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Who Buys Teslas?

Discussion in 'Tesla Motors' started by wdolson, Aug 5, 2015.

  1. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    There has been some research on that question and the demographics just raise more questions than answers. A recent study found Millennials are buying the car for example and there a fair number of people upgrading from significantly cheaper cars (I'm one of them).

    But questions still remain about what draws people to the car. Since I need to wait a while until I can accumulate enough funds, I'm reading a lot as well as watching a fair bit of YouTube. From what I can see, Tesla seems to appeal to a pretty broad range of people. The groups I have identified thus far are:

    1) Environmentally conscious people - These are the people you would expect to buy a hybrid or BEV. They are concerned about the environment and want to do their part to save the planet. It's probably the group you would expect to buy Teslas.

    2) Luxury car buyers - There is a fair bit out there comparing the Tesla to other $100K cars from Mercedes, BMW, etc. and I have seen a number of people with blogs or YouTube videos who did get a Tesla after driving these other luxury cars.

    3) Hotrodders - YouTube is full of videos of people drag racing Teslas against some of the highest performance cars in the world. The P models are marketed towards these people.

    4) Techies - These are probably the same sort of people who sat in line outside an Apple store to get the latest iPhone at least once. Or they are early adopters of new technology in one way or another.

    Maybe there are some other categories I missed?

    Then there is me. I don't fit into any of these categories. I have felt we should be moving away from fossil fuels for many years, and I started recycling as soon as curbside recycling started etc. However I've also done a lot of research on the science of CO2 (reading actual scientific papers in some cases) and I've concluded the case that humanity's activities have contributed in any significance to the changes in climate over the last couple of decades is tenuous at best.

    The car I've been driving is a bit nicer than a basic transportation car, but it never could be called a luxury car. It definitely would pale compared to even a same vintage Mercedes on the luxury scale.

    I'm definitely not a hotrodder. I want a car with a bit of get up and go, and like the fact the big V-8 in my car allows me to pass fairly easily and I've always driven a little over the speed limit, but I've never raced a car and don't have any interest in doing so. My SO on the other hand loves high performance cars (though she has said she would never own one until she learned about the Tesla, the other cars are too impractical for every day use).

    And while I do have a degree in Electronic Engineering and work as a Software Engineer, I've rarely gone for cutting edge technology. I run Windows 7 on all my computers and just upgraded from XP when support ended last year. I have no plans to upgrade to Windows 10 until I have to. I didn't get a cell phone until long after everyone else I knew had one and I still rarely use the one I have. It stays in a tray in front of my monitor and I only use it for texting with other cell phones and occasionally when I'm out without my SO. If I'm out with her, I don't bother taking it.

    I like the tech in the Tesla and I understand it well, but I wouldn't buy a car just for the tech.

    My goals in a car search were a sedan (I don't like SUVs, they are ugly and top heavy), somewhat better fuel economy than my existing car, enough leg room for me (I have very long legs and long trips without enough legroom gets agonizingly painful), good cargo space, and something a bit better than a spartan interior, but I don't require ultra luxury, good safety features, and good reliability. Whatever I buy I plan to keep a long time, so it has to last.

    To my surprise, I found that very difficult to achieve. Because of the legroom issue, I was into a larger car from the get go. I had to cross about half off my list from the start because they didn't have the legroom. Why make a large car and not allow the seat to go back for taller drivers? That makes no sense to me.

    The fuel economy of many larger cars was rarely better than my current car. Why can't they improve on what was done 23 years ago? I work from home, so I don't need to drive every day. A lot of my driving is just running errands, but the company I work for is in California and I need to go down there from time to time. My father also lives on the central coast in California. So I do need a decent road car. I was lamenting last night not having my Tesla yet. My father went into the hospital yesterday and we need to go down there. Flying into where he is is nuts and driving makes a lot more sense. My car is a bit too elderly for a long drive and my SO's car is too old, so we need to rent something. I wish there was someone who rented Teslas in Portland!

    Another surprising thing was the poor cargo area. The only larger ICE car with cargo space on par with my current car was the Ford Taurus. All others were smaller, some almost half the size.

    In my frustration, I looked at the Model S and it had everything I was looking for. Cargo space is outstanding, best for any sedan, "fuel" economy is also outstanding especially considering electricty is $0.08/KWh here, it is an excellent road car, and it's almost exactly the same size as my current car (same wheelbase and same width, though a little shorter overall), the best safety rating of any car ever made as well as the same safety electronics or better than most cars out there, and it has a lot of high tech goodies as an added bonus.

    Historically I am fairly conservative with my purchases and the larger the purchase, the more I weigh the pros and cons. I am also wary of new companies for major purchases and normally wouldn't consider one. However, the more I have looked at Tesla the more it looks like a no-brainer which kind of surprises me. The car meets or exceeds every criteria I had, though 350 mile range on the highway would be nice, I can accept the range of the S85D. The only problem for me is the price which is much higher than I was originally anticipating.

    While I don't completely fit demographically into any of the above categories, I am sold on Tesla.
     
  2. Drucifer

    Drucifer Active Member

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    Since I am a Tree hugging, lead-footed IT Guy that is enjoying nicer things as I age and believe that patriotism starts with conserving our resources and breaking our dependence on foreign oil. - I am an "ALL OF THE ABOVE".
     
  3. BerTX

    BerTX Member

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    Unlike many car purchasers, I don't like buying cars. The three that I own are 10, 14 and 15 years old. I'm also getting old enough that I have a limited number of driving years left.

    With those two factors, I feel confident that a Tesla will be the last car I will buy.

    I agree with Drucifer, I fit a bit into all of the categories, but none are the real reason for getting the Tesla.

    By the way, wdolson, you must not be a scientist. All scientists agree that global warming is the result of human gluttony. That's what we were told, right? I, too, missed out on that survey and had to immediately take my diploma down off the wall.

    When asked, my answer is "I fully support the efforts being made to attempt to reduce mankind's contribution to climate change."
     
  4. lucy

    lucy bluehair

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    I'm with Drucifer.
    Not in IT, but have always been an early adopter.
    Love a fast car, but want to be ecologically responsible, for all of your kids and grandkids.
    Hate to use oil that has to be purchased with the blood and suffering of others when there is a better way.
    Want to have my cake and eat it too, had a Mini, went back to Audi...
     
  5. BoerumHill

    BoerumHill Member

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    1 & 4 for me. But here's something remarkable, to me anyway.

    I had a lengthy 1-on-1 with a client first thing this morning. At the end of the meeting we were discussing lease v. buy for equipment - I set their firm up with the third party financing to lease equipment they'll need for our telecom service - and the conversation drifted to cars. They're getting ready to lease a Model S; I'll be buying a CPO in a few months.

    Neat coincidence in and of itself, but the lifetime Manhattanite I was speaking with had owned one (1) car since college. I've owned exactly 7 in 37 years, none since 2001. We both are facing significant charging hurdles because neither of us will have a home charger. Yet we couldn't be more excited about joining the Tesla revolution.

    So forget about the different rationales or diverse economic spectrum of Tesla buyers. Here are two people perfectly content to never drive except the occasional rental for a business trip or vacation. We are simply non-car people. Mass transit & walkers for anything local. Now we're in our 50s and each about to spend more on one car than both of us have spent in the aggregate during our entire lifetimes.

    It's pretty extraordinary, I think. This car is just different; it meshes perfectly with my worldview, and the attraction - ney, the NEED - to have one is stronger than anything I can remember. I do well and can afford it, but I'm a saver and an investor to the core of my being. I'm a guy who has privately chuckled (smugly) over how much people pour into depreciable assets. Ha! I take that endless cycle of monthly payment + insurance + fuel and pour it into retirement vehicles.

    Now I can't wait to make the best mistake of my life.
     
  6. gdrum

    gdrum Member

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    I own a small car lot that stocks 30 cars, sells 15 per month etc so I was always driving older cars and basically the 'car' or philosophy behind them became like pogs to me. They had no value or sense and only became a chip of bartering power. I never cared to stay with one or another as they were all very boring or inefficient. This is where the Tesla fixed this. It is the convenience and everyday new excitement no other good or car can achieve.

    To answer your question on size, and you compared it to a taurus. A taurus is actually a midsized sedan, nothing near the comparables of Tesla or other competitors. There are a TON of cars on the market that are bang for the buck, with tons of room, for 50k cheaper and quite efficient. So justifying legroom/cargo..ehh you just havn't went and looked around. Kia K900 had highest consumer reports for bang for the buck lately. Hyundai Genesis, Audi S6, S8. Bmw 7 series which changed the bodystyle. There are endless cars available. Keep in mind the Tesla returns value based on if you drive it. If you do not drive the car you do not see a financial gain. Same rule of thumb for my grandma who bought 27" imac to check her email once a week. Its a little over=kill.

    You rock Windows 7 because you are afraid of updating, apps, losing simplistic control? Learning or change? Tesla will update for you and be your Windows 8 when you do not need it. Sift through the salvage title rebuild threads to get a in-depth explanation of further examples of their way or the highway.

    Owning hundreds of cars a year I was digging to find something that needed replaced as life just isnt always perfect. I realized the 12v battery lasts 12-18 months. I hope there is a write up on this. So the car isnt as bulletproof. Still have not got an answer if you can replace yourself or not.

    I could go on and on, as well as sell you a Tesla. It is the best car ever, but if you are cheap and simple and suggesting its the only fix for a good car.... it is not. If you are trying to justify it as a reason to spend a ton of money to justify getting one, just dont try to hide that and go get one.
     
  7. Jo-

    Jo- Member

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    I'm buying as a family car- highest safety rating, rear seats for kids and their friends, storage, etc. We will load up our MS with car seats and probably not keep it as clean as it deserves...but beats going to a minivan any day of the week. Safest car I can get for my family while driving a high tech car that looks great and doesn't use gas? Yes please.
     
  8. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    #8 Skotty, Aug 5, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
    I'm a 1, 3, and sometimes 4.

    1) Science and evidence for climate change seems solid with very high risk potential. This is unacceptable for a worldwide all-eggs-in-one-basket resource like the atmosphere and the climate of the planet. As responsible stewards of the planet, it is time for our behavior to change. Tesla leads the way here, with great EVs for transportation and with the PowerWall and PowerPack that look to commercialize the first real solution to the solar power Achilles heel of intermittency.

    3) I've always been a muscle car guy. My last muscle car was a 2011 Mustang GT. Now I drive a Volt, because of item 1, but I really miss the Mustang. Only Tesla is awesome enough to bridge the massive gap that usually exists between 1 and 3. Thank you, Tesla.

    4) I'm a software developer. I like tech. Though there are situations where I don't care about the latest and greatest.
     
  9. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    Be careful what you say about the Tesla being your last car. My father said that about his 1998 Cadillac. He bought a new Fusion in the fall of 2013 at the age of 93. He's been living alone since my mother died in December 2013.

    The whole manmade global warming debate is very polarized with a lot of straw man arguements about the other side of the debate. Many who believe it is happening like to say anyone who disagrees is a denier and/or in the pocket of the oil companies (especially anyone with any scientific credentials who doubts). I have heard a lot of doubters claim that there is some kind of grand conspiracy to enslave everyone in some Big Brother world.

    I think both are way too simplistic and paints with way too broad a brush. I do believe oil does other damage to the environment from oil spills to other components of auto exhaust than CO2. I also don't believe there is any conspiracy to enslave us beyond the regular everyday greed that drives the business world these days.

    I feel this weird obsession about the car too that is way beyond anything I've ever felt for a car. I got into car shopping to some degree back when I bought my Buick and I was in pretty much the same mode before I found the Tesla. Since finding the Tesla, I want to know everything. It's a weird obsession.

    I too am fairly frugal. I abhor debt and avoid it like the plague. My niche was already getting weak due to the dot com bubble collapsing, but it completely went flat after 9/11/2001. Money was tight for a few years there as I had to reinvent myself and expand my skill set. I managed to get us through that time with no debt, but it was tough.

    The Taurus was originally a midsized car, but when they brought back the nameplate a few years ago it was classified as a full sized car. It's actually a little bigger than competitor full sized cars like the Impala. I know the Tesla is a bit of an overkill because I don't need to drive every day, but I suspect my SO is going to want to take it to the office. She doesn't like my Buick at all, but she really likes the Tesla, even though it's bigger than she likes.

    Microsoft has a history of bad upgrades and pushing out new software to please their shareholders rather than to service the actual needs of their customers. I don't see any point in wasting a lot of time dealing with all the small differences between the old and new OS when there is no technical reason. In some cases they break things that worked fine before. I also still use Office 2000. I have yet to find anything newer versions do over what Office 2000 does that I would want. Why bother?

    As I understand it, most Tesla updates add features and fix actual issues with the existing software rather than just update to change the look. I don't have a problem with learning new stuff if I see a purpose.

    I have been considering all my reasons going this route. I acknowledge I am justifying a little bit, but it's not the predominant reason I'm going this route.

    I am aware Tesla's are not completely trouble free, but the drastically reduced regular maintenance of the car is an attractive option too. I've been thinking about that one today when I took in my car to have the belts and hoses checked as well as change the oil. The place where we took our cars for service was outstanding, but the service manager died of a heart attack a couple of months ago and they have gone downhill since. I do have a little concern because the nearest Tesla service center is on the other side of the metro area which means going in to deal with any issues is not going to be easy. I initially looked at what Ford had because there is a Ford dealer very close.

    I agree there is a high risk potential just as building nuclear weapons have a very high risk potential. I'm pretty convinced our biggest problem as a world population is our numbers are over what the world can support over the long term. We can help the situation to some extent, but most of our problems stem to just having too many people on this world. And I don't have a good or even acceptable solution to the problem.

    Implementing alternative energy sources and reducing our use of oil will help some of the problems, but not all. Many parts of the world are still critically short of fresh water and collectively as a planet we struggle to grow enough food to feed everyone. And our efforts to do this are exhausting the soil in many areas.

    Hence one of my criteria to get better mileage in my next car. It's also a reason I put off getting a newer car for some time. Building a new car uses a lot of resources, and most consume a lot of oil building them as well as transporting all the parts to the factory.
     
  10. Yggdrasill

    Yggdrasill Active Member

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    Some statistics were collected about Tesla owners here in Norway. A professional statistics company (TNS Gallup) asked 120 Tesla owners some questions. Here's what they found:

    - 97 percent think the overall experience with the Model S is «exceptionally good» or «very good»
    - 0 percent think the overall experience with the Model S is «bad» or «acceptable»
    - 89 percent recommend the car to friends and acquaintances
    - 55 percent are sure the next car they buy will be a Tesla
    - 4 percent are retired
    - 50 percent are managers/leaders
    - 70 percent are academics
    - 66 percent earn over 85,000 USD
    - 77 percent have access to other cars in the household

    Also, from another article:

    - Tesla has the youngest car buyers of any car company in Norway, with an average of 46 years, whereas the overall average is 54 years.
    - 89 percent of Tesla buyers are men
     
  11. wdolson

    wdolson Active Member

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    I was looking at Consumer Reports the other day. I believe their owner survey is only for US residents. What I found interesting was even though the car didn't have a perfect reliability record 98% said "definitely yes" they would by that car again. Higher than any other car surveyed. I say a video blog from just before the report was published and they said they had feedback from a fairly large sample of Tesla owners.

    I think the demographics of American Tesla buyers are similar to Norway. One thing Tesla needs to do is better sell cars to women. My SO loves the technology and will probably drive mine when I get it, though she thinks she will get a Model 3. She finds the Model S too big for her tastes. But she's always been into cars. Her father owned a car dealership in Portland when she was a kid and she worked on cars with him all the time. She's much more into cars than I have ever been.
     
  12. jerry33

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

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    I'd suggest that most buyers fit into two or more of the listed categories (any two). e.g. tech+cheap, tech+performance, performance+cheap, performance+green, etc.
     
  13. ArtInCT

    ArtInCT Always Learning

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    #13 ArtInCT, Aug 6, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
    As a future buyer of an S.... I would categorize myself as...

    1) Hotrodder Sports - Car Gearhead type guy - See the Sig as to why a P90DL
    2) Environmentalist - On second hybrid and try to adopt new greenish tech to purchases - Again see Sig
    3) Techie - Grew up in technology world with computers as my pre-retirement profession
    4) Luxury Car Buyer - Well not so much really - although I have owned Porsche, DeTomaso, Lexus, Jensen, Shelby, Alpha

    Paging forward 20 years from now... My Son will probably refer to my Cobra and P90DL when asked... "Oh those were
    the Old Man's personal transportation toys."

    So I pretty much span many of your categories....
     
  14. jbcarioca

    jbcarioca Active Member

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    This thread and others like it always fascinate me. So, too, does the Edmunds analysis, the Norway case (appears unique on the surface because of government incentives, but actually reinforces similar attitudes from elsewhere). Anecdotally, having met Tesla owners from Australia, China mainland , Hong Kong, Russia, Belgium, Canada, Brazil (oops, we all have our cars in the US, not here AFAIK), France, Germany and the US I am struck by how similar we all seem to be in outlook, but not in much else.

    Everyone seems to have a slight techy orientation, if not technical knowledge. Everyone seems to be ever-so-slightly unconventional with a fair number obviously so. Nearly everywhere other than a few places, such as California, USA and Norway, most of us qualify as early adopters.

    The strangest thing to me apart from the statistically common engineering/tech industry bias, is the incredible economic and age diversity among us.

    Who would have expected to so so many owners of retirement age, but still working? I am in that category and have been stunned to meet so many others much like me. I do not often meet such people 'in the wild' but I see them at Superchargers and spontaneously find us all over. That includes a couple old university friends, one in Japan, one in the UK, who we all discovered, drive Tesla!

    Then there are the young people.Millennials abound, especially used.

    ...And the academics and other who have clearly and overtly spent more for a Tesla than they've ever imagined. I have talked with a good many of us in that position and have been corrected by them about some of my own preconceptions which came from the famed market research error, called 'mother-in-la research' extending personal experience in place of real knowledge.

    Next there are the life-long car nuts early adopter subset. As a former owner of a NSU RO80, Mazda R100, Morgan +8, DAF 33, Rover 200TC plus lots of less radically weird exotic cars I am obviously a member of this ridiculous group. Not coincidently I also have owner a fe aircraft that qualify as exotic too. We could be expected to be Tesla nuts too.

    Then there are the solar power junkies. I once owned a remote island that I powered 100% with solar power. I also have partially used solar power in several other places. So I am in this group too. many of us are. I have met a number who've already had other EV's, for example. The oddity in this group is that it is, if I see correctly, really 'bi-polar' if you accept taht term, composed of people without much money and others with lots of money, both with deeply held compatible values.

    Finally, there are the more recent buyers who often are people who just see a great car that is coincidentally electric. These people are often the ones who agitate the most for improving both the car and its support. They are the best hope for long term improvement. They set higher standards and expectations. They tend not to be so forgiving as are those of us who are really early-adopters.

    Personally, after the RO-80 and the Rover 2000TC I really do not understand complaints about tesla quirks.:confused: Anybody crazy enough to buy those brilliantly conceived failures can only exult about the excellence of the Model S. Thus, it takes far more normal people than am I to agitate successfully for all the necessary improvements to compete in the mainstream market. I am thrilled with the diversity of our common customer base.
     
  15. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    For me, it was double the purchase cost of the most expensive car I'd ever previously purchased (which was a fully loaded Cadillac CTS that I traded in on the Model S).

    For me, I've always been intrigued with electric cars and yes, am one of those early adopters. I also work in the electric utility field and am interested in using locally produced energy as opposed to imported resources. Honestly, environmental concerns was quite low on my list. When I ran the cost of fuel against my then current car (I drive about 25,000 miles a year) I realized the TCO of the Model S would be about the same as, if not a bit less than the Cadillac and that cinched the decision for me.
     
  16. Skotty

    Skotty 2014 Model S P85

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    #16 Skotty, Aug 6, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2015
    I wonder if the statistics regarding to selling to women vs men is skewed a bit. When a car is sold to a couple, how is that handled? Are those statistics rejected, treated separately, or is it based on which name appears first on the paperwork? A lot of couples are a balanced pair, but since cars are generally more a "guy thing", the woman will often let the man be the primary name on the paperwork. In these cases the car is being sold equally to a man and a woman, but the statistics may not be accurately representing that. But that is not necessarily where the statistics come from. It may be just public surveys. If so, how would that account for the differences in how many men respond to surveys vs women. Again, I bet a man is more likely to respond to a survey about cars than a woman.
     
  17. BoerumHill

    BoerumHill Member

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    You really think researchers forgot to factor that in? No offense, but that seems like a level 1/level 2 consideration.

    That said, I can only find studies from 2 years ago. I'm not surprised early adopters (2012-13) were 80%+ male, but I wonder if that has normalized as the car has become more accepted?

    Compared to other comparably priced vehicles, Tesla has a far higher (almost 30%) rate of male ownership. Those same studies indicate that the most important quality besides the Green aspect is performance. And while it's lazy stereotyping, it does seem reasonable that men would place a greater premium on performance than women.
     
  18. mknox

    mknox Well-Known Member

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    I must be an outlier because neither Green nor Performance were on my critical criteria list.
     
  19. BoerumHill

    BoerumHill Member

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    I wasn't especially green when I invested in TSKA & SCTY. Tesla made me more aware. My friends & coworkers call me an evangelist. I can honestly say that it's made me more hopeful about our future. I want to be part of that.

    I came to TSLA motivated by greed. I've accumulated because I became a believer in the vision. I'll buy a Tesla because I want to support a paradigm shift that is going to change the world.

    Also also, ultimate gadget. Such a cool technological achievement.
     
  20. LetsGoFast

    LetsGoFast Active Member

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    I guess I'm techie and hot rodder primarily, but my interest in fast cars has led me to luxury brands too, so I can't rely deny that one either. I like the environmental aspect, but I looked at a Prius when it was new and the Leaf when it came out and I couldn't imagine buying either one. It did lead to a very amusing conversation at the Nissan and Porsche dealers when they learned what their competition was -- I don't think they had a script prepared to talk me out of either one. Eventually the Nissan guy came up with the idea that I could afford to buy both the 911 and the Leaf, which was pretty good for an extemporaneous pitch. As Elon clearly gets, many people simply won't consider an electric car if it isn't also fun.
     

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