07 July 2018

Why I Cancelled My Tesla Model 3 Reservation: Thoughts and Observations

            I remember it as though it were two years, three months, and seven days ago. Perhaps because it was indeed that string of time. On the evening of 31 March 2016, the world was left astonished and amazed, intrigued and curious as they dabbed away their tears of joy with two-ply pocket tissues while actively listening to the ambitious words fluttering from the mouth of the handsome event speaker. Where were these people? If you were fortunate enough to have received an invitation, you were in a facility in California; everyone else was watching the live stream on the Internet. What was the object of attention? Why, this was the unveiling of the Tesla Model 3.
            The Tesla Model 3 was, and still is, Tesla Motor’s continuing step to promote and encourage sustainable transportation through battery electric mobility. In the case of the Model 3, this sedan is intended to be a bridge to help strengthen the adoption of pure electric vehicles who offer a triple-digit value of range with a price tag a middle-class consumer could step forward with confidence to purchase, if not finance. How could you possibly go wrong with an electric sedan whose base model starts at $35,000 (USD)? Well, with the many things that are sweet in life, it is possible for things to also go sour. Like many other young companies, Tesla has faced hardships before and the Model 3 is, and will be, no exception.
            What attracted me to the Model 3, was the fact it is a Tesla. A Tesla is a Tesla, right? While there are various other models of battery electrics on the market to choose from, which I must point out are near $35,000 in price if not less, the appeal is the availability of an item from a luxury company available at a lower price. This is possible due to various trade-offs with the composition, construction, and features the vehicle has to off. Of course this sounds like a deal! No wonder people have been chatting about it ever since its presentation.
            I was first introduced to Tesla Motors during my junior year of high school. I was working on a persuasive paper for my AP Literature and Composition (English) course on the topic of, none other than, why we should drive electric. The paper took a sharp curve off course which actually led me to look at some of the inner workings of the electric vehicle. As a specific example, I thought the high strength reinforced steel composition of the smart fortwo electric (and as with all other smarts) was fascinating. With progressing Internet searches, I came across a web page with another electric sedan- this one used a composition of reinforced aluminium. Oúh, aluminium: how unusual, how exotic, how pricy! This electric sedan was the Tesla Model S. Wow! Look at the interior, the non-steel exterior, the centre touchscreen, the size of that battery, and so forth. Why have I not heard, nonetheless seen, this car before? Well, a glance at the M.S.R.P. answered that question rather swiftly. It is evident this is a vehicle targeting upper-class consumers, otherwise Simple Sally probably would not be refinancing the 30-year mortgage on the cardboard box she now lives in to have afforded such a sedan. Of course, that’s an inflated dramatization: the Model S can also be leased! There are many vehicles people still purchase that are far more expensive than a Tesla, and the only battery in that vehicle is the 12 volt- remember that.
            For simplicity, a Tesla has always been a luxury car. Always. From the beginning with the Roadster, this sportscar was presented towards unusually wealthy individuals where the price tag was higher than the actual number of vehicles produced. Next came the Model S: the notorious premium electric sedan introduced into the wake of the world as Tesla was nibbling on their nails as troubles arose within their company and even with the Roadster. The Model S proved to be more ideal than the Roadster, and thereby became the signature sedan and the image of Tesla Motors. The Model X soon followed within time. Taking quite a turn from the Model S, this Tesla gained some noticeable weight to become the size of an SUV, while denoting signature features such as falcon wing doors for the passengers. Advancing forward and despite truly being the fourth model in Tesla’s history, the Model 3 had its destiny foretold to be an affordable electric sedan. Its rise to fame is essentially due to being a smaller, less premium, and less advanced version of the Model S. Mr. Musk himself has even pointed out on his Twitter the vehicle you are probably looking for is really the Model S. Sure, you may change the way you look, the way you dress, speak, behave, and act, but you will always have your roots, and your roots show the underlying foundation of where you started in life. In the case of Tesla, it’s being a luxury vehicle: there’s no denying this.
            The thing is, if you’re praising a $35,000 sedan as being “affordable for the masses” then your search has already concluded! What am I saying here? There are already multiple battery electrics both on the U.S. and global market which are similar in cost, if not less, than the base Model 3. They may not have the battery capacity of a featured Tesla, yet they are still true to the meaning of electric mobility. It would seem many people, perhaps too many, have truly forgotten this. For some reason, people who are not entirely educated on battery electrics trick themselves into believing they need a car capable of unrealistic and frankly impossible feats because they inflate reality out of proportion for what a vehicle needs to be able to do and how quickly. Their current gas guzzling behemoth is the only type of vehicle they have ever know, so this is where they base their judgement when it comes to vehicles using alternative energies. I really believe this is an underlying factor as to why people are so glued to the Model 3, because they prompt themselves into believing the only electric worth driving is a Tesla since they are known for toping the charts with a high EPA electric range. They seem determined to spend $35,000+ while ignoring other electrics, and whilst being a rather poor scholar by not doing their research. I know, shocking! Perhaps that’s why they’re electric!
            When I was in Vietnam this May for a course project with the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, the city of Ho Chi Minh was flooded with Mercedes-Benz. In fact, I’ve never before seen such a high concentration of Mercedes in one area. Maybe the factory had a leak? For the citizens who had a car, this was a very popular make despite there only being a handful of unique models. Of course, there are many things high volumes of money can purchase. In the case of these Mercedes-Benz, I am very well convinced people purchased these sedans not for their four-person interior volume, no-no, but as a status symbol for having a “higher end” car as opposed to an economic counterpart. In a city of over, and still growing, 8.42 million people, to drive around in a four-person sedan when you’re the only one present is not the wisest. How practical is it to have ownership of a vehicle whose primary significance to you is just the brand name? Looping back to the Model 3, are the people who have held onto their reservation, or even the few who actually have one in their possession, seriously after the true efficiency of electric mobility, terminating their gasoline addiction, preserving air quality, and so forth? Or, are they after the status symbol tied with having a Tesla? The answer is connected to the individual but remember, a see-saw often tilts to one side.
            Following the 31 March event which provided both limited information and views of the sedan, customers across the United States, and eventually the rest of the world, could place a “reservation” as means for an exclusive jingle of social currency for being on a waitlist for a vehicle no one outside of Tesla has actually driven. I marvel at the inspiration, forward-thinking, and well intentions so many people had in their minds, hearts, and wallets as they could place up to two reservations per person, whereas a double reservation bumped you up higher in the waitlist. Current Tesla owners bounced to the very top of the list with their reservation. Each reservation amounted to a sizable ticket price of only $1,000 (USD). There have been claims of people allegedly placing multiple double reservations by using different emails when creating a Tesla account. I even remember reading articles from flustered international customers who realized if they placed a reservation, they would be spending more money of their own currency than U.S. customers with the U.S. Dollar: think $1,000 versus €1,000. This isn’t a new concept for global market buyers: we see this often with the newest iPhone costing a fortune more in countries outside of the United States.
Reservation confirmation on 23 October 2016.
            Like so many others, I placed a single reservation with the best intentions for the future- that is, a future with a Model 3. I was not an early bird like some of the very eager fanboys were on 31 March; I didn’t bother either in April, or even in May. I finally submitted my reservation 206 days later on 23 October once the world and their cockatoo already had done so. To an extent, I felt as though I was simply too far down the waitlist, that due to the excitement and buzz this vehicle was receiving, it may very well be half a decade before I am able to move forward with my reservation, nonetheless receive the vehicle. Seriously. In fact at the time, Tesla estimated the production for the standard battery would begin in “late” 2019, furthering my chances with this sedan past 2020. Although theoretically I was at the bottom of the list for a period of time, my reservation undertook a moderate pace of acceleration like abuelita shuffling to the front of the line at a marathon, only to have the race commence and the other participants discover her wearing Moon Shoes. Well, something to that effect.
            I officially received my notification on 28 June, by email, indicating I may now proceed to design and then order my Model 3- only 20 months and 5 days after placing the initial reservation. Or just a mere 881,956 minutes, but who has the time to calculate that? WolframAlpha does, if you’re curious. I thought to myself, “Oh. It’s that email.” The email I had no intentions of receiving at this point in time. It was as though it came out of the blue, or perhaps out of the “deep blue metallic” because that colour looks neat on a Model 3. I looked at the email, then I read it over again, and I decided then and there this was currently not a realistic option for me. Case dismissed.
            Well, almost. The cat is still alive, it just prompted me to click the link in the email to explore the hype about the “exclusive opportunity” to design your Model 3. Granted, once you see a person narrate their order on YouTube, you have essentially seen it all. Other than looking at current prices and options, I did not find dropping a house payment on a sedan to be a feasible option. We are surely moving into the era where online purchasing is inevitable, but there are some things in life you should be around in-person to have a sense of what type of presentation it makes and the energy it gives off. We have a general understanding of what the sedan looks like on a screen, but we need to look at the financial aspects too. The cost to confirm the design of your Model 3 and officially place the order is $2,500. Later on, Tesla will also be looking for you to submit a $5,000 down payment. While some people may look at this as not a big deal as though they’re purchasing another pair of sneakers, are “the masses” ready to submit these sizable payments by card or direct withdrawal?
Options and pricings as of 28 June 2018 (Design your Model 3)
            The “base” model, or the rear-wheel drive version, of the long-range Model 3 will probably be the smartest option to stick with. The more you modify a vehicle past its original form, the more variables you introduce leading to changes in experience. Stepping up to the dual motor rear-wheel drive is okay but not direly necessary because then you pay $4,000 more for an additional electric motor, but no significant improvements other than accelerating from 0-60mph 0.6 seconds quicker than the prior trim. A second electric motor may entail a more efficient use of energy during operation since the demand from the motor is divided between two factors instead of one. You can use FuelEconomy.gov to compare vehicles and see that a dual motor Tesla will often have a lower energy use per 100 miles than its single counterpart, but not always. The performance version is just nonsense. The type of person who selects this edition has $100 bills ready to burn in their fireplace on a scorching August day in front of a soon-to-close orphanage. This is simply astronomical spending for a vehicle that is both intended and designed to be entry level. If you have the financial means to spend this type of money, you’re treating the Model 3 as a custom toy and not as an economical sedan.
            Within limitations, I understand why someone would want to spend a bit more to receive some of the better features if they’re already spending the money for the sedan itself. For instance, I would choose a colour other than black. Some people look at black vehicles as a deluxe edition, however, dark cars just suffer when the summertime sun pops up. The exterior is a  hazard to touch after basking in the sun, let alone being a dust magnet. For any type of vehicle, when the exterior is uncomfortable to touch, the interior is probably not going to be a tropical vacation. When the car essentially bakes in the sun, consider how this will influence the driving performance of the vehicle, the operations under the hood (engine or no engine) such as with liquids, and even what’s in the trunk.
            Modifying the standard “aero wheels” to their upgraded $1,500 silver rim counterparts is so unnecessary, it doesn’t need to be discussed. This upgrade is simply not financially logical- if it is, I would like to know how. Tesla likely has a reason why they made the aero wheels standard. The Autopilot and full self-driving capability features are indeed interesting and can really add excitement to a Tesla. I must note, if people are after to use this assistant technology to neglect their responsibilities as a driver in anticipation the Tesla has "everything under control," these are the people who need to put both of their hands back on the wheel. The world needs safe, alert, and responsible drivers. Not people who lean their seat back 150º and wear dark sunglasses as they sip their almond cappuccino, hold the foam, while phoning their Aunt Sherron to ask what time they should go for brunch.
             For a while, I had moments of internal debate and decision hesitation regarding the thought to simply cancel the reservation and take back my money. There were times where I weighed the trade-offs of leaving the reservation in place as means to show dedication towards the Model 3. I know Tesla has been the subject of financial troubles in the past, so I had the idea if I were to leave my $1,000 with Tesla they would have this lump sum within their company to potentially revise mistakes being made or to help with company costs. That was a very kind thought to have, but the truth is I don’t have the slightest clue what Tesla is doing with my reservation money or even where it is. Despite how quick they were to accept the payment, it’s rather a shame they have not offered reservation holders a percentage of interest considering the flood of money they have in their possession is technically unearned income. What a bummer. I assure you I’m not losing sleep each night at the thought my withdrawal is going to cause the crumble of Tesla Motors. The firm decision to cancel my glorified Model 3 reservation was due to analysing my current financial position. Your personal wellbeing is important to take care of.
             My observations throughout the months lead to believe the reservation system was nothing more than simply a publicity hype to render the Model 3 as scarce. I connected the dots like an elementary school art lesson and realised if I had kept my reservation but not submitted an order, I would not have halted anyone from ordering their sedan. I would still have a “reservation” per se, but that is more of an “I submitted an early down payment” rather than “I am lucky soul number XXX, XXX to receive the Model 3.” Therefore, the reservation system is essentially meaningless. In a restaurant, a reservation allows the establishment to plan ahead for your arrival; it does not mean the restaurant hand dusts the table each quarter-hour with the anticipation of your arrival while denying others to dine at said table. At this point in time, a Model 3 reservation is nothing more than just a place marker for Tesla to drive its production output and to evaluate product demand. Due to troubles in the past with low capital reserves, I suspect Tesla may just open up the system like a window on a warm day in April for anyone and everyone to place an order, allowing for more unearned revenue to be obtained while totally disregarding those who have waited months going into years with a reservation. In the words of Stephanie Tanner, "How rude!"
(Design your Model 3)
             Of course I was thrilled when I placed my reservation that evening in October of 2016. I was pleased with myself because it felt like my decision to “reserve” this futuristic sedan was a game changer! Although looking back, this was more of a tease to myself than anything materializable. For a time I have suspected some people were and still are treating this sedan primary as an impulse purchase to show they (finally) have something luxurious, when in reality I’m not sure this is a vehicle the masses are truly ready for when they lacked enthusiasm for already available electrics. I understand people take out loans of all sizes to finance whatever their proclaimed content is, but to do the same thing for a car, even if it is electric, at twenty years of age and being a full-time college student is simply not an option for me to consider. It’s not even worth whispering about. I remember asking myself what my plan of action would be when the came time to place the order? I envisioned this would be around the time where I would have already started my Bachelor's in accounting, so within time I would have the hopes of finding a position and earn enough to possibly make $1,000 monthly payments. I admit, that was a rather dangerous thought. There is a time and a place for everything in life. We all need to calm down a bit and return to reality. The remaining reservation holders need to ask themselves, “If I am truly serious about the Model 3, do I have ready access to monetary funds and financing options to allow me to purchase this vehicle as I would want it, in full, today? Am I provoking myself to remain in a relationship for something I’m not entirely sure about? Do I have enough concrete knowledge, resources, and have done proper research to enable me take an electric vehicle home?” Isn’t it odd how so many people voiced their interest and enthusiasm towards the electric car only after the Model 3 was unveiled? Where were you before?
          Believe it or not, I am still a fan and supporter of Tesla Motors, although I’m not quite the fanboy as I once was. I have a few t-shirts with the Tesla "T," even one with the original Tesla 3 styling featuring the three layered horizontal lines for the "e." I even planned ahead by ordering a copy of "Getting Ready for Model 3: A Guide for Future Tesla Model 3 Owners" by Roger S. Pressman (ISBN: 978-1532305290). In December 2016, I even  ramped up my interest by revising my license plate to read "T3SLA" as compliments to the Model 3 and to snatch it before someone else did in the state of Iowa. I thought it would look exceptional on a Model 3 but now that I'm not presently in the market to purchase one, the custom plate has lost its sparkle. I do wish to see great advancement in electric mobility and very well the downfall of Big Oil, but I also want people to realize there is a different lifestyle when you drive electric. There is more to take into account than just plugging it in. I know there are people who live modest lives and saying hello to a Model 3 is the next step for them to take in life, and that's good for those people. Yet, there are also people who frankly have no business whatsoever purchasing a Model 3, yet they do anyhow despite already having a Tesla. Or multiple. These people (I’m looking at you YouTubers who thrive from staged video thumbnails for clickbait, befriend ad revenue, promote your Tesla referral code, and even contribute to the world's clothing waste epidemic with your line of fast-fashion) are creating a massive problem which should not be present. I understand you live a very high lifestyle, and all of our hearts ache when you plug into Supercharger 2A and find it’s charging your Tesla at 94kW/hour, so you leave your parking spot just to move over to 1B where the rate is just slightly higher at 108kW/h. Tesla drivers really do this! You can read real comments like this on PlugShare. Your life is just so hard when you drive a Tesla. These types of people are not doing anyone a favour when they purchase a Model 3 because this is meant for someone who could not have otherwise afforded a Model S or X, even if through leasing. With the delayed availability of the standard battery, Tesla is still catering to the bottomless hunger of its wealthy customers instead of the masses. Perhaps there's a reason for that: maybe this is just the way it’s supposed to be? Maybe not everyone is meant to drive a Tesla?
            In another area, it is also vital to point out there is an insanely massive deal of misinformation regarding the available tax credit people are having an uproar over. The $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit people are marveling over should honestly not be the factor for your concluding decision to drive electric. While this may seem odd, the key phrase here is “tax credit.” This credit will eventually diminish in value as the company sells more qualifying electrics, but that does not conclude it’s worthless. Even when the time arrives that the credit for a Tesla is in its last monetary quarter, that's still something to be pleased with. Or in many cases, the credit may be available but you're not able to use any of it. The key needed to unlock the door is understanding that for this tax credit to be of any use to you whatsoever, you must owe the U.S. federal government money when the time comes to pay your taxes. Some states offer EV incentives, which are better in principle but are often tied to exclusive offers or contain limitations. Also note, the federal credit is not a rebate- you will not be receiving a check of any sort in the postal. The tax credit goes against any monies owed to the U.S. federal government; there is no “left over credit balance check” to be received if what you owe is less than the tax credit. I really do see the appeal of an available tax credit, but people truly must read the fine print to realize you have to be the first operator of the qualifying vehicle for this tax credit to really have meaning of any sort. Automotive companies, even Tesla, will often employ sly tactics such as showing the M.S.R.P. of the vehicle artificially reduced with the full tax credit applied: this is very misleading to consumers and by no means is an accurate representation of what the actual price tag is. Ignore these revised prices. Some people are very well able to apply a sizable portion if not the whole credit to their taxes, but if you truly owe that much money you’re probably in a tax bracket where you park your Model S inside its heated garage at the end of the day. The principal price of the vehicle, whether $35,000 or $49,000, is the money you actually pay for. Tax credits reduce money owed on taxes, they don't reduce the price tag of something you already purchased. If you're still lost, ask your tax professional: that's what they're there for.
            At the end of the day, I am fine with my decision to withdraw from this chaos. Although we should not define others by our materialistic possessions, our personality shines through the decisions we make and how we interact and live our lives with the things we do have. Likewise, the vehicle we drive is a reflection of our personality: it displays a part of our characteristics and our attitude in life. As for myself, I’m okay about not being in line for a praised sedan, because I am beyond pleased to have what I already do have: my Nissan Leaf. I’m going places in eastern Iowa that people here are unable to compute. I’m driving so efficiently, Prii drivers won’t even look at me. Seriously, both of those are true statements. I am capable of doing what I need to do on a 24-kWh battery. I don’t need to Supercharge my mobility to feel content with my decision to drive electric. In fact, constantly relying on direct current quick charging has its own consequences to consider. The strength I had to give up petrol at 20 years old is a step a multitude of people would never be able to take in their own lifetime- but I did it. I did it for my own reasons, and not because of a publicity hype. Ever since I took delivery of my Leaf in September 2017, it has caught the eyes of many people. I admire the attention my electric receives because it’s able to spark curiosity in those around it and create conversation: there's a reason why they call it an "innovation that excites." The best part is, it’s not a Tesla Model 3.
Tesla offers three methods of refunds with these estimated business days to process: debit card (1-3), bank account (3-10), or check in the mail (30-60) (Design your Model 3).

Work cited
Design your Model 3. Tesla, 3.tesla.com/model3/design#battery. Accessed 28 June 2018.

4 comments:

  1. Well written blog, but your statement, "you must owe the U.S. federal government money when the time comes to pay your taxes" could potentially be misleading. The fact is that, as long as your total tax LIABILITY is equal to or greater than the tax credit offered, you will be able to take advantage of the full amount of the credit.

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    1. Correct. My objective is establishing the reality the tax credit is not a grant: it must be applied against an existing liability to the federal government during the same tax year the vehicle is acquired.

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  2. The background pattern on your blog page makes the text harder to read.

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    1. Thank you for letting me know. The mobile view has been revised to be solid white; the present background tessellation will only be visible when viewing "Teatime With Lúke" on a desktop.

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