Tesla: The Time Has Come
Unlike the Ford Model T, the Tesla Model S is a high-end car, starting at $57,400 before tax adjustments. It will hit the U.S. roads over 18 months after the Nissan LEAF, which cost just under $35,000 and has already sold in considerable quantities (over 10,000).
So the Tesla Model S is neither the first comfortable electric car, nor the cheapest. So what's the point?
Model S Overview
The Tesla Model S will give you significantly more range than a Nissan LEAF or any other practical all-electric car to date. The Nissan is EPA-certified at 73 miles on average. Tesla claims 160 miles for the base version of the Model S. Let's see what the EPA certifies, no later than July this year. My hunch is that the EPA-certified number will be less than 160 miles, but that's just my hunch.
Tesla will also sell you an alleged 230-mile and a 300-mile version of the Model S. Each step up is $10,000 more. Of course, there are also all sorts of other options that will cost extra, including a more powerful motor, sunroof, etc. On the Tesla Web site, I was able to configure a model with seemingly every single option for $108,400, before tax adjustments.
Here is the point: 73 miles just isn't enough for comfort for most people. While 73 miles is more than plenty for many people most of the time, most people need or want a car to be able to handle unforeseen situations. Sometimes you just need to go longer than you had planned for your regular commute that day, and perhaps you don't have time or ability to charge during the day.
If 73 miles don't cut it, are you saying that 160 miles or 230 miles do? In a word, yes. Or at least: Yes, I think so -- for many, many people. Not all, perhaps not even a majority -- but for many people. The bar of success for Tesla is not if it can get 50% of the car market -- 1% of the U.S. car market is 150,000 units, and Tesla is gunning for worldwide sales of 20,000 units with the Model S, plus another 10,000 to 15,000 cars for the 2014 Model X. Totally achievable, in other words.