There are no falcon doors, there is no Ludicrous Mode, and the company isn’t run by a man fashioning himself after Tony Stark. The center console isn’t comprised of a mega-iPad, and there are no rear-facing jump seats in the trunk. The Nissan Leaf is no Tesla Model S—a brilliant car, made by a fascinating company, and the first image to come to mind when one thinks of electric cars. But in the end, the Leaf may be more likely to succeed.
Kimbal Musk is the brother of Elon, the billionaire founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. He serves on the board of Tesla and is an advocate for finding new ways of powering, and feeding, our world.
My wife and I had the opportunity this weekend to meet with Kimbal in Las Vegas along with Bill Nye, the famous science guy.
Both were adamant that the time has come to change the world and move away from fossil fuels. I’ve been slow to get on board with that idea, but I finally think that they are correct. Automakers and consumers are starting to realize it, too.
During World War II a blitzkrieg was a German military tactic designed to create disorganization in enemies through short, fierce military campaigns. It’s also been referred to as a “lightning war.”
We’re all friends now, of course, but can the term be applied to what the German automakers want to do to Tesla, the scrappy American automaker?
Tesla, as everyone knows, continues to do the impossible by shattering expectations of what a car company should be. Unlike established automakers, it doesn’t have a dealer network, it sells only electric cars, and its best-selling car is only 3 years old.
Yet the Model S is hands-down the most popular electric car in the world.
Can the German juggernauts stop it?
Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors have been building cars in this country for over 100 years. During that time they have produced vehicles deserving of tremendous praise as well as vehicles that are better off forgotten.
Consumer Reports, the American magazine that reviews everything from cars to stereo equipment, has been doing its thing since 1936.
In all that time, never has an American automaker produced a vehicle CR found to be perfect.
Tesla, the American maker of electric cars, sold its first Model S in 2012. That’s just three short years ago and about 100 years after the Big Three automakers got their starts.
You’ve probably heard the news by now, but the newest Model S just scored a 103 on the CR scale that, until now, only went to 100. The 80-year-old magazine has called the vehicle the best car it has ever tested.
This is quite the embarrassment to every other automaker on the planet and will undoubtedly be a major source of pride for Tesla.
I wish I could call up my best friend from high school and tell him that Ludicrous Speed is real.
We spent a good portion of our teenage years in front of a television watching the Mel Brooks classic comedy Spaceballs.
In it, Rick Moranis plays the villain Dark Helmet and needs to chase after the good guys. He doesn’t think light speed will be fast enough, so he skips it, passing over the next-fastest Ridiculous speed and heading straight to Ludicrous speed.
Naturally, hilarity ensues.
Now we have news that Tesla, the same folks responsible for bringing us Insane Mode on the Model S P85D, will create its own version of Ludicrous speed.
With Independence Day this weekend, we thought it would be an ideal time to take a look at some of the most “American” cars on sale today. Sure, it would be easy to throw together a list of muscle cars and pickup trucks, but, like it or not, the United States isn’t the birthplace of the V8 engine or 4-wheel-drive (that would be France and the Netherlands, respectively), and anyway, that would have been too easy. Instead, when trying to define American culture, we’ve been drawn to the wide breadth of automobiles that have helped define our car culture. After being born from a nation’s version of youngest-child-style frustration (our revolution), the U.S. was initially kept afloat by—and then thrived because of—our penchant to innovate.
A few years ago the idea of buying an $80,000+ electric car that had limited range, few places to refuel, and no dealer network was a laughable proposition. To top it all off, the company that wanted to sell the car had very little automotive design or manufacturing experience.
Around the same time, one of the world’s top automakers had plans for a new electric car that promised to be affordable, good looking, and easy to take on a road trip anywhere roads exist without worrying about running out of range.
Like we even have to say it.
Tesla is winning, big time.
Part of that success is because it has gone completely unchallenged in its chosen market. If someone is in the market for an electric luxury sedan, they have nowhere else to look.
Tesla identified that market and built a car no one else in the world would build. The result? Total domination with the Model S and plans to overtake more car markets.
But there’s another side effect from success:
That guarantee allowed the company to offer a lease with payments as low as $1,500 a month.
Today a 2014 60kWh Model S with a 208-mile range starts at just over $75,000 and leases for about $932 per month. With the first Teslas now a few years old, can they be picked up for half price? Are we now in the age of the $35,000 used Tesla?
There are some things all cars should be able to do:
- Make it up a hill
Pretty basic, right? The only car I’ve ever driven that struggled to make it up a hill was a 1987 Subaru GL. That car, for whatever reason, barely had enough power to drive over the added elevation of stripes in a parking lot.
I mention this because last weekend I attended an electric car show and managed to take an up close and personal look at some of the EVs currently on American roads. All were impressive.
One couldn’t make it up a hill.