Hard not to be impressed with the Tesla Model S

tesla_model_s_back_seat Was just checking out some pictures of the new Tesla Model S in the noteworthy CNNMoney article Inside the Tesla Model S, and I absolutely love the 3rd row of seating that turns the gorgeous Model S sedan into the coolest station wagon ever.

Tesla isn’t just challenging conventional automakers on advanced powertrains and automotive manufacturing, but on virtually every element of automotive design.

I mean what kind of station wagon offers a coefficient of drag of just .22? That’s just unbelievably brilliant, especially for an EV that is going to offer twice the EV range — 160 miles –  of today’s plug-ins, as its base model. The high end model will offer a whopping 320 miles. That’s just ridiculous.

In my earlier post today, 7 of the 10 best selling vehicles in America, and their hybrid versions, I argued that automakers need to design hybrids differently than they would conventional vehicles. Think Toyota Prius and its uber-functionality. Well, EVs should follow that same footprint forward I believe.

It’s obvious that Tesla gets it when it comes to design. Plug-in vehicles are different. So what? Work with it. Use those differences as an advantage, and question everything.

Yes, the Model S is still an expensive luxury vehicle that probably won’t drive a Tesla model to the rest of us for many years, even a decade or more. But, the Model S is breaking new ground, and in the luxury segment, it seems a powerful contender. And that’s a pretty damn good start.

According to Chevy Volt godfather, Bob Lutz, Tesla was a primary driver — the key pressure point — behind bringing the Volt to market. Hopefully, Tesla will also be key a driver for pushing the established auto industry outside of its box of conventional design thinking.

Hybrid car