Saturday, July 29, 2006

EV Coming to Market!

I spoke too soon -- it seems there has been someone working to bring an electric car back to market, with longer range and lighter batteries. Tesla Motors is in the process of bringing their all electric Roadster to market.

The Tesla Motors Roadster seats only two, but will feature lithium-ion batteries and boast an amazing per-charge range of 250 miles! (...And this is no hippy-dippy "ugly bug" alternative fuel vehicle, it's a sports car -- click on the link above and see for yourself!)


Chez Bez said...

I just saw An Inconvenient Truth yesterday. I'll take a couple of those Roadsters.

The preview for Who Killed The Electric Car looks interesting.

And welcome back. It's been a while.

Melhi said...

The movie:
We saw "An Inconvenient Truth" a couple of weeks ago. I went in expecting the same data, projections & commentary I've seen/heard a million times.

But, I actually hadn't seen some of the data presented and I found myself ignoring the commentary to focus on that data.

I did have one complaint. Based on other data I've seen over the years, I'd say he/they grossly underestimated China's contribution & impact, both to date and projected.

I'm still processing the data (etc) in my mind. I've never been a "tree hugger" or enviro-hippie type so I've always approached the possible solutions that get bandied about from a very different set of angles that have nothing to do with the environment.

(case in point)
The Tesla Roadster EV:

I like the Roadster for a number of reasons.

The "gadget geek" in me can't help but be fascinated with things like EVs, wind power, compressed air technology, dynamo gadgets, etc. I'm equally fascinated with ancient inventions -- particularly Heron's -- and it comes from that same place in me.

The tightwad in me, of course, likes the idea of never having to pay for gasoline again.

Then there's the (greedy? patriotic?)part of me that sees alternative power becoming a growth industry. I'd sure like to see it (and, frankly, every other industry) grown right here in the good old U.S. of A. So, I really (and I mean REALLY) like that the Tesla Motor Company is domestically owned and that the Tesla Roadster is domestically engineered and produced. The only thing that would make me happier is if they started manufacturing them in my home town or at least in my county.

Of course, I'm all for anything that reduces our dependence on foreign oil, so my hard earned money can stay right here at home, where it belongs and we're not the least bit beholden to the people sitting on top of that oil.

Plus, along a different vein, I've been saying for years that one of the main reasons alternative fuel vehicles don't have mass market potential is that nobody has been designing them for mass appeal. (It's just common sense.) So, I like that Tesla cites very similar common sense thoughts on designing for mass appeal, on their website.

Granted, the Roadster is going to be niche marketed to the high dollar performance vehicle market, not to the mainstream. And, even at a mid-range price it still wouldn't work for a soccer mom. As much as I'd love to see someone mass produce an efficient, affordable, decent looking, fully loaded, 7 seater EV, I'm not holding my breath for it.

But, what Tesla did take into account is the most important marketing feature of all: aesthetics.

Aesthetics DO matter, in every area of the American new car buying market. Affording a cool looking car is a big part of the American dream and it's the American dream that keeps us motivated.

The Roadster is one sharp looking little number that's going to turn heads and make even people who can't afford it say, "Oooh, I want one!" even if they don't know or care that it's an EV. To put it more bluntly, guys will be able to picture themselves picking up chicks in it. (Because we ladies will want to be seen in it, too.)

Plus, it has the handling and performance potential buyers are going to demand. The savings on gas is just a bonus -- and that's how it should be treated.

The Roadster's appearance is going to draw people onto the car lot and increase awareness of and interest in the Tesla brand, paving the way for their planned mid-range sedan to hit the mass market, later.

By contrast, if you look at the air cars I linked to in a previous blog post, you'll see that they're a neat little gadget. If I had a bottomless pocketbook, I'd love to have one just to play with it. But, they're so friggin' ugly, most guys will see them as the chick repellent on wheels that they are and that makes them guy repellent, too.

There is a big market trend toward more fuel efficient vehicles, right now. (The big 3 have certainly paid the price for ignoring that trend so long.)

But, everything else being equal given the choice between an ugly no-gasoline car and a decent looking car that gets good gas mileage (30+ mpg,) most Americans will not only choose the better looking car, they'll be willing to pay more for it... some will even cite inconveniences like range, speed and recharge times to justify their choice.

That's just the nature of this market -- companies can either work the market or try to go against its grain and find themselves worked over by it.

Tesla's making the right choice -- it doesn't guarantee their success, but it gives them a better shot at it than any of their predecessors or contemporaries have had, so far. And I like to see American companies succeed, so I'm already rooting for them.

They're going to be WAY out of my price range and I can hardly chauffer my kids around in a two seater, but the perpetually 16 yr. old car loving gadget geek in me doesn't care and wants one, anyway! :) (The practical, tightfisted, perpetually middle-aged food, shelter and utilities addict in me always wins these internal disputes, so I won't be getting one. ;) )

My return:
Don't get too excited, just yet. It may be a long while before I'm really back. I'll have to drop you a private mail next time I get a chance and fill you in on all that's going on. :)

DemDeWitt said...

Wow, it has been a long time since the melhi was here! When I saw Inconvenient the first thought I had was who stole Al Gore? Where was THIS guy back in 2000? He was animated, he moved, and he smiled! God, he might have actually landslided the state of Florida if he'd have loosened up that much. My question is, If Brazil can become energy independent, how about the U.S.? Or have too many of "our companies" now become the "multinationals"?