Whatever business you are in, when you see even a remotely similar line of products, you know what to look for. And... it takes a lot to impress. Before Kimberley, one of the businesses I ran was the robot business at ABB globally, with major automotive plants as customers. Porsche and Daimler Benz were customers and their engineering departments always impressed me. The production lines at Fiat were some of the most automated I saw and the management Team at Nokia were a standout group to deal with. However, none of this has impressed me as much as the new Tesla Electric car and the way they have set up this new business.
The product itself is just a stunning piece of engineering. Great engineering always simplifies complexity. And this is the overwhelming impression after seeing a chassis and the build up to a completed model. Manufacturing is at Fremont California (silicon valley). They are producing 600 units a month so this is not a prototype, it is "production", albeit small for vehicles. The typical distance a Model S with the large batteries can travel is 400-500 kms depending on speed. Not quite far enough yet for the majority of those interested but great for city travelling. There is no carbon monoxide directly from the car but the power plants generating the electricity are producers of course, albeit at a much lower rate than a car.
The business model is also interesting. They only make to order with a 2-3 month wait in the USA. This is the opposite to the normal vehicle buying process where buyers expect to collect their vehicle the same day they order it. They sell the cars through "dedicated sales offices" not car yards. There are no trade-ins and you order by making a reservation on-line.
In USA, there are incentives in many states to purchase an electric car, up to $15,000 of the purchase price (after GST equivalent has been added so net is about $7000). The convincing argument is all based on economics. The saving over fuel.
So let me have a crack at the economics for Australia as I see it:
For a vehicle using only 10 litres/100 klm, paying $1.60 for fuel and doing 20,000 klm a year, the fuel cost is around $3,200 a year.
For the Tesla doing the same distance, the cost at off-peak charging is $400 a year and if it is peak rate charging, the cost would be $1,500 a year. Off peak in Sydney s between 10pm to 6am and peak is 2pm to 10pm. The rate during the shoulder period would be just under a $1,000. Lets use this as a mid point. The Tesla is programmed to start charging at a scheduled time, likeoff-peak.
So for a saving of $2,200 a year would you invest the extra money of around $30-40,000 which is my guess at the premium for a Tesla in Australia over a BMW or similar?
The premium Tesla model is around US$90,000 in USA so I am guessing $120,000 in Australia. At this price point you aren’t going to be worrying about $2,000 a year. You may buy this product to support low emmissions or if you were an “early adopter” of new technology.
However, there is a major benefit of a very quiet ride and it is very spacious. Plus it looks stunning!
In addition, Tesla have built a car of apparent high quality with many extras. It is loaded with a great set of electronics like a 17inch navigation screen in 3D to start with. The seats are excellent and the doors close with that “german” “k-chunk” which just oozes quality. The weight distribution is 48/52%. See all the specs here.
The Tesla looks and feels like a premium motor car with a high amount of innovation. The photo below is a production pod in Fremont California preparing the body.
Here is a photo taken in a parking lot before I spoke with a very satisfied customer:
Just for fun, I have listed some comparisons with the Kimberley Kruiser T3 off-road caravan.
|Tesla Electric Vehicle||Kimberley Kruiser T 3|
|Battery Capacity as standard||65kWhrs of Lithium Ion||6.6kWhrs of Lithium Ion|
|Charging type and rate
in Amps at 240V
| 220V , Inverter,
| 240V, Inverter,
high current 123 Amps
|Air Suspension Standard
Electric digital auto-ride height
|Weight in Kgs Tare||2112 Kgs||2650kgs|
|Chassis construction||Hybrid Steel and Alloy||Hybrid Steel and Alloy|
|Length and Width||5m x 2.2m||7.3m x 2.3m|
|Type of Brakes|| Single pot Disc Brakes
4 Pot Option
| 4 x Single Pot Disc Brakes
with Electronic Activation
|Getting the "View"|| Panorama Glass Roof
To let the view in!
|3.6m of Frameless Windows
for an incredible View
|Roof||Glass|| Tropical second roof
To keep "heat" out
|Lighting Inside|| All LED with
|All LED with
Black Magic Activation
and NO UV spectrum
|On Board Info Screen||17 inch Interactive Screen||22 inch Screen|
|WiFi On Board||Yes||Yes|
|Solar Energy Supply on Board||Nil||720W|
Kimberley 3 Production lines: Kruiser, Karavan and Kamper in Ballina factory with up to 14 Chassis on floor at any one time.