For Tesla, the introduction of the Model S will be a huge step forward in the company's mission to prove the viability of electric vehicle technology. Tesla executives have previously said that new battery technology will enable electric vehicles to go much farther than anyone thought possible.
"It really feels like we're trying to change the world," said Tesla CTO JB Straubel in a 2009 Design News interview. "There's a real David-and-Goliath feel to it."
For a look at GM's Chevy Volt, go to the Drive for Innovation site and follow the cross-country journey of EE Life editorial director, Brian Fuller. In the trip sponsored by Avnet Express, Fuller is taking the fire-engine-red Volt to innovation hubs across America, interviewing engineers, entrepreneurs, innovators, and students as he blogs his way across the country.
Naperlo, in mentioning Tesla's strategy, I wonder if the company introduced a lower-price vehicle (relative to its $100K car) in order to get a higher volume of sales. I can't imagine a car maker could survive long selling cars for $100K. Maybe I'm wrong, but just can't imagine there is sufficient volume at the price point unless you're BMW or Mercedes. Getting vehicles down to the $50k range could make a difference in volume sales.
Good looking car, but I think you are right, Beth. The Model S seems to be made more for the driver who wants an EV, but also expects to stand out from the crowd while driving it. I can't help but wonder if all these car company's will eventually fall flat in their electric efforts because they are all trying to be better than the rest. At what point do they stop trying to impress with infotainment and other features? Yes, they are cool, but isn't a car just supposed to get you from point A to point B?
Acctually, Beth, I have an answer to that. I was at an IEEE meeting where we had a former company executive speak about the car and the company's strategy. Realizing that the battery technology was still way to expensive for a mass market car, Tesla decided on a phased approach. The overall goal was to prove the viability of electric vehicles. That meant getting some on the road and getting real world experience. So, they started at the high end with a vehicle type that would not be a primary commuter car. This was their sports model, which listed at about $100K. The car in the article is the next step, This is a mid-size car that goes up against the BMW 5 Series in size, price and features. As mentioned in the article, the battery pack design is new, and potentially less costly than the battery in the first Tesla.
The whole theory behind this is the new technology adoption curve. A good example is flat screen TVs. Early models, of perhaps 36" size cost over $5K. Today you can buy a 46" or greater with LEDs and 3D capability for $1K or so. New, ultra flat TVs are about to come out that will cost $8K, I have read. There will always be some who are willing to pay for the latest and greatest. As the prodcution ramps up and competitors arrive, the costs come down.
As for the Leaf and Volt, they are not really cheap for what they provide. I think they are both in the upper $30Ks.
While it sounds like Tesla is making strides with addressing the battery life/capacity/size issue, the $50K pricetag puts it way out of the range of practical, mainstream vehicles, in my book, any way. Is this model meant to go up the lower price Nissan Leafs and other less expensive EVs? Doesn't seem like a head to head match.
Volkswagen AG is developing a lithium-air battery that could triple the range of its electric cars, but industry experts believe it could be a long time before that chemistry is ready for production vehicles.
Californiaís plan to mandate an electric vehicle market isnít the first such undertaking and certainly wonít be the last. But as the Golden State ratchets up for its next big step toward zero-emission vehicle status in 2018, it might be wise to consider a bit of history.
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