Tesla opens up Model 3 test drives for the first time

- Tesla stock continued its rollercoaster ride the past three months, dropping about 10 percent this week. Meanwhile, the electric automaker started letting Model 3 customers who put down deposits months ago take test drives of the product on Friday.

Customers started coming in by-appointment since the Dublin dealership opened in the morning. The test drives continue until 6:00 p.m. Friday. In a week where Wall Street wasn’t kind, Tesla is leveraging the narrative by trying to get its base excited about production starting to keep up with demand.

For the first time nationally, four Tesla California dealerships are allowing Model-3 customers to come in, kick the tires, and then take the all-electric car for a spin.

“I don’t like to buy anything on line,” said Alex Farhang. “Direct, unless I can touch it.”

The Tesla Model 3 depositor came to the Dublin dealership with daughter in tow and has $1,000 riding on whether or not he likes this ride. Twenty minutes later, and he gives a thumbs up.

“I put it through sort of the test on the road. Chris, who was driving with me, I got his attention for a second. But you need to do that I think just to see the limit of the car, to some extent,” said Farhang.

Tesla was pushing the limits of its customer’s patience. Tens of thousands of people put down deposits for the Model 3 starting in 2016. But production delays slowed delivery, to a crawl at times. However, production now meets the company-imposed goal of five-thousand per week, and the wait to drive the so-called “affordable” Tesla is down. 

For some, just seeing is believing, which leads to a commitment to spend about $35,000 for the base model.

“When I walked in here, I got very excited, and I’m not just saying that. Especially when I saw this beautiful red one, I was bought. I really was bought,” said Tesla perspective buyer Grace Aguero.

Tesla isn’t without its detractors. Tammy Austin ran low on battery while she and her husband drove back to SoCal.

“In the morning, we had to tow the car here on a flatbed to get a supercharge, to get back to Los Angeles,” said Austin.

A night in a Tri-Valley two-star hotel hasn’t dimmed her view of Tesla.

“The features are amazing. And even last night I was telling my husband, I’m still not mad at the car, because the car is amazing,” said Austin.

Customers rave about handling, power, and features. One complaint about air noise, but nothing that would change decisions or take money off the table in the race to make electric realistically available for the masses.

“I think you need to come down and take a look at it. And mean, that’s why I’m here,” said Farhang.

Tesla chairman Elon Musk says he’ll set a new Model-3 production goal of perhaps six thousand a week starting next month. But there are still plenty of customers waiting for their cars. The test drives will continue for the foreseeable future. Officials say the Dublin dealership can process approximately 50 test drives per day.

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