Posts By: David Noland

By on October 4, 2011

[Editor’s note: videos are from Youtube, and were not taken by the author]

“THE BETAS ARE COMING!” The mid-August e-mail from Tesla Motors breathlessly touted “the most exciting automotive event of the year:” an exclusive owners-only unveiling of the Model S. All 6,000 of us who’d put down $5K deposits on the electric sedan would be invited out to Tesla’s sprawling new plant in Fremont, Calif. to see, touch, and ride in the Beta version of the car, described as “over 90 percent production intent.”

A few weeks later came the e-mail invitation itself. I RSVPed the same day. Tesla had expected attendance in the hundreds, and had made initial plans for 1,000 just to be safe. But when 300 RSVPs came back in the first 23 minutes, they realized they had a tsunami of customer enthusiasm on their hands. In the end, about 2,000 owners showed up, including one guy from Kazakhstan.

Driving my rented Prius up I-880 toward Fremont on the big day, I passed a factory with huge letters on the side: SOLYNDRA. Not a good omen. The start-up Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-tech cutting-edge solar panels, the recipient of half a billion dollars in government loans, had lost hundreds of millions of dollars and just gone bankrupt amid cries of political favoritism and financial fraud.

A mile or so up the road, another sprawling factory festooned with giant letters: TESLA. A start-up Silicon Valley manufacturer of high-tech cutting edge automobiles, recipient of half a billion dollars in government loans, currently reporting annual losses of hundreds of millions of dollars….oh, never mind.

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By on July 18, 2011

It’s been 27 months since I wrote a check for $5,000 to Tesla Motors, my deposit on a Model S sedan. As owner number P717, I’ve gotten some modest bennies to keep me interested till the expected delivery date of mid-2012: a test drive in the Roadster, an invitation to the opening of the New York Tesla store, and some nice promotional swag (T-shirt, coffee mug, and, most recently, a cool little remote-control toy Roadster) .

Last week I was invited to an owners-only preview before a Model S promotional event in Greenwich, Ct. Set in the posh clothing store Richards, just across the street from an Apple store, the event featured a sinuous dark red early proof-of-concept prototype of the Model S. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to drive, sit in, or even touch the car (“It cost more than $2 million to build,” we were told). But the black-clad Tesla reps on hand offered some intriguing technical info about the car that, to my knowledge, had not been previously revealed. Among the more interesting tidbits:

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By on July 12, 2010

Tesla has finally acknowledged the existence of its Model S customers–and it’s about freaking time. It’s been more than a year  since I plunked down a $5,000 deposit  and officially joined the Tesla family as Model S customer No. P 717. (Projected delivery date: early 2012.) At first, the bennies of Model S ownership were pretty cool.  A neck-snapping test drive in the Tesla Roadster instantly persuaded me that electric drive is the future of high-performance driving. An invitation to the grand  opening of the New York Tesla dealership, located in the oh-so-hip Chelsea district, featured wine, fancy food, and thin artsy people wearing black. I  sat back to await the presumed  steady flow of Model S owner communications–technical updates, customer surveys, maybe even a factory tour or a test drive in a prototype for a lucky few of us.
By on September 17, 2009

Am I blue? (courtesy globalmotors.net)

It’s now been four months since I sent in my $5,000 deposit on a Tesla S all-electric four-door sedan. I still think it’s a cool car, but so far I’m very disappointed in Tesla’s communications with us S owners. After an initial flurry of messages confirming the order, assigning me a production number, and inviting me to the opening of the New York Tesla store, I’ve heard exactly zilch from the factory.

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By on August 31, 2009

A four-door sedan is not my kind of car. I need space in the back for mountain bike, dog, golf clubs–on occasion, all three. I currently drive a Mazda CX-7, which has the space, plus the bonus of snappy handling and zoom-zoom pick-up. But as a green kind of guy, I’ve followed the Tesla saga from the beginning, and the S seemed like a very cool car. I had recently started thinking seriously about buying an electric car, something I could power with a small hydroelectric generator I’m installing on the creek that runs by my house in upstate New York. So when I read that a prototype Model S would appear at the Plaza Hotel in New York City last spring, I decided to drive the Mazda down and learn something about electric cars, and see if the S looked as good in the flesh as it did in the press-release photos.

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