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Tesla Drops Out Of X-prize Competition; Will Have Car In Demo Division Instead


Tesla has announced that its Model S saloon is being withdrawn from the Automotive X-Prize competiton.

In an interview with Stuff,  Ricardo Reyes, Tesla Motors' vice president for communication, said, “We have discussed it with the X Prize guys and agreed to put a car in the demonstration division instead [of the competition]...” He went on to say “The competition division is amazingly good but the demonstration division is one that people shouldn’t look past. It’s more geared towards actual car manufacturers and it’s a better fit for us.”

The company also said that it intends to focus it's efforts on moving the model S into production.

From an outsider's perspective there would seem to be two broad possibilities here: (A) The company feels that 5 million dollars(the prize in the Mainstream category) and some publicity, may not weigh that heavily in the balance against the possibility that failure might tarnish the Tesla image.  This is particularly true of a company that recently pulled $50 million in investment from Daimler, $465 million from the U.S. government, and gets all the free media it wants, anyway.

Or (B) Tesla feels that it is now in an absolute death race to produce the Model S ahead of the rising tidal-wave represented by Nissan/the Volt/Fisker/ etc., etc.,  and no amount of prize-money or publicity is worth even a tiny iota of distraction from that goal.  With such an ambitious effort by what is essentially still a start-up company, there may be potential issues behind the scenes which management is desperately struggling to overcome, and supporting what is essentially a competitive race team may be stretching the resources too thin.   Any delay in the Model S rollout at this point would likely breed discontent among investors and potential customers, and might cede whatever advantage Tesla currently has to the competition.

The Tesla Model S Saloon is currently scheduled to be in showrooms by mid 2011 for  $57,400 ($49,900 in the U.S. after $7,500 federal tax credit).

[SOURCE: Wired]

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Comments (9)
  1. Jon, great piece. Certainly, A is true - very little to gain, and much to lose. As for B, I wouldn't consider it a concern for survival as much as not wanting to miss the biggest opportunity the auto industry has ever seen - a somewhat affordable BEV sedan with performance comparable to a gasoline / diesel ICE sedan. The first person to offer one will grab the lion's share of the early adopters, leaving scraps for everyone else. Enormous profits will go to the first company to deliver, so it's a race for the cash, not survival.
     
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  2. Still a pretty expensive coal powered car. Better to spend the money on solar or wind power for your home, then you can charge up your batteries with "greenergie".
     
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  3. Pretty sweet Zero emissions Hydro-electric powered car. (If you live in the Pacific Northwest)
    Can't wait to get one.
     
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  4. It is too bad but makes sense from a "running a real new company point of view".
    The X Prize promises to test cars in a relevant way in a world where it is hard to compare apples and oranges. While I have reservations about electric cars (except for some uses) the Tesla is an honest approach at an efficient car by staying away from the temptation of being everything to all people.
    There is no real efficiency gain when you build a heavier car with more stuff like the Fisker or Volt. There is merit in building a car that does one thing well. In this Tesla distinguishes itself in a good way and I am sad to see them not be there.
    There is no doubt in my mind that by now they may well have the best system there is for electric cars and I would like to have seen it tested honestly and openly against other things.
    Good Luck to them they certainly set off an avalanche of thought.
     
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  5. Saloon?!, LOL! Should I name my poison. Should I draw partner!
     
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  6. Saloon is synonymous with sedan, and the car is named model S (for saloon), douche-bag.
    When you meet a guy named Dick, do you giggle and roll your eyes?
     
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  7. 465 mill from the US government ????? What;s your source????
     
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  8. 465 million of tax payers money !!!!!!How ?Why? Where[what branch]... And its a plug in. Eltra tech has an on-board generator and they are still in the x prize .
     
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  9. I'm always impressed by how the financially strong companies just have great explanations when they have the possibility to go on a public test rally and just justify with whatever they consider convenient.
    Really, $465 million from the U.S. government and they are still scared???
    Well I guess any failure wouldn't exactly explain where have all that money gone to,..(maybe salaries and corporate attack or worst)...Time will tell.
    Jesus, where are the tax payers now because $100k car is just the high income group of people.
     
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