I ordered my Model 3 in early May 2020, during the first COVID lockdown. Little did I know at the time how long the lockdown would last. However, I'd had my eye on buying a Tesla for some time and was eager to pull the trigger.
Whether you are looking for a new vehicle or a used inventory vehicle from Tesla, ordering a Tesla on the Isle of Man is the same procedure as it is anywhere else on the globe. Simply go to tesla.com choose your configuration and place your order with a £100 deposit.
There’s no need to talk for hours at a dealership, go through needless negotiations or talk to any pushy car salespeople. It’s simple and the price on the website is the price you pay. The cost savings from not having a sales force are passed directly onto the consumer. You can tell this because a Tesla, specifically the Model 3 in my case, is an incredibly good value for money vehicle when all things are considered (no expensive petrol, no servicing, very few parts to break, monthly updates over the air, autopilot included etc)
The ordering Process
While you’re on the tesla.com website, there are two options, order a new Tesla or one from the inventory.
I followed the custom order option but you can save some money if you can find what you want in the inventory.
Standard Range Plus, Long Range & Performance
Teslas come with a whole bunch of features included as standard, which makes ordering incredibly easy. Once on the custom order page, for the Model 3 you can select between the Standard Range Plus, Long Range or Performance. I went for the Long Range as I feel it has the best of both worlds. Over and above the standard option, you’ll get the premium interior & sound system (which is amazing!). You'll also get around 80 extra miles of range and a much faster 0-60 with the option to further improve this to just 3.7 seconds with the optional acceleration boost post-purchase.
The Performance model is slightly faster than the Long Range with Acceleration Boost with a few changes to the brakes and suspension. I think the Long Range is the best all-round for value but it depends on your day to day requirements and budget of course.
Colour and Wheels
Once you’ve chosen your base model, select your colour and wheels. I’d seen a blue one on the Island and loved it, so I ordered that with the Tesla classic aerodynamic wheels.
For the interior you can choose between black and white. I told you Tesla keeps things simple!
Enhanced Autopilot and Full Self Driving
Finally, you have the important choice of adding Enhanced Autopilot. You get standard Autopilot for free with all modern Teslas. This will drive your car within its lane on the motorway or dual-carriageway, which is great for driving in the UK. While it’s not recommended, Autopilot does work on the Isle of Man. I’m able to travel between Douglas and Peel, often without any interventions, and I can also travel to Castletown or over the mountain most of the way without steering or pedal input too. This is worthy of a separate post but I’d be happy to demo this with anyone interested.
Enhanced Autopilot will overtake cars on the motorway and take your exit as long as you have your destination input to the built-in sat-nav (Navigate on Autopilot)
With Enhanced AutoPilot, you also get Autopark (between two cars), including parallel parking and Summon which is mostly a party trick at this stage but it can be useful to move the car forward via the app when someone parks too close, or to put the car into the garage without sitting inside.
If you’re a believer in Full Self Driving, then you can add this into your order too. I work in IT and I understand the challenges of FSD. However, after talking to people that know people in the FSD software team at Tesla and seeing some of the beta software, I now believe that Full Self Diving is possible and is likely to be available within a year from now.
The FSD price keeps going up as new features are added, so if you believe that the current price is worth it then be sure to order it now to lock in the price. What I can say on this is that once FSD is ready (and the regulators agree) then your car will become a big income generator. Imagine a world where your car will turn into a taxi or delivery vehicle while you are at work. Instead of costing you to keep the car it will turn into an income generator. This is why the value of FSD is estimated to be around $100,000 over the lifetime of the vehicle once it is feature complete.
Perhaps I’m optimistic on this but knowing what I know and after seeing it in action, I do believe it will happen, if not this year then next.
One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll need the FSD option if you want your car to automatically stop at traffic lights and stop signs. This works now, even on the Isle of Man and it’s very good!
Finally, place your order and be greeted with the Hedgehog meme. (You’ll become familiar with all the Tesla jokes soon enough. Yes, all Teslas come with “fart mode”!)
Once you’ve placed your order, you'll be contacted depending on what finance option you chose. If you’re leasing or financing the vehicle then you’ll be contacted with steps on how to arrange this. If you’re a cash buyer then you won’t need to pay anything further until a few days before collecting the vehicle.
One thing I recommend is a few days after placing your order, call Tesla and ask them if there is a new inventory vehicle to match your order. I did this and there was an identical vehicle already on it’s way to the UK which I believe had been cancelled. The ships take a while to arrive in to the UK so it’s certainly worth seeing if they can match you to one already on its way. By doing this I was able to take delivery of my car within just 3 weeks rather than the 2 months I was originally quoted.
Tesla's contact numbers are emailed to you after placing your order.
Once the email requesting payment is sent to you, get that out of the way and be sure to call the next day to ensure that it’s all gone through. At the end of each quarter, Tesla are incredibly busy so it’s worth a call to ensure everything is in order.
Tesla will send you links to a few documents and YouTube videos to familiarise you with how to use the car. You’ll need this if you have a contactless delivery during COVID.
When choosing a delivery day, I’d advise choosing an early morning appointment so that any identified issues can hopefully be resolved the same day. This is important because there are no delivery centres on the Island and an extra day in the UK, if needed, could be an inconvenience.
Due to the COVID restrictions, I was unable to leave the Island to collect my vehicle. Fortunately, my father lives in the UK and he collected the vehicle for me.
If you live within a certain radius, Tesla will drop off your car at your house, however, I opted to collect from the service centre so that if there were any issues, they could be addressed on the day.
My father tells me that the whole experience was contactless. The key card for the car was all he needed to collect from the office as I had already signed for everything online before collecting.
After an inspection of the car, there were zero issues, no panel gaps or obvious paint issues. (Don’t believe everything you read on the forums!) If you do spot issues, be sure to identify them. This is key, especially with no service centre on the island.
Transportation to the Isle of Man
If you can go to the UK to collect your vehicle, you’ll need to book the ferry in the usual way.
If you're getting someone to drive the car onto the ferry for you, you’ll need to contact the freight office of the Steam Packet to book this.
Due to COVID, the staff would not drive the car on, so you’ll need to have someone at the ferry terminal in good time to be able to drive the car onto the ferry.
The Steam Packet request that you keep the windows open and wipe down the interior, leaving the key card on the driver's seat.
By this time you should have the Tesla App downloaded on your phone. Log in with your Tesla email and password. Your car will be there and you’ll be able to track it and open/close the car, windows etc. remotely if requested by the Steam Packet.
Once the ferry gets to the Island, you’ll need to walk onto the boat with a high-vis jacket. The Steam Packet ask that you meet them at the weighbridge, near the check-in booths. Once the ferry is docked, you can walk on and figure out how the fancy door handles work on the Tesla!
Once you’re in the car, put your foot on the brake and push the right stalk down once and you’re set! (This took me 5 embarrassing minutes to work out, even after watching all the YouTube videos about 10 times!)
Tesla called me a few days later to check that everything was okay. I had a couple of questions about ordering the acceleration boost. You just buy it on the app and the car instantly reboots with the new performance. In typical Tesla fashion, it was very easy to do!
I decided to get the front and impact areas of the vehicle protected with a PPF (Paint Protection Film). I highly recommend this over any ceramic coatings. DC Valeting were great, definitely go and see them if you’re interested in keeping the paint new and super easy to clean.
As there is no Tesla service on the Island, you’ll need to take the car to a UK service centre if you have any warranty issues. The only issue I’ve had is a driver's door seal break but I’m happy to leave that until I can travel to the UK. Be sure to log issues within the app so there is a record.
Given the fuel and servicing savings (yes, Teslas require very little servicing), I gather that shipping the car back to the UK if anything went wrong wasn’t too much of an issue. I’m one year into my Tesla ownership now and I could not be happier! My Model 3 is the best thing I have ever bought for reasons that would take far too long to write here. I’m always showing people the car so please feel free to reach out if you’d like the unofficial “tour” and acceleration demonstration!
For a tour of my Model 3 and to answer any of your questions, please feel free to contact me any time via the contact page.