Saturday, December 29, 2012

Growing Demand For Tesla

A number of people are attempting to claim that although the Tesla Model S is an amazing vehicle that seems to be winning every possible automotive award and pleasing the majority of customers, demand is going to drop off and Tesla won't have an expanding market for the car.  Even when faced with the reality of an almost sold out 2013 production run and increasing reservations some people insist that once the early adopter consumers have had their orders filled interest in the vehicle will drop off.  One thing they fail to realize is that this car is a marketing juggernaut that is selling itself now that is being released into the wild in ever increasing numbers.  There is no simple data that can explain the phenomenon, but I keep running across the experiences of Model S owners that paint a clear picture.  These quotes are just a small sampling of what can be found at the Tesla Motors Club forums:

At NO TIME in my fifty years have I seen those with McLaren experience come together with Prius owners and agree on spending $50K to $100K on a car. That simply does not ever happen and yet it has happened. Dogs sleeping with cats. Soccer moms driving rocket ships.

 After having my S for 2 weeks, it blows the doors off of any car I've either owned or driven previously. Luxury, speed, smoothness, space, responsiveness. Nothing compares.

 Ultimately, the Model S made for an easy proposition to pay above my original price-point to essentially make no compromises. Cool tech, no gas, space, luxury, and performance. This was all before I actually drove one! Once I had an oppotunity to drive one it was a serious no-brainer for me.

FWIW - I have tried HARD to find another car that excites me as much as the model S and I just can't find one.

 I've been in Los Angeles for the past three days, where the presence of high-end ICE's is about as good as it gets. I drove by the Ferrari and Lamborghini showrooms a few times and on the road the number of BMWs and Audis is countless. As much as I love and admire these cars, I kept getting the sinking feeling that their breeds are are not long for this world. It might be like how forward-thinking people riding horses felt when the first Model T's appeared. They probably recognized that the old ways were going to die.

Sure, these cars will remain. But they will become oddities of a kind -- collectors items to be admired as the pinnacle of a day gone by. The Model S is the future, ICE's are the past.

 I've driven pretty high-powered, RWD, good handling stick shift cars for my entire adult life.

The Model S is unique blend of driver's car and practical sedan. Even leaving out the eco-friendly/high-efficiency aspect, this car has no equal.

I can get better handling in a Ferrari or Porsche. I can get equal throttle response in a supercar like a McLaren. I can get a comparably comfortable ride and comfortably carry 5 adults in many big luxury sedans. I can get the same amount of cargo room in SUV's and some big sedans/wagon.

To the best of my knowledge, the only place I can get all of that in one car is the Model S. Period. To get that, I'll gladly put up with the 265 mile range and the lack of some features. Especially because it's pretty clear that the electric drivetrain is what lets Tesla put all those features into the one car.

 I think what is interesting is that tesla has attracted new buyers to the luxury car market, people like me who have never even test drove a luxury car.

 Everyone is totally blown away that has never heard of Tesla!!!
I am constantly having drivers behind me at stop lights aiming phones at me (and occasionally in front of me hanging out of a window and facing backwards!)

 I was dropping off a friend at MIA today, and pulled up to the curbside at departures. The skycap looked at the car, seemed intrigued, and then peeked inside and nearly flipped out. He called over some other skycaps, and before I knew it the entire skycap staff was looking at the car, taking pictures and video. I fielded a lot of questions. One of the skycaps said, "I've seen every type of car possible at my curb, and this is the nicest one I've ever seen." I thanked him. He went on to say, "Man, I mean 50 Cent was here the other day and this is nicer than his car!" I said, "Seriously? I beat Fitty???" "Most definitely," he replied. A large woman who appeared to be the supervisor came over to see what the commotion was, and she looked inside too and was apparently pretty impressed. "Are you married?" she asked.

 The other day a guy made about 3 full revolutions around my S by changing lanes and speeding up and slowing down to get shots of me with his smartphone.

And on and on and on, this is just a small sample of the ownership experience.  Tesla owners describe something called "Tesla Time", where you must leave extra time when making trips to answer questions from an admiring and inquisitive public.  At this point there are around 3000 Tesla Model S sedans on the road, in the US and Canada.   What will be the likely outcome when there are thousands more of them on the road world wide?  Does this in any way seem like a shrinking market that will only be populated by early adopters?  Place your bets.  I have.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Better Place Gets Worse

The downward spiral continues for BP:

Following a difficult year, the departure of the founding CEO, and new fund raising efforts, electric car infrastructure company Better Place has been laying off hundreds of employees in Israel...


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Conservatives Should Support The EV Tax Credit

I often hear people say they don't want to support EV development and that the $7500 tax rebate offered for the purchase of an EV is taking "their" money.  In essence this is true since all government funding comes from the tax base that we all pay into.  For Tesla's 20,000 Model S vehicles they are projecting to produce next year this amounts to around 50 cents per US citizen, and is a drop in the bucket compared to other tax breaks that some individuals and companies get but others do not.
However I'd argue that the outrage is entirely misplaced for those conservative, and libertarian, individuals and does not fit with one of their basic philosophies.  Supposedly one of their large concerns is too much taxation and too much misuse of those funds by big government.  Following that logic any program which allows even some citizens to hold onto their tax money and get it out of the hands of government should be seen as a good thing.  Who knows how better to spend that money than the people who earned it?*
Another aspect of the rebate that seems to bother them, especially in the case of Tesla, is that the rebate mostly goes to the wealthy, which makes it even worse.  However, isn't that the basis of trickle down economics, and the supposed reason they oppose increasing taxation on the rich?  Allow them to keep more of their money and they will buy more stuff and create jobs with it, right?

In truth I suspect the anti EV rebate talking point is something they use without much thought in an attempt to support their inherent anti-EV bias.  It's not rational and does not even mesh with their own philosophies.  I will point out that there are some conservatives who do support EV's and do understand the benefits of the tax credit, unfortunately they seem to be under represented.

My own feelings on the topic are that I'm quite willing to see the EV tax credit go away, one second after all the other much larger tax loopholes are filled.  I'm waiting....

*Actually I'd argue against that concept since many people squander their cash with complete disregard for financial responsibility and the rest of us are left to pick up the pieces, but that's another topic.