Deliveries of Tesla’s Model 3 recently started in Germany, the home of VW, Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Daimler; a country that is famous for engineering and truly proud of its automotive heritage.
That is a heritage and loyalty that prevented all foreign car producers — be it from North America, Asia, or other European countries — from succeeding in the German market. All other brands, with very few exceptions, have never sold sustainably in larger numbers.
When you drive today on the German Autobahn, in a city or through the country, the vast majority of vehicles you find have been designed, produced, and sold by Germans in Germany. Regardless if it’s because of loyalty, the superiority of the products, or other reasons, it’s a not disputed fact that Germans usually buy German cars.
American cars are no exception from that rule and have sold in even lower numbers than their competition from Asia or from European countries like France or the UK.
Cars from “the land of the free” have been, since I can remember, considered in Germany as bad-quality products, too large in size and consumption with poor interiors and bad driving behavior, besides other negatives like costs, reliability, and maintenance. In short, they never had decent sales numbers in Germany.
In recent years, Tesla as an American brand did sell a fair number of the Model S and X but could not challenge the premium products of the German manufacturers in their home market. They remain until today on a low unit-sold level — although, somehow not seen in the category of all other American manufacturers (like Ford, Chrysler, and GM), but more like a premium but expensive vehicle for people with a green heart and deep pockets.
Because of that, it has been a question of most how the Tesla Model 3 will do in Germany. Will it be successful here? Many predict that it may sell well in Norway or the Netherlands, countries with high incentives for EVs, but that consumers in Germany will not accept nor compromise and will continue to buy what they bought before or wait for a compelling EV from German manufacturers.
It is not known how many reservation holders of the Model 3 are in Germany, but the average opinion has been that existing reservation holders will be disappointed because of quality and service issues, as well as costs and usability. It’s repeatedly said that the anticipated disappointment will make the Model 3 a product for Tesla “fanboys” and “fangirls” only and therefore severely limit the addressable market and demand.
Since the Tesla Model 3 has arrived in Germany, I’ve followed and documented all new owner comments without exception, examining how they are talking about their good and bad experiences in social media.
All complaints I found before and after delivery are included in 6 categories:
- Delays in delivery and a long wait with no or contradicting communication
- Unclear sequencing (e.g., early reservation holders waiting longer than new ones)
- Repeated postponement of delivery dates and locations
- Dirty, not detailed cars, missing charging cables, missing spoilers
- Scratches, improperly aligned glass roof, panel gaps, and issues with door sealings
- Issues with charging speed
Those negative experiences are without any doubt not good and Tesla needs to work quickly on processes to stop them. (Note: Some of them already have been solved from the Munich Feldkirchen delivery center. We have heard only positive comments for a few days. Others still need corrective actions.)
— Thomas (@Clutter_Monster) February 16, 2019
To be fair, to wait for the car or get a wrong location or postponement is bad, but unfortunately, it had to be expected — even though it certainly could have been better planned for. It’s a problem, though, that can be solved.
Scratches and panel gaps are clearly more severe, but gaps can be aligned and paint corrected, which Tesla did perfectly for all cars recorded.
Charging issues have been addressed with an over-the-air software update and that problem is gone already.
Still, that is a long list of complaints and you may say to yourself now that all bad predictions have proven out and this will result in negative sentiment from reservation holders and owners and a wave of order cancellations will occur, which will have a negative impact on future demand in Germany.
You many think people predicted rightfully that Germans will not accept bad quality and a car with issues noted above will not do well in a country that is known for premium quality cars with superior driving behavior.
It is my intention in this article to give a fair and balanced overview about the customer satisfaction of German reservation holders who are now new owners and have picked up their Tesla Model 3s. Good and bad, without exception, will be shown in this article.
Expectations are usually linked to a level of satisfaction that has been achieved with a previous vehicle and brand, but normally an even higher satisfaction level than before is expected. Nobody buys a new car with the expectation it will be simply equal to or worse than their last purchase.
The success of the Tesla Model 3 in Germany will, therefore, depend on how well those expectations are fulfilled — met, failed, or overachieved.
To document the satisfaction, we should listen directly to all German owners of the Model 3 since the first handover has happened. That is first-hand data and gives us a transparent and solid overview of how the car is being received. The more data points we have, the better the conclusions are that we can draw with respect to satisfaction.
To do that, I’m listing all quotes from new owners that I could find in two segments, one for the positive and one for the negative experiences.
The translation of those quotes has been done without any changes, interpretations, or additions and to my best knowledge. Each quote is from a different person and published in writing on social media.
I’ll start with the positive comments.
Positive quotes from Germans driving their own Tesla Model 3:
“It is a dream. Pure madness. I love this car. The trip from SeC to my home was like a dream come true. Every darn minute of the almost 3 years, every cent of almost €60k, every second in the waiting queue of the hotline every little joy ahead it was ALL worth it.”
“Even if nerves are blank at times … to be frank, fuck the bad feelings. Be just happy it is the time. Can’t give you more for the road. Simply enjoy the happiness before.”
“The first driving impressions are overwhelming. I thought first they gave me the Performance as a present”
“The car is madness. Have unspooled the first 300km. Such a hammer vehicle!!”
“I do not know how many times I can say, thank you Elon. This car is more than amazing. 230 km/h on German Autobahn is like riding a bullet! Fuck off all haters!!
“This car is mega (…) I still get frightened each time I accelerate”
“Have since days a moronic continuous smile in my face when I only imagine the acceleration. And I drive only and mainly just in ‘casual’ mode.
“Also, all well with me. No scratches (OK, one mini scratch on the hood, that was recorded). Inside and outside all is wonderfully manufactured. There is nothing to blat. ”
“The drivetrain is simply a dream. Something like abnormal and a high-grade controllable power and such an absolute instant response, in comparison with other electric powertrains that I drove since I never experienced this. The drivetrain alone justifies the purchase. At this present moment, simply without alternative and unrivaled.”
“I did expect that the chassis will not be fully on German premium level. That I can tick off though. The chassis is brilliant. Awesome reserves, superior absorption, very agile, in my assessment absolutely not too ‘bony’, without meaningless hardness, despite 20”. Drives like a Samurai-sword through corners, the corner speed you can drive controlled are simply abnormal.”
“This car is madness. Workmanship inside 1a, outside 1b but still nothing to complain.“
“Subsequent quickly checked the car. Gaps and overall workmanship absolutely alright. Great design, great color a top car.”
“What can I say? The car is a hammer, much better than what I expected. That easy in handling and still so terrific to drive. Brilliant, the waiting was worth it.”
“A dream, I did not think it will go that high as the P90D that I test drove but it is similar. Cool!”
“Don’t get the grin out of my face anymore! What a wicket car”
“I have to say a fat thank you to Tesla and to the Service Center in Feldkirchen. My car was perfectly delivered”
“The first drive was madness, in particular, the acceleration of the M3P is simply just sick”
“The Model 3 Performance goes like hell”
“WOW, I am a bullet!” (child — 2.5 years old)
“The car is yet madness. Indeed a marvel of software and battery in combination with dedicated range.”
“All in all I am positively surprised about the quality. Everything fits (paint, gaps, alu skirting, seats + cover, impermeableness, wind noise, AP, etcetera.) All a tick better than the MS.”
“Did get my Model 3 yesterday in Weinstadt. All went super, the car was in a super condition, one small issue was directly notified by a very nice associate and documented. (small paint bubble). Otherwise, everything with the car is all right. No rattle, super silent – even above 150km/h and the powertrain is madness…. can’t complain…”
Negative quotes from Germans driving their own Tesla Model 3:
If you ask yourself now why there are no negative quotes listed at all, then it is because I did not find in all of my daily profound searches a single negative customer quote.
All negative comments without exception are from before the car was in the hands of the customer, before it was seen in person, and before the car was driving from the delivery center parking lot with the owner smiling at the steering wheel.
One single owner declined accepting delivery with about 12 issues to be repaired and detailed, asking Tesla to do it first and he will come back after to pick up the car. That’s not really a customer that is unhappy but one who wants a perfect car on day 1 of ownership instead of fixing those at a later point in time.
Usually, unhappy buyers are very vocal and speak out loud in social media. You see statistically more complaints about a product in social media in comparison to all issues versus positive comments in relation to happy customers. Here it is positive comments only, and that is an astounding fact.
Some may now say that all these positive postings are from so-called early “fanboys” and “fangirls,” and once an ordinary buyer is getting the car, Tesla will not be forgiven for issues and the buyer will cancel their order, not order at all, or ask for a refund.
It is clearly true that these early buyers are enthusiastic supporters of Tesla and likely accept issues more easily, but in order to forgive something, there must be something that you can forgive Tesla for. Right now, I do not see any issues that cannot be fixed quickly and easily, like some gap alignments or scratches. In other words, we do not have any indication that the response from early adopters will differ from buyers at a later stage.
It looks like there is so far indeed nobody unhappy in Germany with his or her new Model 3. Please read that sentence again because it sounds unreal, but it is real. Everybody we know of who bought and received a Tesla Model 3 in Germany is a happy customer.
If there is one out there really disappointed and not satisfied, please write a comment.
In fact, I had to shorten the list of positive quotes above, as they repeat themselves and simply don’t end. What you find here is, therefore, an extraction of the ones that do not overlap, represent the overall sentiment, and I simply like most.
Which one do you like most?
Editor’s note: I noticed something in several comments that reminded me of my first impressions of the Model 3 — it was even better than I expected, and I preferred it to the Model S. Having driven many EVs and having driven our 2015 Model S 85D for many, many miles, I figured these were reactions others would have to the Model 3. It seems that’s the case in Germany.