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The Luxury List

There seems to be some debate as to whether or not the pricing that's been released is awesome, or not. That debate may continue. But what I'd like to know is this, is this a luxury car? At the base price, what items are you getting in this car that qualifies it as a luxury vehicle (compared to most luxury vehicles and their amenities)?


I actually sent pretty much this same question to Tesla. They seem stumped by it as well.

Frankly, I think it's a great car. Absolutely the best electric car available, and maybe the best car of 2012. But at it's base it's extremely difficult to qualify it as it was advertised, a luxury vehicle.

Ok, I'll bite...

Yes, due to the definition of a luxury vehicle and luxury itself.

Here's what I'm using:

Luxury vehicle is a marketing term for a vehicle that provides luxury — pleasant or desirable features beyond strict necessity—at increased expense (see: definition of luxury below).

The term suggests a vehicle with greater equipment, performance, construction precision, comfort, design ingenuity, technological innovation, or features that convey brand image, cachet, status, or prestige—or any other discretionary feature or combination of features

luxury (plural luxuries)

very wealthy and comfortable surroundings.
something desirable but expensive.
something very pleasant but not really needed in life.

First, I don't consider leather to be luxury, microfiber is better IMHO as it's on my couch and it's awesome since it really easy to clean and it's tough as nails quality keeps it looking good for a long time and I don't like to stick to my seats. Also, I don't need navigation when I'll have a full browser and connectivity, but it is very pleasant on a 17" monitor.

And the pano roof is ridiculous, no one else can touch it.

I expect the car will be quieter, faster and handle better than the competition and I know it will have more cargo space. Things I desire and am willing to pay for.

And luxury for me is less maintenance. I buy cars that I never have to think about opening the hood and now I'll have a car that doesn't have an ICE/oil dependency and has one moving part. That my friend is luxury! Dare I say the future of luxury!

"buy cars that I never have to think about opening the hood"

Model S will fail on this front, but in a good way - frunk.

I have to debate the merits of microfiber applied to a daily use like this. We have both leather, and a really rather expensive microfiber piece in the living room. The leather is holding up as one would expect. The microfiber on the other hand is actually showing some pretty good signs of wear (and it's just me, the wife and one kid, the dog is not allowed on the furniture). So I'm not convinced this would be the best fabric to have as one is sliding in and out of a vehicle on a daily basis. But I could be wrong. Are there any other cars out there currently using it, for comparison?

You seem to like nitpicking on words, so here's what you get: The Model S was never advertised as a "luxury" car. It was advertised as a "premium" car. Go figure... ;-)

“That’s quicker than a [Porsche] 911 [Carrera],” joked Musk. “Not bad for an electric luxury sedan.”

Oops. You got me. Or, you got Elon, to be precise!

To add one more twist:

Volker - No worries, you are correct, it is actually advertised on their web site as a "premium" sedan. So in this thread we can interchange "luxury" with "premium" and the question remains the same. What makes this, or any car a premium or luxury car? I maintain that cloth seats do not. Others disagree.

It has been said a couple times, but since you are asking again, here's my response: This car is one of a kind. It is an industry first and possibly a large-scale game changer, and it will be quite exclusive for some time to come (except if you live in California). You can even configure it to match your budget, by adding luxury features or not! That is fair enough a justification for calling it a "premium car" for me. Others disagree.

To turn the question around: If you take an Avensis, add leather, wood panels and some gadgetry, give it a different name and call the entire package "all inclusive no options" -- would that qualify as "luxury" by your standard? (Your answer will be no, the question was rhetorical. But you keep defining luxury by not having options/low base price, and that definition does not work for me at all.)

Volker - I absolutely see your point, and see some value in exclusivity (part of the reason for some of my past vehicle choices). That said, I'm not entirely certain I can agree that exclusivity on it's own can equate to "premium", and most certainly not to "luxury". I might own the only unmolested 1959 Volkswagen Beetle known to exist in the world. That would make it exclusive, but not premium, nor luxury.

And you could even claim that the 1959 Beetle was in fact a game changer...! ;-)

But it was hardly one of a kind, industry first, or best of breed. It changed the game by taking economies of scale to another level, which is remarkable but does not make the car itself a premium item. Anyway, I respect your point of view and I expressed mine. I don't think we are getting anywhere.

And maybe I'm not being fair. But I am indeed looking to industry standards to define luxury in an automobile. We have decades of examples to review, from various manufactures. Most provide various levels of comfort, convenience, safety, etc., as standard equipment at the BASE price. That's what you get when you buy a luxury or premium vehicle. I'd take absolutely no issue with this if Tesla had indicated they were marketing a game changing electric sedan, that could be upgraded to a luxury touring car. But they didn't.

I respect your opinion as well. I'm just taking a rather literal position, historical and factual position on what the meaning of luxury in a vehicle means. By your standards anyone can claim "premium" for any reason they so desire. And that was the point of my example.

By your standards anyone can claim "premium" for any reason they so desire. And that was the point of my example.

Not true. Anyone still has to find customers that agree with their definition of "premium". I agree with Tesla's definition, you don't. So I'll buy a Model S and you could/should go find a competitor whose definition of what he's selling fits your bill. But I am repeating myself (and again, I am trying to be helpful, not offensive).

Volker - It's more than a little presumptuous to assume that since I take issue with the marketing claims of the vehicle that I'm not interested in it, or have decided not to buy. In fact your suggestion that I buy something else is downright rude.

Go back and read some of my posts over the months. I have been a STRONG supporter of Tesla and this vehicle. I've recommended it to friends and family alike. People who would never, ever be interested in an electric vehicle are taking a close look at this car because I've talked their ear off about it.

Again (yes, your aren't the only one repeating here), had they indicated this was a sedan that could be upgraded to a luxury sedan, I would have NO argument whatsoever. And I challenge you to find any other negative comments made by me other than this issue, and the recent pricing release. There isn't. I love the car.

I think the whole issue is a minor pimple to pick at.

mscottring, we really should settle the debate, but since I regret my last post I have to set this straight: I did not imply that you are being negative or dislike the product. That's obviously not the case, which is precisely why I have serious difficulty seeing what you are up to with your crusade in the name of luxury.

Did you expect Tesla to offer a car with 300 mile range, 5.6 sec, pano roof, turbine wheels, leather and wood for 49k no options? I'd call you naive. Do you want to convince me that Tesla should include 10k of options and increase the base price by the same amount? Does not help those who have a slightly tighter budget, and does not help Tesla to sell more vehicles. So yes, you are criticizing Tesla's tagline that explicitly says "premium". Well, what would you call it? Mid-range car? Hardly. I have made my point why I am entirely in line with Tesla advertising it in that category.

Try this definition: You like luxury cars, you mentioned a few you own(ed). You like the Model S. Doesn't that actually make the Model S a luxury car? :-)

Let's close with a point we certainly can agree on: Although seemingly carefully prepared, the marketing effect of the price list as it stands is less than optimal and bound to spark some press with a unnecessarily subdued tone. Actually there is quite a lot the Model S does have standard, but Tesla does not mention it on the pricing page which turns out to be a big omission. We already have confirmation that of course keyless entry does come standard, you just have to press a button on the keyfob to unlock/extend door handles. The optional keyless entry allows your key to stay in the pocket.

Ah those door handles, anyway. I'd call them premium any day!

I have some unconfirmed assumptions that will probably be clarified by Tesla in a few days: Of course the base price includes navigation, but it's plain Google Maps and requires an online connection. The optional navigation is offline/onboard. Of course the base model will include cruise control (non-adaptive). Hardly a luxury item in 2012, but it turns out that folks are still bewildered if it is not explicitly mentioned.

So Tesla, do not change your tagline or your product, but hurry to set that options list straight and, most importantly, communicate in detail what comes standard!

For some obscure reason the above link on the word "confirmation" does not work. Here it is again. Look at the bottom of the page:

Volker - This is actually what I was looking for. Instead of some vague concept of what should be acceptable as a reason for being 'luxury', you've actually listed specific items that make it so. To whit, keyless entry, navigation and cruise control.

Are these items available on non-luxury vehicles? Perhaps. But at least we have some idea of what we're getting in a base vehicle that's being called a luxury car. THIS was my question.

@mscottring: Lets take your arguments (here and on other threads) at face value and stipulate that the base Model S doesn't meet the commonly held attributes of a "luxury" car. So what? The Model S is unique. It delivers technology that is state-of-the-art. It is the first wave of a new genre of vehicles in the mid/upper five digit range. I think you'll agree it's an important contribution.

Could the base Model S be more "luxurious"? Sure ... but not at it's price point. Those who expected "luxury" vehicle at the base price, knowing full well that the battery tech represents substantial fixed cost and that TM cannot sell a vehicle at break-even or a loss, apparently never heard anyone say, "If you think it's too good to be true, it probably is."

One thing that TM can and should do to improve the perception of the base Model S is to vastly improve the interior (something that we've discussed within these threads ad nauseum). A base model with the existing beta interior will be perceived by many as pedestrian—and that's not a good thing.

I appreciate all of the comments on the attributes of the Model S. I've actually stated, here and on other threads, that I agree with them.

The original question was this, "At the base price, what items are you getting in this car that qualifies it as a luxury vehicle"

So far there's been a number of posts, and only one has actually listed specific items that would come as standard equipment at the base price that could, in any way, qualify the car as a luxury vehicle. So we can debate all day long as to it's many attributes. But the question stands, can you name what ITEMS it comes with that are luxury items?

This is starting to (alarmingly) remind me of discussions about politics, or apple products.



I finally have a few minutes to properly respond to this thread.

"Luxury" items with the base.

1. Aformentioned keyless entry and extending door handles. Also keyless start obviously.

2. Looks. We don't know about the interior yet, but the exterior is freaking luxurious!

3. Quiet ride. This car will be quieter than any luxury vehicle below a Rolls.

4. Sound system. The base sound system, matched with the quiet ride will be luxurious. So it doesn't have satellite, most folks buying the base wouldn't want to spend the cash for a satellite subscription anyway.

5. 17" screen. Hopefully you'll be able to link to your home wi-fi and cache Google maps. If not, then you can buy a broadband subscription or tether to your cell phone and have online NAV. The fact that off-line NAV isn't included is a non-sequitur because NAV is almost always an add-on option in luxury cars. But they don't have a 17" screen with Internet available - not to mention the awesome music menus!

6. Seats 5 PLUS amazing storage with front and rear trunks.

7. Ride & handling. I'm betting that with that low and heavy battery and the drive train between the rear wheels, this car will ride and handle better than any Honda or Toyota.

8. Last but not least, it's a freaking 160 mile EV that will be "full" every single morning without having to hit a fraking gas station! Yes, you could argue that we're taking a financial hit because it's an EV, but so are the Leaf, Focus, and Volt owners. At least this one will go significantly more than a hundred *real-world* miles on a charge.

Even if you don't buy a single option and take the base $50,000 car, it's a freaking amazing car!!! If I only had the money for the base 40kWh, I think I would still stretch for the $1,500 pano roof though. That would make it luxurious AND impressive! :)

When I look at affordable cars and cars that I deem luxury, one of the biggest differences I see is not so much in features offered. Pretty much all manufacturers compete on features to some degree and different manufacturers attempt to offer different features at different price-points to attempt to draw specific customers.

The difference I do see consistently in luxury or premium vehicles is in quality of materials used, design, and manufacture. I think we could all agree that Tesla will not be skimping on any of those -- even in the base models.

If I could close this thread I would. Volker just posted another thread that clearly defines what my actual point was in this thread (and others) in a far better, and clearer way than I was able to. Kudos to Volker for what he posted there. And lets consider this issue closed, in my opinion.

Just to throw a cat amongst the canaries, during the factory presentation, Elon was at pains several times to state he intended the S to be the "best" car on the road, bar none. That's a somewhat different standard than premium or luxury.

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