On Friday, February 1, 2008 at 12:56 P.M., an email was sent to all San Carlos based employees of Tesla Motors: “P1 Arriving Now! :).”
This simple email signified the moment we had been working toward for the last few years. You see, “P1” is the internal designation for the first production unit to be produced by Tesla Motors. This is the anticipated ‘first car’ that was built for Chairman, Elon Musk. So what was it like to be a part of the arrival of P1?
The day started with great anticipation. We all knew the car was planning to arrive on Friday at about 1:00 P.M. We knew that select media would be in attendance to witness the event. We knew there would be a party at the end of the day. Many of us also knew that P1 was stuck in customs in Los Angeles and there were no guarantees that it would be released on time. A few well placed phone calls improved the odds.
When the email arrived that announced the arrival of P1 nearly all Tesla employees gathered behind the shop to watch the delivery truck arrive. When the rear door of the trailer opened and P1 was inside there was a collective sigh of relief from the team and we broke into applause. The team pushed P1 from the trailer and into the shop. Oh right, the car was shipped without an ESS (Energy Storage System, aka “battery”). Our service team would need to install an ESS before Elon could take his first drive.
For the next couple hours we waited with anticipation as the service team installed the ESS in P1. These guys have done this job many times, but never in front of so many people, and never on a production car. While we waited for the ESS to be installed Elon addressed the crowd. He thanked everyone for their hard work and reiterated the importance of this first production car. We will not only build thousands of Tesla Roadsters, we will build tens of thousands of Whitestars, our next vehicle.
Once the ESS was in and all other necessary parts reassembled and checked out, the car was lowered to the ground for its maiden voyage on U.S. soil. The key was turned and the car started right up. For all the risk involved in shipping the car, clearing customs, and installing a key component of the car in plain view, everything went exactly as planned. Very cool!
What do you do in Silicon Valley when you receive delivery of your very first, highly anticipated product? You take a victory lap down University Avenue in Palo Alto of course. To me this is the Silicon Valley version of John Travolta going for a strut at the end of the movie “Staying Alive.” Elon jumped in his car for the first time and led the way. Four Tesla Roadster prototypes followed packed full of engineers. It wasn’t exactly roadster weather on Friday, but nobody cared. Tops off and lights on, five Tesla Roadsters drove in formation down highway 101 and up University Avenue. What a sight to see. I wish the whole world was there to see this achievement, but they weren’t, so we took pictures and a few videos.
I think you will see from the pictures, anticipation quickly turned to elation as the day progressed. We are all proud of this achievement and are now working hard to build and deliver the remaining first year Tesla Roadsters.
Roadster prototypes driven by
engineers follow Elon and JB in P1