Tyson's Corner gallery visit - a detailed account of observations

Tyson's Corner gallery visit - a detailed account of observations

So I spent some time playing fly on the wall while at Tyson's Corner gallery yesterday and here's what I took away from my experience.
The floor team consisted of at least 3 specialists, patiently answering people’s questions. In addition to the barebones chassis, the store had 2 cars on display; a gray (not sure what model as the tailgate was up and the car was locked and partially roped off), and the other not so lucky black P85 taking all kinds of abuse. The gray one in the back of the store was VIN 12XX and the black one was a 71XX, if memory serves me right. Reason I paid attention to the VINs was to check for body integrity improvements. I took several close-up pictures of body panels and asked a few general random questions while chatting with one of the specialists on and off as time went by.
While I did not expect to learn anything new, nor was I trying to deliberately pry any information from him, he did mention that Elon's trip has been postponed until at least "early next year". This should serve as a signal for those anxiously awaiting Elon's planned SC route to be completed by the end of the year not to rely on that route to be energized when planning their holiday travels this year. I'm not really surprised by the delay, and no one else should be either.
Back to the cars... The earlier VIN car had much more obvious exterior fit and finish issues. If I didn’t know it was new, I would be willing to bet it had been crashed and repaired by some incompetent body shop. Basically, it had the usual frunk lid overbite to the point where the front lip was between 3/8 and 1/2 inch away from being flush. The bottom of the front doors showed the same issue. The front bumper looked as if it had been replaced with a cheap aftermarket one because it simply did not fit to the fender.
The later production black P85 was not perfect either, but it was certainly past the point of what I personally would consider as acceptable with majority of its body panels having a much closer fit tolerance. The important thing to note here is that these teething problems are not being ignored, if the later VIN car is any indication.
This poor thing was living the hard life of having people treat it like a piece of playground equipment. It seemed every few minutes, an unsupervised child would hop in the driver seat and go crazy, trying to perform as many functions on the screen and otherwise as their hand eye coordination would allow. The entire time I was in the store, I think I was the only one who properly closed the frunk, which housed several pumpkins for Halloween – a nice touch. I get the feeling the specialists are simply too tired of having to play babysitter all the time, and that's understandable. The interior B pillar side trim was showing an extensive amount of wear, having worn completely through in several places. At times, the rear door handles would fail to open the doors, freezing solid while presented. The car went into reset twice while I was in the store, shutting down both screens with no warning. The specialist I was chatting with said it runs out of power and sometimes has to reset up to twice each day. I'm not sure lack of power was to blame as I was in the driver seat soon after the reset for a quick Sound Studio Audio system check, putting a larger than usual current load on the accessory battery and the power inverter the car was being powered by.
When the time came to wipe the endless sea of fingerprints from the car’s surface, it was done so with a simple towel in a brisk manner, giving birth to just as many swirl marks as the fingerprints they replaced.
The stereo goes to 11, as everyone knows. Elon had previously mentioned that the reason it goes to 11 is due to a cool factor. "And the stereo goes to 11 just sounds cool", he says. Honestly though, I think there should be a greater amount of increments built into the volume setting. Each step up was a good bit louder than the previous one, and produced a noticeable pop through the speakers with each step up or down. The subwoofer filled the cabin with enough low end to overcome the busy store ambient noise and the interactive dance video game music being played with a crowd gathered right outside the store. Yes, I was cranking it that hard at times with the windows down for at least several minutes if I were to take the system through its paces. My conclusion is that I wasn't blown away, but then again the source wasn't of the highest quality either. And of course, I was unfairly comparing it to the Infiniti Studio On Wheels audio option, implementing a top of the line JL Audio 13W7 subwoofer instead of the factory one.
Finally, I spent a good amount of time just listening to people’s reactions upon entering the store. The younger crowd seemed to know what the car was, and what the company is all about. The older crowd would walk into the store having never before heard of Tesla at all. To them, it was just another “L.L. Bean” type store that had nothing to offer except for maybe for a few articles of clothing, and some flashy coffee mugs. Upon passing by the car, and glancing over the window sticker, a pronounced “This is electric?!?!” or similar exclamation was typical. From that point on, people would look up and around to realize the car actually had a purpose being in the store, and was not just one of the random ICE models that local dealers like to strategically place inside malls to get in the way of foot traffic. The specialists were standing by, tablet in hand, and ready to answer a set of questions that usually followed. I was told that since Tyson’s Corner isn’t a store per se, any serious buying interest would result in the specialist entering the interested person’s info into the tablet for a call back.
So this was my gallery visit experience, in a nutshell. I hope someone finds this post informative, if not entertaining.

bonaire | 04/11/2013

Elon should properly reference where the goes to 11 comes from...
Movie: Spinal Tap when Nigel Tuffnel (Christopher Guest) is speaking to Rob Reiner about his Marshall Amp.

Brian H | 04/11/2013

Sounds like a work barely in progress!

carlgo | 04/11/2013

Per TSLAholic, the bodywork issue is interesting to me as my background includes managing a body shop that had BMW and Mercedes certification for aluminum repairs.

The Tesla aluminum frame work is quite complex, all sorts of shape and extrusions welded and riveted together. I would hope they supply a front frame assembly to repair front end collisions. Due to the production frenzy it would not be surprising if Tesla is not good at supplying replacement parts, but that is just a guess.

I would rather doubt that Tesla has a body shop certification program yet, but they likely will in time. Getting the required equipment and training is exceedingly expensive and the volume of aluminum repairs is low, so not many shops are certified.

I recommend that Tesla owners call the local Mercedes and BMW dealerships to find out who does their aluminum body repair. Those shops are likely the best in town to begin with and I recommend them for repairs to any car actually.

With modern frame machines and proper procedures a repair should turn out to be like new, no matter how badly the car was wrecked if parts are available.

I would very much doubt that there are aftermarket bumpers available for Teslas. Or any such parts at all. Those companies only target the most popular cars, and usually not expensive ones. No money in low volume.

And as far as the crowd in the store, my observations were similar. Kids love this car and probably get the parents excited. If I was in sales I would give the kids highly sugared candy so they would have the energy to nag their parents for long periods of time at high volume (12 at least).

Pungoteague_Dave | 04/11/2013

carlgo - TM has certified body shops in partnership with each of the service center, sometimes two or three in one area. They received specific training. We have had work done at two of them and it was top notch. I would stick with the TM-recommended body shops.

bfranks273 | 05/11/2013

I enjoy just meeting the Tesla people and seeing from whence they came. They are all interesting. And I have had them refer people to me as an owner for questions and discussion. I really like that the best.

Also Elon has postponed his trip to Spring Break ...

NumberOne | 05/11/2013

Just FYI, the reason the car runs out of power in the Tyson's Store is some silly regulations regarding automobiles in buildings. Of course it is not silly if one considers that they were intended for gas powered vehicles, which indeed pose a fire safety risk. No exception was made for EVs and since Tesla had a battle with NADA at the time, it probably made sense for the fire marshals to join in and require Tesla to disconnect the main battery pack, and only leave the 12v once connected. I am just pointing that out, because it may look bad if the cars in the gallery cannot hold a charge all day. The main battery is actually not connected.

petochok | 05/11/2013


I realize the bumpers were original, and that no aftermarket replacements are available that I know of. I was merely making a fitment comparison of the factory bumper to that of a would be aftermarket one.


The specialist I spoke to wasn't advertising the fact that the car was resetting due to running out of battery power. I can see potential customers taking it the wrong way and concluding the main pack can't hold a charge for long even while the car is sitting still. He only mentioned it to me when I inquired about the frequency of resets due to the constant torture the car's interface was being subjected to. I know the car only needs to use the accessory 12V battery while in the store. So to me, it made sense for the car to be powered by an inverter, much like all cars on display at auto shows. I just thought the reason it was resetting had nothing to do with running out of power, but more with the fact that it was seeing a month's worth of interface and door handle use in a day's time of being on display.