November 12, 2022
Welcome back to Climate Deals: Wheels!
Tesla CEO and hype man Elon Musk is, ahem, in the news. But that's not why we bumped Tesla to the top of the schedule.
- The automaker that brought EVs to the masses — the models by which all others are measured — is finally facing competition. It's time to see whether it still measures up.
1 big thing: Utter electric dominance
The Model 3 is the "affordable" Tesla — the one that followed the path blazed by the six-figure Model S and Model X.
Why it matters: The Model 3 is the third most popular car in America, behind only the Toyota Camry and Corolla.
- Put another way: More people are buying a Model 3 than a Honda Civic or Accord.
Catch up fast: We take these strategies that Tesla pioneered for granted.
- Cars reframed as sleek computers-on-wheels, buttressed by over-the-air updates and new features;
- Heavy investment in a network of fast, reliable and easy-to-find charging stations;
- Seamless sales through the company's website and showrooms;
- An early focus not on high-volume, low-cost cars, but on lust-worthy luxury vehicles.
The bottom line: These innovations were hugely effective.
Yes, but: Tesla's been in production hell for years, and its customers are the ones who keep paying the price.
- Both Consumer Reports and J.D. Power place Tesla near the bottom of their reliability ratings.
- Tesla ranked among Chrysler and Jeep, the latter said to stand for "Just Expect Every Problem."
What's happening: Tesla vastly accelerated its output year over year to meet projections and investor goals. It doubled deliveries in 2021 alone.
- That's led to major problems. Measuring the enormous gaps between car panels has become a Tesla meme.
- Then there are the drivers who discover their brand-new cars are being held together with fake wood.
What we're watching: The race is on to see if Tesla figures out its production problems before Tesla buyers finally get fed up.
- Lousy reliability hasn't exactly stopped drivers from buying Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler, but there's a reason only a handful of their vehicles are best-sellers.