When Elon Musk first announced his entry into the automotive space, many people shrugged. Why would the tech billionaire want to get involved with a car company?
Founded in July 2003 by engineers Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, the venture, named as a tribute to famed inventor and electrical engineer Nikola Tesla, was started with seed money from Musk. In fact, up to 98% of the initial funding came from Musk who then served as Chairman of the Board with Eberhard serving as CEO. One year later, Musk joined the company along with two other investors who retroactively named themselves company founders and Musk took over the role of CEO.
Musk told the media at that time that he viewed the company as not just an automaker, but as a technology company, and though the initial focus would be on the auto line, they are also pioneering in the realm of solar power and energy storage.
Those initial shrugs eventually turned to focused interest as the first vehicles rolled off the production line and, eventually, the company was producing the extremely popular SUV the Model X making five different models. Musk’s initial goal was to “offer electric cars at prices affordable to the average consumer.” This hasn’t entirely worked out but, whatever the price, the cars seem to have hit a nerve – whether due to their Eco-friendly details or to the hipness of driving one – and the company has just celebrated their millionth sale.
While it’s likely you’ve seen a Tesla or two driving around Prague, they only recently began deliveries directly to the Czech Republic, so if you’ve seen one here, it was likely imported… a process made easier by the fact that the cars do not have to pass any sort of emissions controls. But now you can buy one right here in Prague. As of now, there are only four of the models available (Model S, Model 3, Model X, and the recently announced CyberTruck which received a whole lot of buzz when it was announced, complete with Musk claiming the windows were unbreakable and then throwing a rock at the window which… broke it).
Here in the Czech Republic, these vehicles are far from what would be considered a car for the “average consumer,” with prices running in the arena of 1,224,700 Czech Crowns for the entry-level model (the Model 3 Standard Range Plus). The long range model will run you 1,426,200 Crowns and give you a distance of 560km or a 5 hour trip to Budapest with some charge to spare. For the Model X SUV you’re looking at nearly 2.5 million Crowns for the base Long Rage model and over 2.9 million Crowns for the Performance model. That’s a bit more than 36,000 Crowns a month if you finance it.
So, would your 1.3 million crowns buy you? For the base model, you’re getting around 409km per (full) charge or 322 miles – just for reference, Prague to Vienna is 337km.
The Tesla’s have leading industry safety ratings, ample cargo space, and some ridiculous options such as the well-publicized Tesla Autopilot which, despite the safety rating, has lead to some accidents by drivers who seem top think they can literally just… read a book or… take a nap (spoiler alert: you can’t).
So what is the Autopilot feature? It’s an advanced driver assistance system that is classified as a Level 2 automated system which means that it’s meant for use only by a fully attentive driver with their hands on the wheel. The system uses eight external cameras, radar, and 12 ultrasonic sensors providing an additional layer of safety if used properly.
Regarding charging – likely a concern in a country where the cars have only recently been introduced – you needn’t worry… as long as you have a house to plug into as Tesla will install a charging port for you.
The majority of owners drive during the day and replenish the balance of remaining charge at night, waking to a full battery in the morning. Model S, Model X and Model 3 provide ample range for daily travel.
Tesla also designed and built some 10,000 Supercharging stations worldwide. These stations allow you to top up in minutes, not hours and can be found at places like roadside diners, cafes, wi-fi hotspots, hotels, restaurants, resorts, and shopping centres. The standard charging stations, known as the Destination Charging Program will, however, require up to several hours if you want a full charge.
So. If you have some money laying around, you might want to consider ending your fuel consumption forever and going all-electric with some serious class and style. If this sounds good to you, head over to https://www.tesla.com and take a look around.