For consumers who follow Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA ) closely, most of them could easily come up with a reasonable case for going electric -- or at least a reasonable case for buying a Tesla Model S. But, for the average consumer, there are still many looming questions. Over the next few years, however, this is probably going to change as Tesla paves the way for mass-market adoption of electric cars.
Here are 10 reasons, thanks to Tesla's enormous progress over the past year, that driving an electric car may soon be not just feasible, but smart.
1. Say goodbye to range anxiety. Sure, the typical electric car gets very little range and needs help from a gas tank to drive a reasonable distance. But that's changing. Tesla's Model S already gets 265 miles of range on one charge.
2. Whether you like it or not, the infrastructure is coming. By the end of 2015, 98% of the U.S. population will be within Tesla's driving range to a Tesla Supercharger station. And this isn't just a U.S. phenomenon. In a September press release, Tesla laid out the details of its plans for its Europe expansion:
By the end of 2014, 100 percent of the population of Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg will live within 320 km of a Supercharger station, with about 90 percent of the population in England, Wales, and Sweden living within the same distance of a charging station.
Norway, in fact, is already covered.
3. Charging is faster than you may think. When most consumers think of electric charging stations, they aren't thinking of Tesla's Supercharger stations, which are still a new phenomenon. These beastly stations provide Tesla owners a charge that is, on average, 20 times faster than most public charging stations.
Of course, you could just charge overnight while you're sleeping.
4. No time to charge? Just swap it out. Tesla is piloting battery swapping at a few of its Supercharging stations in California this year.
How does battery swapping work? Model S owners can swap out their batteries for a fully charged one in less than half the time it takes to fill a gas tank. Don't even bother getting out of your car -- you won't need to. Tesla says it will cost about $50 to swap a battery, less than the cost of filling up a gas tank for many vehicles.
5. Affordable fully electric cars are just around the corner. Sure, the Model S is way out of the average consumer's price range, starting at about $70,000 before any tax credits. But Tesla CEO Elon Musk has promised to bring a more affordable fully electric vehicle to market in three to four years. He says the car will be priced at about $35,000 and have approximately 200 miles of range.
6. They perform. Telsa's Model S has won a number of impressive accolades, along them Motor Trend's Car of the Year and 99 out of 100 possible points from Consumer Reports -- just to name a few.
7. They're incredibly safe. Tesla's Model S is the safest vehicle ever, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If it wasn't fully electric, it would have been more difficult for the car to set a record safety rating; Telsa-specific features, such as the large crumple zone in the front where the Model S has a trunk instead of an engine, or its low center of gravity thanks to the battery back built under the floor of the car, aided the Model S in achieving the record score.
8. They're fast. Telsa's AC induction motors with a single gear box have instant and maximum torque from a stand-still, pulling you into your seat when you press the pedal to the floor. Even when compared to other luxury cars and sports cars, the Model S is downright fast.
9. Juice is cheaper than gas (and in some cases it's free). The cost benefit of electric charging over gas is not just marginal; it's mind-blowing. On average, it costs about $12 to fully charge a Model S from home in the United States. Of course, it varies by location, depending on your cost of electricity per kilowatt hour.
When you're on the go, however, Tesla's Superchargers allow Model S owners who have opted to pay $2,000-$2,500 to equip their vehicles for Supercharging to charge for free for a lifetime (Supercharging comes standard on any Model S with an 85 kWh battery).
10. Another 20 billion reasons. I'm not the only one who believes an electric car (a Tesla in particular) may be your next car. Hedge funds, investors, and the Street have shown their unwavering faith in Tesla to the tune of $20 billion. The company's stock price has soared more than 500% in the past year, giving the company a market capitalization at nearly one-third of Ford's. The market has already priced in mass-market adoption of hundreds of thousands of Tesla's affordable car.
Will Tesla live up to all the hype? It's very possible. So far, the company has exceeded all expectations and continues to sell every car it makes. If Tesla's short history is any indication of its future, there may be hundreds of thousands of Teslas on the road in as little as five years.
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