All the reasons I pre-ordered a Tesla Model 3

All the reasons I pre-ordered a Tesla Model 3

All the reasons I pre-ordered a Tesla Model 3
by Mark Morford/SFGate

The old ways must die
On this single point the entire universe agrees: Few events in human life match the soul-cringing unpleasantness of buying a new car in America. Only root canals, Adam Sandler movie marathons and being eaten alive by intestinal parasites come close.

And why? Because the fundamental process of buying a car hasn’t been improved upon in 100 years – because evil, because profits, because bitchy state laws and relentless industry lobbyists and because Big Auto doesn’t have to care about your simpering discomfort. What are you gonna do, buy your wheels some other, more enjoyable way? Like hell you are.

Feel less soiled
Behold Tesla, with its friendly, dead-simple, direct-sales model – no haggling, no giant, overlit mega-dealerships down by the airport, no smarm, all cars built-to-order – easily freaking out and/or infuriating the Old Guard – because that’s what happens when the Old Guard doesn’t bother to innovate anything truly interesting since the Taft administration.

Ride the lightning
Tesla is, of course, an extremely minor player in the car biz. Even so, they just pre-sold $10 billion worth of sleek, futuristic sheetmetal, all for a car that’s still just a prototype and which won’t actually be built for at least another year. Eat those electrons, Bob Lutz.

What does this tell you? That people – lots of them – are eager for change, innovation, a move away from Big Auto’s death grip on how cars are powered, built, sold? Obviously.

Screw your bitumen
But it’s more than that. It’s sort of ridiculously appealing, when dealing with Tesla, to feel like you’re flipping a giant middle finger to Saudi Arabia, Exxon, Keystone XL, Canada’s vile tar sands, Big Auto and inbred Republican corporate cronyism, all at once. There’s a hint of anarchy and insurrection involved in buying a Tesla. Fun to be part of a new paradigm, right? Support innovative thinking? Send a signal to the PTB? Help the environment? No question.

It’s (mostly) an illusion, of course. For one thing, all that electricity still comes at a hefty environmental cost. And Elon Musk might be a lot of things, but a socialist ain’t one of them. And to be honest, Big Auto still makes some extraordinarily appealing, top-quality product, and many companies are taking some real (small, tentative) steps toward the all-electric future (see Bolt, Volt, Leaf, i3, et al). Major car manufacturers may be slow to adapt and wail like banshees when they have to, but they’re not completely stupid.

The good kind of virgin
But Tesla offers a very different experience. There’s a certain purity here – of purpose, of vision, of mission. Tesla isn’t tainted by what came before. It’s not beholden to dealerships, politicians, oil conglomerates, pre-existing infrastructures everyone hates and no one trusts in the slightest. They’re refreshing in a uniquely empowering way.

And when the day comes – maybe much sooner than predicted – when we can all plug our badass electric hot rods into our rooftop solar arrays and pay not a dime for electricity or gasoline? Well… there will still be a thousand other terrible problems to attend to. But it’s a damn nice bit of progress, nonetheless.

David flicks Goliath
Remember what the iPhone did to grumpy old Blackberry? Remember when RIM’s milquetoast executives all scoffed at Steve Jobs’ gorgeous new gizmo mere minutes after its unveiling, mocking its cutesy “apps” and silly, all-digital keyboard no serious professional would ever use? Remember when Apple absolutely annihilated those pretentious twerps in about six months flat?

This is exactly like that, except completely different. Which is to say: The enormous, entrenched auto industry isn’t exactly going anywhere. Tiny little Tesla poses no immediate financial threat – yet.

But it feels similar. There’s a sense of overdue comeuppance, of smacking Big Auto upside its thick, reluctant ego. There’s simply no denying those incredible numbers: Tesla’s innocuous, much-maligned electric invention just made an staggering end-run around one of the most powerful industries in the world, and the industry can only gape, blink hard and say “Gosh, maybe we should have thought of that.”

Don’t feel too bad for them. They had three decades of warnings and pent-up consumer demand, and yet not a single automaker has had the nerve to challenge the status quo and explode the antiquated business model. Visionaries they ain’t.

Farewell sweet jellybeans
Maybe that’s not completely true. Plenty of credit goes to Toyota, for taking such a strange and unexpected risk, way back in 1999, with its efficient, weird, extraordinarily ugly hybrid car-like thing, that quickly became a phenomenon.

The Prius remains, even now, a marvel of innovative engineering and bold corporate decision-making. And, despite being about as pretty as an albino pumpkin and exactly as fun to drive, Toyota has sold close to two million of the sweet, slow-lane jellybeans. And it only took them 17 years to do it.

Then again, Tesla, a company a fraction the size of Toyota, just pre-sold a quarter million cars… in two days.

Translation: The well-loved Prius is over-ripe for pasture. Electric is the future. Or rather, it’s the now, the transition technology that will ease us off oil and make driving interesting again and usher in the new age of… who the hell knows? Autonomous vehicles? Hyperloops? Solar-regenerative electrified pavement?

Whatever comes next, it’s going to be fascinating to watch. And in the meantime, it’s damn fun to support a visionary company that almost singlehandedly kicked the industry into (much) higher gear. Did I mention there’s a $7,500 rebate/tax incentive to help with that? That’ll buy a lot of extension cords.

Proven badassery
None of this would matter – and the Model 3 would never have seen such extraordinary pre-sale numbers – if that other Tesla wasn’t gorgeous, beautifully designed and a wonder to drive. I tested a $75,000 Model S last year and it was exactly as powerful and sumptuous as you’ve heard, notable as much for its stunning technology and ridiculous torque as for its shocking… normalcy. Tesla’s innovations aside, the Model S still drives like a true luxury sports sedan should. Which is to say, flawlessly.

(Also worth noting: I just sighted my first Model X, Tesla’s ultra-lux SUV, down in – where else? – Beverly Hills. It’s a marvelous creation, an exotic, refined supermodel amidst a sea of lumpy Botox).

The Model 3 is being touted as a “baby” S, which hopefully translates into premium materials, dead-classy refinement, otherworldly tech and heart-rattling Ludicrous Mode performance, all in a smaller, urban-ready package and all at half the price. What’s not to like?

Apocalypse ready
And if it’s a flop? If after all this hype and hubris, the Model 3 fails, due to any number of potential issues between now and late next year – indefinite delays, flawed build quality, weak performance reviews, nationwide socioeconomic collapse should Trump or Cruz become president?

That’s easy. My $1,000 deposit is fully refundable, anytime. At which point I march straight over to Jaguar, pick up a new F-Type and drive it straight into the Rapture. It’s a win-win all around, really.

Shesmyne2 | 7 avril 2016

Like Morford. Well written.

Still Grinning ;-)

Red Sage ca us | 7 avril 2016

This deserves to be read, and properly commented upon. BUMPITUP.

rocketscientist | 9 avril 2016

Yes it does. Farewell sweet jelly favorite! Pretty as an albino pumpkin and exactly as fun to drive. Still and accurate post!

alnrench2 | 9 avril 2016

Well, I didnt need that many reasons to order mine. Let's see....I loved my Volt, I love my S, and I can only assume I will love the M3....because...there's nothing like the smooth electric acceleration while I silently cruise past the countless dirty gas stations pumping old dinosaur juice.

vp09 | 9 avril 2016


A funny thing happened after I reserved my Model 3. I thought "why don't I own a Model S?" So two days ago I put down the 2500 towards a silver 90D. I have never even driven any electric car.

And I am having SolarCity come out and install solar panels. Mark Morford has it all right.

The last time I bought a car was 29 years ago. I had my credit union do it for me. This is embarrassing to admit but I honestly considered buying another S today at the showroom-- red with black interior for my wife. Good grief!

NKYTA | 9 avril 2016

Thanks for the -extra- :-).

kzodz | 9 avril 2016

I disagree completely, Adam Sandler's first movies were a lot of un (Happy Gillmore, Billy Madison, and the waterboy).

compchat | 10 avril 2016

You said: "For one thing, all that electricity still comes at a hefty environmental cost."

Not true. More and more solar and wind power are coming on line. In fact I charge my Tesla with my own roof mounted solar factory. Not much enviornmental cost there compared to diesel generators, NG generators, nuclear generators and wind power.

Ross1 | 10 avril 2016

I finished Ashlee Vance's book so I guess I can get into this thread.

PhillyGal | 10 avril 2016

Wow. Really, wow. This was awesome!

@vp - There is this funny condition. First comes Tesla, next comes solar panels.

compchat | 10 avril 2016



I had Solar City come out and give me an estimate. At the time they only used Kyocerapanels made in China/mexico. Same was true for Inverters. I was surprised by that and they only have a cookie cutter mentality. If you want certain inverters/panels they couldn't or wouldn't do it. I went with solar 360 and got the panels/inverters and custom setup I wanted. Also solar city has very bad reviews on the internet. (sorry to say this company is not Tesla even though Elon is involved with it).

"About Solar City- The company sells, installs, finances, and monitors turnkey solar energy systems that convert sunlight into electricity. SolarCity doesn't manufacture its systems but uses solar panels from Trina Solar, Yingli Green Energy, and Kyocera Solar, and inverters from Power-One, SMA Solar Technology, and Schneider Electric"

JMO if you want to support America don't do buisness with Solar City. They may be the largest solar company but not the best. If you want microinverters they don't offer them either.

I did investigate Verango and were pretty good. However they didn't offer the options I wanted. They offered microinverters but not the custom setup I wanted.

cephellow | 10 avril 2016

I believe when solar city fires up its Buffalo New York solar panel manufacturing facility, all of this will change.

SCCRENDO | 10 avril 2016

Main problem with Solar City is they hard sell leases. If you have the money it's best to purchase. If you lease you lose the rebates.

teslagiddy | 10 avril 2016


"inbred Republican corporate cronyism"

Let's not get political. This car appeals to everyone. Even big auto is probably secretly hoping Tesla finally breaks the dealership model.