Sunday, October 6, 2013

Tesla Tease.

Anyone paying even the slighest bit of attention to the automotive market has heard of Tesla Motors. They are seeing huge success with their gorgeous Model S, a large and luxurious sedan that is proof, finally, that an electric car can be a hit. Many manufacturers have dabbled in electric vehicles for years now, but Tesla is the first to create a market for them. And it's working, sales have taken off.
One amazing feat is the fact that Tesla was the best-selling car in Norway in September, with 616 examples sold. It wasn't just the best-selling electric, or luxury car, but best-selling car, period! A rather impressive performance for a car that starts at nearly 450,000 Norwegien kroners, or 75,000 dollars American.
While success in the US is understandable, as one expects that consumers will root for the home team and buy local products, the established (a nice way of saying saturated) European market is a tough nut to crack. The German quartet of luxury automakers are the go-to for luxury car sales, with a couple pseudo-English brands and an Italian or two thrown in for good measure, making the job of carving out a name and a place in the upper-class performance sedan sandbox a real chore. The Japanese top-shelf brands are still also-rans in Europe, and have not yet figured out how to compete with the established players.
Tesla is the little dog with the big bark. What they lack (years of experience, a well-established reputation, a large dealer network) is clearly being made up for by what they do have: the single best luxury sedan on the market. I have not yet had the chance to experience a Model S, but all reports highlight how smooth and refined and liveable the car is, thanks to the powerful and unobtrusive electric powerplant. Unobtrusive in two ways... it physically doesn't take near as much space as a conventional gas-burning engine, especially with the batteries installed under the floor of the car... and the whisper quiet powertrain coupled with top-notch insulation and sound-deadening creates a vault-like cocoon for the passengers.
All that said, the 302 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque available on the standard motor can turn the reserved and well-mannered Tesla into a monster in just a few seconds. As I have not had the chance to test drive the car I can't give my personal impressions, but as a mechanical engineer I can appreciate what having an electric motor with that much torque available from 0 to 5000 rpm means... and the idea gives me shivers...
Unfortunately my budget for this year doesn't include the purchase of a luxury car, and I don't suspect that it will next year either. My only hope is that Santa Claus will read this blog, though if the packs of socks and underwear from last year are any indication, I shouldn't hold my breath. That doesn't stop me from being very excited about the continued growth of Tesla in Europe, though, and I hope to get the chance to check one out sometime soon...

1 comment:

  1. Tried to go visit the Tesla boutique in Paris yesterday, and found that it no longer exists! Apparently they're looking to open a new one in the near future, so I'll plan a visit for sure!


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