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Dear Tesla - From an Early Model S Reservation Holder

Discussion in 'Model S' started by Todd Burch, Jul 31, 2012.

  1. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    Dear Mr. Musk, Mr. Blankenship (GeorgeB), and all of Tesla,

    I'm writing this as a new post with the knowledge that Tesla reads this forum, and in hopes that it doesn't get buried among the fray.

    The vast majority of your early adopters, reservation holders, and existing customers love you. They love the customer service, they love the cars, and more importantly, they love that you are helping to transform the future of what 21st century transportation will look like. As Model S P1577, I'm not yet a Tesla customer. But I want to be one. And I want to convince many of my ICE-driving friends to become Tesla customers too--and to get off of oil forever. I am a big Tesla cheerleader--I've been to Tesla stores in all four corners of the U.S.--and I'm not even a customer yet. But...

    This is plea for communication. As you're most likely seeing, reservation holders have...well...reservations...about the current design state of some areas of the Model S. I'm not going to complain about cupholders, console storage, or lights here. Every customer has their own priorities; some view some issues as deal-breakers, whereas others see them as completely unimportant. But every single reservation holder--and indeed most people on TeslaMotorsClub.com--have put substantial deposits down for the Model S. They have demonstrated faith in an emerging automotive company--undoubtedly in a high risk industry for startups--because they believe. Many of us have put large deposits down years before alphas even hit the streets. Many are stockholders as well.

    Up until this point Tesla has been very open with its customers regarding Model S development relative to other auto manufacturers, and I think all of the early adopters appreciate that. It sets Tesla apart from the other car companies--and it's being noticed by your customers. But as you have surely seen, a lack in details so close to production has been causing a large amount of concern and anxiety among those of us who must lock in their orders soon (or have already locked them in). It looks as though several reservations have been cancelled recently. Every reservation holder wants Tesla to succeed, but there has been a lot of trepidation among even us die-hard Tesla customers.

    I think I speak for many (all?) reservation holders that we need more information. A firehose. At this point, so close to production, information needs to be streaming to us. The manufacturing delays announced by Elon, while disappointing for those of us who are waiting to get our cars, are completely understandable. I can speak for most when I say that a reasonable delay in order to ensure high quality, fit, and finish is welcome. But there have been a lot of rumored or expected features and changes to the Model S, and there has been neither official confirmation nor official denial from Tesla. I think we deserve better than that.

    My last car was a Saturn SL1. Barely over 100 HP. I bought it for $14,500 in 2000 when I was a sophomore in college, and I finally sold it after 12 years of use. I'm currently debating between the P85 and Performance S, but the reality is that in order to spend that kind of money on a car, I need to make an informed decision--not one cloaked in what-ifs and unknowns.

    Many of us (myself included) are asking for (at least) tweaks to the interior...but probably what people want most is more communication about the car for which we have paid or are about to pay a lot of money.

    You don't have to go far on this site to find the questions to which we're seeking official answers (preferably from an executive source):

    -What's the status on the console redesign? What are the plans?
    -Can you confirm choices about the rear/vanity lights?
    -What about voice recognition (email dictation/voice control)?
    -What about powered retractable side mirrors?
    -Vehicle connectivity costs?
    -Has the pano screen been scrapped? Nobody's seen it yet. (I think most think it's not necessary).
    -What about the size of the plastic bar cover at the center of the pano roof?
    -Cupholder decisions?
    -Plans to support video playback (while parked)?
    -Front license plate solution?
    -What expected improvements will be offered as retrofits to early customers?

    There are more--and again this site is probably the best to find our questions.

    What we need are not short marketing quips or a brief phrase on the website that may or may not disappear or change in the future. We want to know:
    -Where is the car now?
    -Where is it going?
    -When is it expected to get there?

    Even if it's "we're exploring options and expect to have a solution within about a month", that will satisfy most of the concern. But lately the silence has honestly been deafening.

    I offer these requests for increased communication with the greatest respect and admiration for what Tesla's done and is doing--but we need a firehose of information now. We're taking a chance on Tesla's success, and I respectfully offer the view that Tesla at least owes us that much.

    Thank you,
    Todd Burch
    P1577
     
  2. steve841

    steve841 Active Member

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    I tend to agree with this request.

    However, I do empathize with the new "corporate mentality" Tesla has to follow as a result of going public.
     
  3. bonnie

    bonnie Oil is for sissies.

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    #3 bonnie, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
    Well written, Todd.

    Perhaps sending this communication directly to Tesla would be more appropriate? This is a forum & while we know Tesla reads the forum regularly, this is not an official communication channel. And it sounds like you want an official communication.

    Changing the title of the thread so it doesn't imply this letter speaks for everyone on the site - even though you speak of talking for all reservation holders, that's not correct (I've also seen people say they're happy with the car as it is). But I encourage you to send this to Tesla and speak for yourself. Same with everyone who is unhappy right now.
     
  4. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    #4 Todd Burch, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
    As a public company they do have some rules to follow...but AFAIK nothing about my requests above really have to do with information restricted as a result of a company going public. I'm just asking about the product Tesla is asking me to buy.
     
  5. Todd Burch

    Todd Burch Electron Pilot

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    #5 Todd Burch, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
    Good idea, and done. :smile:

    Edit: I saw that GeorgeB responded to a post yesterday...and was thinking originally that this might have a better chance of getting in front of his eyes. Biggest worry was an email going to Tesla customer service and stopping there.

    Thanks. While I think I echo the sentiments of the majority, that is an unsubstantiated guess and I shouldn't imply that I'm acting as a spokesperson for reservation holders.
     
  6. jbherman

    jbherman Member

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    Tesla has been very quiet lately. I too would like answers to your questions before I'm forced to commit. I've already deferred my signature reservation to production for this exact reason. As much as I want this company to succeed (TSLA stock makes up a very healthy percentage of my investment portfolio), I cannot spend more than $100K on this car with such a lack of information and abundance of probable misinformation currently being shared. Some clarification from Tesla, although admittedly not required of them, would be greatly appreciated.
     
  7. Francis Lau

    Francis Lau P-1456

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    Todd, thanks for your post. I support your message as it reflects my sentiments as well.
     
  8. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    Well stated, Todd.
     
  9. Majerus

    Majerus Member

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    Nicely written.. I hope George responds...
     
  10. AndyM

    AndyM Member

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    I agree with your approach, Todd. Well-written. More communication is good.
    In fact, the more of us out there with accurate, real-time information will be like a sales force that pays Tesla for the cars. :)
    I miss George's blog posts, too. Those were definitely on the right track, and definitely kept the communication channel flowing.

    -Andy, also fellow Saturn owner (2002 L300)
     
  11. deaton52

    deaton52 Member

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    I think Todd did an excellent job of capturing some of my uncertainties. I've already confirmed my order (Sig#279), but share many of the concerns raised. I sent George Blankenship a similar letter regarding another concern (why they decided to charge Signature holders $1,500 for the Pano roof, yet provide NO 'refund' or alternate option for those selecting the $3,500 cheaper 19 inch wheels) about a month ago, via my customer representative, who assured me that it had been delivered, but I have heard NOTHING from him or anyone else at Tesla. I just would like to hear a bit more about what changes are being made, and why, and a bit more about deliveries. I'm committed to them (and also own stock in Tesla), and am not 'going back', but agree that more forthright communication from them is important. My attempt at direct communication did not work.
     
  12. Vger

    Vger Active Member

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    I agree with this in particular. I think the weekly rhythm of posts during the run-up to the first shipments and GET AMPED events was extremely helpful and confidence-building. I would like to encourage George B to "come back on line".

    And if I allow myself one regional plug-- please get the Canadian pricing out, for heaven's sake!
     
  13. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    In case Tesla is listening...

    I think the simplest approach here is to have George (or someone he chooses) have a weekly blog post answering the most popular concerns / questions from reservation holders. It would be fairly simple to have a "[email protected]" alias dedicated as an inbox for such questions.
     
  14. kevincwelch

    kevincwelch Active Member

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    #14 kevincwelch, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
    This is a great letter.

    Although I have been adding to the choir re: the cup holders as of late, if I were to be pinned down, this is what I really want to know:

    1. Specifics of the battery warranty (e.g., what constitutes normal use vs abuse; how often range charging vs standard mode charging is recommended)
    2. Full disclosure of the crash testing, especially related to rear-end collision with rear-facing seats
    3. Cost of annual maintenance and what aspects of the warranty are contingent upon this annual maintenance
    4. Battery replacement costs
    5. Owners manual release. This shouldn't be difficult; I can get the Volt's manual here and I haven't even stepped onto the Chevy lot yet.

    Of lesser importance:
    1. Financing options
    2. Trade-in options
     
  15. Velo1

    Velo1 Member

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    #15 Velo1, Jul 31, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2012
    I could not have said it better myself. I feel vented just reading Todd's letter. Thanks

    We need power folding mirrors, please.
     
  16. Larry Chanin

    Larry Chanin Model S Perf Sig 1055

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    Hi Brian,

    Excellent suggestion.

    Of course as you know Tesla set up a Model S Questions? thread on the official Tesla forum. There over 500 questions there, but I don't recall Tesla ever making a point to explicitly respond on that thread. Hopefully they will respond to your suggestion in a more obvious manner.

    Larry
     
  17. efusco

    efusco Moderator - Model S & X forums

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    GeorgeB stated that he's off to Europe for 2 weeks and I suspect TMC won't be high on his priority list during that trip.
    That said, I think sending it via proper channels at Tesla is the way to go, but posting here is appropriate too and I do, in large part, agree with the main gist of the letter. It doesn't affect my order (already made), it can put my mind at ease over these next 3-4 months of waiting I still have in front of me after almost 3 1/2 years of holding a reservation.
     
  18. Discoducky

    Discoducky Active Member

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    TL;DR version...I don't think we have to wait long (one month at most), but don't expect 5K cars produced/delivered this year. My # has gone to 3K seeing as it's August and Sig#1 seems to be still in Freemont.

    In summary: This is all about setting expectations and right now I feel as if time is standing still....If no communication results from the first week of August I'm going to really start to worry about TM hitting production #'s in 2012 and if one thing could be communicated it would be the answer to the question "When will the first Sig's be delivered?" Draw a line in the sand and stick to it. Build a plan, communicate and execute.

    Plea: Please make the first Sig owners happy, but don't leave them in the dark too long.

    Unfortunately, I believe this date slips every single day. I also believe that the folks on the critical path are working tirelessly and I applaud them.

    The longer version....

    Not sure if everyone agree's with this statement: Production spec'd Model S vehicles have NOT yet been shipped

    But I certainly do. The founders cars I believe are NOT be representative of Sig's. Elon has publicly stated that he found hundreds of quality issues with these vehicles not to mention features that are not yet present (sunshade on pano roof for one) I believe they are much more like "X" rev (release candidate) rather than "A" rev (production). I say this since upon inspection a Sig owner could find several quality issues for which they would complain and find sub-standard.

    While we wait for answers, I believe that TM Engineers are busy answering them and communication is only relevant once they have reached an inflection point during execution, where validation meets business expectations. TM really tends to walk this line so I feel that GB will communicate once they reach this inflection point. On the flip side, when Engineers do not have a hard date it tends to be very soft (read: moves out, moves right, becomes vaporware) and someone needs to beat the "ship it by this date" drum and not just the quality bar. There is a balance, there is a happy place and there is a point at which you put your money where your mouth is, suck it up and ship it. Sure, you might end up replacing some carbon fiber, some seats, some arm rests, some air louvers, some carpet, some monitors...but this is part of Failure Analysis, MTBF and ROI. If everything is over-engineered to the Nth degree it vectors to infinity and results in paralysis.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I picture a room full of Production Model S's sitting with a piece of paper on each which details all the items that need to be repaired/changed/fixed/modified before they ship out. Much like the scene in Chris Paine's "Revenge of the Electric Car" where he points to a Roadster and says "That's mine!" when Elon details why it can't yet be sent to it's owner.
     
  19. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good." (Or something like that.)
     
  20. AndyM

    AndyM Member

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    I wonder how many of these "misses" in discussion will end up going the way of the sunshade. For months, we all (myself included) screamed for a sunshade, but after being in the cars on the Get Amped tour, we're all talking about scrapping the idea.

    Perhaps (gasp!) Tesla's engineers have thought about their designs, and made deliberate choices, because "it really is better that way." No you can't please everyone; but until we know these cars as well as the designers, I think we all need to wait and see.
     

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