My husband sort of wondered why I was so thrilled when Tesla announced the Model S 70 last year, since we already had a S 85 and certainly were not in the market for a second Tesla. “Because it increases the size of the circle of people who can afford a Tesla!” A status-driven owner may shudder at the thought, but a true enthusiast knows this is a good thing. In fact, a buddy recently asked me if I was pissed that after spending so much on a car, there’s a new, cheaper version coming out. Uh, no! Quite the opposite. Aside from the fact that the Model 3 will make it financially feasible for my own household to be able to go all Tesla, it will make it financially feasible for hundreds of thousands more households to add their first Tesla. And this is a good thing.
One of the fears we had when making the big decision to order a Model S in 2014, aside from the price tag, was that this company would fold, and getting our car serviced would be difficult. With every new success Tesla registers, that fear becomes a more distant memory. Another fear was that the Supercharger network would either cease to exist or, at least, cease to expand if the company didn’t do so well. Again, poof! One look at the map and that fear is gone.
So why is the Model X 60D a big deal to me? The circle gets bigger. Actually, another circle gets bigger. Plenty of folks, especially here in the US, swear they “need” an SUV. My own mother is one of them. (All of 5’1″, driving a rather large 2001 Trailblazer.) When the Model X came out and provided that option, it was still out of the realm of possibility for all but those with the very largest vehicle budgets. Just like the newly released Model S 60, adding the Model X 60D brings the starting price point down and thus brings it closer to being within reach.
I’ve tried to sell my insurance agent on getting a Tesla. He has several kids and drives the largest Nissan SUV. He drives a ton of miles and spends well more between gas and his payment than we do for electricity and our Model S payment. Well more. I even sent him an email when the Model S 60 came back, because fitted with the optional rear facing seats, it could meet his needs. The problem, I suspect, is that he “needs” an SUV. (Read in most cases: likes to sit up high.) Surely there are plenty of people out there like him, who either dismiss the idea of spending six figures for a car, or who dismiss that a sedan could possible suit their needs. Now what’s the argument? A true cost of ownership comparison between an Model X 60D and Nissan Armada would be pretty eye-opening I bet. If anyone has time, work it out and add it to the comments.
The above is the obvious part. Making the car more attainable is good for us all. A more successful car company means growth, more Superchargers, and hopefully plenty more service centers.
What’s not so obvious is how proud I am of Tesla for doing their best to make the car affordable. They could easily stick to leaving the Model S and Model X as their premium line, without adding more affordable configurations, but they aren’t. They could easily get away with having the Model 3 start at $35,000 and go all the way up to $70,00, then making every Model S and X start at $80,000. They can do this and say “tough cookies” because demand is still pretty great from what I can see. They could do a lot of things that they don’t, like cower when the media picks on them or admit fault when there is none. But Tesla is a special company is so many more ways than I can write. (Wait But Why does an excellent job of this.) I can, however, boil it down to one conclusion:
This is what happens when a company is driven by its mission and not the other way around.