Tesla Delivers Anywhere

By Mark Z

After waiting decades for the possibility to buy a production all-electric automobile, and three years since placing a deposit, I just bought my first – a Tesla Model S Signature Performance edition.

The buying “experience” with a few small exceptions has been overwhelmingly good, and quite unlike the customary dealership “dealer options” and negotiations hassle.

First off, Tesla will deliver the Model S anywhere in the U.S. and unlike a traditional dealer, this has no bearing on its retail stores. The delivery can be the place of your choosing.

A potential downside – which ultimately I was fine with – is that with hundreds of people now taking delivery of the Model S, Tesla is charging each a non-negotiable $990 fee.

The company is calling this final step in the revolutionary car buying process, “Tesla Personal Delivery,” and it does not include an additional $180 charged for final inspection, preparation and coordination, so that’s an extra $1,170 tacked on regardless what it actually costs Tesla to get it done.

On the flip side, the more logistically remote the delivery, the better the deal for the buyer.

And in any case, Tesla Motors will deliver the Model S wherever you want in the United States but warns that out-of-state deliveries can result in additional DMV charges.

With all the controversy with its unique Apple-inspired stores, it’s a good time to review my history in this entire buying process as well.

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Easy to enter without the hardtop. Attempting to exit the Roadster sold me on the promise of a future sedan.

Back in August, 2008 I visited a Tesla Store in Los Angeles to check out a Roadster. When I couldn’t easily get out of the Lotus-based two-seater, the representative said, “We will be making a sedan in the future.”

That sounded more appealing, so in April of 2009 a $5,000 deposit was made online for the standard production run of the Model S. My wait began.

The first surprise; an announcement that all orders for the 85-kwh battery cars would be built first. If you opted for a 40-kwh Model S, you would be moved to a later 2013 production queue.

At a factory tour in 2011 it was announced that the dark red would only be available for the Signature series. The bright red color wouldn’t be available until sometime in 2013 after all the Signature series vehicles were completed. So I added a new Signature order with a $40,000 deposit online, and was now set for one of the first 1,000 off the production line. The original order was not transferable and it was recommended by the Tesla store personnel to leave that order alone until the Signature order was configured and confirmed.

During the summer of 2012 the final options selections were made for the Signature Performance car through email and phone conversations and the final delivery arrangements were made in November. On the positive side – and unlike the usual dealer process – no papers were ever signed at a store, galleria or service center. It was an easy process and I avoided having to sit at a dealership and negotiate price and APR.

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The buying process is as clean and uncluttered as the Model S interior; it’s smooth and elegant with no bumps in the floor.

Delivery Time

When the Personal Delivery fee was announced, I’ll admit I was disappointed that there was no discount for factory delivery.

After all, any money and time spent to travel to Fremont and back would be added to the $990 cost.

Some may think this sounds unacceptable, and an argument could be made that it is. But just as likely, the added fee can get buyers to think creatively how to get their money’s worth.

While some do pick up their Model S at the factory, especially if they live nearby, many have taken delivery at places like Disneyland. Some Model S owners throw a party and invite friends for the delivery.

As for myself, I made Tesla work a bit for my $990, and made a video out of the “experience.” I also enjoyed two hours of personal instruction within the arrival, unloading, social courtesy and paper signing that took about three hours total.

Oh also, for those who do show up at Tesla’s front door, it is not a total waste of money, as a gracious reception and factory tour are offered along with the instruction on the new car.

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Some new owners take delivery at one of Tesla’s Service Centers.

So while it’s easy to gripe about a non-negotiable fee, it’s buyers choice and, keeping it all positive, the way to make it worthwhile is for prospective buyers to fantasize where they would take delivery and personalize the occasion to their liking.

Again, it’s quite a change from driving a car off of a dealer’s lot – and more personalized and carefully carried out than many a dealership experience as well

Since entry, exit, starting, and controls are different than other vehicles, personal training is a must. After the training session, the papers are signed and checks are written if funds were not wired for payment; key fobs are handed over, farewells made and it’s time to enjoy Model S.

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The car is delivered in pristine condition. A custom trailer with frontal air dam helps protect the vehicle en route. The trailer’s wheel guard also removes to allow opening of the door.

Making it Momentous

My thoughts of delivery evolved from factory delivery to wanting Tesla to deliver to a scenic location while video taping the arrival and unloading.

“Tesla Delivers Anywhere,” was the theme I chose and the results were worth the effort. The added benefit was learning about my new Model S at my own quiet, hilltop location.

I even treated the Delivery Specialist to a spin on another type of EV – my Segway i2 that for novelty’s sake I used to film the semi-historical first-gen, first-wave, Model S delivery.

Tesla Delivers Anywhere from Ashley Nicole Video on Vimeo.

But in case you think I’m all exuberance and positive spin, I’ll note there can be glitches that occur with a vehicle order and Tesla has not been immune to them.

Delays in production caused by a wait for parts did add a few weeks to my wait. And while on hold, my original Delivery Specialist moved to Florida and another specialist was assigned. While that did not delay the delivery, it did lead to repetition of answers to delivery questions.

The subject of potential media coverage was another frustration.

One of the reasons I am writing this myself is Tesla shot down the prospect of my request to have a reporter and videographer along, even though I paid $120,000 for the vehicle, and it all took place on my own property.

Tesla did agree to let me video the delivery, but said it could not abide by having a news reporter present.

The company explained the major reason its does not want media coverage is that the delivery specialists are not trained to represent the company for a media event. I now would agree with that since visiting the Tesla Store a few days after delivery and learning that the original hood closing training at delivery was partially incorrect.

I was told, “No photos of your car until it’s on the trailer,” when I asked to take pictures at the service center. Perhaps it was to prevent photos of an un-detailed vehicle since one owner reported on the Tesla forum of a delivery where their car was not perfectly clean. It rained on my delivery day, so having a few water spots has to be taken into consideration in inclement weather.

The Delivery

After all the care and precautions Tesla insisted on, we did not overly inspect the vehicle on delivery day. Afterwards, I did discover a small paint blemish which Tesla has since inspected at the service center and added to a small list of items to be corrected or included.

Overall the personnel have been exceptional, even during the challenge of ramping up the production rate.

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We never moved the vehicle during training. I enjoyed a lengthy test drive months ago and concentrated on learning the latest version of the touch screen controls.

With all the reviews appearing for Model S, I don’t need to repeat what has been said elsewhere. Plenty of facts and specifications are available at the Tesla Motors Web pages.

Navigate to “Enthusiasts” and “Forums” to read the owner experiences and the usual list of requests for future modifications and improvements. One benefit to the massive 17-inch touch screen and dashboard display is the flexibility that Tesla Motors built-in to add new features for existing Model S drivers. The updates occur through the 3G network and new features have already appeared.

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The included J1772 adapter is locked into place by the vehicle. No unauthorized removal of the adapter or Tesla’s custom charge cord can occur until the vehicle is unlocked.

There are a few unique details that I learned during training that have not been addressed elsewhere. The compact J1772 adapter adds 2 1/4 inches to a standard charge cord handle. The result is that Model S will appear like any other EV at the public charge stations.

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A Voltec charge station handle is shown mounted onto the adapter. Quick and slick. Another driver could remove the J1772 public charge station handle if needed. Flashing green for charging, solid green for completion. Indicator lights are off when the vehicle is locked.

A very important point about closing the hood was demonstrated by slowly applying pressure with both hands near the front edge of the hood until it clicks. I learned later, if the aluminum hood metal depresses, your hands are too high on the hood.

I asked if Model S can be accidentally powered off during a drive. The answer: “No.” A manual power off must be accessed through multiple screen choices. Emergency brake can be applied anytime by holding down the Park button on the end of the PRND shifter.

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Display is user configurable. Volume is shown off. Navigation also appears on left. Car color and options are shown in the car graphic. The green bar and 239 show fully charged to 90 percent. Press brake pedal and the car starts. Car turns off when locked or auto locked after walking away with the key fob.

Overall the delivery experience was everything I expected. Since there is flexibility in the time the Delivery Specialist can spend with the purchaser of Model S, it’s personal for you. If more time is needed to accomplish a task or learn something new, just ask. I downloaded manuals in advance to speed the learning process and revised ones are available to the customer at their personal “My Garage” Tesla web page. Buying a car should never be a nightmare, but feel like a dream where you are flying. With the ease of purchase plus the acceleration and handling of Performance Model S, the dream is real.


  • Eric B

    There is no denying how beautiful this car is. Interesting that they chose a Ford Super Duty to tow it; they should have used a Chevy Silverado Hybrid or something! Congrats on the new car, sir.

  • Thomas B.

    Congratulations !
    And thanks a lot for the interesting delivery report !!

  • Martin – eCars.bg

    Great reward for a great patience. I feel happy watching and reading all this, being 10k milles away with no clue at all of when this beautiful car will reach my country. Thank you!

    And it’s like the perfect personal touch to your place. Spectacular – please be happy with it :)

  • DocDragon

    Thanks a lot for a great report…

    … and I’m envious!!! ;)

  • Volume Van

    Excellent. No one can serve like Tesla. Hope the rich will buy this.

  • MrEnergyCzar

    You can have your Tesla serviced at your home for an extra $100 per visit. The best EV in existence…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Mark Z

    Thank you for the positive and encouraging comments. I am very blessed to be enjoying a spectacular 100% electric vehicle. Having owned a Chevrolet Volt in 2011, the larger size of the Model S feels just right. While the Signature versions are more expensive, those who order now will save by only selecting the options they need.

    Model X and future models in more economical price ranges will allow more drivers to experience the quality that is being built into these cars. With over 400 miles on the car in the last week, I am very extremely pleased, especially with Tesla Service that is working hard to satisfy every customer request. It takes time for perfection, but Tesla Motors is getting closer everyday.

  • OUTAMYWY

    Thanks a lot Mark for sharing the experience. I met Elon at a NYC bash to announce the Motor Trend award. He seemed super genuine to me. A few months ago I reserved one and it is exciting.

  • Mark Q

    My monocle fell right into my lobster bisque when I saw this video! I think the last scene should show you lighting a cuban with a $100 bill. Beautiful car, though.

  • Cassina Tarsia

    When I was 20 years old I was privileged to be able to purchase a new gold colored Corvette Sting Ray Coupe … in those days (1963) it was truly state of the art with disk brakes, four wheel independent suspension and fuel injection, on top of the 360 hp that it possessed. Now, nearly 50 years later I have been truly blessed again to own a new Model S similar to the one described in the above article, and again it is the state of the art, and equal in the present day, to what I had experienced only once before with the Corvette. Everything stated in the above article is beautifully expressed, exactly as it happened with the delivery of my own Model S. I would complement the writer as he did a wonderful job in documenting his experience with the new Model S. It is a fabulous car that will bring a new dimension to the driving experience with anyone who owns it.