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CNBC automobile industry reporter Phil LeBeau acknowledges unanswered questions on the ability...

CNBC automobile industry reporter Phil LeBeau acknowledges unanswered questions on the ability of the Tesla Motors (TSLA -1.4%) Model S to ever be a mass market vehicles exist, but comes back from a test drive thoroughly impressed by the car and sees the possibility of it being a game changer. LeBeau on the Model S: "I am convinced that this car is proof a solely electric car can and ultimately will gain acceptance by American drivers."
Comments (18)
  • HCOL, Tesla is not intended for the mass market, just as the BMW 5's or Mercedes E class.
    20 Feb 2013, 12:28 PM Reply Like
  • Why is the Tesla Model S a niche market toy for the rich, but the same priced SUV from Mercedes is a necessity for urban living?


    Good to see an automotive expert admit that Tesla has a chance to succeed. I'm waiting for the inevitable "but."
    20 Feb 2013, 12:45 PM Reply Like
  • Juicepack (nice handle!!!):


    Why is Model S a niche toy? Here in Chicago? RANGE. The Merc could tow a trailer. The Merc could haul the family up to Wisconsin for the weekend. The Merc could do duty running around the city all day or taking a trip to a nearby city. Stops for fuel take 5 minutes, not half a day (without Supercharger).


    I'll say it again. I love driving the Model S, but it's not for everybody and it is very expensive.


    The small-motor / largest battery version with options and garage charger? Budget about $85K. That's buys a pretty nice SUV, even for Mercedes. The similarly equipped high performance model runs around $105K all in.


    Unless you're strictly driving it to work and back or to the grocery, you need a bigger battery, in my opinion.
    20 Feb 2013, 01:02 PM Reply Like
  • Here in Norway Model S and the X are cars for the middle class.


    And loads of people seem to forget the greatest thing about the EV. Most people only go on road trips a few times a year, and the rest of the year you never have to visit a charging station as the battery is always full every morning.


    So instead of visiting the gas station 30-50 times a year, you visit a supercharger maybe 5-10 times a year. Why so many seem to overlook the best part of owning a EV comes from lack of experience :)
    20 Feb 2013, 01:32 PM Reply Like
  • Regarding range anxiety, Lebeau says "you'll know how far you can go thanks to the constant feedback on miles driven and how much battery life is left."


    That's actually not true, as many Tesla drivers admit and was reported in the Consumer Reports review.


    The range indicator gives an estimate of the miles remaining but unless you're driving in ideal conditions it's always going to be a significant over-estimate.


    Driver beware.


    20 Feb 2013, 12:55 PM Reply Like
  • "That`s actually not true".


    Well, it IS true. You can easily get your average consuption up on the screen, and the average consuption tells you quite precisely how far you`ll be able to go.


    Maybe you`ve overlooked the fact that there`s more than one way to predict range?
    20 Feb 2013, 01:28 PM Reply Like
  • Thanks, weekendmoe.


    So I'll look at the range on the screen and then I'll go to my average consumption and when the results differ then what?


    Which one should I trust? Should I take the average of the 2? Or the tangent? Or maybe the cosine?


    Because this is the kind of stuff I love paying $85k to worry about.


    20 Feb 2013, 03:15 PM Reply Like
  • Tesla has proven it can make a very solid vehicle. The focus of Tesla now should be getting more people into Tesla made vehicles. A less expensive model would really propel this company forward. Today's earnings should hopefully provide more insight.
    20 Feb 2013, 01:17 PM Reply Like
  • Their gen III model is supposed to be much more affordable. I believe that one is projected to start in in 30k range vs the 60 k range for the Model S.


    It's called the blue star.


    Out of all the car companies Tesla is the only one to actually obey the laws of economics and product introduction- start off with high priced items and move into moderately and cheaper items. Bad things happen when someone introduces a high cost item and skimps so that the masses can afford it. That's the flaw of Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Ford- they should have introduced it as their luxury line, not the econo line.
    20 Feb 2013, 02:08 PM Reply Like
  • SivBum, this may be true for the Model S but plans are for a more mass-market oriented product in 2015. They had to start somewhere.
    20 Feb 2013, 02:13 PM Reply Like
  • Seth,


    Yes, by then, hopefully the batteries would be cheaper and more charge stations on the road. Hope made in America will prosper by then.
    20 Feb 2013, 02:40 PM Reply Like
  • Confirmed my Tesla Model S build slot because Tesla has done an excellent job maintaining its design vision into the final production car (where Volt missed) and the quality-focused reviews have been excellent. But the final decision to buy was all about rubber on the road > the driving experience was the kicker with the regenerative feature, acceleration, cornering, etc. ... all top notch. This is not a mass market car for all conditions or buyers and I plan to keep our oil based car for flexibility and range. But Model S serves notice of a major vision change in the automotive industry, and delivers.
    20 Feb 2013, 02:16 PM Reply Like
  • Good boy. You have earned your cookie.
    20 Feb 2013, 03:16 PM Reply Like
  • Everyone who drive the Model S end up lovin` it (except those who want it to fail).
    21 Feb 2013, 09:01 AM Reply Like
  • Great post. Same quality as always :)
    21 Feb 2013, 09:02 AM Reply Like
  • Finally someone at CNBC with a brain! These are the comments we need in the mainstream media....not the NY Time BS articles...once people realize their REAL driving habits and savings to be had by driving electric, not to mention the better performance and environmental benefits...the tide will turn rapidly...just ask any EV owner...they will NEVER go back to gas once you drive EV.
    20 Feb 2013, 05:03 PM Reply Like
  • No exhaust. No maintenance. Never need to visit a gas station. Silent.
    Electric cars are a no brainer.


    If EV's were the norm, and someone introduced an internal combustion engine, carrying 20 gallons of explosive and belching poisonous exhaust, needing unbelievable precision to would never make it.


    Not to mention, money spent on foreign oil pays our enemies oil dependence, no Al queda.
    20 Feb 2013, 06:39 PM Reply Like
  • There is no doubt that Tesla has a product superior to any other EV on the market. However, I'm not sure that guarantees them the volume needed to succeed or the cash they will need to introduce new models like the Model X or the Bluestar. The automotive business is capital intense and breaking even in 2013 does not generate enough cash to pay for the Model X tooling or the Bluestar development and tooling. Additional rounds of financing will be required


    Also, based on their 10Q reports for Q2 and Q3, they only had 11,500 and 13,200 reservations respectively. Once they started production in Q2 they only picked up about 1,700 reservations until the end of Q3. At 400 per week that is only about a month of production for 3 moths of order taking. Not enough to fill their Q4 and 2013 production schedule. Orders will be the critical issue driving the company and that should be the focus for investors. Without adequate demand the company cannot survive.
    20 Feb 2013, 06:41 PM Reply Like
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