Tesla Charges Up 2014 Detroit Auto Show – 6,900 Model S Sales in Q4 + Conference Highlights


Tesla Display At 2014 NAIAS

Tesla Display At 2014 NAIAS

Welcome to Detroit

Welcome to Detroit

Tesla Motors hosted a press conference at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

Some of the points of interest discussed by Tesla execs at the show:

  • 6,900 Tesla Model S sales in Q4, which is 20% above guidance
  • Model S sales confirmed over 25,000 units globally
  • Model S is exceptional in cold weather, which has led to higher than expected sales this winter.
  • Tesla’s over-the-air updates improve safety, performance, etc.
  • Growth…growth…growth coming in 2014.  Reckless growth.
  • Tesla needs more employees urgently as it grows. 
  • ~80 Superchargers in operation today
  • Model X being worked on feverishly right now.  Expected to debut in production form in California in the near future.
  • Battery swapping options still being explored
  • Superchargers coming to select areas of Canada soon
  • Gen III will have “practical range,” won’t be restricted by range
  • High hopes for sales in China

And that concludes our live update coverage of the Tesla press conference in Detroit.  Unfortunately, neither the Tesla Model X nor the AWD Model S made an appearance.

Tesla Press Conference in Detroit

Tesla Press Conference in Detroit – Topic Safety

Tesla Press Conference in Detroit

Tesla Press Conference in Detroit

Tesla Draws a Crowd in Detroit

Tesla Draws a Crowd in Detroit

Model X Spotted Previously in CA - Image Credit: Instagram ID @jmtibs

Model X Spotted Previously in CA – Not Making Appearance in Detroit Though – Image Credit: Instagram ID @jmtibs

Tesla Supercharger Network

Tesla Supercharger Network

Tesla Press release below:

Tesla Revenue Expected To Exceed Guidance By 20% In Fourth Quarter
Sales Driven by Superlative Safety Record and Excellent Cold Weather Performance
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

PALO ALTO, Calif. – Tesla sales in the fourth quarter of 2013 were the highest in company history by a significant margin. With almost 6,900 vehicles sold and delivered, Tesla exceeded prior guidance by approximately 20%. A higher than expected number of cars was manufactured as a result of an excellent effort by the Tesla production team and key suppliers, particularly Panasonic.

The two key drivers of demand were the superlative safety record of the Model S and great performance under extremely cold conditions.

Safety Record

Tesla remains the only manufacturer with a perfect safety record of zero deaths or serious, permanent injuries ever. Including the Roadster, Tesla vehicles have now been on the road for almost six years in 31 countries with almost 200 million miles driven to date. Despite dozens of high speed collisions, the driver and passengers have always been protected. This is Tesla’s proudest achievement.

Independent testing by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) awarded the Tesla Model S a 5 star safety rating overall and in every subcategory without exception. Of all vehicles tested, including every major make and model approved for sale in the United States, the Model S set a new record for the lowest likelihood of injury to occupants. While the Model S is a sedan, it also exceeded the safety score of all SUV’s and minivans.

Excellent Cold Weather Performance

Due to the precision of its electric powertrain, the Model S has outstanding traction control relative to the much higher latency and inertia of a gasoline powertrain. As a result, it is able to perform better on snow and ice than many all-wheel drive gasoline cars, as shown in this Tesla produced video:


And many independent reviews and customer produced videos:


Tesla’s highest sales per capita are in Norway and the individual customer who owns the most cars lives in Narvik, which is above the Arctic Circle.

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30 Comments on "Tesla Charges Up 2014 Detroit Auto Show – 6,900 Model S Sales in Q4 + Conference Highlights"

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Would have loved to have seen an AWD model S, and in order to make that announcement perfect – confirmation of a wagon version of that.. I’d sell my A6 tomorrow

I think a wagon makes sense. Emission mandates killed the wagon to a certain extend but they don’t affect Tesla obviously so it could fill in a niche there, provided there still is one after Model X makes its appearance.

I’m European, Model X does not appeal to me in the slightest – too big with stupid doors, a wagon does – I have a black Lab. I live in the Alps, AWD is a must for me. I have seen the videos of model S in snow, and as capable as it looks, I’d like the front axle to be driven for that extra bit of secure knowledge that I can get home safely – we get some horrendous weather this time of year. So I’ll go through another Quattro and wait for a couple years, surely they’ll then pander to the big european diesel AWD estate market that the 3 big Germans have been hugging for years.. And judging by what Tesla have achieved so far, they’ll probably succeed – make mine royal metallic blue, 21″ wheels, the – by then available 110KWh battery and an Audiesque interior.

You have an interesting perspective. I take a different tack in that I really wanted a 2 wheel drive “X”, but then it was noted that Tesla changed their minds and will have an AWD model only.

But we agree on the desireability of a hopefully future 110 kwh battery.

Thank you! I knew I could count on you to explain why my tesla shares exploded a few minutes ago. MSM takes forever

Gen 3 “practical” range? That’s more vague that the 200 miles of range that was floated. My guess considering the price target: it will have a 50KWh battery that will give it 200 miles of range…sort of. Under some conditions, not an EPA rated 200 miles.

Yup. I’ve been reading the same tea leaves.

And you know what? That’s totally fine with me. My main criterion for Model E is price. Musk has been promising something “affordable” for way too long. If he has to choose between making the base model a solid 200-mile, and making it a solidly-affordable car, he should definitely choose the former.

If Tesla can deliver a solid-150-mile-range Tesla for $35-40k before incentives, by model year 2017 – they will have changed history, literally.

Note that driving range doesn’t operate like “Moore’s Law”. You don’t always need more and more, b/c unlike computers there isn’t some new application or a more-wasteful version of Windows to gobble up all your extra capacity.

We know most people use far, far less than 150 miles on a daily basis. Also, when most people go on road trips they really don’t mind stopping every 150 miles or so for a stretcher, some sightseeing and/or something to drink/eat. In fact, with kids in tow it is an inevitability.

Of course I meant, he should definitely choose the latter *not* the former. He must offer an affordable gen E, even at the cost of its average range being closer to 150 miles than to 200.

@ Assaf: People want affordable of course, but they definitely also want range as the somewhat disappointing sales of the current crop of city EVs tells us. Maybe 150 is enough, 200 is definitely better. Tesla could do different range versions of course.

A lot depends on the density of the Supercharger network too and the capability of Tesla to deliver on its promise to further increase charge speed. The battery swapping concept Tesla is apparently still toying with is an alternative for battery size too but wrought with practical problems.

My 70+ mile range Focus EV is just heartbreaking. I can get all of my daily driving done, even touring around the city all day. But I can’t take even a minor day trip out of the city. 35 miles there and 35 back is a short tether. That’s my work commute down to the exact mile.

150 range is HUGE. I could drive 50+ miles to go get oysters on the coast, spend the night and head home after a quick relaxing weekend trip. It takes my utilitarian city/commute car and turns it into a fun car!

200+ miles of range is more for long distance driving — but really 300+ miles is the lower limit for that kind of driving. Like driving into the mountains for a ski weekend or buzzing down to Vegas on a road trip with the guys. You need to cover enough distance that you’re happy to stop because you need a break instead of having to constantly stop because your car has no range.

Agree and identify with both of you.

Our Leaf has the CHadeMo advantage over FFE, but that too only goes so far. Esp. in the winter. We decided to leave our LEAF at home for the 180-mile trip from Seattle to Portland over the holiday vacation, b/c my calculations indicated that the ChDeMo’s will only give us some 45 miles highway range on the 80% quick-charge, making the trip way too long and precarious (since some of the stretches are >45 miles). That said, in the summer Portland is doable and Vancouver (some 130-140 miles with perfectly situated ChadeMo’s in between) should be a breeze. And we did to a 100-mile round-trip to a day hike’s trailhead deep in the woods in September.

So from my experience… 150 miles range with adequate quick-charge infrastructure, is a true sweet spot that would answer nearly all day-trip needs, and most road-trip needs of typical families who would must stop every ~2 hours anyway.

It *won’t* answer the needs of, say, a bunch of college students wanting to do a 1000+ miles-a-day marathon drive. But the 200-mile range won’t answer those either; as Grady points out, you need a 300-mile range to accommodate that.

Exactly: it depends on the Supercharging. You have to be able to get between Superchargers and not be so slow that it’d hog them. And it has to be able to Supercharge in the first place, unless Tesla does some amazing rental epsystem once they can hit high volume.

200 miles of range is like unlimited range for me for a day.

Model E will have 200 mile range and nearly 60 kWh battery. Otherwise they will have to start building super charging stations in between the current ones.

There is the answer of answers.

I don’t like the more ambiguous backtracking on the Gen 3 range either. But I think its prudent because honestly, its really difficult to get a read on where batteries will be in 2016/17. Everyone got all hyped up on Envia, and they turned out to be a big fraud. Beyond that, how rigorous will the EPA’s test cycle be for EVs by then? All those issues factor into what shows up on the window sticker or is promoted by the EPA.

So until we’re a lot closer to launch, I’d guess they wont speak much about numbers, just what you can do with the car (get from one supercharger to the next on the highway).

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

I’d like to see Model S go from 40/60/85 to 60/85/110 while keeping pricing constant, which is how Apple typically does refreshes.

Also, if the Gen III battery layout would allow for retrofitting into Roadsters, that’d make a pretty nice upgrade when coupled with an updated motor, fingers x’d..

There is no 40 for the Model S. They killed it before they ever built any.

I don’t think they really need bigger than 85 . . . they need to push the price down.

And people need to stop thinking that battery price reductions will be like flash memory or magnetic disk price reductions. A bit is an ethereal unit of information that has no minimum energy requirement. Thus, as long as they can recall a bit consistently, they can keep reducing the energy/space required. But physical things like cars have mass that require a specific amount of energy to propel.

Not quite true.

The memory/processor bit still needs a physical semiconductor switch to be stored on, which takes space and does consume (a wee bit) of energy.

Yes, Moore’s Law was based on a very concrete projection that the same technology (photographic masks on a silicon wafer) can continue improving by orders of magnitude, with only the technical details changing, and each generation piggy-backing on the previous generation’s $$$.

I don’t know enough about lithium-battery tech to say whether that’s feasible; probably harder to begin with.

OTOH, Moore’s Law is predicated on a power of 2: reducing the linear dimension of mask size leads to a square increase in the # of switches you can pack onto a unit area. Battery-pack compression can utilize a power of 3: any reduction in the linear dimension of battery size, is cubed when packing it into the constraints of vehicle size.

In other words, even a 1% linear-dimension improvement leads to a >3% in actual battery-pack capacity density. And that, before mentioning a jump to a technology more dense than lithium-based.

They most certainly did build 40 kWh cars. They were 2% of sales early on and got killed off. Go to teslamotorsclub there are a few owners there.

TOL Model S is not about need but want. And there is demand at Performance Plus price of $86k-131K. People want to keep up with new M series and AMG cars. Dumb idea to push price and profit margin down when customers are willing to pay more for more performance. And profits fund Gen III and Gen IIII development.

265 EPA range is nice but 350 EPA range would be nicer and consumers would see real value in it.

No, they built 60kWh cars and software limited them to 40kWh. It turned ojt that they couldn’t make the 40kWh pay and cut their losses.

Functionally, it is 40 kWh. 140 miles of range.

If you want to use 60 kWh and 208 miles of range you need to pay for the software upgrade.

So those people who purchased 40 kWh are driving around in cars that only get 140 miles of range.

6900? Damn, they are rolling.

I’m parked right next to one today . . . and a Volt. In the SFO long-term parking lot. Thanks for the free juice SFO! (Of course, I’m only gonna draw about 25 cents worth!)

Free juices? That is b/c you are paying at least $2-$5 more per day in parking…. The juices better be free… =)

Compared to off site parking… of course.

Do not expect miracles from Elon and Tesla. Let them develop step by step. First they need to sell as many current S models as possible, also to finance future developments (superchargers, model x, AWD, III gen). Current Model S is a great vehicle and it deserves greater penetration around the world. With time they will take furher steps. The speed they move with is astounding anyway. Good luck Elon. Show the big guys how to do business. One day they will wake up to see that for some of them it’s too late to catch up.

Musk et al, are on the road to sucess. One after another apparently. Musk keeps saying buy the model S so as to insure and accelerate the further development and manufacture of future vehicles. This was their announced plan and it is coming fruition as we watch. Despite bumps in the road along the way Tesla continues to deliver. Fun to watch!
Congratulations and all the best.

Anyone know why Tesla will not be at the Washington Auto Show? I am thinking it is something to do with the Dealership issues, but I would love to here from someone in the know.

I look forward to a Destin, Florida – Atlanta – Knoxville – Cincinnati network.


When you finally link the coasts with charging stations, Elon Musk should drive a golden spike the same way they completed linking the coasts by rail back in the 1800s.

Good theater at the very least…..