Lifestyle

Giving Thanks to the Tesla Village

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They say it takes a village to raise a child. I say it takes a village to raise a young car company. A village to handle advertising for the company, so that it doesn’t have to spend big bucks on traditional advertising. A village to help potential owners understand that they too can be free of gas – a novel concept that requires a little faith to fully embrace.

And it was that village that led to my husband and I taking the plunge on a car with a price tag of nearly triple that of the vehicle it replaced. That village that has contributed to our ownership experience wildly exceeding our very high expectations.

First, there came a test drive. After having seen the car in person in November of 2012 at an event, I left scratching my head, interest definitely piqued. Fast forward to Spring 2014, and I convinced the old ball and chain we needed to drive it. There was a lot of soul searching and numbers crunching in the months to follow and we landed in a magical place where hopes, dreams and fears are shared. That is, the forums section of the Tesla Motors website. There, owners and enthusiasts answer newbie questions and share stories. In August, a fine man organized a coffee meet up in the Philadelphia suburbs. One veteran owner and Supercharger pro joined us from a road trip that had taken him to Atlantic City, which was already 2,000 miles away from his home. We chatted about charging and batteries and road trips. Most of all, we chatted about how this was “the best” car any of them had ever driven. Needless to say, meeting real life owners was the exact push we needed. Our order was placed the following morning. To those gentlemen, I say thank you.

Then came the waiting. In October, Elon showed us the D. Between that and the time of the quarter we made our order, our wait was longer than usual for a domestic delivery. 108 days actually. Visiting the Tesla forum became a daily ritual for me. I even attended one more meet up, this time as an actual reservation holder. I also commiserated with others who saw their delivery projection slip from November to December, as Tesla shifted production to accommodate a new motor configuration. Aside from filling my time, I got to learn everything about the car. The mythical “range anxiety” concept proved to be a phenomenon often reserved for potential owners and detractors, not so much once you actually have the car and understand how to plan. To every forum contributor, I say thank you.

Next came the disappointment. The Tesla supercharger map advertised the charger we needed the most as being completed within 2014. Allentown, PA – midway between our Philadelphia home and the driveway/garage-less home of my in-laws – was lit up with a little red dot. Weeks turned to months and 2014 came and went. Finally in the summer of 2015, it was confirmed: the location fell through and the scouting process had to start all over. Every trip we take there requires us to borrow someone’s car to drop our Tesla off at a L2 charger 10 miles away. The Supercharger team has been working extremely hard and scouted a location that will actually work even better for folks traveling North and South along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. They even hit a snag with township zoning board approval that cost the process an entire month, which I know was as frustrating to them as it was to owners counting on that location. To Max and Jesse (who I bugged about this) and the whole Tesla Supercharger team responsible for a whopping 556 supercharging locations to date, I say thank you.

Then came the kindness of a stranger. This summer, my husband and I were headed to Jersey Shore to celebrate with some friends. Two of those friends were coming from Texas with their 1-year old and it was our Model S that would take the 5 of us from Philly to the shore. There are no Superchargers along the way and were no L2 chargers in any convenient location. After making mention of this on the forums, a fellow owner reached out with a solution. That solution was his own home just a short walk from the hotel we were staying in. (Which oddly had no outlets anywhere near the parking spaces.) We touched base a bit about when we would come and his level of accommodation was extraordinary. He moved his own Model S to the street and left his charge cable outside. We parked, took enough juice to get us home with a comfortable buffer, and were on our way without ever having met this kind owner in person. To him, I say thank you.

Last month came Autopilot. It has proven to be the source of countless hours of fun, the inspiration to start making videos, and yet another layer of safety to keep Model S occupants as far away from potential injury as possible. To the engineers and programmers, testers, visionaries and everyone else at Tesla responsible for making this system a reality, I say thank you.

Most recently came protection over profits. After a single vehicle in Europe experienced a detached seat belt situation resulting in no injury, Tesla decided to recall 90,000 vehicles to check them. Last I heard, no other defects had been found.  In addition to checking cars at service centers everywhere, Tesla has even taken to sending testers to Superchargers to reach more vehicles and provide no disruption to owners. To the members of the Tesla leadership team that acted swiftly, the number-crunchers that allowed caution over costs, and every employee pulling hard on a belt, I say thank you.

Finally, a great big thank you to the readers. I am now fully entrenched in this wonderful community of Tesla owners and enthusiasts and can only hope that I contribute to someone else’s decision to jump into the future and experience the Tesla life for themselves.

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