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Unpopular Opinion: The 3 is a $30k car and was built as such

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640k

Member
Jul 15, 2019
928
630
Cincinnati
First thing's first - I love this stupid car. There hasn't been another car that I've sat in and drove since purchasing my last car that got me excited to drive again. I didn't want to buy in to the hype, but I'm a convert. The gimmicks attract the nerd in me, the power delivery attracts the kid in me.

With that said, I see a lot of threads that suggest that because so-and-so paid in upwards of $50k for this car that they're disappointed for lack of quality compared to legacy manufacturers that have been in the industry for decades longer than Tesla.

1. Tesla is a niche manufacturer and they're new to the business. Musk never started this venture to be the number one car manufacturer. He did so to challenge legacy makers into thinking differently and it worked (source).

2. The 3 was set out to become the first mainstream, mass-produced, widely available EV to market (source). Originally aiming to be a sub-$30,000 vehicle (after incentives), it was never really aimed at being a "luxury car" even though it ended up with the moniker (source) (source).

3. There are plenty of "econoboxes" out there with a huge markup in upgrade for power/luxury delivery that are basically still econoboxes painted with lipstick. The Mitsubishi Evo is just an overprice Lancer. The Ford Focus ST/RS, even the Subaru STi could be argued as an econobox with some added fun.

I think the 3 is a great car. Do I think they could have made some improvements? ABSOLUTELY!! But I also didn't pay the $50k+ price tag for my car and even if I did, I would at least know what I was getting: power delivery, a subwoofer and a larger battery.

I can't wait for the market to be more competitive. I think Musk/Tesla did exactly what they set out to do. I'm happy with the direction we're headed.
 

Kirby64

Member
Jun 28, 2018
485
492
Austin, TX
The thing is, even at $30k, there's competitors that are trying to go upmarket with 'luxury'-esque interiors that probably do a better job than Tesla. I think that's what everyone whines about. If I can buy a Honda Accord for 30k and the interior is better/more consistent than Tesla, they have a right to be a little upset. The thing is: they're comparing gas cars to electric cars.

If you want to compare apples to apples, compare the Chevy Bolt to a Tesla. Now THAT is an econobox with a with lipstick.

I agree competition is good for everyone, but it's a bit unfair of people to compare gas cars to electrics when the gas cars have a ~10k advantage by not having to pay for that extra battery. Of course a BMW that's the same price as a Tesla is going to be more luxurious. If Tesla had an extra $10k to spend on interior, I bet it would be just as nice. A Honda for the same price is again, same problem. If I get an extra $5k on interior, I can do a lot with that.
 
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chewyc

Member
Jul 29, 2019
79
71
Los Angeles, CA
I just wish they could deliver a product without issues from the factory. Like mis-alignment/crooked steering wheels, dings, scratches on outer panels and silly gaps due to parts being installed incorrectly (I'm looking at you taillights). I don't think that's a tall ask, considering Hyundai, Kia, and other manufacturers do it on much cheaper cars. Still an awesome car, don't get me wrong, I love mine. My car had all the above issues, and it's at Tesla service right now to see what they will fix and what they won't. They told me the scratch isn't fixable, and since this is a lease I'm just going to live with it versus pressuring for a repair. It's pretty tiny but on my drivers door which is annoying because I have to always see it. I will note that they are fixing my ding.
 
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roblab

Active Member
Jul 15, 2008
3,555
2,616
Angwin (Napa Valley) CA
I just wish they could deliver a product without issues from the factory. Like mis-alignment/crooked steering wheels, dings, scratches on outer panels and silly gaps due to parts being installed incorrectly (I'm looking at you taillights). I don't think that's a tall ask, considering Hyundai, Kia, and other manufacturers do it on much cheaper cars. Still an awesome car, don't get me wrong, I love mine. My car had all the above issues, and it's at Tesla service right now to see what they will fix and what they won't. They told me the scratch isn't fixable, and since this is a lease I'm just going to live with it versus pressuring for a repair. It's pretty tiny but on my drivers door which is annoying because I have to always see it. I will note that they are fixing my ding.

So, you know you can buy a factory paint scratch repair, right? With a little practice you could fix the scratch yourself, and have a career in paint scratch repair in the bargain! The ten (?) bucks for the kit could be well worth the angst of looking at a scratch. Basically you're saying you don't want to mess with it so much you'd be willing to live with it. I bet the scratch IS FIXABLE, but it's a time consuming job, and Tesla or any other car make won't touch it since you won't pay the $200 per hour rate.
 

WilliamG

Active Member
Apr 20, 2019
3,181
3,645
Seattle, WA
I just wish they could deliver a product without issues from the factory. Like mis-alignment/crooked steering wheels, dings, scratches on outer panels and silly gaps due to parts being installed incorrectly (I'm looking at you taillights). I don't think that's a tall ask, considering Hyundai, Kia, and other manufacturers do it on much cheaper cars. Still an awesome car, don't get me wrong, I love mine. My car had all the above issues, and it's at Tesla service right now to see what they will fix and what they won't. They told me the scratch isn't fixable, and since this is a lease I'm just going to live with it versus pressuring for a repair. It's pretty tiny but on my drivers door which is annoying because I have to always see it. I will note that they are fixing my ding.

Dings are easy to fix for a trained PDR tech. It’s their bread and butter. No need to remove any panels, and they can fix it under 20 minutes.
 

Matt L

Active Member
Jul 20, 2018
1,050
1,448
OK USA
First thing's first - I love this stupid car. There hasn't been another car that I've sat in and drove since purchasing my last car that got me excited to drive again. I didn't want to buy in to the hype, but I'm a convert. The gimmicks attract the nerd in me, the power delivery attracts the kid in me.

With that said, I see a lot of threads that suggest that because so-and-so paid in upwards of $50k for this car that they're disappointed for lack of quality compared to legacy manufacturers that have been in the industry for decades longer than Tesla.

1. Tesla is a niche manufacturer and they're new to the business. Musk never started this venture to be the number one car manufacturer. He did so to challenge legacy makers into thinking differently and it worked (source).

2. The 3 was set out to become the first mainstream, mass-produced, widely available EV to market (source). Originally aiming to be a sub-$30,000 vehicle (after incentives), it was never really aimed at being a "luxury car" even though it ended up with the moniker (source) (source).

3. There are plenty of "econoboxes" out there with a huge markup in upgrade for power/luxury delivery that are basically still econoboxes painted with lipstick. The Mitsubishi Evo is just an overprice Lancer. The Ford Focus ST/RS, even the Subaru STi could be argued as an econobox with some added fun.

I think the 3 is a great car. Do I think they could have made some improvements? ABSOLUTELY!! But I also didn't pay the $50k+ price tag for my car and even if I did, I would at least know what I was getting: power delivery, a subwoofer and a larger battery.

I can't wait for the market to be more competitive. I think Musk/Tesla did exactly what they set out to do. I'm happy with the direction we're headed.
If that’s true, name another car close that you can buy for $30k

Or do you mean if we took away all the electronics, software and sensors, just left the body, four wheels and added an ICE it would be worth $30? Either way, it’s a completely ridiculous concept.
 

George_Jetson

Member
Aug 26, 2019
9
11
Atlanta
In short, my Model 3 Performance, has far worse build quality than any $30k car I've owned, so not even comparing it to a luxury model, it's still far below that of non-luxury brands. Upon delivery, I counted as many as 12 defects in paint and assembly. Some were taken care of by the service center prior to taking delivery, some of the others I will have done by mobile service, the rest will remain.
 

chewyc

Member
Jul 29, 2019
79
71
Los Angeles, CA
@roblab This is not a used car. Why should I have to touch it up? Just saying. I love my car but don't drink the "you should accept a flawed car from the factory because it's so great" koolaid.

It would look worse touched up than it would just leaving it. But Tesla should be more careful, that's all. You hear reports all over the place about these unforced errors. I hoped for a perfect car and got a 98% perfect car. Now service is cleaning up the factory defects.

@WilliamG Tesla is fixing the ding. I asked, they said sure. Also asked if they could do anything about my scratch... they tried, but it's paint deep, maybe it's under the clearcoat, I have no idea. I'm not pushing for a respray.

Here a picture of the ding and scratch. Again, not a deal breaker by any stretch, but shouldn't have to happen to begin with and generally a bummer to have to see this for 3 years.

Scratch.PNG
 

CMoZ

Member
Aug 23, 2019
254
289
BC
Disagree. My Model 3 replaced a BMW 328xi and everything in my Model 3 is an improvement and same or higher build quality than the BMW is. I know there's been varying build quality but the Model 3 when built properly is squarely a $60k car. Are people who've only driven econoboxes maybe over estimating what they get in the high end economy/luxury market?
 

OCR1

Active Member
Jan 28, 2018
3,759
4,111
Southern California
I’m kind of tired of hearing about build quality. I’ve purchased three Model 3’s this year and all three were flawless. I also rejected two Model 3’s that did have build quality issues. If you just take the time to inspect the vehicle prior to accepting it you can avoid dealing with post delivery QC issues. But most people don’t take the time to inspect their vehicles until after they get home and it’s too late.

Yes, it would be nice if you didn’t have to do that. But I don’t care who the manufacturer is. I would never accept any vehicle and pay for it without first doing a thorough inspection of it. No car manufacturer is perfect. It’s just basic due diligence.
 

North75

Member
Mar 28, 2017
608
739
MA
I agree you need to look at the feature list and compare with other cars that have similar features to compare apples to apples.
You need to be in the top of the line Accord at $36,000+ to even come close to spec matching, and the model 3 has tons of tech features that you won't find in the Honda.

Build quality is a separate issue from materials and included features. I think Tesla stands up well against the competition with the latter, but still might have some work to do on the former.
 

CMoZ

Member
Aug 23, 2019
254
289
BC
I just wish they could deliver a product without issues from the factory. Like mis-alignment/crooked steering wheels, dings, scratches on outer panels and silly gaps due to parts being installed incorrectly (I'm looking at you taillights). I don't think that's a tall ask, considering Hyundai, Kia, and other manufacturers do it on much cheaper cars.
Actually this is provably false. Kia actually had very well known paint issues particularly on the Stinger with paint peeling and flaking off, Hyundai had issues with the Sonata coming from the factory with cars pulling hard to one direction or the other. Every manufacturer has these kinds of issues, they get worked out over time. All the ICE manufacturers have at least a decade over Tesla on their production lines. Or how about BMW's bursting into flames? As mysterious BMW fires continue, calls for investigation into possible causes grow as well as regular engine build quality issues like the Coil packs on the E90
 
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George_Jetson

Member
Aug 26, 2019
9
11
Atlanta
I agree you need to look at the feature list and compare with other cars that have similar features to compare apples to apples.
You need to be in the top of the line Accord at $36,000+ to even come close to spec matching, and the model 3 has tons of tech features that you won't find in the Honda.

Build quality is a separate issue from materials and included features. I think Tesla stands up well against the competition with the latter, but still might have some work to do on the former.

And yet my 2018 Honda Accord had no paint defects and barely one assembly defect. It wasn't even the $36,0000 Touring, it was the $31,000 2.0T Sport.

So, we can argue back and fourth on build quality, all I have is my personal experience, and I can tell Tesla pushed my car out the door to meet Q3 numbers, plain and simple. Honda would not have let one of their cars out of the factory with all the obvious issues my M3P has. Yes, I did inspect my car upon delivery, as I would any new car, and was told if I rejected the car I would not have the opportunity to purchase another Tesla for 12 months. Total BS, but that's they way Tesla is running things.
 

st_o_p

Member
Mar 26, 2019
65
94
NYC metro
Well, I don't know what you typically get in a 30K car - but Model 3 has tons of features you'd find in high-end luxury cars.

The thing is - after you've been in a refined luxury car - and you drive the 3 - you find some things missing. Cabin noise would be a good example. Which is what makes the 3 feel a bit short. But it's not short on features.

And I also want to say - keep hearing about build quality - but my car was pretty much flawless.
 

holmgang

Active Member
Sep 9, 2019
1,299
1,315
eu
Every manufacturer has their bugbears. VW = door rattles, window regulators. BMW = fuel and water pump. Ford = everything.

But I'll tell you what, scrutinizing new cars and rejecting new cars because of a plethora of problems, out of the factory, was something that never entered my consciousness until following Tesla.

I'm a big fan of Hyundai-Kia's progress in the last decade. Am super interested in what they do for their 2nd/3rd gen EVs. (As of today theirs is the best of the rest, but not quite there yet)
 

CMoZ

Member
Aug 23, 2019
254
289
BC
And yet my 2018 Honda Accord had no paint defects and barely one assembly defect. It wasn't even the $36,0000 Touring, it was the $31,000 2.0T Sport.

So, we can argue back and fourth on build quality, all I have is my personal experience, and I can tell Tesla pushed my car out the door to meet Q3 numbers, plain and simple. Honda would not have let one of their cars out of the factory with all the obvious issues my M3P has. Yes, I did inspect my car upon delivery, as I would any new car, and was told if I rejected the car I would not have the opportunity to purchase another Tesla for 12 months. Total BS, but that's they way Tesla is running things.

Honda owners express concerns after paint peels off their new cars
Honda Defective Paint Issues Class Action Lawsuit Canada
 
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North75

Member
Mar 28, 2017
608
739
MA
And yet my 2018 Honda Accord had no paint defects and barely one assembly defect. It wasn't even the $36,0000 Touring, it was the $31,000 2.0T Sport.

So, we can argue back and fourth on build quality, all I have is my personal experience, and I can tell Tesla pushed my car out the door to meet Q3 numbers, plain and simple. Honda would not have let one of their cars out of the factory with all the obvious issues my M3P has. Yes, I did inspect my car upon delivery, as I would any new car, and was told if I rejected the car I would not have the opportunity to purchase another Tesla for 12 months. Total BS, but that's they way Tesla is running things.

Yes I just agreed that Tesla probably needs to work on build quality. (well at least build quality consistency)
Personally I didn't have any issues with mine from June / 2018. (I also realize that perception of build quality is in the eye of the beholder)

I just don't agree that the specs, materials and features are comparable to a $30K car. I think it compares very favorably to the German cars in similar price range.
 

mswlogo

Well-Known Member
Aug 27, 2018
6,069
4,696
MA, NH
I paid around $63K for my Model 3 (Stealth after all tax incentives) and I'd say fit and finish wise it's an under $30K car (maybe under $20K car).

Performance
It handles like a $60K+ Car.
It accelerates like an $80K+ Car.
The gadgetry it has is like a $60K+ Car

Interior Materials
The carpets are what you find in a sub $20K car.
The Cabin noise due to lack of insulation you find in a sub $20k car
Deleted Homelink is like what you get in a sub $20k car

The Quality of Design is a mixed bag.
Bodily Injury due to a Crash is Top notch.
Despite having good ratings in Crash Prevention there are lot of questions on how reliable that is.
Some Gadgetry might cause more crashes than Prevent (Enhanced Summon, NoA, Phantom Braking, Odd Lane Assist).
Bumpers falling off at any price is unacceptable.
Underliner ripping off from big puddles at any price is unacceptable.
Frozen Windows is unacceptable, even other cars that do are not nearly as vulnerable
Frozen Charge Ports, really, the charge port (new rev does fix it).
Water dumping into trunk (not a show stopper, but really with a little thought could have been better)

The Quality of Assembly is a mixed bag.
Cracked Roofs unacceptable (possible design issue)
Panel Alignment issues unacceptable (many folks would have rejected both my Tesla's)
Paint issues unacceptable (pretty scary reports).
Damage during delivery and transportation unacceptable (this is where most issues are)

Bugs
Auto Highbeam, might as well not have it (so it's like an under $20K car)
Auto Wipers, might as well not have it (so it's like an under $20K car)
Audio issues (way more than the norm)
Phantom Braking, no other car has this level of issues on ACC.

Service

Varies a lot. They are overwhelmed/overloaded because of some the issues above.

Somefolks are so overjoyed with Handling, Acceleration and Gadgetry, they are willing to look the other way on so many other aspects that clearly are not up to par for the price point.

For reference I just picked up a 2019 Chevy Volt Premier for $31K ($42K MSRP).
Let's just say the difference is night and day for cabin noise, bugs, fit, finish, assembly and delivery condition.
 
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