The company that makes the quickest stoplight dragster in the world plans to divorce car from driver, step by step, as automotive transport slowly becomes more automated. Let’s enjoy these last few years of “dumb” cars before they grow up and get married and move out of the house.
But back to the here and now. Today’s revelations remind everyone that when you buy a Tesla, you buy membership in an exclusive ecosystem defined by Kaizen on crack — not just continuous improvement, but speedy and relentless improvement. That feeling of membership is more important than the 0-60 time and inevitable YouTube vids pitting the P90D against Ferraris, Hellcats etc.
This company does not rest. In fact, in the latest blog post, Musk says Tesla expects a roughly five percent improvement in battery capacity every year going forward. Compare that pace with the Prius. The new Prius, due early next year, will boast roughly five percent better fuel economy than the current one — which debuted in 2004. Continuous improvement, yes, but slow. Speaking of slow: fuel cell vehicles, a.k.a. Rube Goldberg Transport, will not improve at Tesla’s pace, at least not until these early FCV efforts rack up a lot of real-world experience, and that will require proliferation of fuel cell infrastructure, blah blah. But FCVs do have the advantage of fast recharging — albeit not at home. Tesla’s kaizen needs to focus on recharging time right now. It needs to shorten. Erase that one weakness and you’ve left no possible reason for zero-emission devotees to look beyond battery EVs. The Rube Goldberg Transport program will have no chance.
Model X will deliver two months from now. No delay this time, apparently. If the X proves as potent as predicted today — which means VERY — what other SUV could come close to stepping up, at any price? Porsche? AMG? BMW? Audi? No, no, no and no. All will succumb to Tesla in any performance test. And none will have Model X novelty factor. In the $100k stratum, that’s a big factor. Why spend six figures for something that won’t get a second glance on the street, adheres to old-school design and power delivery, and will never improve during your ownership?
If Tesla delivers on all fronts, the Model X will enter the super-hot premium SUV segment with:
1. The best third-row access of any SUV.
2. The grooviest second-row seat.
3. Some yet-unknown Q-factors.
4. The best all wheel drive system.
5. The most potent performance.
6. The best conversation piece in the neighborhood, even Land Roverish neighborhoods.
7. The best “fuel economy.”
8. Probably the best crash ratings.
9. Probably the best resale value.
10. Unique OTA upgradability, making the purchase less of an ending and more of a beginning.
11. The cleanest buying process.
It seems Musk was right when he suggested the X is a better SUV than the S is a sedan. Now, just imagine if the Model III continues the pattern and becomes a better $35k sedan/crossover than the Model X is an SUV. In other words, leapfrogs its segment rivals — and there are many — by an even bigger margin. TSLA $500 here we come.