Last week I visited, via my network association ‘De Maatschappij’, a very special company: TESLA! And I had my first testdrive, in the backseat. A very special Customer Experience (CX).
It was interesting to find that there are so many prejudices about this company. Even I thought that I knew all about this brand.
There are many stories about TESLA such as: the car will be electrified after an accident! Or after an accident men in white overalls from TESLA appear on the scene, etc. etc. All fake news.
To reduce air resistance, the TESLA suspension is set to ‘hug’ the ground. Initially this lead to a collision with Amsterdam’s steep bridges. However, since the operating system of this car forms part of a network of computers using Artificial Intelligence, the system ‘learns’ what the GPS coordinates are of such obstacles and the air suspension (of every car) automatically adjust for each bridge! In fact the system learns from every new situation each individual car encounters. And all this knowledge is immediately used to optimize the performance of each car around the world [‘It’s the best’ ?].
In fact being part of ‘the system’ is like being part of ‘the collective’, as the ‘trekkies’ amongst you might recognize!
TESLA is often mocked for its huge losses, but did you know that this car actually sells quite well? Delivery time is 4 months. And their annual production capacity is now at 200.000 cars. And did you know that the entire bottom of the car is filled with batteries, so constructed that they make the car extremely sturdy? So actually quite safe?
By keeping your ear to the ground at such an occasion you can hear a few things outside of the official TESLA story. Such as why Tilburg was chosen as the European assembly headquarters (fiscal reasons!). And also, that you can easily install the ‘app’ Flitsmeister on the boardcomputer so you can avoid the speedtraps!
Before our testdrive, we listened to a very positive story from the Marketing Manager about the vision of Elon Musk. Like my neighbour said: ‘it is almost like this man is god himself!’ It was not only about cars, but also about Elon’s desire to solve the world energy problem by selling complete sunroofs (hence the takeover of Solar City) and by selling in-home ‘powerpacks’ to store all that energy.
If you hear all that, than you expect solar panels on the roof of this European HQ. And you expect all personnel to drive an electric car. But no. I couldn’t detect any solar panel on the building. But I did hear the roar of the engines of two Ducati motors outside. Not exactly role models for a company that claims to be so environmentally friendly. So TESLA has a good story, but they still have to do some work on being consistent!
My CX in the Model X
And then I got to board the car. There were 4 cars and 50 people, so we couldn’t drive ourselves. I joined three other passengers in the Model X. Seeing the wingdoor come down automatically was awesome, especially when the driver tells you that this door can automatically alter its shape and trajectory, for instance when you are parked adjacent to another car. Moreover, these doors will not hit a roof in a parking garage as they are guided by all kinds of sensors.
Next we were waiting for a red light. I wondered, will this car really reach 100 KM within 2.7 seconds? Alas, I never found out, as there was too much traffic for that. But I did get pushed back into my seat as if I was on a ride in Disneyland! (Or in ‘The Barron’ in The Efteling).
The ‘look Mama, no hands’ autonomous driving was spectacular, especially when it came to switching lanes, fully automatic!
It surely is tempting, such a marvellous piece of technique!
‘Great Buy’ such a TESLA?
So suddenly you find yourself asking for the price. A Model S starts at 80 grand, but if you want a bigger action radius (and that’s what you want!) add 10 or 20 thousand more. At TESLA they also tell you that you will get a trade in of 70% of the new price after three years, because second hand TESLA’s are extremely rare.
So you think, not bad! However as a Trendwatcher I have to make a small annotation. Imagine that future cars will have better batteries? Or imagine that our German Friends, shocked by the Diesel scandal, invent a cheaper alternative? What do you think will happen to the restvalue of 70%?
TESLA calls its new factory the Giga factory. However up to now it’s only been the losses at TESLA that are ‘Giga’.
So will TESLA survive the next 3 years? Of where do I put in a claim when Elon is on Mars with his next project Space X?
In other words, a beautiful car! But isn’t Elon Musk’s TESLA secretly the ‘Spijker’ from Victor Muller on steroids?
Jan Mulder, Market Researcher and founder at Market Vision
Jan Mulder leads research activities at Market Vision. Jan founded Market Vision in 1996 after obtaining marketing experience at one of the first Personal Computer companies (Kaypro) and getting legal experience at Fokker Aerospace and Fokker Space. His current experience is based on more than 15 years of research in the hotel industry with hotelchains like Radisson and Novotel. Jan also taught research at Windesheim Flevoland for five years. Jan lives and works in Amstelveen, near Amsterdam, Netherlands. Jan holds a B.A. from the University of Puget Sound and a M.Sc. from the University of Oregon.