Tesla is getting a whole lot of good will for its design of the Tesla Model 3. The electric vehicle is slated to be the firm’s first affordable car. For most Americans, however, that’s very far from the truth. If you’re somewhere close to middle class, the Tesla Model 3 is just about the most unaffordable car you can buy.
People don’t have to be steered away from the Mercedes E class, or from the Audi A6, but this seemingly gets lost in the conversation about the Tesla Model 3. If you’re something like the average American, it’s one of the worst car choices you could possibly make.
1 Tesla Model 3 doesn’t go far enough
You can only likely afford one car, or at the most two, for your household. Why would you select one of the most limited out there to fill this vital role? The Tesla Model 3, at its base price, is going to be able to travel around 215 miles on a charge. That’s really not a whole lot of distance to cover.
It’s absolutely true that the Tesla Model 3 is more than enough for the daily driving distance of the average American. The average American, however, doesn’t drive the average distance every day. They want a car that’s versatile enough that they don’t have to worry when going on vacation. We don’t, after all, build doors at 5’10”.
When planning an ordinary road trip nobody asks whether or not there’s going to be petrol stations. This is the exact problem that range anxiety forces you into. EV evangelists will argue that they never run into this problem in their daily lives. That doesn’t mean other people won’t, however.
Range anxiety is a very valid feeling, and being able to ignore it is the luxury of someone who is able to buy a Model S. That same luxury lets them get around the biggest Tesla Model 3 negative.
2 Reliability is the most important factor
If you need a car to carry out day-to-day tasks, the Tesla Model 3 is one you should strike off your list. That isn’t to say it’s a bad car, we just simply don’t know. What we do know is that there are certain risks involved that you likely can’t afford.
This is the first ever car that Tesla will build in true mass production. CEO Elon Musk has promised “manufacturing hell” this year as a result. On top of that, the firm’s history with creating reliable cars really isn’t very good at all.
The Model X has been, as far as anyone can tell, a reliability disaster. Consumer reports says that the car is full of glitches, making it a vehicle for early adopters only. The Model S has not been quite as poor, but it has had its own troubles. That’s likely fine for the wealthy people who can afford those cars.
For those being sold the Model 3 as “affordable” however, reliability should be at the forefront of their minds. If you can’t miss a day of work because your car broke down, the Tesla Model 3 should stop being seen as affordable, and start being seen as the opposite. The reliability risks are unknown, but the downside for some people is so high they should be strongly weighted.
That’s not the only reason the Tesla Model 3 is unaffordable of course.
3 Tesla Model 3 is a waste of your money
If you want a sparsely detailed small sedan car with some premium features, you can have one for way less than the cost of the Tesla Model 3. At $35,000 without any extras, it’s a premium car. If you want the things that make it special, you’re going to have to shell out a whole lot more.
It’s going to cost a total of $8,000 to get all of the Autopilot and self-driving features on offer. On top of that, the firm is looking for $5,000 to bring in premium features. Just look at the Tesla website to see how it all adds up.
If you’re on a high income and you like the idea of the Tesla Model 3 go ahead and buy it. If you’re going to struggle to meet your car payments, however, think again. You’ll be much better off in a solid used Honda Civic while maxing out your pension contributions.
With your savings you’re going to be able to get your hands on a much better car anyway because…
4 Either EVs are over or they’re getting much better
We don’t know how technology is going to evolve in the coming years. When it comes to EVs, however, we can make a solid guess about the general trend. With current range and pricing, most Americans will never get into an electric car. That means that either the electric future is going to stay niche, or the technology is going to get much better.
This is always the curse of the early adopter. You’re going to be the proverbial “first guy to buy a fax machine.” The Tesla Model 3 isn’t going to revolutionize transport. It’s going to do the same job, more or less, as a Ford Focus.
That’s not to say they won’t get better in the future. As Autopilot matures and battery density and cost improve, value for money is likely to increase. That’s a good thing for people waiting on the electric revolution.
On the other hand, if Tesla Inc collapses tomorrow and battery tech never advances, you don’t want a Model 3 charging in your garage. But you could always sell it, right?
5 Good luck selling a used Model 3
This is another negative simply because of how little we know. Theoretically EVs should lose their value faster than traditional internal combustion engine cars. That means when you go to sell your Tesla Model 3 in five or ten years, you could be getting peanuts for it.
There are two factors that could hurt the value of a used Tesla Model 3. The first is technological development. Try selling your fully functioning 1st generation iPod Touch. Depreciation speeds up when something is technologically outpaced. As described in point number 4, tech development is the only thing that will keep Tesla alive.
The other factor is battery deterioration. Battery replacement costs are currently high, and it looks like that could take a big chunk out of the Model 3 resale value. That’s the conclusion of a study by Brian Piccioni at BCA Research. It’s very important to take into consideration.
Tesla fans will insist, and with the facts on their side, that depreciation of the Model S appears to be slower than similar non-EVs. Nobody is arguing with that. The problem is that we don’t know if that will extend to the Tesla Model 3, or whether its an artifact of low supply and huge demand.
The average American won’t be able to afford that sort of uncertainty in their lives. That makes the Tesla Model 3 a very bad choice if you need your car to retain its value so you can replace it down the line.
6 Interior options
It’s black. That’s the best thing you can say about the inside of the Tesla Model 3. For the time being at least there’s no way to spruce up the interior. Some people may like the minimalist design that the firm is going for. Others, due to their own tastes and preferences, are going to hate it.
The problem is that for a premium sedan you’re not going to be able to change the interior. Sure you can buy the premium package to add a couple of features. After that though, you’re going to be left with the plain black seating and little else. If you’re looking for more, Tesla simply doesn’t offer you a choice.
Franz von Holzhausen, the head of interior design at the firm, says “Everything we do has to be beautiful, but it has to be functional.” That’s his philosophy, and it really comes through in the Tesla Model 3 interior.
For those who are fans of the interior, great. The Tesla Model 3 is the car for you. For those who aren’t, hard luck. Right now you have no other options.
7 You can’t have one
Even after going through this list and looking at the downsides, you might think you still want a Tesla Model 3. That’s too bad, because you can’t have one. Only about 30 cars have been made so far, and it’s not very likely that there’s going to be more than 25,000 before the end of the year.
That may not seem too bad, but there’s a massive problem. Despite all of the downsides with the Model 3, hundreds of thousands of people want one. Hundreds of thousands more are likely to reserve one over the coming year.
What’s more, in order to have the privilege to wait, Elon Musk is looking for you to loan him $1,000 to prove you really want the car. Given that most Americans don’t even have $500 in savings, that seems a bit of a stretch for “affordable.”
The Tesla Model 3 is a great car, and a big leap forward in the EV space. It’s just not affordable for the average American.
The Tesla Model 3 is a car for wealthy Americans, and there’s nothing wrong with that. For a poorer household tricked by the hype, however, it could be an incredible financial burden. If you’re one of those middle earners salivating at the thought of this $45,000 self-driving car, take a look at a basic guide on personal finance.
Despite the price tag and even after wading through all of the problems: having to stop for 30 minutes at a time to refill the tank, losing money to depreciation and having a bland interior, people are still looking to buy the Tesla Model 3 en masse. Maybe Elon Musk and his crew are onto something after all?