What Are The Pros & Cons Of Buying A Tesla, Post-Pandemic?

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The news is filled with stories of city air pollution levels dropping during the recent COVID-19 quarantines. That’s led many people to suggest that post-pandemic EV purchases could help continue the downturn in carbon emissions as more and more restrictions are lifted. Yet, not everyone is a fan of EVs — or even of trend-setting Teslas, for that matter. So, when a typical Tesla naysayer publication prints an article with “a rundown of the pros & cons” of buying a Tesla post-pandemic, it seems worth stopping to take a look.

Do you agree with the following assessments about the value of buying a post-pandemic Tesla? Let’s go through the list and see.

Pro's & Con's Of Buying A Tesla
Photo by Kyle Field/CleanTechnica

Acknowledging that there are plenty of EVs in the marketplace, Business Insider noted recently that it’s likely “a lot of consumers will gravitate toward Tesla” in a post-COVID-19 marketplace. The article outlined a series of pros & cons of buying a Tesla with the coronavirus backdrop.

PRO: Design. Calling Tesla’s electric-vehicles “the best-looking EVs on the market, with an aesthetic that’s both venerable and elegant,” BI’s remarks evoked earlier comments from Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen. He saw the original Model S design as “the epitome of efficiency … a living sculpture, a fluid object.” With the company’s original goal “to modernize the design of the classic sedan silhouette and make it unique to Tesla,” the design team “streamlined the greenhouse (the area enclosed by windows) and stretched it to feel lower and leaner than usual. We wanted it to express speed and motion, even when at rest.”

Automotive News concurs with the unparalleled Tesla design and says there is a pretty good case for not updating the Model S.

Do you agree that the Model S aesthetic is first and foremost among its competitors? Is that enough reason to buy now?

PRO: Electricity, not gas. With a Tesla, the need to pump gas becomes a thing of the past. We know that touching the gas pump during the COVID-19 contagion has been problematic. The ease of home charging or infrequent Supercharging due to longer range makes Tesla ownership preferable to many auto owners.

Is electricity and home charging a good reason to purchase a Tesla post-pandemic?

PRO: Improved air quality. The European Environmental Agency (EEA) has confirmed NASA and European Space Agency data that show a rapid, dramatic reduction in air pollution over those areas most affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns. Tesla leads the way on the topic of air pollution, not only by offering zero carbon emissions, but because, according the company website, the “HEPA filtration system [is] capable of stripping the outside air of pollen, bacteria, and pollution before they enter the cabin and systematically scrubbing the air inside the cabin to eliminate any trace of these particles” — if you get the Model S or Model X.

Is the air pollution reduction of a Tesla reason to buy, post-pandemic?

PRO: Performance. The BI article describes how the Model S “can outrun Ferraris and Lamborghinis in a 0-60 mph sprint.” The article goes on to remind everyone that “even the, ahem, slowest Tesla leaves most gas-electric hybrids in the dust.” The car has been named the car of the century and has won practically every award there is to win. If you want performance, there is basically nothing that beats the Model S Performance.

Is the Model S — or other Tesla models’ performance — a good reason to buy through 2020?

Photo by Zach Shahan/CleanTechnica

PRO: Over-the-air software updates. Tesla cars regularly receive over-the-air software updates that add new features and enhance existing ones over Wi-Fi’s. This includes providing power boosts, more efficiency/range, new games in Tesla’s unique “Arcade” center or new “Theater” options, Autopilot improvements, and more. GM, Ford, Toyota, and other legacy automakers are playing catch-up.

Do Tesla’s over-the-air software updates makes the difference for you?

PRO: Innovative technology. Tesla’s battery and powertrain systems are “impressive,” according to BI, due to both engineering standpoint and efficient smartphone app. EVAnnex lists the various innovations that Tesla may unveil in its upcoming battery day: testing new cell chemistries; exploring new sources of supply; devising easier and cheaper ways to assemble battery packs; and securing supplies of raw materials such as lithium. The most important key to the Tesla advancement is the ongoing battery research is said to be chemical additives, materials, and coatings that will reduce internal stress and enable batteries to store more energy for longer periods.

Could Tesla’s first-of-the-pack EV battery status be your rationale to purchase a Tesla before the end of 2020?

PRO: The Supercharger network. Tesla’s Supercharger network has long been seen as one of the biggest draws to the Tesla brand. It not only makes electric life more relaxing, it can even provide an easier road trip than you get in a gasoline car, as many Tesla owners will tell you. Looking at the quick expansion of the network really makes one see how much of a leader Tesla has been and how far it has taken the market from a time when reliable charging was elusive. BI describes how the “extensive, multinational fast-charging network” not only makes long road trips possible, but it’s “an intelligent network, in constant communication with Tesla vehicles so that extended routes can be plotted.”

Is the security and reliability of the Tesla Supercharger network an important element for you as you look to an EV purchase in the next several months or year?

PRO: Autopilot’s potential. Tesla zooms ahead of other automakers in many ways, including accentuating driver focus and safety through its Autopilot feature. With 8 external cameras, a radar, 12 ultrasonic sensors, and a powerful onboard computer, Autopilot’s suite of driver assistance features is partly the result of a neural network that has accumulated billions of miles of driver experience. Tesla’s accumulated autonomy data set is truly unique, and it has some automakers worried that they’re so far behind Tesla in R&D that catching up is going to be a long, strenuous, and possibly futile race. If progress continues as many expect with Tesla Autopilot R&D, it may be able to operate at all speeds on many different types of roads, another method of surpassing the competition.

Would the Autopilot feature make the difference to you as you decide to buy a Tesla vs. an EV from another company? 

Photo by Zach Shahan/CleanTechnica

CON: Price. BI reminds us that “the cheapest Model 3 is still about twice as costly as the least expensive gas-powered sedan you can now buy.” Then again, this week the Tesla Model 3, Model X, and Model S all got price reductions. The Model 3 starts at less than $40,000, which is a moderate price, while also offering some serious long-term cost savings.

How do the prices of Teslas fit into your overall picture of owning one this year?

CON: Charging times. Tesla’s big batteries have a down side, according to BI: they can take a long time to charge. In comparison to a quick gas station stop, this could be an issue in certain circumstances.

What effect does Tesla charging time have on your decision to become a Tesla owner soon?

CON: Lack of dealerships. Tesla sells its EVs differently from other auto manufacturers: it operates stores and can sell directly to consumers in many US states. BI suggests that the lack of traditional dealerships make the purchase or leasing process more awkward than the traditional process. Editor’s note: This is one of the most laughable claims or insinuations I’ve ever seen about Tesla. The buying experience is so dramatically better than buying through a conventional auto dealer, and everyone seems to know that. The one benefit you might find in some regions regarding dealerships is they may be more accessible (closer) and may perform service more quickly than a Tesla service center. It mostly depends on the region. —Zach

Regarding Tesla’s inability to sell to consumers in some states, the Cornell Policy Review, using New Jersey as an example, calls “prohibition of Tesla’s direct sales … bad politics and even worse policy.”

Do you agree? Would lack of a traditional dealership hinder your decision to purchase a Tesla in the near future?

Image courtesy Wade Anderson/Tesla Social

CON: Ludicrous Mode. Ludicrous Mode, which takes advantage of powerful batteries and dual electric motors to deliver staggering acceleration, is “almost too much for Tesla’s sedans and SUVs,” says BI. Car and Driver agrees that “a claimed zero-to-60-mph time of 2.7 seconds when its Ludicrous Mode is engaged” is interesting and most fun, but mighty expensive. This is strange to put in the “con” column since it’s a fully optional feature that you don’t have to pay for. Also, it’s so desired that it does indeed cost a lot of money. Hard to call that a con.

Would Ludicrous Mode make a difference in your decision to buy a Tesla — soon?

CON: Lack of inventory. According to the company website, Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, is one of the world’s most advanced automotive plants, with 5.3 million square feet of manufacturing and office space on 370 acres of land. Like many other businesses in the US right now, Tesla has struggled to find a balance of worker safety and active production to meet company goals with this one production site. BI says that Tesla “tends to sell cars as fast as it makes them,” which limits the pre-built inventory from which customer has to choose. A 4-to-6 week delivery time is the norm for the Model 3.

Does having a month+ delay from decision to delivery inhibit your decision to purchase a Tesla this year?

CON: The federal tax credit has expired for Tesla. On January 1, 2020, the federal tax credit available for new Tesla cars sold in the US completely ended. That’s because the company reached the limit of 200,000 plug-in car deliveries in the US. Tesla was the first manufacturer to lose eligibility for the federal tax credit, with General Motors second, having lost its eligibility on April 1, 2020.

Newly emerging EV models do still qualify for the federal tax credit incentive, which can be up to $7,500. Would that credit be enough for you to switch your next EV purchase from Tesla to another automaker?

We’re curious about your responses to these questions. Let us know what you think, and we may write a followup article that chronicles your most pressing ideas and concerns about Tesla vs. other EV and automaker purchases as COVID-19 changes the way we live over the coming months and year.

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna (they, them), Ph.D., is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavy Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a Model Y as well as a Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Twitter and Facebook.

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