Feel the Heat: Tesla Roadshow hits Miami during Art Basel

After departing the frozen tundra of New York City, the Tesla Roadshow migrated south to Miami, Fla. We have more than 60 customers in Florida, including many people who had purchased a Roadster sight unseen, and it was high time they became intimately familiar with the car and Powertrain 1.5.

We timed our Dec. 4-7 trip to coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach, one of the world’s most prestigious art shows. We strategically displayed three Roadsters throughout Miami’s swanky Design District – and at $109,000 each, the Roadsters were probably the least expensive items on exhibit! The neighborhood became a fantastic showcase for experimental design: pedestrians mingled amongst outdoor sculptures, sifted through air-conditioned galleries, and lingered at late-night invite-only parties with collectors and curators from all over the world.

We’re happy to say the Roadster’s gorgeous design held it’s own among the vast array of creative expression, including such heavyweights as the melting chair, the grass-walled maze, and mobile equine pornography. (I’ll refrain from describing it and let the reader’s imagination run wild.)

Because the Miami event is modeled after the original Art Basel, on the banks of the Rhine River near the border of Switzerland, France and Germany, the crowd was even more diverse than Miami’s usual multicultural array. In fact, we connected many prospective European customers to members of our growing sales team on the continent. (We will begin delivering Roadsters to EU customers in May.)

Following Art Basel, we invited customers and their guests to drive Roadsters on a closed course in the parking lot of the Gulfstream Park Race Track in Hallandale Beach. After hosting Roadshows in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York earlier this fall, we’ve learned what customers want: an even, relatively clean surface of blacktop, with a coned-off straightaway for 0-60 mph acceleration, as well as a tight chicane of four turns to return to the starting line. The race track parking lot proved to be an ideal course.

Each driver took five laps around the course, testing the responsiveness of the Roadster’s instant torque and regenerative braking, as well as the quick weight transfer through the performance-tuned suspension in the chicane. Someone must have circulated a memo about the “Tesla grin”: although we never mentioned the phenomenon in our initial instructions, 100 percent of drivers exited the vehicle with ear-to-ear smiles.

Customers were eager to see how the Roadster would perform in a typical “Florida car wash” -- otherwise known as a rainstorm. Many drivers spent time not only behind the wheel but above the roof, installing and removing the soft top to see how quickly they could take cover. After only one or two attempts, most customers could put it on or take it off within 30 seconds. Soft top installation skills are all-important in Miami where tropical downpours are a bit more commonplace than in arid California.

After two days and nearly 100 customers and their guests in the Roadsters, we loaded Radiant Red VP21 and Arctic White VP24 on a truck for transport to Atlanta, Ga., where the next Roadshow was slated to begin Dec. 12. Atlanta is the last Roadshow of the year, but we’re planning 2009 trips to Chicago, Washington DC, Las Vegas, Arizona and Dallas – anywhere we have a concentration of customers. We also hope to make a splash at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month, starting with the media preview beginning Jan. 11.

We hope to see many of you along the way!


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