Tesla Motors picked up the electric vehicle ball after GM stupidly axed the EV-1. But instead of producing a dim-bulb econobox for mass consumption, they stuck to an ethic of uncompromising excellence and have created one of the finest American vehicles ever made: the Tesla Roadster does 0-60 in 4 seconds (faster than a Lamborghini or Corvette), sits on a Lotus chassis, comes with top of the line everything, goes 245 miles on a single 3.5-hour charge (the EV-1 went about 140 miles), and is what my friends and I joke about being "drool worthy" — it is fabulously beautiful (more thanks to Lotus).
Moreover, TM is ramping up operations slowly, rolling out their high-end model first and going into wider production with lower-end models later. I remember seeing many new cars come online during my lifetime — Saturn, Hyundai, Infiniti, Lexus — and it always seemed to me they took an enormous risk moving straight into mass production, even if they did have huge established corporations behind them. TM`s strategy seems very smart to me in a couple of ways: it contains risk, and has also built up far more demand than they can meet anytime soon. People are clamoring for a Tesla sedan but as far as I know it isn`t even off the drawing board.
TM started taking orders for the first 100 production vehicles in 2006 and were sold out by August; in September 2006 they opened up orders for the second 100 vehicles and were sold out by October. The next round of orders was for 650 vehicles; these are also sold out. That might not sound so impressive, except that the Tesla Roadster retails for about $100,000. I have no idea what the initial investments in the company have been but so far TM has brought in $85 million in sales, and there`s not one Roadster out of production yet. Nice.
Everything Tesla Motors does, they do in a way that I admire. Their product is beyond excellent; it is as green as you can get; it is a significant leap forward technologically; they`re moving operations forward in a wise and deliberate way; they`re making the sales; and perhaps most importantly to my thinking, they are almost singlehandedly removing the granola crust from environmental consciousness and polishing it to a sleek, tech-savvy sheen.
Swooning, I tell you.