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Why owning a Tesla isn’t for everyone

Updated Mar 15th, 2017 4:34PM EDT
Tesla Model X review
Image: atomic80

Owning a Tesla is a pipe dream for the vast majority of the world. Most of your Tesla-owning dreams probably revolve around burning Ferraris at the lights, effortlessly sliding out of your gull-wing doors, and silently sneaking up on unsuspecting children.

But for all the headlines about 0-60 times, most people forget about the reality of living with an electric car — particularly a Tesla, which is really just a walking, talking beta version of a car. Elon Musk has repeatedly said that in their current state, Teslas are cars for early adopters. In other words, perfectionists need not apply.

One YouTube creator outlines his (very expensive) experience owning a Model X for just three months. His complaints aren’t exactly new, and on balance it’s a slightly ridiculous argument. But, at the same time, he does also make a case that Tesla’s aren’t for everyone. Particularly if you like to whine.

His main arguments, as far as I can work out, are:

  • Interior design and trim quality are poor
  • Sound system was defective
  • The back seats fold down manually, rather than having a motor
  • The web browser on the screen is slow
  • Autopilot requires you to keep your hand on the wheel
  • Planning trips is complicated because of charging
  • Charging requires effort
  • Electricity costs money

The end result is that he traded in his nearly-new Model X in to a Porsche dealer, losing $30,000 off the sticker price at the same time. This is a combination of two complaints: new cars have depreciation (!!!), and he’s bad at negotiating.

Taken alone, each of the qualms with the car is stupid. Yes, the interior quality is sub-par, but you can say that Tesla’s a new brand and the quality is getting better. Complaining about the web browser in your car seems pointless. Complaining because the Autopilot feature wants you to keep paying attention is borderline Darwin Awards.

But ultimately, that’s a lot of explaining away problems. Undoubtedly, for many people, the benefits of a Tesla will outweigh all the minor niggles. But for people who are used to the convenience of a car in its current form, it’s unarguably true that Tesla in particular, and electric cars in general, just aren’t there yet.