Tesla's Million-Dollar Crash Tests Add Up

Given Tesla’s first electric car model won’t reach customers until next year, the hundreds of its eco-conscious sports car-loving (occasional celebrity) customers that have actually made it onto the waiting list are likely getting a bit antsy. And they probably wouldn’t like to watch the six or seven crash tests that have cost up to a million dollars that Tesla’s Roadster has undergone since the company was founded in 2003 and which Tesla’s director of corporate development, Diarmuid O’Connell, described during a talk this morning. Update: A Tesla spokesperson says that while the early test crashes on the first four prototypes were expensive, later crashes are closer to the $300,000 range.

On the high end that could be some $6 million or $7 million in crash tests alone — and counting — as O’Connell says the tests are “almost done.” The San Carlos, Calif.-based company has enough money to cover the costs; it’s raised over $100 million from venture investors. Still, the investment into destroying the vehicles (necessary, of course, for safety purposes) is consequential, O’Connell said. It’s also hard for the executive team to watch. O’Connell described one particular occasion when a video of a crash test was shown to Tesla executives, saying it elicited gasps.

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