Would you agree to buy a $200 to $600 smart phone if they told you up-front it would never, ever get a software upgrade, bug fixes or any new features as long as you owned it? Heck NO!
So why have we continued to be satisfied buying cars (which are from 60x to 300x more expensive than a smart phone) that do not have the ability to get upgrades and feature enhancements after purchase? The time was right for someone to completely change this paradigm! Welcome Elon Musk and his Tesla Motorcars.
I had the opportunity to take my first test drive of a Tesla last week. And WOW was I smitten!
First, the buying experience is just that…an experience! Every aspect, from my first visit to their website to arriving in the showroom, made me feel special. My Senior Ownership Advisor, Peter, was very friendly and welcomed me enthusiastically at appointment time, quickly taking me outside to see what all the fuss was about.
The exterior of the car is appealing with smooth, streamlined curves. Peter pointed out that the cars have no radiator grill and have door handles that extend outward as you approach, and then automatically fold away for an aerodynamic shape. As a result of this and other design features, Tesla cars have the lowest coefficient of drag (0.24) vs. many other comparably built cars, meaning the car has improved performance through air, in speed and energy use.
Next, he showed me the summons feature. With the press of a button on the car-shaped key-fob, the car backed itself out of its parking space! Then, pressing the same button, the car put itself back in the same spot! The Tesla will do this at your home, including opening and closing the garage door when you summon it or ask it to go back inside. Truly amazing!
The interior of the car is like no other. Typically, dashboards are flooded with buttons, lights and controls. The Tesla’s sleek interior design is equipped with a 17-inch
touchscreen that controls almost everything from media to climate control. This sedan is luxurious and roomy and even has a “Frunk” (front facing trunk) in addition to traditional rear end storage.
After familiarizing myself with the controls, it was time for a test drive. I was most excited to experience the difference between Sport mode and Ludicrous to see what all the hype was about.
We left the Mt. Kisco dealership and he took me to a back road and as I reached a straightaway before an incline, Peter instructed me to come to a full stop. He set the car into “Ludicrous” mode (maximum power) and asked me to “hit it!” I put the pedal to the metal (remember – it is not a “gas” pedal in this car!). It goes zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds! (Really!)
Let’s just say there is no car with as much hype as the Tesla Model P90D. It accelerates faster than most Lamborghini, Porsche or Ferrari models AND is much quicker off the line when first starting.
I also test-drove it on the highway to experience “Auto Pilot”. As I merged onto 684, which has three lanes, Peter asked me to get into the center lane and pull a little lever forward twice. Once I did that, the car took over and began driving itself! I removed my hands and feet from the controls and watched the heads-up display as I could see other cars and trucks being recognized on the sensors. With over 20 sensors – sonar, cameras, etc. around the car, it knows when to slow down or avoid an obstacle. It reads painted lines and can even sense soft objects like people. All I had to do to change lanes was hold down my turn signal, and the car did all the work.
The 17” computer-style display in the center console is BEAUTIFUL, with a full web browser (useful when your car is driving you around), internet music, GPS and something I didn't know I needed – a really high resolution backup camera you can use while driving to see what’s coming up behind you. (Most cars turn this off while driving.)
Here’s one from the “brilliant ideas” department. Ever notice that on most highways, if you veer a little over the white line on the side, you hear a vibrating hum coming from your wheels because you are driving over grooves carved by the Highway Department into the pavement for safety? Tesla does the same thing but does it virtually. It wakes you up in case you get sloppy by simulating those vibrating grooves electronically.
I drove in with a lot of preconceived notions. However, the car certainly didn’t disappoint. I would give it about 92% of what I expected (my head being plastered against the headrest), but 255% better than any other car I have driven. WOW! And not just in the straightaway, but as I maneuvered aggressively around some of tight turns, the car handled beautifully. It is smooth and very intelligent. Experiencing the Tesla was amazing and I was sold. I am thrilled to begin leasing the Tesla Model 70D in August ( the “D” for Dual Motor – which means all-wheel drive, good for these New England winters).
One of the most exciting things I look forward to in this car is the instant power you get, vs. every gasoline engine, where there can be a 2-second delay between pressing the pedal and feeling the power you need in a tight situation (such as in a turbo gasoline engine). The car has a 240-mile range (which is temperature and speed dependent). Most of my driving is around Connecticut, returning back to my garage each night (where I already have the proper connection for the car to charge). So for me it is a great fit. I will be elated never having to stop at a gas station except for snacks!
I hope, like me, you are excited about where things are going in the auto world. Hopefully you’ll hear back from me in late August when I report back on my first few weeks as a Tesla owner. Until then, happy trails.
By the way – please accept my apologies for all the times I say “Sweet!” in the videos. I felt like a teenager driving a car for the first time, and I guess that’s what we used to say way back in my teenage years.