Last week I got to experience something that has left several of my friends green with envy. I got to ride in a Tesla Model S all electric sedan and it was AWESOME!
The whole story started a week ago while I was sharing coffee with some colleagues and friends one morning. We were discussing the Telsa and New York Times controversy when this nice gentleman came over and said he couldn’t help but join in our conversation as he had very recently taken delivery of his own Tesla Model S sedan a couple weeks before. Andrew showed us the iPhone app that conveniently provides all sorts of information about his Tesla including GPS location, charge level, and more. You can even turn on the climate controls or lights remotely. As the conversation came to a close he offered that some other morning, he’d show us the car.
The arranged time finally came and we met up at the same local coffee shop, that serves fair trade coffee and delicious treats made on site.
The size of the Model S surprised me. The last Tesla I saw up close was the tiny 2 seater Tesla Roadster Sport. The Model S is a full sized luxury sedan and weighs in around 4,600 pounds (with 85 kWh battery pack).
Before getting in, Andrew showed us the retracting door handles, which pull into the door to reduce drag when not being used to open the door. They work based on proximity to the key fob.
Once inside the car, I was very impressed with the amount of open space. In this car the batteries are in the floor and given that and the lack of transmission provides some flexibility for design. Tesla used the space to make an open and comfortable cabin. The lines were clean and very refined. The 17″ touch panel was big and dominated the center console. You can control everything through the panel including climate controls, radio, energy usage, driving styles, lighting and more.
Through the screen you can view the information about the vehicle like the charge level and estimated range. You can also configure things like how sporty of a ride you want, vehicle height, lighting levels and more.
We pulled out onto the road and proceeded to drive through Cambridge, which is where the fun really began.
The ride in the Model S was very smooth and comfortable, despite driving on notoriously rough roads. Acceleration was amazing, though we really could not test it fully with all the traffic and stop lights every block or so.
Unlike my Ford C-Max Hybrid, the regenerative braking on the Tesla works on the release of the gas pedal, not by pressing the brake pedal.
As we drove through the city I couldn’t help but notice the similarity and differences with our new Ford C-Max.
Many of the features like the touch screen display, configurable dashboard, LED lighting and more can also be found in the C-Max, though they are by no means the same.
The one complaint I have about our C-Max is the flakiness of the Microsoft Sync Infotainment center. I have had numerous problems with it hanging and crashing. To me, the Ford feels like a 1st generation product with a small low resolution display while the Tesla feels more like a 5th generation iPhone complete with very well thought out and intuitive user interface. Andrew shared that the linux backend of the Tesla console has been rock solid and never crashed. I wish I could say the same about the Microsoft backend in my C-Max.
Now back to the Model S. After dropping off Andrew’s wife, we proceeded to a road with fewer cars and stop lights. From a dead stop, I was thrown back into my seat as the very heavy Model S with its flat line electric torque rocketed the car forward. We never reached the maximum acceleration as we had to slow down again for traffic and there was no question that the Model S had the horsepower to get up and go. Andrew’s Model S did not have the Tesla performance package and from my perspective did not need it. The one feature that was a little undersized was the breaking system, but it is not the goal of this luxury family car to be driven as a race car.
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and our drive wrapped up. Andrew parked his Model S and showed us a few of the features we hadn’t seen earlier. The trunk space is impressive and when you don’t have an engine under the hood you have an extra place to stash your gear. With 3 kids, I know how important having extra storage space in a car can be when traveling.
As much as I would love to own a Tesla Model S, the $90,000 price tag for this model is going to have to wait until a few other more pressing needs are met like saving for college for 3 kids. As Tesla scales up production, and the prices of technology come down, I hope that someday soon we will seriously be in the position to consider this American made all electric vehicle. There is one final design detail I will share with you, which I think is my irrational favorite feature of the Model S – The Car Shaped Key Fob.
Happy Green Driving!
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