A lot has happened in the last few days and months to make us question whether Tesla is still the sweetheart it once was. Defying industry norms, Tesla refused to follow traditional sales methods by not conforming to the dealer model legacy auto has had in place for decades. Regular over the air updates and a brand-specific charging network also set the company apart. But as time wears on, has Tesla lost the luster that once set it apart from the pack, or is this just the sign of a maturing automaker?
Just this week, we reported that the company had ended its seven-day, 1,000-mile return policy on new cars. For a company most buyers aren’t familiar with, this added some peace of mind for anyone taking the leap with a new brand — and likely first electric vehicle.
And just a few days ago, the company severely downgraded its used-car warranty program. Previously, pre-owned S and X models sold through Tesla carried up to a two-year, 100,000-mile warranty based on the mileage and age of the vehicle. Now, once the new-car warranty expires, used S and X models only carry an additional one year, 10,000-mile warranty. Not a massive disappointment, but noteworthy.
Something as simple as choosing a paint color or wheels with any other car brand is as simple as checking a box. But Tesla has been known to switch its wheel choices or paint colors (and pricing of these options) without notice further frustrating buyers.
The brand also carries a number of other pricing quirks that some seem to like (when it benefits them), while others are easily frustrated by. Like when Full Self Driving software prices fluctuate or when the prices of the cars themselves move up and down without notice. Either of these instances often leave recent buyers frustrated by what may have been a several-thousand-dollar difference in their financing.
Just this week, Tesla’s Elon Musk announced the company would be raising the price of its Full Self Driving software package to $10,000 before the end of the month. FIVE FIGURES for a downloadable software package. Now, while drivers will be given access to a suite of seemingly useful features, we can’t help but think Tesla’s taken the pricing one step too far.
Early on, the company relied heavily on brand image and early adopters to keep its factories churning out new metal. Now that it seeks a more mainstream buyer, we have to question whether new customers are up for the roller coaster that comes with Tesla ownership. Does any of this make you think twice about buying a Tesla, or can you easily look the other way?