The first time I went to a Tesla showroom in October 2013, it was in the swanky Santana Row shopping center north of San Jose, Calif. There isn't a lot to do in most Tesla locations since you can't actually buy a car there. You can, however, sit in the cars--which is exactly what I did that day.
It was amazing. I can't exactly explain why, except that sitting in a $100K sedan that's faster than basically everything else on the road is, well, amazing. Even if you're not actually driving.
Well, this week the company sent out an email because apparently, Tesla wants to make that experience even better, although in the strangest of ways. Now, when you visit a showroom until June 30, you can sit in a Model 3 and--play video games.
That's right-- you can play video games on that big touch screen in a Telsa.
At first, I had a hard time imagining this actually served any practical purpose. It's not like you're going to let your kid borrow the steering wheel controller to play video games when you're driving them to school in the morning. Then again, maybe you'll need something to do when your car is driving itself. (Actually, the company says it only works while the car is in park.)
To be honest, my first thought was, "is this actually a thing?"
Then I realized it was, and it's actually brilliant.
A little bit practical.
The biggest pain point of owning an electric car is that it takes a lot longer to recharge a battery than it does to fill a gas tank. Sure, some of Tesla's Superchargers are located near shopping or restaurants, but that's not always the case.
Now, in addition to reading a book, listening to music, or taking a nap while your battery recharges, you can play video games. The company worked with developer Vector Unit to bring Beach Buggy Racing 2, Atari Missile Command, and Asteroid to the Tesla. If you think about it, it's actually perfect. And not because it's practical. That's not the point at all.
A whole lot of cool.
One of the things that Tesla does well--besides building really cool cars that most of us can't afford--is make the whole thing fun. In fact, Elon Musk makes a point of the fact that the goal is to ask, "How do we make it as fun as possible?"
Sure, Ludicrous Mode is maybe more about performance, but zero-60 mp/h in less than four seconds is definitely fun and absolutely ludicrous.
The company is known for sending updates over-the-air that include things like "Romance Mode" which shows a kindling fire on the screen while playing love songs. Now, if you aren't in the mood for romance, or even "James Bond Mode," you can play video games using the steering wheel as a controller.
By the way, the brilliance of the whole thing isn't that anyone is going to buy a Model X because of the video games. They aren't. You could literally buy a new Xbox One S every day of the year for the starting price of a Tesla SUV.
What makes this the perfectly-Tesla thing to do, and proves that CEO Elon Musk is definitely cooler than the rest of us, is that they are doing it simply because they can.
Do something cool.
Plus, Musk knows that doing it will delight the people who are already fans of Tesla. Which, by the way, is something worth considering for your own business. You might not have a gorgeous 17-inch display built into your product with some idle time to fill, but that's okay.
Certainly, there's something simple you can do that serves no purpose other than to make your customer smile knowing that you did it for them simply because you could.
Oh, and there's the part where simply by inviting people to come and sit in a showroom and play video games, we're all talking about how cool it would be to have a Tesla.