Tesla Referrals

For the over six years I’ve owned two Tesla vehicles, I have taken many friends and acquaintances on rides and a few on test drives.  Most people are quite reluctant to actually drive someone else’s car, so by far most were test rides not test drives.

I thought it would be interesting to report on the actual referrals I made before Tesla’s current referral program existed for the Model S.

The first friend who bought a Model S was a former close work colleague. We drove around in my Roadster many years ago.  He knew about my blog and told other people that I was driving a Roadster.  He bought one of the first 10,000 Model Ss and now his wife also has a Model S.  He is a complete gadget junkie, so he would have likely eventually bought a Tesla but I’m sure my reference accelerated his purchase.

Another couple I know well leased a Model S.  Jason is a car fanatic and I took him on the factory tour when I picked up my Model S in early 2013.  Two and a half years later he and his husband leased a demo model with 1,300 miles on it.  Since they are serial leasers, the exact options were not of concern.  With irony they replaced a BMW convertible for a 70D Model S without a pano roof.

Travis and Jason's New Tesla

Travis and Jason’s New Tesla

They own three homes:  one on the peninsula, a condo in San Francisco, and home in wine country.  For only $180 an electrician wired their peninsula home with a convenient 40 Amp dryer outlet. In San Francisco Jason can use a company charger.  In the wine country they already had a 220 Volt plug already in their garage. From their home in wine country, they also have easy access to the Petaluma supercharger on their way back to their homes near their jobs.

During the summer of 2014, I visited a friend in her second residence in Oregon.  We took a long day trip including visiting The Dalles supercharger.  The town name “The Dalles” always confuses me, very few places have the word “the” in the name.  The word is from the French world “dalle”, which means flagstone.  Near the supercharger, water flows through the Columbia river over a series of rocks.

This summer, my friend and her husband called me to discuss various options on the Model S.  I suggested and they agreed that unless your in love with the look of the 21” wheels or live somewhere where you can take advantage of the grip, the 19” wheels are a better choice.   He is a doctor in Arkansas and plans to primary drive from home to his two offices. I also suggested that the air suspension is not necessary unless you live somewhere that it is required to park the car.  In my experiments with trying to test the air suspension on freeways, I have yet to see that lowering the suspension in real world conditions made any truly significant drop in energy use.  But those test were very hard to do accurately and I could never obtain reliable data to report.  A third question was the battery size.  I recommended the largest battery possible, and I would recommend this to anyone with the budget.

Arkansas is a Supercharger Desert

Arkansas is a Supercharger Desert

Their primary residence is in Arkansas and they will be likely one of the few in that state.  Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, North Dakota, Iowa, Maine, Alaska, and Hawaii are the only states left without any superchargers.  Arkansas has some icy winter driving conditions, so they chose to buy the D option but felt no need to purchase a P version. Unfortunately, their order had been processed far enough in the three days between the phone call and the announcement of the referral program that the $2,000 stayed with Tesla.

At this point, I have only one $1,000 credit (Thank you!).  Feel free to use my link till the end of October.  I will be very soon buying the extended warranty at a cost of $4,000 as I am very close to 50,000 miles.


No Further Improvements

Tesla from time to time sends owner’s emails about general Tesla news.  Typically by the time the emails arrive in the inbox, the news is already a bit old.  Today’s email was no exception and included the following information:

  1. Auto-pilot launched
  2. 0-60 in 3.2 seconds
  3. Consumer leasing
  4. Software 6.0
  5. Link to a shareholder letter

But what was most interesting was at the very last section of the email where Tesla wrote a “What’s Next” section:

“With the introduction of Dual Motor and Autopilot, there will be no further significant platform changes to Model S for about a year. We continue to see rapid growth elsewhere with the construction of the Gigafactory, the spread of Superchargers, and increased vehicle production.”

Clearly Tesla has received significant flack from recent Model S customers that were unaware of the upcoming D announcement and perhaps chose to purchase a P85 or P85+.

Also some customers may have felt a bit wronged when their car built only a few weeks earlier did not have the auto-pilot features included.

Tesla is not operating like a traditional car company in many ways.  For the most part, the customers greatly appreciate that fact as features have been added when they are available such as parking sensors.

Consumer electronic companies also use this type of announcement model but there is often enough unofficial information and general anticipation of upcoming features, that buyers can often choose to wait for a potential “expected” announcement of a new model. Perhaps Tesla is realizing that with an expensive automobile, customers perhaps need a little bit of warning of upcoming significant changes in options.

5Yrs 42KMiles 200Posts

This blog post is a large milestone for me.  I have driven Tesla’s as my main vehicle for five years with only occasional usage of a 4WD SUV.   I have driven a total of over 42,000 miles in both cars, and surprisingly written 200 blog posts covering both cars.

My Beginnings with Tesla

I have been an environmentalist all my life and had already owned one hybrid vehicle.  When the GM EV1 came out in 1997, I took note but found the short range not very practical for me. I had been watching the market since then and everything available even in 2006 was basically a golf cart.

Seven and half years ago a friend, who was driving one of the first Priuses, wanted to go to an electric car show in the parking lot of Palo Alto High School.  At the event we talked to several different car “manufacturers”.  The only one that impressed me was Tesla.  They had a mockup / prototype of the Roadster that was pretty rough.  After that initial conversation, I shortly put my $75,000 down for my Roadster.  I strongly felt I needed to have action behind my environmental words.

Why I Blog

I started my blog a few days after I got my Roadster.  I knew I was one of the few people driving Roadsters who had the time or interest to blog about the experience.  I wanted to help encourage other people to drive electric cars.  I have a technology background but I also had roles with a lot of communication responsibilities.  I think I have succeeded in a small way helping others buy electric vehicles.  I wanted this blog to express what it is like to own and drive a high end electric vehicle.  I avoid talking about the stock price and many “news events” as they are heavily covered by the mainstream media and often I have nothing in particular to add to the conversation.

During the Roadster years, I typically got 5 to 10 views per day.  Honestly, there was not that much to write about the car because the driving experience and controls were very simple.

Once I began blogging about the Model S the number jumped by a factor of 10, and I typically get 50 to 100 views per day with some days being substantially higher.  Lifetime number of views is almost 50,000.

Most people find me through google searches a combination of words such as tesla owner reviews model S etc…  and also through a few links on forums and other sites.  I suspect a lot of these people are new car buyers.  Most visitors are from the US but Norway and Canada are also active.  I currently have 45 followers.

Popular Posts

I have a number of posts that are consistently popular over time as they contain some detailed information for new buyers.

P85+ Loaner Report – which compares driving a S85 vs a P85+ for several days

Performance and Plus – which breaks down the S85 vs P85 and contrasts driving the Roadster

19” vs. 21” Wheels – which includes an estimated breakdown of long term costs

Living With 110V – My successful first month with the Model S using just 110 before I got my adaptor to my Roadster High Power Connector.

There have also been a number of posts that were analyzed data or were news oriented that were also popular

Range Test – I surveyed a number of other Model S owners to see if driving style had any influence on the car’s rated range.  The results were a clear conclusion that there was no relationship.

Valet Mode — applies to the Roadster but received a lot of attention at one point

Supercharger Time Test  — trying to achieve 170 miles in 30 minutes during five different  systematic tests.

Seven Years of Solar  — detailed analysis of my solar usage on the house

Vampire Drain  — detailed analysis of the drain when my car was left idle for long periods


So many owners have described how wonderful it is to drive a Tesla.  I avoid emphasizing this part of the experience on my blog as it is very redundant.  But in summary, I can’t imagine ever wanting to use an ICE vehicle as a regular car.  My top favorite reasons for loving my Tesla is:

  1.  I love the acceleration of the Teslas.  In any situation knowing I can safely accelerate past another car when necessary.  I still enjoy this part of the car although from time to time I can scare my passengers.
  2. The drive is smooth, quiet, comfortable.
  3. Never having to go to a gas station.  The convenience of filling up at home is really nice.
  4. The overall electronics experience is very nice in the Model S.
  5. I do feel I am doing my part for the environment as I am “driving on sunshine” as except for the occasional outside charging, all the electricity is generated from the solar panels on my home.

If I have to be nit picky about the Model S I would like these things improved:

  1. Rear view visibility.  I am not that thrilled with using the camera particularly on rainy days.
  2. The car is really just a bit too wide for me.  I would prefer it a little narrower in order to get into a lot more tight parking stations as the Bay Area is getting more and more crowded.
  3. I have a fair amount of curb rash on my beautiful 21” wheels.  But most of these rashes are from the first six months of driving (or parking).
  4. At times I wished the Iphone and the Model S talked to each other better.  If I have someone’s address on the Iphone I would like to be able to navigate directly there.
  5. The homelink at times can be slightly annoying.  It seems to recognize the garage door sensors quite far away but often cannot open them till quite close.  And the drop down menu often turns off the rearview camera’s picture.


The only real problem I had with the Roadster was horrible radio reception but that got fixed over time.  With the Model S I had several problems with the door handles but they also have been resolved.

I have found all the folks at Tesla to be extremely responsive and friendly.  I have enjoyed all of my interactions with Tesla personnel.  I would give them my highest possible marks for customer service.

Who am I

I have kept my identity hidden from the blog.  A large reason is that I really wanted to have a straight forward historical blog about living with a high end electric vehicle, not about its owner.  I also wanted to not receive any preferential treatment from anyone at Tesla.  Only within the last six months I have disclosed my identity to Tesla in order to get some important questions answered about supercharging.

I also have never owned any Tesla stock.  There was a brief opportunity when Elon permitted accredited investors with Roadster deposits to invest in Tesla.  At that time I was reeling from an unenjoyable experience as an angel investor.  Although I have invested in pre-public technology companies several times, I was not completely comfortable with my knowledge of the car industry.  Once Tesla went public, I just never made the move perhaps fretting over timing.  Regardless whether or not I ever invest in Tesla, the amount will not be a significant one for me, and this blog will continue to be objective.

The Future

I still have a number of ideas for future blog posts and maintain a running list.  My posts over the years have in general have an increased level of analysis and word count.  I am probably overdue for a cosmetic overhaul.  I would love to hear any feedback on the blog in general both good and bad and what anyone would like me to write about in the future.

2nd on the Block!

I was shocked driving up my road today.  It has been raining and I went for a hike.  Didn’t want to get the new car dirty with rain spots or mud on the floor….so I was in my boring Toyota Highlander, which is good for the outdoor adventurer.

A neighbor on my same street already has a Model S!  I have never met him before or seen his car.  He has a blue model S 85kW, 19″ wheels for two months now.  He said he waited 2 1/2 years.  I told him I waited only a few weeks, but that I had a Roadster too.  I think I waited 3 1/2 years for the Roadster.

He said he had a crack on his windshield that did not appear right away.  I said the service guys has been fabulous with my Roadster and it really wont be a problem.


Delivery Information

Delivery Details

Delivery Details

I recently got an email to clarify information for my delivery.  The request asks for the following information.

Registration :  This section includes a double check of the address, names of the persons on the registration, and whether this car is for business or personal use.

Delivery:  The choice whether you want the car delivered to a particular address or you want a factory tour.  I want a factory tour!  You can also pick up the car at a local service center.  This page also lists your delivery window.

Charging:  This page deals with setting up your outlets and whether you would like Solar City to call you.  I already have a high power connector for the Roadster, and simply need an adaptor, which is not listed on this page.  I have already had solar for six years.

Trade In:  This page asks whether you would like to trade in a vehicle.  I have decided to sell my Roadster through another venue that I will explain in a later post.

Financing:  Tesla has arrangements with several national banks to finance the vehicle.  I will pay cash.

License Plate:  The car is built without a front license plate bracket.  The factory will install one for you if you choose, or you can add one at a service center later.  The front license plate does drill holes into the bumper, and has a very slight aerodynamic impact.

Taxes and Timing

I put my reservation in a couple of weeks ago, but have been waiting to finalize my Model S.  Why?

I wanted to make sure I could get the federal tax credit.  I unfortunately did not get the tax credit with my Roadster.  I do not want to throw away $7,500.  My taxes, tax deduction and income generation for 2012 are fine tuned so that I would not get the credit this year.  I can easily adjust things next year to be able to get the credit.

My reservation specialist told me to wait till at least after the 20th, and I will be definitely safe to finalize by the 24th.  Since I am in the Roadster, Friends and Family program they will put me in the front of the line.  I don’t want them to build my car in 2012.  I think a lot of reservation holders have also delayed their delivery till 2013 for this reason or in anticipation of potentially higher taxes next year because of the fiscal cliff.



Reservation Bump

Since I own my Roadster, I fall under the category of “Roadster Friends and Family”.

Having worked in high tech for many years, I had witnessed some abuse of this category to give a little too much pre-IPO stock to a CEO’s relatives or personal friends.  I like people to be treated fairly and evenly. In this case, my reservation number changes but there is no financial transaction changes.

I am taking this special treatment as a “thank you”.  Thank you for believing in Tesla, putting $75,000 down on a car in 2006 after meeting with us at an electric car event at a high school parking lot.

So I am basically now in the front of the line.  As soon as I finalize my car, they will fit me in the line.

After a couple of days after making the first reservation, I got an email saying my reservation sequence number is now 555, which is in code speak the front of the line.

I had not expected to be able to get the car so quickly, so I now have been working out all the details on what exact configuration I want.