Cars First World Problems Personal


Part 3 of my Electric Car series.

I already established that I want an electric car, but not a Tesla. What’s left?

The Chevy Bolt. Small, simple, with a small tendency to catch on fire (presumably new ones don’t?). Good price/performance. Excellent for a city car. I seriously considered it, although at my age/with my proclivities, I like “nicer”.

Jaguar i-Pace. Beautiful. Expensive, above my budget.

Audi Q40 e-tron. I quite like it. Too big and SUV-y? “Only” 295 HP in their AWD (Quattro) setup.

I’ve owned two BMWs and they’re verboten in this house, so not that brand.

Polestar 2. What if Volvo built a BMW Series 3 in China, reminiscent (to my eyes) of an ’80s Peugeot? I quite like this one. Quirky, small, looks great to me, nice performance, minimalist in a good way. Not available in Houston though.

Ford Mustang Mach-E. Now we’re talking. Have you seen that Grabber Blue? It looks great.

LOOK AT IT! It’s gorgeous!

The interior of the Mach-E looks great too. I like the driver’s instrument cluster, the big vertical screen with a physical volume knob, the use of fabric on the dash, and pretty much everything.

The specs look great, and it is (as far as nice electric vehicles go) relatively affordable. It’s a Ford. It can be serviced anywhere and everywhere, and it’s likely to be relatively reliable. BlueCruise (the Ford version of Cadillac/GM’s SuperCruise) is compelling, although I don’t roadtrip much.

So I ordered one.

The ordering process is clearly meant to imitate, to the extent of Ford’s meager abilities, Tesla’s. You configure the car online; color, options packages, battery size, etc. I chose the Grabber Blue, standard battery instead of extended range (because I don’t roadtrip much), Premium package, AWD (more POWER!). I chose a dealership close to home to handle the actual sale, and for delivery. I put down a $500 deposit, and settled in to wait the 6 months people online say it’ll take.

“To handle the actual sale.”

You see, that’s where Ford’s existence in the real world clashes with its intention to be Tesla. Ford has contracts with its dealers, and franchise laws to deal with. It can’t sidestep them. So that online configuration thing, deposit, and everything, gets forwarded to a dealership to actually sell you the car. Ford, to their -relative- credit tries to explain this through the magic of small print during the online not-sales process. The language is confusing, and Ford tries to have its cake and eat it, too. For example, this is what my not-order looks like on Ford’s website, under “Order Details” [sic]

The Dealer’s selling price is $52,140.00, right?

After a business day, I get a call from the dealer. Please come in to put a deposit down (?) and finalize the sale.

So I go in to the dealer, and get sat in front of a salesperson. He’s pleasant, in that “I’m obligated by contract to be your friend” way that car salesmen have. He’s never sold a Mach-E before. Could I please provide him with my order details? He can’t pull them up in Ford’s system, not even with the order number.

I email him a PDF of the order.

He comes back after a few minutes with a printed “dealership” price page. To my relief, after reading horror stories online of $10-20k (yes, you read that right) dealer markups, they’ve respected the online price and honored my existing deposit. There’s a couple of typical small fees ($120 or so for documentation, etc.), taxes, etc. Total’s $57k and change. Wait, that’s a little too much. Why?

Because… there’s $1500 in “tint, wheel locks, and nitrogen”.

I live in Texas; I need tint. But I can get it elsewhere, and nitrogen is free at Costco (or in 71% of the air…) and I hate wheel locks with a passion. I don’t want these things, much less for $1500. I tell the salesman I don’t want those. He goes to his manager (ugh).

The tint and company stay on the price sheet. The manager claims it’s their profit. I talk to the manager. I explain I don’t want these. He doesn’t care. I get angry. He doesn’t care. I try reasoning with him. He doesn’t care. Do I want the car, or not? I don’t. I leave.

I do want it. Look at that blue! I return. I sign. It’s “only” $1500 for cheap tint. The locks I will remove, and the nitrogen… who cares, it’s not a race car.

But this, for waiting 6 months, for a Ford? It’s soured the experience in my mind. I hate dealerships. Saturn was right, Tesla is right. We shouldn’t buy cars this stupid way.

I leave the dealership angry, disappointed in myself (I don’t like getting angry!), and feeling lousy about the purchase. I’m not looking forward to waiting 6 months for this.

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