What Kind Of People Are Ordering The 2012 Tesla Model S?

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2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

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You’ve heard about the 2012 Tesla Model S Sport, read our first ride review, and seen our 2012 Tesla Model S gallery -- but unless you’ve already put down a deposit for the 2012 Tesla Model S you won’t be getting one for a while. 

So who is getting a 2012 Model S? What kind of people put down $5,000 deposit on a car well before they had even seen it for the first time? And what sort of cars do they already drive? 

We were at the 2012 Tesla Model S reservation event and talked to many different reservation holders about the electric car they’ve put $5,000 down on. Here’s what we found out. 

Some Model S reservation holders are Tesla Customers already

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

Enlarge Photo

Many customers at the event were existing Tesla Roadster owners, who were either looking to switch their roadster for something more practical or who wanted a second car for a spouse.  

More than once during the evening, we overheard Roadster owners moan about the lack of space in their current Tesla, keen to buy something a little larger which was also electric.

In fact, during the event, we noted a total of around 20 different Roadsters parked in the public lot at the NUMMI facility making use of Tesla’s concierge charging service, with many more Roadster owners flying in from around the world. 

But it isn’t just celebrities and business moguls 

While the 2012 Tesla Model S is an expensive, luxury car, not everyone buying it is an A-list celebrity or wealthy businessperson. 

Admittedly, some of the recipients we talked to were business owners or executives in industries as diverse as car dealerships through to solar panels, renewable energies, medical equipment and of course, the tech industry.

But a large number of reservation holders were fairly average white-collar workers from a range of industries, with positions in large firms, earning moderate to good salaries -- many of whom had been saving up for years to place an order on the right electric car when it arrived.  Most of these reservation holders were between 45 and 65 years of age.

One reservation holder told us that his current car -- a 2002 Toyota Prius -- was the last car he said he would ever buy that ran on gasoline. After he had finished paying off his car loan, he continued to put aside money every month into a savings account, convinced someone would make an electric car that met his needs in the future.

Chic drives, but so does politics, green issues

While Tesla’s “Apple of the Auto Industry” ultra-chic image surely prompted many buyers to reserve a 2012 Tesla Model S -- it isn’t the only reason people are buying one. 

We talked to a collection of buyers for whom green issues and political motivations played a large part in the buying process. Common among them was national security and cutting reliance on foreign oil, while others were driven by a desire to cut their carbon footprint. 

Some electric car fans, but not as many as you’d expect

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

2012 Tesla Model S beta vehicle, Fremont, CA, October 2011

Enlarge Photo

One thing we weren’t prepared for was the lack of existing knowledge about electric cars. 

Rather than being a body of obsessed electric car fans, many Model S reservation holders have no pre-existing knowledge or experience of electric cars, wanting to know the answers to some really basic electric car questions.

In fact, many uninformed buyers are choosing Tesla over cars like the 2012 Nissan Leaf because of range anxiety. Worried the 2012 Nissan Leaf won’t provide them with the range they crave, they’ve chosen to suffer the Model S’ high sticker price in exchange for range peace-of-mind.  

An eclectic parking lot

But perhaps our biggest surprise was the variety of cars on display in the Tesla Lot that night. 

Everything from Porsche Cayennes and Toyota Prii to beat-up Honda Civics vied for space alongside sports cars and motorcycles in the public parking lot. 

In other words, the Tesla Model S has captured the imagination of a huge cross-section of the car-driving public. 

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