When I was about four years old, my mother was in the process of teaching me manners. She had me hold the door for a family that was leaving a local restaurant — they just happened to be Asian. As I turned to walk in, standing and staring at me was my grandfather. He stuck his finger in my face and said, “They’re all bad,” and then turned around and walked in.
On the surface, this story doesn’t make sense. Why would he say that? But once you know that my grandfather went to war where he saw his friends dying in Okinawa, Japan, it makes a little more sense that he’d have such strong feelings. Obviously, blanket statements like that are not correct.
WHICH LEADS US TO TESLAS
Of course, not all Teslas are bad. Not all Teslas are good, either. But after the feedback I have received (from both ends of spectrum) after our last Tesla article launched, it made me think of this story of my grandfather.
Some readers have accused me of being in the back pocket of Tesla. I actually got a call from someone who asked, ”Who in Palo Alto got to you?” They gave me a hard time for being pro-Tesla and reminded me the company had never made money. Both Reuters and Bloomberg have written articles to this extent.
Other PAG clients (who own Teslas) accused me of jumping on the bandwagon of modern technology haters. Some accused me of being far too hard on Tesla and of drinking the naysayer Kool Aid.
Neither is true. I stated good and bad things about Tesla’s cars. I gave both positive and questionable attributes for the way I see them, just like I have always done with the automotive industry.
I don’t love their cars. But some of my clients enjoy them as a daily driver, and Teslas work well for them.
THE GOOD: DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY
To repeat, I like what Tesla has done in the automotive world. They are bringing disruptive technology to an age-old industry — to the “good old boys club” — and I believe, ultimately, that consumers will benefit. Electric cars are not going away. They’re still not as efficient as the internal combustion engine, but it is only a matter of time before battery technology (and modern electric production methods) catches up.
My clients love not going to the gas station. They love being early adopters of technology and supporting innovation while driving a cool car. They love the way Teslas look. Not to mention that Tesla’s autopilot feature is only rivaled by Mercedes autonomous technology at this point.
THE BAD: MANY UNKNOWNS
We still don’t know what a 100,000 mile Tesla Model S will look like in 5-10 years. Tesla’s current model of pick-up/drop-off service is unsustainable once they exceed a certain level of vehicles on the road. We also don’t know what will happen in the war between hydrogen powered vs. lithium-ion powered cars.
I’ll also say this: for us automotive purists, we wouldn’t buy a Tesla Model S in its current state. The fit and finish is simply not there, and Tesla has not embraced auto enthusiasts who like to work on their own cars. Their safety on the road is also suspect. I’ve talked with multiple sources about Teslas breaking the crash test scale, who say that’s not quite what happened.
And as we all know, it’s impossible to say how much a replacement battery will cost four years from now.
BEFORE YOU PICK UP THE PHONE OR WRITE THAT EMAIL …
All this to say, in 20 years, I hope Tesla is still around. I hope I can find a Model S in good condition, buy it cheap and enjoy it. Just like we do with contemporary classics today. Because Teslas are not all bad or all good. And you can quote me on that.