The curtain has come down on Tesla’s ‘The Next Billion’ events in Sydney and Melbourne, which saw a weekend of test drives, information and more for potential owners and EV devotees.
Part of that process involved taking attendees through a series of stations, where they learned about the Model S’s construction, recharging methods, range and interior features before taking the EV for a test drive.
The event is timely for Tesla Australia, with a recently-announced update to the Model S and new variants set to arrive soon. Customers placing an order now for new and existing models can expect to see their new Model S in November.
TMR took the opportunity to check out The Next Billion event, and we quizzed Tesla Australia’s Heath Walker on what customers can expect from the electric vehicle-maker in the future.
Mr Walker informed us that Tesla now has an answer when customers query them on the length of time they can expect a battery pack to last.
Over ten years of what Walker described as “the worst” treatment a customer can dish out, the pack will have degraded by around 30 percent.
That, says Walker, is about the same or perhaps better than a customer could expect from a car with an internal combustion engine if they were to subject it to the same abusive treatment over a decade.
During its first seven months of operation, Mr Walker said Tesla customers have swayed towards the top-spec P85 models when choosing their new car.
Customers are usually attracted to Tesla’s ‘green’ or technical credentials, but Walker said a high percentage is also looking for a performance car with a difference.
Tesla’s oldest customer in Australia is an 89 year-old Sydney man. That man just happens to be Bill Buckle (OAM) - famous, amongst other things, for creating the Goggomobil Dart (an Australian motoring icon).
Walker said interest was coming from potential buyers in Perth, and Model S examples were soon to be delivered to Adelaide. Tesla’s most ‘remote’ customer to date is an owner in Darwin.
Update “7.0” will soon be available for the Model S, which will include a semi-autonomous lane-centring feature and self-parking “on private property”.
Tesla’s St Leonards ‘store’ in Sydney’s north is now equipped to service the EVs, with a crew of four techs and four hoists at its disposal.
The carmaker recommends a yearly ‘service’ for its cars, where items such as fluids and brake pads will be checked.
Brake fluid and the air-conditioning gas are scheduled to be changed every two years, while coolant for the battery pack is changed every four years.
The reason the a/c gas is changed so frequently is due to the importance of keeping the battery pack cool, with the a/c system working hard over the two-year maintenance window in order to do so.
Each Tesla technician receives four weeks of training in the US to equip them for the job ahead, but the Model S only has 17 moving parts…
Tesla plans to announce a local pricing structure for services soon, along with a second New South Wales store in a “central Sydney” location - stay tuned.
Sydney and Melbourne already have a handful of Superchargers in place for Tesla customers, but the carmaker is pushing ahead with its plans to create an east coast corridor of the devices in Australia.
The Goulburn location in southern NSW is on track to be operational soon, but Tesla already has additional locations in the works.
The carmaker isn’t saying where just yet, but Mr Walker told us to expect these locations to follow shortly after the Goulburn site.
We can rule Canberra out for 2015, but the nation’s capital is on the list for future Supercharger locations.
“The more the merrier”, potential owners may say, but Mr Walker stressed that Tesla is not about to flood the landscape with Superchargers.
Walker said the carmaker was keen to avoid sending the wrong message by creating an image that its cars need frequent recharging.
Tesla recently outlined the first locations for its Destination Charging program, and Walker said another 12 locations will be announced soon.
Customers in Australia are already entitled to Tesla’s home charging unit for free, but the owner must pay for installation.
Tesla has a dedicated charging technician to assist with this, particularly for customers living in strata schemes.
A free charging cable is also supplied with new Teslas for standard wall outlets, but the cable adds range at a relatively slow 15km for each hour.
Coming In 2015
Tesla’s new Model S 90 is due to arrive in Australia soon, and the company plans to launch Tesla Energy locally before the end of the year. Stay tuned to TMR for more.
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