Although most people will not immediately recognize them, all-electric Tesla cars are quietly gaining in popularity as they travel the highways and roads of the United States and abroad. Interestingly, while sales continue to grow, the company’s car paint choices remain quite limited. Perhaps the youthfulness of Tesla Motors is a fair reason for the deliberate narrowness of color options.
It was in 2003 that PayPal executive Elon Musk stepped forward with an innovative approach to electric vehicles. Naming his company after Nikola Tesla, inventor of the AC induction motor, Musk purchased a former automotive plant in Freemont, California and began production of the Tesla Roadster. It debuted in 2008, offering 240 miles per electric charge and wearing a variety of fashionable colors. Fusion Red and Racing Green were the standard options. Metallic choices included Brilliant Yellow, Radiant Red, Signature Green, Glacier Blue, Obsidian Black, Thunder Grey and Sterling Silver. There were even a few lifestyle/premium choices: Arctic White, Very Orange, Jet Black and Electric Blue. At the time, some critics suggested that these car paint shades seemed remarkably similar to colors in the Lotus and Elise stables.
In 2012, Musk brought the Tesla Model S to the market. It was the first totally electric sedan, offering four doors, seating for seven passengers and huge cargo space. It also promised 265 miles per charge. In late 2014, the 85D and P85D, variations of Model S, added dual motors, all-wheel drive and a slight mileage increase to the prototype. All told, more than 50,000 Tesla cars are now on the road.
Dedicated owners have upgraded faithfully, but they have also complained about the diminishing number of Tesla car paint color choices. Solid White, Silver Metallic and a brown have been discontinued, although Musk announced they would remain available for a limited time, presumably, until the paint ran out. In place of brown, Warm Silver has been added, and its name changed to Titanium Metallic. While the majority of critics seem to like this shade, there is some disagreement about its true color tones and its moniker. The remaining colors include the standard and free Non-Metallic Solid Black; Midnight Silver, a dark grey; Obsidian Black Metallic; Deep Blue Metallic, formerly Ocean Blue; and premium choices Pearl White Multi-Coat and Red Multi-Coat. These non-standard colors add an additional $1,000 to $1,500 to the price tag. Color choices for the newest addition, the Model X, have yet to be announced.
Unlike the Roadster, which offered several bright or light colors and a few dark ones, the popular Model S currently comes only in bright red or expensive Pearl White and several dark versions. Reviewers complain that those majority dark-color choices show dirt easily and are fairly predictable, if not downright boring. The thinking seems to be that such a fabulous product should have equally fabulous car paint choices. Many would like a version of light grey or silver to return. However, in reality, 7—10 options is quite a respectable variety for such a young company with limited resources and customer base.
So, what’s a die-hard fan of the Tesla car to do? Some owners choose to buy their favorite model and have a third party customize it with just the right shade of car paint. That’s one solution. Another option is to have the newly-purchased car “wrapped,” a process that covers the car in removable plastic, thus appearing to alter its actual color. Plastic wraps are good for approximately 3—5 years before removal. Tesla Motors is not making any promises, but there are hints that more color choices may be just down the road. Time will tell.
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