It’s looking to be a great week for Tesla Motors, who previewed its Q1 results yesterday and promises more good news today. In a nutshell, the company sold more cars than expected and is now even more confident about its profitability this term. All good stuff, and Tesla deserves kudos for the achievement.
A much smaller bit of news is that only 4% of Model S buyers have chosen the smallest (40kWh) battery pack option, so it will effectively be cancelled. Technically, you can still buy a “40kWh” version; you’ll simply get a 60kWh version that has the extra 20kWh software-sequestered unless and until you choose to pay for the additional capacity. (While you’re at it, Tesla’s hoping you’ll also choose to pay to enable the Supercharging capability that will also be installed on every car from now on.) Clever moves by Tesla, helping to streamline production and “encourage” buyers into cars with higher profit margin. Makes total sense from a corporate perspective, and only Tesla has a fan base who will embrace the choice without the cynicism that would be lobbed at other automakers.
However, some perspective is needed for those who are already drawing broader conclusions about EV consumer range demands based on the seemingly low choice of the 40kWh model (in which most folks can easily get 120-160 miles of range). It’s artificial data at best, and not at all indicative of range preferences of even Tesla’s own buyer category, and certainly not the broader EV market.
- Tesla started with a “top-down” production approach for the Model S, meaning that the 85kWh cars were built first, then the 60kWh version, then the 40kWh version. Combined with a well-publicized backlog of reservations, some buyers who were comfortable with the 40kWh range felt compelled to step up in order to get their cars sooner.
- Tesla’s proprietary Supercharging option was not available on the 40kWh version, but an option on the 60 and standard on the 85. Again, fast-charging seekers moved into a higher capacity version than they might have otherwise picked.
- As with other plug-in cars, the earliest Model S adopters tend to be at the higher demographic end even of Tesla’s own market, and those for whom the $10k difference between each version of the Model S isn’t as impactful as it will be for later Model S buyers, let alone those of later models. Some are choosing the longer range simply because they can, not because they truly need – or even think they need – more than 160 miles of range on a daily basis.
Bottom line: Tesla made the right choice given the company’s current priorities. But today’s market will not be tomorrow’s, and not every company is Tesla. What works for Tesla is not inherently the right move for others. And as always, any single statistic at this stage should be taken with a grain of salt.
In my last post
, I mentioned that we’re heading into the fun part of creating EEI’s awareness campaign about electricity as a vehicle fuel and asked for help selecting a name. Thanks to you, we now have one!
As a community, you have dubbed yourselves “The Electric Generation”. One not defined by age, but the common belief that driving electric is simply better- even if you don’t have an electric car of your own yet.
As we finish building out the website and other graphic elements, we want to feature real members of The Electric Generation. So we are inviting everyone to literally be one of the faces of our campaign by submitting a headshot. Specific requirements are below, and photos can be emailed to EEIPhotos@edelman.com
. We’re eager to show you more, so will be selecting the first photos soon- but please keep them coming after that too!
And thanks again to everyone who’s helped us put this together, we really appreciate it. It’s been a lot of fun, and we hope you’ll enjoy being a part of it.
- Straight-on shots, no profiles
- Larger than 1MB
- Portrait shots only (roughly from the shoulders up, including a few inches above the top of the head)
- In front of a blank white wall
- Minimize shadows (soft white light)
- Maximum resolution
- Color photos only
- Acceptable formats: JPG, PNG
I’ve been helping the Edison Electric Institute (EEI -an association representing the shareholder-owned electric utilities in the US), plan a community-oriented campaign to generate consumer interest about the benefits of plug-in vehicles and using electricity as a transportation fuel.
Specifically, the project aims to capture and convey the real-world, emotionally-connected experiences of driving plug-in vehicles- the fun, cool, convenient aspects you all know so well and tell your friends about. In late July, I asked you to complete a survey about those favorite features. In addition, we’ve conducted live focus groups and a ton of additional research into online conversations about electric cars, media coverage, etc. All of that has gone into the crafting of a campaign “story” that we hope amplifies your EV driving experiences and helps spread them to the next generation of drivers.
We’re heading into the “fun part”- graphic elements, fleshing out the website, specific messaging, etc., and would like more input from you. This survey focuses on the campaign name, which will also influence tone and other elements. After a few internal rounds of feedback from various stakeholders (including EV drivers), we’ve narrowed it to three- so this survey is much quicker than the last! 🙂 It will stay live through Friday, 10/26.
As always, I look forward to any feedback or questions, and appreciate your time!
(My window overlooks the Chevron refinery down the street…seemed only fitting to co-opt their slogan!)
I’ve been helping the Edison Electric Institute (EEI -an association representing the shareholder-owned electric utilities in the US), plan a campaign to generate consumer interest about the benefits of plug-in vehicles and using electricity as a transportation fuel.
Specifically, the project aims to capture and convey the real-world, emotionally-connected experiences of driving plug-in vehicles- the fun, cool, convenient aspects that have been missing from many of the ads and “educational campaigns” to date. It is incredibly community-focused, recognizing that the current users and enthusiasts are the “experts” both on the vehicles and in talking to other people about them. This campaign aims to amplify your efforts and provide additional support in getting the best messages out more broadly and – to the extent needed – creating tools for all of us to more easily talk to neighbors, friends, and the random curious folks we find lurking around our cars in parking lots. 🙂
Therefore, I’m hoping you’ll join me in helping to make this project all it can be by sharing your experiences via this survey. This is merely the first step in an ongoing engagement with the enthusiast community, but it will help establish the earliest priorities.
Bring your passion, and let me know if you have any questions!
More to come….
Bob was terminated from Tesla Motors on Tuesday after more than four years there- the longest tenure among the current employees in the entire service division of the company. No warning, cause, or explanation. Effective immediately.
Between the two of us, we’ve been close to Tesla and its people in a variety of ways since a tiny group in a San Carlos shop converted a Lotus- so to say we’re stunned doesn’t begin to cut it. It just doesn’t make sense, particularly on the eve of such a crucial product launch.
Processing it all is bittersweet – punctuated by disbelief, intense disappointment, even gallows humor (was he “bricked” or “overly discharged”?) Sadly, that we’re hardly the first to go through this with Tesla makes it seem both better and worse.
But we’re grateful too, for the colleagues and drivers who’ve become friends over the years and who’ve shown their support this week. In some cases we’ve been surprised to see precisely who those people are (and aren’t), and we appreciate you.
And because this was so incredibly unexpected, we’re not sure what will come next. I intend to keep doing what I do, and Bob hopes to continue working with plug-in vehicles, though admittedly there are pragmatic aspects to consider.
More to say in time, no doubt. Until then – to those who know who they are, thank you.
chelsea and Bob
The latest in the “let’s make a story about how EVs suck where there is none” trend is this morning’s news that certain Chevrolet dealers are choosing not to take more Volt inventory. Sensationalistic media outlets are framing this as a nationwide lack of demand, because of course, Clovis, CA (near Fresno) is representative of the entire country. In fairness, dealers in New York City are also lackluster. But much as automakers push that market area for regulatory reasons – New York is a CARB state – NYC has always been problematic as an EV market area due to lack of private vehicle ownership and parking.
Just as there’s no one car for everyone, plug-in vehicles won’t sell well everywhere in the near term. There are also certain realities of dealer processes that make plug-ins more time-consuming to sell even in the most attractive of places. More people come to check out the cool new car than actually buy them, compared to conventional vehicles. And those who buy might have to order them, perhaps install charging infrastructure, etc., which means that rarely are they driving away in a shiny new EV the same day. Service departments are often reluctant too; the standard technician pay structure and lack of upselling potential isn’t conducive to new technology. Automakers need to be aware of and address these issues, while dealers must be more realistic about the learning curve. But inevitably, those dealers who decide it’s not worth the trouble will drop out.
This won’t be unique to Chevrolet; we have and will continue to see the same with other plug-in programs. But it’s also a good thing, potentially exceeded only by those automakers who realize from the start that not all dealers should be selling plug-ins. It’s simple; those who are not truly invested provide a poor customer experience and hurt sales, which damages public perception of plug-in vehicles. Dealers dropping out is often a self-fulfilling prophesy, but given how virally these customers share their experiences both good and bad, better to have it happen sooner than later. Then again, I’ve also seen customers travel hundreds of miles to a dealer whose salespeople or technicians are genuinely interested and provide a good experience. Loyalty among EV buyers and drivers is stunningly high, but as with most other things it must be earned- and this is hardly news.
You know that when Wired.com calls and starts a conversation with “I have a couple of personal questions for you”, there’s going to be a story to tell.
And there is…