Tesla Performance Evolution & The Power Of Test Drives

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For the latest edition of Tesla Inside Out (which was recorded before the COVID-19 crisis started to really unfold in the US), David Havasi and I focused on the wonders of Tesla performance and Tesla test drives. David brought us back to the launch of “the D,” the Tesla Model S P85D, and highlighted how it brought the performance of a supercar like a McLaren F1 (which Elon had some history with) to a much broader segment — still rich people, but not just hyper-rich people.

After explaining that dramatic evolution, it was only natural to point out that the Tesla Model 3 Long Range now nearly matches that performance. So, you now have a car that might have a total cost of ownership of a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord but has nearly the performance of a supercar! Insane. Nay, ludicrous.

Incidentally, the Tesla Model 3 Performance precisely matches the acceleration of the McLaren F1 (3.2 seconds from 0 to 60 mph).

I added my opinion that I think most people who see a Tesla these days still think all of them are very expensive cars and don’t realize how cheap a Tesla Model 3 can be.

David, as usual, brought up many interesting insights in this episode. For example, he discussed the marketing power and unconventionality of letting anyone test drive a car without judgement, expectation, or barrier (beyond a driver’s license). You can’t easily test drive a car with the performance of a top-of-the-line Tesla Model S from other brands. However, just about anyone can walk into a Tesla store and test drive a car without being discouraged or asked about their purchasing capacity. David points out that one thing this does is it plants the seed in many people’s heads that they will one day buy a Tesla, even if that means years of working toward that goal.

Another benefit of such a policy is that someone can go on a test drive, be so impressed that they talk about it to all their friends and family, and then lead a wealthier connection (parent, coworker, friend) to buy a vehicle. I’m certain even from my limited experience reading or listening to such anecdotes that there have been a large number of such cases.

Naturally, we point out for the zillionth time that getting people in the car for test drives is the #1 way to sell a Tesla. As yet one more example of that, a friend of CleanTechnica (and now an occasional contributor) bought a Tesla Model 3 this week after: 1) test driving his son’s VW e-Golf, 2) reading this article about 70 reasons Tesla Model 3 owners love their cars, 3) going on a Model 3 test drive, and 4) ordering one that night. He had it delivered to his home this week. (We have an article on that coming soon.)

Photo © Frank Semmens

David also talked about the different approaches he’d take when giving people test drives in different Model S trims. If you’re knowledgeable about or interested in the different trims and features, I think it’s quite an interesting discussion about that part of the test drive/sales process and how people tend to respond.

After David talked a bit about giving people test drives with Tesla Insane Mode and Ludicrous Mode on, I was brought up one of my most memorable experiences in this career — driving a P85D for the first time. The discussion also brought to mind the question of how much the physiological effect of such exhilarating test drives led to vehicle purchases or people purchasing higher trims of the car than they would have. In other words, not just doing so rationally while weighing the value of the extra enjoyment, but being compelled to do so in an “impulse buy” or “fight or flight” kind of way because of how the experience moved the juices around in their bodies.

David and I each had a funny story to share about the insane yet quiet, smooth performance of a Tesla as well — in my case a Model 3 and in his case a Model S.

Following that, on David’s lead, we talked a bit about the dramatically different experience of driving fast fossil-fuel cars, why some people like that visceral experience, and why it will surely go out of fashion as more and more people experience an electric vehicle.

Halfway through the chat, we started talking about the P85D launch event again (the focus story of the podcast).

We started closing out the podcast with a humorous story of an early buyer of the Tesla Model S with Insane Mode and then the Tesla Model S with Ludicrous Mode — you have to listen to this story. It starts at 47 minutes into the conversation. We also talked a bit about over-the-air software updates and the democratization of high-performance driving before circling back to Tesla’s test drive approach and how it has brought Tesla to where it is today.

There’s much more in the show. Watch or listen to enjoy the whole thing. Come on — you’ve got nothing else to do in self-isolation!

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Want to buy a Tesla Model 3, Model S, or Model X? Feel free to use my referral code to get some free Supercharging miles with your purchase: https://ts.la/zachary63404.

You can also get a $250 discount on Tesla solar with that code. There is currently no use for a referral code when putting down a reservation for a Cybertruck or Model Y.

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Zachary Shahan

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director, chief editor, and CEO. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA], NIO [NIO], Xpeng [XPEV], Ford [F], ChargePoint [CHPT], Amazon [AMZN], Piedmont Lithium [PLL], Lithium Americas [LAC], Albemarle Corporation [ALB], Nouveau Monde Graphite [NMGRF], Talon Metals [TLOFF], Arclight Clean Transition Corp [ACTC], and Starbucks [SBUX]. But he does not offer (explicitly or implicitly) investment advice of any sort.

Zachary Shahan has 7347 posts and counting. See all posts by Zachary Shahan