A few downsides
Having read the glowing reviews I had a serious look at an 'S', the problem isn't with the electric drive or the performance but with some of the other practical issues that affect car ownership:
- No service information available, except to Tesla. So you're stuck with them and whatever product support they choose to provide, which will be zero if they decide to void the warranty for some reason or you've otherwise upset them.
- No spares availability, except through Tesla. As in zero. And Tesla will only sell you spares if they choose to. See above.
- Limited crash repairability; the accident performance seems good but looking at cars which suffered relatively minor damage eg. slow offset frontal there was damage that couldn't be fixed - torn firewalls, bent A-pillar mounts - rather than being restricted to a crash repair section involving a few welds, rivets and some adhesive as seen on other aluminium chassis. Basically a lack of design for repairablility. And any repair can only ever be by Tesla. Not so good when spending £XXXXXX on a car, especially in light of lack of spares and info to 3rd parties; prang it and it could very easily be a writeoff. And the underlying salvage value will be non-existant except for parts (as one or two have found out the hard way).
- Tesla seem to have a similar attitude to Apple when it comes to people tinkering with their toys, they *really* don't like it. Prod around your car and if they see pictures they'll likely be in contact, have an active prod at things like the intruments to see how the flat panel could be extended and the monitoring system will phone home, they'll be in contact and threaten you with the purchase contract terms and voiding the warranty (which would leave the car unsaleable). And quite a large part of the community around the car is like the Apple one too, blindly protective of the company against other customers or enhusiasts - don't expect sympathy.
- As part of the above they actively work to stop anyone prodding at the car; case in point, people were looking at information via the (non-standard) diagnostics port. Cue over-the-air update to encrypt all the bus traffic and also to actively disable the port until it is temporarily reenabled by an over-the-air activation from Tesla when hooked to the official diagnostic system. This struck me as a bit unfriendly and revealing of certain attitudes.
- An 'interesting' (but very California/startup) attitude to how to implement certain systems. Like using a standard Linux, some X11 and standard ethernet for vehicle systems. Yes, it'll mostly work but there are reasons for certified OS's and vehicle bus standards. Gave me the same feeling as reading about a Linux version for drone avionics; yes you can do it but you learn why it's not the right place to start from.
The battery is really nice though, the fusible safety links are clever and they came up with a workable solution to density with all those 18550s. The charge control isn't quite as clever as is sometimes implied and it's a horribly expensive lump of a battery, but the engineering the subcontractors did is very tidy looking. The design for swapping the battery pack is good too with the clean-break cooling and the blade power connectors, the auto swapping might actually be practical subject to logistics.
I'm not so convinced the big LCD is so good, I prefer a slightly smaller display and a few more buttons as it's easier to work with when actually driving. But that's just me.
Styling wise it looks great, and stands out every time you see one even in black.
Anyway I thought the above worth mentioning as it's easy to get lost in the shiny shiny and forget what can happen when actually owning the thing as spares, repair and so on become more important.