Category Archives: Model 3

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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Model 3 won’t look like other cars

Model 3 TeslaMondo

Elon Musk’s question/answer session on Reddit dwelled mostly on SpaceX projects, but those projects are beyond the scope of this blog. And mankind. For hungry Tesla fans, the session offered but a single corn kernel: Musk said Model 3 won’t look like other cars.

This seems to bolster TeslaMondo’s prediction that Tesla will:

1. Grow bolder and bolder with each model.
2. Have a ton of self-confidence when it’s time to pen Model 3 — enough to really push the envelope.
3. Surprise us, and have fun doing so.
4. Continue to make the price of gas irrelevant by offering much more than an ROI math equation.
5. One day produce a Model Q, named after the gadget guru from the Bond films.

Meanwhile, Toyota has released its fuel cell patents in an effort to make the auto world go Full Fool Cell and forget about crusty, dusty ol’ Tesla. Perhaps one day a company will create an exciting fuel cell vehicle. Until then, the post-ICE world will be terrorized by Tesla’s mute decapitators. They won’t look look like other cars, and with any luck, NOTHING LIKE THE TOYOTA I-SORE.

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Even Stanley is wrong on this one

Stanley who? Morgan Stanley. The company’s press-friendly and generally Tesla-friendly analyst, Adam Jonas, seems to think gas prices will:

1. Stay recessed for years
2. Hurt desirability of the Model 3

Never mind the first one. It doesn’t matter, because he’s dead wrong on the second one. We’re not talking Nissan or Toyota here. Tesla sells excitement, not mathematical formulae. Excitement doesn’t chart well, but it’s exactly what makes Tesla immune to ROI concerns. It ensures the company’s success in any segment it chooses to attack. Yes, saving money on gas is a nice bonus — a cherry on the cake — but the cherry can shrink by 25 percent without ruining the cake, assuming the cake is really good in the first place. So how good are Tesla’s cakes?

Roadster: Simple, potent, proved EVs are exciting. Mission accomplished. Cleared the way for . . .

Model S: Proved EVs have mainstream appeal and are demonstrably better than gas cars. Also, showed the world that Tesla continually improves its products. Compare the new P85D to the original Model S, launched just two and a half years ago. The new recipe is far better, true? Better seats, better onboard tech, better acceleration, better traction, better warranty.

Model X: Sold out for a year. Sight unseen. Price unknown. A home run out of the stadium and into the center field parking lot. Undoubtedly will see similar improvements during its lifespan, so the 2018 version will obliterate the first version. Model X street presence will transform Tesla from a potentially great brand to brandus magnus.

Which brings us to . . .

Model 3: Never mind the Model 3 we’re imagining. Never mind the Photoshopped renderings showing a stubbier Model S. Even the Model S won’t look like the Model S much longer. Tesla will have more self-confidence when it’s time to pen the Model 3 and will likely push the styling envelope. Also, the company surely will discover some other James Bond trickery to throw in, tantamount to the powered door handles in the S and falcon wings in the X. Musk is a real-life Q, you know. By the time the Model 3 is built, Tesla’s excitement factor will have people wanting a Model 3 whether they’ll save $2,234/year in gas money or $229/year in gas money. Considering it a mere BMW/Audi/Benz/Lexus challenger, with a gas waiver thrown in, is naive. Consumers will have a choice between:

1. A Tesla, by this point representing the exciting new automotive status quo.
2. The other guys, representing the unexciting status quo ante.

The price of crude oil can go screw itself. Tesla is immune now and will stay immune through Model 3, unless Elon starts a new habit of leaving the office early, going home, knocking back a few, grabbing the clicker and konking out on the couch.

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India, going green, is potential gold

Electric rickshaw TeslaMondo

Born to be negligibly wild!

Tesla’s pornographically-named car is likely headed for India, says CIO Jay Vijayan. Both China and India are fixer-uppers for sure, India arguably worse, but they’re both potential home runs for Tesla. Here’s a TeslaMondo comparison:

China: Big automotive market, plenty of wealthy customers, smoggy air, emerging government policies on cleaning it, and a willingness to prop EVs with specific rule-making.
India: Big automotive market, plenty of wealthy customers, smoggy air, lots of government “green” rhetoric that so far hasn’t grown teeth, and a problematic 100 percent import duty.

Tesla plans to chat with Indian officials about that duty. An Indian assembly plant might be the ticket. “We have identified India is one of the potential markets in Asia to have a local assembly plant, but we need a definite policy from the government to support electric vehicles in the future,” Vijayan told the Economic Times.

Both nations lack EV infrastructure, but India arguably lacks ANY infrastructure. TeslaMondo has already written about India’s extreme challenge in civil engineering — specifically, finding civil engineers in the first place. India’s young and educated aren’t keen on gritty careers in roads, bridges, electrical delivery etc. Understandably, they’re keen on a clean work environment and good pay. That means computer-based careers, and likely outside of India.

The worst electrical blackout in world history? Two years ago. India.

But India does have fledgling environmentalism. It comes from the lower classes and trickles upwards — generally the opposite of American environmentalism, where it’s vogue to be “green.” It’s not vogue in India. It’s a matter of survival. The Indian agricultural sector is fighting to keep industry off its turf. Long story short: India is slowly coming around.

Another intriguing tidbit in India: Locally-based Mahindra and Mahindra makes electric vehicles, and has also expressed interest in studying Tesla’s patents. Perhaps Mahindra and Tesla will team up to build a duty-free Model 3. It even rhymes, at least in English.

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