Tesla Model 3: The Dream Car and The Reality

The “barren” dashboard
Photo courtesy of Tesla

By JOHN HARLOW | Editor-in-Chief

Over the last few days, Tesla has enjoyed a handful of wild, mid-summer headlines: the share prices juddered around, co-founder Elon Musk announced that he is bipolar and suffering from “unrelenting stress,” and, oh yes, the mid-market, all-electric Tesla Model 3 arrived.

The first 30 steel and glass production models rolled out into the public domain on July 28.

(I only mention this because, as far as Palisadian dream cars go, a Tesla is way up there.)

Realtor Anthony Margulies and others get wolf-whistles for their more upscale Model S once reserved for sleek Italian sports cars.

The town is regarded as a sales hot spot among Tesla staff in its Santa Monica Third Street showroom.

What has become evident is, despite delivering on the promise of long-distance driving on a single charge (between 220 and 310 miles, depending on the model) and pre-orders adding up to around $14 billion, drivers are still shocked at the sparse interior fittings—in particular, the “barren” dashboard, which offers nothing beyond a center-mounted LCD touchscreen.

Like Apple always swapping up its power cables, forcing users to pay extra for a dangling dongle to keep older (i.e. 2016) devices connected, it is a switch-up too far for some of the 500,000 people who pre-ordered the Model 3 years ago.

Reports suggest it lives up to the promise made by Tesla designer (and, yes, Palisadian) Franz von Holzhausen that it will be “an Audi A4, BMW 3-series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class type of vehicle that will offer everything: range, affordability and performance.”

But, according to social media protests, not enough bells and whistles.

Consumers paying nearly $40,000 (including taxes) for a ground-breaking vehicle apparently want buttons to push and dials to read, even if they don’t actually add to either safety (the self-driving mode is dormant on the Model 3) or the overall driving experience.

Also, like the Ford Model T, which it resembles in the mass ambition, there are limited options: You can have it in any color you like providing it’s black.

Or you can pay more for color, but again you may have to join the waiting list.

These gripes have been enough to provoke some to ask for their $1,000 deposits back. Not many, one suspects, but a noisy few.

Those may even include a few speculators and those who just wanted to brag they were in the queue.

Is there a lesson here? Yes, life is crazy on the wild frontier.

My advice? Don’t give up your stake in the future and, if you are still feeling a little naked and under-optioned, you can always add your own furry dice.