Believe it or not, I was one of the first European technology journalists to write about the Tesla Model S and I could have been one of the first owners in the UK too!
The car above was featured in the November 2009 UK edition of Wired magazine (see above) as I was doing a round up of 'must have' things to buy, and despite the fact that the car wasn't due to go into production until 2011 at the earliest (it ended up being mid-2012), the Editor, David Rowan not only embraced the idea but went all out and gave it a double page spread.
I kind of fell in love with the car from a styling perspective and what it represented, so decided I should probably buy one. Despite never seeing one in the flesh, let alone test driving one (nobody outside of Tesla had at this point) I decided to reach out to the Tesla PR team to see what sort of deal I could wangle.
Turns out. Not much of a deal. The target price was just shy of £50K which was still reasonable, seeing as I was at one point going to order an Aston Martin Vantage. They asked for a 10% refundable deposit, which at £4,900 is a chunk of cash to be sitting on for nearly three years.
But then Tesla UK dropped a bombshell...The first cars coming to the UK would not only be arriving in 2013 (eventually 2014) but would be fully loaded 'Signature' Edition cars with EVERY option which would make the car close to £80K and if I wanted one of those...surprise, surprise, the deposit would be £8K...
This was WAY too rich for me. So I adopted a wait-and-see approach...and went and did a complete 360 on the eco-friendly Tesla and bought myself a Range Rover instead!
In a way I'm kind of glad I didn't become an early adopter. When I finally got to sit down in an early LHD demonstrator, I was unimpressed with the interior. The quality of the hide was low and the seats were unsupportive. And don't even get me started on the 'wood' veneer that only Americans can do on their vehicles. That said I have friends that have bought both phase I and phase II Model S and they are very happy with their vehicles.
I went on to drive a late build RHD car recently and I was suitably impressed with the acceleration (despite being 'only' a P80), the seats had slightly better lateral support and who doesn't love THAT 17" touchscreen. But I just don't need the space anymore. And the car I would want would still cost in excess of 56K with the big (not-so-eco-friendly) alloy wheels! For that sort of money I could buy something from Stuttgart that was sportier and arguably more fun. So two strikes for the Tesla - too expensive and too big for my needs. Maybe electric wasn't for me...
The road ahead is probably electric in 2018
BUT when rumours of a Model 3 launch around the corner started firing off around the net, my interest in EVs was recharged. In a bizarre reversal of processes I found myself queuing at my local Tesla dealership and put a £1,000 deposit down on Model 3, before I had even seen the livestream, which was to be shown that evening. The car wasn't as pretty as I expected but certainly no ugly duckling, either. Besides the design wasn't 100% locked down at that point. It was the right size for me and even my immediate future. So roll on 2017 (let's be honest it's mid-2018) before I get my hands on my Model 3...I'm not going to chicken out this time.