Tesla’s New “Instant Drive Away” Could Revolutionize Car Buying


As we anticipate a huge Q4 showing by Tesla, the automaker is working to further speed up its car buying experience.

We have little doubt that Tesla will post phenomenal December numbers to complete the quarter with a bang. While this is no different from the end of Q3, the stakes are much higher this quarter. Remember that Tesla pulled out all the stops in September in order to show a profit and prove short-sellers wrong. Based on our early estimates, and what we know about the upcoming situation, the Silicon Valley electric carmaker stands to beat its own records this month.

Yes, Tesla may still not hit these ridiculous and increasingly elongated goal posts that some detractors continue to push. However, for the only new, successful U.S. automaker with so much adversity and anticipated struggles, Tesla has made some huge waves that cannot be easily discounted.

Now, the automaker is working on a new delivery process that will take place in under five minutes. As Electrek reports, this is being coined “Instant Drive Away.” If you’ve recently purchased a new or used car, you know full well that you can be stuck at the dealership for several hours. Even if you have all your ducks in a row, it’s still usually a lengthy process. As you sit there waiting forever, you’re likely thinking to yourself that there’s absolutely no way this should be taking all dang day.

Some much-need background information:

I recently purchased two new cars (sadly not Teslas), and I almost found myself packing up my computer and leaving the dealership because I was so frustrated with the time spent. Our Editor-In-Chief Eric just grabbed up a used Chevy Volt and wasted nearly and entire day at the dealer, and for no reason! Keep in mind that was a whole day during which we struggled to get content out to our readers.

As it turns out, Tesla realizes this concern and is working to make its buying experience different and better. This is especially true if you’re buying an inventory car. Moreover, if you’re paying cash, leasing, or utilizing Tesla’s in-house financing, you can rest assured that the process will be lightning quick. However, Tesla has made it clear that those relying on outside financing may have to wait longer, which is understandable.

Have you bought a new car recently? How was the buying experience and the time at the dealership? Have you bought a new Tesla? Did you spend an exorbitant amount of time at the delivery center? Let us know in the comment section below.

Source: Electrek

Categories: Buying Advice, Tesla


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52 Comments on "Tesla’s New “Instant Drive Away” Could Revolutionize Car Buying"

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Purchased our first Tesla on Saturday (Model X 100D). We ordered the vehicle on 11/3, did all of the “pre” work online; financing, insurance, trade-in, etc.

Showed up on Saturday at 10am. Car was ready out front with a temporary tag already installed. Spent about 20 minutes waiting for the Delivery Adviser to review our trade-in. Signed a few pieces of paper, moved our stuff over to the Tesla. Spent a few minutes with a Delivery Specialist to go over some of the features of the Model X, and left the Tesla Center by 10:45am. My three kids were also able to hang out in their waiting room which had free soda and snacks.

Overall, an outstanding experience.

If you’re spending more than an hour at the dealership including the walk through then you’re doing something wrong.

Like its on the buyer?

You forget that is standard practice by most dealerships to go to this office and that office where they try and sell you over-priced and un-needed crap like rust proofing, micro-dot vin etching, “enhanced: warranty packages, etc.

These shenanigans can EASILY add an hour to the process just by themselves.

And that is not counting the initial negotiation period which can drag on and on if you don’t walk out.

Buying my Model 3 was the best car buying experience I have ever had, did everything online and Tesla delivered the car to my door.

Is your comparison apples to apples? If you have your financing paperwork already completed with your lender and you’ve already arrived at an out-the-door price with the dealer via e-mail, there’s no reason for the process to take very long at all. The longest “delay” in buying my Volt was the test drive (which it doesn’t sound like the OP wanted).

If you just stroll in the door of a dealership and announce, “I’d like to purchase a car today,” it’s going to take a while. If you did the same at a Tesla store, you’re not driving off with a new car in 45 minutes.

Good grief. How many times do we hear about the stealership salesman’s strategy of telling the would-be customer in the middle of a negotiation “Well, I need to run this by my boss”, just to keep the potential customer waiting?

It’s all very well to say “Well, you should do all your negotiating in advance”, but that’s not how legacy auto dealerships are set up to operate. The point is that Tesla doesn’t purposely make it take longer to buy a car as part of an attempt to milk the customer out of every last possible dollar. No haggling at Tesla means no haggling, period.

It’s most definitely not comparing apples to oranges, to compare the average time spent at a legacy gasmobile dealership negotiating for a deal, vs. Tesla’s sales practices.

But it’s the customer’s choice to just stroll in the door and start the process from scratch. With many dealerships, you have to option to contact them via e-mail and complete almost all of the process before you ever arrive… just as in the 45min Tesla example from the comments above.

That’s why I say apples to apples. If you are completing paperwork (especially: financing) with Tesla before you arrive, and the only thing left for you to do on pickup day is apply original signatures, you cannot fairly comparing that to arriving at the dealership with the final price still TBD. I’m sure there are luddite dealerships that exist – there are many hundreds of dealerships in the country – but it’s not difficult to find one that will do most of the transaction before you step foot in the door.

I think if you compare two situations where financing terms are finalized before you arrive on site, the experiences will be much more similar.

Absolutely disagree. They will still force you to talk to at least one other person about things that you don’t care about.

They may not be set up to operate that way but most are quite happy to do it by email. Two last year were quite happy to do everything by email and would even have driven the vehicle to my door if I purchased a vehicle from them (i.e I would not have seen the dealership, let alone spent time inside it).

In the end I chose to purchase the vehicle from another dealer, that was closer and price matched the more remote dealers, in part because I wanted to actually see the vehicle before buying.

Sure, there may be some dodgy dealers, but a lot of the time the waiting is because of the customer, not necessarily the dealer.

I have done that multiple times and they still “have to” talk to you about stuff you dont want or need. Still over an hour!!!

EV’s today have incredibly complex software systems with a host of options.
Does Tesla really expect average punters to drive off not knowing the implications of some software settings that may possibly safe or threaten their lives?

Many of the systems need to be understood before being used in anger.
I would not feel happy not knowing this stuff and I’ve been in the IT business for over 40 years and have written Flight Control Software.

When we purchased ours, we were directed to the sitting area for less than 15 minutes then walked directly to the car. Credit cars were previously programmed. We were asked who would be driving home. I was then asked to get in and shown where to place the card to start the Model 3. The attendant made sure the mirrors and seats were adjusted for driving. Asked if we had any questions and we were off. The time at the car was no more than 10 minutes. That was October. Charlotte is a service center so all the paperwork was handled prior to the visit.
The software is complex, but the interface is intuitive like no other. When the voice commands are added to the climate controls, there will be no need to engage the touch screen at all to program navigation, select a radio station, stream, set cruise control, auto steering, and more. Of course, this is considering that you previously automated wipers, lights, etc.

But understand they need the money from you ASAP and need you to leave as soon as possible so they can get the money as soon as possible from the next person.

It’s Tesla, they don’t look forward to a service relationship with you, it’s an EV, it’s all about the money and oh yeah, saving the planet, so no time for you.

The key is that you CAN get out the door very quickly if you want to. Spending time there is your choice, not the dealer’s.

To be fair, back when I was single I ordered a vehicle, about a month later it arrived and all I did was take delivery, which took about an hour.

My last vehicle, I emailed multiple dealerships for the best pricing first, once secured went in, both myself and wife took turns test driving. Then came the paperwork, finance guy, and delivery/infotainment overview, which from start to finish took 2-3 hours and was painless.

Many cars over many years and NEVER was I able to, nor could I have been out the door in an hour or less. Well, except one time… when I got my model 3 🙂

Just picked up my Model 3 yesterday. The paper work took about 5 minutes, then the person spent about 45 minutes showing me the operational basics and lots of the bells and whistles. It was a wonderful experience, emphasis on “wonder”. What a car!

That’s about what I’d expect. Get the paperwork out the way and then learn about the operation of the car. If I encountered those who downvoted my previous post on this on their way home after their 5 minute handover I’d steer well clear of them. I’m sort of glad that my nearest Tesla outlet is over an hours drive away if they introduce that here when the Model 3 arrives next spring/summer.
It can take weeks if not months to become comfortable with the different systems within a modern EV.

Judging from the headline I expected an Evannex article 🙂

I never went to the dealer with my last car. I submitted docs via email, wired the money and they shipped it to me.

Another Euro point of view

Had exactly the same thought about the title :-), maybe it’s some sort of Christmas miracle , like the loaves of bread trick, spontaneous generations of little Evannex’s allover the site.

Reserved Model 3 in July.
Bought Model 3 in November.
Financed through our local credit union.
Arrived at service center 20 minutes early, was promptly greeted and received an apology that they weren’t ready yet.
About 5 minutes after our scheduled appointment time, I see my car being driven into the Service Center.
I do a thorough walk around, program our two phones to the car, sign a single document, hand over an official check and we’re done.
We were there less than an hour.

Best. Car. Buying. Experience. Ever.

Can’t get much better than that until the cars will drive themselves to your garage on autopilot.

Picked up my TM3 using cash, had all the paper work completed prior to dropping in at the delivery.
10 mins later, I was ready to leave in my new car, but I just hang out there discovering new stuff about my car
Last time I bought my Honda Odyssey, it took me more than 5 hours even after spending 3 hours the day before submitting all the docs

“No one wants to spend an exorbitant amount of time at a dealership buying a new car.”

I don’t think this is correct. When I’m spending a years worth of earnings, I am pretty okay with taking my time. I want it to be special. This is not like shopping for a new towel or something…

If/when I spend a year’s salary on a car, I’m gonna just cry. Above half is cry-worthy.

The Caddy dealer I work with is pretty good at expediting the experience. All of the training is accomplished ahead of time when they give you the car for a few days. My paperwork on the last two was about an hour each time. One was new (ELR) and the other CPO (CT6 2.0e) both financed through the dealer. I even got my tags within a few days by request.

I was considering a CPO Model S as well, but, the service centers and supercharging stations are rare in Texas. The Texas dealer association has the government locked in. Tesla is unable to work well in this draconian State.


a) you make a lot of money
b) you have extremely humble taste in vehicles (so, not buying new or Tesla)
c) you cry very easily

Hi David H,
Yes, we all want to take our time checking out the car that we want to buy.

Nobody wants to spend hours facing the sales guy, then the sales manager (back and forth multiple times for apparently the “best deal”), then wait, really waiiiiiit for the Finance guy, then go through his extra warranty, tire and paint protection deals, then back again for paperwork signing.

Dunno what you are trying to say here, I took my time thoroughly checking out my Tesla but the time I spent actually sitting down with a Tesla representative in the office was super short and super pleasant. That is the GAME CHANGER here.

Good points! My ownModel 3 pick-up experience was similar.

Long wait time as they were swamped with deliveries and longish familiarization time mostly of my own doing. The paperwork must have taken all of 5-10 minutes (car was pre-paid by bank transfer).

What didn’t happen was the dealership “runaround ‘n’ wait”, or the adversarial atmosphere.
What DID happen was lots of friendly help from Tesla delivery folks and the feeling that the 2 or 3 Tesla people I interacted with all seemed to be on my side.

Indeed a radically different experience!

Purchased a car last year. I went to the dealership twice, and spent about an hour each time.

First was to view and test drive a vehicle. That took about half an hour, with the other half an hour discussing options and a potential deal.

The second time was after a quick phonecall to confirm I would take a car. Got to the dealer, 20 minutes to deal with payment and another 40 minutes to look the vehicle over and get a guided tour of all the features/systems before driving away.

I could have saved myself an hour overall I guess, but at the same time there were benefits to a face to face.

Two and a half hours with Tesla for my model 3 delivery just over a month ago. It was financed through Tesla and I had a trade in that they knew about, including having all details on payoff amount, a pre-agreed price they’d pay for it, etc.. The MVPA was wrong and had been for weeks prior to delivery, but they would not respond to my numerous contacts letting them know that. They also had done no work in advance to confirm payoff amount, so we had to do a group call to them. They also could not find the car on lot at first.

Tesla needs to implement more standardized processes and improve customer service overall imo before instant drive away will be a thing most experience. I also hope instant drive away doesn’t mean no time given to customer to ask questions, etc. Some may not like spending what could be up to $100k+ for a car and not getting a bit more time.

Do Not Read Between The Lines

This isn’t really new. It was mentioned last year, and at the end of last quarter they were rushing people through the process.

Clarity Electric. <1 hr including all financing paperwork. Similar to Tesla since the manufacturer dictates the price and no discount is possible.

Leased a Hyundai Ioniq EV in November. Including the 3-mile test drive, I was there 3 hours, and I didn’t even have a trade.

We have purchased a new Tesla and it took around 30-40 minutes at the most.

One thing different about the delivery experience is that the reception staff at the delivery center are very indifferent to the customers. Their attitude is like “if you want to take the car, take it. We don’t care”. They are also impossible to reach over phone.

Yeah, never really had a problem buying cars. You have to put in the effort if you want the best deal on exactly what you want. If you don’t like the salesman or dealership you have to go somewhere else, just like with anything else in life. I bought a new Audi this year. The (second) salesman was fantastic. We wanted a very specific combination of features and colors, including a mid-year trim change that most people would not have noticed. The guy spent hours searching the country for that car, had it transferred and still gave us a better price than anyone else (including all the Costco kickbacks, etc.). There was no attempt at upselling for unnecessary crap. Yeah, the finance guy was a problem, but only because they expect most people not to read the fine print and just sign where they point. When I made it clear that we do, the GM got another guy who had some patience and sat there while we checked everything over. The car was FLAWLESS, I mean really. While the salesman spent more than an hour setting up the car for my wife and going through all the features, I checked… Read more »

When we bought our Pacifica Hybrid the dealership kept my wife waiting five hours just so the finance manager could do his extended warranty sales pitch, which she had notified them about 4:59 previously she wouldn’t be buying.

I purchased a car about three weeks ago, and spend only about 40 minutes at the dealership – most of which was inspecting the car. All of the documentation had been prepared ahead of time and exchanged via email – all we did at the dealer was sign the originals, and that was that.

Very nice!

I’ve picked up two Volts through dealerships – one lease, one buy – and I didn’t have any of the sorts of horror stories I hear about. I did nearly all of my paperwork (including financing) via e-mail/fax ahead of time. Maybe that’s the difference?

I concur!
I believe the difference is 1.) choice of dealership, and 2.) who these folks are dealing with at the dealership. I avoid just walking in and dealing with sales reps working the floor, instead I go to the dealership website and search for the Fleet / Internet Sales Manager and contact them first.

It took me almost four hours to buy my LEAF and I had a set “appointment”.

Some of the time spent was good, signing me up for charging networks, rebates and HOV stickers.

Some of the time was spent with the usually dealer shenanigans, like trying jack up my financing and tack on extras.

Some of the time was a complete waste, like forgetting to add the chip to the stereo and charge up the car.

Instant Drive away sounds like a great plan to me.

When I purchased my Volt in 2011, it took roughly 30 minutes. Granted it was an ordered car and most everything was done in advance. My 2018 Model 3 took roughly the same amount of time.

When I bought my Leaf with cash, still took three hours….all they kept doing is try to sell me more, I darned near took my money and just walked out.

The standard new car dealership experience is awful. If Tesla can change this then that alone will bring in additional customers.
Making cars in Silicon Valley appears to be the only major mistake that Tesla are currently making with their car business. I suspect that they will eventually embrace the Apple model so their cars will be made somewhere in East Asia or Mexico.

Nothing to suspect here.
Tesla will make their cars in 🇨🇳 Eurpe and wherever the market is big anough for a GF

Yea silly me thinking the car dealership experience was going to be pleasant when I went to pick up my BMW i3s. I mean I’ve had my fill of Ford and Toyota dealerships but I’ve never bought a “German Luxury” car. The i3s was custom ordered, built to spec, and a freak’n BMW. Spoiler alert, the “Ultimate Driving Machine” is not acquired via any kind of ultimate buyer experience! On delivery day I showed up at the scheduled time with cash and an insurance card in hand (not my first Rodeo). I did not expect to spend 4 hours being harassed by different dealership employees, hauled from office to office, and aggressively lied to. Aggressively lied to! Like when I told them point blank that I never buy extended warranties or service packages for any product I purchase, period; they replied: “you cannot take delivery of this car without selecting a warranty and service package (at an additional expense)” and “if you ever take this car to a different shop or dealership your manufactures warranty is void unless you pay for an upgraded warranty package today.” And yes, I called that BMW of Bellevue Auto Nation employee a liar to… Read more »

Wow that’s a terrible experience. I’m amazed more buyers don’t just walk out when being messed around an lied to.

If I hadn’t waited 2 months tracking the custom build daily, yea I would have walked. I’m happy to say that I didn’t pay one red cent over the build cost previously agreed upon but pissed that it took 4 hours. I have zero plans to go back to that dealership. I’m no Tesla fan boy but the whole bypassing the dealerships thing sounds like a great idea. I hope it spreads.

All those expensive purely profit based upgrades/accessories are the backbone of the ICE sales process, and goes away with EVs. Just knowing about the fast and hassle free sales process could be enough to steer ICE consumers into Tesla stores. Unfortunately, ICE automakers trying to sell EVs may try the same unwanted tactics, but Tesla will ‘disrupt’ that process as well, by offering a superior sales process.

You should have walked out and ordered a Tesla instead.
And no, Tesla doesn’t push any extended warranties.

No time spent at the dealer at all. I got Home Delivery of my LR AWD Model 3 last week, Thursday, here in Maine. Of course, the semi couldn’t bring my car to my house, I live on a small dirt road, so we met at a rest stop. Of course, it took 5 mins to offload my car, but then, it had ZERO range, and there were no charging stations at the rest stop. The driver actually said the car had zero range when he loaded it in the morning, and he thought the rest stop had chargers. He was wrong. We then reloaded my car, and I even had to push! Took it 10 miles away to a supercharger and started charging. Signed a paper, handed me 2 keycards, loaded my Volt up, and drove away. I suppose it would have taken 5 mins for delivery if the car had been delivered with any range. We never went over the car, which I suppose the driver was happy about since it was dusty and covered in bird poop. The interior was covered with carpet fiber as if it were blown around by the fan. Clearly, no one had… Read more »

TSLA already makes traditional deliveries look antiquated. Our recent purchase of a 2016 X P90D…started with a deposit I did online when the price dropped to $70,200.

All the delivery details and paper work was handled via text and phone contacts at MY convenience. The paper work was completed in 30 minutes at our local delivery center which was necessary due to state regulations.

Unfortunately, right now TSLA will not transport their used cars to your local delivery center..so I spent a total of 15 hours bringing the car home!

But their pricing for this 7 seat X, with only 36K miles, made the required trip a “no brainer”. They did provide a courtesy LYFT to the delivery center from the airport!

Furthermore, when I got the car home my local service center took care of every issue the car had…every issue. The quality of service is another reason to buy ONLY TSLA!!

Note: If you buy a brand new car in Germany, it’s usually individually configured, in the meaning of: There aren’t only like 3-4 trims/packages but extremely many configurations possible. That means very often is takes a few month until it’s delivered. Of course like every dealer can ofter new cars standing around somewhere (in the meaning of could be a demonstration car but was never normally registered, so guarranty by the manufacturer didn’t start) within a few weeks. Most people here buy cars which were registered somewhere, so they’re used cars. With used cars, every one can have it’s own problems cause by former drivers. So you have to check it very carefully. When I bought my current car, it was individually configured (also because I couldn’t find a used one which meet my requirements). But before talking with the dealer, I searched on the internet of course. So my first question to the dealer was like: Do you have a demonstration car [model] [engine] [trims] [features I want]. They had one that fitted for that and I could do a test-drive very quickly. Some time later after thinking about other brands/models I ordered it. Some months later it was… Read more »

I have no idea what you are talking about when you say that people don’t want to spend time at a dealership. I bought a new car (actually 1 year used) this year. The experience was great. The dealer with the used car was too far away from me to look at it, so he took the time and made a video about it. Very helpful, super responsive.

When I picked it up, he took almost an hour with me to explain everything, go over the paperwork etc. I felt very well cared for. It was the biggest purchase I had ever made in my life.

Why would you want to spend less time buying (and checking, understanding) a $50K car than you would picking out bedsheets?