By on July 2, 2013

 

Sergey Brin's pink Tesla

 

(or, the interior monologue of a tech geek thinking about buying an overpriced electric car)

In 2007, we spent a year living in the San Francisco Bay Area while I was on sabbatical at Stanford and SRI (it’s good to be a professor.) My five-mile daily bike commute from Redwood City took me through Atherton, one of the wealthiest neighborhoods around. Of course I had to worry about all the expensive German car drivers running me off the road while distracted by their brand new iPhones, but I also saw a seemingly disproportionate number of gleaming Maserati Quattroportes. I started thinking of them as the Honda Accord for the rich stylish nerd set.

For this summer’s family vacation, we headed back to our old stomping grounds, staying in Redwood City again, seeing old friends, and watching lots of expensive cars drive by. After a solid week there, I didn’t see a single Quattroporte, but I saw a whole lot of the Tesla Model S. It seems the rich stylish nerds have found their new love.

Much like I did three years ago with the Tesla Roadster, I went back to the Tesla dealership in Menlo Park and asked about test driving a Model S. Apparently I lucked out and one was immediately available. (Normally you need to schedule these test drives beforehand.) I’d been emailing Tesla’s press people months in advance, since I really wanted to spend my whole vacation week in a Model S with the hopes of writing a piece for TTAC about the full week’s experience. Tesla’s press people totally flaked on me, so a regular test drive was the best I could manage.

How much of a verdict can I reach in a half-hour behind the wheel, driving a mix of city, highway, and mountain twisties? A couple things are clear. The Model S is a really fun car to drive. Much like the Tesla Roadster, the Model S really takes off. There’s just zero latency between stomping your right foot and feeling the power of the force flowing through you. It’s a liberating experience. My skeptical wife, who also took a turn behind the wheel, was similarly impressed, far more than she was expecting to be. Similarly, the road feel is fantastic. The Tesla handles like a high-end German car, and entirely unlike the floaty, nebulous Nissan Maxima that Hertz gave us. Make no mistake, the Tesla is a proper luxury performance grand touring car, well worthy of comparison to the best the Germans have to offer. If I was the founder of multiple dot-com IPOs, living beyond the economic concerns of mere mortals, I’d be driving a loaded Model S.

Sadly, I have limited funds. Could I still justify a Model S? Can it be a rational purchase? The closest comparison to the Tesla is probably the Audi A7, something that’s already twice the price of our current family hauler, but hey, I’m worth it, right? Both The Tesla S and the Audi A7 have a hatchback, giving you lots of usable storage. 0-60 times are pretty much the same. (The regular Tesla Model S with the 85kWh battery lines up nicely with the A7 and the Tesla Model S Performance blows away the Audi S7, at least on paper. For this review, I’ll consider the A7 vs. the “non-performance” 85kWh Tesla that I’d be most likely to buy. That’s also the Tesla that I test-drove.) The operative question: if you’re willing to pony up for an Audi A7, is it rational to instead buy yourself a Tesla Model S?

Were I to buy a Model S, there are a bunch of options that I’d need (yeah, “need”). Grand total for me: $84,220, after the U.S. federal government’s $7500 tax credit and before paying an electrician to install the plug in my garage. How about an Audi A7? Configured in a vaguely similar fashion, I get $65,000. (You can load up an A7 to cost just over $80,000 without trying too hard.)

If you line up the two cars, feature-by-feature, you have to work pretty hard to justify the nearly $20,000 premium for the Tesla. Tesla’s biggest improvement over the competition is its massive touch-screen telematics package. It’s something you can immediately operate without reading the manual. The Audi MMI system, with buttons, dials, and touchpad handwriting recognition (!), seems like you’ll never figure it all out. Both systems will inevitably demand enough of your visual attention to be a serious driving hazard, but at least an untrained passenger will have a fighting chance in a Tesla. I’m a bit more concerned with how well each car will fare through a hot Texas summer. The Tesla lets you turn on the A/C from your smartphone before you’re anywhere near the car. That’s a serious win if you can remember to do it. Conversely, the Audi (top of the line “prestige” model only) has ventilated front seats, which are the greatest thing ever on a hot day (and not available on the Tesla). The Audi pulls ahead with standard AWD (not very important for us, but critical if you deal with snow and ice) and has optional gadgety features that Tesla surprisingly lacks, like adaptive cruise control, heads up display, etc. The Tesla wins on being stunningly silent and being electric. (No really, electric is cool. Fun, even.) If you live in California, the Tesla lets you have a magic sticker for using the carpool lanes even when you’re driving solo. That alone might be decisive for some buyers.

You can try to play the “electricity is cheaper than gas” game, for which Tesla has a handy-dandy online calculator. My wife and I put 10,000 miles a year on our primary car. A Model S might then save us $2000 per year relative to the fuel costs for an A7. Ten years for a electric car purchase to start becoming relatively cheaper than the gas car? That’s not good enough. What about one of my colleagues who has a 60 mile daily round-trip from one of the distant Houston suburbs? He might put 20,000 miles a year on a Model S, leading to a financial break-even in five years; that almost works. (FYI, he just recently bought a brand-new BMW 328i after carefully considering then rejecting the Tesla.) Tesla makes the argument that they will be more reliable than a traditional car by virtue of not having fluids to change, timing belts to wear out, and so forth. Certainly, regular maintenance on that Audi can get quite pricey once the warranty period is expired; notably, another colleague of mine had an early 2000’s Audi Allroad Quattro, and its turbocharged engine suffered some very expensive failures; but then who really knows about the Tesla? How well will the battery pack hold up in the heat and humidity of Houston? Will the unnecessarily complex pop-out door handles have early failures? Will the Tesla’s leather-wrapped dashboard shrivel up and need to be replaced every three years, like the BMW Z3 Coupe I once owned?

In the back of my head, I’ve got a list of things that might flip me into the Tesla column. Can I drive it from Houston to visit my parents in Dallas? Tesla announced a charging station somewhere half-way up I-45 to open “this summer,” making that drive entirely feasible. How about a “valet” mode to keep hot-rod parking attendants from abusing our expensive car? Tesla had it in the Roadster, but not yet the Model S. What about parking in tight spaces? Tesla has a basic backup camera, but no parking distance radar, fancy 360-degree cameras, or even an electronic overlay on the backup camera to put its fisheye view into a more usable perspective. How about a ground sensor or even a “GPS fence” trigger so the air suspension will automatically lift the car up when it gets near our steep driveway? Today you’ve got to push buttons on the screen, while I would prefer it to happen automatically, since if you forget once, you trash the car’s pretty schnoz. Of course, Tesla has been adding features as software upgrades, so at least some of this could well happen later, but Tesla naturally won’t guarantee anything.

Regardless, Tesla has built a truly great car. For the price-insensitive buyer, particularly somebody who wants the extra zoom-zoom of the Model S Performance ($109,220 loaded, after tax credit) without the V8 mileage penalty that comes with a car like the Audi S7 ($94,925 loaded), and with the Model S Performance blowing the Audi S7 out of the water, at least on paper, the Tesla is going to win the sale. For somebody trying to make a rational purchase of a luxury car (which is, if you really try to think about it, a pretty irrational thing to do), the real action will happen in a few years, both when Tesla releases their allegedly $40,000 “Blue Star” model, and as well as when current Model S cars start showing up on the used market.

Speaking of the used market, what about those beautiful Maserati Quattroportes? If you poke around on eBay and look at completed auctions, the handful that actually find buyers, you can see a car that once cost well north of $100,000 is now selling used with low mileage for a third or less of its original selling price. A new Quattroporte likewise commands a significant price premium over “comparable” German luxury performance cars, just like the Tesla Model S. I don’t know how many people there are out there willing to pay a premium for a fashionable luxury performance touring car, but it would appear that the Tesla is conquering this market quite effectively, at least in the San Francisco Bay Area. This also suggests, however, that when the new hotness comes along, Tesla could be out of fashion just as quickly as it came in.

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106 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2013 Tesla Model S (85 kWh battery)...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Elon’s “Tesla for Two”?…

    • 0 avatar
      TecnamTwin

      Let me answer some of the fear and misinformation that the author is putting out.

      The Tesla Model S is not overpriced. Yes there are other vehicles in the same class that can be had for cheaper. However, there are others that are more expensive Porsche Panamera, Jaguar XJ, Maserati Quattroporte, Aston Martin Rapide, etc.

      It’s a great car and thus is worth it to many people. Pure economics is not all there is. The efficiency, convenience of filling up at home, never buying gas, tons of cargo space, roomy interior, the superior characteristics of an electric motor; these are the reasons to buy it.

      Considering that the 60kWh Model S has been posting 0-60 times as low as 5.1 sec, the 85kWh version could possibly do the deed in less than 5 sec. That blows away the A7 in terms of performance.

      I noticed that you picked the least expensive competitor, Audi, to compare the Model S with. A comparable BMW 5-series or Mercedes E-class is only $10,000 less than the Model S, making the “payback period” (imagine that!) 5 years or less. This means that if you keep it for 5 years and drive the average of 12,000 miles per year, you can get a better car for less.

      AWD tech is overrated. The Tesla Model S has been demonstrated with winter/snow tires to be as good as AWD luxury sports car. It’s weight, low center of gravity, and extremely precise traction control keep it stable and tracking in the right direction. However, AWD tech is coming to the Model S next year.

      Tesla’s vehicle already have a track record. They’ve been on the road since 2008 and have racked up over 30 million miles. There are Tesla’s in the deserts of Arizona and the the mountains of Norway. In both places, they have proven themselves to be superior vehicles. Their climate controlled batteries have stood the test of time and overuse in at least one case. (A Roadster owner drove his 40,000 miles in one year) The battery packs will be at 80% capacity in 8-10 years depending on use. So far, there have been no serious maintenance issues with any of Tesla’s vehicles. Their quality is exceptional.

      You’re just throwing smoke about the door handles. Jaguar trusts them in their beautiful new F-type. Again, about the leather dash, OF COURSE NOT! Does a 3 year old Mercedes E350 shed it’s leather?

      On paper the S7 appears to be slower, but at the dragstrip, it is almost identical with a 0-60 in 3.9 sec. and a quarter in 12.3 sec., due to Audi underrating the engine at 420 hp.

      The Model S is a true 5-seater + 2 giving it the edge on every other 4+1 luxury/sport car, and it has a frunk. As it stands, the Model S is one of the best cars in the world.
      The Model S 2.0 will be THE best car in the world with AWD, bigger battery option, and all those little features that you mentioned were currently not available in the Model S. By that time (in two years), the Supercharger and Battery Swap stations will blanket the nation, enabling coast to coast travel quickly or for free.

      As far as your insinuation that the Model is a fad, Consider this. The celebrities and early adopters have their cars, and yet the orders keep rolling in.

      It has fewer limitations than you think. It’s freeing to drive electric. For 95% of driving, you never have to worry about filling up, EVER. You always wake up to a full tank. Just go wherever you want, come home, plug in, and do something else like eating dinner or sleeping.
      Try it. You’ll never go back.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Nice Tesla commercial… so how long have you worked for Tesla? Or did you just buy one?? LOL

      • 0 avatar

        For what it’s worth, I really do want a Tesla. It’s very much a car pointed right at me, and I’ve been an early adopter of lots of other tech gadgets. (Example: I spent well north of $1000 to have an “empeg” MP3 player in my car in 2000.)

        I chose the Audi A7 as a point of comparison because it’s simply the closest car on the market to the Tesla. Both have a hatchback, giving them lots of stuff-hauling capability. Both are fast and luxurious. The only other car that “comes close” in terms of performance and utility is probably the Porsche Panamera. Assuming you can find a base model, that’s $75,850, and you can spend as much as $200,000 by the time you get a turbo and option it up. So yes, the Audi is cheaper, but well, it’s a very good car that happens to be cheaper!

        With regard to the door handles and the interior leather, I promise you I’m not throwing smoke. From poking around the Tesla forums, it seems there have already been a variety of issues with those door handles not operating and/or needing to be replaced. In the world of computer engineering, there’s a common term called the “complexity budget”. When Intel builds their next CPU, they start with an existing one and then proceed to make it better, but it’s mostly the same. They carefully argue about where they’re going to improve things to make sure that the resulting chip comes out on time. To me, the Tesla’s pop-out door handles are a symptom of mismanagement of the engineering complexity budget. You could put perfectly aerodynamic regular, mechanical door handles on there, and you’d have one less thing to fail. Similarly, my 2000 BMW Z3 Coupe came with a leather wrapped dashboard. Park that in the heat and sun of Houston and the leather starts shrinking. This causes it to pull up from the sides. Once, BMW replaced my entire dashboard under warranty. The second time, after my warranty was out, I paid a third-party guy to cut new leather and install it. I sold the car before there was a third time. The problem wasn’t that BMW used cheap shit leather. The problem was that leather is the wrong material for a hot climate.

        And lastly, just to be clear, I’m not “insinuating” that the Tesla is a fad. I’m saying outright that it’s a fad, and that’s no bad thing. Tesla built a beautiful and awesome car, and people buy beautiful and awesome cars. Some of them will love them and others, in retrospect, not so much. If and when the competition wakes up and starts shipping competitive electric cars for competitive prices, you will see a market shift. Likewise, there may be other faddish things that people jump on (self-driving cars?), which may or may not be electric. That’s how the industry works.

        • 0 avatar

          “Likewise, there may be other faddish things that people jump on (self-driving cars?), which may or may not be electric. That’s how the industry works.”

          There will probably be significant overlap in self-driving cars and electric cars.

          On a 600 mile trip, does it matter much if it takes you 10 hours vs 11 hours to get there, if you’re sitting in the back working / sleeping / drinking / entertained? How much time and stress does a flight + rental cost?

          No charging station at work? No problem, the self-driving car can drop you off, zip down a block to the fast-charging pad, charge, then re-park near work.

          Or it can tie into the grid and act as grid storage. (likely resulting in free charging)

          Car-sharing services like zipcar and self-driving electrics are virtually made for each other.

        • 0 avatar
          fletch00

          Noticed many more Model S’s on the road after the financing deal was announced:

          http://green.autoblog.com/2013/05/03/tesla-lowers-model-s-financing-costs-guarantees-highest-resale/

          $500/month

          When the lease is up, we trade in for the next model:

          http://wtkr.com/2013/07/06/spacex-tests-rocket-that-hovers-lands-vertically-video/

      • 0 avatar

        I think of the Tesla Model S as competitive to the Mercedes CLS-class, which TTAC likes a bit better than the A7. The CLS is almost exactly the same price as the Tesla.

        I would tell MNMForever, who complains about your post being a commercial, to look at the Tesla forums. There are a lot of owners who feel the same way as you, even after a long period of ownership. Owners are comparing these cars to pricey Porsches, Mercedes, Audis, etc, and they are winning. That’s really impressive.

        I can’t afford a Tesla, so I am not an owner, but I’m looking forward to seeing affordable used Model Ss in a few years. I checked a few days ago and so far nobody’s willing to let go of a used Model S for under the retail price of a new one. Eventually that will change, but it’s still pretty darn impressive.

        D

  • avatar
    bunkie

    Consider this: ten years ago, electric cars were little more than golf carts. Now, they can compete almost directly with the benchmark German sedans. Yes, there are limitations. But people buy expensive things with limitations all the time. Just visit any marina near a tony neighborhood for evidence of that.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Love the comment about Quattroportes in Atherton. One of my college buddies lives in Atherton and — yup — he owns a Quattroporte (or did; I think he traded for their convertible, whatever that’s called).

    Even though I think electric cars are a green fail, when you include total life environmental effects, I have to salute Elon Musk for delivering a fully-functioning exotic car that is at least as credible in its own way as some from established manufacturers that use gasoline engines. (I’m thinking of how the SMG in my friend’s Quattroporte, shuddered and juddered along at parking lot speeds.)

    • 0 avatar
      johnrysf

      Hey DC Bruce:

      Nope, EV’s are not at all a “green fail”. I’ve read a lot, as proper “well-to-wheels” analyses get complicated in a hurry. Here’s a good summary number: Given the current mix of power generation in the US, battery electric vehicles (BEV’s) reduce CO2 emissions by an average of ~38.5% compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. Think ~40%, and getting even better in the near future because of…

      3 important qualifiers:

      (1) Emissions: Coal provides about 1/2 of US power now, but that percentage has been declining each year for several years, and reg’s have been forcing coal power plants to get cleaner. Meanwhile, renewables and natural gas are coming into the mix pretty fast.

      BEV’s give you a big benefit over ICE vehicles: Cleaning up electrical power generation plants is relatively easy and effective, so, overall well-to-wheels emissions get cleaner – faster, cheaper, and easier. When you think of improving the emissions controls – and keeping them tuned up – on millions of vehicles, versus controlling stack emissions at a few dozens big, stationary power plants, things sorta’ come into focus.

      (2) Efficiency: ICE’s are 20-25% efficient. Power plants are ~90% efficient, including distribution losses. These numbers suggest ~4x greater thermodynamic efficiency for power plants/BEV’s vs. ICE vehicles. So, we get the same bang with 1/4 of the energy. Interestingly, while electrical rates can vary a lot, this ~4x effect comes up frequently as the savings floor for BEV’s. That is, the expected 75%, or greater, savings due to improved macrosystem efficiency due to your BEV flows right into your pocket.

      (3) Flexibility: Some utilities are already rolling out smart grid-connected storage utilizing BEV’s.

      EV’s typically charge at night, when utilities have unused capacity. In fact, the utilities, when connected to advanced BEV’s like the Tesla, stagger nighttime BEV (and other EV) loads to flatten and smooth demand. This is a great symbiosis of EV’s with the grid.

      But utilities aren’t stopping there. Your home and office take power from the grid as necessary. But, if you have solar, wind, or whatever home/office power generation, typically, at times, you pump power back into the smart grid. Beyond this, when EV’s are plugged into a smart grid, utilities are starting to use the grid to both charge your EV, and “borrow” power from your EV to meet peak loads. Tesla’s SuperChargers with solar panels have big batteries, and do this.

      The 38.5% CO2 reduction with EV’s comes from the best study I’ve found, “Emissions from Hybrid and Plug-In Electric Vehicles”, by the US Department of Energy, Alternative Fuels Data Center, at

      http://www.afdc.energy.gov/vehicles/electric_emissions.php.

      It has nice charts, it’s readable, and it’s backed up by a huge, comprehensive analysis. Pulling values from a chart on the first page, I compute that BEV’s give a [~(13-8)/13 = ~38.5%] reduction in CO2 over ICE vehicles. This is across the entire US; the chart shows the percentage of each contributing fuel source.

      The website has a calculator by Zip Code; for my Zip Code, 98104, the reduction in CO2 is [~(13-4.9)/13 = ~62.3%(!) We are powered by ~30% coal, plus 20% natural gas, plus small amounts of other sources. So, if the US mix went from the current 50% coal to 30% coal/20% natural gas, we’d see the EV-caused improvement in CO2 emissions over ICE vehicles go from ~40% to ~60% or more. Nice. Have fun – try it for your favorite region.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    As a Leaf driver, the Model S is my wanna-be car.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I went out to lunch with my Leaf-owning buddy today, in his Leaf. He said the exact same thing. And the ONLY thing keeping him from doing it is he doesn’t want his (life) partner to know how much his business REALLY makes. They have an INTERESTING relationship… :-)

      That was my longest ride in the Leaf yet, ~50 miles round trip. As a petrol head, I would rate it at “OK”. A nice econobox, but it ain’t no BMW and is in no way worth the silly MSRP. But as a $149/mo lease tax-deductible business errand running glorified golf-cart? I’d have one too! His other car is a Miata, and his partner has a Hampster-mobile, er, I mean Kia Soul, so their bases are covered quite nicely. Just one 13yo kid, so no need for anything bigger.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Considering the price of a Leaf is now mid-20s after rebate, I can’t consider that “silly” money. And if its maintenance costs are comparible to an ICE car (I expect they will be better), the Leaf has a total cost of ownership much lower than a Prius, which is an impressive feat.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          MSRP on my friend’s car was $34,500. For a car that is fundamentally a $20K car, I call that pretty silly.

          TCO may be low, but so is the utility outside of a narrow range of uses. He can BARELY make it to Portland and back from his place in the sticks. In the winter, if he wants to meet me for lunch in town, he HAS to plug it in at the Nissan dealer for a charge or he won’t make it home. And TCO is increased rather a lot by having to keep a second car around for longer trips.

          In this case, on the crazy cheap lease, and being able to deduct that lease, it makes all the sense in the world. But a Prius makes MORE sense overall, in that he could get rid of his other car too. If all you care about is absolute lowest TCO. And ultimately he bought it because he is a big tech geek, and he wanted it, and that is all that really counts.

          For the truly long term, don’t forget that a Prius is still usable with a mostly used up battery pack. A Leaf won’t be. Will be interesting to see how the range holds up over the 3-year lease.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Fortunately, when I got the Leaf I didn’t expect it to be a BMW.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    I live in the Bay area, and Model Ss are everywhere.

    While the Model S is nice, 85 large is a lot of coin to drop on any single car. For that kind of money you can buy a Boxster S for fun and still have 20 grand left over for a more practical 2nd vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      And what would be the point of that?

      I guess I’ve never understood the point. People who have one really nice car they never drive and one s*it box they spend all their time in. What’s the point of having a nice car if you never use it? To gaze at it loving in the garage while you rub it with a diaper?

      • 0 avatar
        darkwing

        I’m guessing you don’t get much snow where you live?

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          We do, they are called snow tires.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            I have snow tires for my BMW, and I still don’t normally drive it in the snow. Because of all the other idiots, I have a beater Jeep, also with snow tires. One of said idiots slid into me in the last storm of the year, dented the bumper. In the BMW I would have cried. In the Jeep, I cried out “Whooppie! $800 to spend on Porsche parts!” A few more hits and I will have that Porsche back on the road!

            Similarly, I generally don’t drive the BMW to Boston, nor do I usually drive it around town. The Jeep is much better in the bombed out big city full of Massholes, and my 500 Abarth is WAAAAAAY more fun around town here in Portland. The BMW gets used on road trips, at which it excels.

      • 0 avatar
        AMC_CJ

        I drive a 78′ Chevy sedan everyday, my wife use to commute in a very well used 01′ Jetta before she got a company vehicle. We had two much nicer, and newer cars sitting back home. Actually, I had a few more nicer older cars on top of that.

        So why? My money means something to me, maybe I just don’t make enough of it, I don’t know, but it kills me to spend all of that money on something nice and new, and then run it into the ground, especially when I’m still making payments on the 12′.

        Driving through dense idiotic traffic is no fun. 305hp on tap in the Mustang and nowhere to go. Terrible weather, etc. Why ruin a car on all of those awful daily trips when I could save it for a nice weekend, or when we travel out of town.

        On the plus side, in the 78′ sedan the bums don’t bother me (I work in an awful part of town) the thugs usually give me a little nod as I drive by, I don’t know why, but it’s better than being robbed. The potholes don’t kill the car, and when something breaks it’s cheap and easy to fix. I’m not trying to wear my money on my sleeve. , in fact, I find it very beneficial that I don’t most of the time.

        So why buy a nice new expensive car and run it into the ground? No really, why?

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “So why buy a nice new expensive car and run it into the ground?”

          That’s their purpose in life.

          Also, when it wears out, you can buy a new one that’s even better.

          • 0 avatar
            AMC_CJ

            First under the assumption that a new car is better. As of now, my 06′ Liberty CRD is irreplaceable with anything on the market. Nobody makes a smaller sized true SUV that can tow 5,000lbs, has a true drivetrain layout and 2spd transfer case, and get 30mpg. So I run it into the ground, then what? The new diesel GC runs nearly $50k, and I don’t really like it.

            So I save it for long trips and camping outings.

        • 0 avatar
          baggins

          because during the process of “running it into the ground,”, one enjoys a safe, comfortable conveyance.

          What good is your other car doing you in the garage?

          • 0 avatar
            AMC_CJ

            Safe, comfortable, conveyance? You sound like a greasy car salesman.

            I’ve been in two accidents with the 78′ since I started driving it. Both I came out fine, so did the car. The vehicles that hit it; not so much (that’s yet another reason why I don’t like to drive the nice cars every day). Both were not my fault.

            Comfortable? A big bench seat, a suspension that is unphased much by pot holes. It’s one of the most comfortable cars I own.

            Conveyance? That’s sales talk. Maybe my car doesn’t have that, but it does have a intimidation factor that is hardly beat. Be amazing how many people think twice about tail gating, cutting off, or just crossing the path of a old large dark green sedan rolling of black steel wheels. (It’s actually in pretty decent shape, just painted last year). Especially city streets and suburban shopping malls. That’s something I value immensely.

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          AMC_CJ, just FYI, your posts look very odd with the apostrophe for your dates on the wrong side.

      • 0 avatar
        mrhappypants

        Simple: Driving that “really nice car” every day amounts to sitting behind countless mini-vans and full-size SUVs, making it a waste.

        Try taking that Model S to the track, and see how far the battery gets you (while being passed by every Boxster and RX-8 also on the track with you). I’ll take Boxster and a Mazda 3 any day.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          The Model S’ range with normal driving is 265 miles. Race it, and maybe it drops to 80. How far do you need to drive at the track?

          Besides, the Model S may be track competent, but it’s meant to be a 5-passenger luxury performance sedan.

          • 0 avatar
            mrhappypants

            Unless you own your own track, or have a tow vehicle/trailer, you have to drive to said track. And get home. Good luck with that.

            The model S — god bless her — has far more performance than you can use every day, safely on the street. Sorry, but you still can’t beat the energy density of good old-fashioned dino juice.

  • avatar

    #1 As a Tesla shareholder who bought in below $28, I absolutely WANT Tesla to succeed. Any criticisms I have are out of LOVE.

    #2 The Model S is far too expensive. The starting price well into the $60,000 range means you could just as easily buy a huge number of sedans: SRT8 300, SRT8 Charger, Lincoln MKS, Cadillac XTS, Audi A(whatever), Mercedes E350, BMW5, and the list goes on and on. This car is for people who want to project the image of being “green” when the reality of EV’s is anything but. They simply shift the point of the pollution elsewhere.

    #3 While some will say “the car seats 7″, the jump seats are too small for larger children and there isn’t any airflow back there.

    #4 The seat upholstery even in the $100,000 signature models are no good for long distance driving. Too hard, no cooling function and a bit narrow.

    #5 Many people think the interior is spectacular because the touchscreen is so big. Look beneath it, and you’ll see the materials inside are no better than anything else America makes – with the XTS’ interior being #1.

    #6 I spent 6 hours behind the wheel of a Model S Performance driving a journalist route. Not having the sound of an engine is off putting. The regenerative brakes are annoying because they cut in immediately upon letting off the pedal. The lack of an engine sound only makes the road noise and brake cut in even more obvious.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “This car is for people who want to project the image of being “green””

      I’d think it’s far more about wanting the best of what’s new than about being green. Anyone car drive a dowdy E-Class, but if you want the latest and greatest you go with the Tesla.

      Think of back to 1890 and the people who were buying the first cars. Was it because the did a detailed cost/benefit of a car vs. horse vs. trolly? Or, was it because they wanted the cool new thing.

      • 0 avatar

        ” but if you want the latest and greatest you go with the Tesla.”

        Ummm – no…you go with Mercedes Benz W222 S550

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “Ummm – no…you go with Mercedes Benz W222 S550″

          That was once true. The S-Class was once where all new automotive technology was introduced. That’s not the case anymore.

          In that fact lies a lot of the appeal of the Tesla. To a significant degree BMW, Audi and Mercedes have been using gadgets and gimmicks to move metal, rather than the truly innovative technological change they were once know for.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          I seem to recall Car&Driver’s review of the the W140 S-Class in which they said,”It can be said, without reservation, that the new S-Class is the best car in the world.”

          In a world of 310 Kw Tesla Model-Ss, I don’t think that holds true any more.

        • 0 avatar

          The S550 is an interesting comparison for the Tesla. The S550 ranges from $95,000 on up and up and up. This lines it up with the Model S Performance, which (on paper) blows the Mercedes out of the water. Sure, the Mercedes has a higher top speed, but vanishingly few American drivers ever go that fast.

          Otherwise, the real differences are that the Mercedes has a long list of very clever options packages. There are a ton of features to soup up the back seat experience, if you’re the sort of person who pays somebody else to drive your car for you. You can also spend extra on night vision, active lane keeping, and other gadgets which aren’t available on the Tesla.

          Still, unless you’re looking at an optioned up S550, which is much more expensive than the Tesla, they’re pretty even money, and the Tesla is a strong competitor. The real question I’d have is which will be more reliable and which will depreciate faster.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            But a flagship Mercedes is an automotive institution from a brand with 127 years of history behind it. In comparison the A7 and Tesla are fashionable upstarts.

            It’s like Gumpert Apollo versus Porsche Carrera GT.

            I don’t know a lot about the big money crowd, but I’d guess this distinction means there won’t be tons of true cross-shopping between the two.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “But a flagship Mercedes is an automotive institution from a brand with 127 years of history behind it”

            True, but that comes from having been the best car money car buy for many years. At some point, you can’t just rest on your laurels.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            @ajla, Audi’s history dates back to 1873 (founding of NSU) and 1885 (founding of Wanderer), so that’s 140 years of history. I think that’s actually more than 127, if my math is correct.

          • 0 avatar
            KixStart

            Mercedes history…
            Audi history…

            All swell but what have they done for me lately?

            Times change and sometimes, as they change, something better comes along.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            @th009:
            I’m talking specifically about the A7, not Audi in general. The A7 plays to the CLS crowd. The snark is appreciated though.

            @jmo & Kixstart:
            Some people like to be a part of a legacy and some like to be the tip of the sword. It’s Pagani versus Ferrari.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      The Model S is actually competing with cars one level up — the low-trim A8, S Class, and 7 Series. The electric drivetrain and green factor are why they can justify a full-size price for a midsize car.

      Very few people are cross-shopping Tesla with Cadillac. Nobody’s cross-shopping it with Lincoln or, ick, Chrysler.

    • 0 avatar

      As others have pointed out, it’s insane to compare a Model S to something from Chrysler. The proper comparison is a high-end German car. In my TTAC piece, I compared it to an Audi A7, and I think that’s the right benchmark: Similar appeal to gadget freaks, similar performance, etc. And, in that comparison, the Tesla indeed comes out as overpriced, but not outrageously so.

      As to the Tesla’s interior, I’d say it’s again comparable with the Germans, complete with the (to my mind) poor choice of a leather-wrapped dashboard. The seats seemed perfectly comfortable, if you’re used to the Teutonic standard for that sort of thing, which is indeed on the hard side compared to what you get from most other cars. My only complaint there is the lack of A/C venting. On the flip side, you have to give serious kudos to the Tesla’s glass cockpit. It’s very pretty but you can also tell that some serious thought went into making the gauges and such *useful* and *usable*. Other cars at this price point, and higher, are just completely bonkers. Tesla’s touch-screen is a revolutionary improvement over BMW’s iDrive, Audi’s MMI, etc.

      Having driven the Model S and the Roadster, it’s clear that the Tesla power regeneration thing is something that you just have to get used to, and you eventually learn to love. There’s a toggle switch in one of the configuration screens that lets you tone down the regeneration, but you’re also toning down your ability to reclaim energy. After getting used to it, I’d say the Tesla strategy is great, because you know the brake pedal is directly connected to the brakes. You know exactly how much slowdown you can get from regen and when you need the brakes for more, which in turn trains you (if you care) to drive more power-efficiently.

      The lack of engine noise is again a personal preference. I suppose you could petition Tesla to have the stereo emit a synthetic vroom-vroom for you; maybe you’d prefer the clatter of an old Mercedes diesel. I’ll take the silence, please.

      • 0 avatar

        #1 A car is a car and a price is a price. You hold the Model S in such high regard, but if you took the exact same car, took the motor out and put an ICE in, it would be just like an MKS or A7. You keep acting like the Model S is holy. IT ISN’T. The interior is a step LOWER in trim quality than the 300/charger. At least in those the seats are cushy and you get active ventilation

        We can agree to disagree but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is who writes the check and to which company. The Tesla is selling because their are lots of rich people buying them out but sales will inevitably cool down.

        The S550 in EVERY way is better than the Model S. Forget the 0-100 performance. The ride quality and interior space is better – and you won’t find better seats anywhere else.

        • 0 avatar
          jmo

          “took the motor out and put an ICE in”

          Really? You put a cock on my aunt now she’s my uncle. A motor is a HUGE part of what makes a car desirable.

          • 0 avatar

            What your family does in the plastic surgery backalleys is their business.

            The Model S would be a 3/5 star vehicle if the Liberals and Greeners weren’t pushing it so hard – completely ignoring the pollution that goes into actually building them and charging them. Fossil Fuel use will ALWAYS be more efficient than electricity production. Not just gasoline, oil, natural gas, etc.

            I can MAKE biodiesel you know. In fact, bacteria can be used to change waste into diesel. So far, none of them can change waste into electricity.

          • 0 avatar
            jmo

            “Fossil Fuel use will ALWAYS be more efficient than electricity production. Not just gasoline, oil, natural gas, etc.”

            If in order to defend your position, you’ve resorted to making up fact out of whole cloth, that’s a pretty clear indication that you’ve lost the argument.

          • 0 avatar

            BigTruck, if the Tesla is less efficient than an ICE car, why can $6 worth of electricity run it as far as $30 worth of gasoline in a V8 German luxury sedan?

            D

        • 0 avatar
          th009

          If you put a four-banger in that Charger it would be a K-car. Or at least the same interior quality, less any semblance of outward visibility.

        • 0 avatar
          johnny_5.0

          I know you own one, but the things you mention in the same sentence as a 300 (insert other Chrysler models) in nearly every post are insane. Nobody, and I mean nobody seriously contemplating a Model S gives two shits about a 300 or a Charger, SRT form or not. And I don’t mean due to being “green”. Tesla has done a good job so far of catering to the market that can drop serious coin on their early vehicles to help fund the more plebeian models to come. The buyers of ~$100K sedans generally care about image, and wouldn’t be caught dead slumming it in a 300 or Charger. The S550 comparison is apt, but FFS stop mentioning a 300 or Charger in the same sentence as AMG, a Model S, or any of the other bizarro world cross-shopping you spout about.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        “As others have pointed out, it’s insane to compare a Model S to something from Chrysler.”

        Both will likely leave you stranded beside the road at some time. *badda-bing!*

        • 0 avatar

          ” if the Tesla is less efficient than an ICE car, why can $6 worth of electricity run it as far as $30 worth of gasoline in a V8 German luxury sedan?”

          AND HOW EXACTLY DID YOU PRODUCE THE $6 worth of electricity???

          From the time you woke up this morning till the time that you’re actually putting electricity into that electric vehicle – you’re using fossil fuels that is a simple fact. Unless you have personally figured out a way to turn sunlight into electricity so you needn’t eat plants.

          • 0 avatar

            It was probably produced using coal or natural gas. Since I’m not talking environmental benefits, I don’t really care. I like Model S not because of its supposed environmental benefits, but because it’s a really cool car, and it has much lower operating costs than the competition.

            I’m talking about a trip costing $6 instead of $30. That’s from Tesla’s stated miles per kwh versus the roughly 20mpg of a European sports sedan, using my local electricity rate of $0.11 / kwh. For me, that’s a lot more efficient and makes it cost effective for me to take a lot more trips.

            For what it’s worth, I believe we have been shifting our power generation towards sources that are more environmentally sensitive, such as natural gas as compared to coal. This cannot happen with a gasoline powered car, which uses the same fuel from the day it’s born to the inevitable trip to the crusher. In that respect, even if Model S had exactly the same environmental impact as other cars today, it would still be worth considering as better for the environment in the long term.

            D

      • 0 avatar
        CelticPete

        Have you driven a new Charger? It’s not ridiculous at all to compare a top of the line Charger to a Tesla. The new Chrysler interiors are very nice..

        Honestly value wise the Charger kills most of its competition. You can get one loaded with just about every do-dad for 50k. 30k is a lot of gas money..

        • 0 avatar

          Thank You Celtic.

          I have no idea why these people think the model S interior is HOLY…

          IT JUST ISN’T.

          The Model S interior isn’t even up there with what you get in a NEW HYUNDAI AZERA… THERE I SAID IT.

          #1 Mercedes parts bin shifter.
          #2 THE SAME window/door switch from THE DODGE CHARGER (I shit you not).
          #3 flat, lifeless seats WITH NO OPTION FOR VENTILATION/COOLING.
          #4 a flat, unwelcoming dashboard with no center console to “cockpit” the space between driver/passenger.

  • avatar
    mrcool1122

    6 months and 10,000 miles and I haven’t had a single regret.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    Our CEO just bought a Model S, the 85kWh model too. He brought it to work today (coincidentally right after laying off about 20 employees, nice touch huh??) so of course we all went outside to check it out. I wasn’t impressed. We couldn’t find it in the lot at first, from the back it looked kinda like a Kia Optima. Then up close it just didn’t seem all that special. The touchscreen is stupidly huge, and, while gadget junkies might think that’s cool, I noticed it was covered in fingerprints which really stood out in the glare from the sun. The actual plastics quality was not significantly better than our Honda Civic, I cannot see how that 3rd row is even usable, and the overall shape was sort of ungainly, more Porsche Panamerica than Fisker Karma. If they would slap the Tesla underpinnings under the Karma body then that would be a winner.

    • 0 avatar
      TecnamTwin

      Not sure what you are talking about. I just checked out a Tesla Model S after being in an Audi S7, and a BMW 550i. Guess what? They are comparable. The plastic in BMW’s, Mercedes, and Audi is the same as what’s in your Civic. Plastic is plastic. There’s just less of it. The Kia Optima is a great looking car. If had say a Jaguar badge on it, you’d be raving over it.

      The third row is intended for kids younger than 10 years old. About your dislike of the unfamiliar touchscreen, most people love it. It’s size makes it really easy to use. Also, you can display two screens at once, meaning you can still see your map while fiddling with the radio which is also displayed on the instrument cluster screen. There’s a nice pocket under the screen to keep a micro fleece cloth if you hate fingerprints.

      The Fisker Karma is a terrible car with nice lines, a weird mustache, and lack of any practicality. The Karma had tons of problems. Just check out the Consumer Reports review. It is also unavailable due to the company going out of business.

      The torque reaction of the Model S’s electric motor and it’s great handling make it a legendary car.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        Well after your earlier post up above that reads like a Tesla sales broccure, clearly you are either an employee or someone who plunked down money for one and now feels the need to justify your expense… whatever… get some perspective and at least be gracious in accepting critiques.

        Plastics – True, they are comparable to Mercedes and BMW… those brands have gotten crappier over the years, especially the Benz. I haven’t been impressed with them in years. Audi, sorry you are wrong, they have way better interiors. They are still junk and won’t last but it still feels much better than the others when new. The Tesla isn’t BAD, its just average, nothing special there.

        The Kia Optima IS a great looking sedan, I do not deny that and I prefer it doesn’t have a Jag badge… that way I know I didn’t overpay for some unreliable luxury brand. I mearly pointed out that from the back the Tesla looks like an Optima, once again… nothing special. Its also ungainly looking like a Panamerica. But the front end is very nicely done, I wish they would have kept the Roadster around and put a similar styled nose on it, the original ones never looked quite right in front.

        The 3rd row – Kids under 10 need to be car seats or booster seats… good luck getting those in there. Its useless, and more of a gimmick to help people justify buying one for the “practicality”.

        The touch screen – Its not about being unfamiliar, for all I know they have invented the most amazing and useful touchscreen interface the world has ever known, and Apple and Microsoft might be trying to license it for use in every product they make. I don’t care. Touchscreens suck for people who like to drive cars, they impress people who like to play with gadgets and for like 99-cents they could at least put a anti-smear covering on it but they don’t. Once again… another gimmick and another thing that will probably just break in a couple of years. Should be easy to replace though at least.

        Fisker – I never said it was a better car, I said it was better looking. Terrible car, I agree and no competitor to the Tesla. But if the Tesla looked like the Karma I would be impressed enough by the looks to not care about the other compromises. It just doesn’t look all that special.

        Legendary?? No, its not. Its the best electric car on the market today, agreed. Minimal compromises and lots of toys to try to justify the price. But its priced so far out of the average person’s range it competes on status with other status symbols. The Roadster was legendary, it was a really good performance car and drivers car, there was a reason to buy it over the competition besides showing off how wealthy you are. The Model S is a neat idea for wealthy people but right now its mostly just a status symbol. It just isn’t that special.

    • 0 avatar

      Mnm4ever

      It’s actually quite strange – there are a lot of people have not even driven the Tesla who have some type of personal stake in its success. I should be giving it nothing but praise considering I own the stock. But I criticize where criticism is due.

      The car looks like a larger version of a Jaguar XF, crossed with an Audi A7..

      The exterior is fantastic.
      But I will continue to say that the interior doesn’t seem much better than a Chrysler Cadillac or Lincoln product.

      The car lacks optional cooled or ventilated seats and it also lacks most safety technology package options for now.
      When you adjust for features this car is $20,000 more than an Audi A6. And that’s assuming you even get the government subsidies.

      At the end of the day the only thing that matters is who writes a check and to what company they write the check to.

      I actually like the model S but the problem is in order to get a car from Tesla comparable to a car from most other companies you have to spend $50,000 more. Meanwhile the German luxury cars in that range of the signature performance are far better buys that you don’t have range anxiety with.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

    “This also suggests, however, that when the new hotness comes along, Tesla could be out of fashion just as quickly as it came in.”

    I’m not so sure. The Quattroporte seems to have had some issues that led to owners feeling it didn’t live up to expectations. The Tesla doesn’t look like it’ll repeat that, so it may have a longer shelf life.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Model S models are EVERYWHERE in Puget Sound. I see at least one a day on I-405, and pretty sure there is one nearby where I live as it see it quite frequently. Overall a GREAT looking car inside and out – not a fan of the rear clip – the rest is great. Like others, faster charging (or better solution), more range, and a lower price point – come talk to me then.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I call BS on MMI being horribly complex. It is really quite logical and simple to use.

    • 0 avatar

      The other day, I was in a brand-new Audi A4, with some variant on the MMI thing. You get a spinner wheel that clicks, plus four quadrant buttons around it that you can select, kinda like sub-menus. It reminded me a bit of old mobile phones: scroll, select, scroll, select. Interacting with it required a fair bit of attention and would have been suicidal to do while driving. At least common things, like tweaking the air settings, have dedicated controls, but the MMI thing was anything but intuitive.

      In my academic research, I spend a fair bit of time working with professional usability people, who worry about things like the number of individual steps required to complete every action (look, reach, turn, look, …). While I don’t think Tesla has it all down yet, it can take many fewer steps to get any given task done in the Tesla than the Audi, and it’s also far more intuitive to use, particularly for anybody who’s ever used a modern smartphone.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        I personally think MMI and iDrive are much easier to use while driving than touch-screen systems — you don’t need to look at the screen to precisely position your finger on a button.

        For the same reason I’m not thrilled by the usability of an iPhone or an Android: they need too much focus, and cannot be easily used one-handed.

        • 0 avatar
          redrum

          I’ve owned 4 Android phones and have always been able to use them one-handed (although admittedly sometimes it’s awkward to reach for the notification bar on my S3…I probably should have stuck with a 4.3″ screen).

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve tried out the Tesla system (admittedly in a vehicle parked in the showroom) and it’s exceptionally well designed and thought out.

          Although I have not used it in motion, I can tell they’ve done a really nice job designing it with due consideration for accidentally roaming fingers. That’s why the controls and tap targets are huge and spaced far apart, so that even if your hands slip you will be on the right control. That’s the real reason for such an enormous touch screen, and I can tell it’s a lot more workable than the other in car systems I’ve seen.

          So don’t knock it until you’ve tried it – they have really thought it out very well.

          Now if I could just afford the lamentably stiff price …

          D

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    Finally a review of the Model S as a car and not an endless rant about range thinly disguised as a review. Thank you! As I suspected, the model S is a success because it’s a great car. Who’d ‘v thunk?

  • avatar
    z9

    As the author points out there really is no financial justification for the purchase of a Model S. The savings in operating costs are not sufficient, at least in the US, because gasoline is too cheap. Counting on a higher resale value is a foolish gamble. And in the Bay Area there are a couple of specific issues that make the purchase even less rational. For one thing, electricity costs are more than double the national average, so the savings over gasoline are not significant unless you have solar. For another thing, the car is so popular here that the service situation is basically in triage mode. Today I made an appointment for July 31 after waiting for three days for someone to return my phone call. (To be fair, I doubt anyone at Tesla thinks this is acceptable. But it is the current reality.)

    I purchased a Model S knowing it was not the best use of my transportation dollars. At best, it means tying up vastly more money than I could have previously imagined in a car that I am sure is depreciating at the same frightening rates as all other expensive cars. At worst, the company won’t survive and the thing will be a brick in a few years. But they are doing so many things in new and cool ways, I felt compelled to be a part of the adventure. I’ve been driving for 35 years, and I’ve never had that opportunity before.

    Perhaps before you buy the car, you are thinking a bit like the author, should I get a Model S or an A7? After you buy it, you can’t imagine buying an A7 ever again. It simply becomes undesirable. I am not trying to threaten anyone by saying this. I am not saying you shouldn’t desire an A7; it’s a fantastic and beautiful thing. I am just observing what is happening to people who drive a Model S — or probably any electric car — for a while. It is not a matter of Tesla taking market share from Audi or BMW. Tesla is destroying the market for luxury internal combustion engine automobiles, one customer at a time.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      What are you smoking? The reason to buy an Audi is to have a kick ass ski car – this is especially true in the Bay Area (Tesla’s home town).

      With an A7 you can fly up those awesome mountain roads in style. Seriously – its a nice drive.

      How can you do that in RWD Tesla that has limited range? WTF. Do you know what mountain climbs do to the supposed range of a Tesla?

      People in Audis drive long distances at high speeds. That’s what Audi’s are made for – and that’s what Telsa suck at. Yes they can handle the high speeds part – just not the long distance. The faster an electric car goes the worse ‘mileage’ they get. This is why Prius drivers are all a-holes. They go fast – they can’t use their electric motor and their gas mileage plumments.

      OTOH with a sporty car like an Audi A7 you get mighty good gas mileage going extra legal speeds. Unlike a fat SUV they are actually aerodynamic. Like really good. No one talks about gas mileage at 75 MPH – but its pretty relevant in the real world.

      There is just so many reasons to get an ICE car in cold and snowy places – its not even funny. Did I mention heat? Yeah for Electric cars it drains their charge. But for ICE cars it was just heat that was thrown away before.

      Audi’s are Fin great snow cars – and damn good in the rain to boot. Lots of Germany is cold – and they have a great high speed highway system. Once you understand that you will understand what Audi’s are good and why Tesla won’t kill em.

      You know what Telsa’s are really good at? Dicking around in awesome weather while being stuck in traffic. That’s kinda what the Bay Area is like. Hmm.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        The Audi A7 only has a 0.30 drag coefficient. That and your frontal area are all that matters when it comes to aerodynamic drag. If you wiki Automobile drag coefficient, you’ll see a lot of BMWs, Benzs, Lexus, and a ton of cheap cars that have drag coeffients that are over 10% improved over the A7. You’d think that cockroach shape would have a better drag coefficient. The Tesla has a 0.24, FYI.

        Most likely Audi knows their market (aggressive a$$hole drivers*) and decided to match up the gear ratio and throttle position to be as efficient as possible when the vehicle is traveling 75mph.

        *This is mostly me being snarky

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          The Germans HAVE to pay attention to high-speed efficiency. That is their bread and butter. My 328i managed 25mpg at an average speed of 105mph between Stuttgart and Berlin. With a fair bit of time spent at over 125mph. Try that one in a Tesla and see how many stops you have to make.

          “Dicking around in traffic in awesome weather” Perfect!

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          The problem for Tesla is not the aerodynamics – its how electric engines work. Have you looked at the torque curve of a Tesla? Its pretty fascinating..

          Its a fairly flat curve up until about 6000 RPM and then it goes down SHARPLY. No big deal right? Cept a Telsa has about the equivalent of a second gear – as its only gear.

          So at high speeds – its less efficient. The engine is actually making ALOT less power because its revving very high. This is very different from an ICE car with its overdrive.

          The consequence is that when cruising at high speeds you don’t get great runs out of the charge. To compensate you can drive slower.

          But not so in an Audi – or other German automobile. They are very good at driving fast for an extended period..

      • 0 avatar
        z9

        You can already drive from the Folsom supercharger to the Sierras at 75MPH with little trouble, even in cold weather. Currently the problem is driving back if you can’t charge at your destination. But the Tesla supercharger map promises additional locations online by this winter that should make the trip far less of a challenge. Don’t think these guys don’t understand their clientele. Since they sell every car direct to the customer, they know where the demand is. They also have location data on every car and usage data on every charging station.

        Since I dick around in awesome weather for the most part I can’t comment on the merits of AWD versus real snow tires, but I can say that I’ve never felt less in control of a car than a trip to the Sierras in an Audi. OK, I guess there was the time in Minnesota that I slid helplessly from an entrance ramp across two lanes of a freeway into a snow-filled median in an old BMW. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that I moved to California shortly afterwards and never returned.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I want to go where you are that gas is “too cheap”

      I’m over here paying freaking $3.30 a gallon

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        And the price is going to go up.

        Anyone who does a cost analysis on fueling their car but only use today’s prices is doing it wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Obviously gas is too cheap, people can afford to drive single-digit mpg jacked up trucks as commuter vehicles.

        Running and ducking…

      • 0 avatar

        $3.30 is cheap. In other parts of the world, you might pay 2x or 3x that price. Assuming no major policy changes from the U.S. Congress, the price at the pump will continue to be tied to the spot price of petroleum, and will go up and down at the whims of the market. Electric prices, for the most part, seem to be increasingly driven by the price of natural gas. While I’m no expert on the wild world of fracking for gas, there seems to be a huge supply of the stuff, driving down prices. This suggests that gasoline prices may well go up while electricity prices may well go down, ultimately making electric cars (or compressed-natural-gas cars) that much more attractive.

    • 0 avatar
      E46M3_333

      In CA, you can get a 2nd meter for charging the EV and you would pay a more reasonable rate, like $0.12 / KWh on usage from that meter.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    What really really kills me is one simple $4K change and the Tesla, with just a 40 kwh battery pack, would be a credible car, not a toy people are buying instead of their second S-class.

    And thats a range extender. There’s plenty of space under the hood to add a small generator with about a 3 gallon gas tank, and its simply a matter of calling Kawasaki and Yamaha, asking both of them to bid, and voila: take the one which does the best offer, put it in, and call it good.

    All you need is enough electric power to sustain 50 MPH up a 5% grade on a dead battery, which is also enough to cruise at 60-70 MPH. Do that, and you end up with a $56K base price (less than $50K base after federal tax credit) plug-in hybrid, with ~100 mile electric range, incredible looks, and high utility.

    And such a car would totally roach-stomp the E-class and 5-series.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Tesla does have range extenders – the supercharger network, battery swap, and NetJets (or JetBlue etc). If you can afford a Tesla, you’re going to fly before you spend the 4 hours on a highway that it takes to consume the Tesla’s battery range. These are not cars for the working poor.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Yeah – because long road trips in luxury sedans – that’s for losers, huh?

        Because I’d rather wedge myself into the Bus With Wings, listen to a toddler scream for a couple of hours and kick the back of my seat and be dictated to by TSA employees than glide down the road sitting in my heated/cooled/massaging/big-enough-for-an-actual-adult seat, listening to my favorite music and able to have a phone conversation whenever I want, in complete and total privacy.

        What happens when you roll up to the Supercharger and there is a waiting line? You add 2 hours to your timeframe. But that’s OK because you are a Master of the Universe, not one of the working poor.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Uh, no. I could easily afford a Tesla if I wanted one. I fly enough that I get an upgrade to first class EVERY TIME I get on an airplane (that and PreCheck take a lot of the pain out of flying). And I will still drive as far as NJ/PA from Maine. Or Northern Maine, which is actually farther. It is simply more efficient than flying that distance door-to-door in most cases. And at $.53/mile, quite profitable to me, even at 30mpg/$4gal.

        I don’t see the point of a car that is wonderful for road trips, that can’t actually go on a roadtrip. These things are cool geek toys at this point.

    • 0 avatar
      healthy skeptic

      @Nicholas

      Such a car was already made. It was called the Fisker Karma. It didn’t work out.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Poor execution of a good idea does not a bad idea make. The Volt is a successful execution of this idea, though obviously not in the same class as the Model S.

      • 0 avatar
        Nicholas Weaver

        The Fisker karma really is an absolute joke: Way too small on the inside, way too heavy, way too short a range in electric mode (or gas mode for that matter).

        It was a design exercise gone wrong: To do a competent plug-in you need to start with GOOD engineering, not half-assed system integration.

        The Volt (and even moreso, the i3) are, engineering wise, the optimal solution: You get a good (40 for Volt, 100 for i3) electric range, which means you don’t have to buy gas unless you ARE on a road trip. But if you ARE on a road trip, you aren’t dependent on half-hour+ “fast” charges, at a few limited locations.

        On my (rather hellish) commute, the Volt would save me $2K or more a year over my current 30 MPG commuter, and even $1.5K a year over a Prius. If it wasn’t so hideously ugly, I’d have one already.

    • 0 avatar

      I wouldn’t be at all surprised if some third party figures out a way to hack a small motorcycle engine into the frunk. There’s plenty of room in there for it. Still, I see Tesla acting a lot like Apple. Apple adopts new technologies fast and drops old ones faster. Much like Apple dropped floppy drive and now even DVD drives, Tesla has built possible the first production car in a long time without a CD player. Much like Apple seems to be going out of its way to remove spinning hard drives from its computers, Tesla is going out of its way to remove an internal combustion engine.

      (And, much like the first-generation MacBook Air had a lot of problems due to the compromises that Apple made, the second-generation MacBook Air is a fantastic machine. I’ll bet that the second-generation Model S will be very cool as well.)

  • avatar
    MadHungarian

    There was a Model S on display at The Elegance at Hershey concours event last month. It was open and powered up so you could climb in, sit down, adjust the seat and play with the controls. I have to say that the wow factor in seeing one up close and personal for the first time is definitely there. If the Model S is a glimpse into the future, I’m liking the future.

    With one caveat. I’m not sure I like the idea of turning the entire instrument panel of a car into a huge iPad. When I climbed into the driver’s seat, the display had the car’s energy usage graph up. A person standing right outside the car asked “is that the stock market?” I said no, but give me a second. A few taps of the screen and there was Bloomberg. Is that really a good idea? Especially because the screen is permanently angled toward the driver. If I could change one thing about the car, I would make it possible to tilt that screen toward the passenger, so I could more easily delegate to my passenger the tasks of plotting a route, finding the ballgame on the satellite radio, or checking our portfolios, and at the same time get the doggone screen out of my field of view. Call me an old fuddy duddy, but I find having any electronic screen in my field of view to be distracting to some extent when I am driving.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      And if enough people want the screen to be able to rotate towards the passenger, I’m sure that Tesla would do that.

      Everybody complain vary loudly, to make the next Model S (and hopefully the more mainstream model) better.

      Gasoline isn’t going to get cheaper in the long run, and electricity (whether one likes it or not) will get “greener”.

      Those who scoff or complain at EV’s (and their tax rebates) don’t seem to realize that we’re getting almost exactly what we (as Americans) want: Private, personal mobility choices that save gasoline (thus reducing our dependance on foreign oil, or more oil for the rest of us), which keeps prices in check.

      We’re NOT being forced to purchase bus passes, and ride with the masses – just accept the realities that most commutes should be more efficient than they are at present.

      You can still have gas to carve corners in a Miata, or burn the tires off a Mustang, and use electricity for the day-to-day stuff.

      I don’t see the problem – support this so the less-fortunate can get one, too.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      That screen is one of the only things I really dislike about the Model S. I hate touch screens in cars; I can appreciate a big map, but I want buttons & knobs for controls.

      I am also worried by any maker who uses “upgradable” as a selling point. One, it’s usually an indication of an 80-20 approach (the design is only 80% done when released, and the remaining 20% is covered by service packs). Just look at MFT. Two, every ‘upgrade’ has the risk of not being an improvement over its predecessor. I had a DVR when I used satellite. At first it worked perfectly, but then the company pushed an update and it never worked right again. I’ve had the exact same experience with numerous computers. The point: it’s better to get the design right, lock it in, and then don’t mess with it.

  • avatar
    josephjoe

    Tesla is amazing………….

    http://www.fineautopaintsandsupplies.com/fine-auto-paints/auto-body-repair-services.html

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    I love how the efficiency argument ONLY comes into play when it deals with electric vehicles.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I could care less when it only takes 5 minutes to extend my range, and I get the beautiful sound of an engine roaring.

      But then why do I even respond, you post this to every thread regarding electric vehicles, I doubt you even read the comments

  • avatar
    FAHRVERGNUGEN

    Gotta love those dope wings on the photo model. I know about A-, B-, C- and D-pillars; are these FU-pillars?

    I finally figured out what makes the A7 so darned attractive – to me at least. The way the body blends so smoothly into the hatch.

    Classic side-boob imagery. Go check them out next time you see one.

    The car, that is.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    Am I the only one whose main thought coming from this article was ‘Hey, $30k for a Quattroporte!’?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Yes.

    • 0 avatar
      Nicholas Weaver

      Nope. But the problem is, apart from the pretty badge and looks, you’d be better served spending $30K on a Fusion Titanium or similar.

    • 0 avatar

      If you stare closely at the eBay auctions, you’ll see that the vast majority of them don’t actually result in a sold vehicle. I suspect there’s quite a disconnect between owners (I paid $$$ for this beautiful car) and buyers wary of the maintenance costs, never mind the SMG transmission that Maserati eventually replaced with a traditional automatic. Suffice to say that, yes, you can probably pick up a Quattroporte for Camry money, but the maintenance costs are going to blow your mind.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        It’s basically a four-door Ferrari, so as long as you budget for an F430-scale experience I’d imagine you wouldn’t wind up too shocked. Plus, it’s a lot easier to justify to the wife. But yeah, I’d go for a later-model with the automatic.

  • avatar
    Tostik

    Volvo Car Group makes conventional batteries a thing of the past

    See the Volvo press release on Oct 17, or just Google the above sentence. A couple of good Youtube videos have just shown up too.

    Has Volvo stolen a march on Tesla?


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