Tesla Service

We are now just at two weeks with Scarlett. I actually had a dream about driving last night. Now for those of you who may not know me that well, I have been bicycle commuting for quite a few years. And, when we moved to our Lawrence Street house in 2015, we’ve been a one-car family with Brenda generally getting the car (now including Scarlett).

So for me to dream about driving is something. But I digress…

Today I want to talk about Tesla service. Both recommended service intervals and their customer service.

First, the recommended service for Scarlett. I had originally thought there would be an at least annual service trek to Portland for some sort of check-up, whatever. But nothing was said or attempted to be sold to us when we took delivery. Then I got home and looked at the Owner’s Manual and here it is:

  • Rotate the tires every 6,250 miles
  • Periodically check the windshield washer fluid
  • Periodically check the air conditioning operation
  • Change the brake fluid every 2 years or 25,000 miles
  • Change the battery coolant every 4 years or 50,000 miles

That’s it.

Now I know why there isn’t a “maintenance plan” to sell us.

Second, I want to talk about Tesla customer service.

We have a personal customer service contact, Nina, in Las Vegas who is now with us as long as we own Scarlett. You know how some companies develop a brand loyalty that is almost unreal? Apple did that in the Steve Jobs days (although, sadly, not so much any more).

Tesla is doing that now. The Model S and X owners I know notably say they will never buy another ICE car again, they also say things like they will never buy anything but a Tesla again.

And after just two weeks, I see what they mean. I previously commented on our delivery experience. But here’s just a snippet of our experience since then.

I wanted to order a $25 cable organizer for our charging cable in the garage. It will keep the cable off the floor and just look nicer. Right now it kind of gets in the way of my bike rack. I went to the Tesla online shop and couldn’t get the order form to actually place the order. Multiple tries, no luck. So I contacted Nina and also put in a request form in the online shop.

Within about 24 hours, I had an email from the online shop, an email AND phone call from Nina who also relayed it to the online shop team and I got another email from another person in the online shop.

The problem was on their end, they fixed it, the order went through and I just got the confirmation of shipment.

Three people bird-dogging a $25 order for a customer.

THAT’S how you build brand loyalty and how this company will stay around for a very long time.

A Week With Scarlett

On February 4, I posted how excited we were to have been able to order our new Tesla Model 3, which we were affectionately going to name “Scarlett.” Because of being given the reservation from our friends, who are in Mexico right now, we thought we’d have to wait until they returned to take delivery. That would be the middle of March.

However, through a series of fortunate events and some wonderful Tesla people along the way, the four week expected delivery date changed to two, we got “the call”, our friends did not have to be there at delivery,  and we were able to pick up Scarlett from Tesla PDX last Saturday.

Just two weeks after ordering her.

Thank you, Tesla!

So this blog post is a reflection on one full week living with an all-electric car. Our friends who allowed us to use their reservation have said they will never buy an ICE (internal combustion engine) car again. And I think I have to agree.

First, the less-important aspects of Scarlett. The red multi-coat paint is unbelievable. This is probably the most beautiful red we’ve ever seen. The styling and “look” of the car both inside and out are so elegant and clean and classy. You have to experience it to really fully appreciate it.

Next, the operation of the car. As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve watched, I think, pretty much every fan video about the Model 3. I’d like to address some of the comments criticizing aspects of the car and talk about the fun aspects of Scarlett.

The door handle operation is simple and easy. Most of the critical remarks come from people who want it to be motorized or automatic like the Model S. Get over it. It’s easy and simple.

I had a conversation with a friend about there not being a speedometer right in front of you and how it’s distracting to look to the side. My experience is it is no less distracting to glance slightly to the right as it is to glance slightly down.

The wiper controls being on the screen are no issue if you set them to automatic. That’s what we have done and the sensors work actually very well. When it starts to rain, the wipers come on and when the rain stops, they shut off. This also fits well with the headlights, which we also have put on automatic. As dusk approaches, the lights come on, the screen switches to night mode and all is good with the world.

The regenerative braking took a little while to get used to. In an ICE, you pull your foot off the accelerator and coast, then brake. With an electric car, if you simply pull your foot off the accelerator, you slow down rather quickly. This does a couple of things: it recharges the battery slightly and it saves wear and tear on your brakes. We have found in City driving we hardly use the brakes at all. The adjustment period on that was fairly quick.

Having our phone as the key also is a bit of an adjustment and I’m still not quite there yet. When we get ready to go out, we have found ourselves checking our pocket for the car key, then realizing we don’t need one. The downside to that is I always carry my phone, which is good for always having my key, but bad because every time I walk near the car in the garage, it unlocks, then locks again. Not a big deal, but a little annoying.

Handling is superb. I have had a VW Turbo Beetle and way back a Porsche 914. Both had great cornering, acceleration and handling. Scarlett is right up there. The acceleration is the fastest of any car I’ve ever owned (I think their 0-60 in 5.1 seconds is underrated. It seems faster). She also corners amazingly well. I think the combination of the 19” low profile wheels and tires and the battery being low and central for weight distribution makes a huge difference.

Delivery. I need to talk a bit about customer service. Tesla is known for its quality, safety, etc. But I’ve not heard a lot of talk about their delivery team and customer service. Our first contact was Nina at Tesla in Las Vegas. She worked out the details of delivery date, “paperwork” etc. She was VERY pleasant, congenial and helpful in walking through the process. Then, when we arrived in Portland to take delivery, Cindy and Kyle were our main staff and were just as pleasant. Our appointment was at 3:00 and they were running a bit late detailing our car (they had delivered TEN Model 3s THAT DAY). They greeted us, apologized for the delay and made the whole process so nice. My car purchase history has always been sitting in a small room with the sales rep trying to sell you undercoating and extended warranties and dickering on the price. The Tesla experience is WAY different. The price is what the price is. There are no extended warranties, undercoating or extras they try to add on. Cindy was there primarily to educate us on the operation of the basics of the car. Paperwork was quick, easy and a total of 8 pages (my parents just bought a new VW and they have a stack of paperwork).

We are now making excuses to drive places and can do so with little guilt about our carbon footprint because we are now 100% electric. And, once the sun comes back to Oregon, we will be charging with solar. We made it almost a week on one charge (136 mpg equivalent) but we’ve been giving rides to friends and family and making extra trips simply because Scarlett is just flat out fun to drive. I’m sure that will settle down a bit; our goal is to charge every week or two during the day with solar.

That’s probably enough to talk about today. It’s early Friday morning, I just received the notification on my phone that Scarlett is completely charged and ready to go and we have some errands to run.

Tesla Model 3 “Scarlett”


On March 31, 2016, Day 01 of the Tesla Model 3 reservation, we had some friends who were able to get in on the ground floor of this game-changing car. Knowing they would have to wait around two YEARS to take delivery, they opted to purchase a Model S.

Knowing we had committed that our next car would be all-electric and that the 2001 VW Passat we had owned for 12 1/2 years (at that time) was getting older by the day, they gave us a call and asked if we wanted to assume their reservation.

We, of course, said “yes.”

When we built our new home in 2015, we had pre-wired it for two car chargers in the garage (future-proofing) and I had our electrician come back in December 2017 to wire in the NEMA 14-50 plug and breaker. This will give us about 30 miles per hour of charge. With the 310 mile battery, we could easily charge from 0% to 100% over night. But we probably won’t be charging at night; more on that later.

Fast-forward to January 2018. Tesla has been slow rolling out the Model 3. They started with employees of Tesla. Our Passat was now approaching 17 years old and we’ve had it for about 15 years. The last new car we purchased was my Beetle, also in late 2002. We felt it was time for a new car. Our friends called again and said they received the email that we could now configure and order our car.

This part was easy because Brenda and I had been immersed in the details of the Model 3. Well, truth be told, I had been immersed (watching every video out there on Teslarati and Youtube) and had relayed every tidbit of information to my very very patient wife.

We had by this time decided on red (I hadn’t had a red car since my first car, a 1974 Chevy Nova SS) with the nicer wheels. We also knew that for the onboard computer, you have to “name” your car when you configure it. So after a pretty extensive Google search for an appropriate name for a red car, we are 90% sure we will name her “Scarlett.” We ordered her on January 27, 2018.

Because our friends are currently out of the country and they have to be there when we take delivery (Tesla won’t allow them to simply transfer the reservation; I think to minimize “scalping”), we won’t be able to actually take delivery until close to the end of March when they return.

That really isn’t too much of a problem. Since we have been waiting two years, what’s another week or two?

There are so many things about this car that intrigue us (well, me for sure). An EPA rating of 130 mpg equivalent. The idea that we can drive on a full charge 310 miles for about $5 of electricity (at retail). Our idea is that with our solar on our house we can charge during a sunny day and only cost us a net of about $1.60 for a “full tank” from empty. This is what our friends do since they also have solar panels. $1.60 from empty to full. Mind blown.

I will blog more after we get the car with our impressions. I know virtually every review from people on line has been largely positive. I also would, at this point, just be repeating all of those comments.

But I believe this is the future of autos. Tesla is a 7-year-old company that has turned the auto industry upside down. As of December 2017, Tesla was more valuable than Ford. In seven years! VW lost us in about 2007 when I asked when they would be coming out with an all-electric car and received a terse response then of “we have no plans for an all-electric car.” Things have certainly changed in the last decade. Now most every major manufacturer is working on an all-electric car option. Even VW. Too little, too late for us.

I do think I will resist doing the “we’re-taking-delivery-of-our-Tesla-Model-3-today-live-video-blog” because I want to enjoy the experience and not be distracted by a camera.

There you have it for now.

Bye bye Beetle. Hello, Scarlett!