There’s a mystique about Tesla Motors’ TSLA, -0.25% electric cars that borders on cultlike. People believe the upstart, high-tech automobile maker’s EVs are different from other cars on the road.
They are. But a big part of the Tesla difference isn’t so much about what these cars have as it is about how they are built and, believe it or not, what they don’t have.
The foundation of that difference is that Teslas — the Model S sport sedan, the Model X crossover and the coming Model 3 family sedan — have been designed and engineered from the start to be electric vehicles. Tesla didn’t have to make all of the compromises other car companies have made to squeeze EV bits into a package never intended to hold them.
Tesla also was founded and is run by a team of people committed to the idea that the passenger car can be both exciting to drive and friendly to the environment, that performance and environmental sensibility aren’t mutually exclusive. And while the cost of a Tesla isn’t low, it’s a price that fans are willing to pay.