Wealthy get their electric car early
Today the first customer Tesla S deliveries took place at the Tesla factory in Fremont, California. The first customer? Jeff Skoll, first president of e-Bay, worth over $3 billion and ranked the 7th wealthiest Canadian according to Forbes. And while not all Tesla customers are expected to be billionaires, apparently Tesla expects them to be relatively well off. How do we know? A hint is in the placement of their retail stores in locations such as Scottsdale Fashion Square – one of the ten most profitable shopping malls in the country. The car was delivered about a month ahead of schedule.
Do you need to be a billionaire to buy a Tesla Model S? No… But it helps. The first vehicles to be delivered will be to those customers that ordered the Model S Signature Series or Signature Performance Series with a price tag of over $100,000 including all of the cool options. We are sorry to have to disagree with John O’Dell from Edmunds.com, but when he calls these deliveries the transformation of Tesla into a “mainstream automaker“, we’re not sure what he had been ingesting prior to making the statement. Mainstream automaker’s vehicles don’t start at over $50,000 and run up to over $100,000. In our book, these would be classified as luxury automakers. But given the context, referring to Tesla as a “wannabe” carmaker, perhaps Mr. O’Dell is referring to the idea of building more cars. Here too, we are not so sure of that possibility – at least not anytime soon.
Tesla’s first vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, wasn’t really a Tesla at all, but a Lotus (built to Tesla’s specs) fitted with an electric drivetrain in the Tesla plant. And it still took over three years to build 2,500 of them. We must say that we are skeptical of the promise to build 5,000 Model S sedans in the next six months, with the intent of doubling that rate in 2013. That seems a bit optimistic to us. We will have our first answer by the end of the year.
For those of you that heard that a Tesla S could be had for $50,000 after the federal rebate, you will need to wait awhile longer. Production of those vehicles won’t even begin until the Fall of this year, and that is only if they can maintain their aggressive production schedule. Tesla’s plan is to sell only the pricier 85 kilowatt hour battery pack vehicles first, followed by the 60 kilowatt hour units, with the lowly 40 kilowatt hour vehicles coming online last. If the company experiences any teething problems at all with their sedan production, look for those “mainstream” vehicles to not be available until sometime next year.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just rated the Model S at 89 MPGe with a range of 265 miles for the largest battery pack.