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I was pretty much ready to order the car before my test drive, but figured the test drive was a good idea before I ordered. Usually by the time I test drive a car i’ve done a ton of research and i’m not surprised by anything I see at the show room or in a test drive. That worked well for me with my MDX and the Lexus before that.

After the test drive the sales guy took me into the back area and we configured a Model S the way i’d want it. I’m going to list the options and whether I chose them or skipped them and why. I’ll leave out the pricing since thats all available online (there’s no negotiating price).

  • Color – Metallic Grey. I also liked the Brown but its a pretty uncommon color. I didn’t want anything flashy, or hard to keep clean like black. I liked the Pearl White too.
  • I chose the Panoramic roof since i’ve had a moon or sunroof in every car i’ve owned. It makes me feel less “closed in”. I rarely open them but like the option to. This one may bug my wife a bit since she hates sunroofs and usually pulls the visor over it when she’s in the car. Tesla doesn’t have a visor to block the light.
  • I went with the standard 19″ wheels. They do upgrade you to the Michelin Primacy tires on the 85 kWh model which seems nice. The 21’s are more maintenance, get less miles etc. I don’t get excited about flashy wheels either so just the basics here. I asked him what the tires cost to replace and he didn’t really know. I looked them up later and it looks like ~$300/tire. He said  with mostly highway driving you can probably get 40K out of the tires (much less than my average of 53K on the MDX) but for my calculations I figured i’d get 35K miles (about a years worth of driving for me) out of a set of tires.
  • For interior I went with the tan leather, also an option i’ve had in every recent car i’ve owned. Leather has lasted 200K miles for me on my last 2 cars, not something i’d mess with. Didn’t choose the performance seats option which is just a pinstripe of red on the seat and for show only.
  • For the decor I chose the Obeche Wood Matte. This is the one least likely to show fingerprints and dust. I also didn’t really like some of the other designs. This one looks even better in person. Didn’t go for the “matching yacht floor” since as soon as possible I want to get a center console for some reasonable storage and the floor will be covered. I don’t know what they were thinking when they left a big tray there.
  • Battery – 85kWh, the one with max range. Not the performance model, I don’t need to go 0-60 in 4.2 (nor in 5.4 but no options there), I want max range. Its not unusual for me to do 175 miles in a single day just running the kid to school and commuting etc. Thats near the limits of the 60 kWh, especially in lower temperatures. With the 85 kWh, 175 is well within bounds for any kind of weather and aggressive driving if needed and my average of 90 miles per day fits very well.
  • Several of the features after that you can only choose if you get the P85 (85kWh performance model) which I didn’t pick so those were automatically excluded.
  • I skipped the high power home charger. You don’t need HPWC for max charge rates at the Superchargers and you can put 200 miles of range into the Model S in less than 7 hours overnight with a NEMA 14-50 (RV) 40A outlet so that would get me the needed range easily overnight. The sales guy said its not a very popular option.
  • For the 85 kWh battery, they’re Supercharger enabled by default (its an option for the smaller battery). I don’t think i’ll get much use out of the Superchargers — there are none in Massachusetts yet and none along the route to most of my family out by Pittsburgh. Someday maybe, but its included anyway.
  • I did choose the Tech package – the Model S is really stripped down without it. No turn by turn navigation without it, no memory seats, no power lift gate, etc. The car is really expensive but I couldn’t imagine ordering it without this.
  • Air suspension – my MDX has a “comfort” and “sport” mode with some fancy shocks. They’re crazy expensive to fix and I never used the option (or could notice the difference). I couldn’t see a good reason for these and the height difference is pretty limited and it looks like Tesla is still messing with the right settings for the right occasions. Im skipping this expensive option — it will cost money upfront and more later.
  • Parking sensors – I liked these on the test drive and its something I wish I had gotten with my MDX when I bought it. They’re a no brainer for me.
  • Fog lamps – These are really for looks only and the car is sharp already and has cornering LED lights etc. Seems like a silly thing to spend money on and I never use my fog lights on my MDX.
  • Ulta Hi Fi Sound – I mentioned earlier that I listen to a lot of audio books. Other than that I listen to country music mostly. Im no audiophile and there’s always noise from the road/wind/tires anyway. I never pay for an upgraded sound system. Sometimes I get them because I want other features but its not worth the money to me.
  • The next 2 options, extended leather trim and Alcantara headliner the sales guy said nobody orders. I couldn’t really see or understand the difference and they’re pricy options. Both seem silly to me so I passed on those.
  • Rear facing seats – kid is all grown up (sob), no need for them. She’ll be driving my MDX.
  • Premium interior lighting – these are the ambiance lights. Pretty much standard in high end cars these days, but not the Model S. Not a cheap option but i’m used to them and I drive a lot at night. They keep me from feeling like I’m sitting alone in the dark for endless hours. I went for them.
  • Subzero weather package – One of the reasons I got the MDX was heated rear seats. Once my kid heard about those we had to have them. This package heats all 3 rear seats and proves some other benefits. Pretty much a no-brainer in Massachusetts and it’s surprisingly reasonably priced (less than the ambiance lights).
  • Parcel shelf – I couldn’t figure out why they offer this. I think its because people are coming from sedans and don’t like the idea/feel of a hatch back. But I’m coming from SUVs so it doesnt bother me. Plus the silly thing doesnt roll up so it will get in the way.

So while I won’t get into the individual prices, the end damage is a car that costs a whopping $92,470. You get a Federal Tax Credit of $7,500 next time you do your taxes so its effectively a cost of $84,970 but you do have to pay for the whole $92,470 plus taxes when you buy the car. I knew that walking in as i’d done a cost analysis versus buying another MDX so there was no sticker shock. Here’s the full breakdown:

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For the heck of it I priced a new BMW 7-series (similar class car). Looks like for equivalent options its about $76,000, about $9,000 lower but you have to pay for gas, engine maintenance etc. In a similar cost analysis to the MDX I think the Model S would easily win that contest. Also the Model S, even the non-performance model, is faster than the 740i (5.4s vs 5.5s). The BMW does have some really cool options that Tesla doesn’t offer. I’ll do a different post on the things I don’t like about the Model S and things I wish it had.

Back to the Model S configuration — after we had it built, the sales guy asked me if I was ready to place a fully refundable deposit on it. I had been giving him “intent to buy” signals all along so it was a perfectly reasonable question. I asked him if it mattered to him if we did it there or if I went back to my office and placed the order from my desk. They don’t get commission but they do get compensated on the number of cars their store sells. So if you test drive/work with a store during your buying process it would be really nice to them if you helped them get the credit (they can get it after the fact if you do it online but its more paperwork etc for them). I was ready so logged into my account at Telsa (if I hadn’t created one yet we would have had to create one then) and we put the deposit of $2,500 (only option) on my credit card.

That was it, I got my reservation number and the clock started. I asked him how long it would take. He said about 2 months as each car is custom built to your requirements. He said the smaller battery versions take 3 months. I think they’re prioritizing based on the price of the car in general.

He said for 14 days you can change/cancel the order and get your money back. If you do nothing then in 14 days they start building your car, assign a VIN and then the deposit is no longer refundable.

I found out you can waive that 14 day “grace period” and start the build process immediately which shaves 2 weeks off the delivery timeframe. Since I was ready before I walked in, I pressed “Confirm”:

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We shook hands, he gave me a couple keychains and a hat and that was that. Now I have to be patient. The estimated delivery time is end of April…

Later at home I went online and checked my account at Tesla. The VIN was there already thanks to the confirmation and start and there were questions for me to answer like my insurance company, drivers license info, etc. I filled in everything they asked. You can also download all the paperwork from the order, the manuals for the car, etc.

Some will think i’m nuts for buying a $84K car, but I thought a lot about it and reasoned it through. When people ask me why I decided to buy it, I have 2 answers:

  1. Its the car equivalent of the iPhone 1. It will change the world. Perhaps this car/company won’t win, but its the beginning of the true next age in cars. I’m an engineer and a geek and that above all else is why.
  2. My current car is at 185K miles and my kid starts to drive this year and needs a car. So either way i’m going to have to buy another car. The MDX was great and so i’d buy another MDX this year otherwise. But doing that is more of the same and the same cost as buying a Model S.

More to come on likes/dislikes, insurance, etc.