McElroy Drinks The Tesla Kool-Aid, Becomes A Believer

Tesla Model X


Extended drive makes a difference.

John McElroy is a long-time automotive journalist and serves as host of the Autoline This Week, and co-host of Autoline After Hours webcasts in addition to several other professional activities. For many, they might know him as the guy who brought Sandy Munro’s Tesla Model 3 initial teardown to our collective attention or, perhaps, the more positive followup. If you’ve followed his coverage of Tesla, you might be aware that he has never been especially enamored with the cars or the company. Indeed, one would never have accused the man of being a Tesla-flavored Kool-Aid drinker. That may have changed.

Though he’d driven, briefly, the Model S and Model 3 in the past, those experiences were somewhat short in nature. Typically, auto journalists of McElroy’s stature are given different cars to try on a weekly basis. The California automaker, however, doesn’t coordinate with these types of loaner fleet programs, and it turns out this may have been key to his opinion of their vehicles.

Recently, though, a friend of his loaned him their Model X for a weekend and apparently the extended test-drive made a huge difference in how he perceives the Tesla experience. Writing in Wards Auto, McElroy relates how he came to appreciate the vehicle: the convenient way the doors unlock when approached by a key fob holder, and then open as they grow close enough; how there’s no pushing of an on/off button, it just does what it should do; the airy openness and uncluttered feel of the interior.

Of course, being that this particular electric SUV was the P100D version, we suspect its supercar-like acceleration made have made a positive impact. From his piece: “This kind of acceleration doesn’t just push you back into the seat, it pushes all the blood to the back of your head.” Now, some of his compatriots might think his blood never made the trip back home to his frontal lobe, but his summary reveals that, while he may have had some sips of the Kool-Aid, he’s not drunk on the stuff. Says he,

“Tesla soon will face formidable competition from the German juggernauts, Mercedes, Porsche, BMW and Audi. Technically they will be able to match everything Tesla has done. But will they be able to capture the fun, whimsical and sassy attitude that Tesla has created? “

We haven’t given away the complete plot to his conversion, so when you have an extra minute, be sure to check the article. For our part, we can only hope that his column might convince the California automaker to more proactively supply vehicles to journalists (including us here at InsideEVs, of course) as there can be a huge difference between taking a 10-minute spin in a car borrowed from a customer and having a week to experience all the neat touches the brand imbues its vehicles with.

Source: Wards Auto

Categories: Tesla

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44 Comments on "McElroy Drinks The Tesla Kool-Aid, Becomes A Believer"

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I have a running bet with him, a cup of coffee, that Tesla is still solvent at the end of 2019. He says they will go bankrupt by then. So, yeah if you can persuade him of the superiority of Tesla vehicles, that would be quite a feat. I think autoline will eventually be able to decipher the handwriting on the wall, and despite industry claims to contrary, come to see Tesla as it truly is. The premium ev car company of the new century, but I doubt they will actually say so. They continually dis them, and on occasion pay them a back-handed complement, which is all I feel this is. Perhaps a bit of contrition from John, but clearly no jail-house conversion. As far as the competition from the German juggernaut, that is really a bit of a prediction that never seems to come true. A juggernaut that can’t be stopped, but doesn’t it have to get going first. The Germans are far behind, in the ev revolution, and if you want platitudes, a man cannot serve two masters. Besides they’re all embroiled in the diesel-gate imbroglio, they’re hamstrung by that, plus the lack of ability to put… Read more »

Just Like Jos. Louis Delivered the Knockout Punch to the BIG Intimidating German,…. So Will Tesla !

The German Designer of the EQC didn’t look convince by it, and was not convincing about it. They’re not committed.

200 miles on 80 kwh battery? EQC is a joke.

It’ll be most certainly more than 200 miles of range.

Only 200 miles out of a 80kwh battery indicates that the Motor/Motors are very inefficient ..

What design? the EQC is just a GLC with a different nose.

Thanks ffbj. I couldn’t have expressed it better myself.

Sure. Thanks.

I’ve seen a subtle change in the reporting on Autoline over the last two years. They used to scoff and repeat lots of FUD, but now they say EVs are inevitable, but down the road a ways. That is due mainly to their LICE sponsorship.

And they also still believe that FCEVs are the future long term.

Tesla is selling more cars but it’s not like Mercedes, BMW, VW or any other automakers sales are declining. So Tesla’s success hasn’t come at another automakers decline. At least in any noticeable way. Given the American and Asian car makers don’t make many cars in Tesla’s price range they probably don’t care what Tesla is really doing right now. A $35k Tesla starts mattering to them a lot more. But as you’ve read some are getting rid of their midsized car lines.

Look at the month to month numbers of BMW and Mercedes and you cannot say that Tesla is not having an impact on them. Granted, we need a few more months data to be certain this is going to stay

Tesla has a HUGE technological headstart in battery and power management tech, electric motor tech, self driving software and user interface. I’d dare say they have about a 10 year head start. Anyone coming in now to compete has serious uphill battle. If you are not coming into EV’s now, you’ve written your obituary.

I just hope that Tesla will stay on top a little while, after that people will lineup to buy their cars ( I know, knowledgeable peoples are doing that right now for model 3).

But if Tesla stays on top until EV has a 10% penetration, that will be game over for the others. They will be like Apple, ordinary peoples will lineup to buy new upcoming vehicles (at that time, price is not that relevant).

They have an advantage now on battery, but for the rest of the car, I have my doubt.
Electric motors are well understood.
I am pretty sure some companies are developing self driving software in secret (Apple, Google, Microsoft), they have the resources to do it.

The problem is every time someone tries to tell me that the other car makers know how to make a better/more luxury car to to drive they start harping on features I could not care less about. I don’t care about the imported wood finish or that it was hand polished, I don’t care about leather on the seats, I don’t about the knobs and switches – in-fact if the UI is well design flat panel displays are fine for me.

I care about how comfortable the seat is, leather is too hot and sweaty for long drives.

I care about my sight lines more than what material makes the dashboard.

I care about how easy the NAV system is to use and what happens if I make a directions mistake.

Etc. When I buy computers I don’t ask the CPU clock speed, if test it with my programs to get the REAL results, manufacturers can cherry pick numbers to hide the truth. Same with an electric car, results matter.

Teslas model 3 motor is a marvel in simplicity of manufacturing and frugality of cost by solving a major control algorithm problem using software. Others wont be able to compete on cost for several years. While Tesla has developed the switched reluctance motor for the Rear wheels, (they have added some small permanent motor to the stator along with sophisticated software to eliminate torque ripples), the mainstream industry has committed to the much more expensive but easier to make permanent magnet (synchronous) motor. Unlike the induction motors that Tesla used in Model S the new motor is both cheaper (no copper in the rotor, but use Iron), and easier to make. Complexity is in the software algorithm, which would not be easy to replicate by a teardown. (Remember when Sandy Munro said the OEMs wont be able to copy the Model3

A bit naive, EV is a level playing field, I would say Tesla could have a first mover disadvantage

@DSM…and that’s why the LICE industry has pushed Tesla out of business, right?!
Too funny😄😄😄

While they do have an advantage on battery tech/manufacturing and most importantly charging ecosystem, I don’t think they have an advantage on the rest, and it’s certainly not a 10 year advantage.

My guess is that between now and the release of Q3 numbers there will be a surge of folks who try to get ahead of the amazing results Tesla will have, by putting out something positive about Tesla for the first time.

That way when Q3 (and later Q4) numbers come rolling in they can say they knew it all the time….

Others will be much slower and will double-down, grasping at any negative straw, as denial will still run deep.

Remember when the first blockbuster SF films came out? Before the showings the critics were saying all sorts of negative things about SF. It was clear many of them had never read or seen a serious SF before.

Then the sales figures started coming in, and the critics quickly made a turn around as they realize no-one was going to listen to them if their claims did not match reality. Worse, those same critics found out the really good SF stretch their minds into areas they never thought of before.

Remember when people would laugh (yes, it happened to me) if you spent big money to buy the first home computers, and the most common thing you heard was “What good is it, you can’t do any real things with that thing.”. Yet today, I dare you to find any middle class or higher home that does not have a computer. Many poor people do too, but a lot of them can not afford one, but they want one or at-least a tablet or smart-phone.

There are number of other things where people at first claim to not to be worth it and now can not live without.

And we know which posters will double down here on InsideEVs.

Why does it take some journalists years to learn what we yokels learned in 10 min. with a Model S test in 2014? Is it confirmation bias, or is it from the freebies and junkets that Big Auto provides? Journalists are allegedly human, so they seem to reward ho-hum EVs like the Bolt (with its cheap plastic interior) and Leaf (with its lack of liquid cooling) with much better reviews than they deserve.

The quid pro quo, one-hand-washes-the-other relationship between auto manufacturers and auto review magazines (and now websites) has been an ongoing if rather low-level scandal for decades. Auto reviewers hardly ever dare to give any automobile from a major auto maker a bad review, because the auto maker might pull their ads from the magazine/ website, or — GASP! — refuse to give the reviewer all the swag, free meals, free hotels rooms, and free, better than coach class airline flights they’ve come to believe they are entitled to.

Thank goodness Tesla refuses to get on that treadmill, but avoiding use of paid ads in auto review magazines and websites does cause professional auto reviewers to view Tesla’s cars in a more negative light than cars from most other auto makers.

The computer store I worked at got spiff for sales, the more you sold the better the spiff – all the way to paid vacations in Hawaii. The salesmen would try their best to make sales that move them up a level, since the tech rarely got spiffs after a time it became common for repeat customers to want to talk to the tech rather then the salesmen to get all the facts.

Simple put, if a salesman sold a customer a larger than needed hard drive to get an extra point or two, no harm was done to the customer but those spiffs coloured their sales approach.

Luckily, for years now sales no longer get spiffs that way.

OMG. My smug alert just went off! Seriously, people don’t hate Tesla the company, they hate Tesla fans. They are the smuggest and most vocal group of elitists the car world has ever known. They are the early Prius owners x10.

Here’s the thing- GM and Nissan actually dared to try to bring BEVs to the true masses. They may have failed, but they tried. I find nobility in that. Tesla has just brought BEVs to the pompous rich and it turns out that if you was to sell 100,000 BEVs, that’s the way to do it. I find nothing all that inspiring about that because I am one of those that must suffer the overwhelming agony of a cheap plastic interior for the opportunity to drive all electric for over a year now. Tesla may one day build and offer a car that works for me, but at present I see nothing from them on the horizon that means anything to me and what I need in a car.

Of course, you conveniently forget that, without Tesla, there would be no updated Leaf and, certainly, no Bolt.


I’m sorry to hear that you are disappointed in every non-Tesla choice and are having to “suffer” in “overwhelming agony” because no car maker offers what you want. Maybe you should take that up with them for what they build, and not hold that against Tesla….

I’m also sorry that you don’t understand the Tesla Secret Plan, and that Tesla is working their way down to the SR in the spirit of this plan. It has been out for a decade, but maybe you have been too busy to read it?

See and here you are again, smug. In addition, you can’t understand sarcasm when you read it, but I get it. You’re so used to interpreting every single thing you read from Elon (like “funding secured”) to be absolute truth that it’s difficult to discern truth from fiction from anyone I suppose.

Yes, maybe in the next five years or so, Tesla * might * build something I could use at a price I could afford. Awesome plan. Anyhow Chevy * did * build something I can use and afford over a year ago, so I bough it. No regrets, it’s been awesome.

My only regret is, as an electric car owner, I get lumped in with the pious, smug Tesla owners by non electric car owners. I have to keep telling them, yes, you can afford a useful BEV and no, you don’t have to act like that.

That’s simple economics, my friend. All these other automakers you’ve mentioned could afford to because they’re already established automakers. Tesla had no choice but to begin with a very expensive car and work downward from there. That has always been their plan(Master Plan, Part One). If they were to start with the affordable evs, they would not have survived until now. They still have a long way to go before they start making really affordable evs( like the $25k car Elon hinted is in the works)

That’s not creepy..

Why do they still call these guys auto “journalists”? Whining about how Tesla doesn’t give him a loaner? Clueless about the simplest aspects of EVs in general or the Tesla in particular? Get of your tush and go get the story!

This seems to be common in all the media, the idea of doing research in anything does not exist anymore.

I thought it was gonna be Rory Mcllory

Me too, and that would mean more to me at least!

I’m so tired of the bs coming from the fools predicting the amazing competition Tesla will have against their three current outstanding bevs. It’s all crap. Even if they are better somehow, no other bev builder besides Tesla will sell any more than a few thousand a year of each model in the USA for years to come…no matter how good they are or how much demand there will be. They will all be only compliance vehicles so the non Tesla automakers can sell their Dino juice jalopies. I wish it weren’t true but the facts have been exactly that, are now, and will be the same for at least the next four years. Take note that Tesla only sells luxury bevs at this point and that is the only direct competition I am referring to above. However, I do say also that all other bevs sold in the USA, sans Tesla, are compliance vehicles. Nissan with only one plug in for a decade now and GM with two very good plug ins but very little improvement in the last two years or the next two years with both of them. And why not a damn bolt based small suv… Read more »

” If you’ve followed his coverage of Tesla, you might be aware that he has never been especially enamored with the cars or the company”

This is false. He has been a big fan of EVs and Tesla cars. He just doesn’t see the market for BEVs being as big as others do. Also, he has issues with how Musk has run Tesla. He has said repeatedly Musk needs to under promise and over deliver, not the other way round.

McElroy is fed by Big auto so going against the money is not wise. He’s whole show is premised on traditional auto execs coming to talk with him. Tesla is not so. JRE get Musk, McElroy get Joe GM and Bobby Ford, Jimmy Chrysler. Why would he overtly support Tesla and upset his customer base. I watched many of his Autoline shows. All old school and lacks innovation. Nothing on his show has every really challenged the mainstay. He never takes a position and doesn’t seem to do anything but offer a platform for the big 3 to showcase their mediocrity.

Since the beginning of Tesla John McElroy has spent more than 10 minutes in a Tesla until Now. “John McElroy | Sep 12, 2018

“Up to now I had never spent more than 10 minutes in a Tesla. I got a brief chance to drive a Model S some years ago and got another brief drive in a Model 3 earlier this year. But a friend of mine recently let me take his Model X home for the weekend, and for me it was an eye-opener.”

What automotive journalist can be credible without looking at the new kid on the block, the tech that will replace ICE, the cultural phenom that Tesla is and McElroy seems ok with that? You proved how irrelevant you are John. Hey Domenick, Pls don’t waste anymore ink on this guy.

The answer (sadly) is that Tesla never offered to buy him a plane ticket and put him up in a posh hotel and buy him fancy dinners and dole out goodie bags in order to get him to drive and write about their cars. So he never went out and proactively drove one.