When we published the one-year review of the impressive Jaguar I-Pace on January 15, the car in question was no longer in residence. It had been sold the week before. But I did hint in the article’s conclusion that I was ready for a change and a new challenge.
Since then, I have made it clear that I was not about to abandon electric traction. I am totally sold on battery electric vehicles (BEVs), not primarily for environmental reasons but because they are fun to drive. It’s probably a mistake to market electric cars on their woke credentials; it’s like telling people apples are good for health instead of stressing the enjoyment that comes from eating them.
I hinted that my next electric car would not be made in the USA, Europe, or the UK. My thoughts were turning east. This was a little disingenuous and somewhat misleading. My new car, my computer on wheels, is just like an Apple device: Designed in California, Made in China.
First from China
You’ve guessed it, a Tesla. Interestingly, though, the Model 3 Long Range, finished in blue with a white interior, happens to be part of the first batch of cars to arrive in the UK from the Shanghai factory.
At the end of last year, Tesla closed down the right-hand-drive production line in Fremont and designated Shanghai as the source of all right-hand-drive models. Shanghai is pretty well situated for Australia, New Zealand and the other South-East Asian countries which drive on the left (including Hong Kong). Slightly less so for European left-paws, but it probably makes sense to concentrate production in one place.
The United Kingdom will henceforth get Model 3 and Model Y cars from China. I’m not sure about S and X models, but they could follow. It is also likely that, while most of Europe will draw on the new Berlin factory, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus will most likely be supplied from Shanghai.
Before I decided to go for the Jaguar I-Pace, I ordered and then cancelled the Tesla Model 3 twice. I was in a quandary, mainly because I felt I wouldn’t like the one-screen-fits-all control system. I didn’t doubt the rest of the car. After a couple of test drives, I was sold on the handling of the Model 3, however. It is right up there with cars such as the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4. And the minimalist interior is actually very inviting.
I chose the Jaguar at the time because it had a more familiar control set. This turned out to be a mistake, and throughout the year I continued to hanker for a Tesla. Every time I stopped to charge the I-Pace, I cast envious glances at the unrivalled Tesla Supercharger park. I came to realise that ease of charging is of paramount importance to the BEV owner. Tesla got it right: Build the charging infrastructure to sell the cars. Other manufacturers are doing it back to front, and they are suffering as a result.
All this apart, why did I choose a Tesla because, as a brand, it is not without its problems and certainly not lacking in critics? We have all heard stories of indifferent panel fit, allegedly poor paint finishes and so forth. Yet the Model 3 is the world’s most popular electric car and owners are messianic in their praise. Even those who have had quality issues are still convinced that this is the best car they have owned and would buy again. A recent survey disclosed that Tesla leads the way in brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.
Much of this support is down to Tesla’s unique approach to technology. I am increasingly convinced that technology holds the key to the future of the car industry. Tesla, just like Apple, has had the guts to take a radical approach to car control. The single-screen of the Model 3 is there not only for the economy in production, which is valid, but for the practicality of versatility.
Updating the driving experience of a more traditional vehicle (as I found with the Jaguar) is not always possible. With its almost monthly over-the-air automatic software updates, the Tesla approach ensures that drivers of older vehicles can easily access the latest systems and enjoy a similar experience to the new model owner.
It’s the technology and Tesla’s Apple-like approach that turned me into a customer. I feel that I am joining a community. Just check YouTube, for instance, and the number of hands-on reviews of Teslas far exceeds the attention given to other BEV brands. It’s comparable with Apple versus the rest. I am now a convert, and you know what they say about converts.
I will collect my new Model 3 on March 1. It’s already in the country, but there’s no point in putting it on the road in February when it would get the old “20” plate because of the UK’s rather ridiculous registration system. Instead, all cars that might have been sold in January and February are standing in line to hit the new “21” plate from March 1. It’s silly, but it’s something we have to live with. The year designation changes every six months and creates irrational blips in the market. It should be scrapped, but the motor trade seems to like it and will lobby for its retention.
Incidentally, apologies if you are not interested in cars. They are one of my little passions, alongside cameras and Leica. So I hope you don’t mind the occasional update on battery electric vehicles. It might encourage you to think about your next car.
So far, my contact with Tesla has been exemplary. The online ordering process is a breeze. And whenever I have needed to call for updates, the phone has been picked up immediately. Enthusiastic, helpful and knowledgeable people answer. Again, just like Apple. In March, I will recount the delivery procedure; because of Covid, it is a low-contact operation which, I suspect, is simply a matter of picking up the keys and driving away.
In the meantime, if you are thinking of buying any model of Tesla, don’t forget to use someone’s referral code at the point of order. You will get 1,000 free Supercharger miles to give you an initial boost. If you fancy giving a little support to Macfilos, by all means, use our referral code since it’s as good as any. Just quote the following when ordering and 1,000 miles will be credited to your account: