Published on August 1st, 2013 | by Important Media Cross-Post


Tesla Focus: “Performance” Not “Luxury”

August 1st, 2013 by  

This article was first published on CleanTechnica sister site Gas2.
by Chris DeMorro

How does one define a performance car versus a luxury car? Surely one would not call the $110,000 Corvette ZR1 a “luxury” car despite its six-figure price tag. So it is that given a choice between the distinctions, a Tesla exec said that the EV maker is “competing based on performance,” aiming to build not just a great electric car, but a great car in general.


The comments come from Tesla’s VP of business development, Diarmuid O’Connell during a conference call with the Electrification Coalition. So despite the fact that the Tesla Model S is outselling many luxury competitors, Tesla seems more interested in the 4.2 second 0-60 mph sprint than establishing itself as a luxury automaker.

Even so, the electric Model S sedan, which can cost as little as $62,500 and as much as $94,000, is outselling many conventional competitors’ products. This includes established competitors like the Audi A8, the BMW 7-series, and the Mercedes S-Class. It seems the emphasis on performance really helped Tesla make believers, and I don’t doubt that German automakers are scrambling to come up with a cost-effective Tesla competitor of their own. But it’ll be hard to outpace the quick Model S, which dominates everything from the road course to the drag strip, while also being the highest-rated car ever tested by Consumer Reports.

Who would have thought the key to making a successful electric car company would be to offer performance above all things?

Check out our new 93-page EV report, based on over 2,000 surveys collected from EV drivers in 49 of 50 US states, 26 European countries, and 9 Canadian provinces.

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  • eject

    Obviously Tesla is aware that a comparison of luxury against a Mercedes S class would be ridiculous. Where is the cooled glove box that keep your drink from getting warm and your chocolate from melting. Where do you set individual climate zones for all 4 passengers (yeah the model S is aimed at more passengers). Where are the air-conditioned seats that keep cool or warm and your shirt dry. Where are sensors that measure how thick the water film on the road is and if it starts to freeze over? All this is done by IR-spectroscopy in the S-class. The S-class also monitors the driver constantly to figure out if he gets tired yet.
    Night vision is totally implemented since quite some time. The safety features in the S-class are close to absurd.

    Tesla is nowhere near that, apart from a fancy screen (and if that is the solution for everything is another question, the glare certainly would be prohibitive for adoption in a Mercedes). Of course the noise level from the engine might be a comparable point. From the outside the Tesla will definitely win. But apart from that they are not playing the same game.

    I don’t have any doubts Tesla will get there eventually but the comparison to luxury Sedans clearly is only triggered by the comparable asking price not by the product.

    • J_JamesM

      As someone who owns a car which lacks power steering and electric windows, I can’t fathom wanting to pay for all that incredibly fiddly junk. Particularly when the only Mercedes I’ve been exposed to had all those little fiddly things constantly falling apart on a near-weekly basis.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Another article another focus. Earlier today I watched a video of Elon saying the major focus on the S car was safety.

        Seems to me the more gadgets the more problems. I hope Tesla works on 4 wheel drive so I can get to 60 in under 3 seconds someday. But keep out the gadgets that will make them the butt of bad jokes when the cars age…

        • connectgo

          most gadgets have reached their functional peak, so I think they will be ok

    • connectgo

      my Kia has a cooled glovebox, if I would have got the SXL would have heated and cooled cup holders, and heated and cooled seats, just saying

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