Unsurprisingly, the BBC gives us a puff-piece on Tesla’s latest offering:
[T]his upgrade enables the Model S to travel from 0 – 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, giving it the fastest acceleration of any currently available production car … Like all electric vehicles, that more powerful battery delivers 100% of its dual-engine torque immediately, pushing the four-wheel-drive saloon past records heretofore the domain of million-dollar supercars.
Million dollars? Let’s first be generous and assume this car actually can do 0-60 in 2.5 seconds and will make it into production (visit Streetwise Professor to see why skepticism over Elon Musk’s pronouncements is warranted). According to Wikipedia, the Porsche 991 can match this which, according to Porsche USA, costs about $188,000. This isn’t so cheap, but it’s not a million dollar supercar. And the Tesla is no bargain, either:
The Model S P100D saloon will start at £114,200 and the Model X 100D sport-utility vehicle begins at £117,200, and older Teslas can upgrade their battery packs for a mere £15,000.
£114k is about $150k in today’s money. That would buy you an awful lot of Porsche.
That’s expensive, but Tesla is taking the Toms shoes model approach to your wallet. “While the P100D Ludicrous is obviously an expensive vehicle, we want to emphasize that every sale helps pay for the smaller and much more affordable Tesla Model 3 that is in development.” In other words, your need to go very far, very fast helps fund the electric vehicle needs of others less fortunate than you.
Hmmm. As a business model, this doesn’t sound very sustainable. You could probably expect some cross-subsidising between models in order to maintain a brand and market share, but this seems to be ass-backwards: it’s normally the high-volume margins on the cheaper brands which provide the cash for developing high-end niche products, not the other way around. Are Tesla really going to be selling enough of these $150k supercars, and the margins high enough, to be able to reduce the cost of the mass-produced models? I’d love to see the numbers on that.
The holy grail of EV range has long been 300 miles, which would bring electrics into the full-tank range of most petrol-powered vehicles. Now, 300 miles doesn’t make for a stress-free cross-county road trip, but there’s a lot to be said for enjoying a real meal while your Tesla charges rather than buying Slim Jims and Diet Dr Pepper in the 10 minutes it takes to gas up your petromobile.
If sitting and having a meal for a couple of hours is preferable to stopping for 10 minutes, why don’t more people do that already? After all, there is nothing preventing owners of petrol cars doing so, is there? What the article is doing is trying to make light of the biggest issue facing electric cars, which I’ve written about before:
The limited range isn’t actually the issue, as petrol cars also have a limited range. The problem is the charging time, which renders the vehicle unavailable for several hours. If you run low on petrol, you spend 5 minutes filling up and you’re on your way again.
The whole concept on which the current breed of electric cars is based will collapse as soon as there are more than a handful of stories of people being caught out miles from home – children in the back, howling – and having to wait at a charging station for hours before being able to continue the journey start to appear on the internet.
The author’s glib suggestion that people will be happy to sit and have a nice meal while waiting to continue their journey isn’t supported by people’s actual behaviour. A decent journalist would have addressed this issue properly, but then this is the BBC: the entire article is simply a puff-piece for the latest darling of the political establishment:
Mr Musk is betting big on batteries. He’s going to make sure we get to the future — and quickly.
This is what £3.7bn per year gets you. Couldn’t they at least send Tesla an invoice next time?