Due to the dismal performance of attempts to start car companies (Fisker, DeLorean), I suspect many people thought they would not succeed, especially because the employees were more Silicon Valley than Detroit. Even I thought they had picked a very large challenge, although certainly a worthy one. But the company is succeeding beautifully, and in the process changing opinions and values in a very conservative industry with very conservative customers. Even now, there are rumors of troubles and problems with the cars and the company running around, but these are founded on love of large V-8 engines. the smell of gasoline, and on nostalgia, not on reality. Reality can better be seen by the awards and enthusiasm the model S is getting, by its sales and back orders, and better yet, by driving one.
Last Sunday my son took my wife and I out riding in a model S that he was acquiring some data on, and it is very difficult to criticize. It is beautiful, luxurious, handles magnificently, reaches 60 mph in slightly over 4 seconds, and has a range of over 200 miles. If you are not familiar with the car, here is its Wikipedia write-up.
The only concern I would have if I owned one is that the digital opportunities are so lavish that one might worry about driver distraction. The company is building rapid charging stations and battery swapping stations as fast as it can to augment the basic process of charging the battery through 220 volt house current. And it is exporting to Europe and about to start exporting to Asia (but built in California).
The Model S is pricey. But that is reasonable to expect from a radically new product. The first Tesla product, the roadster, was relatively more expensive, since it was a simpler and a less luxuriously finished machine. It received a great deal of attention, not only because of its energy saving, but also because if its performance, its striking appearance, and perhaps because only 1000 of them were made. The model S will be followed by the model X, which will be a crossover (a combination of a sports sedan and a minivan) built on the same platform with the same performance. Following that the company plans to release what they call Generation 3, which is targeted to cost approximately half of the price of the Model S, and be aimed for mass market sales—one of Tesla’s original goals. Musk promises that it will be consistent with the Model S —a unique, advanced, and exciting machine with no desire for gasoline.
Say what you will, but in only ten years, Tesla has produced two sensational automobiles, is producing electric drive trains for other manufacturers (Daimler and Toyota), and has changed the attitude of many doubters of the attractiveness and desirability of electrically powered cars. And it has done so through undeniably high quality products.