Tesla Model S Sedan
21 Feb

Virtues of the Tesla Model S

I dream of the day I that I never have to go to the gas station again. No, I’m not protesting our country’s dependence on foreign oil. I’m not sticking it to the petroleum industrial complex. I’m not trying to minimize my carbon footprint and I’m not even trying to save money. It’s just that the gas station is the most depressing place on the planet. Outside you’ve got confused soccer moms who don’t know which side of their minivan the gas cap is on. Inside, you’ve got the sad foreign guy guarding pyramids of tall-boy energy drinks, cigarettes and meat-like products.

So, I really want to like electric cars. But the auto industry isn’t giving me much to work with. I’ve driven the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. They’re pretty slow to charge and they don’t have what I consider to be an acceptable range.

And then there’s the styling. The Leaf can be best-described as Spartan, but the word “joyless” also comes to mind. The Volt is a little better on looks, but that’s kind of like being the tallest midget at the circus. They’re both passable commuter cars—if you’re the conspicuous conservation type and don’t care about ever being seen driving one.

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But now finally we have an all-electric vehicle that car enthusiasts can get behind — Tesla’s new Model S. This feels like the car of the future to me. It’s as close to delivering on the promise of electric cars that I’ve seen and no other electric car comes close to it.

Tesla’s Roadster model was based on a chassis from Lotus, but the S was designed brand new from top to bottom in only two years. The styling is fresh and modern without looking like a spaceship. It’s just a good-looking, low-slung four door touring car by any measure.

The Tesla’s range is a big improvement over other electric cars. The base model is rated at a 160 miles, while the model with the 85kw battery is rated at 265 miles. (Some customers have reported getting as much as 400 miles, but 265 is all they can officially claim.) But Tesla has already installed nine “Supercharger” stations, and plans to have 100 of them in operation by 2015. These stations have 480 volt, industrial-grade chargers where you can fully recharge your Tesla in an hour — for free.

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Aside from the performance and coachwork, the interior is cleanly-appointed and dripping with technology. Most of the car’s functions can be controlled from a 17-inch touchscreen, including one of the largest sunroofs I’ve ever seen. And the car just turns itself on when you get near it and off when you leave. It makes clicking a key fob and turning a key feel like building the Panama Canal.

As if that weren’t enough, you don’t have to give up anything in terms of driving excitement. The Model S has tons of torque. The performance model does zero to sixty in 4.4 seconds. The regular S does it in “only” 5.6 seconds. And keep in mind that this isn’t some spyder pea shooter. This is in a 4,600-pound sedan that can comfortably seat 5 adults and has two trunks.

Plus, you never have to see weirdos at the gas station again.

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Comments (21)

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  1. RickELake says:

    There is no denying that TESLA stands alone in accomplishing what no other manufacturer has managed to even approach: creating an- ALL ELECTRIC vehicle that has a driving range that competes with a fueled vehicle. TESLA has achieved ranges of 250 miles while BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and GM at best can manage about 40.

    TESLA also had the vision to make the car attractive which thankfully has not been lost on Cadillac with the intro of their new hybrid electric that looks as great as the concept – a repent for the sins of Chevrolet who pulled a “bait and switch” by teasing the public a sleek coupe and delivered a dorky-looking 4 door.

    At the moment, TESLA can sell every car they can build – and while the “newness” is maintained, can get away with things other manufacturers can not – namely the interior quality.

    With the average Model S selling near $80k, the interior in the car does not reach the level of luxury or quality of an equivalently priced Mercedes or BMW at HALF that much. The Tesla is sparse. The door panels are formed panels and have none of the re-assuring bank vault sounds of a Mercedes; While relatively clean in layout with a fantastic ipad tpe control interface, the computer screen iyself appears almost stuck on to the dash rather than integrated into it – a look that could be achieved in any car with a little velcro.

    The thin shell seating is also lacking in comfort, leather feel and side bolstering with the rear seats bordering on ” econobox generic” .

    TESLA’s CEO has made it very plain that early adopters are paying a premium for the technology development and his goal is to reduce pricing to the $45k range. If that is true, then the interiors are closer to ” acceptable” -but at current pricing – way off the mark.

    I for one look forward to the Model X….and wish them continued success, but these issues must be addressed before volume capability exceeds demand.

    • ATorres says:

      At first glance, what caught my eye was the exterior is is pretty stylish for an electric car but the interior as you say is pretty bland. The touch screen console does look like an iPad stuck into the interior with velcro. All in all, not a bad looking car but the price is out there.

    • Mitch says:

      Give them a break and don’t compare this car to a Mercedes. Mercedes, with all their money, should be ashamed of themselves for not being able to come up with a car like this. The “bank vault sound” you speak of means nothing. I have a mercedes and even though the doors sound like a bank vault, after ten years this car is a basket case of broken parts and rusted metal. New technology like the Tesla always costs more at first and then eventually comes don in price.

      • Mitch says:

        In fact Mercedes does have an electric concept car that gets only around 40 miles per charge and has an estimated price tag upwards of $500k.

  2. Merle Swain says:

    In the future I’m hoping you will build a P.U. truck, all wheel drive capable of pulling a light load. More of a luxury car design but with capabilities of a light truck.

  3. very very nice and new vehicle I would get one if I was able to afford it…? I like the new look and designed.

  4. george says:

    So many cars today including this one look like BMW styling nothing new, but copying is a form of flattery.

    • Mitch says:

      Looks more like a Jaguar than a BMW. Although, I’ve seen one on the street and I think it looks better that either one.

      • Mitch says:

        It’s an electric car! Don’t compare it to BMW. No German company has an electric car which gets this kind of milage from a single charge…

      • Adam B says:

        I agree very similar to the Jaguar XJ design almost like they a used a photocopier to do the design work. If you are worried about mpg when buying a luxury car get the Jag with the diesel engine option. That way you will get a better car and as a bonus it will have less negative impact on the environment when you factor in the nasty process of creating those batteries.

  5. Walt Silfies says:

    I have not yet driven the model s and won’t until I get serious about a purchase. I am most excited about the chassis and drive train. If I could buy a model s I’d be inclined to remove the bodywork just behind the driver’s seat and replace it with one of several aft ends depending on my needs of the day. Choices would include :1) a standard open pickup, 2) an SUV with 2 or 4 seats that fold into the floor like some mini vans, 3) a sleek tail forming a two seat sports car with loads of luggage space, 4) yes, the sporty 4 or 5 seat sedan (the model s). I’ve always wanted to create a ‘Shopsmith’ (multi tool) for the auto world. This platform seems to be the best base I’ve seen for the project. Anyone want to join me in a fun project?

  6. Joe LaBruzza says:

    Sounds exciting, with about 250 miles between charging, and it’s acceleration you really have my attention…but then again, the price is way out there for the average day to day working person.
    Keep in touch for when the price drops, I’d love to take one for a drive.
    Thank you

    Joe

  7. Delos Filyaw says:

    Since we are dreaming what about a car for the average person. A car that
    has a range that would reach the work place shopping mall etc. have chargers
    at home, at work, at the mall, with pay at the pump. Just another thought.

    • Robert stewart says:

      I would love to be able to purchase one of the TESLA S model but it is not a car for the masses. I cannot afford one and I cannot find ANY recharging stations within 1000 miles. So it is just a waste of my time reading about it.

  8. eBay Motors says:

    Check out our latest Tesla Model X concept vehicle debut from the Detroit Auto Show this past January. http://bit.ly/YBNOSU

  9. Adam B says:

    Wow I am surprised Adam Carolla really phoned this one in. It was written like an add for the Tesla S, did they help with the content. Seems like a cut and paste job of talking points from their website. I didn’t see anything about the actual driving experience. This is one really disappointing piece of writing. Seems like one more voice for the petrolheads has lost his credibility. I am sorry to say it but this was rubbish.

  10. RPD says:

    So you never stop at a gas station, but you hang around the charging station for an hour? Maybe they’ll have a little shop there with a foreign guy guarding the stack of energy drinks and meat-like products.

  11. To RPD says:

    Remember you can charge at home overnight for your daily commutes… When you have to du supercharger at least it’s free:)

    The cars design is really good, specious and the range beats all others hands down. I don’t agree with Velcro comments. But most importantly it is the performance: 4.4s to 4.1s 0 to 62mph and supercar like lower point of gravity. That’s what is the top exciting. Plus it’s a quite ride.

  12. To RPD says:

    Sorry about my spelling above:/

  13. Tom says:

    How do the batteries hold up in intense heat like Nevada and Arizona ?

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