Tesla Motors tells signature reservation holders: Time to build your Model S
Tesla Motors recently sent a letter (reposted to the Tesla Motors blog) to Tesla Model S Signature Series reservation holders that "It's Time to Build Your Model S". That is, if you have a reservation on a Tesla Model S, of course. This step forward towards Tesla delivering the Model S in July is a step into the reality of Tesla Motors becoming a full fledged automaker delivering electric cars of their own design.
The Tesla Model S Signature Series is the first 1,000 cars to roll off the production line, and these cars have extra features and carry a higher price. Of course. The Signature series cars have the 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack for 300 mile range, special color options are available, super high speed charging is a standard feature, as is the sound and tech packages, air suspension, and more. The base price of the Model S Signature car is $95,400 and the performance version bas a base price of $105,400. If you're more patient you can order the normal Model S with 85 kilowatt-hour 300 mile range battery pack for a measly $77,400.
Unlike the Tesla Roadster, the Model S was designed by Tesla engineers from the ground up. It is manufactured completely by Tesla at a factory in Fremont California (the former NUMMI plant co-owned by Toyota and GM). Tesla has an agreement with Daimler (a part owner of the company) to access Daimler's parts catalog for some of the interior pieces, and it seems the company is limiting Daimler-sourced to interior trim pieces such as turn signal stalks. The Tesla Roadster was built on a chassis provided by Lotus.
The Tesla Retail Store as well as the Tesla Motors website are offering additional tools enabling Model S reservation owners to customize their car. And a bit of good news for Signature Series reservation holders, Tesla is offering a wider range of colors now.
The letter also discusses a "Go Electric" experience Tesla Motors hopes will answer the five most frequently answered questions heard in the stores. Clearly this is meant to help prospective buyers to understand what they're buying, because to be honest electric cars are a different sort of machine than what we collectively have driven the last hundred years, and it takes some learning to understand the why's and wherefore's of making an electric car purchase.
The questions Tesla hopes to answer are:
How far can I go? (answer: 160 miles, 240 miles or 300 miles depending on battery pack size and driving habits)
How do I charge? (answer: Tesla has a proprietary charging port, and the car is sold with a charging station to match the charging port. The car comes with an adapter to use on the J1772 charging stations being installed everywhere.)
How do I take a trip? (answer: By driving? The question must be, how do you charge while on a long trip. Tesla's proprietary charging port supports what they call the Supercharger which can provide a near-complete recharge within an hour, or you can use those J1772 charging stations but the recharge time will be very long.)
How much does it cost to charge? (answer: average electricity price is $.11/kilowatt-hour. Away from home the cost depends on the owner of the charging station.)
Where does my electricity come from? (answer: depends on the power companies in your state. Coal is common in some states, natural gas in others, hydroelectric in others, etc.)
The letter also clarified the service arrangement for the turn-by-turn navigation system included in the Tech Package. That package is standard on the Signature series Model S, and is a $3,750 option for the other cars. The clarification is that this package includes 7 years of map updates, and it is claimed that for other premium sedans map updates cost $200 or more a year.
The letter declined to give specifics on how the in-car Internet connectivity works, saying details would be announced later. The Model S includes a beautiful 17 inch LCD display screen in the center of the console. This screen shows all the controls that would normally be in the center, such as environment controls, or the sound system. One feature is a web browser so that passengers (not the driver, of course) can browse the Internet while being driven somewhere. The connectivity uses some form of 3G wireless service, but Tesla is not disclosing the details.
Tesla has located a method for incorporating Satellite Radio on all cars without the "shark fin" antenna degrading the aerodynamic beauty. This means that Satellite Radio will now be an option on all Model S sedans. Formerly it had only been available on the models with the glass panoramic roof (which has to be seen to be believed).
The letter described the new Tesla Personal Delivery service. The company will deliver the car "wherever" the customer wants. During delivery the features of the car will be explained, so you can "know everything you need to know about owning the most advanced car on the planet." One gets the impression that Tesla is proud of this vehicle. An option is to take delivery at the company's factory in Fremont.
Tesla Motors is saying that 2012 is the Year of the Model S. In July the company begins shipping the Signature cars followed by the normal 85 kilowatt-hour 300 mile cars, with the 60 kilowatt-hour (230 miles) and 40 kilowatt-hour (160 miles) cars will follow in the Fall and Winter.