Tesla Product Experience Schizophrenia

A Tesla costs a lot of money. Mine costs far more than any other car I’ve ever bought. It was two and a half times as much actually, and I got the cheapest Tesla you can get.

You get a lot for that money. It’s an amazing machine. It shouldn’t be called a car. It’s a car like an i-phone is a phone. An Iphone is not a phone (“To me the phone is just a seldom used app on my phone.“). An Iphone is a software platform. The Tesla is a software platform thrown onto an amazing piece of hardware.

Like the Iphone, your first one is an experience in product design. It’s truly a joy to drive. Everything about it gives happiness. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s also a remarkable piece of machinery. The folks who designed this deserve many awards.


While the car experience has been nothing but amazing, the experience with Tesla overall has not. The purchase experience is awful. Let’s not even talk about the months of wait time to actually get one. Let’s start with the actual purchase. I hit the button, spending the most money I’ve ever spent on anything outside of houses and college tuition. Do I get “Welcome to the Tesla family!”? No. Do I get “Congratulations, you just made the best decision of your life!”? No. I get instructions to add my drivers license, call my insurance company, track down form 392-Q for tax reasons, get here fifteen minutes early, use the side door, and can we send you marketing updates? It’s miserable. It takes a joyous occasion and ruins it.

The real schizophrenia is the nickel-and-diming and pricing strategy. Consider these three examples:

1) The live street view (where you see a real-time abstracted visual of the world around you, complete with trash cans, pedestrians, and traffic lights with the actual color displayed) ends up costing an additional $10/month.

2) Garage Door Opener is not included. Home link and garage door opening is pretty much standard on every car but the Tesla. They deliberately hold this feature back unless you pay them over $300.

3) Floor mats are not included.

Compare the cost of these features against the purchase price of the actual car, they are basically nothing. But the spirit of them is some financial analyst figuring they can squeeze a few more bucks out of each customer. These are features that obviously should be bundled in with the original purchase. Doing it this way just gets me pissed off.

And that’s how Tesla is. You pay a lot of money for an incredible product, and the rest of the experience sucks.

Tesla and Time Arbitrage

It was six months from the order to ownership of the new Tesla. That’s very different than other makes. I can’t just walk into a Tesla dealership and drive out in my new car. Six months is a long time! A couple months in, I wanted to change the color. That would have meant going to the back of the line. Not worth it!

I strongly considered upgrading to a higher-level model and paying several thousand dollars more just so I could get it a few months earlier (the higher the level, the shorter the queue).

Mrs. Muttrox put in an order last week. It won’t be ready until January of 2023, ten months away! We’d definitely pay some extra money to get it tomorrow.

What we’re seeing here is the value of time. Like Disney World, the currency of time has real value. People will pay extra to reduce wait times. Particularly people with the means of your average Tesla owner.

That leads to the arbitrage opportunity:

Find the best selling Tesla model and options. Order five of them. Wait the many months. Pay for them (yikes, I could have gottten a house instead!), drive them home. Congratulations, you now own five new Teslas that you don’t want. Now turn around and sell them. Find some Tesla buyers who will gladly pay you full price for a brand new Tesla. Full price, plus several thousand dollars tacked on for the convenience of getting it today instead of ten months from now.

Could this work? Is it happening already?

How cost-effective is a Tesla?

I recently got a Tesla. It may end up being the subject of many posts because I am indecently in love with it.

How much cheaper is it to operate? This does not account for purchase price, tax incentives, cost to rewire a garage outlet to 240v etc. Or that I can charge for free at work. Just looking at mile to mile costs.

Total driving and electric usage so far: I used 262 kWh to travel 1,057 miles.

I pay $0.106 per kWh on my electric bill (That’s an all inclusive rate, which bakes in all the random fees and sales taxes. The ‘pure’ rate is $0.083, so I’m taking a 27% hit here). That works out to a total expenditure of $28.29 to travel those 1,057 miles.

My last car got roughly 18 miles to the gallon in the real world, so that would have equated to 59.3 gallons. At $4.00 per gallon, that’s $237.10 to go the same distance in a gas car.

All in all, the Tesla costs ~12% as my last gas car to drive. Wow. 12%. Over eight times cheaper.