Tesla outstanding performance
Tesla is one of those marmite companies, you know, you either love it or hate it.
As someone who appreciates commitment, engineering excellence and performance I am in the “love it” camp.
Detractors suggest that an all electric car is a flash in the pan, that the hype over the founder is just that: Hype. The upside hype has seen the share price soar to nearly $300. Now it’s back closer to $210.
(It seems that the character for the Iron Man films was influenced and maybe even modelled on Elon Musk)
There are rumours of hidden sales, production inefficiencies, safety issues and cost excesses.
They add that other car companies are introducing similar or better cars, either electric or with other efficient fuel technologies, and these will be either more efficient, cheaper or overall a better choice for both motoring and the environment over the long term. The recent oil price reductions and subsequent fuel price drop adds to their case that drivers will not seek an alternative if petrol is cheap.
But while I can see other technologies being good – better than petrol – the electric case I think has many more benefits.
So here is my case for the upside. This comes from a couple of years of observation, and taking time to visit the showroom, take a test drive and observe the arguments on very forum either positive or negative.
The company sounded out its market with a high-end specialist two-seater. The success of this led to the development of a 3 vehicle line-up, of which so far only one has made it to market. That is the model S, a 5+2 saloon car that stylistically is very similar to the Jaguar XF. That’s a plus for me already.
The Tesla S has the highest ever safety rating from Euro NCAP in Europe and from NHTSA in the US. The ratings weren’t just high, they raised the bar beyond the feasible reach of many manufacturers. The roof crush test machine broke when the equivalent of 4 other Model S cars was loaded on top.
The S is one of only 3 cars to ever have scored maximum in every sub-category of testing for both safety schemes.
The Model S has the highest ever ConsumerReports.org survey, scoring 99 from 100, and was the first car to be Motor Trends car of the year with a unanimous vote.
It’s safe, and those that know about safety say it’s safe.
Much was made of the decision to build their own battery production plant rather than rely on Panasonic. The idea is to ensure supply capacity, and reduce prices, both factors are recognisable constraints to future sales. That factory is being built now, and by 2020 it is expected to eclipse the entire 2013 global output of batteries. From one plant.
One of the other main concerns with all electric cars is range. How far can you go on one charge? And when you get there how long does it take to re-charge?
Tesla has addressed this in two ways. One is to start with a realistic range in the car. That is 260 – 300 depending on how you drive it. And then they have built a network of rapid charging stations across the US and Europe. The UK has 15 already in or being built, allowing fast charging from Kent to Devon, across the midlands and on up to Edinburgh. And into Ireland as well. There are more than 80 more over the channel allowing connection from the top of Scandinavia to Rome in the south, and east though Austria and down to Croatia. It takes 30 minutes charging at a supercharger to add 130 mile of range, or a full charge in less than an hour. A regular home charge replenishes overnight.
The most popular model and battery choice allows 265 – 300 mile range depending on your speed. At legal speeds it should be closer to the 300 miles.
Other models being proposed offer a 4 wheel drive SUV type Model, the X, and a smaller saloon / hatch known as the Model or Gen III. Both of these will benefit from the best battery technology and all of the safety and convenience improvements made since the S was launched. But the launch of both these new models has been pushed back repeatedly. Musk says because when they are launched they will be perfect, suggesting there are teething troubles being addressed that won’t be acceptable to buyers.
And the petrol head gets a say too. Another example of Tesla outstanding performance. The top Model S with dual electric motors (P85D) produces 691 BHP. That allows acceleration similar to that of a McClaren F1, and a Lamborghini Aventador. It does not have the top end speed, but it will certainly get you out of the way fast. And how many cars have a spare motor installed, the ultimate built in redundancy.
As an investment I think Tesla will fly again in 2015. The bear argument is fading fast as Musk addresses the concerns – many of them spurious at best – that are raised. The vehicles are state-of-the-art; the factories are also; the direct sales model is welcomed. And the world knows more than ever that the environment need protecting, and Tesla is addressing that. Perhaps he is the final reason for investing in Tesla. Would anyone bet on him failing?