Let’s be honest: I’m a geek and a huge car nut. That means I can program any SatNav with ease and it makes me one of the few people that actually liked the original BMW iDrive. So you’d think a car offering J.A.R.V.I.S. levels of tech, and performance equal to any supercar, would be my dream machine.
Surprisingly, this particular car never really showed up on my radar. Sure, I was aware of the company and its South African owner, Elon Musk, but was I hanging on every development? Or following all of the Twitter feeds? No. Why is that? And what’s changed?
The company is, of course, Tesla, the Silicon Valley start-up from 2003 that’s slowly bringing us a glimpse of what the future of motoring may hold. And you know what? Despite the lack of internal combustion, it’s not half bad. The newest model, and arguably the most exciting, is the “amped” up Tesla Model S — P85D.
This four-door saloon with all-wheel drive and room for five is capable of Lamborghini levels of performance — 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds, brake horsepower of 691 and more than 300 mpg (although undoubtedly not while testing that acceleration).
Around corners the majority of the weight is in the car’s battery packs located under the floor, which lowers the center of gravity and provides some truly remarkable handling – especially when you consider that it’s got 2.2-tonnes to move around.
These figures alone should be enough to make this car an instant hit; not to mention it could help save the planet, cut running costs and, with some of that fancy onboard tech, drive and park itself.
So if they’re that good, why aren’t they everywhere? Why haven’t we seen an advert on television? Simply put, Tesla doesn’t advertise – not in the conventional sense, anyway. They have no media budget and, despite what the single fake advert on YouTube may seem to show, have never run any ads.
As far as Mr. Musk is concerned, the car and its technology, design and performance IS the advert. Letting the car speak for itself, the showroom and online experience are the various ways the company establishes recognition with its consumers. This is a car company and a business for a new generation – a generation that lives online.
Tesla’s online presence is itself a lesson in simplicity, providing the vital statistics and EV Incentives in a clutter-free format. It also includes the now ubiquitous car configurator, a chance to spec your car and create a bond with a virtual version of your dream machine — the Internet equivalent of letting you hold the keys before purchase.
In this, has Elon Musk hit upon a winning formula? Allowing his products to market themselves? In truth, I don’t think so. He may be starting to gain traction now, but how much quicker could that have been achieved through a marketing campaign?
Perhaps we’re missing the point. Elon Musk clearly isn’t in it for the money. He is someone who genuinely wants to make a difference to the way we live our lives and treat this planet. That commitment was clearly shown in 2014 when Elon said, “Tesla will no longer seek to initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use the technology.”
Elon and Tesla are in it for us, the human race. Surely there’s no better advert.