Monday, November 11, 2013

The Fleet Vehicle of the Future: the Tesla Model S

If you haven’t heard of Tesla Motors by now, it’s time to get up to speed. The fully electric vehicle revolution is finally here, and for those in the luxury ground transportation business, it means you no longer have to sacrifice luxury in order to go green.

After a decade of catering to a robust niche market of electric vehicle enthusiasts, Tesla has hit the main stage of the automotive industry with the award-winning Model S, an all-electric luxury sedan as acclaimed for its efficiency and safety as it is for its performance and style. Cumulative deliveries in North America reached 13,000 by the summer, and the vehicle surpassed the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf as the continent’s top-selling plug-in electric car in the first quarter of the year.

Aside from its highly-praised performance and remarkable specifications (see our full vehicle review with detailed specs), the Model S reduces the overall environmental impact of your fleet, incurs fewer fuel and maintenance costs, and comes with a tax credit to offset your investment. Additionally, the Model S boasts a five-star safety rating, state-of-the-art interior technology, and a stylish, spacious and comfortable ride that will dazzle your clients. With a laundry list of tangible benefits to be had by implementing the Model S as a livery vehicle, it is no surprise that an increasing number are being purchased by operators across the country.

Angel Worldwide Transportation, serving Northern California and the Bay Area, is a pioneer of Model S
deployment, making news earlier this year as being arguably the first limousine company in the nation to purchase the electric luxury sedan for its fleet.  Since implementing the Model S earlier this year, the company has hailed it as one of the best vehicles for executive transportation, citing its “high-tech, spacious and quiet interior” as creating an “inimitable experience” for passengers. They continue to blog avidly about their initial  experiences working with the Model S, which you can learn more about at

California operators seem to be taking the lead with incorporating the Model S into their fleets. Quicksilver Towncar Service, also based in the Bay Area, and Strack Premier Transportation, based in the Los Angeles area, have also made news this year with their additions of the vehicles. This geographic concentration of early Tesla adopters within the U.S. ground transportation industry likely stems from the region’s leadership in updating infrastructure with charging stations to accommodate electric vehicles, which in turn promotes general public awareness of this new technological trend. By March of this year, the number of public charging points reached more than 16,000 in the U.S., and almost 4,000 of those were located in California, many of which are situated at the major airports.

As other cities are following suit in terms of infrastructure and public education, compounded by Tesla’s versatile charging technology that allows operators to affordably charge vehicles at their headquarters, the Model S trend is definitely gaining momentum nationwide. In July, New York City’s Farrell Limousine announced their status as the first east coast service to add the Model S, and back in January, New
Orleans’ Limousine Livery announced their plans to implement the vehicle this fall. Most recently, Music Express Worldwide Limousine, a company with 40 years in business and corporate locations in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C. and New York, has announced their purchase of six
Model S sedans—the largest fleet implementation of the vehicle to date.

CEO and President Cheryl Berkman of Music Express is very excited about the delivery of the new electric additions to her company’s fleet, and affirms the Model S as an innovative newcomer to the executive sedan market that can fill the big shoes of the discontinued Lincoln Town Car. “A vehicle that is both luxury and green is hard to come by,” she says, but the Model S is “green as green can be,” while appealing to the high-end taste of corporate clients at the same time. On that note, it seems Tesla’s timing could not have been better, because while luxury and eco-friendliness may have been mutually exclusive vehicle aspects in the past, the latter, according to Berkman, has become a growing demand among corporate clientele when selecting an executive sedan. The best-of-both-worlds Model S is able to fill that new market demand beautifully.

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with the best safety rating of any car ever tested as a selling point. Tesla’s Model S was awarded five stars in every single category across the board by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While the NHTSA caps published ratings at five, the combined rating exceeded five stars and set a new NHTSA vehicle safety score record. The recent news of the Model S collision that resulted in a fire should not cast doubt on this impeccable safety rating.

In a press release announcing the record-breaking safety score in August, it was reported that “the Model S lithium-ion battery did not catch fire at any time before, during or after the NHTSA testing,” and at that point in time, “no production Tesla lithium-ion battery [had] ever caught fire in the Model S… despite several high speed impacts.” Furthermore, a more recent release addressing the accident specifically reported that, according to the road crew on the scene, a large, curved metal object that fell off a semi trailer and impaled the vehicle from underneath appears to have been the culprit. In other words, it was basically a freak accident in which the owner was “able to exit the highway as instructed by the onboard alert system, bring the car to a stop and depart the vehicle without injury,” as the fire never entered the passenger compartment thanks to internal firewalls built into the battery pack structure. “For consumers concerned about fire risk,” said Elon Musk, chairman, product architect and CEO of Tesla Motors, “there should be absolutely zero doubt that it is safer to power a car with a battery than a large tank of highly flammable liquid.” The fact remains that the likelihood of a fire is five times higher in a conventional gasoline car than in an electric one.

If you, like arguably all livery operators, are looking for a solution to replace the Lincoln Town Car, the Model S is a clear contender for filling the void left by the retired industry workhorse. If not for the impeccable roster of features discussed above, which is sure to exceed the needs of both you and your clients, then for the insightful reason Motor Trend named the Model S its 2013 Car of the Year: “The mere fact the Tesla Model S exists at all is a testament to innovation and entrepreneurship, the very qualities that once made the American automobile industry the largest, richest, and most powerful in the world.” //LD


Tesla Motors’ goal is to accelerate the world's transition to sustainable transport with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs, as well as EV powertrain components for partners such as Toyota and Mercedes. Tesla has delivered over 15,000 electric vehicles to customers in 31 countries. Learn more at

Written by
Associate Editor & Digital Media Manager


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