Tesla delivered the first Model S sedans 8 years ago this week, and today, we look back at how it impacted the auto industry during that time.
In June 2012, Tesla began production of the Model S and delivered the first Signature Model S vehicles to customers.
On June 22, Tesla held an event at his Fremont factory.
It was a big problem for Tesla as it was his first vehicle designed and built from scratch and the first vehicle produced at his recently acquired Fremont factory.
Steve Jurvetson, one of Tesla’s first investors and board member, received the first Model S, as he was the first to make a reservation years before.
Here it is at the delivery event with Tesla CTO and co-founder JB Straubel:
While the Model S was not officially Tesla’s first vehicle, it was also in many ways.
The Roadster was launched in 2008, but it was built on a Lotus platform used to build gasoline vehicles, and Tesla hacked it into an electric sports car.
It served as proof of concept that electric vehicles are not just golf carts and can have segment leading performance.
But the Model S was the first Tesla vehicle built from scratch.
It was built to be the best possible vehicle that turns out to be electric. It has no commitment to fossil fuel powered vehicles in the same segment and that was the true innovation of the Model S.
It was not the first electric vehicle built from scratch to be electric on the market.
Nissan had the Leaf in 2012, but a commitment had to be made to drive a Leaf.
Back then, it had a limited range of less than 100 miles on a single charge, and while debatable, I’d say the design was a big compromise, too.
On the other hand, the Model S had a range of over 250 miles in 2012.
It wasn’t cheap, but it was competitive with other premium sedans on the market in terms of cost and crushing them in terms of performance.
With the Model S, Tesla demonstrated that not only can you build an electric vehicle uncompromisingly from the ground, but if you want to build the best vehicle in a segment, you must do so electric.
After a few years, the Model S became the best-selling premium sedan in many markets, and still is in some markets.
As the first all-electric vehicle to become the best-selling vehicle in its segment, it prompted the entire industry to review its electric vehicle plans a second time and take the transition to electric powertrain more seriously.
It helped launch the entire EV revolution and 8 years later, the Model S program continues to lead the way, most recently by becoming the first EV with more than 400 miles of range.
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I still have one of the few S model vehicles built in 2012: an S P85 Signature model.
To this day, this 8-year-old car is even better than many new vehicles built today. That is amazing.
Time is moving slowly in the auto industry, but Tesla is doing it faster.
Due to its lack of commitment, I would say that the Model S was the first modern viable all-electric vehicle.
I won’t argue if it was the most important electric vehicle to launch the revolution, as it could be argued that without the Roadster there would be no Model S etc., but I think the Model S is worth reflecting on 8 years later.
What you think? Let us know in the comment section below.
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