Is This the Greatest American-Made Product, Ever?

Who would have guessed a decade ago that perhaps America's greatest product would be a vehicle? Not even a full-size truck or gas-guzzling SUV, which Detroit was known for -- but a passenger car, and an electric vehicle at that!

If you had placed that bet with Vegas 10 years ago, you would be set for a handsome reward thanks to California's futuristic automaker Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA  ) and its Model S, which has the potential to revolutionize the automotive industry. In fact, Tesla's Model S is so far ahead of its time that the company producing it welcomes -- nay, it encourages -- competition for the sole fact that it would speed up America's adoption of electric vehicles.

Here's the scoop and, if you haven't seen a Tesla vehicle on the road yet, why it might be a household name in the coming decade.


Tesla's Model S could revolutionize the automotive industry. Source: Tesla Motors.

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... a supercar?
Quite honestly, fans and critics alike aren't sure how to classify Tesla's groundbreaking Model S. Some call it a luxury car; some call it a sports car; others rightfully call it an electric vehicle -- and in reality, it's a combination of all three.

Tesla's Model S defies stereotypes. If you haven't had the pleasure of riding in a Model S, or seeing one in action, picture a standard electric vehicle -- can you imagine it racing 0 to 60 mph in about 4 seconds? For sake of a comparison, consider that a 2001 Lamborghini Diablo VT 6.0 does 0 to 60 in a similar 4.2 seconds. I'd go out on a limb and guess that most didn't picture that image when thinking of a standard electric vehicle, although that's what the Model S is capable of.

Interior of Tesla's Model S. Source: Tesla Motors.

Tesla has convinced its critics that the young start-up automotive company has built a winner. Consumer Reports claims the car is "off the charts" while giving the Model S a 99 out of 100 score in the magazine's test -- one of the highest scores ever. Motor Trend unanimously voted the Model S as its 2013 Car of the Year. The cherry on top was that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, put the car at the top of the list in every safety subcategory and gave the car a new combined record of 5.4 stars in its overall Vehicle Safety Score, according to Tesla's press release.

Even the interior lives up to what you'd expect from a vehicle trying to revolutionize the automotive industry. The first thing you'll notice is the humongous 17-inch touchscreen with capabilities to perform plenty of vehicle or application tasks. Spend a few minutes researching the Model S and you'll find it lives up to just about any measure you can find.

The next hurdle
While the Model S is far ahead of its time, that might be the biggest challenge. The infrastructure in America isn't ready for the Model S to be purchased by the mass audience and range anxiety surrounding the electric vehicle is a common theme for potential owners. That anxiety is becoming less of an issue these days. In addition to plugging the vehicle in your garage overnight, Tesla is aiming to put a supercharging station, which can charge the vehicle's battery halfway in 20 minutes, on every corner to make electric vehicles as viable as the industry standard internal-combustion engine.


Tesla's supercharger network is set to explode. Source: Tesla Motors.

However, Tesla's story will take time to complete. That's why Tesla is inviting competition from industry juggernauts such as Ford (NYSE: F  ) , General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) , Toyota (NYSE: TM  ) , and anyone else. In fact, Tesla even helps supply some parts to its competitors for their electric vehicles!

Tesla is in the early stages of its entire story and plans to ramp up production of its Model S, priced at roughly $70,000, to set the stage for its much more affordable third-generation electric vehicle -- one that will surely be produced in an America with a larger and more complete electric-vehicle infrastructure. That could be the vehicle that changes the way we view transportation, and that could make Tesla a household name over the next 10 years.

As the Telegraph stated a couple of years ago, "In the future, this new Tesla Model S electric car might just be remembered alongside the Mini or the Ford Model T as an automotive game-changer." Even the folks on Wall Street are convinced about Tesla's potential: Check out what the young company's stock has done over the past five years, specifically the past 12 months, as production of the Model S has ramped up.

TSLA Chart
TSLA data by YCharts

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Read/Post Comments (43) | Recommend This Article (21)

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  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 10:12 AM, Jim5437532 wrote:

    The Tesla model S. have some very good attributes. It's acceleration is phenomenal and it's range is very good for an EV. It doesn't look particularly special, but with it's great acceleration it is a good "sleeper" car. However it is very expensive, way overhyped and has made a few dangerous compromises on safety.

    The most recent Tesla garage fire to hit the news was in Toronto. The car wasn't even plugged in, so the charging system isn't up to be a source. I'm hoping to hear reports from the fire departments investigation, because I don't trust Tesla's "fire investigations", which seem more like coverups.

    There has been at least five Tesla fires. Two Teslas caught on fire after running over road debris. One Tesla caught on fire and exploded after being in an accident in Mexico. There was a Tesla fire in a California garage, that the Tesla charger connection was ruled as a possible source of the fire by the fire department. Recently there was a Tesla garage fire in Toronto, that so far I haven't heard the fire department give a ruling. Arguably there has been scores, possibly hundreds of minor Tesla fires. There has been a plethora of Tesla charge connectors that have overheated, melted and burned. Though many Tesla shills will argue that they are not fire. Categorically and scientifically they are often classified as fire. Rapid oxidation or rapid decomposition is often classified as fire. Like the metaphor; where there is smoke, there is fire.

    A few months ago there was a Tesla related garage fire in California that the fire department ruled that the Tesla charging system was a possible source of the fire. The suspect portion of the Tesla charging system that the fire department in California determined was a possible source of the California garage fire, is also suspected in many other Tesla charger reported cases that Tesla charge connections have overheated, melted and burned. Tesla issued a software "fix", however Tesla charge connectors have continued to overheat, melt and burn despite the so-called "fix".

    The Tesla model S. still has defects that make it a fire hazard. Tesla charger connections are still overheating, melting and burning. Tesla batteries are poorly located and poorly protected. Tesla is Junk.

    On 1/9/2014 Elon Musk said that replacement adapters that are part of the recall would be mailed out within two weeks. A month later Tesla customers have still not received the replacement adapters that are part of the Tesla model S. recall.

    Several people have been injured by faulty Tesla charge connectors. Tesla is big on making promises and hype, but short on delivery. Tesla needs to start making safety a top priority. Tesla needs to stop playing blame games and games with semantics. Tesla needs to stop lying. Tesla needs to be proactive instead of reactive. Tesla is being a follower of technology, rather than a leader. Tesla is a greedy corporation that has a disregard for safety. The Tesla model S. is an E-Pinto.

    Tesla manufactures more excuses than cars.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 10:26 AM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    I have talked to several Tesla owners ( there are several in my local area, small town) and they have all said they love them. Best car they have ever owned. Their words, not mine.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 10:33 AM, countrarian wrote:

    I'm looking for the "Sponsored Content" tag atop this 'article' but I think someone forgot it.

    Come on, almost everyone knows that foolDOTcom is not to be taken as a serious source of investment advice by now, but the amount of hyperbole in this advert would make even P.T. Barnum blush.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 10:56 AM, fangzamillion wrote:

    Comments such as DrDauger's seem as one-sided as the 'article' itself. He owns a Tesla, so they are great and presenting actual facts to the contrary indicates an "ulterior motive". Fires, involving Tesla, as well as in other EV's has been, and continues to be, a serious safety issue.

    As for the "...the Greatest American-Made Product, Ever?" title on this Tesla advertisement, it's simply absurd. I clicked on this expecting a story about bacon or something of that nature.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:23 AM, mperiod wrote:

    For everyone ranting and raving about fires....

    You are aware that there are about 150,000 to 200,000 vehicle fires every year...

    This idea that half a dozen Tesla fires somehow equals some massive epidemic is misguided

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:25 AM, Ustauber wrote:

    @jim5437....

    Are you still licking your wounds..

    Reading all your articles seems that you had lost

    A lot of principal on Tesla shorting strategy .

    It i was you, just keep driving your Toyota Prius

    Oh wait .... You can't because they have RECALLED

    OF THEM.lets say over 2 million cars.

    Why you make a comment about that instead .

    If funny looking at the time of your numerous

    Negative comment about Tesla and the time you wrote them is always following an uptrend of the Tesla shares.

    Sad

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:33 AM, clutch58 wrote:

    You're kidding, right? The jeep, which helped win WW2, medical advances that save millions of lives worldwide, advances in agriculture-and you pick an updated 1913 Baker Electric sedan? Talk about blind hero worship.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 11:36 AM, clutch58 wrote:

    We'll see if Tesla can last as long as the Jeep-the 2014 Wrangler is basically the same as the WW2 jeep, designed by Bantam America, and improved upon by Willys and Ford-almost 75 years.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 1:11 PM, Ustauber wrote:

    ThxTsla

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 1:27 PM, jswap1 wrote:

    You can do a lot with $100k

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 1:53 PM, NavyChum wrote:

    It's an amazing car being built by an amazing AMERICAN company. Unless you're in a camp that's going to get hurt by them (Big Oil, auto dealerships, guys who shorted the stock), how can you not root for them?

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 1:56 PM, kenrmills wrote:

    A product that literally hundreds of people can afford? That is a ridiculous idea.

    Ford F-150? CJ? Mustang? Model T? C-130?

    What about the original refrigerators? Frigidaire?

    The Tesla has had zero impact on the average American.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 1:59 PM, Jayjay wrote:

    This definitely a tesla sponsored or tesla fan written. Tesla is probably the most American company not because of the cars but of the competition. American car companies, such as buick, jeep, ford, gmc and all the other American cars majority are foreign made. So it's not to be the best American car made in America when there is not many.

    Also, tesla is isn't 100% American. They partnered up Toyota and they use lotus chassis for the roadster.

    For 100k, tesla isn't a really good "sports car" tesla more of a luxury electric car. A low 0-60 time dont make it sporty.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 2:22 PM, guysisson wrote:

    The Ford F-150 is the best American product ever made.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 3:10 PM, Jason87467 wrote:

    Just wait till GM and Ford comes out a vehicle competes with the Tesla, it'll be even better. Many people think because came out first with such a car, that the other domestic car companies are not smart enough to build one. That is a joke. Wait till Tesla gets competition and we'll see who makes the best......certainly won't be a startup company.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 3:22 PM, Cpete wrote:

    Really the Tesla. How about Nicolas Tesla's AC current, the light bulb, the airplane,The Space shuttle, SR71 black bird, B2 Stealth Bomber, F117 Stealth fighter, the personal computer. These inventions are so much better than the Tesla car. Very short sighted indeed.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 3:28 PM, btc909 wrote:

    Jim is trying to drive to stock price down to making a buying opportunity for himself & his buddies.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 4:03 PM, shooter9mm wrote:

    I have nothing against the Tesla but it seems all the GREEN folks shouting it's praises have forgotten that though electric, with LIMITED RANGE & charging stations, it has to be constantly charged from the same Electric Grid, coming from the SAME Coal, Oil or Gas electric Generating Plants.

    Now, if it could be SOLAR CHARGED, well, that might make a big difference.

    I'd hate to try a drive down to Dunedin Florida in one of these. To me a HYBRID right now makes a lot more sense if saving fuel is one's goal.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 4:35 PM, FriendOfPluto wrote:

    I vote for the Ridgid 36" Pipe Wrench. I am not qualified to speak about the Tesla as I don't own one and I have never used one.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 5:30 PM, Phrontrowalpine wrote:

    Yes is the answer....

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 6:12 PM, NoiTall wrote:

    based on their capitalization and profits,

    it costs about a million dollars for every car that they then sell for $100,000.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 6:39 PM, brian2md wrote:

    countrarian - why do continue to read the fool? based on history, i guess you just like to post negative comments on tesla stories.

    shooter9mm - it may not be 100%, but the superchargers are mostly powered by solar

    kenrmills - they have sold over 30,000, not the hundreds you suggest. and far more can afford it, they just choose other cars, like mercedes, audi, jaguar, etc. when the cellphone was introduced, was it expensive? did anyone say it was a toy for the rich?

    what i continually fail to understand is why there is so much negativity about a single company? if the stock price was not an issue, would anybody really care? are people that put off by elon musk's personality, or his success? he has a vision, and he is trying to execute it. i guess we have to wait until spacex goes public before we can get uninformed negative opinions about that venture, too. in my worthless opinion, he is doing something for the greater good. i'm with NavyChum. take away all the political bull's hit, how could you not root for this American company? it seems when people lose money, they lose their humanity.

    remember shawshank fools - hope is a good thing, maybe the best thing.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 6:51 PM, brian2md wrote:

    and Jason87467 - you say 'Just wait till GM and Ford comes out a vehicle competes with the Tesla, it'll be even better'

    #1 when will that be? do you have an estimate?

    #2 will you be comparing that theoretical car with the current Model S?

    #3 do you think Tesla will do nothing between now and (answer to #1)?

    By the time GM, Ford, Nissan, Toyota come out with a vehicle that competes with Tesla (similar features, price point, range, etc), Tesla will no longer be a "start-up". They were a start-up back in 2003 when they were founded.

    GM had something with the EV-1. The people who leased them absolutely LOVED them. What did GM do? Collected nearly all of them and destroyed them, even after being offered money to buy them outright. That was 25 years ago (+/-)? All they have done since then is the Volt. If i had a $1, I'd bet on Tesla.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 7:16 PM, skinny123 wrote:

    Affordable? 100k. Reliable? No such thing when it comes to electric cars. What's the warranty? Wait until the battery goes bad or it melts.

    How many dealers are there cause you take it to the mechanic he won't touch it even with high voltage gloves!

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 7:53 PM, karlpopperfan wrote:

    wake me when they make a car for under $30k

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 8:51 PM, mjones3232 wrote:

    I own a Model S P85. Without question the best car I have ever driven and I have owned Mercedes, BMWs, Fords, Chevys, GMC, Hondas and Toyotas. Once you drive a Tesla, you too will come to understand that it is so far ahead of any other car. Some say that the Big 3 automakers will come out with an EV better than a small start-up company from silicon valley. You must honestly ask yourself, When has any of the big three ever produced a quality car? Their products are not good and every american knows it. I agree the model S is too expensive for most people, but just wait for the Model E. Tesla customer service is by far and above better than any other car company. If you have a problem with your car, they send a mechanic to your house and bring you a replacement car. I can't comprehend why so much hate towards a true american car company that is delivering a great product. I assume this comes from those who can't afford a Tesla and feel bad because they are driving around in a lemon from one of the big three. Go drive a model S and see for yourself.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 9:09 PM, McSniperliger wrote:

    I still feel EV are over hyped. It'll be many years before they will have the same number of vehicles compared to gas and diesel. Straight electric...yeah its fine but you can think of it like an oversized R/C car...after a while you need to charge it...several hours for a full charge is not really ideal. Hydrogen internal combustion engines are a much better suit for vehicles. There are a small number of prototypes and they seem promising. Contrary to popular belief Hydrogen does not explode like some people think it does. It can be made to be safe.

    Carbon fiber is also an addition that should be made to all vehicles or carbon nanotube would be better yet. Yes its expensive but doing it in mass will cheapen the process up. Its lighter than aluminum but also much stronger.

    When I first heard of Tesla motors they only had the Lotus Elise Roadster.

    Until electric cars can tow 5,000lbs safely and can go 2,000 miles between charges while sustaining 75mph while hauling a good bit of weight, I won't even start looking at them as a suitable replacement for an ICE powered vehicle.

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 9:10 PM, jferristx wrote:

    Somebody has to be first. We'll probably forget Tesla, but not because they failed. Because they will be Hayes Modems, PK-Zip, dBase, Lotus 1-2-3...being first sets the standard, but it also makes the target. Those other companies created the best (and sometimes first) products. And then everyone passed them. So, the price of the car, or the bogus complaints of fire, or even the price of the cars, isn't the issue. It is that Tesla has started a revolution. The question is, who follows, and what do they create? If you are paying attention, the thing it will create for you is wealth. Isn't that what investing is about?

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 10:13 PM, rotorhead1871 wrote:

    you are kidding.......if it was a fuel cell...maybe....but a battery car ...no frikkin way...lipstick on a pig is all it is....batteries are not primary power sources.....ever...

    you are truly the fool...

  • Report this Comment On February 15, 2014, at 10:41 PM, Albertico wrote:

    Seen them on the road and played around with one at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show. Truly the car is years ahead of it's time and the competition.

    For those that say GM or Ford will build a better EV; I'll believe it when I see it. They are too busy making ICE SUVs

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 1:29 AM, thedawg60 wrote:

    Toyota has played around with Solar power in Japan before the Horrific tragedy struck in the Priuis.But how in world can you compare a $45,000 piece of crap Jeep to a Tesla is ready for a old folks home.In my next life i want a Tesla or when my ship comes in.Tesla does need to do some more fine tuning and tweaking here and there to make that much of sound car.Then it will the new and next car to park in your drive

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 6:47 AM, luckyagain wrote:

    "Is This the Greatest American-Made Product, Ever?"

    It is too early to tell. The Toyota Prius was first produced in 1997. It has taken that long for hybrid cars to become mainstream. I would expect that the same time frame for EV. The fact that it is so expensive compared to an ICE vehicle is not unexpected due to the high engineering costs. The engineering cost of all vehicles are more than the actual construction cost. However much of the engineering is done and now can be applied to lower cost cars. This is the normal way things happen in the automotive industry. So if most or all of the features in the S model can be brought down to lower priced cars, then that will truly be re voluntary and a game changer. Only time will tell.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 7:57 AM, midnighteye wrote:

    The visceral reaction to criticism by some who claim to be Tesla owners suggests that they are followers of the Green Religion and are therefore speaking from a position of faith rather than logic based on empirical evidence. I think the Tesla fad will go the way of the Hula hoop in time when the mass hysteria over the non-existent AGW dissipates as it is showing signs of doing. If it doesn't I won't care anyway, Tesla is just another electric car. Greatest product? Someone's having a laugh!

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 7:58 AM, jasmith909 wrote:

    I live in LA. Lots of Teslas around here. They look pretty nice, and the Performance S model does 0-60 in 3.9 secs. So, there's that. But I just can't call it a sports car. Why not? Because it doesn't look like a sports car, nor does it sound like one. It's more of a Lexus than anything. Say you buy an F-Type or a Stingray. The difference is night and day. One will roar like a beast, and feel glued to the road, like a sports car, and the Tesla won't. It's a luxury car, plain and simple. There are Mercedes out there that accelerate just as fast, or even faster, that you'd never describe as a "sports car". The Tesla Roadster was a different story, but the Model S is definitely not a sports car.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 9:03 AM, ghelmz21 wrote:

    Not to mention they are still catching on fire and there is no way they can triumph over our two greatest attributes, LYING AND B.S. ING!

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 11:54 AM, Monclover wrote:

    The Tesla to me is nothing but a product con-job. The Tesla is nothing but outdated technology that is going nowhere period. Tesla hasn't to date turned a nickel of profit from the sale of it's cars. But all the hype has led to Musk making millions in Tesla stock. The only money that Tesla has made is in selling Carbon Credits to other car companies. Putting a fancy body on stagnant technology is not a product success. At a $70,000. plus price tag, you are not going to see many lining-up to buy this car. Also, waiting 52 hours to recharge one of these cars on household current, is not my idea of advancement in automotive transportation. It also looks like the old saying of "fools and their money are soon parted," applies to the rush to buy Tesla stock.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 12:01 PM, ivelbow wrote:

    Tesla is too expensive because the batteries are too expensive AND they are building out a (free) charging network. The batteries will come down in price but I think of the chargers as a prepaid "gas" card. So the price is fair -- if you drive a lot.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 2:59 PM, vet212 wrote:

    If the short ranged highly flammable and self igniting Tesla is our best product our nation is in far greater trouble than I had imagined

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 6:49 PM, mjones3232 wrote:

    better to thought of as a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt...sage advice for those of you making comments without knowing the facts. Hate Tesla all you want, but if you could afford one, you would buy one, I guarantee it!

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 6:53 PM, mjones3232 wrote:

    as to the model S not being a sports car...It seems to be beating every so called sports car it goes against, including the Aston Martin Rapide. check it on youtube if you don't believe me. besides it is a sedan and can seat 7, not two people with little room for even your legs.

  • Report this Comment On February 16, 2014, at 9:52 PM, PS75425 wrote:

    disappointed ... seems like I was reading a brochure for TESLA... since we are here ... why don't we all bow down (and say it together shall we) ... "ALL HAIL TESLA the GREATEST CAR EVER MADE" ... what a bunch of stupid nonsense!

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 4:24 AM, jeffhre wrote:

    It's funny people who often witness history don't take note of it at the time. People who were part of historic events often say something like. Yeah I was there, didn't think much of it at the time. I missed the whole thing 'cus I just wanted to eat my peanut butter sandwich without being bothered.

    Or yeah, I was there when that guy was there, he was no different than anybody else. Or, yeah I was there, "what a bunch of stupid nonsense."

  • Report this Comment On February 17, 2014, at 12:06 PM, ffbj wrote:

    Well when a car the receives the highest rating ever given by NHSTA, for safety, the highest rating ever give by Consumer Reports, Car of the Year from numerous well established and well regarded publications. It seems that those that disregard the vehicle are really living in some sort of well constructed fantasy world. Where they and only they really know what's going on.

    I personally have no credentials to offer an opinion on whether this is the greatest car every made.Howsoever I am adamant to accept the views of those that go completely counter to numerous professional accredited reviewers who say that it is.

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