Tesla Model 3.....America's next Cult-Car?

mmcartalk

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Well, even though I'm not a big Tesla fan, it's hard to argue with sales-success....even outside of traditionally electric-car-friendly California. In the D.C. area where I live (Northern Virginia suburbs), Model 3s are multiplying faster than rabbits during mating season. In just the last couple of months (never mind the past year or two), the number of them on the streets here has simply exploded. And (finally) there are signs that the long-delayed recharging-infrastructure for these vehicles is starting to keep pace. Just a couple of miles from me, near the subway station, in a big shopping center parking lot, the management has installed a whole brand-new row of white electric-vehicle rechargers, though I don't know if the hardware will actually fit the Model 3 (or other Tesla's) charging-port. Tesla dealers, of course, have their own charging stations, but the local dealership in my area reserves the four charging stations they have for their own service department, and (maybe) for a customer delivery on a brand-new or used vehicle. They will not (I asked) do it for existing customers, even for a charge (no pun intended)....and, of course one would not expect them to do it for free. Given the politics and lifestyles of many of my condo-neighbors, and their line of thinking, my guess is they would also be buying Teslas or other BEVs if we had a charging system in our parking-areas. It could (?) eventually come with time, as our Condo Board, at the last meeting, had some information that the state might be looking into it. (I am not an actual Board member, but am their principal adviser on swimming pool and automotive matters for the development).

But, back to the country as a whole....the world doesn't revolve around just our condo. Perhaps the last true American cult-car was (and still is) the Subaru Outback. At the time it was introduced (1995), being an AWD Subaru Legacy Wagon on stilts, it was expected to be little more then a niche-vehicle. Instead, it became one of the American market's stalwarts, particularly in areas with a lot of snow and harsh weather. And it grew in spite of questionable marketing and ad-campaigns (Paul Hogan/Crocodile Dundee, Love-a Subaru, parent/kid ads, etc...) I myself owned one.

History repeats itself...when the Tesla Model 3 was introduced, the whole Model 3 campaign was laughed at by pundits. The factory couldn't even begin to handle its order backlog...up to two years in some cases. And poor quality-control had some of those long-delayed vehicles starting to fall apart as soon as they left the dealership. The service bays at the dealerships were overloaded with work and warranty-repairs. And some vehicles were getting wrecked because of careless or inattentive driving....that electric motor has an enormous amount of torque at low speeds (I've sampled it), and you can't screw around with it in heavy traffic and expect to stay safe.

But many of those problems and drawbacks have either been (or are in the process of) being dealt with. New Model 3s seem to be built as solidly as anything else on the market, and the factory is obviously cranking out a lot of them each day. Not everyone on the forum may agree wth me, but, IMO, this vehicle currently shows every sign of becoming a cult car. And, unlike the Outback, the Model 3 appeals to a lot of people outside the Snow Belt....in fact, it is probably is at its best and most efficient in warm sunny climates, without the drain of bad weather and the resulting heavy electrical-use from wipers, heating/defrosting, higher-intensity lights, etc.....
 
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Curious why you didn't mention the Prius at all. 15 years ago, it was the IT car, and hybrid was the technology everyone was ooh and ahhing about, and the days when Toyota dealers would have waiting list for them and Hollywood celebs were flaunting them. It was more a cultural phenomenon than the Subaru was.
 

Will1991

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Prius started a movement (sustainable transportation), Tesla made it go to 11...

Here in Portugal (and in Europe as well I believe) Tesla is selling several times more than Lexus and this for me (with a crappy service and not so well built cars), clearly showed what Lexus could have become if they had made other choices 10 years ago....

They had everything, even costumers willing to try different things as the first Prius owners did...
 

Ian Schmidt

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The reliability hasn't improved; a couple of recent YouTube videos from a Tesla-trained tech on things that commonly go wrong with the Model 3 and Model X were rather eye-opening (the X's problems are all in the overly-fancy doors, as you might expect). But I agree completely that the M3 is the new cult vehicle, at least until the Model Y shows up. Even Elon can't fight the CUV craze.
 

mmcartalk

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Curious why you didn't mention the Prius at all. 15 years ago, it was the IT car, and hybrid was the technology everyone was ooh and ahhing about, and the days when Toyota dealers would have waiting list for them and Hollywood celebs were flaunting them. It was more a cultural phenomenon than the Subaru was.
Yes, you may have a point, at least in the sense of the Prius perhaps (?) being a cult-car. Might have been at least somewhat of an oversight on my part. But, on the other hand, the Prius also had a reputation (and still does) as a car for people who don't like cars. It was, and remains, the classic anti-car. It was compromised so extreme for maximum fuel economy that, particularly in the Prius-C version, it had the general driving feel of a oversized golf cart with a small gas engine.
 

Ian Schmidt

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Yes, you may have a point, at least in the sense of the Prius perhaps (?) being a cult-car. Might have been at least somewhat of an oversight on my part. But, on the other hand, the Prius also had a reputation (and still does) as a car for people who don't like cars.
The Prius was absolutely a cult car. There was a South Park episode about the "Toyota Pious", which is proof of pop-culture cachet in the same way that being parodied by Weird Al was in the 80s and 90s.

And the Model 3 is also described a fair amount online as a car for people who don't like cars.
 
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Yes, you may have a point, at least in the sense of the Prius perhaps (?) being a cult-car. Might have been at least somewhat of an oversight on my part. But, on the other hand, the Prius also had a reputation (and still does) as a car for people who don't like cars. It was, and remains, the classic anti-car. It was compromised so extreme for maximum fuel economy that, particularly in the Prius-C version, it had the general driving feel of a oversized golf cart with a small gas engine.
I totally agree, it did become a car that many non-car people really liked because of its green implications, since the driving experience wasn't anything to write home about. Also, the Hollywoodness and how it became a magnet for bumper stickers with left leanings.
The Prius was absolutely a cult car. There was a South Park episode about the "Toyota Pious", which is proof of pop-culture cachet in the same way that being parodied by Weird Al was in the 80s and 90s.

And the Model 3 is also described a fair amount online as a car for people who don't like cars.
The M3 is getting a lot of those technophiles on board. I'm sure many weren't able to swing for a Model S, so obviously, the M3 wasn't just big with just the car folks. The performance it gives is as good as any IS model, if not better.
 

Ian Schmidt

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Yeah, the Model S is definitely the Tesla that car people get, and the budget-impaired ones go for the M3 (although to make it go really well you're almost spending Model S money).
 
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I'll repost this here (was posted by itself), the part at end of is why the Model 3 is doing so well, almost at the expense of the Prius.
 
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