Friday, February 27, 2015

You won't have to deal with any fast-talking car salesmen in a Tesla showroom

A Tesla Model S at Costco Wholesale in Hackensack, N.J., where owners of the all-electric luxury hatchback spend the thousands of dollars a year they save on gasoline.


The contrast between buying a Tesla Model S and a Toyota or any other car couldn't be starker.

Even more remarkable, you rarely read about the many high-pressure car salesmen that give a black eye to all of the major automakers.

We bought four Toyota Prius gas-electric hybrids between 2004 and 2009, and paid list for each one. 

I guess I should be thankful I wasn't hit with "added dealer markup" for models that are in high demand and short supply.

I'll be paying list for my Tesla Model S 60, but was able to pick options and place a $2,500 deposit online, using a credit card.

My car will be delivered in late April.

California-based Tesla Motors sells its cars directly to the public, and doesn't employ any fast-talking car salesmen or women.

What you will find are product specialists whose patience appears to be infinite when addressing all of the questions and concerns you might have.

If they have to meet the end-of-the month quotas so common at car dealers, I never heard about them.

I had many discussions with Tesla employees at a boutique in Garden State Plaza and the new showroom on Route 17, both in Paramus. 

I recall the nail-biting negotiations in October 2009 at Hackensack Toyota, where I traded in my 2007 Prius and purchased a 2010 model.

Despite its efficiency and environmental benefits, the Prius is a hard sell on the private market, and dealers always pay you less on a trade-in to leave room for their big profit.

Behind the wheel of a Tesla Model S 60 demonstrator at a showroom at 530 Route 17 north in Paramus, N.J., below.

Cheap gas, hybrid discounts

The April 2015 issue of Consumer Reports says, "Today's low gas prices could actually benefit hybrid buyers."

"Hybrids aren't selling as quickly as dealers would like, so they're offering big discounts on them."

The magazine reports, "At press time, you could easily find a $2,500 discount off a $25,o25 Toyota Prius or a $3,500 incentive on a loaded $32,950 Kia Optima Hybrid."

In April 2004, when I bought my first Prius, a gallon of Mobil regular was selling for $163.9 a gallon. I still paid MSRP.

By February 2007, when I replaced that car with a new Prius, Citgo regular was going for $209.9. Again, I paid list.

Tesla's one-price policy

At Tesla, there are no discounts and no incentives. Consumer Reports' invoice service and Costco Wholesale's buying club can't help you.

You don't get a better deal if you are a college student, and you don't have to worry that the salesman is hiding factory-to-dealer incentives.

Everyone pays the same price. What a concept.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Now for some real EV news: I've put down a $2,500 deposit on a Tesla Model S 60

On Monday, I test drove an all-electric Tesla Model S 60, the base model, from the company owned showroom and service center on Route 17 in Paramus, N.J., above and below.

Today, I logged onto the site and placed a $2,500 deposit on the Model S 60 I had configured a few weeks ago. My luxurious four-door hatchback is scheduled to be delivered in late April.


After I take delivery of my Tesla Model S in late April, the only reason I'll have to visit a gas station is to adjust tire pressures.

With several options, my 60 kWh Model S will cost $79,120, including a "destination and regulatory documentation fee" of $1,170.

I won't have to pay New Jersey's 7% sales tax (take that, Governor Christie, you're no friend of the environment).

And in a year or so, when my accountant prepares our 2015 tax return, I will able to claim part or all of a $7,500 federal tax credit.*

*The caveat is that I have to have a tax liability that meets or exceeds the $7,500, and I have to use the credit in the 2015 tax year or lose it.

The Model S is the most expensive car I have ever bought, and might very well be this retired senior citizen's last car.

We'll be keeping our 2007 and 2010 Toyota Prius hybrids, our stepping stones to the all-electric Model S.

On Monday, I visited Tesla's showroom and service center on Route 17 north in Paramus, and spoke to Andrew, a product specialist, about battery warranties and other concerns.

Then, I went for a test drive on Route 17 north and took an exit to experience the quiet Model S on some of Bergen County's winding two-lane roads.

Tesla Motors has eliminated most of the buttons and switches found in conventional cars with this 17-inch touch screen in the Model S.
One option I chose is Red Multi-Coat Paint ($1,500) as seen on this Model S on display at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

Red paint, other options

The Model S 60 has a base price of $69,900.

The options I chose are Red Multi-Coat Paint, $1,500; Tan Leather Seats, also $1,500; Carbon Fiber Decor, $800; and Tech Package with Autopilot, $4,250.

My Model S 60 has an EPA range of 208 miles on a full charge, a 380-horsepower electric motor and a 120 mph top speed, and will go 0-60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

But I'm part of the cruise-control generation, and often use that aid in local driving and on highways, where I set my speed about 5 mph over the limit and watch lead-footed drivers pass me on both sides.

This year, I won't be able to drive my Model S 60 the 350 miles to Montreal for the International Jazz Festival, because there is only one Tesla Supercharger on the New York State Thruway.

In 2016, a second Supercharger will make that trip possible in one day.

The rest of the year, I drive locally and probably won't have to charge the car at home but once a week.

A new and a used Bugatti at Manhattan Motorcars on 11th Avenue.

Bugattis and black cars

California-based Tesla Motors is selling more and more all-electric cars at a time when conventional manufacturers still indulge in such excesses as a 1,200-horsepower Bugatti and increasingly larger SUVs that often are used as black cars and limousines.

At Manhattan Motorcars on Saturday, I stared in disbelief at the sticker on a new Bugatti.

MSRP is $2,790,000. Top speed is listed as 256 mph.

The two-seater gets 8 mpg (combined city/highway), and the federal gas-guzzler tax is $6,400 -- hardly a disincentive to anyone who can afford this technological relic.

Then you'll have to deal with a young saleswoman who wears tight jeans and too much make-up.

You might hear her talking loudly on the telephone to a customer, instructing him to wire her $10,000 as a deposit on a sports car, which, of course, is such a "great deal."

More gas guzzlers in the showroom of Manhattan Motorcars, above and below.

On the streets of Manhattan, new, bigger models of the Chevrolet Suburban and Cadillac Escalade are being pressed into service as black cars and limousines.

All of them carry New York plates beginning with "T" and ending in "C."

Their drivers, along with those in smaller, black Toyota Camrys used by car services, can be seen parked and double-parked near expensive restaurants and party venues into the wee hours.

Scurrying through the city's darkened streets, they resemble hundreds of oversized cockroaches.