It’s been revolutionising the way people think about electric cars for nearly three years — and in a few weeks’ time, the Tesla Model S luxury sedan will go on sale in the UK for the first time.
According to The Green Car Website, the first UK-specification Tesla Model S will be delivered on Saturday, June 7, with other deliveries following shortly after. Like the launch of the Model S in other European markets last year, expect the first few months to contain a higher-than-average number of Model S deliveries as pre-orders are fulfilled as quickly as possible by the Californian automaker.
It’s worth noting that the June debut of the Tesla Model S in the UK is also the first time we’ll see right-hand drive variants of this important electric car in the wild, since the UK is the first of Tesla’s many RHD markets.
Whist it was once a trivial matter for an automaker to switch production of cars from left to right-hand drive and vice versa, bringing a right-hand drive version of a left-hand drive car to market today is a lot more complex. Aside from the obvious interior changes and control moves, safety systems like airbags and sensors will have to be redesigned, along with new headlight units, steering system and potentially even component relocation to make way for relocated driver controls.
It’s something which partly accounts for the higher R&D costs for Tesla in Q1 2014 compared with the previous year, and something which will likely to continue to cost Tesla money as it readies the Model S for other RHD markets like Hong Kong and Australia.
The developmental challenges making the switch from left-hand to right-hand drive layout — as well as huge popularity in other markets — also go some way to explain why the Tesla Model S is almost a year behind its original schedule for launch in the UK.
There’s no official word yet who the first Tesla Model S recipient in the UK will be, although we’ve heard rumours that suggest customer number one is both a long-time fan of the electric automaker and well-known.
Starting at £50,280 after government grants, the Model S is expected to revolutionise the way Brits think about electric cars. Unlike other cars currently on the market today, the £ 69,080 (after incentive) Model S P85 can travel from the east coast of England to the west coast of Wales on a single charge, thanks to its massive 85 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack and the relatively small size of the UK.
That doesn’t mean Tesla is going to ignore charging infrastructure in the UK, however. Like the U.S., mainland Europe and China, Tesla plans to implement a Supercharging network across the UK, making it possible to refill a Model S’ battery pack in the same time it takes to stop for a coffee and a visit to the restroom.
Tesla’s first Supercharger location — at the South Mimms Services on London’s orbital M25 motorway — is, as we postulated a few weeks back, close to completion. It will be the first Supercharging site in the UK to be switched on, but other sites are planned on the M20 near to Folkstone and Dover, the M4 near Bath and Bristol, the M5 near Birmingham and the M6 near Manchester. These four initial sites will make it possible to drive almost anywhere in the UK in a Tesla Model S purely on supercharging alone, with the only exception being the far north of Scotland.
We’d love to hear from you if you’re in the UK and waiting patiently for your Model S. Which car have you ordered — and when is yours expected to arrive?
Tell us in the Comments below!
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