Tesla is one of the new kids on the block when it comes to motor manufacturing – although their technological innovations in developing electric cars could change the way our roads look forever. Gone are the days when electric cars looked ugly and could only travel a short distance on each charge; Tesla makes vehicles that are well engineered, look good, and which have a range of hundreds of miles, rather than dozens of miles.
The brainchild behind Tesla and the public face of the company is South African entrepreneur Elon Musk. Musk made his initial fortune from co-founding online payment system PayPal and also established SpaceX, a space exploration company which aims to set up a human colony on Mars. Compared to those lofty ambitions, the dream of streets full of electric cars actually seems pretty tame!
Working for any of Elon Musk’s companies affords the chance for staff to work at the cutting edge of new technological innovations, but it also comes with some strings attached and some very strict rules for those who design and build Tesla’s cars. And the rules don’t just apply to those who work in Tesla factories; even the people who buy Tesla vehicles have to follow a few rules when they buy one of Elon Musk’s creations.
Check out the list of guidelines for owners below, and see if you would be willing to follow them to own a Tesla.
Business jargon and acronyms aren’t the only things that Elon Musk has banned from his Tesla offices. Despite his scented name, Musk apparently has a very sensitive sense of smell, and cannot stand it when people wear very strong perfume or cologne around him.
There have even been some unconfirmed reports that Musk has had staff who continue to flout this workplace rule fired or moved to another location so that he doesn’t have to suffer their flowery odor, although Tesla has always denied that this ever happens. Either way, it seems that Musk is unlikely to be releasing his own celebrity scent any time soon…
Car production plants are not the safest places in the world to work, and it is vital that all staff are alert to potential safety problems to keep themselves and their colleagues safe. However, whereas most workplaces are keen to have potential safety breaches pointed out so that they can fix them, Tesla seems to actively discourage their workers from identifying and then reporting any issues which could pose a risk to other staff.
The company doesn’t even like to use bright colors to identify existing hazards on the factory floor, preferring to keep everything a uniform and clinical grey.
Elon Musk has a few pet peeves which he hates so much he has banned them entirely from all Tesla workplaces. One is his hatred of jargon and acronyms and the kind of chat that is commonplace in business meetings in most other workplaces. In some ways, the fact that a company boss likes clear communication, and tries to avoid using language that his employees can’t understand is refreshing.
However, the fact is that different people can have differing views about what constitutes jargon, and employees could well end up accidentally using words and phrases that are on Musk’s hit list.
Driving an electric car is quite different from driving a regular gas-powered car, and Tesla vehicles have even more extra bells and whistles for motorists to get to grips with. If you want to buy a Tesla car, then you have to go to Tesla school – a training course that teaches new drivers everything they need to know about the set of wheels they have just bought.
These training sessions are non-negotiable and are a very good idea if you want to get the best out of your new Tesla car, and to keep it in a good state of repair.
It’s a good idea for any car owner to have breakdown cover, reducing the cost of roadside assistance dramatically in the event that your vehicle has an unexpected failure. Drivers of electric cars can experience more breakdowns than most, especially as they get used to their new vehicle, and how far it can travel on one charge.
That is why Tesla suggests that all their owners get AAA Gold Plus cover, the most expensive breakdown cover available, mainly because it allows you to access their mobile charging vehicles, should you find yourself out of juice by the side of the road.
Normally, when anyone is thinking of buying a new car, the first thing that you have to do is take a test drive in the vehicles that you have your eye on. However, for some reason, Tesla seems keen to discourage potential clients from taking its cars out for test drives before they buy.
Given the success of its vehicles, it seems unlikely that Tesla has anything to hide from new owners, and yet the company offers extras for clients who are willing to buy without a test drive. For example, Tesla will extend its offer of free recharging if you don’t try before you buy.
And even when you do finally take the plunge and hand over your hard-earned cash on a Tesla car, that is far from the end of the process. Because the Tesla manufacturing operation is still a relatively small one compared to many automotive companies, customers can often end up having to wait for their car to be delivered.
Demand is outstripping supply at the moment, but motorists are so keen to get their hands on a Tesla that they are willing to pay thousands of dollars knowing full well that they won’t be able to get behind the wheel of their new car for months or even years.
Tesla cars are such specialized pieces of equipment that you can’t just take them to your local repair shop when they break down. Mechanics have to be trained in all the intricacies and complications of the Tesla engine before they can fix it, and most people prefer to send their cars to a Tesla repair center if they are having problems.
Unfortunately, there are not enough Tesla garages or Tesla-trained mechanics to fix all the cars which are on the road at the moment, which means that drivers can also find themselves having to wait a while for repairs to be completed.
Head to your local car lot to buy a car, and you know that the sticker price on the vehicle is really only a guide. Most car salesman will be happy to negotiate deals for a reduction in the asking price if the buyer is paying cash, or even throwing in a few additional extras for free if they sense that the potential buyer might be losing interest in the deal. That is not the case with Tesla cars.
Their online sales team have no leeway to make any reductions or deals with clients, and if you are going to buy a Tesla you should know that you will always end up paying the sticker price, regardless of the circumstances.
Getting the hang of the Tesla pricing structure can be as complicated as learning how to drive one of the vehicles! The advertised price often ends up being a lot different from the amount you pay, depending on the additional extras you add onto your model and the tax credits which are available.
Electric vehicle owners can benefit from tax credits when they buy, but working out the final cost of a Tesla vehicle can easily end up involving some seriously complicated sums. Potential owners should always make sure they have read the small print before signing on the dotted line.
The number of electric cars on the road is increasing all the time, and that means that the infrastructure for supporting electric cars is also developing, including the number of charging stations. However much you want to own a Tesla, there is no point in buying one if the nearest charging station is a couple of hundred miles away from your house!
You can install a home charging unit in your garage if you do live a long way from a commercial charging point, but this can be an expensive process and something that should definitely be factored into the overall cost when you are looking at buying a Tesla.
No matter how experienced you become behind the wheel of a Tesla, there are certain road conditions that it is best to try and avoid as much as possible; something which makes buying a Tesla in some parts of the US a bad idea. Newer Tesla models now come with their equivalent of all-wheel drive, which does make it safer to drive in wet and icy conditions, but all the company’s vehicles tend to struggle in the snow – especially when the road is covered by a recent snowfall.
As with many aspects of Tesla driving, practice makes perfect, but drivers should be aware of handling problems the first time they head out in winter weather.
Given the delays associated with getting a broken down Tesla repaired, one of the most important rules for owning one is to make sure that you keep on top of running repairs, and ensure that your vehicle is well-maintained.
Luckily, Tesla repair shops will let you book in for scheduled maintenance weeks or even months in advance, so that you can plan when you are going to be without your vehicle, rather than waiting until something goes wrong, and then end up with your Tesla parked up in the queue for the repair shop, waiting for weeks or even months at a time.
But it isn’t just Tesla drivers who have to follow the rules set down by Elon Musk. In fact, Musk is much stricter with his staff than he is with his customers! The boss has made it clear, for example, that unions are not welcome in his factories.
He hasn’t gone as far as to ban the presence of unions outright, but any pro-union activity among Tesla workers is frowned upon, and as no-one wants to get fired from their job for making waves, most staff go along with the rules, even if it does mean that they suffer in the long run.
Elon Musk is something of a workaholic, and it seems that he expects the same from the workers at his Tesla plants. The company has a very strict attendance policy, which sees staff penalized for turning up late, but also for taking time off when they are sick or for family reasons.
Even turning up one minute late, or clocking off one minute early could see the employee issued with a demerit, as could taking too many sick days in one year, and anyone who gets too many demerits against their name will have their employment terminated regardless of any extenuating circumstances.
Similarly, when the company is busy, lots of staff give up their weekends to come in and work. As with the union ban, it is not that Elon Musk has told his staff that they aren’t allowed to take weekends off, but workers know that showing loyalty to the company will go down well with a strict boss should the time come when he has to lay off staff.
Tesla laid off 7% of its workforce in January 2019, leading to those who had kept their jobs feeling under-pressure to improve their own performance and – hopefully – ensure their own job security.
There are lots of workplaces where it is advisable not to ask for a raise, as bosses can often have a very negative response to employees who demand more money for their work. However, Tesla staff really have to mind their Ps and Qs when it comes to pay, and not just because the company had to lay off over 3,000 workers as part of a cost-cutting exercise earlier this year.
You’d have to be pretty brave to ask for an increase in salary when your co-workers are losing their jobs, but there were also reports that Musk fired an assistant for asking for a raise in 2017.
Usually, when you work for a company that makes or sells products, one of the perks of that job is that you get some freebies, or at the very least benefit from an employee discount if you want to buy directly from the firm. However, no matter how much time a member of staff has put in at Tesla, there is no such thing as a free ride – or even a discounted one.
What they can offer, however, is a financing scheme, which allows staff to make monthly payments to buy their own Tesla, for the full price of course, without having to pay the whole cost up front.
Even if the worst happens, and there is an accident on the production line, Tesla has instructed its staff that work needs to keep going, no matter how serious the injuries involved. It seems that production stops for nothing or no-one at Tesla’s car manufacturing plants, to the extent that staff has even been told not to report any accidents at the factories, as management know that the subsequent investigations into these incidents will hold up work for days or even weeks.
Tesla has even been investigated by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration because of the high number of worker injuries.
Part of the reason that work never stops at Tesla factories, regardless of what happens on the production line, is that the company has very strict quotas that have to be filled every week.
Tesla vehicles are in big demand, and Musk and his management team are keen to ensure that they are able to meet that demand by keeping production going, day and night, and over the weekend. In order to keep their factories running as efficiently as possible, Tesla even provided their staff with free cans of Red Bull to help them work longer hours without needing to take a break.
Sources - Tesla, CNBC, Motor Trend, BGR, Fortune