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1 Year Later: Lessons From S.A.M. (My Tesla Model S)

By November 15, 2016January 21st, 2022Michael's Operatory

It’s been over a year since I started driving SAM (my Tesla Model S 85D). And here’s what I can tell you: the nostalgia hasn’t worn off. I’m still amazed at the car, the performance, the technology, and the people/business behind it. They make me look forward to stepping inside that car each and every day and here’s why:

  1. They’re changing the world: they want everyone driving electric to reduce our overall carbon footprint. That’s why, in about 2 years’ time, they’ll be selling the Model 3. I asked a Tesla employee today about the cost of one here in Canada – fully loaded – and they said it could (with all options) likely come in around $90k if our dollar continues to suck vis-a-vis the American dollar. You could, of course, get a basic single motor version in the $40k range with no options… but where’s the fun in that? The company also has a vision: by combining solar power roofing with their automotive manufacturing, they really want to bring alternative energy to the forefront. It takes guts. I hope it makes good business sense in the long run!
  2. They are creating exponential businesses within their business: they recently combined Solar City (of which Musk is involved) with Tesla to offer more alternative/sustainable energy options to the world; plus, it’s great if you want to charge your Tesla with solar energy. They are developing the self-driving capability to eventually ‘rent out’ their cars – Uber-style. They have developed a new type of glass for their cars – which can be one single pane of glass and which will eventually incorporate solar panels for charging. By the way, if you haven’t read Exponential Organizations just yet, it’s a great read.
  3. They’re committed to continual improvement: I just received yet another update that enhances autopilot, the map app and infotainment app, and regenerative braking (to name a few things). This is in addition to all the other improvements they’ve made over the past year, including: introducing auto-pilot, auto-park, summon, etc. It seems like my car is getting better with age, not worse!
  4. Yes, they’re still expensive: when I got my car, the Canadian dollar was heading down to $0.85 CAD, which wasn’t bad, but I could see the writing on the wall. The Canadian dollar has tanked since then and that has made these American-made cars expensive.   My car is worth more today in CAD then when I got it! Even today, the base price for all their cars went up by USD2k.  And they also made supercharging no longer free after this year (you get a set amount initially of charging, after which you’ll need to pay – but it will still be cheaper than gas). I asked an employee today about how much their top of the line Model S would be (that’s the P100D with Ludicrous Upgrade). $200k he said. Wow! Now it’s entering Supercar (Lambo, Ferrari, McLaren, etc.) territory.
  5. They are Fast + Sexy + Tech Savvy + Practical: what other car do you know could go from 0-100 km in 2.7 seconds, carry up to 7 passengers, have loads of cargo space, and have a state of the art technology (be it infotainment or autopilot)?
  6. AUTONOMOUS DRIVING!!!! So my car has one forward facing camera, uses GPS, sonar, radar, and has a bunch of sensors around the car. It has an autopilot system that keeps the car in its lane and, coupled with traffic aware cruise control, is all very cool. The new versions of my car have 8 cameras around the car, plus a super-computer and more sensors around the car. It is capable of LEVEL 5 (out of 5 levels, by the way) fully autonomous driving, parking, etc. Tesla put up a video showing the car’s capability on their website. Heck, at one point, the driver exits the car and and the car then parks itself. Crazy cool! And it’s supposed to be safer than a human driver. What do I think? I trust my autopilot now about 90% of the time; it’s the other drivers who I don’t trust (particularly trucks who may / may not see me when I turn into a lane beside them).
  7. Can I Drive Long Distances? I’ve been to Ottawa, North Bay, Hamilton, Niagara, etc. with my car without fear of running out of juice. I still complain that Ottawa doesn’t have a proper Tesla Supercharging station, but I end up staying at a hotel with a 220V charging station (like the one in my garage), so it’s not a big deal.
  8. They Know How To Brand. A brand is the personification of a product/service. They sell a car. Their car is different in that it is essentially operated by batteries, a motor or two, and has a computer with some wheels. But when you step back and think about their branding, they want you to become a better version of yourself by having this car. You’re better because the cabin is quieter so you can hear yourself. The infotainment system can play whatever you want to hear. The performance is there so you can get to where you want to be – even if that means weaving in and out of traffic with your instant acceleration and torque. You can be more comfortable before you step in the car – it will know your calendar and destination and have pre-selected temperature and infotainment waiting for you. You can park almost wherever you want – it can park for you or you can summon it into a tight spot! It also looks sexy and improves over time with over-the-air updates. The autopilot convenience features makes it easier for you to relax while driving. Eventually, you won’t need to drive at all! Bottom line: it’s all about empowering you to be a better version of yourself.
  9. They don’t spend on marketing. I’ve never seen a commercial or ad. All of their customers come from word of mouth. They don’t have customers. They have ‘raving fans’. They take care of them because they are the company’s best salesforce (same thing with most businesses).
  10. They’re Fighters. A lot of people have been betting against them – like established gas-guzzling car manufacturers/distributors. They still take a lot of heat from BS lobbyists and politicians who don’t let them sell in certain states because they cut out the dealership middle man (as they should!). They get criticized for promising the moon and delivering the earth. They get blamed for merging with Solar City (which may / may not be the best financial move, but it does bring their vision/resources under one ‘solar paneled’ roof 😉  And because they were brave enough to go against all of the nay say-ers (remind you of anyone?), I’m proud of them and proud to tell people to go out and get a Tesla. I believe in the company and their products and services. I love their story, their leadership and I will always be a raving fan of theirs. I’ll never buy another internal combustion engine car from anyone; and because of what Tesla did, I may never buy another car from anyone other than Tesla. God Bless Tesla!