Tesla Model 3 and Apple
I was one of the many thousands of people who plonked down a deposit for the Tesla Model 3 last week. Based on the last count, the number of deposits taken must now easily exceed 300,000. (Update: the same day I posted this, Tesla announced over 325,000 reservations in the first week — awesome!)
Bearing in mind that over 100,000 of these deposits were placed even before the Model 3 was launched, sight unseen, this was a phenomenal launch.
It’s the first time I can remember that a car launch has had lines of people queuing outside stores worldwide. Not just 2 or 3 people, but up to 300, if not more in some countries.
This interest and enthusiasm for Tesla in many ways parallels the same response to Apple and its products, but why is this so?
As a fully qualified Apple enthusiast, here’s my take…
High Tech Products
The Tesla Model 3 follows the success of the Tesla Roadster, Model S and Model X. All three cars are acknowledged as leaders in their class, with stunning good looks and stellar performance. I can’t remember how many times I’ve read that driving one is like driving in the future. The Tesla brand just screams high tech.
I’ve never been a petrol head (perhaps that phrase needs re-writing for the modern era), I’ve never really been into cars that much at all, in the same way I was never into really into mobile phones. That all changed when I first saw the iPhone and realised the potential of the iPhone. The original iPhone was based on groundbreaking technology for its time, and I get the same vibes from the products Tesla has introduced over the past few years.
Besides, just the concept of an electric car is appealing to a gadget freak like myself, after all, it’s really just a honking big computer on wheels.
Tesla has a fervent group of supporters and fans. It’s often said that once you have driven or owned a Tesla you never go back. The same can be said for Mac or iPhone users.
There is no denying that the all the Teslas are beautiful looking cars (to my eyes at least). The gorgeous built in touch screen display appeals to all Apple users — who hasn’t wanted an iPad sized screen built into their current Car’s dashboard. Heck, I’d love an actual iPad built into mine.
Attention to Detail
Much like Apple, Tesla seem to sweat the details. Like the door handles that are flush to the car until you approach and then pop out. There are even USB ports in all three rows of seats in the Model X. And those Falcon Wing doors on the Model X — stories abound on how tricky they were to design and engineer, so much so that they delayed the launch of the Model X considerably. But they persevered and finally managed to deliver not only a good looking feature but a technical marvel. The Falcon Wing doors have two hinges and are intelligent enough to change their opening trajectory to avoid close parked objects. Apple’s attention to detail is legendary.
Tesla have shaken up the traditional distribution model by opening up their own network of stores and selling directly to customers. Whilst not directly comparable to Apple Stores, I did get a similar vibe when visiting my first Tesla store to leave my deposit.
One other network worth mentioning is the Supercharger network — a worldwide grid of fast chargers for Tesla cars. Currently any Tesla car can just drive up to a Supercharger and get charged for free! Free fuel!
There’s no confirmation that the Model 3 will be eligible for free fuel, but they will be Supercharger compatible at least.
Electric Cars are the future and Tesla are leading the way.
I remember when the iPhone was first introduced. How quickly we forget just how ground breaking the technology was — a flat piece of glass that could transform it’s UI into anything — buttons, sliders, images, keyboards. Super smooth scrolling. They had me at “Slide to Unlock”.
Tesla seem to be leading the field as far as innovation is concerned. Extra long capacity to remove range anxiety, AutoPilot for semiautonomous driving, even spooky robot gizmos that plug into your car automatically to charge.
Not forgetting the app, you can control and monitor your Car with the Tesla app. Unlock it, check on range and charge status, control the climate control and even know where your Car is via GPS.
With a future software update, you will even be able to summon your Car to come and get you, even if it’s in another city.
OK, city to city might be a few years off, but you can also control and monitor your Tesla with an Apple Watch app.
Then there’s the whole concept of delivering increased functionality via software updates.
I don’t think this is a huge factor but the comparison has to be made. Tesla have Elon Musk whilst Apple had Steve Jobs. Again, I don’t think it’s a major factor but the comparison is there to be made. Elon Musk is a visionary and has been at the forefront of three major innovations — digital payments (PayPal), private space travel (SpaceX) and electric Cars (Tesla).
And don’t forget his side project — Hyperloop — although he’s not actively involved on a day to day basis.
Plus the expanding battery business — Elon is a busy guy.
Can they deliver?
So it’s really no surprise that Apple aficionados are drawn to Tesla at this stage of the game.
There are still lots of questions surrounding the Model 3 as the initial launch was just to introduce the Model 3. There is a second event planned when the Model 3 nears its production date, that will give more detail and also answer some unanswered questions on the specification and finer details of the new Model 3.
However, there are still two major issues surrounding the success of the Model 3.
Can Tesla make enough Model 3’s to meet the demand in a timely fashion?
This will have a significant impact on customer satisfaction. Tesla have a reputation for missing production targets and being unable to meet target dates for releases. However, the Model 3 has been designed with mass production in mind, and they are hoping to ramp up to producing 500,000 cars per annum.
That’s a huge increase over the current production rate.
What implications will there be when Apple announces the Apple Car?
It’s fairly well established that Apple is developing an electric car (just google Project Titan), but not much is known about it:
- What it will look like?
- What will it cost?
- When will it be announced?
- When will it be available ?
But let’s assume for now that the Apple Car is comparable to the Model 3, at least as far as cost is concerned. I’ll also assume that Apple, even though they would be a newcomer to this space, design an electric car that is stunning.
Bearing in mind the Model 3 is scheduled to be delivered starting at the end of 2017, it’s probably fair to say that the ramp up will be gradual, with most of the pre-orders being delivered 2018, even possibly 2019 for non-US customers.
So it could be two to three years before the Model 3 is available.
What happens if an Apple Car is announced in the intervening period?
The Tesla pre-orders are based on a refundable deposit and it’s highly likely that a large number of pre-orders might be cancelled in favour of the Apple Car.
With the beautiful Apple Campus being made ready for opening in 2017, and the stunning Apple Campus Theatre being available for presentations the same year, Apple must be wanting to make a splash with a historic announcement in the brand new Apple Campus venue.
I don’t think a new MacBook or iPhone would cut it as an inaugural event.
To pre-announce the new Apple Car in 2017 would be quite something.
Originally published at My Own Reality.