10 days ago, Elon Musk did what he said he’ll do, and brought the utterly engaged public the mid-sized electric car that they’ve (myself included) been waiting for.
I have been an Audi A4 fan my entire life. My first car was the precursor for the A4, the Audi 80. I loved that car. I drove that red Audi 80 on the German Autobahn, and it was one of the most spectacular experiences of my life. As a 19-year-old, driving around Germany in my own car, I can tell you that it felt like anything was possible! My dad taught me to drive, and my rally driver/boyfriend taught me to drive in the snow, doing doughnuts in an empty parking lot. I know how to drive well, and as I learned to drive stick, driving this Audi 80 was spectacular. The way it accelerated, the way it took the curves, the way it responded to (what seemed like) my thoughts, it was “the perfect driving machine”! Human and machine, as one. But that was a long time ago, and I’ve owned 4 other Audis since. I stuck with the A4 (for most of my cars), as it kept getting better and better, and I never looked back. That is, until the Tesla Model S.
In 2013 I took a Tesla Model S for a spin, and when I did, I was forever convinced. This car is more than I had ever hoped for in a car. This car, or engineering marvel that it is, is the long-awaited answer to all (most) of my car prayers. The quality rivals Mercedes, but made to look and appeal to a younger generation, the tech friendly generation. The way it feels as you drive it, it equals (if not surpasses) all those amazing feelings I’ve ever had in my A4s. It drives like all cars should: responsive, hugs the curves, loves the speed, with tech that not only can let you drive upwards of 280 miles on one charge. When the option becomes available, it can get you to your destination full auto-pilot mode! And most importantly for me, it knows how to get you there safe! A 5 Star safety rating, better than any other car out there, and you can survive (per the developers) a chemical attack due to their insane air filtration systems. I don’t know how it rides on snow, but with the all-wheel drive option, I’m sure that it can rival my former love, Audi.
My love affair with Tesla Motors started with the Roadster model, on a winter’s night in Boulder, CO! I was looking at the shiny store front of the Tesla shop like a child looks at a window display of a chocolate store, at Christmas time. That car seems to have influenced the development of the GM program for the Chevy Volt, as Robert Leeds formerly of GM says, which led to the development for the Nissan Leaf program, and whatever else electric vehicle is out there in development stages.
Many years later, Tesla unveils the car for the masses, the Model 3. And its price makes the headlines, not the technologies. We’re used to the technologies that Tesla pioneered, but we haven’t had a car that most households can afford yet. Yes, the Nissan Leaf (great little car, and a nice ride) is affordable at $29–36,000, and so it the Chevy Bolt EV starting at $35,000 (available late 2016), with the BMW i3, stretching the budget at $42–47,000. And if the BMW i8 is any indication of what the electric vehicle design and engineering team at BMW can do, then the i3 is going to be a market success as well. The Tesla Model 3 starts at $35,000, and that is before any government incentives. Yes, I know it will probably be around $38–42K when you add all the tech packages, or the music packages, or the double battery pack, or whatever else you might like. But even then, taking out the government incentives, this technology marvel will be in the Goldilocks zone on the affordability scale. And it does it in style! How can you want any other electric car when this one looks like a speed/bullet-train (or a Porsche Panamera), feels like a dream, and is free to charge anywhere in the country, at the Tesla owned speed charging station, too?!
Model 3 comes standard with an engine that will take you 215 miles (probably more in real road conditions), Zero-to 60 mph in under 6 seconds, will have the same (if not improved) safety rating as it’s more expensive sister, the Model S. This car seems like a dream: not real! But it is. Before the official launch, Tesla took 113,000 $1,000 deposits for the Model 3. A car not yet in production. A car not available to the public for almost 2 years. The projected release date is late 2017, Tesla is known to be late, so we should expect the car to be delivered to the prepaid customers early 2018. That’s a good 2 years in the future, but when you build that kind of cult following like Tesla (and of course, Apple) built, you can expect that your customers will wait for a newer product, and will prepay for a newer product. And this is another great point about Tesla. Elon Musk has built such an amazing company that it is easy for people to connect with and love. Actually love. The message is amazing
“…to accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market…”
the care for details is at the standards of a custom car, the concierge like service and shopping experience is unparalleled. Yes, I ❤ Tesla, and I have secret crush on the brain behind the company, Elon Musk, as well, but don’t tell him that.
The Rise of the (EV) Machines
All those years ago, when I drove the Model S, I knew I’d found my car. I just couldn’t afford it back then. In a few more years, most everybody will be able to afford the Model 3. Until that day comes, the US (or in this case Detroit born) GM car will rule the US sales. As of last week, the Chevy Volt sales have surpassed the sales of the Nissan Leaf (which has a respectable sales record in the US, with over 17K sales in 2015). Imagine what the sales of the fully electric Chevy Bolt will be with the might of the GM marketing/advertising team behind it when they launch in a few months! Here’s how the sales stand at the end of March (via insideEVs.com):
From the point of view of the editor at TBMfW, of notable interest is also the fact that the CEO and Chairwoman at GM is Mary Barra, and that she has been instrumental in pushing the development and production of the Chevy Bolt. She’s a powerful woman, and a CEO to be reckoned with. She is not only the only woman to be the head of the big 8 car companies, but she is also pushing for more women in the automotive industry. I would like to offer my respect and appreciation for all her work to further her own career -showing us what is possible- as well as for all her work promoting the women within her company, like she does in the tweet below. The Business Magazine for Women will be pursuing an interview with the CEO of GM in the coming months.
The Chevy Bolt will be available end of this year (2016), a full year ahead of Tesla’s Model 3. And with stats almost as good as Tesla, it is more of a car for the masses than the Tesla Model 3 is, and it is available a heck of a lot sooner than the Model 3. The Model 3 evokes elegance, and class and business meetings and champagne by the pool. The Chevy Bolt seems to belong to the utilitarian class, looking a bit more generic, like the Nissan Leaf does. It is a commuter car, and it is visually not super sexy, like the Model 3 is, but this doesn’t mean that it is cheap, or poorly put together. The dashboard does look like a dashboard, which is where Model 3 lost me. There almost isn’t any dashboard to talk about with the Model 3. Can this be the way forward? Who knows. Elon Musk said that his car’s interior is more like a spaceship. I would still prefer to have something upfront, instead of the middle console. When I look at the Model 3’s middle dashboard/iPad Pro like display is that Tesla I can only think of the first Land Rover, the one with 3 seats up front, and the driver’s seat in the middle. That, not only looked wonky, but it really served no utility. This is not what I’m saying about the Model 3’s middle dashboard. All the driver things are in the right place: wheel, pedals, hand break, but the dashboard? To me, it just looks a little odd, floating like that in the middle. This is where, for me, the Chevy Bolt does a better job. The Bolt’s dashboard looks like a regular car’s dashboard, which makes the gas driving public a bit more receptive to the change to an electric car. Model 3’s dashboard is a complete departure from any dashboard that ever existed. Change. Change could be good.
This complete departure in design for the dashboard could be the same thing that Apple did with the first iPhone. Total and utter departure from the standard.
And I’m going to speculate one more time, to say that the reason why Tesla decided on the center console is not just to save money, but to free the driver, to get us ready for the self-driving car. Are you ready?
As of April 3, 2016, 276 thousand people had put down deposits for the Tesla 3.
As of April 9, the preorders went up to 325 thousand!
This puts Tesla at a possible $14 Billion in income from preorders for a car that is to hit the market in 2 years! 2 years! I have to give it up to the geniuses at Tesla, and especially to Elon Musk. This isn’t a feat easily achieved nowadays. Hell, this has never been done! And have you seen a Tesla TV ad? I haven’t!
Would I buy a Nissan Leaf now, wait for a Chevy Bolt for the end of the year, or wait even longer for the Tesla Model 3? If my driving experience with the Tesla Model S is of any indication, I’d say I’d wait till the Model 3 comes out. Out of the new EV cars, the Tesla Model 3 rules the market, and it’s not even out yet.
I’ll end it here. There is so much more to be said about the 2 (or 5 vehicles), but I would like to actually drive them both, or all, first, and tell you how they drive. Stay tuned.
For more articles like this, find me at TheBusinessMagazineforWomen.com, The Business Magazine For Women: A platform for business, technology, entrepreneurship, finance, culture and socially impactful news for today’s business woman.
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