Was the test drive guy right when he said....

Was the test drive guy right when he said....

So today I went on my second test drive at the Santana Row store. I have now talked with two different reps in the store and they told me things I have not seen in these forums and I wanted to get feedback from anyone who cares to chime in and comment:

1. The GPS - I asked him what will happen when they start charging for data plans and I chose not to subscribe and pay for it. He said that I will NOT see any maps on the main screen but will only get turn-by-turn directions in the instrument panel. "What??", I said. "You mean I am going to pay over $3k to have a GPS and I have to sign up for a data plan to really get full use of the maps?". He said, "Yup". Can anyone comment on this? Can anyone also comment on what OTHER functionality I would lose if I didn't have a data plan (eg Software update, etc)? It seems like Tesla should be more direct about it because streaming data seems to be very integral to the whole "driver experience" and paid 4G is right around the corner.

2. The air suspension - I have read all over this forum about the good, bad and ugly about air suspension. If I read it right, the system in the Tesla is basically the same one in a Mercedes and Audi. Those systems have tended to be on the unreliable side after about 50k miles. And they are very expensive to fix. The Tesla test drive guy told me something different. He said their system is made especially for Tesla by Continental and that it will outlast the conventional suspension and it is most definitely not the same system as what is found in a Mercedes or Audi. He claims it is uniquely "Tesla". Like many out there, I am debating whether to go with air or not and a big part of my decision is reliability. Can anyone comment on what the Tesla guy told me today?

3. Air suspension...continued: One of my objectives today was to take out one car with air suspension and one with springs and feel for any differences. I know a ton has been discussed about it here. But what I noticed was that there was no discernible difference in the ride in the driver's seat; however, there was a HUGE difference in the back seat where the air suspension provided a significantly better ride. Can anyone comment on why that might be or was I imagining it??

4. Mostly a side question?? - I have been on two test drives now and each time the guy taking us gave us indirect pressure to build our Model S and place a down payment "today, today, today!". I know they don't work on commission, but they literally followed me around the store after the drive and seemed pretty motivated to get me to sign on the dotted line TODAY! It was nothing like a regular car dealership, but it was also definitely not a no-pressure experience either. Has anyone else experienced that or know why that is? Are we absolutely sure they don't get some kind of “credit” for getting Model S deposits in the stores?

negarholger | 26. Juli 2013

4. Not my experience at Santan Row. Maybe they hired some new car sales person. Yes, Tesla needs a consistent trainings program to spread the vision from Elon to Tesla employees.

Xerogas | 26. Juli 2013

I have no official answer, but it does make logical sense that the touchscreen requires data from google to display maps (especially realtime traffic). There's just way too much satellite and map imagery to be able to store it all in the car.

I think your best bet will be to tether to your smartphone once Tesla offers that option.

CoreyM | 27. Juli 2013

I'm very much interested in the responses here, since I hope to order my MS in the next couple of months and have been leaning towards getting the air suspension.

On a TMC thread, they cite Continental as the supplier and included a link to this article:

Regarding #1, I sure hope that's not the case. I don't foresee using Slacker or the browser much, so probably wouldn't choose a 3G data plan, but I'd hate to have to tether just to get GPS nav on the main screen. (Perhaps the overnight wifi map caching will make this point moot if it covers a large enough area.)

Even if you don't pay for the wireless data plan, they'd still be pushing OTA updates, so it's not like they're going to be cutting off all 3G data if users opt against a wireless plan--so I'd hope that they'd also include core Tech package functionality (as well as the iOS/Android app access).

Jolanda | 27. Juli 2013

They told me that there are two sims in the car. One is used for Tesla data and is included in the deal. The other one is used for maps, browser and streaming. That one needs a data plan.

The European cars have new software (5.0), that has functionality like wifi. I have seen pictures of the software, but cannot find them at this moment.

I am not sure that the European cars have the same hardware as the USA spec.

CoreyM | 27. Juli 2013

Ah. Two sims would make sense--and makes me a little less optimistic I'll be able to forego the wireless plan without being annoyed on a regular basis...when they announce pricing I guess I'll just have to decide if it's worth it to me.

Jolanda | 27. Juli 2013

Link to new software pictures...,8405.105.html

Hard to read (Norwegian).

Kimscar | 27. Juli 2013

I am waiting anxiously to know what the data plan will cost. I would assume without the data plan you could not use smartphone to turn on air conditioning/ heat, or check charge etc..
One would think the cost would be lower as the average person isn't in the car all day using data.

gocken1 | 27. Juli 2013

If you don't get the data plan you will not get the Google Maps or web browser. You will still get smartphone access and updates. The smart phone access is through Tesla's servers. You will be able to tether your smartphone or wifi device to the Model S to get these features back.

Fred O | 27. Juli 2013

I don't agree with Xerogas. Any gps offline navigation system has all the maps on board. You may not get current traffic or weather info of course. And I think that an expense navigation like the tech package should also display full maps on the big screen without the need for google maps. The info is already there for the tbt anyway. | 27. Juli 2013

I could be wrong aren't we talking about two systems--the Garmin for the Nav and Google for the maps and traffic data. Perhaps the Garmin nav and static map info is always going to be available (as part of the tech package and updated via the Tesla SIM) and the Google info will be dependent on whether or not you have have a data plan for the user SIM.


kidjay | 27. Juli 2013

My GPS signal went out in my vehicle recently and Tesla currently has my MS now replacing the whole computer/screen unit because of this. When I lost the GPS I also lost:

* Google maps
* Searching features in maps (couldn't type a new address as it didn't have a way to search for the address).....But if I had an address already in Places, that worked with turn by turn directions in the dash screen
* Internet radio did not work (XM/Sirus & terrestrial radio worked)
* Web gone
* Also all feature on my phone for the Tesla app did not work. (always got error..."A connection to the vehicle could not be made"

I was told by Tesla SD service center that I wasn't able to get any updates from Tesla because of this issue as well.

Jesse K | 27. Juli 2013

I am saving money on an XM subscription to traffic and radio due to now having Slacker and Traffic provided by Tesla. I would not mind, and look forward to, paying Tesla for the connectivity package. Just makes sense that they would eventually need to charge for this. Enjoy the free ride for now, and order "today". | 27. Juli 2013

Was flipping through the website and stumbled upon this in the description of the tech package:

GPS navigation system with onboard maps
and free map updates for seven years

So it seems like the Garmin will not be dependent on the connectivity package--at least that's my interpretation of this.


DrJayRussell | 27. Juli 2013

1) Elon has said that 3g will always be avail for free. The 4g LTE will have plans. Hopefully that solves that question although for the life of me I cant remember where I read that but it was a direct quote from him.

2) Covered under the warranty so not sure just how concerned I'd be on this.

3) Where I live with the steep driveways and speed bumps the air active suspension is pretty much required :-)

4) My experience has been just the opposite. No pressure at all. That said, it was obvious they would have PREFERRED I sign up on the spot but that may be the old theory that if someone doesn't buy on the spot, they won't. Mr theory is, no matter what you drove to the test drive, if yo had any doubts as to weather to get a Tesla Model S or not, once you return to your now POS car, you'll sign up and order once you get home. :-)

Spirous | 27. Juli 2013

I only got experience from the web, since Tesla isn't represented locally (Stavanger, Norway) yet. Their web responds rate is neither fast or optimal. The follow-up is crap. As a car producer who aims to sell online they have a looooooong way to go.

But I love the car and have still ordered the S, hopefully with very few regrets....

SevenOfNine | 27. Juli 2013

I did my test drive only after I had put down a deposit, so I can't say I felt any pressure. The deposit is fully refundable, so there's no harm there, and I agree with the rep that you should just do it.

Pungoteague_Dave | 27. Juli 2013


"Elon has said that 3g will always be avail for free. The 4g LTE will have plans."

Don't know where you got your misinformation, but Elon never said any such thing. TM has said consistently, in writing and in every executive presentation on this topic, that everyone will be required to buy a data plan in order to stay connected OR use a tethered phone.

Further, there is no retrofit coming for the already delivered cars to gain 4G. That's why many of us are hoping the tether and wifi options come soon, as screen refresh and browsing rates are painfully slow in these cars. 4G would require new hardware, and that ain't happening.

AmpedRealtor | 27. Juli 2013

@ Pungoteague_Dave - you sure seem to know a lot about what "ain't" happening.

Alex K | 27. Juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor | JULY 27, 2013: @ Pungoteague_Dave - you sure seem to know a lot about what "ain't" happening.

Don't know about the "ain't" happening part, but I concur with the rest of the stuff that @Pungoteague_Dave said.

michael1800 | 27. Juli 2013

Why even post that AR? Say what you mean.

Part of the issue here is Google Maps--Google has been dodging downloadable maps, accepting *some* caching and opting for required online access, even if using a different interface but Google APIs to use Google's data. This does impact how the car will act without a data plan or other data access mechanism and is outside of Tesla's direct control. I suspect (speculation) they've worked a special Tesla-only deal.

As far as a 4G retro-fit, I'd take any words from other than Tesla as speculation. Contrary to popular believe, you can't always just swap out parts to upgrade 3G to 4G...there's a heck of a lot more involved on the backend, and that's not including problems introduced by how the software incorporated 3G data. Or, if they planned forward when they designed the Tesla OS, it could be as simple as a hardware swap and mass deal with a provider. Unpossible to know (bait).

In the end, Wi-Fi capabilities being active will give tethering capes (not separate functionalities from a technical perspective). This is the easiest fix for not adding another device to a data plan *and* keeping data being fed to the car. When one door closes (end of free trial data plan), another opens (Wi-Fi) intended by Tesla.

Personally, I think they will retro-fit 4G into current cars eventually, but it won't likely be high on the priority list. Maybe it will coincide with when they implement a 4G data hardware plan for Model X deployment.

AmpedRealtor | 27. Juli 2013

Just saying that nobody knows what is or isn't happening regardless of how vehemently they express their speculation. Tesla has not said whether a retrofit will be available one way or the other, so no factual basis exists for either opinion.

Brian H | 27. Juli 2013

I ignore your obvious bait, but it's "popular belief".

ian | 28. Juli 2013

+1 AR.

I've been meaning to ask PD about his view of the battery swap that he said was impossible to do in any sort of convenient time frame. Sorry PD but you were on vacation when the swap demo occured so we never got to rib you for that one. Unless I missed that thread. ;-)

Full disclosure, I was convinced they couldn't and wouldn't do a battery swap parially based on the intel PD provided.

Bottom line is that it's probably best not assume we know what TM can and will do in the future as they've thrown a few surprises at us in the past few months.


bp | 28. Juli 2013

First, strongly recommend that when you make a purchase decision, you use Tesla's written statements as much as possible - and not rely on verbal statements from Tesla employees or comments on forums (even when they claim information heard from Tesla employees).

That being said, my personal opinion for your questions:

1. GPS/data - all indications are the phone tethering will be supported as a no-cost data option (confirmed by features available in the EU release, and not yet present in the US software releases). We don't know how much or when Tesla will begin offering the paid data plans in the US. Other car manufacturers already charge monthly or annual fees to utilize Internet apps in the car - so when Tesla starts charging for continuous 3G access - they aren't out-of-line with other auto manufacturers - and the potential capabilities of the Model S even with the slower 3G, should still be significantly better than any other car currently on the market.

2. Suspension - I have the suspension system and use it frequently to minimize dragging the underside of the front when pulling into parking spaces or bottoming out on taller speed bumps. While Tesla may believe they have designed a car that can last a very long time (saw somewhere, unsubstantiated, that the motor might be rated for 500,000 miles) - the Model S, as an entire system, is a new design - and, for peace of mind, I made the investment in the extended warranty - to provide protection for 8 years and 100,000 miles. Though I believe the overall design of the Model S is considerably simpler than other cars on the market - especially in this price range, and expect to see much fewer issues with this car, as it ages because there are significantly fewer moving parts.

3. Suspension for rear - can't comment on the ride in the back in my P85 vs. an MS without the air suspension.

4. Haven't experienced the hard sell. One of the things Tesla has done is to significantly change the purchase experience away from the typical dealership purchase model - where sales reps are paid by commission and can be more aggressive. If you experience this at a Tesla store the next time - report this back to Tesla (via e-mail or phone) - and see if they address this. The only area where most people have been reporting pressure to purchase has been related to the 30 day window to purchase the extended warranty (which is documented on Tesla's website).

RZitrin1 | 29. Juli 2013

bp +1. My experience too with suspension. It works great. Only drawback is it's only good to 20 mph. I live in SF where I would like to keep it on high in the City.

I use very high setting every time I go into my driveway to prevent bottoming out. Works great. You have to be on relatively level surface to implement it.

Pungoteague_Dave | 29. Juli 2013


I was clearly wrong about whether TM would announce battery swap. I would, however, bet my entire net worth that it will NEVER be implemented in more than one location - and then purely for marketing optics. What we "saw" in the demo included a lot of hidden "magic" (less generously - sleight of hand).

Having had my car disassembled on my own lift, I can say categorically that no machine can do the entire process that we "saw" in that demo on the current cars - maybe with some modifications, but the fact is that the forward and rear underbody baffles attach to the battery and are currently installed after the battery (they block its removal). I can see how eliminating this attachment would be an easy modification to the current Model S (would require trimming the panels and installing another way to attach them), but as configured, there is no way to just drop the battery from the bottom of the car. There's also the problem of mastic or glue that is used between the existing batteries and the car body. Perhaps it was eliminated in the "demo" and can be taken out of the production process, but for our existing cars, the battery "swap" isn't a built-in possibility - it would require modifications.

Then there's the issue of QC - no corporate attorney is ever going to let a machine torque up a structural part of any without manual verification with a set of human eyes. And of course there's the question of checking cooling fluid levels, bleeding the system, etc. And the 20+ attachment bolts have a limited useful life - bolts cannot be re-torqued more than a few times, nor are bolted fasteners designed for regular removal and re-installation - and the TM battery bolts are nothing special in this respect. They can say swapping was designed in all they want, but I am not buying it.

The business model is also highly speculative, bordering on absurd - the existing SC plan includes no employees - this system would be impossible without on-site staffing. So are we now going to have buildings and point of sale systems? Even Elon seems to think the demand for such is questionable, so hedges the roll-out based on future demand. When the demand isn't there (it is a stupid idea in the first place IMHO compared to rapid charging), TM has the out that they need, but for now get a PR boost from uninformed and unquestioning media.

The battery swap video left a lot more questions than it answered. Right now it is pure vaporware. IMHO it exists only to create optics and silence EV skeptics - a worthy objective but not a real thing.

blisSfullee | 29. Juli 2013

...on the "hard sell" that was absolutely NOT my experience during the test drives (I took two) or with my phone conversations. In fact, I felt everyone was intentionally steering clear of any type of pressure. I got my Model S on June 22nd.

AmpedRealtor | 29. Juli 2013

There are definitely some know-it-alls in this forum who sadly know very little, if anything.

pebell | 29. Juli 2013

@AmpedRealtor, wow, you come out swinging. My money is on PD. I think the battery swap demo should be viewed as a cool Proof Of Concept, but nothing more. While I know better than to bet against Elon Musk when it "merely" concerns overcoming some technical obstacles, I don't think it will ever be a valid business model for the MS, for the following reasons:

We own the battery in our MS, with warranty and all. That model doesn't play nice with battery swapping, unless you have to get back to the SC (within a reasonable timeframe) to swap it back. How do you enforce that? You need a ton of rules, regulations and sanctions, very messy.
How often would a MS driver be in such a hurry that he'ld pay the equivalent of a full tank of gas just to save 30 minutes of time - not even counting the time needed to drive back there some day to swap it back.
The battery pack is the production bottleneck right now. So Tesla would have to choose between putting a freshly delivered battery in an extra new car and make a profit straight away, or invest $30,000 of profit in the battery and put it underground at a CS, and hope one day it will reach ROI.
With Tesla investing heavily in more and much faster SC stations, they are pretty much undermining the (already flimsy) business case and earning model for battery swap

Of course, I sadly concur that I know very, very little.. But if you can't do a little harmless speculating on a forum, what's the point? :-D

J.T. | 29. Juli 2013

The closer we get to 8/15 the tessier Amped is getting. Right now he's wearing the Tesla grimace instead of the grin. Displaced aggression, I think.

Brian H | 29. Juli 2013

Pallets of batteries, far in excess of possible/probable failure replacement needs, were observed arriving at certain Service Centers.

And demonstrating swapping capability garners 7 'points' vs 4, for every car sold, in the ZEV program, while it lasts. I think that brings the gross profit margin up to about 100%.

tobi_ger | 29. Juli 2013

@Brian H
Pallets of batteries, far in excess of possible/probable failure replacement needs, were observed arriving at certain Service Centers.


ian | 29. Juli 2013

Ooops! Sorry for taking this thread off topic! ;-)

+1 PD and pebell. Well worded posts.

I completely agree and thank you for the follow up info and questions PD.

We hope you get your car soon Amped!


nickjhowe | 29. Juli 2013

@PD - welcome back!! Youve been quiet for a while. Agree with you that battery swap is not about a practical implementation.

Sevenfeet | 29. Juli 2013

I don't own a MS yet (I have a fruend who just took delivery) but here's what I would like to see out of the air suspension:

1. The ability to set the car to raise to the highest level upon parking. The MS is pretty low to the ground (and I'm not!) and any extra height for ingress/egress would help.

2. The ability to geofence certain areas so that the car knows to raise the height of the vehicle when it enters certain zones (your house with the ugly driveway, the unpaved road to your beach house or mountain cabin, etc).

Air suspensions are nice when they work (and comical when they fail). GM's magnetic shocks are probably a superior system but fat chance of that happening.

AmpedRealtor | 29. Juli 2013

+1 jtodtman, I need to better control my angst. HPWC is being installed end of week, MVPA arrived via email today, car is scheduled for delivery on 8/15, and I'm falling apart from the roller coaster of being excited one minute, then thinking about horror stories the next. Make it stop! LOL

Sorry PD.

SamO | 29. Juli 2013

@Pungoteague_Dave assured me and others that we were crazy and that the Model S would not be able to be swapped since there were fluid connections, adhesives and it was impossible without a crew of dozens. AND that it would take hours.

Rest assured that I may take your current "predictions" with a huge grain of salt.

petero | 29. Juli 2013

pebell. I have been on the forum for 3 years. The forum was created for all those who speculate. It was a lot different back then when the betas were being tested, no test drives, no deliveries, an occasional sighting, a road race on Page Mill Road... Kind words and gentle guidance from Volker.Berlin - I sure miss him. The good news is Brian H has stepped up his game from being the official spell checker, he was always knowledgeable but now he is more about knowledge and wit than correcting our spellingggg.

petero | 29. Juli 2013

Icecold. I purchased the active-air suspension. I have been driving my MS for seven months and 7K miles and I am are very happy with the ride and handling - particularly on speed bumps, driveways, and uneven roads. Recently I had a loaner with standard suspension for a day and I found it far less rewarding and satisfying.

Seems to me, most test drives are conducted on very smooth roads and freeways. On smooth roads you will not feel much difference between the two suspensions. You should find some uneven roads nearby and test drive both suspensions on this kind of road (especially a lousy highway/freeway), over speed bumps and steep driveways.

Sorry, I can’t comment on the other topics, except don't pressured by a TM representative. You will buy when you are ready.

robertbobsmith5 | 03. August 2013

I've been to teslas showrooms and talked to almost every product specialist there in depth especially at the fashion island store, now I believe that the product specialist or sales rep was not doing anything wrong. You drove the model s twice and did not order which anyone would assume maybe you weren't serious about buying one.
I bought mine with a quick drive then my sales rep scheduled me another drive which was nice of him.

Brian H | 03. August 2013

Sorry, it was an observation by a member, with pix, but I don't have the link. They asked about reasons and plans but got only evasive answers.