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Lack of Communication- Open letter to Tesla

I have Signature reservation 620. As an early adopter, I am very excited about switching to an all-electric vehicle and want to be a fan of Tesla. I'm willing to devote a significant amount of capital to the purchase of this car and realistically, expect that there will be problems with the cars that will emerge and that technology advances and design refinements will make my car "old" before its time. Tesla needs us early adopters to be rolling billboards for them. They should want us part of the team. I fear through their lack of communication, they are spoiling this opportunity. I commend them for displaying betas and for facilitating this forum. I fault them for the apparent air of secrecy that has emerged. If the roll-out of the design studio is delayed, get ahead of the story and say so! At this point, most of the details of the car's design are set - we get that. Why then the dearth of information on the car? When it comes to information - especially for your most loyal supporters, less is NOT more! I urge you to not further disillusion your fan base - we've been very patient and understanding to date; but I fear our collective patience is waning.

I think the open letter would be more impactful if you specified exactly what information it is that you seek. Do you simply want to know when the on line design center will be out? What a center console solution would entail? Those seem to be the issues of the day. Is there something else? Keep in mind, they are a public company and that drives what can and what cannot be disclosed as well as when it can be disclosed.

I understand they are a public company; but details on the design are not the type of material non-public information that is restricted. What I'm saying is that for a car that is only a few months from release, the level of detail is IMO unacceptable.

What I am asking is, what details are you looking for? You didn't say.

Honestly, I think this has gotten out of hand. Seriously, do people really think Tesla is non-communicative? Compared to what? We are talking about a publicly traded entity that is producing a massively new and innovative product in a highly open and public manner. This isn't a teenagers dating habits with hourly updates. It is a manufactured product with some rigid realities like safety and serving shareholders to think about.

I can't think of any public, heavy industry, tech, auto or innovation based company that has been even half as open about where they are with their product development from pre-alfa to production.

Do you have secret insights into IBM's next gen cloud solution that the rest of us aren't privy to? How about the next iPhone? Maybe and alfa of Boeing's new engine concepts? Or just a beta to play with from Nintendo of their next game console? I'm not even going to talk at length about cars. Look at the Volt concept to completion communication black out and then final product. In the ICE space maybe you watched the process close up around the Porshe Panamera while the rest of us were sleeping?

Design by committee is never a recipe for success, especially when the committee is web based. Look at this year's crop of superbowl ads that were crowd-sourced. It is a hot mess.

Tesla has been innovative and forward thinking in more ways than I can quantify. Do I love everything I've seen?Well, no, but that isn't the point. You can't please all of the people, and to try is just silly.

As for the level and quality of communications, I'm actually quite impressed. I say this from a place of knowledge about comms. I work at one of the largest ad agencies in the world and run the single largest digital client we have globally. I think they have been Spartan, but artful.

Take a deep breath, maybe a Xanax, and let the company do what companies do. I honestly believe Tesla is a good company bound for greatness. I applaud their audacity to challenge paradigms long accepted; and I'm not just talking about pure EV or a center console.

Rant over.

Mike point taken however, I'm not ranting or complaining about any detail or aspect of the design that Tesla has released. My point is that many more detals must be known and final by Tesla at this stage and better than "spartan" disclosure to your most loyal fans/customers would be IMO be "artful."

Kroneal - details such as warranty information. Three months from delivery they must have this set. Will they offer a credit if you don't take the 21" wheels? Does anyone think these types of details are not determined at this point in the process? If they are not yet set, that's concerning to me.

As far as the design studio goes, it's ready but being tweaked for the web. There are reports of people using it at Santana Row and at Bellevue, there are also screen shots of it in use. It exists and will be ready shortly. I'm glad that they're taking the time to make sure that it's right and not at all worrie because their self-imposed deadline passed within the last day.

As far as the Center Console goes, George Blankenship has told more than one person (and at least one on film) that they're working on a solution. youtube.com/watch?v=YBD3elgMA_0

If you want info fromTM I suggest that you email them. They seem to be pretty straightforward when they can.

Hang in there, this is the final push to getting the Model S into your garage!

@phb Then a statement from Tesla to the effect that we need a little more time to get the design studio working would go a long way. The silence is deafening IMHO.

I thought the warranty info was released. Certainly, on the battery it is. The rest of the car I thought was 4 years, or something like that. On the 21s, there has been nary a word. It has been asked in these forum's, of course, but I don't know if anyone has ever specifically asked. If you have questions, you should ask your rep.

Warranty info was posted last week: http://www.teslamotors.com/models/specs

It looks like 4year or 50,000 miles, whichever comes first.

I'd be skeptical if they would offer a discount for the wheels on the Signatures. Why should they? They've said all along that the Signature series would be tricked out and they've got a wait list of people looking to get a reservation for one.

I disagree with the OP. Even if they are missing the launch of the design studio by a couple weeks, they shouldn't really bother making a big announcement out of the delay or update the graphic. It's just not that important.

The kind of transparency that Tesla has exhibited so far is not normal for most kinds of product development, let alone car manufacturers. And as I explained in another thread, once a company does go this route, there will always be some who feel that the level of communication is not enough.

Unless Tesla is hiding something really major, like the car is still a year away, or the production car will look radically different from the beta, or this was all a big scam, I firmly believe that none of this anxiousness over various details will matter a year from now.

I'm not saying that you are going to like everything about the car and everything will turn out fine. I'm saying that in the end, it won't matter much whether Tesla reveals some particular detail X in March or May.

olanmills - we disagree. I would have agreed with you 6 months ago; but for me, at this juncture, there should be more communication. Perhaps I'm just an impatient early adopter, but I'd bet there are many more reservation holders feeling like I do at this point in the process.

Peter Spirgel,

If you want details call a rep. So far it sounds like most people get the answers when they speak with an actual person. You say THEY must know. If that is true then the rep will know. They may not be the answers you wanted though.

Honestly I don't get the rush. It sounds more like you are deciding between holding or selling stock than the car. You are not going to wake up and find the car in your garage with money paid and contracts signed before you know the details you are looking for so why so concerned about it?

Say you find out the car only has a 90 day warranty. You get your deposit back and you are no worse for wear. If you are upset because they are holding a large amount of your money that you could be investing then drop your reservation. If you are not going to drop your reservation then all that's left to do is bite your fingernails.

Actually there are many more reservation holders who don't participate on these forums or TMC forums. Even considering the first 5,000 reservation holders, who are supposedly going to get their cars this year, only a small fraction of them participate on these forums.

The enthusiastic minority can be an important segment to listen to and communicate with, but that doesn't mean that they always have the most important or most correct opinion on everything. In fact, sometimes it's the opposite.

Sudre - I stand by my point that I feel communication could be better. I'm not saying I'm dropping my reservation nor have I been critical in the forum. I love the concept, admire what they have done to date and remain very excited and a big proponent of Tesla. I recently visited a Tesla store and the reps were not able to answer any of my questions and simply pointed me to the web site. Going to try and visit the Florida store when I'm there at the end of the month and I hope I leave with more than I know today.

I have always gotten a prompt response from mine, Graham. Some of his responses come after hours and tend not to be stock, vague answers and he seems to have a direct line to decision makers. For example, I asked if I could get my Sig without the carbon fiber. He said he would ask and a couple of weeks later he sent an email to me saying that my wish would granted and it would be on the options page in a couple of days. Bam. Great communication, responsiveness, and ownership of the issue. Go Graham, go.

I would also encourage everyone to post their question here, too. There is a lot of knowledge in these forums with people hungry to help. Peter, you posted 2 questions and got one definite answer one very likely correct answer.

Mike,

Since you mentioned the Volt's process, I think that much more was communicated - it wasn't a black hole. Go to gm-volt.com, chevroletvoltage.com or look at some of the youtube interviews with GM staff. Granted GM is a much larger, much more established company, but they did take the time to communicate with customers.

Final design studio will answer many questions, but we might end up with more questions after.

There are roughly 4 full months before cars start going to customers. I expect we'll get at least 3 big announcements to keep Tesla in the news during that time and the 4th announcement will be the first cars. (And, yes, just like the gnomes' business plan...)

Here are the things we should expect:
1) Design Studio Finished
2) ???
3) Test Drives!
4) Happy Customer #1 (and 2 and 3 and...)

There is room for a surprise announcement in there. So I'm expecting the unexpected. ;-)

Guess that I should state that I'm not implying that TM communications is a black hole, so that folk won't get upset by my wording.

Just one detail. We requested a Specs page and we got a Specs page. And it's loaded, right down to Horn. Beep. Beep.

Yes, some information is still missing, but that's by the very nature of the process. How can you expect Tesla to listen and respond to requests from the forums (say, blind spot sensor) and at the same time request that they publish every detail long in advance? It strikes me that these two don't go together well...

I have to agree a bit with Peter, but from a different perspective. Let's assume for a moment that I'm a busy person and don't have time to read these forums or constantly go to the website to see what the latest info is (of course, none of that will make sense to the people that read this post, but it does apply to the 90% of the reservation holders out there). I reserved my car in October. Since then 6 months have elapsed and I've gotten two emails and zero letters. How that can be considered adequate communication baffles me.

I compare this to other long lead time purchases like a cruise reservation from an upscale line. Over the course of 9 months from reservation to travel I get monhly reminders of my trip. And not just emails, but nice glossy brochures I can share with family and (envious) friends. What can I show my friends here? A 5000 debit on my bank statement!

Wherre are the monthly newsletters and email communications tesla promised me. This is the bare mininimum requirement IMHO.

And this isn't a rant. I really don't care about center consoles or lack of a spare tire. Just feed me monthly with something.

@harryjsommer

EXACTLY!

I think you need to talk to someone with the company then. Maybe I'm just special and they like me the most.

+1 HarryJ

TESLA started off well with communication by having a newsletter emailed out to reservation holders. Haven't seen anything since last year now.

Never seen a newsletter. Reserved April last year. Other communication, yes, such as the October event and occasional local Australian events.

I also got a Roadster remote controlled model car from Elon... so I can't say that I only received e-mails... :)

Tesla Motors is a much smaller car company that is still starting out, I don't think they have the desire to waste and shell out 10K in letters and postage. For a green car company, that wouldn't be green at all! Sure they could e-mail us more but we are so close to the promised land. In a month we will start getting overwhelmed with information if not sooner. That is my feeling at least.

I can't speak from experience however as I have NEVER before pre-ordered or obsessed over a car (at least not since I was 16 years old).

So, silence before the storm of information ?

That is what I believe... :) They need to sit in a room and ask each other, "OK, what information are we releasing to our reservation holders now that we are 2 months away from making deliveries?"

Trying to put myself in the shoes of TM management, with finite resources and manpower. At this time, given the priorities, where do we draw the line(s) on public/customer communication?

Remember that anything put out is going to be treated as a commitment, written in stone.

Cynical: Fuggem. We've got 1+ years presold, and the big decider is going to be the product itself. Focus on that!

Empathetic: There are so many balls in the air that we've got to try and accommodate the expressed needs of our customers, but reality and conflicting wants keep us from saying anything until the last possible moment.

All my questions have been answer by ssmith@teslamotors.com

Stephen,

Could you make a management overview of your questions and the answers ? Anything new that is not yet discussed ?


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