The Tesla Model S has been a long time coming, but Tesla now say that the first Model S cars will start to arrive with customers in the US in June, slightly ahead of schedule – which must be a first for Tesla.
The first 1,000 deliveries will be of the range-topping Signature Series cars which come with the big 85kWh battery pack and lots of toys and cosmetic embellishments, but after that it’s regular Model S deliveries, although the cheaper versions with smaller battery packs and lower range won’t arrive until later.
Tesla say they will deliver 5,000 Model S this year with production ramping up to 20,000 on 2013. So far, Tesla has orders for 10,000 cars.
This is the crunch point for Tesla. They are changing from a Silicon Valley toy in to a real car makers, and a car maker with a real chance of delivering a game-changing car in the US with a sensible price point and the only really sensible use of EV technology – the range extender.
But it all depends on how the Model S performs in the real world. Will it be properly bolted together and will it be reliable? Will it be the real world personification of the exchange between Bill Gates and GM? For those who don’t remember, Bill Gates said of GM: “If General Motors had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”
The riposte from GM was clever and worth repeating. They said that if we were all driving cars made by Microsoft that:
- For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
- Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
- Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull over to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason, you would simply accept this.
- Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
- Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive — but would run on only five percent of the roads.
- The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “General Protection Fault” warning light.
- The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.
- Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
- Every time GM introduced a new car, car buyers would have to learn to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
- You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.
Will Tesla’s ‘Silicon Valley meets Detroit’ Model S see GM’s predictions come true? We’ll know soon enough.