Even oil industry journalists understand why owners love their Teslas
Oil industry execs may not be happy about the technological advances reshaping the energy and transport sectors, but by no means all of them are in denial about it. OilPrice.com, a trade magazine for the oil and gas industry, frequently reports the latest Tesla news.
Above: Tesla Model S (Source: EVANNEX; Photo by: Casey Murphy)
A recent article by Michael Kern begins with a list of “problems” that most Tesla owners will probably find puzzling: “Shipment delays, fires, autopilots gone mad, and charging times that have yet to compare with the time it takes to fill up a gasoline tank are only a handful of the problems Tesla has experienced since it became a mass car maker.”
Mr. Kern freely admits, however, that “despite all these problems, people seem to love these electric cars.” What follows is a list of the benefits of Tesla ownership that wouldn’t be out of place in the most glowing of Tesla testimonials.
The first item on Kern’s long list of benefits is “excellent design and engineering.” Tesla’s historic accomplishment was to change people’s perception of electric cars. The few EVs that existed before the Roadster and Model S were ugly, slow and really nothing anyone other than a hard-core greenie would consider buying. Along came Model S, with sports car styling, plenty of space, fast charging and superlative safety—it became the safest car ever tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Tesla’s industry-leading range and comprehensive Supercharger network are two more reasons the company outclasses every other automaker’s electric offerings.
Of course, practical considerations have never had much weight with car buyers, and the real reason for the rapid success of Model S was its speed and performance, which expanded its appeal beyond greenies to gearheads.
Tesla’s technology is miles beyond anything offered by other automakers, from Autopilot features to over-the-air updates to handy features like Sentry Mode, Dog Mode and Emissions Testing Mode (aka fart mode). And there’s more to come. “People are crazy even about features that are yet to be added to the Teslas,” writes Michael Kern. “They are crazy enough about them to pre-pay for them and wait for years to receive them.”
Obviously, some folks love gas-powered cars, but it would be hard to find anyone who loves the traditional car-buying process. Kern praises Tesla’s direct sales model, and cites a Deloitte survey, which found that some 60 percent of car buyers would much rather buy directly from an automaker, and skip the trip to the dealer. People dislike the paperwork, the haggling and the waste of time. Tesla buyers don’t need to deal with any of this. “You go to the company’s web site, you configure the car you want and you pay for it.”
Kern goes on to note Tesla’s massive fun factor—the cars themselves seem to have a quirky sense of humor. Of course, much of the humor, and the quirkiness, can be traced to the company’s controversial CEO, Elon Musk. “Critics have called Musk a snake oil seller,” says Kern. However, “car evaluation ratings have proved Teslas are not, in fact, snake oil.”
All this adds up to fanatical brand loyalty. As many have noted, Tesla has a network of faithful fans that no other automaker can boast. Mr. Kern concludes that Tesla customers “have a very good reason to believe they are buying more than just an electric car. For many of them, buying a Tesla is buying a vision of a better, more sustainable future.”
Can such a comprehensive enumeration of Tesla’s strengths really have been published in a magazine that caters to the oil industry? There’s nothing resentful or dismissive in Mr. Kern’s article—just sincere admiration for a well-built automobile and an innovative company. Could it be that the millions who work in the global fossil fuel industries are not the enemy? They’re naturally concerned about the security of their livelihoods, but many of them value a clean environment, and understand that the world’s energy and transport sectors need to change.