• Jan 17th 2009 at 8:12PM
  • 47
Click above for high-res image gallery of Jason's Tesla Roadster

Along with the news that Tesla Motors is offering an array of new high-margin optional extras for the Roadster comes news that the company is looking at other means of increasing revenues. All of this comes with an eye toward reaching a cash flow positive position by the middle of 2009 as promised by CEO Elon Musk. Unfortunately, it appears that some of that profit is coming on the backs of early adopters. When you put down a deposit on a car two years before it hits the streets, it shouldn't come as surprise that the specs would change somewhat before it arrives. But when the actual build time comes close, customers have to lock in the options they want on the car such as colors, interior finish, etc. about three months ahead to give the company time to line up special parts.

It turns out that customers who already locked in orders recently have been unlocked and asked to reselect options. Some of the previously selected options are now higher priced and other previously standard features are now extra cost options. Among those are the wheels that we've seen on every Roadster up until now. They have been replaced by a new, presumably less expensive design with the original design now fetching an extra $3,000. Audio system upgrades are now also more expensive. Perhaps most annoying is that the cable that allows the car to be plugged into the high power home charger for a three-hour charge has become a pricey add-on. Until now, these have been included in the cars. Drivers who want three-hour charges going forward will have to fork over an extra $3,000 to get this hefty extension cord.

  • No. 2 - Tesla Roadsters are in production, albeit in small numbers still, and the company is still with us (for now at least). We've driven it and it's a wonderful sports car - even disregarding the powertrain. Factor in that electric drive and it's amazing. Unfortunately, recent financial issues have threatened the company's future. The investors seem committed to making Tesla survival so far.

Photos copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips, Sam Abuelsamid, Sebastian Blanco / Weblogs, Inc.

Tom Saxton, Tesla Motors Club]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      I am number 395. I am not a rich person dabbling in a plaything. I thought I was actually doing some good by supporting a company that was moving us to a more sustainable future. I put $50,000 of my own money down on this car in May of 2007. I withstood the delays. I held in there when it almost seemed the company was going bankrupt. Now, after locking in my options, they pull this on me. Elon Musk does not understand the power of evangelicals to the cause. Steve Jobs does. The same power that can bring people to the cause can turn the same power in a 180 degree turn against the cause. From this day forward, that's what I'm going to do. Elon should know that the people who have bought this car are not stupid. We know that the rolling stock has seen a price depreciation in the English pound from $2.04 to $1.44. He's making more money than he ever thought he would. This is a blatant slap-in-the-face-and-see-if-it-sticks move. I hope that enough people cancel their order so that the whole company goes bankrupt. Movements based on ideology hold companies to a higher plane than companies that do things just to make a profit.
      I'd love to have the car, I can't have it now. I don't like the feeling of being screwed.
      Ron Elliott
        • 6 Years Ago
        Hello Ron.
        Well said. I don't know how technically minded you are, but have you
        considered doing an EV conversion? Stick your Tesla cash in an Elise
        and convert it yourself. You know, a bit of old fashioned american
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm in the high 200's, Ron as I put my $50K down just after New Year's 2007! Could not identify with you & agree with you more. Hope you had a chance to meet Martin Eberhard? He was the heart of Tesla. When they cut him out, they ripped out Tesla's heart. You know what happens from there! -ian
        • 6 Years Ago
        There's a company named UNA. They've got some exciting stuff coming in the next year. You might find their ideology interesting as well.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I have sent and email to Elon Musk. Here's what I said:
        If you had actually explained to locked-in owners the reason why you needed to raise prices was to be profitable so that you could get funding from the government for the Model S, I’m very sure that everyone would have understood and supported you.

        Instead, you sent out a deceptive email about new options that made locked-in owners confused about it being a price increase or not. You’ve created a lot of anger. Personally, my anger at first was about the price increase. But now, it has morphed into the way you have done this. Mr. Musk, you are showing a lack of integrity in the way you have done this price increase. Unfortunately, you are the CEO of Tesla and have now shown to your employees that it’s o.k. not to have integrity, as long as the end justifies means.

        You are also showing a lack of respect for your customers. We are not stupid. We would understand why you had to do this if you had actually given us enough credit for having the intelligence to do so. You need to send a second email that apologizes for the email you sent. Own up to the fact that locked-in owners will get a price increase and give the reason for the price increase. People have not given $50,000 as a deposit for 2 years because they need an electric sports car. They have done it because they believe in the dream of advancing us all to an electric future for the automobile. The dream, and the people who have bought into it, are taking a blind leap of faith in Tesla Motors. Faith is the operative word. You are destroying the faith by not acting with integrity. We are your fanatics. We will bring the masses you need to make the Model S successful. Don’t disrespect us and underestimate our intelligence.

        You need to put your very large ego aside for a moment and write that second email. If you don’t, you will have a P.R. disaster much larger than any you have had in the past.

        Ron Elliott
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why not cancel then? Why support a company that is going to stab believers like you in the back?
      • 6 Years Ago
      It would make me angry too. Take a clue, Tesla: this is NOT the way to impress your customers!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. Tesla, what a way to pi** of your customers before the car has left the stable door! Continue this, and watch your customers move into EV Porsches and BMWs (which can't be that far off)
      • 6 Years Ago
      Does any of this really matter? why does Tesla qualify as green anything?

      How many cars have they made? less than 1/3 the number of ABG tesla articles, I'll bet. Really, how many could they make - there is no real volume automotive expertise collected there - a VC-backed hobby shop - can never be relevant to petroleum displacement. Why does ABG waste the time on the tesla soap opera?

      Are they green transportation or really just expensive electric toys, like an cool RC helicopter?

        • 6 Years Ago
        "Does any of this really matter? why does Tesla qualify as green anything?"

        I'm not a fan ot Tesla, honestly, but even I can admit they've done well for the industry as a whole. Tesla has accelerated EV interest beyond anything anyone has seen before. We, as a whole, would have gotten there eventually, but still, I give credit where credit is due.

        "Are they green transportation or really just expensive electric toys, like an cool RC helicopter?"

      • 6 Years Ago
      This is quite interesting to read. Tesla's philosophy as a car maker/dealer was to do things differently and not to come off as the typical car dealership where they do try to nickle and dime you. And yet, here they are doing the SAME exact things they claimed they didn't want to do. How rich is that?
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm one of the masses that thought the 'concept' of the Tesla seemed much better than the 'reality', but I still would have bought one except for the fact that I have two young children.

      Fisker appears on the verge of offering MORE than the Tesla for a significantly lower price.

      Musk's behavior is either idiocy or desperation.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Maybe their problem is that they start to offer options but they don't have a big production line, so the options cost a lot to devellop because they cannot sell a lot of them. I my opinion they should stick to one model except the color maybe. Imagine the fort-t at the beginning, there was one model for a lot of years and on the long run options were accessible.
      • 6 Years Ago
      All things considered, I think Tom Saxton is being very reasonable about all of this.


      Regarding the single multi-purpose vehicles vs. having a commuter car & trip car:
      Yes, it would be nice to have an ultra-efficient short range commuter car, and something bigger for family trips, and some families do that, but there are costs that prevent a lot from doing it:

      Double up front purchase price to buy two instead of one.
      Double parking space.
      Double registration fees.
      Certain maintenance double (now two cars to wash, two cars to replace old batteries and tires, etc.)
      (Nearly) double insurance.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Tom, did they actually break an agreement?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can't speak for Tom but I do believe that they have broken a contract with me. I have in my possession a signed agreement acknowledging my deposit of $50,000; initially it was just for membership in a club which could be terminated by either Tesla or myself. If terminated I would receive a full refund. But it made it quite clear that about 3 months prior to production I would need to lock in my options, upon doing this it could no longer be terminated and was now a contract to purchase a Tesla Roadster. This agreement contains a base price and a list of options with their prices.

        I was notified in November of last year that I needed to do this lock in of options. This was done at my personal owner’s page on Tesla Motors web site. This page lists my car’s base price and all my selected options with their respective prices. Upon locking in my options it indicated the total price of my car plus a $950 destination charge for a total cost. It also showed my original deposit and final line showing my balance due upon delivery. I have a printed copy of this page with its definitive statement that my options were now locked in for production of my car.

        The agreement made it clear that once I locked in I was committed and there is no indication that it could be altered. I would imagine that most states have laws in place to protect consumers from corporations which later attempt to alter this type of contract.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have a friend who bought one of the earlier "locked in" ones and Tesla nickled-and-dimed him too. Don't get me wrong, if he had said no to everything he almost certainly would have still ended up with his car at the original price, unlike these newer buyers.

      The pricing on the charge cable is really shocking to me. Tesla has been unable to even sell additional chargers to existing customers. Now I'm to believe that the price of an additional charger has gone up $3000? Unless of course you expect Tesla buyers to carry their charge cable in the trunk.

      How much is a Tesla charger?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Musk, based on the reports in the press, definately seems like a bit of a jerk as a boss of Tesla, however Tesla must be desperate if they're doing this.

      Unlocking prices on people who had locked in within 3 months of delivery is crazy - I'm sure they will loose people over this.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Now that all the celebrities, CEOs and billionaires have received their cars, it seems that Musk is now saying screw everybody else.

      Asking people to put up a deposit and wait for more than a year to receive product requires that customers have tremendous faith in the company. I don't see how this business model works once you destroy that faith.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Drivers who want three-hour charges going forward will have to fork over an extra $3,000 to get this hefty extension cord."

      I see an opportunity for "tesla-accessories.com" in the near future...
        • 6 Years Ago
        No freaking kidding. Talk about an easy way to make a buck...

        Tesla better have a patent on it.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Can you say "clusterfuck?"
        • 6 Years Ago
        Elon Musk does it again!

        Reminds me of a joke I made up a while back:

        "How many nerds does it take to run Tesla?"
        -NONE, because this one is going downhill all by itself!

        (maybe Martin always was right from the beginning and it had been
        Musk's plot with the "Product Architect" title and
        transmission-redirection-misdirection "problems" to just become CEO.
        Now his A$$ is on the line or else those venture partners will ending
        up kicking him back to South Africa, where he can become a politician
        and feel right at home...)

        Good job rubbing Nikola's name in mud! Wasn't bad enough when greedy
        Edison did it!
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