It’s been about two weeks since Tesla’s Model S won Automobile Magazine’s Automobile of the Year, and the EV sedan added another trophy–Motor Trend’s Car of the Year title –to its case, which also includes Yahoo Autos’ Car of the Year. Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is happy to see the awards rack up and hear the accolades, but is reportedly celebrating with the promise of more Tesla models.
That isn’t to say that Musk isn’t spending a minute or two just celebrating. “When I heard that the Model S had won Motor Trend‘s Car of the Year, I did a double-overhead high-five with George Blankenship [head of Tesla's retail efforts],” the CEO told Motor Trend Editor-in-Chief Ed Loh. “It’s going to be a huge shot in the arm to the whole Tesla team.”
But there aren’t many laurels for Musk to rest on: Tesla is still struggling a bit, amidst the financial hardship of starting a car company, creating a network of charging stations, and now fighting legal battles over its retail network. Keep in mind that Tesla has only built 1000 Model S bodies (which likely includes development models) at its Fremont, California plant through the end of last month. Tesla is hoping to ramp up production to 20,000 units a year by next year.
If Tesla is successful, there are still a few roadblocks between here and President Obama’s stated goal of having one million EVs, plug-in hybrids, and EREVs on the road by 2015, namely the charging infrastructure and initial cost of buying an electric car. Musk hopes to have both of those bases covered, too, and predicts that Obama’s reelection will help keep the pressure on from the government to promote greener, more electrified cars.
First up: the Supercharger network, a national grid of solar-powered electric car chargers along major thoroughfares that hopes to make interstate (or cross-country) driving possible with the Model S. Musk and Tesla recently opened a handful of Supercharger stations but hope to have all major intercity routes (like Boston to New York/Philadelphia/Washington D.C.) covered by 2014.
As for the products, Musk hopes to introduce new products to expand Tesla’s reach while the technology’s costs naturally come down. “I think we’ve got some really good products coming down the pipeline,” he said. “We’ve got the Model X, which is really trying to apply some major innovation to the SUV and Minivan segment, and we’ve got our third-generation car, which is a mass-market electric car–that’s actually the one that I’m most keen to bring to the market.” Lest you think that Teslas are only going to be passenger-focused vehicles like SUVs and sedans, Musk did slip a little fun into his conversation with Motor Trend. “We have this idea for an electric truck that could really be a big improvement in truck technology…[and] we’d like to do an electric supercar.”
With that said, the truck and supercar’s future (and the saleability of the Model X) do depend on the ability of the Model S to make money. So if you’re hoping for a California-built, all-electric truck in your future driveway, keep your fingers crossed.
Sources: Reuters, Motor Trend
By Ben Timmins