An Open Letter to the Tesla Saboteurs
You must love what Tesla represents, even if you dislike Musk & Co.
I woke this morning to news of the alleged sabotage of the Tesla Supercharger in Barstow, California. Sad! But is it sad? Yes, but not for the reasons you think. A rising tide of Tesla hate—the sabotage, the fake news, the tireless trolls—got me thinking. If you’re judged by your enemies, Elon Musk should have Secret Service protection. By that standard, Musk should be President. Whatever their motive, the saboteurs have Tesla all wrong, as do all of Tesla’s enemies.
Even if you hate Tesla, you must love Tesla.
It’s true. Literally everything the critics hate about Tesla is in fact a strength. Kool-Aid? Here’s a vat of it, for even if everything Tesla’s critics say is true, Tesla has made the American automotive industry great again, and for that every American should all be proud.
Let’s deconstruct the arguments of those who would rather see the Fremont factory crushed between tectonic plates, with Musk tied down spreadeagled to a Space X landing platform during rocket testing.
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Tesla’s cars. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have spent 41 hours driving one cross-country, not including the 14 spent charging while eating Arby’s, swilling Starbucks, and hoping no one would see my teammates and I take turns lurking behind the transformers.
If you have to ask, you’ve never been to a Supercharger after nightfall.
I write about what I know, like driving, technology, and sleeping in the back of a moving car with the rear seats folded down. As for Tesla the company? Most people don’t care, and nor should you. I don’t own any stock, so I really don’t care about its gyrations, but you don’t need to be Nostradamus to know that the average car lease is 3 years. Tesla’s warranty is four. Even the trolls agree the company will survive that long. Competing products — and by that I mean semi-autonomous, wirelessly upgradeable electric cars with nationwide fast-charging networks — are 3-5 years away.
Pick up a Tesla right now, and you are buying the most technologically advanced car on the road, at least for the time being. Do it before December 31st and you get lifetime free charging.
Hate it? Your 36 month lease will be up just in time for their theoretical bankruptcy and the arrival of the umpteenth “Tesla Killer” from company X. Good luck. That’s what the 2017 Mercedes E-Class was supposed to be.
Something Something Reliability
Have you driven a Morgan? It’s literally made of wood, but the quality of ownership is second to none. The worst Tesla is a Lexus by comparison, with owner loyalty off the charts. Has there ever been a German luxury car without problems? Yes. My E39 BMW M5, last manufactured in 2003, before the era of modular this and electronic that. If you must buy new, at least a Tesla is wirelessly upgradeable. Merc and the rest of the industry? Not so much. Teething problems? Everyone knows the first year of anything comes with a price, and it’s not just that sweet hot cash. At least early Tesla adopters weren’t fools. Pioneers, if not heroes. Without them the Model S wouldn’t be as brilliant as it is today. What can you say about early adopters of the 996-era Porsche 911? Not fools. Victims.
Something Something Build Quality, Safety, Innovation, etc..
Go to any auto show, walk up to any booth and ask one of the scantily clad booth girls about chassis stiffness. Start with the Corvette.
“Ooooooh,” she’ll coo, “the all-new new C7 Corvette chassis is 64% stiffer than the outgoing model.”
Impressive. Even more impressive than the C6, which was 59% stiffer then the C5, which was 52% stiffer than the C4, which was...hold on a minute. I may not be a chassis engineer, but I am friends with Matt Farah, who put it all in perspective.
“IF,” said the clear-eyed oracle of The Smoking Tire, “every generation of Corvette is that much stiffer than the last one, then at some point they had to have been made of Legos.”
Tesla? The gen 1 Model S is one of the safest cars ever made. The Model X? Amazing, except for those Falcon doors. Actually, I take that back. They’re also amazing, and a terrific value for $100k. How many vehicles with Falcon doors work at all? I’m not just talking about the doors. By definition, cars with Falcon doors are terrible. That’s why they have Falcon doors, to distract from the rest of the engineering, and yet the Model X — an exotic for a fraction of the price of a Koenigsegg — is a marvel of engineering and innovation. That the Falcon doors are the primary issue is a miracle, and one Tesla has moved to resolve faster than it would take Pagani to respond to an e-mail.
Heard of Christian von Koenigsegg? He drives a Tesla. Andre Haddad of Turo? Nick Sampson of Faraday? Kyle Vogt of GM/Cruise Automation? Teslas. Survey the management of any serious car company that doesn’t force their senior people into homegrown products and what do you find? Tesla, Tesla, Tesla. These aren’t stupid people. They’ll all tell you the same thing. Tesla is at the cutting edge in every area. Glitches. Sure, but they’re getting better. They have to, Musk knows it, and owners don’t care.
If you don't understand why Tesla owners accept these problems then you don't understand why Hillary lost.
You know what’s inexcusable? When a 100 year old German company delivers anything that isn’t perfect. They’ve had 100 years. Tesla’s had what? Five?
I love Tesla Autopilot. So do Tesla owners. Who doesn’t? Competitors, competitors lobbyists, regulators lobbied by competitors lobbyists, a handful of critics, Tesla shorts, and people who don’t read past clickbait headlines.
Guess what? Tesla is listening. Tesla isn't enabling Autopilot on new cars delivered as of last month. Why? Because they’ve upgraded the sensor hardware and are releasing Enhanced Autopilot for the new models within a quarter. Meanwhile, cars with gen 1 Autopilot sensors will continue to be upgraded. How long does Tesla take to update Autopilot based on feedback? Months, sometimes weeks. Everyone else’s software update cycle is years, and you’ve got to go to a dealer, or buy a new car.
As for whether Autopilot is safer than human drivers, well, if it isn't, it sure is the world's best cruise control, if not the first one I've ever wanted to use. Just keep your hands on the wheel.
Subsidies, Politics & Energy Independence
Critics of green tech like to lump Tesla in with a long list of government subsidized failures. Guess what? The oil industry has been subsidized to the tune of hundreds of billions — if not trillions of dollars — for over forty years. Why does Central Command exist? Why were US forces ever on the ground in the Middle East? Oil. Oil. Oil. Tens of thousands of Americans have been killed or injured to “protect American interests” in the Middle East, the byproduct of which is environmental and moral pollution.
This is not a right or left issue. I know as many liberals who own Teslas as I do conservatives.
Energy independence is an American issue.
You are either for Americans in body bags, or against it. Throw in the foulest decadence, hypocrisy and ongoing betrayals foisted on us by our “allies”, and energy independence — even if we have to temporarily subsidize it to get there — must become a national security priority.
Hate the idea of jump-starting American innovation? Then let’s strip away subsidies for all forms of energy — including the cost of military assets devoted to stabilizing our overseas oil supply — and let’s see a REALLY level playing field.
Until then, STFU about subsidies. Tesla is the most American car company there is. Don’t believe me? READ THIS.
Trojan Horse Theory
Let’s assume I’m completely wrong, Musk is a fraud and electrification is a dead end. GREAT! You should still buy a Tesla and enjoy it until the warranty expires. Every Tesla sold strengthens the mythology and inspires foreign manufacturers to invest untold billions in that alleged dead end, which is a win for American manufacturers still building internal combustion cars.
If Musk is wrong, let’s hope Tesla is acquired by an American company, and every one of his non-electric innovations flows to a domestic manufacturer wise enough to incorporate their myriad other inventions into future models.
If Tesla is a fraud, then Musk is the greatest American automaker of all time, for he will have cost our “enemies” priceless time and money, all while consuming — according to sources — 40% of global automotive PR. Genius propaganda, that is. Government subsidies and the slow pace of domestic EV development could only have been part of this brilliant master plan, for which every American should be grateful.
Is Tesla actually a global automotive Trojan Horse? Then logically it would also have been a diversion from Musk’s Mars plan, which behind closed doors would be the actual American space program, albeit privatized and secretly supported by both NASA and countless American business interests.
Brilliant, but unlikely. Too bad. I kinda like that narrative.
The Bottom Line
If you don’t like Teslas, don’t buy one. There’s nothing more American than voting with your pocketbook. Get out of the way. A lot of people want that Model 3.
Alex Roy, entrepreneur, President of Europe By Car, Editor-at-Large for The Drive, and author of The Driver, set the 2007 Transcontinental “Cannonball Run” Record in a BMW M5 in 31 hours & 4 minutes, and has set multiple "Cannonball" endurance driving records in Europe & the United States in the EV, 3-wheeler &Semi-Autonomous Classes. You may follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.