New Tesla Model Test Driven

Samuel Gibbs test-drives a Tesla Model-S. Photograph: Antonio Zazueta Olmos

Samuel Gibbs test-drives a Tesla Model-S. Photograph: Antonio Zazueta Olmos

Its availability is limited to a few places. Its numbers are limited, period. But in the UK it is about to grow a new market, so this review is timely. We are not in the business of promoting automobiles or other consumer products but several La Paz Group contributors have been in the vicinity of the home location of this car and its claims of zero emissions are such that we could not help noting this remarkable thing:

…Inside it’s all premium Silicon Valley technology. Musk likes to think of Tesla as the “Apple” of cars, which might explain why there is what looks like a large iPad complete with Apple-style graphics where the centre console should be. The 17in touchscreen controls almost everything about the car, from the air conditioning and music to opening the sunroof and firing up the heated windscreen wipers.

Below the screen the floor is entirely flat, while in front of the driver the traditional gauges and dials are replaced by digital instruments displaying battery charge, power usage, range and speed – no rev counter needed.

There’s no key hole or start button to speak of. Simply placing the car in drive with the key somewhere on your person kickstarts the car into life. Place your foot on the accelerator and off you rush.

“The Model S will do 0-60mph in 4.2 seconds powered by a motor the size of a lady’s handbag,” quipped Georg Ell Tesla’s UK director.

It is a thrilling rush reaching 60mph as fast as a Lamborghini Gallardo, throwing you and your passengers back into their seats. The only real difference is that there is no roar of the engine, just a squeal of the tyres on the road, a space for five passengers with all their luggage.

But beyond that, driving the Model  S is as easy as any other car despite the power under the hood. There are no gears, no automatic gear box to deal with, just a surge of constant power that only a linear electric motor can provide. Mark me impressed, this is no G Whiz or Nissan Leaf, this is the Aston Martin or Audi of the electric car world. However, the car certainly feels heavy and despite a low centre of gravity you can feel it in the corners, as you would any large performance saloon.

Prices start at £49,900 for the 60kWh version rising to £69,080 for the 85kWh Performance model and £98,000 with all the options. Tesla’s battery warranty spans eight years – even if the battery is damaged by user negligence, while the car comes with a four-year warranty.

Claims of zero emissions are slightly disingenuous, given that the electricity has to come from somewhere. Attached to the British domestic supply it will still contribute at least 85g/km of carbon to the environment costing around £10 to fully charge. The average new car in the UK emits 128.3g/km in 2013 according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, however.

Meanwhile, three minutes well spent over at the BBC on the man behind this phenomenon:

Tesla boss Elon Musk has said he believed the electric car company would fail during the economic recession, but was not afraid to invest large amounts of money into the business.

The billionaire, who made his fortune from the online payments system PayPal and internet start-up Zip2, told the BBC’s Justin Rowlatt that he enjoys working on technology that will have a “positive effect on the world”.


3 thoughts on “New Tesla Model Test Driven

  1. Pingback: More On Tesla’s Mr. Musk | Raxa Collective

  2. Pingback: The Dumbest Experiment In History, By Far | Raxa Collective

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