THIS week I had the pleasure of going for a drive in a Tesla Model S. It was, hands down, the most incredible car I’d ever been inside.
I didn’t drive it – the owner, Shepparton’s Bill Parsons, did – but that was enough to get a good feel.
If you think electric cars are just normal cars with a whiny electric motor, you’re wrong.
When it comes to this Tesla S, every aspect of the driving experience is better.
First of all, let’s start where all drives start: Acceleration.
The latest generation of Model S Teslas can get you from stationary to 100km/hr in 2.1 seconds. Just consider that for a moment. It takes an F1 car about 2.6.
Getting from 0 to 100 in 2 seconds would feel like you’re about to launch into orbit.
I’m not sure if Bill’s car hits those numbers exactly. His version is a previous model coming up on its fourth birthday. But no matter. When Bill “put the boot in”, as he says, I definitely felt something very different to what my 2008 Lancer feels like. It’s terrifyingly capable.
Any discussion of electric cars is peppered with ‘Yeah, but..?’ questions.
So here are Bill’s answers to some of the most common questions: Yeah, but the range? 380km. Yeah, but what if you run out of power? You won’t. The car will warn you if you get too far from home or a Tesla supercharger.
Yeah, but it’s expensive, right? Charging at a Tesla supercharger is free, and fast.
Otherwise at home, Bill plugs the car into the 30-amp single phase charger in his garage which puts 30km/hr in the car every hour.
He’s calculated it costs about 50c an hour to charge the car, or less than $7 for a full charge. So, the Tesla works out at about 4 cents per kilometre. Bill’s other car, a glorious 1999 S Class Mercedes-Benz, works out at about 20 cents per kilometre.
Then there is an annual Tesla service that costs $600.
We cruise around town for a bit and Bill tells me more good stuff about the car. Anything logical and common sense about driving – Tesla has thought of it.
You can drive without touching the steering wheel. The car will do it all. However, that’s illegal in Victoria. Bill has a mate who drives a Tesla and was getting a bit laissez-faire about holding the wheel when the car had such a good grip on things. He soon got a call from Tesla asking him to please keep both hand on the wheel. Because Tesla know. There are sensors, and everything is transmitted back to base, mainly for the purpose of software upgrades for the car – something that happens every month or so while you sleep.
Inside, a giant touchscreen is the centre console. Any setting you want to adjust can be done, almost iPad style, on the touchscreen.
The boot is a boot, and under the bonnet, there’s another boot. That’s because the battery sits over the back axle.
The thing is incredibly beautiful. It’s ethereal. Even after nearly four years of driving, Bill’s Tesla looks like it just rolled out of the showroom.
They aren’t cheap, and the buy-in price has certainly been a barrier to the take up of electric vehicles (EV) in Australia, but according to Bill, “if people experienced them and go for a drive in them, they’d start to have second thoughts.”
If you, or anyone you know, is passionate about their car, motorbike, bicycle, or wheelbarrow (basically anything with wheels), please get in contact with The Adviser at [email protected] Happy driving!