A Glimpse of the Future at a Celebration of the Past
I know, I know. There are at least a dozen good topics from all your responses for this week’s blog. But I can’t help it – we had such a great time at the Concours d’Elegance at Pebble Beach this weekend that I have to tell you about it.
We were originally invited to participate in the McCall Motorsports Customer Appreciation Night at the Monterey Airport on Wednesday. But at the last minute a large Japanese luxury automaker, who happened to be a sponsor of the event, had a hissy fit about our being there. So we were disinvited. How can they be scared of little Tesla Motors? Oh well. We made the best of the day giving rides to press and prospective customers.
We woke up early Thursday for the Tour d’Elegance – a 50-mile tour through Monterey, including a lunch stop on the main drag of Carmel. What a great time! I am always blown away by the cool cars at the Concours. Too many amazing cars to pick favorites, but I must say that some of the older Ferraris look great.
And I saw a fine Delahaye Cruella deVille special. The Tesla Roadsters (the black and red cars) were among the very few new cars in the Tour. Both were driven by auto magazine writers, and we switched writer/drivers along the way. Check out the first hand reports in the San Jose Mercury News and MSN (click on Tesla Electric Roadster).
We were positioned right behind a pair of 2007 Spyker Spyders, and right in front of a 1913 Waverly Electric. Perfect. The Waverly was among the first generation of electric cars, hand-crafted coachwork looking hopefully forward into the future, gliding silently down the road. The Spyker is another gorgeous piece of craftsmanship, celebrating the gas guzzling past with chrome-plated detail and ear-splitting exhaust.
Mac, our VP of Vehicle Integration, is new to the USA, and unfamiliar with the Concours d’Elegance. He was pretty skeptical about the idea of taking our precious engineering prototypes out of the hands of our engineers for a dubious marketing event. He had a whole new attitude by the time he pulled into position on Carmel’s Ocean Avenue at the lunch break of the Tour. He was so mobbed by an enthusiastic crowd that he could not get enough clearance to open the door for at least 15 minutes. What a reception!
Friday, Saturday and Sunday were Concours days. I am told that there were many cool cars to be seen. But I had to take their word for it because Tesla’s display area on the golf course was so packed with enthusiastic fans that we never got a moment to see the rest of the tour. Many – maybe even most – of the people who came to see us already knew about Tesla Motors.
Quite a few of our Signature One Hundred customers stopped by to say hi. Press from around the world were there. We got a thorough looking over by Italian, American, Japanese, and German car manufacturers, including lots and lots of pictures taken. (Our Italian fans came by every day in packs, with video cameras!) Several small EV competitors paid us the compliment of a visit. Quite a few celebrities stopped by. (I am kind of clueless about recognizing celebs – I depend on my staff to recognize them :-). I guess there is a reason to read People Magazine.)
At least 22 people said that they came to Pebble Beach specifically to see the Tesla Roadster – some from as far away as North Carolina. One 16-year old from Marin convinced his dad to drive him down to the event to see us – this kid knew everything about Tesla and the Roadster. Charging was no problem at all for us. We plugged in at Pebble Beach where they charge their golf carts. Nice, juicy 50-amp, 240-volt standard outlets. Our Mobile Charge Kit was just the ticket.
We kind of felt sorry for the large Japanese luxury car maker across the path from us. They seemed as lonely as the Maytag repairman – they spent the days watching people walk right by their display and into ours. I thought they were finally going to get a bit of attention when a video crew from some news channel finally walked into their display area. All the sales people jumped to attention, only to watch the cameraman turn around and start filming the Tesla cars…
My wife and I were walking by a large German manufacturer’s display booth after hours Saturday night. The folks there recognized our Tesla shirts and kidnapped us. They hauled us into their closed booth, poured us glasses of fine champagne, and toasted Tesla as “the future of cars.” Wow. I had the feeling that quite a few of them would love to join Tesla.
Lots of excitement – there are other news and blog sites that covered the event so I won’t bore you with all the details. We had a great time, sold quite a few reservations for post-Signature 100 cars, and thoroughly enjoyed meeting so many enthusiasts.
At the end of the day, the engineers mutinied: they drove the cars home instead of trailering them as I had required. (You have to understand – these cars are critical to getting production cars on the road. An accident on the way home would totally mess us up!) But needless to say, they made it the 120 miles home (bumper-to-bumper traffic, freeway speeds, and lots of hills) with no problem and lots of juice left in the batteries. The rumors of the EV’s demise have been greatly exaggerated.