Tesla to delay Model S launch Down Under

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Tesla has pushed back the Australian launch of its Model S sedan. Until recently, the company was planning to launch its large, all-electric sedan-with-a-tailgate in Australia in Q3 this year.

Model S, Tesla's first step towards mass market product, is now more likely to arrive here in December or early 2014. The delays reverberate down the lineup to the Model X (pictured), Tesla’s first SUV, which is based on the Model S platform. With Model X deliveries not set to start in the US until 2014, the earliest Australia would see it is 2015.

Company spokespeople attribute the delay to demand in left-hand drive markets, particularly in the US.

“Left-hand drive markets get first deliveries globally, with right-hand drive to follow,” Asia Pacific spokeswoman Atsuko Doi told motoring.com.au. “We started our business in the United States, and that’s where the early reservation holders are, mainly. So we are working on delivering there first.”

Supply will be stretched further when deliveries begin in Europe mid-year, with the order book expected to swell after the Geneva motor show in March.

With the two-seat Roadster discontinued and the Model S delayed, the company has put its Australian retail and marketing presence into hibernation, the Asia Pacific office in Tokyo absorbing whatever duties it has left for the time being. Company insiders say this doesn’t amount to closure but a temporary reshaping of priorities, set to change again with the eventual ramping up of the Asia Pacific market.

The news comes as Tesla executives talked up the Model S and its Supercharger fast-charge technology to Australian media at the Detroit motor show. While much is made of quick top-ups from futuristic solar-powered charge stations on major highways between Sydney and Melbourne and other capital cities, comment from line management closer to the ground suggests no action on it at the moment.

“We’re definitely looking into it,” said Kevin Yu, Asia Pacific retail development manager. “At this point, though, we don’t have concrete plans to share.”

Executives at the LA drive program told motoring.com.au a local Supercharger network will eventuate. With Australia more vulnerable to range issues than most countries, and the technology critical to differentiating Tesla from other EV makers, the company sees it as essential to its success Down Under, they say.

Tesla has made it known it intends to launch the base Model S in Australia at a price exempting it from the federal luxury car tax. At current rates, that means it will start somewhere below $77K. But that’s the 40kWh base model, which one Tesla exec running a recent drive program in Los Angeles described to motoring.com.au as “really only a city commuter”.

Variants with 60kWh and 85kWh power packs, better suited to Australian highway distances, will cost considerably more. But figures mooted by insiders suggest sharp pricing nevertheless. One informed observer has suggested to us that starting with the company’s profit formula and adding local compliance costs, taxes and servicing costs, it’s not unrealistic to suggest the top-shelf 85kWh Performance version would reach local showrooms for $140-$160,000 – competitive numbers for a car the company is pitching on performance parity against BMW’s M5 (from $229,500) and Benz’s E63 AMG (from $240,985).

 

Image and article as found on www.carsales.com.au