My affair with Tesla is over. It was great while it lasted but I’m now I’m back in the arms of my ex – Mercedes Benz.
My five years driving a Tesla felt like a fling. I was loving it until Tesla suddenly said it was all over and turned its back on me.
My intention was to upgrade my current Model S to the Model S Plaid – I actually placed my order two years ago – but Tesla sent me an email that basically said “look, we need to talk”.
The affair was over. In the email Tesla said, “it’s not you – it’s me”.
They said they weren’t going to make the new Model S in right hand drive. I was heartbroken. They said they appreciated everything we’d done together but it was over.
To make me feel better they even offered my one of their siblings – the Model 3 or Model Y – if I wanted the relationship to continue.
But that’s not who I fell in love with.
I bought my Tesla Model S five years ago in 2018 when you could count the number of car companies making EVs on one hand.
Tesla first caught my eye back in 2017 when I was offered the Model S to drive so I could write about my experience on Tech Guide.
Here was this amazing car that represented the future. I was immediately smitten.
At that time I was driving a Mercedes Benz E Class – a beautiful luxury car – but at that moment it felt old school in comparison.
The younger and sexier vehicle suddenly had all my attention and, when my lease on the Merc ran out in 2018, I decided it was time to make the move.
The new car was all electric, had a sleek design and was filled with tech. This was the car I was meant to own – and it felt like I’d know it all my life.
At the time Tesla was an up and coming brand that had a huge cool factor – it was the new kid on the block taking on the old and stuffy car manufacturers.
When kids are fascinated by your car and wave to you because you drive a Tesla it said to me that the brand is cool and therefore I must be cool as well, right?
I was gulping the Kool Aid by the bucket, and it felt like I was part of a movement.
The rise of Tesla has been remarkable. The point of difference was Tesla was only making electric cars and approaching car manufacturing from a completely different direction than the traditional car manufacturers.
It reminded of when Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007 and turned the smartphone market on its head.
Apple approached the iPhone from the computer side – it was a computer that made phone calls while everyone else was trying make a telephone more like a computer.
Tesla and Apple have a lot in common – a tech company with visible and easily recognisable CEOs and millions of fanatical fans of their respective brands.
But ironically Tesla cars were never compatible with Apple’s CarPlay – a feature I have never really enjoyed until I got into my new EV – the Mercedes Benz EQE 350.
Over the years, Tesla made a lot of ground and endeared themselves to customers because they were the underdog in the industry.
This was despite the fact that investors were death-riding them and they were months behind in their manufacturing and were really struggling to meet the increasing demand.
What saved Tesla was that customers were patient. And loyal.
The wait for a Tesla was like a badge of honour. It showed you were up with the times and wanted to help save the planet.
Tesla put the blowtorch to the other major car brands and forced them into creating their own roadmaps to coming up with their own electric vehicles.
And that’s exactly what we’re seeing now. Hundred year-old car companies now have EVs and a plan to be full electric in the next decade.
If there was no Tesla to not only rock the boat but capsize it – we’d still be shopping for petrol cars.
Tesla also had first mover advantage when it came to creating a network of electric vehicle chargers at a time when most drivers weren’t even considering an EV. Their impressions of an electric car were the equivalent of a golf cart.
But five years is a long time in the auto industry and today it’s an entirely different story.
If Mercedes Benz had an EV five years ago, I would have bought that – but they didn’t and that’s why I told them I want to see other people.
In the five years Mercedes Benz and I were apart a lot has changed. Mercedes Benz had made a lot of changes and looked better than ever before.
I see that Tesla breaking up with me was probably a blessing in disguise.
It forced me to consider other brands and naturally Mercedes Benz (I had four Mercs before I bought the Tesla) was at the top of the list.
The Model S Plaid I ordered was going to cost more than the Mercedes Benz EQE 350, but it was still pretty spartan and minimal and, frankly, lacked the luxury that Mercedes Benz offered.
But I don’t regret buying the Tesla – it wasn’t as luxurious or as well built as a Merc – but I looked beyond that.
What it lacked in luxury and build quality – it made up for it with the cool factor, performance, technology, software updates and new features appearing overnight.
My new Mercedes Benz EQE 350 is amazing and it has so many features that surprise and delight with nearly every feature I had with the Tesla now onboard – and in many cases features and luxuries and safety features that were lacking in the Tesla.
Today everyone has now caught up with Tesla in terms of EVs.
For a first time EV driver, Tesla still has extraordinary appeal because they were first cab off the rank and are top of mind when customers think of an electric vehicle.
I think the biggest worry for Tesla is whether they can keep their customers. They sell their cars online – there is no face to face dealing with anyone.
It’s the same deal if you have an issue or need a repair – it’s all done through the app and really lacks the human touch.
Mercedes Benz, and all the other established brands, don’t want to sell you one car – they want to sell you your next five cars.
The delivery of my Mercedes Benz EQE 350 was like a ceremony – it felt like an occasion.
To be fair my Tesla delivery in 2018 felt the same – it was a momentous occasion.
But today Tesla is delivering so many cars in Australia – only Model 3 and Model Y – the delivery is usually short and sharp.
Tesla, it was great while it lasted, and I want you to be happy. I don’t regret the time we had together.
Mercedes Benz, it’s great to be back.