Usually, I write about newly released research about clean energy and environmental topics. My narratives are syntheses of white papers, press releases, interviews, or full-length journalism, drawing upon the body of CleanTechnica work to provide context. Rarely do I editorialize or tell personal stories — it doesn’t seem appropriate for this audience and our focus areas. However, today is delivery day for my Tesla Model Y, and the process I’ve worked through may be of interest to others who haven’t yet purchased a Tesla — or even an electric vehicle (EV).
Okay, some of you Tesla fans are going to be snickering at my thoughts or decision-making as I readied for delivery. Other readers will admit that they, too, have had questions about a computer-on-wheels. And there will be an in-between group that is EV or tech savvy but, possibly, not familiar with the Tesla contactless approach. Here goes.
Deciding on a Model Y
Downsizing to a condo opened up possibilities for my family, and one decision we made was to upgrade from our 2015 Nissan Leaf to a brand new Tesla. Sure, we looked into other makes and models, but a balance of concerns about being early adopters and confidence in the Tesla brand helped us to make our choice.
We had originally thought we would purchase a Model 3 — the EV for the masses, as it were — but learned that the Model Y sat a bit higher off the ground. Baby boomers that we are, it seemed to make sense to give our knees some relief. Moreover, we always seem to be carting slightly oversized goods from one place to another — a small freezer to expand condo storage area, plants for community landscaping, luggage to and from the airport. The smaller Tesla SUV made sense.
To Get Long Range, or Not? That Was the Question
After relying just on a Nissan Leaf for the last couple of years, we were quite accustomed to monitoring current range and planning for charging. While we couldn’t visit our friends on the other Florida coast without some serious planning, for the most part, our daily trips don’t push much past 10 miles each way, and the Leaf sufficed for most of our needs.
But having longer range was certainly an allure that I, particularly, thought was valuable. It seemed that it made sense to have the option of going farther than not, especially after the travel restrictions of COVID-19.
Long range? Check. We paid for our vehicle by making online transfers from our investment accounts. Everything is done online with the Tesla purchase — from text messages, to emails, to the personal Tesla Account that I now have (which I can access as an app on my iPhone or on my computer via a tab off the Tesla main page).
We didn’t speak to a human once by this point of the process.
I filled out the order form online, checked for accuracy in all fields, and hit Send.
Preparing for Delivery Day
We waited for delivery. We were pushed back a month after the Q2 investors call, and I reconciled myself to the likelihood that the Model Y wouldn’t sync with holiday travel or be able to represent a holiday gift to ourselves. Then — what do you know? The delivery target date range was moved up to late November through most of December. Soon, we learned that the Wednesday of Thanksgiving week would be the targeted delivery day.
We had awaited the assignment of a VIN number so we could begin information-sharing with our insurance company, but, as soon as we received notification of an exact date, the phone calls began. Did the vehicle have a built-in alarm? Was there a LoJack-type of device to tract the vehicle in the event of a theft? We knew that the Model Y contained lots of tech, but it did take a couple of phone calls, back and forth, with our local West Palm Beach Tesla dealer and the agent, to get an insurance rider.
Real human conversations! It felt like a bit of relief to be speaking to real persons.
I grabbed a screenshot of proof of insurance, saved it as a jpg, then uploaded it to my Tesla Account.
Flexibility around Delivery Day Planning
As our Tesla didn’t arrive to West Palm Beach with enough time to get DMV inspection prior to our original delivery date, we were rescheduled to Sunday of Thanksgiving week. That new date presented a slight problem for us, as we needed to reschedule our shuttle — the Leaf doesn’t have enough range to make it to West Palm Beach.
The Sunday of Thanksgiving week is a crazy day to travel, as visitors to our community are heading to the airport. Our shuttle driver couldn’t fit us in a morning run, so we had another real human chat with Tesla and were able to reschedule.
This resulted in more texts, emails, and updates to my Tesla Account. But we were getting closer to delivery day.
Learning about the Tesla Model Y through Videos
With our purchase confirmation, we received a list of suggested videos to view about the Model Y. I viewed all 9 the first night.
My first impression ever of a Tesla regarded its interior design, which I thought was quite minimalist, and I liked that a lot. The touchscreen is the source of the majority of settings, features, and adjustments that would otherwise be found on the dash, spread out traditionally among toggle switches, buttons, knobs, lights, tuners, gauges, sliders, and pointers.
As a lifelong educator, I was kind of amazed and dismayed at the information delivery approach of the introductory videos. All media is constructed intentionally — every step is consciously chosen for a particular purpose and effect. However, I felt that the introductory Tesla videos went way too fast for a person without adequate prior knowledge to accommodate all the steps. There was a small amount of review but not enough to make the sequencing of identifying the different functions of the touchscreen meaningful. The one video with which I felt comfortable described how to charge the Tesla; as someone who had already owned an EV, the similarities were extensive.
Periodically, as delivery day approached, I would view the videos again. I came to think of them as similar to learning another language. I’d watch, replay, and try to speak along with the narrator so I could accommodate and repeat the steps independently.
Contactless Delivery — or Some Assistance from a Human?
During one of the delivery rescheduling calls with Tesla customer service, I nabbed the opportunity to speak with a real person to ask a question that had been bothering me. Would there be a real human present at the time when we would pick up the Model Y, or would this be a strictly app-based experience? My greatest concern was unlocking the car while needing to set up my Phone Key, as the credit card–like key (which is supposed to be a backup, used for valets or emergencies) would be stored inside the Model Y, according to the video.
The real customer service human assured me, with a bit of a gentle chuckle, that a real human would, indeed, be onsite to answer questions and provide any necessary troubleshooting. That answer provided me with a good deal of solace and relief.
That is, until I received our 24-hours-’til-pickup email. It stated:
“Your Tesla will be available for pick-up onsite at our delivery center, allowing you to arrive at your leisure and head straight to your vehicle. This will be a completely touchless experience, to maximize your safety and convenience. The vehicle keys will be locked securely inside.”
Delivery Day: A Success!
I had read about Tesla delivery day horrors. I found an unreliable Tesla delivery webpage. I received a pre-delivery email asking me for information I had already provided (clearly, it was just boilerplate sent to everyone who was getting ready for a Tesla delivery).
Yet — voila! — the experience at Tesla West Palm Beach was A+. There were several customer service reps ready to help us. Jonathan was courteous and well-versed in the various procedures necessary to get us in the car and on the road. He installed our license plate. He helped us access the Tesla app with the store’s guest WiFi network, helped us set up our phone keys, worked with us to create our mirror and seating profiles, and even showed us how the GPS worked.
Off we headed back north to our home. The regenerative braking was much more powerful than in the Leaf, for sure….
But wait! The performance of the Model Y will certainly be the basis for some of my future articles. In the meantime, yay! I’m the co-owner of a Tesla!
Images by Carolyn Fortuna/CleanTechnica
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