German automotive veteran Nando Sommerfeldt has not had good experiences with electric cars. At one time, the electric vehicles he was testing ended up running out of charge, making him stranded in the middle of a trip. Other vehicles proved too slow to charge, testing his family’s patience. Sommerfeldt has reservations about electric cars, even a prejudice, if you may, but it only lasted until he drove a Tesla Model 3.
The Silicon Valley-based electric car maker sent a bold message to the auto veteran, offering to change his mind about electric cars. “We would like to convince you otherwise. Our impression is that you simply have not tested the ‘right electric cars’ yet,” Tesla wrote. That’s a bold statement, and Sommerfeldt opted to take the offer. Tesla provided the EV critic with a Model 3 Performance, one of its latest vehicles that currently sells for 69,000 euros in Germany.
Being “spoiled” by vehicles from premium manufacturers such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Sommerfeldt was largely unimpressed with the build quality of the Model 3. In his review, which was published at German publication Welt.de, Sommerfeldt complained about the panel gaps in the car, and he argued that while the white seats of the Model 3 were good, they do not compare favorably to the seats of the Audi e-tron. “The workmanship of body, interior, actually everything, is not up to premium standards,” he wrote. Nevertheless, with his evaluation of the vehicle’s build quality out of the way, the EV critic started driving the electric sedan.
It took 50 kilometers (31 miles) before his prejudices against electric cars started to fade. Even with the electric revolution underway today, there is still a persistent belief that EVs don’t drive as well as the best gas-powered vehicles on the market. “What nonsense. The Model 3 drives terrific,” Sommerfeldt declared. German industry expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer from Center Automotive Research (CAR) highlighted Sommerfeldt’s observations. “The car is much better than all models of electric competition. The technical lead is easily four to five years. Range and driving pleasure are unmatched,” he said.
Elaborating on his experience, Sommerfeldt noted that the Model 3 feels like a sports car, an “extremely fast sports car.” This is quite notable considering that the vehicle is a family car at its core. But it’s not just the vehicle’s driving dynamics that impressed the EV critic. In terms of bleeding-edge technology inside the car, the Model 3 does not disappoint either. Industry expert Stefan Bratzel of the Center of Automotive Management (CAM) noted that the migration of car buyers from traditional vehicles to electric cars like Tesla is due to veterans being unable to offer similar innovations. “The future is offered here (at Tesla), which the Germans have not been able to do so far,” Bratzel said.
Beyond the excellent driving dynamics and the technology in the Model 3, perhaps what really removed the EV critic’s prejudice against electric cars was Tesla’s Supercharger Network. During his time with the vehicle, Sommerfeldt took his family out on a road trip once more, and this time around, they did not have to wait for hours on end for their vehicle to charge. Using one of Tesla’s Superchargers, Sommerfeldt and his family opted for a quick coffee and ice cream break, and by the time they returned to the Model 3, it had already gained 300 km (186 miles) of additional range. Sommerfeldt found the Supercharger Network’s design well-placed for long trips, and the Tesla community as a whole pleasant to interact with.
Dudenhöffer noted that among electric car makers, Tesla is the one that really thought about the big picture when they released their vehicles. Teslas, while not capable of charging at speeds similar to a gas-powered car yet, can charge at their owner’s homes (allowing drivers to leave with a “full tank” every day), and the company has backups in place if the Supercharger Network is unevailable. “Right from the beginning, the company had a clear plan of where its customers’ traffic flows. The Tesla owner can also refuel at all the other pillars of this country. But first of all, it would probably be too slow for him. And second, he does not need them,” he said. This is a particularly notable point for Sommerfeldt, as he admits to having deep range anxiety issues due to his past experiences with EVs. These issues, he found, were nonexistent with the Model 3.
With range anxiety gone thanks to the Supercharger Network and its contingencies, Sommerfeldt noted that Tesla drivers could trust their vehicles once more. And that, for Germany’s car buying public, at least, is a very big deal. “This Tesla destroys all my prejudices against the electric car,” he wrote.