Tesla Model S 'Get Amped' Tour: 5,000 Test Drives In Sight

Six 2012 Tesla Model S cars at "Get Amped" introductory drive event [photo: George Parrott]

Six 2012 Tesla Model S cars at "Get Amped" introductory drive event [photo: George Parrott]

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From Los Angeles to Toronto, from Miami to Seattle, Tesla has been taking a fleet of its new 2012 Model S sedans around the country to offer short test drives to 5,000 current depositors and potential owners.

Those individuals have to be patient as the company slowly ramps up production of the all-electric luxury sport sedan, following delivery of the very first production car in early June.

But the short drives should keep many potential Model S buyers interested in the promise of the electric car with a 265-mile range rating from the EPA.

Fourteen of the planned sixteen cities on the “Getting Amped Tour" have now been completed. The tour started in Fremont, California, at the assembly plant that Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] bought two years ago from Toyota.

Last weekend, the tour returned to Palo Alto, California--the heart of Silicon Valley--before finishing up in Austin (August 15-16) and, finally, Dallas (August 18-19).

Depositors are scheduled in groups of four to six at about half-hour intervals. Each driver may bring up to two guests for the test drive, but every drive has a Tesla chaperone in the front passenger seat. 

The drive itself is limited to about 7 or 8 miles, but is preceded by a brief and well-done group introductory lecture that introduces the emotional experience of electric driving.

Potential buyers can review their color and option choices with better color renditions than on the company internet site.

Tesla even offers refreshments, ice cream, and a play area for children at its venues.

At the recent Palo Alto venue, at least eight early production cars were available for inspection. Two cars were inside the display building for full viewing and inspection, and another six cars made up the ride-and-drive fleet.

Interested depositors were offered the choice of the standard or performance powertrains when they took their test drive. The Tesla chaperones encouraged getting drivers to take advantage of the “full feel” of the car’s torque and power after almost every stop sign. 

It was far too short a real driving experience for a proper assessment, of course, but there is no question that this vehicle has real power off the line, and corners well.

Is the current version of the 2012 Tesla Model S a $100,000 car? 

It still needs some refinement if it wants to be truly feature-competitive with the established players in the luxury performance category.

But there is no other car that offers combination of luxury, performance and environmental consciousness.

George Parrott is an emeritus professor of psychology at California State University in Sacramento. He owns a Nissan Leaf and a Chevrolet Volt that are recharged largely on solar power, and is considering the purchase of a Tesla Model S.


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Comments (6)
  1. I like your article, but i have one point. You mention that "It still needs some refinement if it wants to be truly feature-competitive with the established players in the luxury performance category."

    That is an invalid comparison. IT'S ELECTRIC. It is in a class of it's own. People are not buying this car instead of a Jag or a Mercedes for it's features. People buying those cars for the features shouldn't get this car. People are buying it because it's a luxury electric sedan, and in it's class it's top dog.

    It's comparisons like that which will continue the attitude "oh, it's not good enough, i'll just keep my car that runs on dinosaur bones."

  2. Brian,
    You might want to reread the last two lines.....

    Though since it is MY $100,000 that I am anticipating paying for this, I really would like ventilated seats, pockets on the doors and behind the front seats and much higher placement of the front seat belt anchors.

    IMHO, and for my $$$ there really still should not be daily niggles in a "six figure" luxury car.

  3. Is the Model S a $100,000 car?

    Is is normal to quote the highest possible price for a vehicle? Is the BMW 5 series a $ 93,000 car? Is the Toyota Prius a $ 40,000 vehicle?

    The Model S is not a $ 100,000 car. The standard 85 kWh version with all options (except child seats & paint armour) is $ 76k after incentives.

    And throw in a $ 10,000 savings in petrol over 5 years, and you actually have the financial equivalent of a $ 66,000 car.

  4. I, and many other potential order individuals, are attracted to the "performance version" with almost all the "options." The configuration I am currently looking at will top $102,000 before sales tax and admittedly before the federal and state incentives. Even with those incentives it will still be OVER $100,000 with sales tax here in California included.

    Incentives also vary by state and even within state. In Southern California and working for certain companies, there might be as much as another $10,000 in further incentives over what we could see here in Northern California.

    So, a Model S MIGHT be as little as $67K in some areas, e.g. Oregon and without ANY options, but others will exceed $100k with options.

  5. I too feel that Tesla should make some improvements to the interior by bringing it up to the level of the car's exterior. They should add map pockets in the front doors and map pockets on the back of the front seats and offer ventilated front seats as an option so they are at least competitive with other luxury sport sedans. The exterior is awesome looking but the interior could use a little more work to bring it up to the level of some of the other luxury sport sedan’s being sold in the Model S price range.

  6. Mark,
    EXACTLY my concerns as well. At least Tesla representatives "actually respond" to such suggestions and note that their Model S is still "a work in progress" and such improvements are "not impossible."

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