Monday, April 20, 2015

Enough With the Tesla Fanatics!

Photos courtesy of Tesla Motors
I like Tesla Motors, I really do. Every time I see a Model S on the roads around here (which lately seems to be just about every other day) I stop and stare longer than normal and point it out to my kids. What Elon Musk has accomplished the past several years has been amazing and is commendable on many levels. 

Still, I'm getting tire of all the Tesla fanatics. 
When I say "fanatics" I mean fanboys, because Tesla definitely has them. Sure, there are Camaro fanboys, Mustang fanboys, Ferrari fanboys, etc. but today I want to address the problem with the extremists who support Tesla in all it does, both good and bad. 

Even though I like Tesla, I wouldn't dream of saying it's a "perfect" company by any means, and I have a feeling Musk wouldn't either. Like any other organzation, it can do things better and improve, so by definition it can't be perfect. 

That hopefully seems like common sense to you, but I've bumped into people who seem to think that pointing out any flaws in their favorite electric car company is blasphemous and must be reconciled with a swift death. I've had such individuals accuse me of being part of a conspiracy, outright hating Tesla, being anti-technology, etc. simply for hinting that the company might be taking the wrong course of action on literally anything. 

I do feel like since the company enjoys a darling position in the public eye and to an extent in the industry, most people don't talk about these annoying Tesla fans without going to the opposite extreme of saying that Tesla is a "sham" or "dead weight." 

Don't even think about saying anything that's less-than-positive about Tesla's direct sales model, because it must've been established by God himself. While I don't think it's right, the fact that Tesla won't use dealer networks like virtually every other automaker is the thing that's kept it from selling cars in multiple states, including here. Elon Musk has said before that the company's current circumstances don't jive well with anything but direct sales, but he's also said that it likely won't stay that way forever. Apparently some Tesla extremists didn't get that memo, because when I once suggested that Tesla would one day use franchised dealers, I might as well have been tap dancing on a burning picture of Jesus in the middle of the Vatican for the way they reacted. If Tesla doesn't want to go that sales route right now, so be it. Tesla likely won't sell as many cars using a direct sales channel, so if the company's okay with that then it is what it is. 

The one thing that will definitely make a Tesla fanboy go ape is to just mention the term "range anxiety." Recently, when Elon Musk said he was about to end range anxiety, and I pointed out that it's a big hurdle for many who might otherwise consider electric cars, a Tesla fanatic tore into me for playing up a "non-issue." Apparently, because that person doesn't personally know anyone out of his five friends and little brother who suffers from range anxiety, the condition simply doesn't exist. As I pointed out in the article, with internal combustion cars you can carry a can of fuel back to a car that has exceeded its range, but you can't really carry electricity back to an electric vehicle. 

According to the hardcore Tesla fans, nobody (and I mean nobody) needs to drive more than 200 or maybe 300 miles without waiting 15 minutes or more to drive that same distance, or almost as far again. Sorry, but that's simply narrow-minded. While many people on a daily basis don't drive that far, there are people who drive around as part of their living, such as real estate agents, Some of us live where there aren't public chargers all over, making recharging a vehicle a bit of a fiasco. Sure, you adjust, but a fair amount of consumers look at those adjustments at best as a significant inconvenience. After all, how would you like to hang out by a charging car with cranky kids who just want to go home? Slitting your wrists and swimming through a pool of iodine would be less painful. Being able to refuel a vehicle in under five minutes is a real godsend, trust me. 

I do believe that Tesla and other automakers will overcome the challenges they face right now. Battery tech will move forward, allowing for greater range and shorter charging times, electric cars will become even more common and droves of consumers will buy them. Denying the challenges that face the technology right now doesn't help push for real solutions to problems. Instead of engaging in a big group-think session about why electric powertrains are perfect, let's come together and figure out how we can design vehicles that work well for everyone.

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