Matthew BeedhamEditor, SHIFT by TNW
Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls. Matthew is the editor of SHIFT. He likes electric cars, and other things with wheels, wings, or hulls.
“You can have any color, so long as it’s black.”
This is a trope commonly attributed to Henry Ford speaking about the Model T, but it’s probably (definitely) not true. The point, though, was that offering the vehicle with limited color choices made it cheaper to produce. Black reportedly dried fastest, which meant manufacturing time went down and margins went up.
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In recent years Tesla has been following a similar strategy, and now offers its vehicles in just a handful of colors, which are all as boring as, well, watching that very paint dry.
On the Model S, you have the extensive choice of not black, black, slightly less black, blue, and red. If you opt for anything other than white you’ll have to pay extra, too.
Thankfully, though Tesla is aware of this, and has just launched an in-house car wrapping service at five of its dealer centers in China, Electrek reports.
The EV maker announced the news yesterday on its Weibo account, and showed off some pictures of a Model X wrapped in a striking yellow color, and already it’s better than anything off-the-shelf.
While current owners will be able to have their vehicle wrapped by Tesla service centers, new buyers will now have the option to wrap it at the point of purchase ready for collection at a delivery center.
It’s not like it’s been impossible to wrap a Tesla up to this point, though. Plenty of third-party custom shops offer wrapping services, here’s one from The Netherlands, one from the UK, and one based in Los Angeles — these are just the first results on Google, there’s plenty more if you look.
While car vinyl might not pop like a top-quality paint job, it comes pretty close and offers an insane amount of choice. It’s worth noting, wrapping a car isn’t exactly cheap either. A good wrap job can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $4,000 depending on the materials and vehicle size.
3M, the company that makes Post-It notes, is one of the biggest makers of car wrapping vinyl, and they make it in over 100 different colors. There’s also reflective vinyl, matte, color flips which change color depending on viewing angle, and even textures, so if you want to stand out wrapping is the way to go.
Tesla is aware its customers are already doing this, and is clearly looking to muscle in on the action by offering it as a delivery option. But honestly, I think it should lean into the idea harder.
Tesla’s erratic paint quality has become a bit of a meme in recent years, many new owners have taken to YouTube to demonstrate their issues and concerns, but wraps could be the answer.
Maybe Tesla should have one paint color, which it figures out how to get perfect every time. This could speed up production and cut costs — a la Ford — which could be passed on to buyers. Those that want to customize their car can do so using the money saved and a vinyl wrap.
At least that way, Teslas might end up looking a bit more interesting from time to time.
All that said, it’s easy to pick on Tesla. Most car colors these days are universally boring. Don’t believe me? Watch the video below.
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