Tesla brings love to an unloved segment

First sedan on Earth

See? Even the very first sedan drivers were miserable.

The word “sedan” is a variant of “seat,” and it traces back to that hand-carried thing in the picture. It had some pretty humble specs.

  • HP — almost
  • Torque — grounds for termination
  • Powerplant — dual motor
  • Turing circle — four-wheel steering, so pretty good
  • Acceleration — yes
  • Drag coefficient — moot due to velocity deficit
  • Suspension — height-adjustable, independent, lateral arms
  • Fuel type — pasta e fagioli and vino mixture
  • Road-holding, lateral Gs — performance rubber a must
  • Exhaust — dual

Skipping ahead a bit, the sedan evolved into a mainstay of automotive transportation. But now Ford says there’s an unmistakable change in the “silhouette” of the typical car, and so it’s ditching sedans entirely in the next few years. Fiat-Chrysler scrapped its Dart and 200 a few years back. It was a bold call.

Here’s a “then and now” of parking lots. Draw your own conclusions about whether the silhouette is really changing:

 

Then

 

 

 

Now

 

 

Actually, never mind your conclusions. It’s obvious that non-sedans are taking over. And remaining sedans are getting taller under peer pressure.

What does this have to do with Tesla? This is the wrong time for the debutante Model 3 to don its evening gown and make its appearance atop the ballroom staircase. It has a trunk? Ewwww! It should be pelted with tomatoes. And yet it’s hailed as the iPhone of cars. People wait in line to see it. It’s devouring market share from premium brands and unwashed brands alike. Frugal people who planned to hang onto their decade-old Civics for another decade are suddenly throwing in the towel and spending much more than they ever thought they’d spend on a car — just to have this sedan.

What does this mean? Three things:

  1. Tesla has built a very strong brand. Strong enough to violate trends.
  2. Lots of people can get by just fine with a sedan, regardless of their flimsy rationale to drive anything but a sedan. “Gotta haul people and cargo, and gotta handle all kinds of terrain.” Bullshit. When gas prices spike, suddenly a Corolla suits them just fine. Their adventurous lifestyle fits in a duffel bag. A really compelling sedan is having the same sobering effect, forcing people to re-think what they really need.
  3. Model Y won’t have to overcome a trend. A headwind will become a tailwind. TeslaMondo thinks Model Y will eventually become a serious rival to Toyota’s Recreational Activity Vehicle with Four Wheel Drive and Honda’s Compact Recreational Vehicle, also known as Comfortable Runabout Vehicle, even with Model Y’s higher price tag and profit margin.
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3 thoughts on “Tesla brings love to an unloved segment

  1. Anon says:

    Great to have you back again, helping balance the universe against the likes of CNBC, Bloomberg, Exxon, and Bob Lutz.

    Like

  2. Lars Hansen says:

    Welcome back, bookmark back in place.

    Like

  3. super390 says:

    A quote from my near-future science fiction novel:

    “That means a broad, quiet lane with no sidewalks dividing huge unfenced front lawns, houses that reach for the horizon, roofs almost flat, garages all two rocket-finned ’59 Cadillacs wide. Confident people build longer, lower, wider everything, not forts and tanks and border walls. This place must be older than anyone I know.”

    Like

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