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    • Today Tesla finally began selling the long-awaited $35,000 version of the Model 3, with a standard interior and 220 miles of range.

      They also announced some surprising news about how they'll be selling their cars going forward:

      To achieve these prices while remaining financially sustainable, Tesla is shifting sales worldwide to online only. You can now buy a Tesla in North America via your phone in about 1 minute, and that capability will soon be extended worldwide. We are also making it much easier to try out and return a Tesla, so that a test drive prior to purchase isn’t needed. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund. Quite literally, you could buy a Tesla, drive several hundred miles for a weekend road trip with friends and then return it for free.

      This seems like a bold move that could allow Tesla to focus their efforts less on retail showrooms and more on expanding their service center infrastructure, while also possibly sidestepping some of the long battles they've been fighting with several US states that have laws against car manufacturers selling directly to consumers.

      On the other hand, even with a generous 7-day return window, not being able to test drive a Tesla before buying it could turn off a lot of customers. That kind of thing may be fine for higher income buyers, but who wants to take out a loan just to try out a car you're not sure you'll keep? Even if Tesla guarantees a refund, that's a huge pain.

      But that's not all! Tesla also announced some exciting news for existing Model 3 owners:

      We’re also excited to announce that we’re implementing a number of firmware upgrades for both new and existing customers. These upgrades will increase the range of the Long Range Rear-Wheel Drive Model 3 to 325 miles, increase the top speed of Model 3 Performance to 162 mph, and add an average of approximately 5% peak power to all Model 3 vehicles.

      I'm pretty stoked about this one. The car I bought last year is going to get 15 miles more range and 5% more power for free. It just keeps getting better! 😄

      📷 My Model 3 back when it was 5% slower and had 15 miles less range

    • I love the buy online aspect. I felt for years consumers really want this and probably Amazon trained consumers in this respect. All the negativity about getting "ripped off" by a car salesman goes away. If everyone is paying the same price, the "perception" is good, not bad.

      A very good friend of mine was in the car sales business for over 25 years and sold Chevy's. Nothing personal but being brought up in a Ford family and now never owning a domestic vehicle, when I would purchase a new car he took it VERY PERSONALLY.

      I remember when I bought a new Nissan Frontier truck off the showroom with a trade-in. His first question was "how long did it take to complete the deal?". At first I thought that was an odd question but realized that the longer you take, the better deal you had haggled and haggled and haggled for. If the deal went quick, then he assumed you were taken to the cleaners.

      Then, you have the whole Service Writers that are on commissiona and generally make about $150K annually. Those are the guys that turn your simple brake job into YOU MUST REPLACE THE ROTORS.

      I applaud how Tesla is a 1000000% disrupter....and, not by price but by VALUE.

    • I thought being from a Ford family, you might appreciate what turned up on my Twitter feed this evening.


    • This part of their statement is silly.

      so that a test drive prior to purchase isn’t needed. You can now return a car within 7 days or 1,000 miles for a full refund.

      I am not going get a credit check, go through financing, trade-in or sell my car, and deal with registration, all on the whim that I might like the Tesla even though I haven't driven it.

      Their plan is sound, except for taking away test drives. I understand why showrooms are not necessary, but from a marketing perspective, I think it is absurd to stop test drives. I never considered getting a Model 3 until I rode in a friend's. My mind was blown by what you get for the money. The tech is unreal, and the autopilot is simply incredible. After the test ride, it was like a flip of a switch for me. I went from never thinking about getting a Tesla to "where's the checkbook?" If you can drive it, it sells itself.

      I am sure that most people who buy are not going to return it in the 7 days because the car is so amazing. However, Tesla is going to miss out on so many sales if prospective buyers on the fence cannot try before they buy.

    • I completely agree.

      Test drives are super valuable. Everyone who's driven (or even just sat in) my Model 3 has loved it and talked about wanting one. Tesla should be doing everything they can to encourage test drives.

      That said, it is worth noting that the announcement doesn't explicitly say that Tesla's getting rid of test drives. It implies that test drives will no longer be needed, but it doesn't actually say they won't be offered. So it could be that Tesla just wants to emphasize their permissive new return policy and is doing it badly. I wish they'd be more careful about stuff like this though.

      I should also probably mention that while I think Tesla should make test drives readily available for anyone who wants them, I did buy mine without a test drive. I had never even driven an electric car before!

      When I bought it they were still scrambling to fulfill reservations so there were no Model 3s available for test drives. It was a big risk, but I knew I'd made a good decision the instant I rolled out of the service bay. 😄

    • I am going to guess it was early 2007. I was active on ADV RIDER and came to Vegas from Alaska as a reconn to verify I wanted to move here. I remember that the REPS from smart Cars were giving test rides at the Fashion Place mall. You had to wait in line for over an hour but it was 110, what else do you have to do? I did not realize one of the reps was an ADV guy....I think out of Cali somewhere....but, when they came out, the perception were these were super economical aka earth friendly. Turns out by square inch and horsepower, they are a pretty lousy contraption but certainly having strong novelty power.

      My point is that if Tesla did away with a retail showroom floor, I have no doubt they could do rock star tours of all the malls of Amerika and give plenty of test drives.

      BTW...I finally sat in one the other day....the fit and finish is amazing. Does not have the utility I need in a wagon, but, still pimpilicious.