Whoever thought that buying a car could not only be fun, but convenient, too? Take it from me... Tesla doesn’t need stores to sell and deliver their game-changing line of automobiles.
You may have heard that Tesla recently announced that they are closing some of their retail stores. To the uninitiated, this news may sound unsettling.
It's not... at all.
Tesla's decision to close a number of its retail stores is actually good news for Tesla and for both current and future Tesla buyers. I say this for three reasons. First, regardless of the presence of retail stores, all Teslas were already ordered online. Second, the cost savings achieved by closing these retail stores will allow Tesla to not only deliver the Model 3 at it's long-awaited base price of $35,000.00, but also to shift resources over to its service centres. Third, the closing of Tesla stores represents yet another dramatic example of the profound advantage that Tesla has over its competitors: namely, Tesla does not need to protect an existing line of legacy gas cars, and it does not depend upon a worldwide network of franchise dealerships to sell its products. While there may be those who would like to spin Tesla's decision to close storefronts as foreboding news, the only people quaking in their boots at this moment is Tesla's competition. They were already struggling to deliver competitive products at competitive prices, and now they have woken up to the news that the world's leading EV manufacturer will no longer be bearing the weight of brick and mortar shops to facilitate its sales.
I suppose it would be fair criticism to say that's all just my opinion, but here are some first-hand facts that I can share about my own experience with the Tesla ordering experience. Perhaps this account will give future Tesla buyers some valuable insight into why Tesla just doesn't need a network of retail stores to sell their ever-growing line of products.
Our Tesla Purchase Story
In the summer of 2018, after 13 years of saving for an EV, my wife and I decided to finally buy a Tesla Model X. We had considered many options, and over the years, we had test driven everything from the Nissan Leaf, the BMW i3, the Kia Soul, to the Chevy Volt.
Eventually, however, we settled upon the Tesla Model X. With a single phone call, a sales rep drove a Model X to our house, took our whole family out for an extended test drive - kids included - giving both my wife and I a chance to drive the car. He let the kids play around inside and out, experimenting with any buttons they could get their tiny little hands on, playing with the electronic seats, the touch screen, and, of course, the falcon wing doors.
Then the sales rep capped it off with a garage fitting to make sure that the rather large Model X could not only fit in our garage, but that the falcon wing doors could actually open up inside the garage as well.
We were absolutely thrilled with the car. The next day, we phoned our sales rep and said we would like to go ahead with the order. He then advised us to simply order the car online using our Tesla account. (I had already registered my Tesla account back in January of 2017 when I became a reservation holder for a Model 3.)
The buying process was simple, convenient, and the online account provided clear updates and confirmations every step of the way. After registering a Tesla account online, you just select a Tesla model, choose your configuration (i.e. 5, 6, or 7 seats in the case of the Model X), and then indicate any options you might want. A deposit is made using your credit card, and voila... your car is ordered.
Tesla provides three days to either cancel or make adjustments to your order, after which the order is locked. Then begins the waiting period for your car to be built and delivered. Everyone who has ever ordered a Tesla will tell you that this period of time - regardless of how short it may be - will test anyone's patience. However, Tesla makes this time period fun and informative, as your online account allows you to monitor the status of your car as it gets assigned a VIN, moves through production, awaits transport, and then ships from Fremont, California to your house, your local Tesla store, or a local delivery event. Tesla also makes productive use of this time period by asking purchasers to upload copies of their driver's license and insurance slips to their Tesla online account. This allows Tesla to get the cars outfitted with license plates ahead of delivery. They also share orientation videos as well as the car's owner's manual over the online account, thus allowing purchasers to become acquainted with the operation of their automobile long before it is even delivered. I made good use of this time as well, cleaning up my garage and getting an EV charger installed in preparation for our Tesla's arrival.
In our case, this entire process took only two months from order to delivery, but I'll admit... it felt like a year. Finally, a Tesla delivery specialist informed us that our delivery date was drawing near.
Then came the big day. Our car was scheduled to be delivered as part of a mass delivery event at a local convention centre. Some family friends excitedly picked us up and drove us out to pick up our car. The event was shockingly well organized. We showed up at our designated time, and made ourselves hot drinks in Tesla's comfortable and well-appointed lounge. After only five or ten minutes, we were called in to sign our paper work. Then we were taken around a large wall of curtains into a huge indoor lot full of shiny new Teslas... what a beautiful sight it was.
We were walked to our car and provided a general orientation of the vehicle and its various systems. Of course, all of this takes place indoors because electric cars make absolutely no noise or fumes. After our session, the delivery specialist drove the car outside to the parking lot for us. I noted that the only noise you could hear was the squeaking of the rubber tires against the cement floor whenever the front wheels were turned. That's it. These cars are eerily quiet.
Within only an hour after we had arrived, we were driving off with our brand new car. We were finally Tesla owners. The whole thing seemed unreal.
If there is one thing I can say about Tesla, it is that they absolutely know how to sell and deliver cars. The experience is nothing like the tense cat and mouse game played in traditional car dealerships. With Tesla, the customer and the corporation are united in their mutual desire to do their part for sustainable transportation.
Yes, there was certainly a time when Tesla stores served a critical purpose in exposing the brand to the public and educating potential buyers about the Tesla line of products. However, as Tesla is quickly becoming one of the most popular automobile manufacturers in the world, they really don't need to maintain a large network of stores: especially since all Tesla orders were invariably made online anyway. The stores simply provided sales reps to help walk customers through the process of registering an online account and placing their orders.
Today, the ever-growing community of Tesla owners, the rapidly-expanding network of charging stations and service centres, and the company's website and online ordering platform provides everything the modern car buyer needs to confidently order a Tesla. Add to that the company's 24-hour / 1,000 mile satisfaction guarantee (which is extended to seven days if a buyer never had the opportunity to take a test drive), backed by a full refund, and you quite simply have a suite of advantages with which no other car manufacturer, in my opinion, can compete.
I know Tesla's mission is to "to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport" but, at this rate, it would appear that they are both willing and able to do the entire job themselves.
When it comes to the environment, we are all neighbours.