This week we discuss the real-life Tony Stark, Mr. Elon Musk. Founder of SpaceX, PayPal, and Tesla this billionaire wonder-boy seems to have a hunger for improving the lives of everyone that chooses to utilize his products.
Due to the fact that it would take many more than 500 words to fully discuss all of Musk’s inventions, we shall focus on his automotive company, Tesla Motors. Specifically, we will dive into the all-new for 2018 Tesla Model 3.
Most of the automotive community will be familiar with Tesla’s flagship automobile, the Model S. While the Model 3 shares similar design features such as the front grille delete and the sweeping roofline, save for the electric powertrain, that seems to be where the similarities end between the Model 3 and previous vehicles from Tesla.
Musk has approached the Model 3 with a drastically different business model than he has used with previous products. This automobile is aimed more towards the middle class market, those with lower incomes that may not be able to afford a Model S. Because of this Model 3s will be manufactured in a larger quantity, and the base price for one of these cars starts at just above $26,000 (after the $7,500 EV tax credit).
While I certainly feel that Musk’s intentions are noble, I see a fair amount of issues that may arise when attempting to produce an affordable EV for the masses.
Tesla is still an extremely young automotive company, and with that adolescence comes inevitable issues and quirks that have yet to be worked out. Tesla’s maintenance costs on their vehicles are some of the highest around at just under $20,000 annually. Issues with window seals peeling off, power-seats becoming stuck in one position, and software bugs locking owners out of their vehicles are just a few examples of the laundry list of problems that Tesla owners have had to endure.
While these issues may just be pocket change to the wealthier market Tesla has catered to in the past, this could provide a real issue for lower income families the Model 3 is aimed at. For those of us that are not a part of the upper crust of society, buying a new car is quite the sizable investment. Durability and reliability are the flagships of this purchase; security that a car will last 5-10 years of daily use are crucial in the car buying process.
The truth is that there is really no way of knowing how reliable the Model 3s will turn out to be. The only way to know for sure is to get them out on the open road and see how they fair. With a brand as new as Tesla, there are bound to be some quirks that need sorting out, specifically regarding the software that is the lifeblood of the vehicle.
Elon Musk is a smart man (understatement of the year) and I know he has the best of intentions when providing an affordable EV. However, his track-record regarding issues with the Model S does not bode well for the lower income families that he is attempting to attract. A Tesla can become quite the expensive investment seemingly overnight, not to mention the shortage of mechanics that are able to work on your vehicle.
Ultimately, I think within the next 10-15 years the roads will be filled with EVs in all price ranges. In order to achieve this goal unfortunately, there will be a few that suffer financially in order to help improve the future of EVs for the rest of us.