Why I Canceled My Tesla Model X Reservation

After putting a deposit down almost 2 years ago I canceled my Tesla Model X reservation today. Find out why!

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• Automotive: Electric Cars

Matt Anderson's Take
I’m a huge fan of Tesla Motors and Elon Musk. I like what they’re doing over there, I like what they stand for, I like that they make great American made products, and I’d love to be a part of that.

On the flip side, I’m not a tree hugger and I don’t know that electric cars are really saving the planet. It’s still a car and any car has a major environmental impact. Toss in one with batteries like a Tesla, which use lithium, and maybe they’re not as eco-friendly as we think.

Never heard of lithium? Remember that period table of elements from school? Lithium is the third element on that table (known as Li) and it’s mined from the ground. Like all mining processes, the mining of lithium isn’t exactly an earth friendly thing.

But like I said, I’m not into Tesla for the whole green thing. If it is green-ish then great, if not then it’s likely no worse than a petroleum powered engine. I’m all for being eco-friendly but that’s not what I like about the Tesla.

I liked that it is new and technologically advanced, even if all that self-driving stuff isn’t panning out as planned (yet). I love that I can plug it in and charge for free from my solar panels. I like the huge touch screen. I like how it looks. I like the falcon wing doors no matter how gimmicky they are. I really love that they do away with typical dealer models, which are beyond ridiculous to me.

I could go on and on. But we’re here to find out why I canceled and there isn’t a single reason but rather a perfect storm of reasons so I’ll list them all out.

Tesla Model X Delivery Date

I finally got an email from Tesla to configure my Model X. It was a great day that took far too long to arrive. But what’s this? The prices are really high on everything. Yikes! As it turns out, you can save some serious money but the key to that is the battery.

You’ll get to choose from what are essentially 3 base Model X variations. Before any rebates and the $1,200 delivery fee, the 70D with 220 miles of range is the cheapest at around $80,000 USD and comes with the smallest battery. The 90D with 257 miles of range is the middle version at around $95,000 and the performance P90D shoots to way over $100,000 with 250 miles of range.

The configuration website told me that if I ordered the pricey P90D I could expect to get my car in early 2016. If I go for the middle 90D then I should expect a mid-2016 delivery. But if I want to save the most money and go with the 70D (and only sacrificing 37 miles of range) I wouldn’t see my car until mid to late 2016. Possibly even much later since they say “deliveries start mid to late 2016”. If that’s when those deliveries start maybe I’m so far down the list that I’m in 2017.

In every scenario I can’t get a date or even a month for delivery. But to wait 6-12 more months for the 70D I wanted is just too long.

Line Jumping

I put my $5,000 USD deposit down when I reserved my place in line all the way back in February of 2014. I bought spot 7,748 in line for a Model X. Made sense. Seemed orderly and fair.

When my number came up I figured I would configure my Model X and get what I wanted, because, well, that’s what the Tesla people told me would happen back in February 2014! As it turns out, that isn’t quite accurate.

Instead, I could retain my rightful place in line only if I purchased the most expensive Model X they offered which was that P90D I mentioned earlier. Go for a cheaper, middle of the road, version and I would be delayed by half a year. Go for the cheapest option and I could be looking at a 1 year delay.

So let me get this straight, those who pay more get preferred delivery? What was the point of telling me I was 7,758 in your virtual line if you planned to let those with deeper pockets cut in front of me? Go to a theme park and those people are called Line Jumpers and they’ll get tossed out of the park if they cut in line. So why is this not only okay at Tesla, but encouraged?

Is Tesla in trouble financially and needs to get those high paying customers taken care of first? Wouldn’t surprise me, look at how the Model S launch went. Regardless, it’s not right and it’s not how you create a loyal customer.

70D VS 90D Cost

I originally wanted a Model X that had the most range. I live on a small island so range shouldn’t be an issue but, still, I wanted the most just to avoid any form of range anxiety. Of course, at that time I had no idea the bigger battery would be so much more than the smaller battery.

The price difference between small and large batteries is around $15,000. The smaller battery will do 220 miles of range while the big battery will do 257 miles (reduced to 250 miles on the performance P90D).

Meaning, you can save $15,000 and go with the 70D and you’ll only sacrifice 37 miles of range. To me, that’s a no brainer so I’d go with the 70D. The issue is the overall range on both models is pretty low and I was hoping for something closer to 300 miles of range on the 90D.

So I was a little bummed about range overall but it really didn’t matter due to the Line Jumper issue I mentioned above.

Seat Cost

Tesla Model X seats seem to fall into the “love it” or “hate it” category for most. I love them, very sleek looking. Sure, it’s really odd that they don’t fold flat, but I was willing to deal with that. What I liked was the seating for seven we were promise early on. I don’t often have the need for that, but nice to have for when I do need it.

My issue is the cost. Seems like seating for seven would be a standard thing for a car of this size but it isn’t. The standard seating is two seats up front and three in the middle row without any third row.

You then add a third row (two seats) for $3,000. In doing that, they change the middle row from three seats down to two seats so you lose a seat! Want that middle seat in the middle row back? They’ll put back what was yours already for $1,000. To go from five seats to seven is a $4,000 by simply getting two tiny third row seats will cost you $4,000! How can this be?

Cool Butts & 360 Degree Views

I always said that my next car would have ventilated seats (for cooling) and a 360 degree camera. The Tesla Model X does offer ventilated front (only) seats as part of their Premium Upgrade Package for $4,500. Well, at least it’s an option even if part of a pricey package.

As for that 360 degree camera, it doesn’t exist. Sure, you’ll get a nice backup camera for that huge display that comes on the Tesla X but why not a 360? Tesla is a tech company so this car should be packed with tech like this. On top of that, the X is a massive SUV that demands that the driver be able to see all around the vehicle when parking.

Pricey

Even if I could wait 12 months and go with the cheapest 70D version, it’s still a really pricey car. In my case I would take the base price of $81,200 (with delivery) and add on the seven seat upgrade for $4,000, auto-pilot for $2,500, Premium Upgrade Package (I need ventilated seats!) for $4,500, and Smart air suspension for $2,500 (not sure why, feel like I should have this).

Note that I skipped the $2,500 audio upgrade, $1,000 cold weather options, and $750 towing package. I’m even skipping the paint choices and taking basic black here. The red color, which I prefer, is $1,500 more as well.

Total it up and I end up with a total price of $94,700. Throw on tax and such and I’m basically around $99,000. Of that I might eventually see a $7,500 tax credit but that assume that I could still get that credit when my vehicle actually arrived. So, best case is a roughly $91,000 car.

Test Drive

When buying a nearly $100k Tesla Model X it’s normal to want to test drive your car first. Only you can’t, at least not right now. There are no models available to test!

I asked about this and was told, “We will begin test drives/viewings of the Model X’s at locations around the county starting in January 2016”. So they will have some Model X’s available for test drives but likely not here in Hawaii where I live. So who knows when I could test drive one!

On top of that, it’s nice to plan to have something in January but Tesla also planned to start selling the Model X in early 2014. Here we are almost two years later and only a few are on the road. So you either wait to test drive and keep falling back further and further in line, or you buy a $100k car on nothing more than online photos and videos and a lot of faith.

Long Term

Will Tesla stand the test of time and be around years from now to support all of the cars they’re making? I hope so, even if I’m not buying one. But it’s a big gamble. When I reserved almost two years, this was the only care I actually had.

Almost two years later and after seeing how this Model X stuff works and I’m even more worried than I was back then. I just get the feeling like the company is in panic mode. I can just picture the big cheese himself making some sort of statement like “We’re low on money so we’re going to convince everyone to buy the priciest Model X possible or toss them at the end of the line”.

It’s just my guess but it really feels like that’s what has happened here. I hope they figure it out and don’t screw over too many customers like myself in the process.

Customer Service

I didn’t have much experience with Tesla’s customer service. If anything, there was no service to experience. I talked to them once in person at my local Tesla store, shop, dealer, whatever they like to call it. The staff actually knew less than me about Tesla cars and virtually nothing about the Model X back in February of 2014. It’s sad that I knew more than they could tell me about the Model X back then.

Beyond that, everything was self-service and I’m okay with that. That is, until I got an email to configure my Model X. I clicked the link and it worked. I configured my car but then stopped. Later on I tried again and kept getting an error message.

I emailed support, gave them I account details, and it took a few days before I got a reply that basically said “Use Google Chrome, our site doesn’t work well with Internet Explorer”. Ugh. I had been using Chrome so that wasn’t helpful. Days of waiting for that?

I replied back to Sarah via email and minutes later my phone was ringing. Few things annoy me more than somebody who returns an email with a phone call! I emailed you for a reason Sarah! Basically, Sarah told me that their servers couldn’t handle the load. By this point I was fed up and told her to cancel my reservation. Luckily, I had the foresight to plan ahead and order a backup car from another company that will be ready soon.

Bottom Line

After a nearly two year wait and $5,000 (refundable) deposit I’ve canceled my Tesla Model X reservation. It’s sort of sad but also somewhat of a relief. I couldn’t wait another year to get my Tesla X and I feel like the prices are just too high. I hope they figure it out and when the smaller Tesla Model Y comes out, which will certainly be a smaller Model X, maybe I’ll look into Tesla once again. Of course, this time I think I’ll wait until the Model Y has been on the road for a year before I drink the grape Kool-Aid once again.
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