Drove a Tesla this week. A normal Tesla, not a dealership test drive, but with somebody that works at Tesla. A Model 3 with 90,000 miles on it over two years. Yep, it’s been ‘run in’ shall we say.
He was visiting and turned up in the Model 3, to which I told him that I had never even breathed on a Tesla before. Of course I know about them, who doesn’t but never felt inclined to really check one out. On that comment though he said “Let’s go for a drive then” and promptly jumped in the passenger seat. OK, looks like I’m driving. I wasn’t timid though, I was thinking this was going to be cool.
Starting off I learnt something immediately. In a Tesla there is no ‘coasting’. You are either accelerating, travelling at the same speed, or slowing down. What I mean is that you don’t actually need the brake peddle. Yes, that was weird too at first but then logical. If you ease off the accelerator it slows you down and will bring you a stop, recovering energy. So you drive it effectively like that. It does have a brake peddle if you want but I don’t think I used it at all. That’s the thing, braking in a Tesla is all about recovering energy back into the battery. Brilliant.
We leave the neighbourhood and get onto a main road, wide and open. He tells me to floor it and see what happens………… Holy crap….. It got up to speed incredibly fast, faster than the 6.2L SS Camaro that we used a tank of gas in 2 days as a rental car. And no gear changes, just the equivalent of 600HP straight to all four wheels up to any speed you want. That’s when I discovered the fatal flaw in the Tesla…….
It has no soul!
It was deafeningly QUIET. No sound at all apart from a bit of tyre noise. That’s when he declared that this car was essentially a ‘Transportation Appliance’. You see we got on to the road heading to the charge station, heehee, and he turned on the auto drive. That was the strangest freaking thing in the world. It steered, accelerated, stopped for red lights, knew about the cars around it and even changed lanes automatically when I flicked the turn signal. I turned it off, it was too strange. As a driver of many cars, I enjoy holding the wheel, being in control and feeling the road. The auto drive may be awesome technology but I felt very unsafe. It felt like I wasn’t in control and that, hey, let the ten year old drive.
But…… here’s the thing. If you were working out your complex formulas on a spreadsheet, would you trust the computer to do it or would you prefer to do it by hand with a pencil. Here’s the same question, would you prefer the dual computers that collect and analyse data from the cameras, GPS, known hazards etc., which is then compared by a third computer to make sure the other two agree, to make the driving decisions. Or do you let your brain do it. OK so I would have more driving ‘experience’ but the computer doesn’t get tired, it doesn’t think about other things, it does the job it was designed to do. And does it incredibly well. I could see you a computer game an image of all the other cars around me on the screen. I think if I had one I would get used to it. Probably, maybe, but will I ever find out.
Power and Cost
Charge station was easy, just plug it in, walk away and come back 20 minutes later. A cool journey because we talked and compared, discussed and debated the technology and experience the entire journey. Calculating that on a road trip, my Jetta GLI would have the same effective cost by mile as the Tesla. In town though, it would be about half. Not because the GLI is inefficient, but because on the open road you aren’t harvesting energy so the Tesla is simply using it. In town every time you slow down you are putting energy back in the battery, making it a cheaper trip. Interesting to try and compare these two very different concepts.
Would I buy one?
Nope. I wouldn’t. But that is not because it is a crap car, it is awesome. It drives beautiful, sticks to the road and has a lot of power with no lag. It has unrivalled technology and it is truly a marvel of the modern age. I would buy one if I simply needed a ‘Transportation Appliance’. To get in, not think about much and just get from A to B. Sure, the whole experience was breath taking and you could very well get a few speeding tickets in one, but the main reason is that is simply (like I said earlier) has no soul. 🙁 I would rather invest, and I say invest because cars are an investment in experience, in a Dodge Challenger Hellcat (Hemi 6.2). Now that car has a soul. A loud, extraverted and obnoxious soul. I could be driven around slowly and still make a statement. Why not a Mustang or Camaro? Well I have driven them all, which was an advantage of having the pick of the lot at National Car Rental Executive Lot on business trips as I did so damn many of them before the world went mad with the virus. But, the Challenger was the most enjoyable driving position and overall feeling of joy. That is however another article I think.
Thanks to Paul C for letting me have the Tesla experience, of which I enjoyed immensely. I will take you for a ride in my Challenger once I get it. 🙂