By on June 21, 2010

Tesla, a firm that its CEO Elon Musk describes as a “technology velociraptor,” has unveiled these first hints at future applications of its Model S sedan platform [via Darryl Siry, Full presentation here]. Far be it from us to call Tesla a dinosaur, but if the sedan costs $50k base, who’s going to buy a commercial van based on the same chassis and technology? Tesla had a chance as long as it remained the Ferrari of the Silicon Valley, but these designs hint at a deep lack of focus behind the scenes.

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21 Comments on “What’s Wrong With This Picture: Tesla Takes 2 Through 5 Edition...”

  • avatar

    “…if the sedan costs $50k base, who’s going to buy a commercial van based on the same chassis and technology?”

    Movie studios.

    Food co-ops.

    Skiing, white water rafting, et al granola instructors in Oregon

    Hollywood A-listers for their nannies, chauffeurs, and assorted footmen.

    Progressive fill-in-the blank.

    In short, any entity that touts the hackneyed expression “going green”.

    This is no time to consider old school ROI or opportunity cost, the AGW clock is ticking.

    • 0 avatar

      Strip out the luxury appointments, seats, and windows from the Model S and likely the price will be under $40k. So WHO DOESN’T want a local delivery van that gets energy at the gasoline cost equivalency of $1/gallon?!
      I just don’t get why car writers have this persistent need to ridicule anything that runs on electricity. THAT’S the FOCUS: ELECTRICITY.

  • avatar

    but if the sedan costs $50k base, who’s going to buy a commercial van based on the same chassis and technology?

    Q. Why did the airlines switch from piston engines to jets when jets were more expensive and less fuel efficient?

    A. The maintenance was so much lower the reliability and durability was so much higher that it made financial sense to do so. (Not to hide the fact that moving to jets was good publicity)

    I think you might find that, for the right fleet customer, an EV commercial vehicle might offer a far lower total cost of ownership.

  • avatar

    Yes, well, Ford’s Transit Connect EV will offer all the same advantages for (almost certainly) less money, before this Tesla van ever sees the light of day. Sorry, not convinced.

  • avatar

    Not a good metaphor, Musky. Velociraptors are extinct, and I don’t believe Tesla is on Death Watch anymore.

    Not only that, in three films, they were unable to eat either Ian Malcolm or Alan Grant.

  • avatar

    It’s the GM skateboard platform concept all over again.

  • avatar

    I can’t help but be alarmed at the lack of a bidet in their proposed line up. I guess that I’ll have to wait for GM to make one.

    • 0 avatar

      Actually, Hyundai already has the HD65 Mobile Bath truck. Check out the web site and the “Special Purpose” tab on the left side of the page:

      Don’t know if there’s a bidet option.

  • avatar

    +1 I too was thinking Skateboard and Hy-wire.

  • avatar
    The Walking Eye

    Tesla had a chance as long as it remained the Ferrari of the Silicon Valley, but these designs hint at a deep lack of focus behind the scenes.

    This thought process is a reason people are so hesitant to take a risk with something of this nature. You’re crapping on this before the Model S has even come out and before they’ve officially announced any actual models beyond that.

    The Model S is slated for 2012 and their documentation that you link to says nothing of future models other than “we plan to use this platform to develop others” and gives no timetable.

    Why did they only have a chance if they stayed in Ferrari territory? Why is it so bad that they want a full line? Based on most of the commentary here, Tesla didn’t even stand a chance at all anyway, so why not go big if they feel they can?

    I don’t think it shows lack of focus, but more a goal to aim to be a full “real” automaker. They’re developing a versatile platform to deliver vehicles to more segments of the population. That’s growth. That’s good.

    • 0 avatar

      People are free to do what they want with their money. Elon Musk doesn’t care what the market thinks, let alone what I think. If you’re buying his line, go ahead and put some money into the IPO.
      And yes, trying to be a “real” automaker implies a lack of focus for a company of Tesla’s size (1,063 vehicles delivered as of March 31). The prospectus says it all:
      We have no experience to date in high volume manufacturing of our electric vehicles. We do not know whether we will be able to develop efficient, automated, low-cost manufacturing capability and processes, and reliable sources of component supply, that will enable us to meet the quality, price, engineering, design and production standards, as well as the production volumes required to successfully mass market the Model S. Even if we are successful in developing our high volume manufacturing capability and processes and reliable sources of component supply, we do not know whether we will be able to do so in a manner that avoids significant delays and cost overruns, including as a result of factors beyond our control such as problems with suppliers and vendors, or in time to meet our vehicle commercialization schedules or to satisfy the requirements of customers. Any failure to develop such manufacturing processes and capabilities within our projected costs and timelines could have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, operating results and financial condition.
      More germane to this post though, is this passage:
      We have no experience with using common platforms in the design and manufacture of our vehicles and the design of the Model S is not complete. We may make changes to the design of the Model S that may make it more difficult to use the Model S platform for future electric vehicles. There are no assurances that we will be able to use the Model S platform to bring future vehicle models to market faster or more inexpensively by leveraging use of this common platform or that there will be sufficient customer demand for additional vehicle variants of this platform.
      I’m not saying it’s not possible for Tesla to develop a world-beating, adaptable platform and deliver one or more vehicle lines based on it to its 50 planned dealerships (currently 12) by 2012. Anything is possible.
      If Tesla had built a GT to match the roadster, offered more power/range options, started a race series, and really built up the brand before building a four-door sedan, there’d be something to go on. As of now, it’s just exponential growth on charts, and promises of twice as many cars at half the price on the next go-round. I like the underdog as much as the next guy, but the idea that Tesla is going to be a “real automaker” anytime soon is pretty laughable.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      They should stay in Ferrari territory because, like Ferrari, they’re a boutique auto manufacturer. When was the last time you saw a boutique car company take on the Honda Civic or Toyota Camry? Ain’t gonna happen. Boutique firms have a chance when they go upmarket. Downmarket is death for them. Already the low end of the EV market will belong to the Nissan Leaf and any other competitors produced by the big boys.

      I think the Model S is about as downmarket as they can dare to go and still have a shot at success.

      BTW, I’m not trying to crap on them. I really do hope Tesla succeeds. But they don’t have a prayer at a “full line”. They’d get crushed.

  • avatar

    “but if the sedan costs $50k base, who’s going to buy a commercial van based on the same chassis and technology?”

    Answer One: VW Routan

    Answer Two: If the Tesla van doesn’t have to go 0-60 in 4 seconds, it may not cost much – if any – more than its Model S counterpart. People routinely pay mid-40s for loaded minivans today, which often perform nothing more than neighborhood duty.

    I think it has potential (pun intended).

  • avatar

    Can you say ‘vaporware?’ Sure you can, Elon, I knew you could.

  • avatar

    In the real world, it is a “veracity velociraptor”.

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