Getting Tesla Model S P85D from Germany

I’ve been following the development of battery electric vehicles ever since I got my first Tesla back in 2014. Some two years ago its AC broke down and the only option to fix it was Tesla’s own service. The waiting time was over six weeks and of course this happened in early June so the following two months were kinda annoying. I also noticed the local superchargers had more and more cars plugged in so I decided to sell the car and wait for some of the other upcoming electric vehicles from other brands to come into the market. As a placeholder I bought an old 2002 Audi A6 2.7 biturbo with manual tranny with an idea to teach my kids to drive but it soon became my daily driver too.

Audi went again a week ago to a shop for repairs, which are obviously frequent for a car with over 300.000 km on the dash. I’ve had enough for that and as I had the Covid pass in hand decided to make a move. I had concluded that all the other electric cars were just not there and besides, third party repair shops had started to offer Tesla service as well. So I decided to get another used Tesla for now. Not just because it is the smart money but also because you can’t get a new Plaid or Long Range in Europe as the first shipments have been postponed all the time and are currently listed as Q1/2022… It must be Model S again as that looks coolest and is the original, historically significant, and actually already kinda retro thing in my mind. Criteria: performance model P85D or P90D with max 100k on the dash and the cheapest money can buy, ideally about the same price I got from selling my old one two years ago. Threw out emails and made calls to about dozen sellers or so on and

The first car I agreed to buy was in Portugal but as I got the VIN back turned out it was a salvaged import from the US. Pass. The next one sounded much better on paper, a real EU specs car first registered in France, and I took a flight to Amsterdam this past Monday morning to check it out. Turned out it was in Polish plates and visually in a pretty rough shape. The seller was willing to negotiate the price further down but I had to give it another pass. Moved on to the third cheapest I could find, took a train to Germany, and that was mine. Black on black 2015 P85D with all the options at the time, in nice shape, and with just one previous owner with all history in Germany. Got the plates under my name Tuesday afternoon and started the drive back north.

Some findings:

– On autobahn speeds over 120km/h the wind seems to come in through all the seals. Over 150 km/h is not pleasant, like you would be in a cabriolet. As it was raining almost all the way back it became clear the car does not leak water in, just wind and the noise with it. Curiously there is almost no wind noise under 100 km/h speeds.

– While the car can handle high speeds no problem, autopilot (at least AP1) is limited to 150km/h which is a problem if you’d do autobahns on daily basis. Well, we only have them in Germany.

– The battery does drain on those autobahn speeds lightning fast. The best I had guts to do was about a 200km run between two superchargers in Germany. I didn’t do much faster than that 150km/h. And the battery is rated like almost 400km…

– Total drive from Duisburg up to Stockholm and then from Turku to Espoo was less than 2000km but I did a total of 12 supercharger stops on the way. The great news is there are enough superchargers in Western and Central Europe and they are still not crowded. Actually in Germany I was the only one charging in all three superchargers I stopped by while they had 18-24 stalls available! Time to open up that network… and expand it as well as my route through Denmark and Sweden was dictated by the fact you cannot drive north via Baltics which have zero superchargers for now.

– The charging speeds are far from advertised. With a drained battery I got over 100kw for a few seconds after which the charging settled to maybe 70-80kw and then gradually dropped to 20-30kw level when the battery was about 70% charged. I’d say the average with a typical 20% -> 70% charge was 50kw and it took more than 30 mins, maybe even 45. For example one Model 3 (which has a 250kw charger instead of the 120kw charger in mine) took just 10kw more juice as I did when we charged side by side. I talked with the owner and he confirmed that’s how it works in reality at least with Supercharger V2 stations which I used all the way up (there was just one or two V3 option on the way but I didn’t have the CCS update so couldn’t try those).

– With only using free superchargers my trip took about 48 hours including roughly 20 hours on the road or charging, 12 hours ferry, and two quick hotel nights in Hamburg and Stockholm… not bad but also not Vanishing Point level.

– Tesla’s service wait times are even worse than where they were two years ago. So no news here. The car has a 12v battery replacement nag on and I got Tesla service in Finland booked 7 weeks from now! Based on owner reports on forums the car can die within 3-4 weeks after that nag comes on and I have no clue when it has started. The non-service is location specific, of course. I would have got an appointment in Germany or Denmark within a week or two, just didn’t have time to wait there. So now I called around and got a third party shop to help in Finland in less than two weeks. Let’s see how it works. The other option is I just follow guys on Youtube and do the replacement myself.

– Tesla’s service has also become more automated, standardized and overall less helpful. For some reason my car came with V2 mobile charger (probably v1 had broken down) and lacked the three phase red adapter which I’d like to use in my garage. At the time of buying I thought it won’t be an issue to get but boy how wrong I was… The adapter does exist but is not listed on Tesla’s online store so I wanted to call them to check how to get it. Eventually somebody picked up the phone, obviously in some call center, and that person had no clue what I was talking about. The answer ended up being if what I am looking for is not listed on the online store it doesn’t exist. Ok, thank you for the non answer. I didn’t give up and stopped by at Malmö service center. I got somebody from the showroom to talk with and again she had no clue first what I was talking about. Went to service guys to ask more details and came back with an answer they don’t know if it’s available somewhere, at least they don’t stock anymore any cables or adapters in service centers or showrooms, so sorry about it. Ok. Total self service. Don’t get a Tesla unless you are ready to do your own research. I’m left with hunting that adapter or the original mobile charger V1 through ebay! Meanwhile I also ordered a third party 11kw charger with the red plug through

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With all the above said I am still very very happy with this car. It is the best car I have ever owned. Compared to my previous Tesla this one has all wheel drive, super quick performance, better seats, better audio and that autopilot. It’s not perfect but it is from 2015 and beats what the competition has in 2021. Yeah, Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT might look cooler but their usability and technology are handicapped. They have less interior and boot space. Where do you charge them on the road? And in fact these cars, costing 3x the money, are not any faster than my six year old Tesla. Mercedes EQS might have the range and a supersize screen but just take a quick look at Tetris running on that screen you can see it sucks. Porsche, Audi and Mercedes are fundamentally bringing cars they have always done to the market, just with batteries and electric motors in place of gas tanks and combustion engines. After you have driven enough cars in your life you can conclude that these cars are simply boring compared to Tesla. I know Tesla’s service sucks, okay, and the build quality is not there, okay. However, Tesla offers more value for the money. The car from 2015 still feels like it is the next generation, the beginning of a new adventure. And your kids love it too. Tesla is the only car today where they don’t ask if it supports Android Auto or Carplay to begin with.