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.

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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.

A stranger knocked on our door…

This event was too unbelievable, I had to share it. This evening a stranger knocked on our door:

“Sorry to bother you, but I saw your Tesla and was wondering if you were satisfied with the vehicle”.

She was interested in reserving a Model 3. I said I was very satisfied and will definitely put down the 1000$ on March 31st to get another one.  

I warned her that 35k might not include the biggest battery pack.

Stranger: “I do not need the biggest battery, I want to use it for city driving.”

Well I said, for city driving, you could buy a Nissan Leaf today… Here is the punch:  

Stranger: “A Nissan what? I have never heard of it”

A Nissan Leaf I said, like a leaf from a tree.

Stranger: “I have a Toyota Rav 4 and a Honda Civic, I am looking for a good reliable car”

She is probably one of the many individuals in the same situation that will reserve a Model 3!

Nissan, a well established car company. The first company that produced a mass market electric car. It is hard to believe that she did not know about the electric model!  She knew about Tesla, a company that was not even on the media map 4 years ago.

With the best product, word of mouth and social media you can go far, very far.

Once again, you nailed it. All your hard work is getting recognized by the whole planet, good job Tesla!

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.

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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.

Facing the Coldest Winter in 20 Years With My Model S

At last, I take time to write about my experience with my Model S in the coldest winter of the last 20 years according to a senior Climatologist at Environment Canada: Winter 2013-2014!

In a few words, buying the car was the best decision I ever made, regardless of the weather conditions! It actually helped me go over our crazy winter (Getting into a warm car in winter is priceless). I am also amazed at how precise the direction is in the snow, even more than our 4×4. It is almost impossible to lose control and believe me, I tried a few times.

Last summer, we proved that in 2013, it was possible to do a long distance trip without using TESLA super charging stations, for free, thanks to Suncountryhighway (See our 2013 family summer trip).

Now, how about doing long distances during extreme cold weather conditions? We planned a family roundtrip from Gatineau/Ottawa to Sherbrooke with temperature ranging from -15 to -30 degrees celsius with the car fully packed. In the cold weather we needed a relatively fast charging station like the one I have in my garage. (80 amps @ 240 volt which gives us about 90km per hour of charge)

Thanks to the Model S charging network family, this trip was made possible. Many Model S owners, enthusiasts like me, share their home charging station on plugshare.

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All the little blue houses are Model S chargers shared by owners. The red arrows is where we stopped charging. You can see mine in Gatineau 🙂

During our trip, we stopped in Vaudreuil-Dorion (Thank you Dominic!) and ate at a nearby restaurant, while waiting for the car to charge. We then continued to Sherbrooke without any issues with 8 km of rated range left. The most interesting part of the story, is on our way back, which I will share in my next post.

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It is safe to run over debris at highway speed with a Tesla Model S

Due to the negative press lately, I felt I had to share our story for all the current, future and potential Tesla owners.

During our trip to Gaspésie last summer, we went over a big debris on the highway at 110 km/h per hours (About 68 miles per hours). The car was fully packed with a family of 4.

When we hit the wood log, we felt a huge impact. My wife and I looked at each other: “Holy smoke, I hope the battery pack is ok” We stopped at the next exit, did visual inspection. We saw nothing special to report except for some left over pieces of wood, no fire!

We finished our trip safely without any problems. The car was inspected by the service centre, everything was fine.

I wish the medias would support Tesla when these types of accidents happen. We are talking about a startup company (10 years is a small number in the car industry) that is doing miracle with electrical cars. We should encourage them instead of trying to come up with sensational and very often incorrectly reported news.

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.