If you’ve read this blog recently, you’ve noticed that I blabber on about Tesla a lot. I bought the stock back in 2012 and it has since gone to the moon. Yay!
I didn’t buy the stock for any good reason. I just thought Elon Musk and electric cars were cool. Who needs an MBA from Wharton with reasoning like this?!?? But I digress…
I drove a Model S way back in 2016 and a Model 3 in 2018. I was impressed by both. Teslas are fast, quiet, and futuristic.
However, I’ve never driven a Model Y, Tesla’s newest model, so I thought it was time to get in one. I scheduled a test drive at the local Tesla store.
If I’m going to own the stock, I should be familiar with the products. Yeah, whatever! Mainly, I just like to play with new toys.
Before I regale you with my review, I must disclose that my daily drivers are old. Mindy and I have a 2003 Honda Element and a 2010 Mazda 5. I am a poor choice to judge the amenities of a modern vehicle. Power windows and air conditioning still get me excited. Hell, after the troublesome cars of my childhood, I’m happy with a car that starts regularly!
Quality Lapse With The Gaps
I arrived at the dealership early and there were new Teslas everywhere. I could tell they were new because the windshields had stickers on them stating that they had been manufactured in December of 2020.
Tesla has been criticized for quality issues. Sandy Munro recently pointed out that the Model 3 still has problems with inconsistent panel gaps. With this in mind, I was disappointed, but not surprised, to see these issues in person on new Model 3s. After more than 3 years of production, Tesla should have figured this out.
The Model Ys I looked at had fewer issues, but in many, the hood wasn’t lined up quite right. The gap issues wouldn’t stop me from buying the car and I don’t think most would even notice them, but they do annoy me. A quick search suggests that Tesla will fix these issues, but if I’m spending $50,000 on a new car, I’d rather not have them in the first place.
Before our drive, I checked out the Model Y that was in the showroom. The car felt a bit smaller than expected, but still had plenty of room. My preference is for a car to be exactly as big as it has to be to carry out normal life and no bigger, so the Y came to feel just right.
After a couple of minutes of a Tesla employee explaining the basic operations of the car, we were off.
Driving the Y feels like you’re piloting an advanced machine sent by aliens from the future. It’s smooth, quiet, and holy hell, really fast. Regarding that last point, early in the drive, we were out on a rural road with little traffic. I slowed down to build a good amount of space between the car in front of me and nailed the gas (electron injector?). BOOM!
It was sorta like being on the Barf-A-Whirl ride at the amusement park. We all felt a little sick.
Thankfully, no one puked in (or on) the Y.
While Mindy was driving, I played with the screen. It has a drawing app and I tried to draw a T-rex. I’m a horrible artist and drawing in a moving car did me no favors:
I played with the screen a bit more. Because my sense of humor is stuck at age 13, I changed the car’s name to Butt:
- High interior build quality: The interior build quality was excellent. Everything looked great and did what it was supposed to do.
- Autosteer worked well, but…: The Y didn’t have the new Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta, but it did have the more limited Autosteer functionality which is mainly for highway driving. It worked very well, however it requires you to have your hands on the steering wheel almost constantly and nags you nonstop. The nagging is highly annoying, but I understand that Tesla must do this until the software is more robust.
- Luxury: I’ve heard people complain that Tesla interiors aren’t luxurious enough. My thought is that the interior is great. Clean, simple, functional, and quiet. Who needs leather knobs, heated floor mats, gold-covered door handles, or whatever the hell high-end cars come with these days?!??
- Stern, but good ride: The Y felt more like a sports car than a cushy SUV. You feel the bumps and the steering is sharp. However, I like this. It won’t be for everyone though.
- Intuitive: Almost everything about the car and the display was intuitive. It reminded me of the original iPhone where you could just pick up the device and start using it with no instructions. This is how objects should be designed.
My next car will be a Tesla. Electric cars are clearly the future and despite some of the build shortcomings, the Tesla is a great car.
I’m especially interested in the Full Self Driving software and will happily fork over the $10,000 for the option if Tesla nails (and gets regulatory approval) for Level 5 autonomy. I don’t believe this will happen in 2021, but I am surprised at the progress Tesla is making.
I probably won’t buy a Tesla any time soon. Both of our cars work fine and I’d rather wait for some of the improvements coming down the pipeline (Hardware 4.0, 4680/ structural batteries, FSD). Perhaps I’ll revisit buying a Tesla in the second half of 2021?
The Model Y has advantages over the Model 3:
- More legroom: I was able to stretch my legs completely in the backseat.
- More storage space: The Y has room for a lot of crap.
- Better tech: It appears that at least one major manufacturing improvement has already made it into the Y.
However, I’m apparently the one person in America who doesn’t care much for SUVs or the crossover segment, so if it were up to me, I’d take the Model 3:
- It’s cheaper: Save $3,000!
- It has a longer range: The long-range Y gets about 25 more miles on a full charge.
- It has enough room: We don’t travel with tons of junk, so the 3 is sufficient.
- It’s faster: The Long Range 3 scoots to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds versus 4.8 for the Model Y. Perhaps I would end up puking if we got the 3…
Why would I buy a fancy car? I already had one and it didn’t bring me joy.
- Road trips: Most of my family lives about 800 miles away. As my mom ages, I plan on making many more visits. I avoid flying distances less than 1,000 miles, so this would be a great car for road-trips.
- An electric future: My furnace and AC unit are both over 20 years old. When they die, I’ll replace them with a heat pump which heat and air condition efficiently and run on electricity. At the same time, I’ll put solar panels on my home. From that point on, my auto fueling, heating, air conditioning, and other electrons I use to power my life become almost free.
- Market research: Tesla has taken over my portfolio, so I’d value having firsthand experience with the product.
- Robotaxi: Musk has promised a Robotaxi service that you’ll be able to put your car into to make a little extra money. I’d probably do this.
- Autonomy: Level 5 autonomy (the Y driving itself with no human behind the wheel or even in the car) probably won’t be available for at least another year, but I believe it isn’t far off either. Having a car that could be my minion would free up my time:
Hey Butt Y, go pick the girls up from school.
Butt Y, go get me a burrito!
Butt Y, how about you get on the Robotaxi network for the next 4 hours and earn your keep?
So yes, I’ll buy a Tesla eventually. I’ll just have to think of a better name than “Butt.” I wouldn’t want the car to retaliate once it achieves consciousness…
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J. Money says
Hahahha you are too much, man…
If I just did city driving a Tesla would work, but in rural Arkansas they don’t have sufficient range. I have driven my daughter in law’s model S and it did accelerate impressively. But if you drive it aggressively you will diminish its already short range. It’s not unusual for us to drive four or five hundred miles in one day to get to our favorite wilderness hiking areas.
Mr. 1500 Days says
Yep, cold weather will also diminish the range. These problems will eventually go away as chargers become more common, charging gets faster, and ranges gets better (the Long-Range Model S is already above 400!).
But, with 500 miles, one visit to a supercharger would be enough. Of course, I fully acknowledge that it’s not nearly as convenient as a gas station.
charlie @ doginvestor.com says
Would love to test drive a Tesla, but alas they are not available here.
I would definitely like my next car to be electric, but again, EVs are still seen as luxury vehicles and as such have a 45% luxury tax, plus very few charging stations locally, so they are a poor value investment in my market.
However, I am super excited that they have pushed the rest of the car manufacturers into EVs so we’ll get them eventually and secondly, it is great to see a decent American manufacturer again with technical expertise. American manufacturing hasn’t been at the forefront for a long time, so it’s great to see some high-tech manufacturing again.
Great name too haha!
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Mr. 1500 Days says
Whoah, a 45% tax? Governments should be giving you a discount, not a tax! Where do you live?
Yeah, America lagged for a while. It took a South African to bring it back! 🙂
I also don’t care for SUVs or crossovers. I am intrigued by the Model 3, but it would be hard to part with my Prius. Ten years together and 150,000 miles and it still drives like the day I bought it. I enjoyed reading your analysis.
Mr. 1500 Days says
The Prius is a great car. It’s amazing how well Toyota did with complex hybrid tech. Keep driving it! Electrics will be bountiful and cheaper in 10 years when you’re finally ready to retire the Toyota.
My wife and I are having this debate now. My Subaru Forester is on its way out, we will need something new (to us) this summer. With my oldest leaving day care in the fall, we could afford payments on the Y with some left over.
On the other hand… our 401k puts us at lean FI but our after tax brokerage is no where near what I need to successfully pull off the 5 year bridge for the ROTH ladder to work yet.
When I step back from “I want an awesome toy!” mode, I ask myself which I want more. Super Awesome Toy, or FI? FI is winning the battle for now.
If I were in your shoes, I’d have a hard time saying ‘no’. Especially once the Austin factory starts pumping out Y’s with the structural battery (4680’s) and cast front and back sections. The Y is going to be a road trip machine!
Thanks for all your posts. Believe it or not, one of them convinced me to buy some Tesla stock a few years ago. That’s worked out well for me so far… If you’re ever in Western New York, I owe you some wings and a beer.
Mr. 1500 Days says
Oh yeah, FI should definitely win that battle! Get an old Prius. The Tesla will be there when you’re ready!
I’m SOOO excited about those advancements! The 4680 and structural battery should result in a Y with a range of over 350 miles. Plus, it will be a better vehicle. Crazy.
I’m thinking that the Y may not come out of Austin until 2022 though. I suspect that the Cybertruck will be the priority. I can wait another year though…
Whoah, don’t buy stocks based on my silly words! 🙂 Remember that I play with plastic dinosaurs and love to teach my kids fart jokes! 🙂 🙂
I WILL take you up on the wings. There aren’t many things better in life than a good chicken wing.
Please do look me up when you make it to Colorado too! No good wings, but plenty of beer…
Financial Velociraptor says
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The Darwinian Doctor says
While the Y is clearly the more practical choice for me, I’m also on the waitlist for the Cybertruck. My love of Teslas will be a consistent drag on our journey to FI for the foreseeable future. I get enough from the Autopilot that I justify the expense, but there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance going on. I look forward to reading the triumphant post when you finally pull the trigger!
Mr. 1500 Days says
Hey DD! If you get rid of your 3, let me know what you want for it. A road trip from California sounds like fun!
Lazy Man and Money says
I’m looking forward to test driving the new electric Mustang. I read that is comparable to the “Y.” Some of my Tesla fan friends say they are likely to go in that direction. (Full disclosure: I own Ford stock.)
We’ve got about 6-7 years of life on our cars and then will probably go electric with at least one. It’s such a good fit for our solar panels.
I’m glad that Musk is thinking about RoboTaxi service. Now, they just have to integrate ridesharing so that it is just a fleet of unowned cars. I want to make money from renting out my driveway to get people their robo-rideshare cars quickly and easily. I wrote about all this in 2016, because I realized that my kids may never get a driver’s license – https://www.lazymanandmoney.com/new-uber-gpod/
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Mr. 1500 Days says
Yeah, the Y and Mach E are pretty similar. I’d bet that the E has better build quality, but I’d go with the Y because of longer range and Supercharger network.
Man, our oldest is 2 years away from driving. I really hope Level 5 autonomy comes out in the next 2 years!
I test drove a Model 3 a couple of years ago and I was very impressed (after riding in a Model 3 a few times). I’m pretty convinced EV is the future.
Yea but if you bought it everytime you accelerate you could tell your kids “Hold onto your butt!”
Mr. 1500 Days says
That right there may make it worth it alone!
David @ Filled With Money says
I know this post was specifically dedicated to buying a Tesla and the specifications along with it, but I’m more interested in the 2003 car that you own, haha!! It actually lasted 17 – 18 years?! I have a 5 year old car with plans to drive it to 10 – 12 year range. I’m lucky that I got it from a good brand as well.
I had no idea cars can go for 17-18 years! That is inspiring a new kind of frugality!
The idea of full self-driving autonomy is what will finally sell on me on dumping the Z one day.
I really *like* the Teslas as they are. A good friend got a 3 and I’ve spent some time in it. Very nice vehicle and the autosteer functionality is quite impressive. I loved the way they could summon the car to them in the parking lot.
It does seem like something from the future.
But why are you waiting until mid-2021?! At first you made it sound like it would be a ways off… but, during quarinteentimes that’s like…tomorrow!
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Mr. 1500 Days says
After further consideration, a Tesla purchase probably won’t happen in 2021. The technology is improving at a rapid clip, so the longer I wait, the better car I’ll get.
Similar to you, Level 5 autonomy would make me pull the trigger today. That’s a hard nut to crack though and I’d be very surprised if it happened this year.
As a Quality Program Manager there is no way I’d buy a Tesla. I have a Chevrolet truck that now has over 265K miles and repair parts are inexpensive with no failure of electronics of any kind. To your point, after all this time Tesla still can’t build in quality. Obtaining service can be difficult based upon experience of others (such as TFL Cars/Trucks in CO) and parts can only be obtained via a very narrow availability channel with Tesla. It’s like dating a super model I suppose, it appears all great from the outside, but inside it’s shallow and high maintenance. I’ll pass until electrics are so mainstream, that you can almost trip over parts walking down the street. I suggest you lease.
Love your juvenile sense of humor Carl! I am right there with you! No point in taking life too seriously!
I fantasize about buying a Tesla, but haven’t even driven one yet. I plan to test one out at the Franklin dealer after the pandemic is in the rear view mirror, but may hold out buying an EV until I see what Apple and Kia are up to in 2024. I’ll be watching to see what you do!
Take care and stay safe, friend!
Accidentally Retired says
Butt Y not! My entire neighborhood has gone Tesla. I am thinking I should start investing $5K in Tesla each time I see one roll into someone’s garage. It is amazing to see a car sell so well, but I do love that we are moving to a cleaner future.
I think at some point I will take the plunge, but I’d like to see my Net Worth bump up a bit more to justify the expense.
Mr. 1500 Days says
Are you in California? I’ve heard people call Teslas California Camrys.
Francis B says
We have owned our Model 3 now long range dual motor for 18 months and have a full appreciation for the technology as well as it’s capability. It’s an awesome car for our local driving. This year, we decided to take the challenge and drive it down to Fort Myers Beach from Chicago for our month long annual stay in January near the beach.
We took full advantages of the Super Charger network along the way. Full charging in less than twenty minutes. Unreal how fast it charges.
It did add about two extra hours to each one way trip, no big deal The Super Chargers are located in strip malls, usually a couple miles off the interstate and some were annoying to get too. So many traffic lights.. We also used select Hilton Hotels that have Tesla 40amp Tesla chargers and charged during our one night stopover. (Atlanta/Chattanooga).. Free room using points and free charging. Each Super Charger Cost was between $5-$9 for each charge Round trip cost for the Super Chargers was $120 (2900 miles in all). Our last trip in a ICE vehicle (Aura MDX: traded in for the Tesla) cost $260.00 round trip.
An amazing and comfortable highway cruiser as well. Set the cruise at 70 mph and navigated to the Super Charger. Best $43K we’ve spent on a car.
Yes, I still have the 2010 Dodge Challenger. She became a garage queen after the Tesla showed up.
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Mr. 1500 Days says
Oh wow, this is so cool to hear! You’re making me want to pull the trigger now!
*** Talking to myself: Must. Resist. Wait for 4680 batteries. Wait for FSD! Oof! ***
I’ll ping you when I do pull the trigger (next 12 months) for your referral link.