As if it's proof that it pays to be an insider with privileged access, Tesla Motors has begun delivering Founder Series Model S electric sedans. Model S #001 was delivered yesterday to venture capitalist and Tesla board member Steve Jurvetson, according to a video released on YouTube by Jurvetson, as well as a tweet captured by a writer for Business Insider.
The video shows a large ceremony at Tesla's HQ in Palo Alto, with a few hundred people cheering the delivery of the first Tesla Model S. It begins with JB Straubl handing the keys to Jurvetson, who starts to get into the car and drive away, until a speech is demanded from him. After the speech he does get in, and drives away, through a very large crowd of cheering Tesla employees.
During the speech Jurvetson talked about how everyone at Tesla have been waiting for this day, the first deliveries of the Model S, for a very long time. He described the car as "stunningly beautiful, georgously engineered" and that it's the future, that we'll all look back 10-20 years from now and realize this was the future, that all cars were to be electric. Jurvetson himself is looking forward to next year when every car in his personal fleet will be electric cars, made by Tesla, and he will never have to buy gasoline ever again.
How did Jurvetson get #001 rather than Elon Musk? It's a case of johnny-on-the-spot one-upmanship. A report from 2010 described how, in 2009, Jurvetson had been reading some Board of Directors briefing material and fell in love with the Model S concept. At the very first opportunity, in a Board meeting, as soon as the Board set the pricing for the Model S, Jurvetson whipped out a blank check and wrote out a check on the spot to buy a car. Having beat Elon Musk to the draw, he got #001 while Musk's Model S is #002.
The Model S is an all electric car designed from the ground up by Tesla Motors, unlike the earlier Tesla Roadster which was built on a Lotus sports car. Manufacturing is being done at former NUMMI plant which the company bought from Toyota back in 2010.
Being an electric car designed by Tesla, the features of the Model S are way beyond what we today think of as "normal" for electric cars. Instead of a 100 mile range, the Model S has a 320 mile range, according to recent test results released by the company. That range, at a constant 55 miles/hr speed, is by virtue of the extra large 85 kilowatt-hour battery pack capacity. The large battery pack is a large part of why the Model S is priced at nearly $100,000, and is why the company had to position the Model S as a luxury car.
The long-standing Tesla strategy is to explode and destroy the primary myths about electric cars, in order to make electric cars more acceptible to the mainstream. That primary myth, that electric cars can only be slow boring ugly golf carts, but the Model S is a stunningly beautiful, extremely fast and anything but boring. The current renaissance in electric cars is due to the existence of the Tesla Roadster, and just as that car inspired the main automakers to start manufacturing electric cars, the Model S may well inspire an upgrade of the electric cars they are making.
Tesla is slated to begin deliveries on June 22nd, marking the occasion with a big ceremony that will be webcast live through the teslamotors.com website.