By on June 24, 2012

Is that musk that I smell? Photo: Tesla


We try to be responsive to our readers. David Dennis took TTAC to task for not covering the start of deliveries of Tesla’s new Model S electric sedan at the former NUMMI plant in California yesterday. It’s a fair criticism. Starting production and making actual retail deliveries is a major milestone for any new automaker, particularly one promoting what may be a disruptive technology. The problem is that while we’re perfectly willing to dig for news in unlikely places, we’re still at least a little bit dependent on companies’ publicity machines. If a company launches a car at what Jalopnik’s Matt Hardigree characterizes as a “highly choreographed affair”, is it our fault if we’re not invited to the dance?

Some readers criticize us for attending managed press events, saying that we’re being stroked. Well, Derek already made it clear that we go to choreographed events in the hope of finding some newsworthy nugget, not to dance to some manufacturer’s tune. On the other hand, we’ll also get called out for supposedly recycling stories from other web sites. Well, that’s what you’ve got to do if you don’t go to the events. However, you have to know that the event is actually going to occur to be able to cover it, one way or another, in the first place.

Yes, yesterday Tesla invited a select number of media venues to take a tour of the factory and have a quick test drive, and yes, apparently some private individuals took delivery of their Model S Teslas at the factory. No, they didn’t announce exactly how many retail deliveries they made. No, Tesla did not broadly publicize the launch ahead of time, at least in terms of mass emails to every journalist on their mailing list. The only mention of the start of Model S deliveries on PR Newswire was a press release from the Aluminum Association’s Aluminum Transportation Group. Tesla appears to have wanted larger general news agencies, tech sites and only a select number of automotive venue to cover the launch. Some popular car enthusiast sites including Jalopnik and TTAC were not invited. So while I’m loathe to say “It’s not our fault”, it’s not like Tesla went out of their way to reach out to TTAC readers.

Tesla press release below:

Tesla Motors Delivers World’s First Premium Electric Sedan to Customers

Company Plans to Build 5,000 Vehicles by Year-End

Friday, June 22, 2012

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) delivered Model S, the world’s first premium electric sedan, to its first customers at an invitation-only event at the Tesla Factory in Fremont, California today. These deliveries put Model S on the road approximately one month earlier than previously announced and places the company in a good position to build 5,000 cars by the end of 2012, followed by 20,000 cars in 2013.

“In 2009, we set out to build the most innovative car of the 21st century, and since then have dedicated ourselves to developing and testing Model S to ensure that under any situation, Model S never disappoints,” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder, CEO and Chief Product Architect. “Today we achieved our goal with an exceptional car that we believe sets a new standard for efficiency, safety, style, technology, operating cost and performance.”

Model S is the world’s first premium sedan to be built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, meticulously engineered to elevate the public’s expectations of what a premium sedan can be. The five-door premium sedan competes with the top cars in its class in spaciousness, handling and style, yet produces zero emissions. Because there is no internal combustion engine or transmission tunnel, the interior of the car allows for additional cargo space in the front of the vehicle and one of the most spacious cabins in its class.

The heart of Model S is its efficiently-packaged electric powertrain that delivers a thrilling driving experience while setting a new EPA record for electric vehicle range of 265 miles. Model S comes with three battery options – 40 kWh, 60 kWh and 85 kWh. The battery’s floor-mounted position gives Model S a low center of gravity and ideal weight distribution for exhilarating performance and superior handling. Model S has many similar features, including immediate responsiveness, instant torque and smooth acceleration that made the Tesla Roadster famous. Tesla has already received more than 10,000 reservations worldwide for Model S.

Deliveries of Model S in Europe and Asia will begin in early and mid-2013, respectively.

The base price of Model S is $49,900 after available federal tax credits of $7,500. Additional pricing information can be found here. Model S customers may also qualify for state tax credits, rebates, sales tax exemptions, free parking, commuter-lane passes and other perks.

Tesla’s Retail Strategy
Tesla is reinventing the car-buying experience with its unique retail model. Tesla stores feature a hands-on exhibit of the Model S drivetrain, a Design Studio where customers can customize their own Model S, and an interactive touchscreen experience designed to engage and inform customers about Tesla’s advanced technology and the benefits of driving electric.

Tesla is taking reservations online and at Tesla Retail Stores around the world. Tesla has 22 company-owned stores and galleries worldwide. The company will open four additional stores and galleries this summer at 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, Fashion Square in Scottsdale, Arizona, Washington Square in Portland, Oregon, and on Lincoln Road in Miami Beach, Florida. Tesla plans to open about twelve New Design retail stores and galleries worldwide in 2012, mostly in North America.

When it comes to delivery, all customers have the option to upgrade to a “Tesla Personal Delivery.” With this option, Tesla will deliver their car wherever a customer chooses: at home, at work, at a friend’s house, at a hotel while on vacation, or anywhere else that brings a smile. During Tesla Personal Delivery, a Product Specialist will walk through many of the features that make Model S great and will explain important details customers need to know about owning Model S. Customers may choose to take delivery of their vehicle at Tesla’s Fremont factory where they may also receive a tour to see where their vehicle was born.

Customer Test Drives
Tesla recently announced its Get Amped Model S Tour, and during the next 45 days, intends to provide more than 5,000 test drives to Model S Reservation Holders and friends. The tour begins in Fremont, California on June 23rd and 24th, then moves to Los Angeles the following weekend. The test drive tour will travel to other select North American cities in July and August.

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36 Comments on “Tesla Model S Deliveries Begin At Carefully Choreographed Press Event...”

  • avatar

    The ‘vaporware’ stories seem to have been disproved.

    Several bloggers (I have stopped using the title journalist for obvious reasons) surely should be writing apologies or at least corrections if for no other reason as to not look like &%$#@$ for years of conjecture and ill will toward Mr. Musk and Tesla.

    • 0 avatar


      Elon Musk and Tesla are the real deal, as is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which just delivered a payload to the International Space Station. SpaceX is currently the only American entity (private or public) that can send anything to it.

      Where are the vaporware critics now?

    • 0 avatar

      Completely agree. Even TTAC’s headline for this belated story carries forward their anti-Tesla bent. “carefully choreographed press event” Really? You’re pointing out that a major press event was carefully choreographed? Even in the body text that’s stating the obvious, but in the headline? What’s next? “This just in… Auto manufacturers photoshop advertising photos!”

      A carefully choreographed press event means that it was successfully planned and executed, as all press events should be. The news is when that doesn’t happen, like Volvo’s hilarious S60 auto-braking example smashing into the back of a truck.

      At least the title didn’t read “Tesla Claims Model S Deliveries Begin…” I don’t know if I’ve ever caught a TTAC article about Tesla without the word “claims” (or “supposed”) coloring the piece. No surprise that TTAC and Jalopnik weren’t invited to the party, but I was shocked to see the story absent from here on Friday. I’d thought that TTAC was bigger than that.

      This has to be the most significant car-related story of the week, probably month, maybe even year. It’s the Tucker of our day, though I personally wish Tesla a better fate. To just pretend that it didn’t happen because you weren’t invited? Come on TTAC, we expect more than that!

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely – any whiff of electricity sends ttac into a tizzy. ( it seems to smell like them thar socialist/communist places Sweden.)

  • avatar

    The reviews on this have painted this car in a light that makes it appear to be nothing short of spectacular, I don’t think I’ve ever lusted after a car until this one. I’m a huge fan of the simplicity on the interior, the use-able space, the over-all well thought out engineering decisions, and the styling. Motortrend’s and Endgadet’s reviews are both worth a read. I can’t wait for TTAC to get their hands on one! My hope is that by the time the people’s electric from tesla rolls out, around 5 years from now, we should have 2 minute battery swap stations, 30-60 minute quick charge stations, and other infrastructure widespread enough to make these not just viable replacements for gasoline powered cars, but a massive improvement.

    • 0 avatar

      The “reviews” are first looks, and are likely understating things because they can’t do the kind of extended review where they actually gather full data on performance stats and compare them head to head with the competition. As a result these first reviews are saying things like “feels great”, “nimble”, “turns better than the small bimmers” (which themselves are much more maneuverable than the larger cars actually competing with Model S), etc.

      Motor Trend is willing to put the Model S in the “top 3 percentile” of cars without really defining that or saying where in that range it falls. Goldman Sachs analysts have stated that they believe that the Model S is the best performance sedan that costs less that $100k, but again don’t have the data to back it up.

      Once Motor Trend and C&D put these on a track its very likely that the reviews will improve. The physics of the car are undeniable and in simulations the Model S Performance especially has astonishing levels of dynamic performance.

      In regard to performance, Elon Musk has a decent chance at having his claim that its the best car in the world be proven right. There are a fair number of sports cars that will beat it on a road course, but are severely limited in comparison. The Model S Performance is still a huge family sedan, so its ability to hang with dedicated sports cars half its size in a turning race is indicative of a huge technological advantage. Imagine a B-52 successfully dog fighting an F-15.

      The base model destroys any competition that is at the various price points it covers. The only version that looks iffy is the entry level model with the 40kWh battery.

      As a value proposition it is great, with all of the Model S performance and value advantages over its peers, but the likely 140 mile EPA 5 cycle range is shortish with rational range anxiety issues perhaps dominating. Even so, it should have a decent sized market as a primary car for every day use for families who have a second car to use during road trips.

      In contrast, the mid-sized and (especially) large sized batteries are quite capable of undertaking typical road trips with only a slight increase in hassle compared to a gas powered vehicle. Both can be fully charged in less than an hour, which is not a terrible inconvenience for a ~4 hour drive time between charges.

      • 0 avatar

        On the time issue: 1 hour to recharge once in a while on a road trip compared to the time it takes for having to stop and fill up at the gas station/scheduled maintenance time, could possibly result in net time savings with the electric vehicle. If DOT were to partner with tesla to get battery swap stations on the highways where people are most likely to need to stop to charge/swap, it would be game over for internal combustion. Even at $50 for a quick swap and perhaps $5-10 for a charge, it’s still a steal of a deal.

      • 0 avatar

        Since the battery is so low down in the car, I would not think a battery swap would be feasible, would it?

        And of course there’s the matter of battery age to consider, too – would you match ages, which sounds logistically impossible, or would you effectively buy a new battery every time you swapped?


  • avatar

    Seems like, in the past, TTAC was highly skeptical of Tesla’s claims. I have no doubt they haven’t forgotten this bad publicity. Likewise, TTAC’s more honest approach to reviewing vehicles, pointing out flaws that other, much more gushing journalists might not, likely isn’t in keeping with an effort to shine the most positive light on a product as new and unproven as this one, either.

    Frankly, I’d rather err on the skeptical side. $50k (to start) for a supposedly mainstream product with such radical technology is still rather out of the mainstream, particularly when huge corporations like GM and Toyota with infinitely more vast resources at their disposal haven’t anything equivalent, even in the concept stage.

    • 0 avatar

      > Frankly, I’d rather err on the skeptical side. $50k (to start)
      > for a supposedly mainstream product with such radical technology
      > is still rather out of the mainstream

      Model S is a full size car. It stacks between BMW 5 and 7 series. A comparably performing 5er is $52k, a 7er is $ 70k. So its pricing is PERFECTLY mainstream, I would even call it competitive. You expected what? Cruze money?

      Show me another groundbraking product which costs exactly the same as the standard product.

      >, particularly when huge corporations like GM and Toyota with
      > infinitely more vast resources at their disposal haven’t
      > anything equivalent, even in the concept stage.

      Go to a Wikipedia page about any large tech corporation, then find the “Mergers and Acquisitions” chapter.

      All of these are examples where a company with “infinitely more vast resources” didn’t have something that a nimble and creative small company had.

      > Seems like, in the past, TTAC was highly skeptical of Tesla’s
      > claims. I have no doubt they haven’t forgotten this bad
      > publicity.

      Most important thing is that those little sh*tty haters from Jalopnik didn’t get invited to evaluate the car. Musk shew them his middle finger, as he should. Now the only what’s left for them is to write more sh*t on their low end blog, read exclusively by those who dispespect their time.

      The car itself stacks up tremendously well:
      Innovation follows innovation One can see what the “purpose built” or “clean sheet design” mean.

      The only issue that a have is Musk utterly disrespective and arrogant approach to his competitor (BYD) which is fighting on the same side:
      That’s a disturbing attitude and shows Musk in bad light.

      • 0 avatar

        Here is the problem. There is no such thing as a $49,900 Tesla Model S.


        All of the cars being delivered are $89,000 Signature Series. (so sayeth the Tesla website but not the Tesla press release).

        Further, the cars did not achieve 300 miles in the EPA test cycle. They got 265 miles with an equivalent MPG rating of 89. Not one car has lived up to even its EPA test cycle range – so we’ll have to see. If we follow the same 12% reduction of range in the math, the top range of the base Tesla shrinks to about 138 miles, and that assumes the EPA test cycle is spot on.

        Everyone is wetting themselves on the $49,900 Tesla. It would be like GM saying the Volt comes in at $31,645 and only building a $60,000 model.

        The $49,900 S remains vaporware.

      • 0 avatar

        > Here is the problem. There is no such thing as a $49,900 Tesla
        > Model S. All of the cars being delivered are $89,000 Signature
        > Series.

        So what? A Mercedes S-class starts at $ 90k. And it sells. Signature Tesla S is definitely comparable with the big Benz.

        > Further, the cars did not achieve 300 miles in the EPA test
        > cycle. They got 265 miles with an equivalent MPG rating of 89.
        > Not one car has lived up to even its EPA test cycle range
        > – so we’ll have to see.

        EPA also say Passat TDI with a double clutch gearbox does 40 mpg highway and 34 combined. It got 50 mpg highway and 45 combined in the last Edmunds fuel sipper comparison:

        They’d better reevaluate whatever methodology they use, and fast. It seems to be well out of touch for alternative fuel vehicles.

        > The $49,900 S remains vaporware.

        Did you also call the 42 MPG Cruze Eco like that when it was anounced well in advance but not yet offered?

      • 0 avatar

        Are you always this analytic with your replies?

      • 0 avatar

        APaGttH, it looks like this is the new 5-mode test cycle, which is considerably more rigorous than their previous tests. If my memory serves, the previous test was based on a constant 55mph drive, and no human being’s driving patterns will look anything like that.

        I think that when driven in a relatively restrained way, the Roadster did in fact frequently reach its claimed 249 mile range. When people were testing the car they were driving it hard to test it at the limit, and so it is logical that road testers would get far inferior mileage to people using it day by day.


    • 0 avatar

      Even at the higher price it’s pretty competitive. The massive amount of cargo space and ability to carry 5+2, plus the performance specs put it in competition with pretty damned expensive vehicles. This thing is trying to get Panamera customers so the pricing is actually pretty acceptable.

      Now if only I had the money and a place to charge it lol.

      • 0 avatar

        Re:Are you always this analytic with your replies?——-

        >Are you always>: Do you mean on this site, or in everyday of my life? Always isn’t just a long time, its forever you know. This is not clear.

        >This analytic>Do you mean analytical? Analytic is an adjective, ‘pertaining to or proceeding by analysis’.

        >With your replies>: They are not so much replies, as they are a rebuttal. A deconstruction of one’s thesis, point by point, followed by my own opinion.

        -I liked your comment ryoku75. Sorry Toucan, I couldn’t resist :)

      • 0 avatar

        “They are not so much replies, as they are a rebuttal.”

        Well,if we take ‘replies’ to be the broader category, then a rebuttal is in fact a kind of reply.

        “A deconstruction of one’s thesis, point by point, followed by my own opinion.”

        Deconstruction usually involves tracing the historical evolution of the meanings of a concept or term. It often involves a great deal of etymology and semiosis, and often ends up turning the original, presumed meaning (or relationship between two concepts or terms) on their head, reversing their order or value, if you will. The term has its roots in a historical method developed by Heidegger which he called “destruktion,” which itself has its roots in what Nietzsche called “genealogy,” and so on, and so on. Some people equate deconstruction with analysis, but where analysis merely takes apart, deconstruction is aimed at returning to the ‘originary’ ground (Heidegger’s term) of a term’s meaning and use. I see nothing here that resembles “A deconstruction of one’s thesis, point by point,…”

  • avatar

    Don’t feel bad, Ronnie. Like you said, they were very selective about who they invited. The automotive blog that I run gets an amazing 100 hits per day, and they didn’t invite me either. This is in spite of the fact that I generally favor electric cars. Go figure.

    • 0 avatar

      Derek said that TTAC will soon have access to the Model S for a review.

      Like you I didn’t expect a personal invite because Cars In Depth also doesn’t get thousands of hits per day, but I am surprised that Jalopnik and TTAC didn’t get invited. Even more surprising, though there was a press release at the Tesla site, they didn’t widely distribute that release. Instead they selected who would get the news first hand, who would get a 10 minute drive, who would get a longer drive, and who would have to rely on those first reporters. This was a very carefully managed launch.

      • 0 avatar

        Jalopnik has been extremely hostile toward Tesla. Just go look at their front page right now, and click on a few articles relating to Tesla and the Model S. I honestly don’t understand Jalopnik’s constant negativity, but they repeatedly demonstrate their desire to find anything wrong with the Tesla’s products or business in order exploit it in their journalism. I’m not surprised they weren’t invited and I find their review of the Model S quite amusing since it’s literally a copy and paste job from other media sources that had the privilege to attend. Ironically, they headlined another article, “Why You Shouldn’t Trust Any Early Tesla Model S Reviews”.

        As for TTAC, if Tesla had any reason at all to specifically not invite members of their crew, I don’t think it’s for any reason even close to why they didn’t invite Jalopnik. TTAC’s articles relating to anything Tesla have been at worst, unbiased and cautious before jumping on the hype wagon (which is why I love you TTAC!). I think some of the readers here have done the job of being overly critical toward the Model S. Maybe the collective knowledge on electric powertrains is lacking here*, or maybe TTAC shares a large part of its audience with Jalopnik?

        *Right or wrong, it’s merely an observation from what I’ve seen, but I will be quick to add the other reason I love TTAC: the community here is uncommonly capable of maintaining respectful dialogue even over differing opinions. <3

      • 0 avatar

        I wrote that comment with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, Ronnie, as you probably already assumed.

        I’m not sure who was, or was not invited to the shindig, but I’m guessing that many on-line only blog-type publications were left out. I’m also guessing that the ones who WERE selected were the ones who are first, positive about Tesla and electric cars in general, and second, ones that had the best chance of reaching the kind of customers who are most likely to actually buy a car. So printed media got the invites,, Edmunds, etc where people actually go to research cars got invited, and so on. Am I close?

        Congrats on getting access to the “S” soon. Like I tell people when I ask them for references…just be fair, truthful, and give the good and the bad. As a reader, I wouldn’t ask for anything more.

  • avatar

    First, thanks for being so responsive to the wishes of me, a single reader who happens to really admire what Tesla has done :).

    I appreciate your skeptical approach and certainly don’t want you to change. However, I think it’s worth pointing out that you knew about the event, since you mentioned it in the “Tesla only gives journalists a 10 minute test drive” story. From that article, I thought you had been invited and chose not to share your feelings about the car thanks to the nature of the event. I can understand that, but it was still a disappointment to me. Thus, my comment.

    Now that I know the truth, I’m disappointed Tesla didn’t invite you, but pleased that you will be able to review one soon. In the end, it’s not the PR manipulation that matters, it’s how good the car is.

    I hope it is good as it sounds – and only time will tell.


    PS Accounts of the event, which unfortunately I’ve mislaid the links to, have said about 10 cars were distributed. Not exactly a torrent, but not zero, either.

  • avatar

    Is there honestly anybody out there who can say a bad word about this car? The exterior looks lovely, the interior fantastic, and under the skin there’s a state of the art drivetrain with awesome performance – all for BMW 5 series money.

    IMO this marks the day when the electric car truly arrived. I think there will have to be some kind of HORRIFIC problem with it to prevent this car selling like hotcakes. And I mean exploding when you turn it on bad, anything else can be overlooked for something this gorgeous.

    • 0 avatar

      It isn’t BMW 5-series money. Wow, has Tesla got the world fooled.

      They are only selling Signature Series models that START at $89,000.

      The $49,900 model only exists on a spec sheet.

      • 0 avatar
        healthy skeptic

        Tesla has a wide range of pricing varying from 57k to about 100k (not counting any tax credits). That wide range is due to a slew of options that can dramatically change the price, which is a common practice among auto-makers these days. Reel the customer in with a (relatively) cheap car, then have them load it up with expensive options. Tesla is merely following suit here.

        I went to BMW’s site and selected a base 535i sedan, which they price at $52,500. Stuffed full of options, it’s about $65k. That’s about the same as the mid-point battery pack Model S, which is $67 before tax credits. So I think we can conclude that, at least at the lower scale of the Model S’s wide price range, it’s 5-series money. Maybe 7-series at the higher end, where it still seems to compare favorably.

        As for the existence of the 40kW*h battery model, if Tesla could produce the higher-end battery pack, is there any doubt they can pull some batteries out in a few months? I don’t get the skepticism.

      • 0 avatar

        They are also selling all the cars they can build right now, so it seems logical for them to start with the most expensive model. They know their market, which is wealthy early adopters. Early adopters generally skew in demand towards the most expensive model.

        In theory, right now I’m looking at a $44k used CLS and so the $50k Tesla should be in my ballpark. But in practice I just don’t feel comfortable with just a 160 mile range. I routinely drive 150 miles a day during my monthly Miami trip. So I could not trade in my current E class for it, and that is a deal breaker.

        Not to mention the fact that I’d have to wait about a year for my car. If that short a period … I think Roadster buyers waited about two years.


  • avatar

    Will this one “lock up” like the roadster would?

    To be blunt, I’d prefer a more practical design instead of this Fisker Citroen look.

    And where are my steam cars?

  • avatar

    I spoke to a Tesla rep up here who said I can probably drive the car in August. They put no restrictions on my drive with the Roadster so hopefully that will be the case with the Model S.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Maybe my dense meter is pegged today. How many 50k plus vehicles are sold/leased in the US every year? Why are these so much better than a Prius? I’m thinking a selective press release for a selected few.

    • 0 avatar

      Probably about 1/5th of the total number sold globally, which is the proper number to be looking at since Tesla plans to export the vehicles.

      In terms of just the U.S. the last number I heard was 1 million+ in 2011, but I don’t have a handy citation. It was in a Bloomberg story about the Model S. T

      he total U.S. market is ~14 million cars per year right now, so 1 million cars is not an off the wall number. Families at the 90th percentile are pulling in $200k in this country, and income ramps up dramatically from there.

      A $50k car is readily accessible for these folks and the top 5% of the population could easily afford even a $100k vehicle, though even most of those people focus on the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E class, because they are seen as very practical.

      The Model S is right in the sweet spot on this in terms of practicality and performance, especially the $60k, $70k and $80k versions, all of which have good electric range and are value upgrades over equivalently priced competitors.

  • avatar

    I read, or more accurately scan, Autoblog for the daily car news and press releases. So the fact that you don’t cover these events doesn’t really bother me.

  • avatar

    Refrigerator on wheels (as C&D called it) Nissan Leaf costs around 40K and it is essentially low cost econobox not a large luxury car like Tesla. So what a big deal about price? People buy other luxury cars for the same or higher price.

    Bloggers announce electric cars vaporware. Who cares. What they understand anyway? Did they design or build anything in their life worth mentioning? All they are capable of doing – sitting behind computers and expressing their opinion. Not a big deal – everyone can do it. What Elan Musk does – he creates new groundbreaking companies from scratch, designs and builds real rockets and spacecrafts and yes ground breaking futuristic automobiles too. I would rather call journalism vaporware.

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