits your Tesla, it may not be worth fixing it. Relatively minor fender-benders can total a Tesla – which has a base price of almost $70,000. Here are some examples culled from a Tesla-friendly source, Green Car Reports:
- A $10,000 estimate to repair a “minor but long” scratch
- A $45,000 estimate for “minor front-end damage”
- A $7,000 estimate for repair of a small dent and scratch that required no replacement of parts
- A $30,000 estimate for “minor fender and door damage”
- An $11,000 estimate for a minor scrape on the rear panel, including a $155 charge to “ensure battery remains charged” during the repair.
Fixing aluminum is specialized and thus, costly, work. Different welding techniques are involved and a dedicated work space is required. This is an issue with any aluminum-bodied vehicle, including non-electric high-end cars like Jaguars and Audis
But Teslas have additional issues. These include no lower-cost aftermarket alternatives for parts – as is the case with other cars – which means huge mark-up on “authorized” parts – as well as shops having to buy Tesla-specific equipment such as a special cradle in order to remove and hold the half-ton battery pack prior to performing any structural repairs to the car’s body. The cost of this cradle and other Tesla-specific equipment needed to patch up a banged-up Tesla is reflected in the bill.
As well as the insurance.
Teslas are among the most expensive high-end cars to insure precisely because they are easily damaged and because it’s so expensive to repair the damage. Why doesn’t the car press ever mention this? Why are the “consumer advocates” silent?
It must be Elon’s magic Musk.
* Tesla fudges its numbers –
Elon touts the Model S as a full-size car in order to make the Model S look like it’s selling better than it actually is by comparing its sales with sales of low-volume full-size luxury sedans like the Mercedes S Class and BMW 7 Series.
But the Model S – although Tesla’s top-of-the-line model – is in fact a mid-sized car and should be compared with other mid-sized luxury-sport sedans like the Mercedes E sedan and BMW 5 Series.
Let’s do that – since the car press won’t.
A Mercedes S is 206.5 inches long, rides on a 124.6 inch wheelbase, has 41.4 inches of legroom up front and 43.1 inches of legroom for the backseaters. It is a full-sized car.
A BMW 7 is 206.6 inches long overal, rides on a 126.4-inch wheelbase, has 41.4 inches of front seat legroom and 44.4 inches of backseat legroom.
It is also a full-sized car.
The Model S is 196 inches long overall, has a 116.5 inch wheelbase and 42.7 inches of front seat legroom and 35.3 inches of backseat legroom.
It is a mid-sized car – with slightly less room inside than other mid-sized luxury sedans such as the BMW 5 and Mercedes E Class.
Last month (November 2017) Tesla sold – or gave away – about 1,300 Model S sedans nationally. Compared with sales of the BMW 7 Series sedan – of which about 700 were sold; that is, actually purchased by people who paid what it cost to make them, plus a mark-up for the dealer and BMW, in order to make it worth making the car.
But that’s apples-oranges.
Now let’s compare sales numbers, apples to apples.
BMW sold about 4,000 examples of its 5 Series sedan in November – more than twice and nearly three times as many as Tesla Model S give-aways. Same goes for Mercedes – which sells even more of its mid-sized E-Class (4,600 in November).
This doesn’t look nearly as good for Elon – but almost no one knows about it because the car press doesn’t report it.
Musk gets away with what would be considered fraud if done by anyone else –
Elon raises capital by taking money from people in return for the promise that they may get a car . . . eventually.
He has taken several Brinks trucks’ worth of money from people who’ve been promised a new Model S – the delivery of which continues to be delayed. If GM or Ford did this the eructation of outrage from Automotive News and Consumer Reports would be deafening. And this business of taking $50,000 deposits on a $200,000 car (Musk’s recently promised supercar) that is purely hypothetical at this point, years away from production – and may never be produced – must have poor old Preston Tucker doing Yoga in his grave.
Nevermind. Elon will have us all taking side trips to Mars just five years from now.
. . .
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