Why sell to geeks only?

Why sell to geeks only?

This might be a controversial strategy discussion but let me ask the question still.

I feel Tesla doesn't have the right strategy to sell cars today to people who are not rich technology geeks. And I sit in the glass house, having a P85 delivered December... Still let me throw a few stones:

- I see videos on long distance travel with supercharger networks (that will take years to roll out)
- I see videos on swapping batteries in 90 seconds (with a robot handling tonnes of weight and screws that will take years to roll out)
- Etc.

The fact of the matter: Every day use is <50 km for 95%+ There are statistics on this that are even more aggressive. But let's assume the above. Why, if you want to sell today to people that can afford a 100k€+ car but are no geeks and want it to just work, not post videos on charging a MS in 8 hours after 200km of driving over night in your garage on a regular 230V/16A 3,7kW outlet without even having to ever drive to a gas station. Your car is 100% charged every morning. If you really have to drive somewhere else, be realistic and if you don't think it is realistic to charge in between or at the destination, get a rental ICE, if you can pay 100k€ for a car that won't be an issue.

I would focus more on e.g. moving politicians in Germany (where I live) to make sure that the public network that has been built with charging stations (by the tax payer and local utilities, not Tesla) actually is not misused for free additional parking by ICE cars. That operators of public parking need to have reserved recharging stations (please not proprietary Tesla superchargers but standardized). That there are defined offerings to get your garage upgraded to 3phase/400V/32A without having to become an electrical engineer at a predictable price (non geek customers, remember?) and being ripped of by your local "expert".

If I would want a public company like Tesla to thrive, I would focus on explaining people why today you can buy with no worries such a car and support that you can, not actually send the message that there are a lot of "geeky" things the future (maybe even the near future) will bring but, at the same time, for non-geeks that you rather should wait for those to materialize in a few years.

I think Tesla, except for the pricing limiting the target customer base, has managed to make the electrical car as your only day to day car a reality. Today, not after implementation of superchargers, battery exchangers, etc. Why not leverage that in the go to market and open the customer base from rich geeks with early adoption readiness and a love for bleeding edge technology, to just people who can afford a 5 meter/2.2 ton/5-7 seat large trunk and frunk comfortable nice looking luxury limousine with crazy performance (which is the much larger customer base)?

Any thoughts on that?



jkirkebo | 28 juin 2013

You can't recharge 200km range in 8 hours on a 16A Schuko socket, it will take approx. twice that time.

RZippel | 28 juin 2013

That depends on what kWh number you used for 200km. But you are right, 3,7kW should give you about 30kWh in 8 hours and that will not be 200km in real live. So make it 100km. Still well outside typical day trip length. If you need 400km a day this car is not for you I would say, but that only excludes a very limited number of people from the client base.

May I ask if you have done that before, so did you see the kW charging rate for 230V/16A in "the wild"? "My" Tesla Store had not tried that they claim, they get 7kW out of a 400V/32A which is consistent with my math for a US market early demo MS with only one phase supported, that one phase will be 230V/32A and this is theoretically a little more than 7kW.

Thanks in advance,


bent | 28 juin 2013

On the Roadster I get roughly 15km (maybe slightly less) of range per hour of charging with 230V/16A (actually only draws 13A). I get roughly 40km of range per hour with 230V/32A (actually only draws 30A).

dlewis | 28 juin 2013

They must have something right I am as far from a rich technology geek as you can get but there is a Model S in my driveway. That was the original group that would show interest in something like this, but I think the market is naturally expanding itself as the car gets out there more and more.

ian | 28 juin 2013

It's going to take a while for it to sink in for most people that they can wake up with a full "tank" every morning. The ethos of filing up at gas stations is just so deeply ingrained in our psyche. That and, like you said, most people don't drive as much as they think they do. They also don't take as many long trips as they think they do.

For us in America though, when we do take a road trip just look at the distances we have to travel! Yes, Europe is pretty big but not nearly as expansive as the U.S.

Anyway, I think more and more people will come to realize the benefits of having a full battery every morning and they will also start to think about and track how far they actually drive on a day to day basis. Once this happens, they will start flocking to Tesla in droves. Hopefully by then Tesla will be ready to make more S, X and Gen III's!


tes-s | 28 juin 2013

Range is the objection they are trying to overcome.

My 2001 prius was a nice toy - 3rd car.
My 2008 prius was reasonable on the highway - a real car.

To be "the car" and not an "extra" or "toy" it needs to be versatile and handle most needs. Few people want to buy a car, then rent a car when they want to go a long distance.

I'm a geek - and I guess rich enough. My newly-ordered Tesla will be an addition to our fleet. 4th car with 4 drivers.

alanwwebb | 29 juin 2013

Most families in the USA have more than one car. Have a Tesla (or a Leaf, or RAV4-EV, or MB-EV, or BMW i3) for daily use, and an ICE for a second car that will make cross-country trips.

Certainly "4th car with 4 drivers" has that problem solved. ;)

tes-s | 29 juin 2013

Families account for maybe half the auto market? So if they limit to families, they lose half the market. In our family there is usually once or twice a year where we go different directions - long distance - for one reason or another.

I would not buy an electric car with less than 100 mile range - cool hobby, but not practical if something unexpected comes up and you want to change your plans, but have to worry about range.

I still think range, cost, and "something you want to drive" are the biggest challenges. Tesla has done a nice job on 2 out of 3.

negarholger | 30 juin 2013

Robert - hang out at a service center and you will suprised who drives the cars... geeks are far in between. I'm not a geek and I am not rich. If you have any sense for money then you will know key to control is the cash flow, any ICE is a constant drain on your cash flow, an electrical car is much more cash flow friendly.

Brian H | 30 juin 2013

"few and far between"? Appreciation for efficiency and tech elegance are fairly strongly represented, I think. Elon is a kind of hyper-geek, in that sense.

alanwwebb | 30 juin 2013

"Families account for maybe half the auto market?"

And electric cars maybe 2%.

Plenty of market headroom in 48% -- and who said only families?

If you wouldn't buy one, you are not in the target market.

Still leaves millions of customers.