From Toyota to Tesla back to Toyota

Almost 4 years ago, I became the proud owner of a 2013 Tesla Model S (P06092). I loved the car so much and I was so passionate about the company, that I decided to share my experience in this blog. When I bought the car, I suspected that I would have some problems.  I read a lot about the company and I knew they were focused on quality, but at the same time, it was a relatively new company, the Model S was their first mass produced car, first generation, new suppliers, new technologies: the perfect recipe for problems!

I live in Gatineau and the closest service center is in Montréal (+200km away).  I decided to pay extra for the ranger service.  That was a fantastic idea!  I had many problems with the car while it was under warranty and every time, the ranger service took good care of my Tesla.  They really exceeded my expectations during that period. Unfortunately, the number of problems I had with the car also exceeded my expectations by a strong margin. What can possibly drive such a passionate individual like me, to exchange his Model S for a Toyota Corolla 2017!?

Here is my reality check list:

Expectations Reality
Electric cars have less parts than gasoline car so they are less likely to break. Electric cars do have less parts but that does not mean the parts will be reliable.

In 3 years I had:

  • 2 drive trains replaced,
  • 2 battery packs replaced (Had to pull away 3 times with the error message: “The car is shutting down, please pull away safely”),
  • brake leaking problems (2 times),
  • suspension problems,
  • door handles stopped working,
  • heating system replaced,
  • 2 headlights replaced.
Maintenance cost is low I bought more tires for my Tesla in 3 years than other cars in 10 years.  A lot of 2012, 2013 model S owner are paying high end cost to keep it running.
I planned on keeping this car for at least 10 years, like I did with my previous cars. I exchanged it for a Corolla 2017 this year because of the number of problems with my Tesla, the lack of service center in Ottawa, the ranger service no longer available and the future maintenance cost.

I hesitated a lot before exchanging my Model S because I really enjoyed the full user experience (Good job UX Team). One option was to keep the Model S until I got the Model 3. Unfortunately, because of my reality check list I decided that it was just time to let go.

When my heating system broke down, Tesla replaced it (Good will = replace for free) even if my warranty was over. I really appreciated this, especially after knowing that the heater itself cost $3000, excluding labor. When I strongly reacted to that price, the guys at the service center replied: “What do you expect? You bought a luxury car, maintenance is more expensive”.

Back in 2013, I did not buy a luxury car, I paid for research and development for a long distance driving electric vehicle.

  1. I am not in for a luxury car, electric or not, I usually put my money elsewhere.  This was a one time deal… Let’s do this crazy thing once in my life!
  2. I am not a car guy. I would never have paid this much money for any other car.
  3. I suspect that the Model 3 will be expensive to maintain like an Audi or a BMW.
  4. The Model 3 first iteration are more likely to have issues similar to the first iteration of the Model S and Model X because:
    1. They re-designed the battery pack.
    2. They re-designed the drivetrain from scratch.
    3. Usually, version 1.0 of hardware is more likely to have problems.

I am a strong believer in the Tesla mission, but I did my share and will let others enjoy the fun and potential problems with the first iteration of the Model 3. Unless someone has the arguments to convince me otherwise, I’ll get my deposit back.

screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-8-05-39-pm

Now, I am a very happy owner of a Corolla 2017 with loads of security features, led lights, heated seats and heated steering wheel for a very reasonable price. I needed a reliable car after the Model S experience. Believe it or not, I was (sadly) happy to go back to the gas station every 2 weeks to fill up a gas car that just works.

Did you know that Toyota is finally getting serious about electric cars? Read this. They have a dedicated team with a target date of 2020.  I doubt they will meet this dead line if they only really started this year. If my Corolla 2017 is as reliable as my previous Corolla, I should be able to buy a reasonably priced, reliable, fully electric Toyota in 10 years from now.

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Close your eyes and jump!

When I saw the delivery of the Model X video, it reminded me of the first delivery of the Model S. This was the decisive point for me. Tesla built a factory with advanced robots capable of assembling the Model S in series. I was convinced that they would succeed and decided to reserve one. That was more than 3 years ago. Time really flies.

Yes, I was an early adopter and some people were surprised that I took the plunge. I am more of a conservative type but have realized over time that when a bunch of passionate people work together, they can do miracles. Software people building a car? Why not!

Buying an expensive car from a non-established, but promising company was a risky move at the time. Things could have turned really bad, but the company managed to fix every problems.  From wrong assumptions, false reports, etc. They quickly fixed every problem as they appeared.

Do I regret my purchase after all this time? Absolutely not. I still love the car and any glitches/problems were fixed quickly and in a professional matter. Now that Tesla is a well established world wide company. What is preventing you for jumping?

Jump

I used this cool picture from google, I hope the people on the picture do not mind. If you recognize yourself, please drop me a note.

A devoted and passionate company attracts devoted and passionate people.

After such a great service, I could not remain silent and had to share my experience. A TESLA ranger came from Montréal to the Ottawa/Gatineau area to help out a few Model S owners including me. He came to my place at around 19h00.

My 3 issues:

  1. Little noise, sometimes coming from the direction when turning at low speed (while parking for example).
  2. Unstable high power wall charger cable connection.
  3. A Little rusted signal light from the passenger side.

At 19h00 pm, I was expecting him to only fix the cable connection. Marcin said: “I drove a long distance, might as well do as much as I possibly can”. He left our place past 22h30! He totally exceeded my expectations by fixing all three of the issues. While he was disassembling the car to fix the direction noise, he took the time to explain to me what the problem was while still remaining efficient during the repair.

Image

Marcin is very professional, meticulous and passionate about his work. He also did a courtesy check of the car’s fluid and filled up my windshield washer tank. 🙂

Having the chance to see a live expert taking good care of your car as if it was his own is priceless. When I see people like Marcin, I feel in good hands and happy they are in line with the company’s philosophy. Thank you for such an outstanding service TESLA.

Back at the pump

backAtThePump

I left my car at the service centre in Montréal, Québec during a business trip. The service was booked a week earlier.

Surprise #1: No Model S loaner for me available. Surprise #2, No vehicle loaner available at all! They called me a taxi.

Are they too busy? Was it a lack of planning? I had a strange feeling, the lady looked at the manager with an unusual look. The next day, someone brought me a Ford Fusion. (Really?)

I was contacted later telling me the strange high pitch sound coming from the drive train needed attention/help from the Tesla engineers. That meant coming back to Ottawa without my Model S.

Because they brought me an half full tank car, I had to stop at the pump on my way to Gatineau. Ford fusion seats are way too soft for long drives, my back is soar! 🙂

I called Tesla in California to describe the experience. To be continued.

A lot of people in California are working hard to make everything perfect.  It’s unfortunate that the Montreal service centre is not following the same standards of excellence. Although, Kathy at the front desk, was very professional.

Is it possible to drive the Gaspé peninsula from Ottawa using only electrons?

The answer is yes of course and without any issues! Every icon represents a place where we recharged our batteries (Car and body).

Gaspésie2

The goal was to enjoy 3 days in a nice cottage in Valmont Plein Air, 3 days  of camping in Forillon National Park, visit Rocher Percé and enjoy the beautiful landscape along the way.

  • Day one: We drove from Ottawa to Boucherville (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ SENS restaurant) then we continued and slept in Québec City (SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Hotel Sepia).
  • Day two: We drove from Québec to Rimouski (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Cage aux sports) then we continued to Matane (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Quality Inn.)
  • Day three: We drove to Cap-Chat and stayed 3 days at Valmont Plein Air cottage (Charging station: regular 15Amp plug).
  • Day six: We drove to Stainte-Anne-des-Monts (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Auberge la Seigneurie des Monts), had lunch and continued to Forillon National Park of Canada for our 3 nights stay (30Amp regular camper plug).
  • Day eight: We drove to Rocher Percé, went for a boat ride and continue to our hotel in Bonaventure (90Amp SunCountry Charging station @ Riôtel)
  • Day nine: We drove to Parc National de Miguasha, visited the park for 3 hours and they allowed us to use the 110 volt during our stay. We then drove to Rimouski (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Hotel Empress)  and realized I reserved a hotel in Rivière-du-Loup (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec  Charging station @ Hotel Universel) instead of Rimouski 🙂 After a quick stop to juice up the batteries a little, we continued to Rivière-du-Loup for the night.
  • Day 10: We drove to Québec (SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Hotel Sepia) city and stayed for the afternoon to visit the Aquarium. Once the car was at full charge we continued to Boucherville (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ SENS restaurant) had dinner and came back home.

We are not afraid to do long rides with this very comfortable car.  We just need to plan ahead to locate the charging stations.  I can’t wait for the super charger stations to cover the entire United States so we can plan for even longer trips.