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Tesla Motors May Be Having an iPhone Moment 452

Posted by timothy
from the zipping-along dept.
pacopico writes "Telsa Motors has started churning out 500 of its all electric Model S sedans per week. Bloomberg Businessweek just did a cover story about the company, suggesting that Tesla is becoming more than just a fad of rich folks in California. According to the story, 75 percent of Tesla's sales now come from outside of California, and the company appears poised to raise its sales forecasts for the year. There's a lot of talk about Tesla's history and why it survived when Fisker and Better Place failed too."
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Tesla Motors May Be Having an iPhone Moment

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  • Really? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 18, 2013 @10:37AM (#44318155)

    Ok, I love iPhones and I love the entire Tesla story but what was the point of dropping "iPhone" into the title of this post?

    Oh. That's right. Page views.

    meh...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      At least they didn't mention Travon.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon driving a Tesla.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)

          If I had a son, he would look like Trayvon driving a Tesla.

          Only if it was a hoodie...er...convertable.

          Wait?? Did I just hear something backfire.?

          :)

    • I would gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today.

    • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jfengel (409917) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @01:07PM (#44319917) Homepage Journal

      I got the impression "iPhone" was used deliberately. He's making a comparison to another product where others already existed in the space, but where some company managed to package it in a way that somehow caught the imagination of non-technical users and became wildly popular.

      It's as if that New York Times hit-job on the Tesla had read:

      "No instant refueling. Less range than a Ford Focus. Lame."

  • Rich People's Fads (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geoffrobinson (109879) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @10:41AM (#44318215) Homepage

    For all the whining and moaning about rich people, that seems to be how society advances often. A rich person's fad then becomes a commodity.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday July 18, 2013 @10:49AM (#44318321) Journal

      For all the whining and moaning about rich people, that seems to be how society advances often. A rich person's fad then becomes a commodity.

      Yeah ... but I mean to call the Model S no longer a rich person's fad is stretching it. Their MSRPs [teslamotors.com] for a 60 kWh car is $62,400. $72,400 for an 85 kWh and $87,400 for the 85 kWh with upgraded features. Is this really affordable? I thought I was living a pretty average lifestyle but I spent $6,600 on my current car ... Of course, if you're calling it the iPhone in that everyone else is buying it and I'm laughing at how much money they're spending on phones then, yes, it could be called the iPhone. Still very much a rich person's car though.

      • by iONiUM (530420) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @10:59AM (#44318425) Homepage Journal

        According to this article from 2012 [autoblog.com], the average purchase price of a new car was $30,748 and increasing.

        Seeing as that's about half the MSRP, I suppose it's not totally out of reach.

        Personally I have no idea why people spend this kind of money on a car. My last brand new car (I don't usually buy brand new, but they had a lot of incentives) was about $16k (cdn), and I considered that a lot. A car is not an investment.....

        • by cplusplus (782679)

          Personally I have no idea why people spend this kind of money on a car.

          It's like the difference between cafeteria food and a nice restaurant. Sure, both get the job done, but spending more buys you a better experience (okay, not always, but let's not get nit-picky). Some people want a little more luxury, more features, etc, and if they can afford it, then why not? Leather heated seats sure are nice in the winter :)

          • by iONiUM (530420)

            The $16k car I bought included heated seats..

            And I'm not arguing "if you can afford it", but the majority of people cannot, and when they look at their "needed $500/mo car expense" and then wonder why they are having trouble making ends meet, it's ridiculous.

            • by BasilBrush (643681) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @04:06PM (#44321813)

              "At introduction, a PC with 64 kB of RAM and a single 5.25-inch floppy drive and monitor sold for US $3,005 ($ 7,588 in today's dollars)"
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_PC [wikipedia.org]

              Clearly it was far too expensive for most consumers people to afford. But it led to an industry in which ever better PCs became ever cheaper.

              Whilst that won't be as dramatic with electric cars, they will certainly reduce in price over the years to become comparable with ICE. And as the price of fossil fuels continues to rise, EVs will become better value over their whole lifetimes even quicker.

          • I bought a 2012 VW Jetta TDI brand new off the showroom floor last year; every option except the nav system ('cuz I'm not stupid) - leather, heated seats, premium Fender stereo system, the works. The damn thing gets 40-60 MPG, has mountains of torque (handy here on the Ozark Plateau, which isn't very plateau at all), and is generally a damn nice way to get around.

            All for less than $30K.

            Personally I have no idea why people spend this kind of money on a car.

            Some people want a little more luxury, more features, etc, and if they can afford it, then why not?

            Some people are suckers.

        • by Kjella (173770)

          Personally I have no idea why people spend this kind of money on a car. My last brand new car (I don't usually buy brand new, but they had a lot of incentives) was about $16k (cdn), and I considered that a lot. A car is not an investment.....

          Neither is a computer, but if you count the total I've used without any significant ROI to show for it, well... it basically depends how much you need and want to use it. I have a friend who spent quite a lot of money on his car, but he also has a fairly long daily commute (and most of it driving not just limping in a queue), the family has two cabins who are both a few hours away, the car is the de facto way to visit friends and family and in general he likes to drive and can go on road trips and such. If

          • by iONiUM (530420)

            I'm not arguing against using money to enjoy life; I am a strong supporter of dying with $0 to your name.

            That said, it's become common in North American lifestyle that a $500/mo car expense is both expected, and normal, and people take it on in lieu of saving for retirement, or having a disposable income for things they want (and then use credit to get those things anyways).

            As I said in an above post, if you truly can afford a $60k car, then you can afford to pay cash for it upfront, and not care about it,

        • by danomac (1032160)

          A car is not an investment.....

          Of course not, it's a social statement. Which is why you get certain types of people driving BMWs and Mercedes (and other expensive cars.)

        • by ArsonSmith (13997)

          A car is not an investment.....

          Of course it is. Only the idiots that only count the sell price as the return on that investment say this. It is a tool that you use to get from place to place often in order to make or save more money that you possibly could without it. A car gives me the flexibility to generate large amounts of income that would not be possible otherwise.

      • I thought I was living a pretty average lifestyle but I spent $6,600 on my current ca

        Your current car was not bought new. Either that, or your current car is a motor scooter or a low end motorcycle.

        My current car was bought new, and while it wasn't $60,000, it is a model whose top trim level is not far from that new. Most people don't have $60,000 cash lying about, but they use credit to buy stuff like that. Believe it or not, despite the banking crash in the US some of us still have good credit.

      • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Thursday July 18, 2013 @11:18AM (#44318593) Homepage Journal

        60 kWh car is $62,400. $72,400 for an 85 kWh and $87,400 with upgraded features

        Have you seen what a Lexus LS Hybrid costs? It's easy to walk out of an Acura dealer with a mass produced gasoline vehicle for $60K. Tesla is right in there at a reasonable price (US wages relative to the international market are a separate issue). Consider some places in the US you can buy a tiny ranch for $600K and average annual salaries are $130K or so, and a $60K car isn't outside of the realm of typical.

        I thought I was living a pretty average lifestyle but I spent $6,600 on my current car

        Nah, you're pretty far to the low side there. 75% of car sales are used, at about $9K on average. 25% of car sales are new, with the latest average at $31K. That puts the overall average at $14.5K, which puts you at, what, the 20th percentile or so?

      • by romanval (556418)

        When considered against the cars the Model S is competing with-- Porsche Panamera; BMW M5, Audi A7 (all of which are $70K+ cars)... it's absolutely affordable.

        Tesla is planning a higher volume, lower priced car code named "BlueStar", which is to be similar in size as a BMW 3-series and should start around $35K, but it's going to take a few years for them to tool up the production scale.

      • Define "Rich" (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Firethorn (177587) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @02:02PM (#44320573) Homepage Journal

        How do you define "Rich" though? Something like 90% of Americans define themselves as middle class, so it really covers a wide amount of territory.

        So what's your definition? $1M+ in assets? $5M+? $100k in income/year? $250k? More?

        Let's look at the basic 85 kWh model, which comes with free charging and such. $72,400. That works out to $1,207/month over 5 years. Ouch, no kidding. Let's say that our theoretical 'middle class' person is:
        A: Car focused; they're going to be driving the 'best' car they can get no matter what, even if it impacts their savings/housing. Nobody ever said everybody 'middle class' is 100% financially logical/responsible.
        B: Has access to free electricity for charging(work, supercharger stations, whatever)
        C: Itemizes on taxes already.
        D: Drives an average amount of distance per year, but no trips outside of a Tesla's range.

        Please note that I'm trying to be favorable to Tesla in this case, in order to see how low it could realistically go.
        1. $72,400 minus the federal rebate of 7,500 becomes $64,900
        2. 15k miles/year@20mpg(nasty city driver, best case for electric, worst for gasoline), 750 gallons@$4 = $3k/year. $15k in fuel savings. $49.9k left

        Picking on GM, the Cadillac CTS-V Sedan is more expensive(3.9 v 4.2 for 0-60), and the XTS and CTS Sport are close. BMW 7 Series are uniformly $25k+ more expensive. You need to drop to the 5 series to reach that price point.

        It's not even to middle-middle class yet, but I'd say it's moved from 'rich' people to 'upper-middle'.

    • by Tokolosh (1256448)

      Unless jealous but lazy types manage to stall adoption by the rich. For example, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_tax [wikipedia.org]

  • Duurr (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ryanrule (1657199) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @10:41AM (#44318217)

    California isn't the only place where rich people buy toys. I see plenty of bald law/finance people in Chicago with them. Porsche should be getting nervous.

  • Ummm ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @10:45AM (#44318263) Homepage

    suggesting that Tesla is becoming more than just a fad of rich folks in California. According to the story, 75 percent of Tesla's sales now come from outside of California

    So, it's not just a fad for rich folks in California, it's becoming a fad for rich folks in other places too.

    Right.

  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @10:54AM (#44318381) Homepage
    Is that, according to Bob Lutz, it pushed Chevy to make the far more practical Volt. I've had one for 2 years, and love it, it wasn't sooo pricey, and you could actually get one the day you wrote the check.
    • by codepunk (167897)

      I might love one also if it did not involve the reality that what I would be doing is paying for fuel for the life of the car up front including interest.

      • by atlasdropperofworlds (888683) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @04:48PM (#44322193)
        In the case of a full EV like a Model S, you're also paying for all the fluids, belts, parts changes, spark plugs, oil, oil filters, starters, alternators, clutches, hoses, wires, brakes (if you know what you're doing), rotors, 12V batteries, mufflers, catalytic converters, etc. and all the associated labor. People don't actually get how expensive it is to actually maintain a gas vehicle, especially as it ages. Also, in the case of the model S, it is priced in the same range as the cars it competes with. People spending that much on a car are already not very concerned about the price.
  • by InitZero (14837) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @11:03AM (#44318453) Homepage

    Just about every morning on my way to work, I see two of the Tesla Model S on the road. I commute between Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter, Florida. That's less than a 20-minute commute.

    If you're looking for a conversation starter at the country club or marina, a BMW, Mercedes or even a Bentley isn't going to work nearly as well as a Tesla.

    While $65,000 to $75,000 seems like a lot for a car (I cringe at paying half that), there are just as many cars in that price range rolling in Palm Beach County that aren't nearly as exotic or as head-turning as the Tesla. I pass dozens of $65k+ cars on the way to work and it isn't unusual to see $100k+ cars either. Those are mostly background noise because they are so common.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • The Touch Screen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zymurgeek (153270) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @11:25AM (#44318709) Homepage

    "...Franz von Holzhausen, can barely contain himself as he talks about the design of the Model S. “It’s like the leap of faith Apple (AAPL) took with the iPhone,” he says, explaining why the car has a touchscreen instead of the usual physical buttons."

    This is monumentally wrong. Touch screens succeed on a phone because a phone is a portable device and the touch screen is lighter and smaller. Physical controls are preferable for humans because they model the physical world to which we've adapted. In a car, you need to use the controls without taking your eyes off the road. This means location by feel is important. A touch screen can't provide that.

    It seems the entire design world has this backwards, include appliance manufacturers. I hate the buttons on my oven.

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      the real reason tesla has a touchscreen is... it's cheaper and it was faster for them to develop.

      using it as a control device while driving should be illegal.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Have you actually seen the Tesla dashboard? It has physical controls as well. You don't have to take your eyes off the road to operate it. The touchscreen is in addition to physical controls, not instead of.

      • by Zymurgeek (153270)

        Looking at the picture in the Businessweek article, there appears to be one small button on either side of the screen (the left one is for hazard lights, I can't tell what the right one is) and nothing else.

    • by Noughmad (1044096)

      What you say about taking your eyes off the road is correct. However,

      Physical controls are preferable for humans because they model the physical world to which we've adapted.

      For the younger generations, this isn't true anymore. People who've had a smartphone since their youth are more used to touchscreens. Going back to buttons is about as difficult as the transition to touchscreens was.

      • by bws111 (1216812)

        What he says about taking your eyes off the road is not correct. When driving, the key thing is to not be focused on anything. That includes the road, the car in front of you, your phone, controls, etc. Instead, you want to be alert, which is the opposite of focused. Your eyes should be constantly moving - look at the road, the car in front of you, traffic in front of that car, your mirrors, your gauges, off into the distance, etc.

        As long as the touch screen interface is well designed it will be no more

  • De Lorian (Score:3, Funny)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @12:28PM (#44319481)
    Pretty soon Tesla will have sold as many cars as De Lorian.
  • by ElitistWhiner (79961) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @12:36PM (#44319557) Journal

    Both cars. One chose Karma. One chose Roadster.

    One executed conventional engineering with battery backup. One executed an allegory to automotive history wrapped around all electric engineering.

    One's backup systems turned and committed car suicide in a NJ puddle. One executed a stanch defense in word and deed against NY media assassins delivering charging stations and more cars.

    Except for the few incredible cars it produced, Fisker is no more. To the victor the spoils. Tesla won

  • by Zaatxe (939368) on Thursday July 18, 2013 @01:59PM (#44320547)
    That's what I think when something is compared to an iPhone.

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