I Bought a Discounted Tesla Model 3 and Went on a Route 66 Road Trip

Tesla sells its vehicles directly to customers. Unlike selling through typical dealers, where prices may vary from dealer to dealer, Tesla offers fixed prices across the country, whether you order through a Tesla sales advisor or on the Tesla (what most people do). So how is a discount even possible? I discovered it and used it to buy a Tesla Model 3 Performance 2,200 miles away, which I immediately took home on Route 66.

Find a Tesla at an adjusted price

In Tesla’s inventory, “priced” vehicles sometimes appear. Basically Tesla used the car for demonstration or testing purposes. Once Tesla decides to get rid of it, the car appears on the inventory system with its adjusted price (Tesla doesn’t like the word “discount”) based on mileage and age. The car is not exactly new but may still be registered as new and may benefit from certain government incentives.

Although Tesla has fixed prices, the company is also known to manipulate prices and options several times a year for various market reasons (tax credit changes, for example). The Model 3 Performance twin-engine all-wheel drive had a starting price of $ 70,200 in 2018 when we pitted it against an Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, but by March 2019 its price had dropped to around $ 60,000, and now in June 2020, it can be obtained for $ 56,190. It’s great for a cheap skate like me, but you can get “new” skates for even less if they’ve been “priced”.

I was interested in when the price dropped to $ 60,000, but I had heard of the priced cars and thought I could do even better. A friend introduced me to a Tesla sales advisor to help me find an affordable car. Trade advisers are your best bet for finding one, as vehicles can go very fast once they appear on the inventory list. “Find me any performance from the Model 3 with the autopilot below $ 60,000, and I don’t care about the color,” I told the advisor.

At first, he showed me a gray of $ 58,490 with a price adjustment of $ 6,510 due to 25 miles of test drive. Yes! Only 25 miles! However, it was in Dallas, Texas, so I hesitated and someone else caught it. It was then that I realized that you have to make a leap of faith if you want an adjusted price car. It is technically a new car, but it has been used and the level of wear of the car is generally unknown until you see it in person.

A few days later, a Chicago white with 2,875 miles appeared, priced at $ 59,100 after an adjustment of $ 7,600. According to its VIN, it was built in December 2018, which was only five months old at the time. This time, I posted a deposit right away. Tesla offered to transport the car to Los Angeles for $ 2,000, but being a cheap one, I chose free pickup in person. The entire ordering process was just as seamless as ordering a new Tesla online. I created a Tesla account, paid the deposit of $ 2,500 on a credit card to earn money, submitted personal information as instructed and requested funding through Tesla (Tesla works more like a financing broker finding you a lender rather than making the loan). I claimed the car on April 8, 2019 and had a week to pick it up in person.

A taste of Tesla’s drama

Everything went crazy the night before I intended to recover the car. On the evening of April 11, Tesla announced further price restructuring and made autopilot a standard feature instead of a $ 3,000 option. Under this new price, I could order a new 3 Performance model in black (standard color) and pay only $ 1,000 more than the one with 2,875 miles tested. This instantly made the trip much less attractive. My sales consultant stayed up late trying to find out if my car would be adjusted to the new price, but sales advisers discovered the change along with the public and everyone at Tesla’s headquarters in California had already returned home. them for the night.

The next morning, I hopped on a one-way flight, I still didn’t know if I had bad luck on the calendar or if I would get the discount applied retroactively. As I fell asleep on the plane, I thought, in the worst case scenario, I could refuse delivery and visit the city for the weekend before booking a return flight. Shortly after leaving the terminal in a gray sky, I received a call from Tesla Westmount informing me that they were still working on the paperwork. I had arranged delivery to the airport, and it was no longer possible, so they arranged an Uber to deliver me to their store.

When I arrived, I saw a very clean white Tesla Model 3 with white seats sitting right next to the window. I opened the Tesla app on my phone and saw the car appear under my account. Yeah, this is it! I was soon greeted by a representative, who told me that they would need a little more time to complete the paperwork, since they had to work with a team in California to redo everything according to the new price. . Yes! Good news!

While I was waiting, another representative showed me around and let me inspect the Tesla. I knew very well that I was not buying a new car, but it seemed to be in better shape than I expected. I only found two small paint chips on the front bumper and two on the driver’s side door sill. They knew I would take it back to Los Angeles right away, so they made sure all the tires were in good shape, properly inflated and fully charged. Shortly after loading my luggage, creating my driver profile and pairing my phone as a key, the paperwork was ready for me to sign my life with a huge financial burden. The adjusted final price was $ 55,600. Taking into account the $ 3,750 federal tax credit, I bought a Tesla Model 3 Long Range Dual-Motor Performance with black and white interior for $ 51,850 (before sales taxes and registration fees).

Bring the new child home

Sitting in the driver’s seat, looking at the black leather steering wheel with its Tesla logo in the middle, I thought, “Now what?” I looked up. There was no speedo behind the wheel but an unobstructed view of the lot and a small glimpse of the wing on the left. I looked to the right. There was a large touch screen with a navigation map on it. I typed “Supercharger St Charles”, left the field, and headed south toward St. Louis, Missouri.

If things had gone according to my original plan, I would have taken delivery of my Model 3 at the airport and drove to Chicago to visit a pizzeria recommended by an MT officer who grew up in the area. However, the paperwork took longer than expected, which I cannot complain about because I ended up paying $ 3,500 less. I had to get back on the road to L.A. It was about 4:00 p.m. when I arrived on I-55 South, just at the start of Friday rush hour.

A big part of the reason why I had my eye on a Tesla was the autopilot. My usual trip to Los Angeles takes two hours each way on the infamous 405, and even if the autopilot obviously wouldn’t shorten the trip, it could ease some of the burden of hop-on hop-off traffic. Two taps on the gear lever and the autopilot was in action (the first tap was for the traffic-sensitive cruise control, or TACC, and the second Autosteer activated). He handled the traffic elegantly and gave me peace of mind for the next 2,200 mile journey.

The sun was almost gone as I approached the Supercharger’s first stop in Springfield, Illinois, around 8:00 p.m. A friend recommended an Irish pub with good food near the Supercharger, but it had been a long day, so I just rested in the car while it was charging and hit the road in 25 minutes .

“All right, I’ll get you to the compressor at 9.45 am then,” said my friend, Corey. A few years ago, Corey drove his Honda CR-Z from St. Louis to Los Angeles to visit for a few days. I showed her scenic and fun routes to So Cal, and we haven’t met since. This time, I was passing by and he offered to meet me and let me sleep at his house. The navigation system ETA was not too far; I arrived at the Supercharger site in St. Charles at 9:55 pm. I plugged in my “new” Model 3 and we went to a nearby pub to catch up.

According to Corey, I should avoid Colorado because of the snow because the Model 3 Performance comes with summer tires. The safest route would be to go south to Oklahoma, then cross the Texas Panhandle, New Mexico, Arizona and back to California. After planning my trip, I went to his house, plugged the Tesla into a 110-volt outlet to keep it at the top, and crashed into its basement.

If I could repeat this trip, I would spread the trip over a week and stop at various places to explore. However, on the MT test schedule, a Jaguar XE SV Project 8 arrived for testing. I absolutely couldn’t miss it, so I had to be back in Los Angeles on Monday. I had three days to travel approximately 1,900 miles from St. Louis to Los Angeles. Definitely doable, but that didn’t leave much time for sightseeing.

In the morning, Corey and I said goodbye. He sent me with a first generation Tesla mobile charger that supports a higher current than that supplied with my Model 3 for faster charging when I couldn’t find a compressor. He also gave me a sticky cake, a specialty from Saint-Louis (if you know where to find one in L.A., please let me know).

After breakfast in an original local cafe, I went back on the road with Oklahoma City as the destination of the day. According to Tesla’s navigation, I would arrive around 7 p.m. I reached the first charging point in Springfield at 1.5 hours. Springfield? Again? Well, Springfield, Missouri, this time. There were eight Tesla Supercharger stands behind a gas station with a fairly large convenience store next door.

As I walked to the store, I saw a banner saying, “Welcome Tesla pilots, please see the wine room for Tesla benefits.” Out of curiosity, I investigated, but not being too fond of wine, I took snacks and iced tea instead. As for the Tesla advantage: 10% reduction on my purchase.

The Model 3 took 50 minutes to charge, but I stayed just over an hour checking the weather and reading the owner’s manual. Shortly after my return to the highway, I saw a corner box for image recognition of the autopilot: a semi-trailer carrying another semi-identical facing the other with a van on a trailer between them. From a distance it looked like half a reverse, and it only got stranger as I got closer. Good luck with that one, AI.

After crossing the Oklahoma border, the sky began to be cloudy, the temperature dropped below 50 degrees, and then a rainstorm arrived. The situation gradually worsened as the sun went down. The visibility on the road had deteriorated enough for the Tesla to display a warning on its screen: “Bad weather detected, navigation on autopilot limited”. I slowed down and stayed in the far right lane. On several occasions, the car was diverted by an exit. He tried to follow the exit instead of staying on the highway because he had trouble identifying the lane marks. I regained control of the steering but left the TACC activated.

Aside from the autopilot vision problems, another big concern in these kinds of conditions was potholes. P235 / 35R20 tires of the 3 Performance model are known to be bad to handle. The last thing I wanted was a tire punctured in heavy rain at night in the middle of nowhere. I decided to slow down and follow behind a semi-truck. TACC kept a constant distance from the semi-trailer while I concentrated on locating garbage or potholes on the road. The machine and I had to work well together to endure these harsh conditions, and we came through unscathed.

I arrived at the Supercharger site in Oklahoma City in one piece at 9:30 p.m. I plugged in and picked up the sticky cake, got a credit card-sized bite, and decided it was enough sugar to keep me going at night. Looking at the map, I found that the next Supercharger was only an hour away in Weatherford, Oklahoma, located just outside a hotel that seemed like a safer place to stay, especially because I did not intend to obtain a room. .

Tesla Motel 3

Welcome to Tesla Motel 3. I got out of the driver’s seat and checked into my “room” in the back of the car. There was ample space to store my luggage in the trunk and the compartment under the floor of the trunk. With the rear seats folded down, I pulled out a sleeping bag and was able to stretch my legs flat diagonally from the end of the trunk to the back of the front passenger seat. This motel room has a glass roof, and looking through it, I could see that the sky had cleared of the storm. It was a cold night, so I turned on all the heated seats and adjusted the air conditioning to a comfortable level. Instead of reaching the screen to the front, however, I could do everything on the Tesla app on my phone when lying down. It was probably the most luxurious feature of this motel room.

“What the hell am I doing? What is the purpose of this trip?” I asked, looking at the night sky, then fell asleep quickly.

A crossroads between modern technology and the history of the automobile

With all the windows and two glass roof panels on the Model 3, I was awakened by the light shining at sunrise. I put the sleeping bag away, pulled the rear seats up, turned off the seat heaters, left a tip in the center console for all the housework, and I was back on the road with the autopilot again fully engaged.

The first stop of the day was the historic Tower Station and the U-Drop Inn Café and motel in Shamrock, Texas. Built by J.M. Tindall in 1936 just at the intersection of Route 66 and Route 83, it served as a cafe and gas station and has become a popular establishment. Built in the decorative style, it has vertical lines and metal tulip decorations. In a bit of historical irony, Tesla built a Supercharger just behind.

It was only when I got here that I realized that my trip was more or less on Route 66. Once the Model 3 was loaded, I only had to pull it next to the old pumps petrol with their Route 66 signs to let it meet a piece of automotive history. After a photo, I had to hit the road. It was Sunday and I still had three states to cross.

The American West

The rest of the trip was rather boring. It was just heading west, staying on I-40 until I reached Barstow, California. The landscape was typical of the American West: sunny weather with large rocks with various desert backgrounds. I made stops in Amarillo, Texas; Santa Rosa; Albuquerque; Gallup, New Mexico; and Holbrook, Arizona, and ended the day in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Again, I checked in at Tesla Motel 3 on a Supercharger site in a hotel parking lot. But this time, I passed out loud and didn’t wake up in time to unplug the car, so I ended up with a bill of $ 30.84. Tesla charges its billing costs based on time use in most states on this route, except California, where it charges based on the energy used.

I started the last day at 4:00 am, planning to sleep in my own bed that night. I stopped in Kingman, Arizona for a quick breakfast, then started moving again. As soon as I spotted a Prius obstructing the left lane, I knew I had crossed the border into California. After the last charge stop at Barstow, I quickly encountered traffic on I-15 heading south. Yep! I was getting closer to L.A.! At noon, I was back in the MotorTrend office in El Segundo with the front of my “new” model 3 covered in dead bugs. After a car wash, I found myself in my second house, the famous highway 405, but this time, I had my autopilot boyfriend with me.

More like the new kid brought me home

Between Chicago and L.A., I stopped at 18 Supercharger locations. Some stops were longer than others, not because the car needed a longer charger, but because I had to rest and do other things. However, I did not find it more embarrassing than taking a petrol car while traveling. Of course, the refueling stops were longer, but I was also able to rest more frequently and feel less stressed while traveling hundreds of kilometers a day.

Speaking of stress, the autopilot was also a big help. With the exception of the part where the weather was extremely bad, I can almost say that it brought me home. He carried the burden of doing most of the driving on the highway for hours and hours. All I had to do was watch for unexpected road conditions and take over while driving off-road. I was more of a rescue pilot providing assistance when needed. Without an autopilot, I highly doubt that I could have traveled 2,200 miles in three days on my own.

The whole trip cost me $ 146 to use the compressor. According to the car trip record, the autopilot and I drove 2,226 miles and the car used 743 kWh of energy. So far, I have owned this car for just over a year. Want to know how this discounted Tesla Model 3 worked the first year? An article on this subject is to come. Before that, do not hesitate to familiarize yourself with certain Tesla terms.

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