When Joseph Kwong decided to buy his first electric vehicle in 2014, the choice was a no-brainer. Kwong, chief executive of EVEN Recharge—a startup developing neighborhood EV charging solutions—lives in Fremont, Calif., a few miles away from Tesla’s main factory. He was thrilled to plunk down $83,000 to buy his first Tesla Model S. “I knew that I was overpaying for the car,” he said. “But I believed in EV technology, and I appreciated what Tesla was doing.” Three years later, Kwong re-upped his commitment to Tesla by adding a second Model S to his garage.
However, over the years, Kwong slowly piled up a list of complaints about the cars. The sensor-driven windshield wipers wildly flap when there’s barely a drizzle, but sometimes won’t budge during a deluge. There’s the driver-assist feature that cost him about $5,000 and never worked. And he calls Tesla’s Smart Summon feature “a joke that I wouldn’t trust to use even in an empty parking lot.” He now takes Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s promises for groundbreaking features with an SUV-size grain of salt. “Tesla cars are never really finished and never will be,” Kwong said. “A Tesla is always a beta car.”
So last spring Kwong sold his 2014 Model S and leased a brand-new Volkswagen ID.4 all-electric SUV. He doubts he will buy another Tesla in the future. Among the tech-savvy, early-adopting set in Silicon Valley, he’s not alone.