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Misleading Marketing

Discussion in 'Model S' started by ChriZ, Oct 28, 2013.

  1. ChriZ

    ChriZ Member

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    First off I'm a proud owner of a S60 and its by far the best car I've ever driven. I love the car to death and my peers are sick of me talking about it. I'm in love with the technology, the company's vision and also their CEO. However, there's always been one thing I especially do not like which is the marketing for this company. Time after time I get these questions from friends about misleading things the Tesla marketing team publishes such as price, range, etc. I know these have been discussed in other threads but I wanted to consolidate everything here as I'm seeing a trend here. I know other companies do the same by publishing misleading information such as mpg (aka Hyundai) or prices (under 30k for a "luxury" car aka Mercedes Benz). I just hope they shape up with the Model X and E and future marketing.

    List of misleading marketing claims I've noticed which most have been corrected on the website.
    • 300 mile range at 55mph. Who drives that slow on the freeway?!
    • Under $500 effective monthly costs. Shady to factor in time for traffic and fill in. You shouldn't even factor in the electricity savings since you're still paying for that part of the car out of your pocket.
    • 7 passengers. Turns out 2 seats are only limited to kids and will only last a couple years until they cant fit there. Also I heard there is no ventilation so you probably don't want to put your kids there anyway.
    • Highest safety rating ever by the government. Turns out Tesla calculated their own rating from the results and the government never said that.
    • 120kw supercharging. Promised back in the summer and still not seeing it in major SC stations in the US.
    • Supercharger roll out. I know they promised a bunch of stations by the summer. I appreciate the hard work and I understand there are set backs. However, I wouldn't promise anything I'm not certain of.
     
  2. cwerdna

    cwerdna Active Member

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    #2 cwerdna, Oct 28, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
    That's not as bad as some Nissan reps (as late as last year) saying the '11-'12 Leaf's range is "100 miles" (EPA rating is 73 miles). See My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - Shaming of dealers, reps, etc. saying Leaf's range is 100 mi

    Nobody at My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - Poll: '12 Leaf range Nissan reps should tell people? thought that was the right value.

    Oh yeah sure per My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - Range Chart
    (Nissan has published a bunch of stuff to this effect before re: LA4 results.)

    The '13 Leaf is EPA rated at 75 miles, but a European Nissan rep stated 200 km (!!!) (which is 124 miles) as I posted at My Nissan Leaf Forum View topic - Shaming of dealers, reps, etc. saying Leaf's range is 100 mi. :rolleyes: We still sometimes hear of crazy garbage like My Nissan Leaf Forum .
     
  3. Ames

    Ames Member

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    #3 Ames, Oct 28, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
    Chriz, I'm gonna beat you with my Fanboy Stick for that post :) . So long as they are not blatant lies, I think Tesla has every right to brag about their achievements (or upcoming achievements). Unlike many others in the market place they have gained credibility by delivering on their promises. Here's what I feel about your points from a marketing perspective:

    - 300 mile range @ 55 mph; agree it is completely useless in the real world as a range indicator. But don't forget that was the standard for measuring range at the time the claim was made. It is very eye-catching (along with the competition to achieve 400 miles on a charge), and they very clearly state the current 265 EPA. They wouldn't have done themselves any favors bragging about a 200 mile real world range when their competitors were stating their ranges @ 55 mph.

    - <$500 effective costs. I am more inclined to agree with you on this one. They certainly made a mess of it at first but they 'admitted' their mistake by revising this. I do agree with them that it is important to highlight how a potential buyer could offset the high purchase price of the car.

    - I think they have been very fair on this; 5 + 2 is normally how it is qualified as a 7 seater. The Model S has amazing space and Tesla have nothing to be apologetic about on this. I loved they way they unveiled the car showing 8 people getting out :)

    - Highest Safety Rating; I agree that they overdid this; and it didn't look good with the recent fire. On the other hand I can understand how much effort they put into make the S an amazingly safe car and can't blame them for wanting to shout about it. This aspect is easily over looked but takes a massive amount of engineering to achieve.

    - 120 kW Supercharging. Here I strongly disagree - Tesla should brag and brag, and then brag some more because supercharging is a major selling point for this car. Free Coast to Coast travel? 120 - 135 kW charging - and more? We can already see this is going to be a reality. This sets Tesla far apart from everyone else.

    - Supercharger roll-out. Again I think Tesla would be foolish to play this down. Showing the map for 2014 is genius, nobody can fault them, they are already on 30+ superchargers in North America and 6 in Europe. These things work.

    Alex
     
  4. AMPd

    AMPd Active Member

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    Don't own a tesla yet...
     
  5. Mario Kadastik

    Mario Kadastik Active Member

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    I don't know what it's like in the US, but in Europe most everywhere the speed limit is 90 km/h, which translates to 56 mph. Only during summer might you get 110 km/h or 130 km/h zones on specific highways and of course the German autobahn has sections without speed limits, but for 99% of driving the 90 km/h is the cruising speed by law and would translate perfectly to the Tesla advertised speed+range.

    From what I understand the NHTSA gives out only stars, but it DOES give a detailed report to the manufacturer. I doubt that report is under an NDA therefore it is fully in Teslas rights to publish the result which shows that they are the best car with highest safety rating. It's technical and the 5.4 stars was Teslas calculation based on the p-value estimate and p-value to stars calculation. But it's not wrong.

    From what I understood this is already rolled out. The trouble is that you need software version 5.x to get it. The superchargers are there, the car software isn't if you still drive on 4.x

    From what I remember at the end of summer Tesla did overachieve this. I think 23 were promised and 25 opened or something of the kind. It was discussed in media first off with negative articles 1-2 weeks before end of Summer that they were going to miss only to see Tesla open 6+ superchargers in the final weeks to overachieve the initial goal. Likely to happen again for Fall '13.

    I didn't reply to your other two, but don't consider them too wrong. Can't say about the monthly cost, but wasn't that time spent waiting removed from the default calculation? And fuel savings IS saving because normal TCO for gasoline car is lease + insurance + fuel. You should take the same for Tesla. No clue though if that fits in $500 so give you the benefit of the doubt here :)
     
  6. cwerdna

    cwerdna Active Member

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    Speed limits in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Around where I live in the SF Bay Area, most highway speed limits are 65 mph (or ~104 km/h). When traffic isn't jammed, in my area, I typically go 68 to 72 mph and am roughly keeping up w/traffic. In the Los Angeles area, when traffic isn't jammed, going 70+ mph in a 55 mph isn't unusual for typical flow of traffic and you will still have many cars zooming by you. I've observed around the Sacramento area (California state capital), people drive quite fast there.

    On the stretch of I-5 between Nor Cal and So Cal, the speed limit is 70 mph. Almost nobody (except for big rigs) does only 70 mph. If you do, virtually everyone except the big rigs will be passing you. Think 74 to 80+ mph, despite the limit.

    In the Seattle area, many speed limits near major cities/towns are 60 mph (~96.5 km/h). If you go even 5 mph above the limit there, you tend to stand out. People there will frequently go below the speed limit in the fast lane in the daytime when it's clear and dry for no apparent reason and not move to the right to let faster cars pass. That type of behavior and those speeds would be unacceptable in LA (and in some parts might even get you shot).

    I've never lived in Texas but I hear they drive very fast there. They even have Speeding Through Texas: 85 MPH Highway Opens - ABC News now.
     
  7. EarlyAdopter

    EarlyAdopter Active Member

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    I disagree with this one. It's always been quite clear that it's 5 adults + 2 children. Besides, common sense and the laws of physics make this abundently obvious. Also, 5+2 has been a feature in station wagons for decades and no other sedan has seating for more than 5 anyhow.

    And to your other points, the rear jump seats are good from about age 3 to 10, hardly just "a couple years." $300 of window tint has solved the heat problem for many. My kid and my friends kids love riding back there.

    There's more misinformation in your criticism on this one than there is in most of the other more "stretched" claims from Tesla.
     
  8. David_Cary

    David_Cary Member

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    Since when has measuring range been about 55 mph in perfect conditions? When was that the standard? By that standard, the Leaf easily goes 100 so Nissan is not worse and in fact I don't believe you ever saw that number on a website unlike Tesla. My 2013 Leaf goes about 110 at 55 mph.

    55 mph went out as federal law in the Reagan era - 30 years ago.

    70mph speed limits in NC. Typical speed is 75. Since that is about 20% off of 55 mph, should translate to 240 range which is about right.

    Only a fool looked at $500 and believed that. They backtracked pretty quickly so I give them a pass on that one.

    The 300 mile claim back a year ago made me not trust them and gave me second thoughts which is one of the many reasons I drive a Leaf (the maintenance plan and warranty issues were the straw)
     
  9. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    During the recent fire, the car warned the driver who was in the HOV lane. The driver then had time pull off the freeway, move to the side of the road and exit the car without injury or damage to others. Please explain how that is not safe. If that was a gas, hydrogen, NG, or CNG car he'd be dead, dead, dead and other cars would likely have been invoved. It was too bad that the fire department poked a hole in the top of the battery, but of all the things that could have happened, that was a minor issue.
     
  10. Ames

    Ames Member

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    @jerry33

    I didn't say it wasn't safe, quite the opposite. I know the MS is probably the safest out there. My point on this was that I agreed with the OP that Tesla went OTT about its car's safety by awarding themselves a non-existent score, and that this made them look bad when that infamous fire occurred. From a marketing perspective I felt TESLA had done enough by getting a perfect NHTSA score, and in mentioning that broken crushing machine and the having to flip the car with a forklift.
     
  11. Yggdrasill

    Yggdrasill Active Member

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    The "55 mph"-figure has it's roots in the two-cycle EPA test, which preceded the current five-cycle EPA test. The two-cycle test arrived at a result that Tesla saw was very close to the ideal condition 55-mph range, and for simplicity's sake Tesla started using those results instead. They could instead have used "expected 2-cycle EPA range" as a description for the 300 mile figure, but that doesn't really say much to most people.
     
  12. purplewalt

    purplewalt Active Member

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    Early adopters need to encourage and console each other if there are items that needs to be discussed.
    Thank you for raising your points and then perhaps seeing the other side of the same
    coin.
     
  13. dirkhh

    dirkhh Middle-aged Member

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    I am very much in the same boat. I love my car and would love to love the company - but there is this sleazy feeling that so many of their statements leave.
    But as a fanboy in hiding, I'll group your statements in two different sets...
    Actually - these are the ones where I think they get it right - or at least close enough. Maybe a little sleazy here or there (like the average car salesman that they set out to protect us from), but nothing that isn't in some form defensible:

    • The rated range is doable - there are a few (not many) out there who get even better than this. And I think they are no more off the mark than all the ICE manufacturers with their MPG numbers. And the ideal range is marked as that - not realistic.
    • All of the 7 seat cars that aren't monster-sized SUVs or minivans have this issue. Anyone who assumes that a sports sedan would have full sized seats in the cargo area is confused.
    • The car DOES have the highest safety rating ever. Yes, the stupid 5.4 claim is embarrassing but the statement "highest safety rating ever" is in itself not false.
    • The supercharger roll out seems to be accelerating nicely. And given the complexity of permitting and getting the different players work together... I think they are doing well. Yes, the promises are a bit over-aggressive, but I think given how amazing it is what they are implementing (think about this for a moment - a single car maker rolling out their own refueling network across the US and Europe), this is excusable.
    But now come the two that really irk me.
    The whole way that cost is represented on the website is misleading in the worst kind. All prices already include the tax credit. When buying mine it took me until after paying the (in my case non-refundable) price for the reservation that I figured out that I kept subtracting the tax credit a second time in my total cost calculations.
    The "effective monthly cost" is ridiculously misleading. To the point of being IMHO actionable under California's Unfair Competition Law - I think the first law suits in California have already been filed (IIRC by the car dealership association - which is kinda sad).
    And the supercharging is the other thing that bugs me. An S60 cannot get the 90kW claimed prior to the upgrade - they top out around 70kW. I haven't seen a single report from an S60 with 5.6 - but given the reasons for the limit on 4.5 I have no hope that this will be any different - about 75-80% of the max quoted. And then that maximum quoted of course is only available when starting from an empty battery. And even the graph that shows that relationship still claims 75 minutes to fully charged and we have plenty of stories here from people who took about two hours for a range charge at a supercharger.

    In summary? I don't think it is as bad as you are making it sound. But there are elements here that range from sleazy (the 5.4 safety rating) to unlawful and misleading. And given what an amazing car this is I think that's entirely unnecessary and hurts the image of an otherwise admirable company.
     
  14. swegman

    swegman Member

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    I agree that the mileage claims are a joke. I have a P85. I never get close to what they claim. For example, I just went from DC to PA, a total distance of 204 miles. Charged the car in range mode to an indicated 259 miles range (version 4.5 FW). Also set car to Range setting to extend mileage. Drove with HVAC off to conserve battery. Drove at 61 mph in 55 mph areas and 69-71 mph in 65 mph areas. Used cruise control on about 85 percent of the trip to extend the mileage. Was passed by almost every other car on the road. Got to PA with just 7 miles range indicated as being left. No hard accelerations. The car never gets close to the distance range Tesla advertises.
     
  15. Yggdrasill

    Yggdrasill Active Member

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    It is impossible to come up with a figure that that is consistent with everyone's useage. YMMV still applies.

    At 70 mph the expected range is around 240 miles, at constant speed, flat terrain, no wind, climate off, windows up, sunroof closed, tires correctly inflated, 300lb of load and new battery. This is what Tesla has been saying since early last year and it isn't too far off fram your experiences. Especially when you consider that this is measured until the car stops, not until the displayed range is 0. After the display reaches 0 miles you still have 10-20 miles remaining.

    Tires, changes in elevation, wind, driving style, etc will affect range.

    I think Tesla has done a quite good job conveying the expected range of the Model S.
     
  16. Ames

    Ames Member

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    Agreed. I read somewhere that the EPA also allows some "cheats" when manufacturers test their cars, e.g. they can disconnect the alternator so no fuel goes to charging the battery, they can remove the side mirrors, they can tape up the body work to make it more aerodynamic...etc. I wonder if they disconnected the 12v when they officially tested the MS :tongue:.

    I remember when we were waiting for the MS to be officially tested by the EPA and we were all hoping for better than 300 miles under the 2-cycle test. When it came back at 265 under a new 5-cycle I remember feeling a little disappointed.
     
  17. steve841

    steve841 Active Member

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    Hey, every cell phone I've owned claims 7 days + of standby ..... Have yet to see that ... and who only uses a phone on "standby?"

    4 out of 5 dentists say ..... get me 1,000 people and I promise I can get 4 out of 5 to say I'll be the next President.

    Come on folks! Let's just remember Tesla is no different than any other company wanting to sell their product.
     
  18. swegman

    swegman Member

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    I like my car very much (and own stock in the company), but its range is limited until the SC are built out across the U.S. The car does not get what it is rated at. On long trips I have to drive it like an "old man", getting passed by everyone else on the road, driving as conservatively as possible, at fairly constant speed, with properly inflated tires and just me in the car, and I can only expect to get about 200 mile range. BTW, the battery is 6 months old and has just 6K miles on it. I would be thrilled if I got 240 miles range at a constant 70mph, as Yddgrasill stated above. I've just never seen it. As another example, the last time I drove from NY to DC, I left NY with an indicated range of 170 miles. Figured that would be sufficient to get to the Delaware SC, which was 110 miles away. By the time I got to the SC, I had only 10 miles range left.

    OTOH, my 2005 Prius with 109K miles consistently gets 49-51 mpg as long as I keep it user 75mph.
     
  19. doug

    doug Administrator / Head Moderator

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    I tend to think the @55mph was a bit of a fudge. The original range claim at the Model S premiere back 2009 was 300 miles without qualifiers, but the car didn't really exist yet. (The drivable show car they had was a converted CLS with a Roadster drivetrain.) The production car didn't achieve 300 miles EPA, but the @55mph lets them still say 300.
     
  20. FlasherZ

    FlasherZ Sig Model S + Sig Model X + Model 3 Resv

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    #20 FlasherZ, Oct 28, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
    The choice of 55 mph was rather unfortunate to me, as well. The car begs to be driven much faster than the speed limit. That was before the current EPA 5-cycle tests; however, even those are based somewhat on existing speed limits in typical driving situations. Many (if not most) of the posters on this forum admit to blatantly ignoring them anyway, and as a result they pay the price for a higher Wh/mi.

    I've learned to stop worrying and love what I have, because it equally applies to ICE cars as well, it's just that the convenience of shoving the gas nozzle into the vehicle makes you think less about it. I had never gotten the 17 mpg on the highway that Chevrolet says my 2004 Suburban should have, even when it was new - because I didn't drive it 55 mph everywhere and between my house and the highway are several twisty-turny, hilly areas that sap mileage. My average in that vehicle was 14.6 mpg over its lifetime, mostly highway miles. Likewise, in the Model S my lifetime average is 364 Wh/mi because of the combination of short trips and those twisty-turny, hilly areas. Oh yeah, I also accelerate like an idiot.

    My grandfather, on the other hand, would likely be very happy with his own range in the Model S, because he'd likely squeeze 350+ miles out of a charge on average.

    As for the other items, I guess I've learned to look for the fine print over the years and had figured out the tax rebates correctly and the monthly operating cost. I know what the car is saving me on a monthly basis in fuel expenses, and where depreciation/amortization of the higher upfront cost offsets that (even though I did not finance the vehicle). I never expected it to be a 7-adult vehicle, in fact from the beginning Tesla always had represented it as a "5+2" passenger" car, not a 7 passenger car.

    *shrug* I guess if you're looking for reasons to be disappointed you can find them. I can't say that I found anything to be really egregious in the marketing of the Model S. The range is probably the closest thing, but then again I've learned to live with it.
     

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