When I was a kid I had a 1993 Ford Probe. I loved that car – it was affordable, durable, and looked great both inside and out. The 1993 Probe was a significant update from the version of the car Ford sold from 1988 through 1992.
One of the signatures of the ’93 Probe was its wrap-around interior, with a cool red line that circled interior of the car. Check it out:
Earlier today Tesla announced their updated Model 3 that features an interior refresh that looks a bit familiar!
The Tesla being 30 years into the future uses an LED accent light for its wrap-around trim vs. the Probe’s static piece of plastic. But having spent six years in that Probe throughout high school and college it was hard not to immediately see the resemblance!
I’ve been driving electric cars for 13 years, and 10 of those have been in a Tesla. Every so often Tesla finds themselves with an abundance of inventory at the end of the fiscal quarter and will discount the cars heavily to get them off the lot. This is one of those times.
In my latest video I take a look at how to find the best deals – in some cases you can save thousands of dollars off the sticker price. But just be prepared to do your due diligence as Tesla isn’t always focused on customer satisfaction these days.
So where are the deals? Click through my affiliate link and then click on the “explore inventory” button below the model you’re looking for. You’ll find filtering options on the side to narrow it down to your desired feature set.
I recommend sorting the cars from “Price Low to High” to find the ones that are significantly reduced in price. For example, I found a Model 3 Long Range All-Wheel Drive model for a little less than $4,000 off the list price:
In addition to the price reduction my affiliate link gets you an additional $500 off a Model 3 or Y and $1,000 off a Model S or X.
Tesla’s website also provides information on federal tax credits available for Model 3s and Model Ys. These credits can be applied to your taxes if you meet certain eligibility criteria. Leasing options are also available, where the tax credits may be worked into the lease. There may also be some tax credit options on used vehicles.
If you already own a Tesla with the full self-driving option, you can transfer it to a new vehicle. But, this is a short-running promotion, so act quickly if you’re interested. Also, note that the new vehicles come with full self-driving hardware version 4, which is not yet compatible with the full self-driving feature.
Be cautious when browsing the inventory. Tesla mixes demo models with new inventory models. Demo models have mileage on them and could have been used for test drives or even returned by other customers. They’ll note the demo units on the top of the listing like this Model S example:
Although the car above only has 52 miles on the odometer it’s possible it could have sat in the showroom being manhandled by customers for several weeks or more. My advice on the demo models is to head over to the Tesla store location and take a look at the vehicle yourself before putting a deposit down.
Here are a few things to expect in regards to the buying experience: Tesla’s purchasing process has always been a bit impersonal but it’s gotten worse. In fact the first time you’ll actually hear from someone is after the deposit is made, and it’s mostly a one way conversation via text message to set up the appointment. Any questions you ask will go unanswered. Perhaps it’s a little better in areas where Tesla has a retail presence but generally it’s a self guided sales process all the way up until the point you’re picking the car up.
To reserve a car, you’ll need to put down a non-refundable deposit of $250. If you have a trade-in, Tesla won’t give you a final offer on your trade until after that non-refundable deposit is made. Right now it appears as though that offer won’t arrive until about day or two ahead of your pick-up appointment. This is a significant change from Tesla’s previous process where customers knew up-front what they were being offered. If you walk away from the deal you’re out the $250.
The good news is that throughout my decade of Tesla ownership I’ve found the cars to be reliable and a ton of fun to drive. I’ve had very few interactions with Tesla service and the cars require very little maintenance beyond tires. For service calls they now have a mobile service program where a bulk of maintenance and service issues can be taken care at your home or office. They’ll come to you!
Let me start by saying I’m a huge proponent of electric vehicles (EV’s). I’ve been driving electric for the last twelve years, starting with a Chevy Volt and now in a Tesla.
Range anxiety is still a big issue for electric vehicles. Despite massive developments EV’s charge relatively slowly vs. a gas powered vehicle fill-up and charging stations for non-Tesla vehicles are few and far between. A bulk of the publicly available EV chargers are mostly “feel good” installations that charge quite slowly. My local grocery store’s charger for example will get me maybe 5 or 6 miles back in the tank after 30 minutes in the store.
For the last decade most EVs have been cars or crossover SUVs built on car platforms. Over the last year manufacturers have introduced electric pickup trucks and SUVs to the market, with Ford, Rivian and GM shipping their vehicles right now and Tesla’s Cybertruck right around the corner. These vehicles are much larger and heavier than the typical electric car, which means they need larger batteries to get the same range as a comparable electric car would. And those big batteries take longer to charge – if you can find a charger at all.
The buried lede in Rich’s video was how hard it was for him to actually get down there. Check out his adventure here, like all of Rich’s videos it was very entertaining:
Because Rivian doesn’t have its own charging network, Rich had to rely on publicly available chargers. Some were very slow. Others were not where they said they would be. At one point he had to ask the owner of a bed and breakfast if he could plug in for a little while to get to his next destination. And when he did find a faster charger the cost to use it was often the equivalent to a tank of gas in a traditional vehicle.
His range anxiety was exacerbated by the cold weather in his home state of Kansas that reduced range even further. It was so bad that Hoover and a friend who co-owned the vehicle decided to sell it and try something else.
They ended up choosing an electric Hummer that Hoover says addresses many of the range issues by using a much larger battery pack with twice the capacity of the Ford. We’ll have to see how it fares after Hoover has had more time in the Hummer.
These range and charging issues indicate that just building and marketing an EV is not enough. Without a charging network that makes the vehicles practical it’s really just half a car.
Tesla addressed this issue a decade ago when they started building out their super charger network. After 8+ years of Tesla ownership I’ve never come close to running out of juice, mainly because there’s always a supercharging station nearby wherever I may be.
Tesla has experienced growing pains with the network (especially in areas like Silicon Valley where there’s a lot of Tesla ownership) but in my experience I’ve always been able to get charge when I needed one here in the Northeast US. Charging is still a bit slower than filling up a gas tank but much faster than even some of the fastest chargers available for other vehicles.
Tesla typically charges drivers market rate for the electricity but they occasionally use the supercharger network as an incentive to clear out vehicle inventory. When I purchased my car, a prior model-year leftover, they gave me “free gas for life” in an effort to get me to sign on the dotted line. Not a bad deal!
At this point I don’t believe the national goal of EV’s representing 50% of vehicle sales by 2030 to be realistic unless some major efforts are made to improve both charging speed and availability – especially for those who do not have the convenience of being able to plug in at home.
The report covered 392 incidents and said Tesla’s vehicles were involved in 273 of them. By comparison there were an estimated 6.7 million car accidents and almost 43,000 highway deaths nationwide during the period of time the report covers.
About half of the report’s narrative is spent telling readers how inclusive the data is. This includes the fact that the only cars that actually report telematics data on crashes are Tesla’s. So for other brands the driver would have to explicitly report that the car was under automated control to a police officer or the government. Tesla is also shipping far more cars with this technology than any other automotive brand.
But that didn’t stop the media from jumping to conclusions as I spell out in my latest Weekly Wrapup video. I also give a short demo of Tesla’s full self driving in action.
Incidentally the same radar cruise and lane keeping technology that Tesla started with was installed in many other cars but those manufacturers dialed it back out of fear of government regulators.
It’s astounding that with only 392 incidents to investigate the government report does not indicate who was at fault in these accidents.
Tesla isn’t guilt-free in this either – as I point out in the video they didn’t counter-message against influencers who were using the system inappropriately beyond what it was designed to do. The name autopilot also suggests a capability that goes beyond what it could actually do. This was especially true with their first generation technology that relied on radars that don’t detect stationary objects at highway speeds.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA) put out a much talked about study on crashes involving cars equipped with driver assist and self driving automation technologies. One of the reports shows that an Apple vehicle was involved with an accident over the time period the report looked at:
Apple has long been rumored to be developing a vehicle of its own. Surprising that nobody seems to be talking about this item in the NHTSA report.
I am annoyed by all of the negative headlines about Tesla’s autopilot crash numbers. This comes after a government report was issued about accidents involving vehicles that were driving autonomously before a crash.
Tesla has the most number of autonomous vehicles on the road by far so of course they will have a higher number of reported incidents vs. other manufacturers. The data does not indicate who was at fault in those incidents, the attention level of the driver, etc.
Meanwhile Tesla’s data shows that vehicles running with their autonomous features are far less likely to crash vs. a human controlled vehicle.