I was obsessed with my Tesla but Elon Musk convinced me I'd rather drive an electric Mercedes-Benz
- Christine Orita was a loyal Tesla fan for years but recently ditched her Model S for an electric Mercedes-Benz.
- Elon Musk's politics and disappointing self-driving tech pushed Orita to drop the Tesla brand, she told Insider.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Christine Orita, 65, a longtime Tesla owner from California who recently decided to ditch her 2020 Model S for an electric Mercedes-Benz. Her words have been edited for length and clarity.
Back in 2012, I put down a deposit for the Tesla Model S.
I was a real fangirl because I'm on the progressive side when it comes to the environment. I liked what Elon Musk was doing in regard to going greener for the planet.
I took delivery of my car in early 2013. I admired Musk at the time and was proud to be an ambassador for Tesla electric vehicles. And I loved the car.
I liked how it drove. I really loved the one-pedal driving. You put your foot on the pedal and it just goes fast. It allowed me to get out of situations very quickly because other cars just can't match its acceleration. Supercharging was wonderful when I went on long-distance trips.
I liked it so much that when my warranty was going to be up in 2020, I thought, "OK, I'd better trade it in for my second Tesla Model S."
I got Full Self-Driving and was disappointed
When I got the second Tesla, I got Full Self-Driving and was very disappointed.
I didn't trust it, because I had scares several times when I was trying to use it. I was in the car one time with my husband and it was behaving so erratically that he finally put his foot down and said: "Stop using it. It's dangerous." So I didn't use it anymore, even though I paid extra for it.
Elon Musk has been bragging about Full Self-Driving forever, and it's still in beta. Basically, the customers are the ones who are testing his software for him. It's wrong that we're guinea pigs for advancing his products.
To make things even worse, during the pandemic, he was being such a jerk with regards to the operation of his Fremont factory for manufacturing Teslas. It was around that time that I started souring on him. And it just got worse from there.
I don't want to be seen as an ambassador for Elon Musk's cars
I follow him somewhat on Twitter, and he started making all these asinine comments and remarks. It became clearer and clearer to me that he's gone full right-wing by restoring far-right personalities to Twitter and spreading conspiracy theories. In one tweet after another, he revealed his true self, so I very quickly soured on him.
I am center-left and could not bear the thought that people would see me as a Musk supporter by driving his brand. I made the choice to dump the Model S and opted for the Mercedes-Benz EQS 450+ which to me is way more luxurious, better engineered, and a much better build.
I don't want to support his company, and I don't want to be seen as an ambassador for his cars.
The Mercedes EQS is a superior product
I looked at Audi and BMW's electric cars, and their range was just not where I needed it to be. Upstarts like Rivian and Lucid had the range that I was looking for, but my concern was that they were startups, and I just did not know if those companies would have the longevity that Tesla has enjoyed.
Finally my husband said, "Have you looked at the Mercedes?"
So I started looking into the EQS and saw what its range was: It was about 350 miles, which is about equivalent to what my Model S had. So I went to take a look at it and was super impressed with the quality of the car. It was amazing.
I was embarrassed to have the Mercedes-Benz rep go into the Model S to get its mileage, as the EQS is so much more refined. It was that much of a difference.
Everything inside the car is luxurious compared to the Tesla. The Tesla was very spartan on the inside; the Mercedes has everything — and more than I could even imagine.
The adaptive cruise control is so well-tuned compared to the Tesla. It's really smooth. The physical buttons are amazing. In a Tesla, to turn on the A/C and change the speed, you literally have to go through multiple steps by pressing the touchscreen. It was just ridiculous.
Going over speed bumps, you don't feel like you're bumping along in a truck — it's smooth. The suspension and sound insulation are amazing. The quality of the sound system is really superior.
The Tesla Supercharging station network was great — that would be my only negative point. But I've found other charging stations and I'm used to them now. Most of the time I charge at home.
I've only had my Mercedes since right before Christmas. And now, even though I'm retired, I'm always looking for excuses to go out and get groceries because I love driving the car. I feel so much better to be rid of the Model S.
Are you a Tesla owner, investor, or employee with a story to share? Do you love or hate your electric car of any kind? Contact this reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org
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