Tesla Drivers Reveal Best and Worst Parts of Their Cars, Thoughts on Elon Musk

Tesla owners praised the rapid acceleration of their cars and the company’s Supercharger network.

  • Insider spoke to more than a dozen Tesla owners to learn what they like most and least about their cars.
  • Drivers love the speed of their cars, technical features like Autopilot and the Tesla charging network.
  • Some think Tesla needs to improve its build quality, while others don’t like being associated with Elon Musk.

As electric cars race into the mainstream and zoom in, you might be thinking about buying one. Maybe you’re looking at a car from Tesla, the most popular electric vehicle brand on the market.

We spoke to more than a dozen Tesla owners to find out what they like best about their cars — and what they think needs improvement.

Pros: performance

Tesla owners love the rapid acceleration their cars offer. Aside from the sheer fun factor that comes with being able to fire straight forward, owners said that executing quick passes and merges on the freeway is a huge benefit. Because electric cars don’t experience the same acceleration lag as gasoline vehicles, Teslas lurch forward the moment you put your foot down.

Some of the fastest Teslas claim to hit 60mph in about 2 seconds.

“I used to have a Corvette, and that sucks the snot out of it,” Jon Haglund, a Model Y owner from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, told Insider.

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Con: Stiff ride

Some Model 3 and Y owners told Insiders that their cars are too stiff and twitchy on bumpy roads. Olu, a delivery driver from London (who Insiders preferred to use only his first name for privacy reasons), said he’s not too bothered by his Model 3’s rough ride quality because he can see upcoming bumps. But it can be uncomfortable for passengers.

Pro: Supercharger network

Tesla has thousands of Supercharger stations around the world.
Tim Levin/Insider

Tesla owners have consistently praised the company’s extensive network of fast chargers, which is exclusive to Tesla owners in the United States. Despite the occasional downtime or crowded stations, superchargers are widely available, reliable, and provide important safety on longer trips that exceed the range of their cars, they said.

Cons: Build quality

Some owners believe that Tesla could improve the overall quality of its cars. Paint finishes and fit leave something to be desired, they said. Also, some said that Tesla’s signature bare interior and choice of materials doesn’t match the high-end feel of cars from luxury companies like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi.

“Apart from the technology and the minimalist part, you don’t feel like this is a $70,000 car,” said Marlin McClure, a restaurateur in North Carolina, of his used 2017 Model S.

Pro: Charging at home

Charging at home is one of the biggest benefits of owning electric vehicles, according to buyers.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Plugging it in at home beats superchargers by a wide margin, owners say. They love the convenience of charging while parking and always getting behind the wheel with a full battery. That benefit outweighs the extra time it takes to stop and charge on longer trips, Haglund said.

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“The drive to the gas station takes about four seconds. I just walk across my driveway to the garage and plug in,” said John Rahn, who owns a Model 3 and a Model Y. “I see people queuing at Costco, a 15-minute wait, and I have to laugh about it.”

Cons: Connection to Elon Musk

Arvind Rajan, an entrepreneur and CEO in San Francisco, was looking for a second Tesla for his wife, but Musk’s promotion of right-wing views and conspiracy theories on Twitter has him exploring alternatives. He also wants to sell his Model 3.

“Tesla is a really damaged brand these days,” he told Insider. “Driving one feels like an implicit endorsement from Elon Musk, which none of us like to do.”

Elon Musk has become an increasingly polarizing figure since becoming more outspoken and political on Twitter.
Susan Walsh/AP

Ditto for some other owners that Insider has spoken to, including SC Giedzinski, who takes issue with Musk’s childishness, labor rights violations and what he calls transphobia.

“I live in a pretty liberal area and I’m friends with a lot of people my age, and I’d have a hard time finding any of them who agree with pretty much everything Elon Musk says,” he said.

Until he can swap his Model 3 for another car, Giedzinski is fighting the negative stigma with a car magnet that says “FIRE MOSK.”

Pros: technology

Tesla’s touchscreens replace virtually all regular knobs and buttons.
Tim Levin/Insider

Owners praised their cars’ fast, intuitive touchscreens (which control almost everything in the vehicle) and the advanced features they contained.

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Sentry mode allows Tesla owners to monitor the area around their vehicles. In the Tesla app, they can remotely turn on the air conditioning or check their tire pressure. Tesla’s navigation system automatically programs stops at Superchargers and shows how many booths are available.

According to the owner, the autopilot, a combination of lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control, helps with fatigue on long motorway journeys. And Tesla frequently adds and tweaks features through software updates. Owners say it’s like waking up to a new car.

“It’s an Apple computer with four wheels, two electric motors, and a big battery,” Paul Angelo, a retired doctor in Rhode Island who has owned a Model S, Model 3 and Model Y, told Insider.

Cons: customer service

As Tesla has ramped up sales, its presence at service centers hasn’t kept pace, leading to long wait times and other customer service issues for some owners.

Teslas come loaded with all sorts of quirky features like games.
Tim Levin/Insider

Steven Banks, a longtime Tesla fan in Massachusetts who just sold his 2014 Model S, told Insider that his car has been stuck at the Tesla store for weeks for simple repairs. He doesn’t feel Tesla treats its customers like other luxury retailers and is frustrated that he can’t get a customer service representative on the phone. Still, he has a new Model Y on the way.

“The customer service sucks,” Banks said. “They get away with it because the products are fantastic.”

Pro: Low running costs

Another big advantage: Low maintenance and fuel costs. Electric vehicles do not require scheduled oil changes and contain fewer parts that can go bad. Several owners said they performed virtually no maintenance aside from replacing their wiper fluid and changing their tires. For simple repairs, the company can dispatch mobile technicians to a customer’s driveway, which owners like.

Are you a Tesla owner, investor or employee with a story to tell? Do you love or hate your electric car? Contact this reporter at [email protected]

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