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At Tesla’s Party, Superchargers and Delivery Dates
The Tesla Motors party in Manhattan on Monday night was loud and crowded with company supporters and would-be owners. The reason for the gathering was initially left mysterious, but a loud partisan cheer went up in the room when it was announced that the Model S sedan had been chosen as Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year. Earlier in the month, Automobile magazine named the car its Automobile of the Year.
There was other news to be had around the edges of the Tesla gathering. The company has already unveiled its California network of 480-volt “Superchargers,” but Christina Ra, a company spokeswoman, said Tesla would soon announce a similar Boston-to-Washington corridor, with the first station to be opened in Milford, Conn., “in the coming weeks.” In a meeting with editors of The New York Times on Tuesday, Tesla’s founder and chief executive, Elon Musk, and George Blankenship, the vice president for worldwide sales and ownership experience, said another station was planned for Wilmington, Del.
In a news conference at the Monday evening event, Mr. Musk said of the Supercharger networks, “We expect all of the United States to be covered by the end of next year.” He also promised “three hours of driving for half an hour of charging,” and said that Tesla owners’ use of the network would be free “not for a little while, but forever.”
It is unclear just how many Model S cars have been delivered to customers. In its third-quarter shareholder letter this month, Tesla said it had delivered “over 250 Model S sedans.” Asked to clarify at the event, Mr. Musk said, “Substantially more than 250.”
Tesla has said it is now producing 200 cars a week, or about 10,000 a year, but it wants to double that figure quickly. At the event, Franz von Holzhausen, the company’s chief designer, said, “I’m not worried about our short-term goals — we’re focusing on quality — but getting to 20,000 cars a year is a bigger challenge.” Tesla has taken more than 13,000 reservations for the Model S, and Mr. von Holzhausen said that the company was experiencing “its best quarter for orders.”
Jeremy Snyder, general manager for Tesla in the Southwestern region, said he thought the company’s production had “crossed the Rubicon,” with deployment “on a really good track.”
Although reservation holders have been assigned waiting list numbers, Ms. Ra said their cars have not always been produced in sequence, because it makes sense to manufacture them in batches with similar option packages. She said the sequence would be followed more closely in the future “because it’s so important to our early customers.”
One of those early customers who attended the event Monday night was Tim Waire, who works in technology at Quest Diagnostics. Mr. Waire is waiting for a red Signature Performance version of the car with the larger 85-kilowatt-hour battery, and is No. 737 in line. He plans to commute weekly in the car between Baltimore and northern New Jersey, a distance of 200 miles each way. Mr. Waire’s Tesla was originally promised for delivery in September, but he appears to be patient. “It doesn’t surprise me as an early adopter that the date slipped a little bit,” he said.
Mr. Snyder said Mr. Waire would get his car “any day now.” Mr. Musk said it “literally should be on its way to him.”
By JIM MOTAVALLI
NOVEMBER 13, 2012 6:51 PM November 13, 2012 6:51 pm
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