We’re at a pretty wild time in automotive history. We’ve got a car on the market that has better performance than a BMW 3 Series or 4 Series, is safer than any other passenger car, has a “fuel efficiency” rating of about 120–130 MPGe, has a 5-year total cost of ownership comparable to a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord, has nearly the best estimated resale value on the market (according to Kelley Blue Book), and has the happiest owners of any vehicle in the country. That’s one helluva package.
Honestly, why in the world would anyone buy a BMW 3/4 Series, Toyota Camry, or Honda Accord?
We’ve been waiting for so long for the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 that it almost seems unreal that it is now here, now available to order. I feel like I should pinch myself.
But people are still buying non-Tesla cars for $30,000, $35,000, $40,000, $45,000, $50,000, etc. I think there are three things at play here. Starting first with an issue that won’t go away, we have to be clear: there will always be automotive diversity because people have different tastes as far as body style, interior design, vehicle class, and even the look of a logo.
The second factor is the biggest one, in my opinion. People don’t know about Tesla. They haven’t been in a Tesla. They haven’t spoken to any Tesla owners. They don’t read CleanTechnica. (I know — the sacrilege!) They might well ask you who produces the Tesla Model 3 — BMW? Aston Martin? Alfa Romeo? (I got this from a truck driver once, who simply couldn’t digest that Tesla was the producer.) If you ask normal people questions about electric cars, there’s a good chance they’ll think of the Toyota Prius. (There are surveys that make this quite clear.) If people have driven Hondas or Toyotas or BMWs or Audis for years and haven’t really heard about Tesla, there’s a solid chance when it’s time to buy another car that they’ll go back to Honda, Toyota, BMW, or Audi.
I initially thought of just those two factors. Then I remembered the article I wrote right before this one. 😛 Family members I seldom talk to (so haven’t been not in touch with enough to convert into Tesla fanatics) have made it clear from simple conversations — what they’ve heard is that Tesla’s in deeply troubled waters, with all kinds of financial problems and a roller coaster of turmoil. Of course, they haven’t figured out those difficulties are due in large part to the very same news programs passing that news on to them. Generally speaking, normal people don’t realize there are gigantic smear campaigns and short seller manipulations trying to ship that story into their living rooms. They also don’t know that all the analysts were wrong who claimed or implied repeatedly last year that Tesla would need to raise more money before the year was out and couldn’t show a profit in Q3 and Q4. Tesla didn’t need to raise money, and did show a profit in those quarters.
So, in the end, we have this stunning story. We have a car far better than anything in its price range — based on many different metrics — yet a relatively small percentage of the population knows about it and has experienced it. Furthermore, what they have heard about Tesla is highly negative spin, not all the records the company is setting or how much the car is loved.
It’s a strange world sometimes.