Tesla Motors has shown a talent for creating enthusiasm with lavish parties, personally written blogs, and an overall sense of imparting to its prospective customers that it is all about them.
Company founder Elon Musk must be flying high, having today seen his separate SpaceX company successfully launch its historical first Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon spacecraft to orbit – and in unrelated news, one month from now on June 22, Tesla Motors is preparing to blast off its first Model S deliveries.
Today, Tesla Communications Manager Shanna Hendriks told us the first 1,200 cars delivered will be top-of-the-range Signature Series 85-kwh models, and in all Tesla counts over 10,000 pre-orders for all variants including 60-kwh and 40-kwh models.
Although Musk’s car and spacecraft operations are separate entities, the latest news according to an Enthusiasts blog post today speaks of a “countdown” to the Model S launch with tidbits about how personalization will be carried all the way to regenerative braking, steering, and suspension.
“I’d like to share a few Model S updates that again underscore how personalized YOUR Model S can be. Model S can be adjusted exactly the way YOU like it,” Blankenship wrote.
On the Model S 17-inch touchscreen, drivers can select from a menu that gives a high degree of personalization.
Regenerative braking – not in itself unique – can be tailored on Model S for greater or less feeling of resistance when the driver’s foot is off the accelerator.
“We listened to your requests and I’m pleased to announce that Model S Regen will be adjustable. You can adjust Regen to suit your driving style,” Blankenship wrote. “Some owners like a little more resistance, some like a little less. Having less Regen means you will likely get less range, but some people still prefer the feel of their car with less Regen.”
Beyond personalized regen, the automaker is offering a choice between “Comfort, Standard and Sport” steering.
The vehicle has speed sensitive, variable-ratio rack and pinion steering with electric assist.
“It’s allowing you to adjust the torque, based on driver preference. For example, the Comfort setting is very little torque. It is controlled through electric power steering.” Hendriks said.
As shown on the center stack touch screen, suspension can be electrically selected from a menu of VERY HIGH, HIGH, STANDARD, LOW, AND JACK – the recommended position for towing.
The Model S uses an Active Air Suspension, with some general details about it from Tesla’s Web site as follows:
Active Air Suspension Everyday advantages combine with on-demand features. Active Air Suspension automatically and continuously responds to speed and road conditions. As Model S accelerates, it lowers the vehicle for optimized aerodynamics and increased range. Raise and lower Model S using the touchscreen to traverse thick snow and enter extremely steep driveways. Much more than just a great ride and handling package.
Stoking the Flames
A phrase we’ve seen a few times already from Tesla’s marketers is “exceeded expectations.” The company says it has exceeded expectations in range and cold weather performance, and in general this seems to be a theme it would like show it has carried through in every way.
The Model S line starting at just below $50,000 to just around $100,000 is not inexpensive however, so what is expected and what really exceeds expectations could be debated, as the company is otherwise raising expectations for itself aiming to create the impression of a pampered experience for its customers.
As Musk is literally doing in his space endeavors, his terrestrially oriented company is likewise metaphorically shooting for the stars in its gambit to launch a new car company that since discontinuing its Roadster, has gone a few months with no current deliverable models, but it will be back at it again in another month.
The LA Times today consulted Morgan Stanley which forecast deliveries of nearly 3,000 Model S cars this year, 16,000 in 2013, and 19,000 in 2014.
This came as news to Hendriks, who said the Palo Alto-based company expects to deliver 5,000 this year, but she said she was unable to divulge forecasts for subsequent years.
In any event, compared to its closest competitor, Fisker Automotive, Tesla appears to be hitting on a better stride as it moves with chutzpah to propel itself into orbit as a bona fide U.S. based automaker, albeit with still a good bit more left to actually prove.