The domination of prestige electric cars looks like becoming a reality, at least in California, with Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S already outselling a host of luxury competitors in the first half of 2013.
A report by the Californian New Car Dealers Association (CNDC) reveals the all-electric Tesla notched up 4714 sales over the first half of the year, topping premium non-electric badges including Porsche (4586), Jaguar (1254), Land Rover (4022) and Lincoln (2230).
In percentage terms, Tesla sales grew by over 3000 per cent in California (the largest state for auto sales in the US) since last year, when the company managed to sell just 14 cars.
The Tesla Model S has already achieved must-have status in California’s famed Silicon Valley, where they can be found, among other places, in Apple and Google company car parks.
Tesla is now aiming to have the same impact in Europe.
Initial deliveries began in July and the company has already opened its first European production facility in Tilburg, The Netherlands, where it will assemble the Model S for the Belgian, French, German and Dutch markets.
The Dutch-based operation will factor into a larger European push by the California-based electric car company that will see at least 15 Tesla retail stores and service centres open across Europe this year.
Only last week, Tesla Motors announced its Model S, which starts at around US$69,000 ($75,300), had earned the maximum five-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Sales are not the only thing skyrocketing for Tesla. Tesla Motors’ stock has risen nearly 500 per cent over the past year and gained $16 billion in market capitalisation.
By any measure, the Tesla Model S is an extraordinary car.
A fully electric five-door hatchback, the Tesla is capable of carrying five adults and their luggage in luxury.
The car is offered with two battery packs: a base model with a 60kWh battery capable of delivering an effective range of 335km (claimed) and an 85kWh battery said to deliver 480km.
Tesla’s performance claims are equally impressive.
The smaller battery pack produces up to 225kW and 430Nm of torque for a 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.1 seconds, while the more powerful battery develops 310kW and 600Nm – good enough to reach triple figures in 4.2 seconds.
Every millimetre of the Model S body is designed to reduce drag, and the door handles are no exception. When not in use they retract into the body, streamlining airflow.
When the driver approaches the car, the handles simply slide out.
Inside, it’s more science fiction than straightforward design, the piéce de résistance being a massive 17-inch high-resolution touchscreen (similar in size to two iPads), which integrates media, navigation, communications, cabin controls and vehicle data.
There’s also an equally large digital instrument cluster behind the steering wheel that presents a myriad of details from speed to battery power and more.
Australian deliveries commence in the second quarter of 2014, roughly six months before the company expects to start selling the all-new Tesla Model X SUV in the US.