Monday, February 22, 2016

Dear Elon Musk...

After months of reading up on Tesla and watching as many YouTube videos that I could find to get all the pros and cons of going fully electric for my next car, I finally got the chance to test drive a Model S today. It was an experience I'll never forget -- and it was everything that I had hoped it would be.

I'm writing this post because I believe I represent the type of car buyer who is eagerly awaiting the release of the more affordable Model III, and I want to explain my mindset when I shop for a car based on my limited income.

I am prototypically middle-class with a mortgage, and a full-time job with another part-time job on the side. I try to balance between making smart life choices while still wanting to enjoy the comforts of modern technological advancements. I have to troubleshoot through any purchase that's about $500 or more to make sure it's workable within my below-50K annual income. I don't have the luxury to be frivolous because I don't want to get myself into debt trouble. So when I shop for a car, I do it with the intention of paying off a debt. For me, this means years of planning ahead, making financial sacrifices like holding off on vacations in order to put money away in a savings account, and continuing for years afterwards to pay off the remainder of the debt. I'm happy with my life. I don't feel burdened for lack of money. But this still demands a vigilant eye on my daily spending.

If I decide to buy a brand new Model III, I am breaking two rules I've always held to when buying a car: (1) never buy a brand new car (why pay $5000+ for just a year's worth of use out of your car), and (2) never buy a first generation model. From this standpoint, investing in the Model III, sight-unseen, is an unprecedented risk for me. But I am willing to do it because there's something here that I believe in. I am not an engineer. God didn't wire me that way. So I can't build my own alternate form of transportation to reduce emissions. I need people like you to create an opportunity for someone like me to participate in. Even if electric cars are not the perfect solution, I think this is a sensible place to start towards a better future. It's a first step towards a massive move towards sustainable energy and I want to be a participant, not a by-stander.

There's one problem. I can't afford for this experiment to go bad. I don't have the financial resources for an immediate back up plan. This is it. If I buy a Tesla, it either makes the difference that I'm hoping for, or I crash and burn with it. This is by far the biggest financial risk I've taken in my life -- to put down my life savings on something that remains unproven. The bottom line is this: This chance I'm taking on the Model III must pull through. If it takes an extra year to make sure that it will work flawlessly, then do it. I don't care about broken promises on delivery times if it means delivering a better product. I just ask that you give me something that I can be proud of, not have to give an excuse for.

The Model S that I test drove today is more than just a great car -- it's a work of art. I am deeply impressed. And that gives me some hope. In fact, driving an electric car actually felt guilt-free. I mean, seriously, I didn't even know I actually felt guilty driving a gasoline car! So my expectations have been raised for the Model III, and I'm both nervous and excited.

I love what you are doing. It's fun to watch as your plans unfold and I've definitely turned into a fan. As for the Model III, I leave it in your hands now, Mr. Musk. I want to look back on this decision to buy a Tesla as the one of the best decisions I made in life. Please don't let me down.