Electric cars have already provoked almost religious overreactions among supporters and opponents, and the appearance of a good-looking, fast model has further fueled the passion on both sides.
At the same time, Tesla had made the Silicon Valley, at least by idea, a real threat to Detroit. A month after the show in Santa Monica, the PebbleBeach Concours d'Elegance took place, a famous show for exotic cars.
Tesla was so much in the conversation that the organizers begged to get a roadster for their event, and waived any exhibition fees. Tesla set up a booth and scores of visitors came to immediately issue checks for 100.000 dollars to pre-order the car.
The Tesla hype
"It was long before services like Kickstarter and we just did not think of trying," says Tarpenning. "Soon, however, we were taking in millions of dollars at such events." Venture capitalists, celebrities, and friends of Tesla employees were trying to get on the waiting list.
Some members of the wealthy Silicon Valley elite even came to Tesla's offices and knocked on the door to get a roadster. The entrepreneurs Konstantin Othmer and Bruce Leak, who knew Musk from his days as an intern at Rocket Science Games, one day did just that and then got a personal idea of the car by Musk and Eberhard, which lasted several hours. "At the end we said: 'We take one,'" reports Othmer.
"The Company was not allowed to sell cars, so we joined his club. This cost 100.000 dollars, but one of the advantages was that you would get a free car later on. "Tesla switched marketing back to R & D and was helped by some trends.
Crash test on computer
Advances in computer technology have helped small car companies in some areas to compete with big ones. Just a few years ago, a small fleet of real cars would have had to be produced for crash tests. Tesla could not afford that, but it was not necessary anymore. The third roadster prototype went to the same crash test facility used by major automakers, allowing Tesla to use the same high-speed cameras and other imaging technologies as they did.
Thousands of tests, however, were undertaken by a service provider specializing in computer simulations, so that Tesla did not have to build a crash test fleet. On the test tracks for durability, Tesla also used the same equipment as the large cobblestone and asphalt roads with metal objects in which the cars are exposed to heavy loads.
For example, it was quite common for Tesla engineers to demonstrate the silicon-valley attitude on the traditional terrain of car manufacturers. In Northern Sweden near the Polarkreises, there is a braking and traction test track, on which cars are tuned on large ice sheets.
Efficiency from the Silicon Valley
There are usually three days of testing there, then you take your data, drive back to headquarters, and hold meetings for weeks to make changes to the car. Such a process can last a whole winter. Tesla, on the other hand, sent engineers next to his roadster to the tests and had them analyze the data on-site.
If something had to be changed, the engineers rewrote a program code and immediately put the car back on the ice. "For such a thing BMW would need a vote between three or four companies that would blame each other," says Tarpenning. "We just did it by ourselves." Another test was to put the roadsters in a special cooling chamber to test how they react to freezing temperatures. However, the Tesla engineers wanted to save the enormous cost of such a chamber and instead rented an ice cream truck with a large refrigerated trailer. Someone drove a roadster in there, the engineers put on heavy jackets and worked on the car.
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