This year’s automobile expo in Detroit, Michigan was bathed in its customary glitz as car manufacturers around the world gathered to showcase the best of their new-fangled and their fantastic, their jaw-dropping and their completely impractical. Especially sparkling this year was the electric and hybrid vehicle niche. Despite the recent downturn in oil prices, the electric vehicle market continues to enjoy the attentions of manufacturers both large and small. While some companies may be suspected of dabbling in electric and other alternative fuels as a means to placate government imposed fleet-wide emission standards, most such forays appear passionately legitimate – particularly concerning those working in the battery-powered sphere.
Boutique auto-maker Tesla Motors continues to reign supreme in the high-end electric vehicle market.
Few could doubt Tesla’s commitment to the electric vehicle market. From aesthetics to engineering, Tesla knows how to make batteries sexy. Their top production vehicle, the Model S P85D shown below, is not only as sleek as it is lovely, it can embrace you against its bucket seat as it accelerates from 0-60 in just over three seconds on battery power alone. But that embrace is costly. The base Model S P85D starts in the high 90’s, and that’s with incentives.
Fortunately, Tesla knows the rest of us need love, too, if they ever want to grow beyond a boutique brand limited to a few privileged early adopters. In fact, their desire to establish a presence in the mainstream may have contributed to last year’s release of their technological patents into the public domain. A bold move, indeed. Yet, it is in their best interest to encourage a vibrant, competitive market, because that will lead to industry innovation as a whole, as well as the growth of the infrastructure required to support their products.
Charging stations, like those available here at Steiner, will be as commonplace as gasoline pumps. Did you know you can charge your EV at our Rockford, Elk Grove and St. Charles locations?
Releasing their patents into the public domain isn’t the only way Tesla hopes to disseminate their brand throughout Middle America. One of their contributions to 2015’s Detroit Auto Show was more hints regarding the latest iteration of the Tesla Model 3, due in 2017, with an expected retail price of $35k. Along with its relatively affordable price tag comes an all-electric sedan that will probably seat five and get up to 200 miles per charge.
But will Tesla lag behind competitors at this price point?
Among a fleet of noteworthy at the Detroit show this year was Chevy’s freshly debuted prototype model called the Bolt (not to be confused with the Volt, which is Chevy’s gas-electric hybrid). Like the Model 3, the Bolt is also expected to reach consumers in 2017, and it also boasts a strictly battery powered engine that can travel up to 200 miles on a single charge. It will seat four, and it certainly won’t have the sensual aesthetics of Tesla’s designing, but the Bolt’s most impressive feature is its price tag: a respectable $30k.
While it is clear that internal combustion engines will be with us for a long time to come, many will soon be able to fill up their car for the week’s commute by simply plugging into the solar array adorning the roof of your home or workplace. Not only will such sustainable transportation make our wallets a bit heavier, it just might help our children and grandchildren breathe easier as well.