Tesla VP says Model S is a performance ride, not luxury

Article by Anita Panait, on August 1, 2013

Diarmuid O'Connell, Tesla's vice president of business development, has clarified that the Model S is a performance ride, although the vehicle comes with a luxury price and specification. Speaking during a conference call hosted by the Electrification Coalition, O'Connell said the Model S was designed to be a great car in general, not just a great electric vehicle.

The Tesla Model S carries a starting price of $94,000, excluding electric vehicle tax credits, and comes with a high-end trim. It is capable of accelerating from zero to 60 mph in just 4.2 seconds -- a performance unlike the average EV. Although Tesla is not labelling the Model S as a luxury model, the unit is recently creating more demand than popular premium vehicles.

According to a new report by the Electrification Coalition, Tesla sold around about 4,500 units of Model S in the first quarter of 2013 in the United States. On the other hand, Audi sold 1,462 A8s, BMW sold 2,338 units of the 7 series, and Mercedes-Benz delivered 3,077 S-class models in the US in the period.

Tesla also grabbed 8.4 percent of the US luxury market after selling over 10,000 units in the first half of 2013, the report estimated. Tesla, which reports only its quarterly US sales results, wouldn't confirm the coalition's estimate since it has yet to disclose its figures in the second quarter of 2013.

O'Connell remarked during the call that the electrified element of the Model S – a 265-mile range on its performance trim with an 85 kWh battery -- was supposed to be a bonus. He said that "people are buying great cars which they want to perform for them," so they define these units as performance. He quipped that Tesla want to offer the highest performance electric vehicles, adding that the Model S is “a conscious effort to achieve that."

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