Tesla has proven to be leaders in battery technology and charging infrastructure through a proprietary strategy.
When someone calls you out for not talking about their vehicle, what would you do?
This happens every time I talk about electric vehicles. Because I work with battery-electric vehicles from legacy manufacturers, those who own EVs from start-up manufacturers get upset with me for not covering their vehicles.
Certainly, you can’t please everyone in this business.
The truth is that one cannot ignore Tesla in any conversation about EVs. They have been selling plenty of their wares for plenty of years now and have proven to be leaders in battery technology and charging infrastructure through a proprietary strategy.
I get messages from you as to why I do not review Teslas. Not everyone can. You heard stories that the company does not want to deal with the automotive media corps. You also heard that Tesla owners mistrust us because of some of the things we said and written about the company.
Without giving examples and details, I needed to answer a call from one of you – a Tesla Model 3 owner. This particular owner had been after me to review his vehicle to get a. sense of where Tesla is going.
Granted, this is against our own editorial policy to review other private owner’s vehicles. V&R has made a few exceptions in the past. This happens to be one of them.
For a few years, my friend, DJ, and fellow car community cohort Justin King had been bugging me about checking out his 2019 Tesla Model 3 Dual Motor Performance model. As I tried to stick to my editorial policy, the EV chatter gained volume this year from our reviews alone. I figured it was time to acquiesce and see what this popular EV is all about.
I did have some reservations about the Model 3, at first. The idea that a big screen controls everything in the vehicle and some other operations questions that came up from previous reports on the manufacturer and this particular model. Not to mention, having the time to dedicate in checking out King’s vehicle.
We set aside a couple of hours to learn about the Model 3, drive it, and chat afterwards. Let me just say that I not only was impressed by this Tesla – I learned a lot about it.
Some facts before I discuss my impressions. This is a dual electric motor model – one for each axle, giving it all-wheel drive. Tesla claims it can deliver up to 315 miles of range on a full battery. King has done plenty of road trips in his Model 3, whilst using the Supercharger network when available. The Model 3’s navigation system can plot out your trip and inform you of where their Superchargers are located, what battery level you will achieve upon arrival, availability of chargers, and time of charge up to the level you set on the vehicle’s screen.
There is a host of technologies that should be on every vehicle. The Autopilot works well in maintaining the Model 3’s position on the road. The graphic on the screen precisely shows you the position of other vehicles on the road and does a good job in distancing between then, as well as detecting when to slow the vehicle down and brake.
Sentry uses a set of cameras to show where the vehicle is at when parked from your app on a smartphone. Not to mention, there is no physical key – just a contactless card. It’s quite secure and clever.
About that screen – it’s a bit canted away from the driver, yet wide enough to show you gear position and speed up in the lefthand top corner. It also houses many settings and entertainment options. Sound comes from an amazing speaker system that is loud and crisp. If I am able to list out what you can do through the screen of a Model 3, you would be reading this for hours.
King did demonstrate many things about the Model 3. In short, I was impressed and taken aback. Tesla did think things through about the Model 3. Yet, one must be able to learn how to control everything in this vehicle. That is something one must take the time to do. Once you understand how things work through the center screen, it should be easy to drive and operate.
Also, I can confirm how quick and powerful the Model 3 Performance is. It is one a few vehicles that scared me when the accelerator was pushed all the way. Quicker than a supercar? More like it has the thrust of one, but not exactly as firm and controlled like one.
Don’t mistake a Tesla Model 3 for a high-performance sports sedan. It is clearly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The big wheel set and red calipers for the brakes indicate something extraordinary from an ordinary looking vehicle.
Once I got behind the wheel, my impressions were confirmed. Yes, it drove better than a lot of vehicles I worked with. It corners soft, but you can forgive it.
As far as quality is concerned, King’s Model 3 is well screwed together. He did report one minor issue upon delivery. That was rectified by Tesla almost immediately. However, I was impressed with the quality of the interior and controls. King mentioned that service by Tesla’s two local retail centers in the Twin Cities were a mix of good and not-so-good.
During our drive, King and I talked about what I would like to call “Tesla Culture.” That is the group of owners who will defend the company, its leader, Elon Musk, and everything about their products. As we chatted, the theme that came from Tesla Culture are the types of owners and enthusiasts that make it up. While most of them are from the tech sector, there are only a few people who would be considered “car folks.” King is actually both – a person working in technology and an automotive enthusiast. Not a rare combination, but it appears that he is an outlier within Tesla Culture.
Because you see a lot of Model 3s on the road, one wonders whether they are seen as another device for the tech savvy consumer or just basic transportation powered only by a battery. If the former is true, then this is one expensive device, starting at $46,990 for a new rear-drive model. A new Model 3 Performance model similar to King’s starts at $62,990.
I’m glad King finally got me to experience his Tesla Model 3. It is readers/viewers/supporters/friends like him that keep George and I on our toes when we create content for V&R. Granted, we do not have a relationship with every manufacturer – including some legacy automakers. However, it is through the engagement with people like King who can introduce us to something that is not a part of our workflow.
Thank you, Justin, for showing us – and sharing with us – your Tesla Model 3 to engage with our fellow V&R readers of this popular, and no longer mysterious, EV.
Therefore, this is the first story under the topic “Reader's Drives.” You’re welcome.
DISCLAIMER: Vehicle used in this story is privately owned by Justin King.
All photos by Randy Stern