Between 7 and 10pm in a busy Westfield Shopping Centre in the west of London, Tesla owners, fans and potential owners gathered together with press from varying nations for the official opening of the first UK Tesla store.
Why in a shopping centre? Tesla sees itself more in-line with the likes of technology companies than regualar cars. Tesla believes the day of having to go to the cold, wet and often unnerving dealership forecourt is over and instead you can go into the warm and welcoming atmosphere of a shopping centre to purchase your latest technology asset – an electric car.
In many ways, the idea to have a showroom within a shopping centre is a good one. People who can afford to spend thousands of pounds on an [often] Italian designed leather handbag, conveniently in adjacent shops to the new Tesla London Store, are the same kind of people with enough capital to allow them to purchase the new Model S.
The price in the UK is still yet to be 100% determined. This is not due to Tesla being shy but instead there are import duties, taxes, shipping, margins, profit, wages etc. all to take into consideration before pricing any product and especially one such as a car.
Nonetheless, Elon Musk who took to the stage to answer audience questions reassured by stating the car would not sell for less than £50,000. In other words, the base model would likely be around that figure, give or take.
Mr Musk was surprisingly apologetic for the current cost of the Model S, or rather that he would like to be able for Tesla to offer a cheaper vehicle more suited to the masses. On this subject, mentions of, “in three years time” were often said and with an expected price between 20 to 25 thousand. This would aim the car at the likes of the Vauxhall Ampera and BMW i3 which although start at a little more than that figure, will be at least three years ahead in sales by the time the ‘cheap’ Tesla arrives.
There were also mentions of future improvements to the Model S, including the apparently much anticipated arrival of folding wing mirrors. There was mention of electronic rear view cameras replacing mirrors, such as are featured on the Model X, but Elon Musk reiterated these were a planned hope that would require changes in legislation before they would be acceptable. Pricing for the Model X was discussed briefly and confirmed as being likely to be similar to Model S due to it running on a similar chassis and offering similar levels of luxury. However, the drive train would feature all wheel drive by using electric motors both front and rear, and Mr Musk described the technology as being far faster to respond than conventional mechanical all wheel drive systems and therefore would give the car, “an almost magical ride”.
Regarding the already brisk performance, Mr Musk alluded to the car having more potential within its existing powertrain that could be unlocked with software and a “Track Pack” may be the software upgrade title offered to Model S owners.
Further Tesla news is that they have hired Doug Field to be their Vice President of Vehicle Programs, responsible for driving development of new vehicles.
Doug is the second high profile ex Apple employee to join Tesla’s ranks and just goes to show how well inter-twined the two companies are despite also being very cosy with Google who, for example, supply Tesla with mapping software on the in-car display.
Doug led the development of many new products at Apple including the latest MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac. Doug began his career as an engineer at Ford Motor Company.
Elon Musk, Tesla co-founder and CEO, said,
“Doug has demonstrated the leadership and technical talent to develop and deliver outstanding products, including what are widely considered the best computers in the world. Tesla’s future depends on engineers who can create the most innovative, technologically advanced vehicles in the world. Doug’s experience in both consumer electronics and traditional automotive makes him an important addition to our leadership team.”
Doug Field said in response,
“Until Tesla came along, I had never seriously considered leaving Apple. I started my career with the goal of creating incredible cars, but ultimately left the auto industry in search of fast-paced, exciting engineering challenges elsewhere. As the first high tech auto company in modern history, Tesla is at last an opportunity for me and many others to pursue the dream of building the best cars in the world—while being part of one of the most innovative companies in Silicon Valley.”
Source; Tesla Motors