UK's Left Hand Drive Surge: New Tesla Model S & Model X Go LHD
Tesla, the American electric vehicle and clean energy company, has decided to switch its Model S and Model X vehicles to left-hand drive only, discontinuing their right-hand drive production. Could this be a good move by the tech giant?
Will All Teslas be LHD Only?
A Tesla spokesperson confirmed that this production change will affect all right-hand drive markets, including the UK, Japan, Australia, and others. However, the spokesperson also clarified that the Model 3 and Model Y, which are Tesla's more affordable models, will continue to be available in both left-hand and right-hand drive configurations.
This change comes following a 2021 update for both the Model S and Model X vehicles, which introduced several design alterations and enhancements. Notably, this update introduced a new-look steering wheel, which is similar to the yoke style found in aircraft, and replaced the traditional gear selector with force touch buttons.
The discontinuation of right-hand drive versions of Model S and Model X means that the Tesla lineup for the UK and other right-hand drive markets will now only include Model 3 and Model Y. Both of these models have proven to be more popular in terms of sales, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
This shift to left-hand drive production for Model S and Model X comes amid a trend of automakers simplifying their lineups to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Several car manufacturers have been removing lower-performing models from their offerings, particularly in markets where those models don't sell as well.
While it's unfortunate for potential customers who were interested in a right-hand drive Model S or Model X, the good news is that Tesla's other models, which are more affordable, will still be available in both configurations.
As of September 2021, the Model 3 is priced from £40,990 in the UK, while the Model Y starts at £54,990. Both these models continue to be popular choices for electric vehicle buyers in the UK and other right-hand drive markets.
Tesla’s Solution: The Reacher Stick
In a novel development, Tesla is providing its new owners in the United Kingdom with a 'grabbing stick'. This decision, has been met with mixed reactions from consumers.
As a result of its strategy change, new Tesla owners in the UK now face the inconvenience of driving a left-hand drive vehicle in a right-hand drive country. Tesla has taken an unconventional approach and started distributing 'grabbing sticks' to its new owners in the UK. This device is intended to help owners when reaching out for car parking tickets or going through drive-thrus, tasks which can be awkward from the left-hand side in a country where driving is on the left.
Although Tesla's decision has attracted some criticism, the company has a track record of adopting unique approaches to overcome challenges. They often take steps that, while unconventional, lead to increased productivity and cost-efficiency. Tesla continues to assert that this move will simplify its manufacturing process, thereby benefiting its overall operation.
A UK-based Tesla owner shared a picture on social media of the tool received from Tesla, featuring a foldable design for easy storage. The owner confirmed that the tool is practical and can indeed facilitate reaching out to grab items while driving a left-hand drive vehicle in the UK.
However, some industry analysts and consumers argue that the decision might impact Tesla's sales in the UK, given the significant change it requires from drivers accustomed to right-hand drive vehicles. Time will tell how this strategy plays out and whether the benefits of streamlined production outweigh potential drawbacks in customer satisfaction and sales.
Regardless of the differing opinions, one fact remains clear: Tesla continues to push boundaries and innovate, in its bid to revolutionise the automobile industry. But is it in the right direction? Sales numbers of Tesla have only continued to grow in the past few years, and with the introduction of LHD only models, could this break their streak?