It’s a sleek silver with custom rims that look like blades of a jet turbine. I can imagine popping the door, climbing in after work and blasting quietly onto the freeway listening to AC/DC’s Highway to Hell.
That’s the thought anyway.
Many motorheads are likely tuning to a similar daydream. Cool car, custom and the latest technology. Great name too. Tesla, after Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest electrical engineers of the modern era, responsible for developing the alternating current electrical supply system. He even demonstrated wireless energy transfer back in 1891 and inspired a pretty decent rock and roll band.
Suffice to say the dude is cool. And so is the car named for him. Although this vehicle’s arrival has more to do with Tesla Motors Inc. Chairman Elon Musk, another bigwig in the innovation realm. In addition to his co-founding of Tesla, Musk also has been instrumental of the commercialization of space travel via his efforts on SpaceX and its Dragon spacecraft, which returned successfully from a trip to the International Space Station.
Summer is the S season
The Model S is due in showrooms June 22, but the first cars will likely go to reservation holders as the manufacturer slowly rolls out each completed vehicle from assembly lines at the Fremont, Calif. plant. In an 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk writes that reservations for the Model S topped 10,000 soon after first quarter 2012.
“We plan to continue making customer deliveries on a slow, methodical ramp, and remain confident in our target of 5,000 vehicle deliveries by year end,” he says.
Anticipation is building. “Eagerly waiting for delivery in LA ‘Lower Alabama,’ writes jlswit on a post by George Blankenship, Tesla vice president of sales, on the company website. There are many more such fan responses.
Range is key
The car sounds like a major step ahead of the competition. In addition to Chevy’s Volt and Nissan’s Leaf, Ford’s come out with an electric Focus, trumpeting “You’ll never need a drop of gas or an oil change.” Mitsubishi has its odd looking MiEV, which according to the manufacturer is the “greenest vehicle of 2012.” And there are the independents: Coda, Fisker and others.
The base price of the Model S is $49,900. But the statistic that catches my eye is the range. Darren Quick of gizmag.com posted a chart provided by the company that shows a potential distance of 450 miles on a single charge. Of course the driver would have to limit speed to about 25 mph, but it’s possible.
Quick says the company plans to issue a prize to the first customer who logs more than 400 miles on a charge. More likely drivers will see their range between 250 and 350 miles, he says.
That range beats the pants off other electrics and makes the car more likely to win converts from the internal-combustion crowd.
Turning dreams into reality
And it makes me want one. This kind of interest in a car reminds me of my dream back in high school. Then I was deep into 1950s retro and Hot Rod magazine.
I daydreamed of a 1957, or 1956 (I wasn’t too proud), Chevy Nomad. Black. In fact, I just spotted one on Blackstone Avenue in Fresno, Calif. A Bel-Air version in mint condition. It looked awesome but didn’t quite have the same appeal to my present-day self. I ended up in high school (class of ’79) with a $300 1963 Ford Galaxie. Four-door land yacht. Still, I loved the stupid thing.
The Model S has a taste of the exotic. In fact, it looks far more high-end than its price would indicate.
I recently stumbled across a peek at an Austin Martin DBS concept car that shared a look similar to the Model S’s sweeping lines and tough, eat-you-for-dinner grill and front end. Not bad. To me the DB series will always be one of the coolest cars ever.
So if my fortunes change and I’m following this particular daydream to reality, you can expect to see me picking out a color and adding custom features to my own Model S. Yeah, right.
By: Mike Nemeth