Tesla: From Underdog to Insane Mode


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.

The winner?

Like we even have to say it.

There are myriad reasons why the Tesla Model S has kicked the electric pants off GM’s Chevy Volt. It’s better looking, lighter, more fun to drive, and has that “cool” factor that leads buyers to fall in love. The Model S isn’t just squeaking out a victory over the Volt this year, it’s winning by a count of about 6,400 sales to 2,800. Not bad for an underdog carmaker with a big dream!

One of the biggest reasons for the success of the Model S, I think, is the fun-to-drive factor. Its crazy-fast acceleration is unmatched by the comparably lethargic Volt.

That reasoning goes against the opinion of Audi chairman Rupert Stadler, who recently said that he believes the way a car drives will take a back seat to other qualities, such as in-car technology. That might become the case as self-driving cars hit the market and vehicles become more a transportation device than a source of fun.

One of the most insane cars on the market is the $127,000 Model S P85D, an electric car with acceleration so fast Tesla labeled it “Insane Mode.” Check out this video to get a sense of what it’s like:

Even the well-loved Tesla isn’t without problems, though. Consumer Reports purchased a P85D only to have the door handle fail and completely lock all drivers out until Tesla could send a technician to repair the problem.

Considering how new Tesla is in the world of auto manufacturing, the fact that a failed door handle makes the news says a lot about its cars. Until Mr. Stadler’s prediction comes true, we can look forward to Tesla remaining the unlikely leader in fun-to-drive electric cars.

What’s more your style, the Tesla Model S or the Chevrolet Volt?


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