We get criticized a little bit for writing too much about Tesla. However, so far, Tesla is just in a very different league than all the other electric car producers. Not even speaking about the Tesla Model S or Model X specifically, there are 5 big reasons a Tesla (generally speaking, and including a Tesla Model 3) is head and shoulders above other electric car models.
*Full disclosure: I’m a TSLA stockholder, for the reasons explained below. I have no intention to sell the stock for many years.
Supercharging Is A League Above Other “Fast Charging”
First of all, one of the most-talked-about reasons is that Tesla has the Supercharger network. While other “fast charging” networks are out there and can help with the convenience and practicality of an electric car, those charging stations charge an electric car approximately half as fast as a Supercharger charges a Tesla.
This is the only charging network of any kind in any part of the world that charges cars quickly enough for electric cars to really be able to take a road trip without much inconvenience (for the typical person, not just super-flexible EV enthusiasts). Other fast chargers may make regional or local trips in an electric car completely practical and convenient, but they still don’t adequately serve genuinely long-range trips. This is a critical factor for electric cars to become mainstream, for the common Joe to feel cool living with them.
Yes, I fully agree that people can generally rent cars, swap cars with friends/family, or take a train or plane for long-distance trips — and that’s a much nicer way to go. I type this as I sit on a comfy high-speed train from Warsaw to Wroclaw, a couple hours after arriving in Warsaw via a long solo drive that was much less pleasant, and during which I couldn’t work, play, or rest. The trips both ways take approximately the same time, while the train is cheaper and, in my opinion, several times more valuable. Alas, not everyone has such great options, and even if they do, they may not be open to using them. They may prefer to drive their car (for reasons I probably don’t understand). In any case, the point is: I have spent a lot of time trying to bring more sense to long-distance travel behavior and ideology, but I don’t see the masses in the US and many other countries shifting from the idea that their car should be their long-distance land ship. And those same people aren’t going to be cool with a 1-hour charging stop every 1–3 hours of driving.
Our recent surveys of potential EV buyers demonstrated this point well enough:
Another big trump card Tesla has is its over-the-air updates. A Tesla EV gets better and better as time goes on (in some ways, at least). Tesla is continuously rolling out over-the-air software updates that improve various aspects of the car. When it does so, you wake up, and your car has just become a better vehicle.
For people who bought the autopilot hardware, when Tesla rolled out its autopilot software, customers all of a sudden had cars with autonomous driving features. As these features get enhanced and multiply, the cars keep improving. One of the latest improvements is the ability to have the car park itself or roll out of your garage without you even in it.
Tesla has even demonstrated the ability to do “over-the-air recalls.” Naturally, the issue needing resolved has to be a software issue, not a hardware issue, but still, this can save countless hours for customers as well as staff, since there’s no need for the customer to bring the car into a dealer/service center for the fix.
Yes, other automakers could implement these at some point, but they haven’t yet.
Clear, No-Pressure Sales
When you walk into a Tesla store, you don’t have a “slick” salesman walking up to you with dollar signs in his eyeballs. The entire goal on the other side isn’t to get you into the buying seat and have you sign paperwork as the price you initially agreed to rises every 10 minutes or so. Tesla staff, from my experience and what I’ve heard from so many other people, are genuinely friendly, open to helping when requested (but not pushing to help you), and know a lot about the product.
That last point is a good one worth highlighting on its own. Tesla staff tend to know a great deal about the Model S and Model X, and typically much more than the customers. Time and time again, salespeople at conventional auto dealerships reveal that the customers usually know much more about their electric car models than they do. The thing is, what Tesla staff are supposed to do isn’t just get you in the signing seat — their main task is to help answer your questions and inform you about the car.
From no pressure, to deeply informative staff, to the price staying the same as what you can find online (not doubling or tripling before you get out the door), this is a whole different game from a conventional auto-buying experience, and tremendously refreshing for the consumer. After going through a dealership experience with my mom recently, I’m eager to never do that again.
This point references the Model S and Model X, of course, as well as the Tesla Roadster, but the key is that it’s expected to apply to any Tesla.
Tesla turned the stigma of electric cars being glorified golf carts on its head, delivering a wickedly quick and sporty Tesla Roadster. It beat the pants off that car by releasing a 5- to 7-seat sedan that is quicker than all but 5 production cars in history, all of which are tremendously more expensive and less spacious than a top-of-the-line Model S, and sold in small quantities. The out came the X, an SUV that is nearly as quick as a Model S and can seat 7 adults + a lot of cargo.
The Tesla Model 3 is supposed to be about half the price of the Model S, so it will almost surely lose some of that car’s oomph. But it is widely expected that it will blow the pants off of a comparatively priced BMW, Mercedes, etc. We’re all eager for the specs, but given Tesla’s history, it isn’t likely to disappoint.
In summary, no matter what Tesla you buy, it’s practically impossible that a comparatively priced car from a competitor (electric or gas), in the same class and with the same practicality, is going to beat the Tesla to 60 mph (100 km/h).
There are now many electric cars on the market, with some manufacturers focusing their electrifed models on all-electric driving and others on plug-in hybrids, but electrics don’t come close to the majority of car sales for any manufacturer other than Tesla. For most manufacturers, these seem to be compliance cars that they build because they are forced to in order to sell in key markets.
For the few manufacturers that genuinely seem enthusiastic about our electric future, their electric offerings are still a niche segment of their portfolio, and customers are routinely guided away from these vehicles to conventional gasoline-powered cars. Communications around these cars are generally quite weak and infrequent.
On the whole, every other manufacturer seems like it’s playing in a half-assed B league, while Tesla is the only pro in the room really working to make the public love EVs.
Tesla is 100% focused on driving us into an electric future (pun somewhat intended), and that resonates with many of the humans interested in going electric. Furthermore, adding all these points together, Tesla is often the one that unleashed the buyer’s interest in electric cars in the first place.