Personally, I will never understand how anyone could possibly buy a car entirely online, without ever sitting in it, let alone driving one. And yet today, I’m assured, this is extremely common.
Around 70 percent of Australian buyers of the first Hyundai Ioniq 5 bought one without a test drive, after stabbing feverishly at a mouse like a Tay Tay tragic in an effort to be the first in their street to have one (demand was so high that Hyundai had to hold a kind of Ticketmaster Frenzy online to allocate them).
Sure, this is a fact, told to me by someone I tend to believe, but I still find it hard to fathom at some base level. And yet I have personally spoken to Tesla owners who did the same thing; specifying and ordering their Model 3 entirely online, without ever approaching a showroom of any kind, and then waiting patiently until it actually arrived.
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This made slightly more sense when one such owner recently admitted that it was a late-night drunken purchase and one that proves, definitely, that you should never drink and shop online.
Another even more shocking case involved a friend who is so frightened of speed that she doesn’t like walking down hills, and yet was talked into buying a Tesla – again without sitting in one – by her geek-tastic, Elon-enthusiastic husband.
My fear was that she would be too scared to drive the damn thing when it turned up, but I’m assured that she loves it in every way. I can’t confirm that she’s ever driven it anywhere, but I’m sure she enjoys playing with its many fun functions in the safety of her garage.
What I fear may happen to many Tesla owners is a kind of cool regret, which has already severely smacked one of the owners I spoke to recently.
This bloke, let’s call him Darren, because he sounds like one, said that he loved his Model 3 at first, because he thought it was so special and that people were looking at him as if he was the kind of cutting-edge, science-y but sexy early adopter he assumed he’d be with a Tesla in the garage.
But then, recently, something horrible happened. He realised that, as sales have boomed, his Tesla has become, and I’m using his very own words here: “the Toyota Camry of EVs – every bastard has one”.
Worse still, because they are so common, they’re being bought by normal people, the kind of people who bring the brand’s self image of being thrusting and clever and witty on Twitter (or eX Twitter) crashing to Earth.
“The other day I pulled up next to the lights and there was a guy next to me in the same car as mine, same colour, but he was just this old Dad, and all I could think was, ‘oh no, it’s time to sell this Tesla’,” my crushed correspondent told me.
The world was ever thus, of course. When Apple’s iPad was new it was the height of cool to pull one out on a flight and bedazzle all around you, but once every man and his toddler had one, they became a child’s toy, and about as cool as soiled nappies.
The Tesla, then, I’m afraid, is no longer cool. It might be still a good car, even the perfect EV, but if you want to be one of the cool kids, it might be time to get online and start shopping for something else.