I should start this with a couple of notes:
- I am am huge fan of what Tesla is doing, and what they have achieved, and I seriously hope they will continue to play a leading rôle in the EV market;
- Directly related to that, I do own a small quantity of Tesla Motors stock.
With that out of the way, why did I not purchase, or lease, a Tesla before, or even add myself to the Model 3 wait list when they were announced?
The Model S is, frankly, just too large for my taste. I understand the logic behind it, but I do not like cars that large. It was also expensive for a variant with long range capabilities, and the early lease-alternative plans were not that attractive. While there are aspects of the car that I really like (the huge display, digital dash, driver assistance features etc), and the overall look of the car is great, at the end of the day the size killed it for me.
Still too large, but now there is also the issue of a questionable look. It is too much like a raised sedan and not enough like an SUV for my taste. If I am going to drive an SUV. It had better look the part too!
I also have my doubts about the gull wing doors (and the fear that I’ll open them in a parking lot, or my own garage, one day and they will crash into the roof & damage themselves. They seem like a gimmick that might have been better as sliding doors, or even just regular car doors.
The Model 3 then should be ideal. The size is perhaps a little larger than I would prefer, but given that I need at least four seats, it is probably as small as I can practically get. Style-wise, the exterior, I think, looks better than the Model S, if somewhat vanilla.
The interior is another matter, and I have a horrible feeling I will not be alone here. I am not ready for an interior as minimal as the Model 3 design. If it was fully autonomous, it might work (although I think VW’s ID Buzz, with its swiveling captain’s chairs, has a better plan for what that will look like). The Model 3 is not autonomous however. It has an option of having limited autonomy, but Tesla is very clear here: the driver still needs to pay attention & be ready to take over if needed.
Given that, the single central screen with no dedicated driver instrument cluster, no heads up display and very few physical controls does not appeal at all. Maybe I would get used to glancing to the right for my speed, and maybe I would get used to navigating menus on the touch screen, but I can’t help feeling the driver’s experience has been compromised by the minimalism of the interior.
Autonomous Ride Sharing
I have heard one theory on the reasoning behind the minimal interior: it will allow the car to be used as part of an autonomous ride share fleet without the passengers being to change anything in the car’s settings. That makes sense, or a least it would of the car was capable of being that autonomous, and was driving around picking up and dropping off strangers. That is not going to happen for at least a few years, so more realistically, the minimal interior is about cost saving. In a car that still costs over $60k fully loaded (they are not even selling the headline grabbing $35k base model yet.).