You have to give much credit to Tesla, the Fremont electric car company and its founders for rolling out the first mass-market version of their all-electric car, the Model S. It sells for just under $50,000 after a federal tax credit, according to The Associated Press, and can go 160 miles on a single charge.
This “cheap” version is the second Tesla. The first is one called the Roadster, on which the company has lost $1 billion, selling a mere 2,150 since rollout in 2008.
The company claims already to have sold 10,000 of the Model S cars, but will only be able to deliver 5,000 in the next 12 months.
The Tesla is the brain child of billionaire e-commerce wizard Elon Musk, one of the founders of PayPal, on which he made his fortune. He also is the founder of SpaceX, a private space exploration company.
The Tesla Model S enters a market already occupied by hybrid and electric vehicles. Chevrolet’s Volt is rechargable and also hybrid, and can go a month between fill-ups if one drives mainly in town. It also has a long-range capability the model S doesn’t have. The Volt sells for around $40,000 — some $10,000 less than the Model S.
Nissan is in the market with the all-electric Leaf, a smaller car than the Volt, selling for about $30,000.
Ford has hybrids on the road, also in the $30,000 range.
The king of the hybrids, though, is Toyota, with its Prius having been in the market for more than a decade. The Prius sells for under $30,000 and has high ratings from tens of thousands of users.
We can hope that the Tesla will become a player, because if it does, it will be good for the state. However, it will have to be an extremely good car to beat the others already out there that have the advantage of time on the road and of dealer networks to sell them.