By on August 20, 2012

What good is a twenty-minute test drive?

Well, when most sources are getting a ten minute test drive, a twenty-minute one is twice as good. The problem, of course, is that range is as critical to an electric car as tensile strength is to parachutes; it’s the difference between a safe arrival and a harrowing trip. Without a genuine understanding of the Tesla’s range, we can’t say for sure whether it’s a great car or not.

That doesn’t mean we can’t pass along what we did learn during those twenty minutes.

We can start with the physical envelope of the car, which is similar to that of a Jaguar XF. The looks are Jaguaresque as well. Franz von Holzhausen, the man responsible for styling the big Tesla, also penned the Solstice/Sky twins for General Motors. Like those ill-fated droptops, the Model S has a packaging issue; in this case, it’s rear headroom, which is sacrificed to the false god of faux-coupe styling. It’s a shame, because rear legroom is solid and with no central tunnel it might be possible for a third person to be reasonably comfortable in the middle seat. Tesla reps tell us that the panoramic roof, available as an option, actually adds an inch of headroom, but our car came without it, or the rear jump seats and their Fifty Shades of Grey-esque five point harnesses.

The Tesla Roadster was universally panned for interior quality. In the case of the Roadster, which was based on the pre-Bahar Lotus Elise, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The Model S, by contrast, is a significant leap forward. The interior design is unique and distinctive without straying too far from the interior template set by the E65 BMW and its imitative successors. The only parts-bin contribution we recognized was the Mercedes-Benz column shifter. Although there was a loose trim piece on a door, this was an early series production car and overall the interior meets the expectations of this market.

Since Tesla expects to reach out to the tech-savvy crowd, they’ve gone through the trouble of providing what looks like an iPad class-leading center display. It’s Internet-enabled and it’s big enough to read your favorite website site — or, if that doesn’t load, you can check out TTAC, as seen below. If you aren’t interested in looking at photographs of rope bondage, and want to do unmentionable things like change the temperature or radio station, it’s all done through the giant touch screen, and it works fairly well. How it will hold up in a decade’s time is perhaps the second most interesting variable.

Naturally, we don’t recommend that you surf and drive, particularly when operating a vehicle with this kind of power. Although the Model S won’t keep up with the warp drive Tesla Roadster Sport, it’s fast enough. The kind of “electric-motor thrust” often found in reviews of turbocharged German luxury sedans is provided here by an actual electric motor. Our test variant was the most powerful one; however, due to some misdeeds by other participants in this event we were hard-limited to 80 miles per hour. The Model S reaches that in a hurry, no sweat. As you’d expect from an electric vehicle, the power delivery is linear and muscular. There’s no sportbike-esque exhilaration like you’d find in the Roadster, but it’s plenty quick, launching forward with the same urgency of a Porsche Panamera. The Porker relies on all-wheel drive and the big  V8 to launch away from a light; in the Model S, that sensation of an aircraft carrier catapult launch is magnified. The power is always available right now in a way that no gasoline car can match. The flat-and-straight nature of our Missisauga, Ontario test venue prohibited us from verifying claims of totally flat, telepathic cornering and whatever superlatives have been heaped on this car. Unlike the Roadster, the Model S won’t be expected to corner like a go-kart or any of the things people typically have in mind when they say something corners like a go-kart.

The Model S is spacious, and quick, and stylish, and it’s frankly a wonder that it got built at all in an era when the engineering, design, assembly, and distribution of a motor vehicle happens at a scale that would impress the architects of the Manhattan Project. Until the range question is answered, however, it’s impossible to know whether this Manhattan Project produced a vehicle that is the bomb… or just a bomb, period.

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80 Comments on “Capsule Review: Tesla Model S...”

  • avatar

    Hooray for Mississauga! And Hershey Centre! We used to test FSAE cars there…

    After seeing cars like AM Lagonda this past weekend at the Dream Cruise, with what people in the 70s/80s think as what the future looks like, I too wonder if this kind of glass cockpit will remain in a decade’s time….simple/low tech car probably don’t feel as awkward when aged just simply due to the potential issue with processing power jump….unless people will start overclocking their infotainment system…

    • 0 avatar

      Big display like that is irrelevalent when each of the passengers is grooving with their own iPad, and the driver is taking traffic direction from a HUD unit. Unless it can help set the temp and blower better than knobs and buttons at some point these will before expensive than touch screens to build), or voice, then i just see this as short term flash, but looking increasingly dated as memory, processor and touch – or voice – tech advances (although, undoubtedly, the first owners will have sold the vehicle before the obsolence process advances too far…)

    • 0 avatar

      Such a beautiful car. Too bad it’s an EV.

      I’d take that very same design with a Turbocharged Pentastar V6 in it and walk away happy.

      The infotainment panel is odd because it’s vertical, but if they were gonna go that route, I’d have made it a removable iPad instead of making it part of the car. Nonetheless cool.

      As for the Mercedes shifter… I’d have just put in chrome paddle shifters.

  • avatar

    Great car and great review. Looks like we might be closer to our electric future than previously thought?

    • 0 avatar
      Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

      That looks cool, but you still need to be able to accumulate that much power at a dedicated charger, then discharge it quickly and safely into the vehicle. I can’t imagine that being practical anytime soon, unfortunately, as I think it’d require large capacitor banks to charge up on mains power, then a special insulated and chilled superconducting cable to put it into the car.

      (I still think hydrocarbon SOFCs make the most sense, until highways get electrified and can deliver adequate power to cars while they’re moving)

    • 0 avatar

      Assume any press release along the lines of “[scientists/researchers] [action verb] [awesome technology]” means you might see it in about 10 years, provided a major corporation shows interested and they work for an institution with a competent tech transfer department.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve followed “green tech” for many years now and there are a TON of press releases that talk about what is essentially an idea but the press release is written as if the technology is already in production. The press releases seem to be designed to attract investors. If you look around on the ‘net you can read about hundreds of new battery technologies and solar/wind improvements that never made it into production if at all or for very long.

      Green Technology IS definitely moving forward but it is very slow and steady. Prices are coming down slowly, solar panels are going up in wattage while coming down in price, etc. We are getting closer to mainstream wind/solar/EVs for the average man – the ones who would benefit the most from the potential savings the tech represents.

  • avatar

    Beautifully styled. THAT’S how a Jaguar should look.

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely. I like the looks of this car better than any of the Jags and even some of the Porsches. It’s that good to me. Not too keen on the BIG LCD screens in the dash. Having visions of the big screen (even dimmed) messing up my night vision. Honestly – I’d be happier with buttons and dials.

  • avatar

    I am willing to put aside who built this car what it is for just a second. I have mentally debadged it and am ignoring the drivetrain and all else.

    But a car with the absence of a dashboard or any controls is a total deal breaker for me.

    Screens? Nope. Never. It’s as good as nothing for me.
    And I would say that about any car.

    I am positive that I would never buy a car with all that garbage.
    I am pretty sure (and hopeful) it’s a fad anyway, so I am not too worried.
    It’s going to look pretty dumb and outdated when cars go back to real instruments, switches and controls eventually.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      Given that even conservative old General Motors made the Cadillac ATS’s controls heavily touchscreen based, I expect cars won’t be going back to “real instruments” any time soon.

      • 0 avatar
        juicy sushi

        I think it will depend on how doggedly conservative the designers and engineers are. The touch screen is trendy, but those wishing to retain a “sensory experience” would probably like to keep the controls. Also, it’s probably cheaper, so for the b and c class econobuckets, I don’t see touchscreens dominating any time soon.

    • 0 avatar

      “But a car with the absence of a dashboard or any controls is a total deal breaker for me.”

      You don’t mention why.

      The only issue I’d have is the replacement cost. But, I just replaced a laptop screen and (still thinking I was back in 1998) I thought it would be $800. Turns out it was $80.

      • 0 avatar

        Why: with normal parts I can repair it if it breaks. I can modify it if it is done wrong, and I can maintain it over the long term.
        I have had great success this way so far.

        Stuff that I can’t do: rewrite software if it gets bugs or does something wrong, repair anything on a “replacement only” unit, and good luck a few years down the road when the replacement only units aren’t made anymore.

        It’s just a no-go for me. Especially unacceptable for me is a computer failure or bugs that would interfere with the simplest things. I mean look at the debacle – the outright circus with SYNC. Never, ever, ever would I accept any of that.

        I still cook with fire, too.

      • 0 avatar

        Touchscreens have a number of practical issues, but few seem to care. Are consumers really asking for this, or are manufacturers using touchscreens to appear cool and trendy for the iphone crowd?

        -In the case of the Model S it looks like everything is on the touchscreen with no redundant controls. Any failure with that touchscreen could take down every interior feature. Imagine driving around with heated seats stuck on high, the HVAC going nuts, and the radio cranking a station you hate.
        -Visibility. Most touchscreens wash out in sunlight. I think some of BMW’s newer stuff is better about that, but those are the exception rather than the rule. Polarized sunglasses often cause problems as well.
        -The cold. Will that thing respond after sitting parked outside work on a 15 degree F January day? Touchscreens also don’t work with gloves. Not clumsy to control; they simply don’t work.

        Modern cars offer too much functionality to control everything with fixed buttons. I can live with touchscreens as a supplement, but feel strongly that basic HVAC and audio features should have redundant physical controls.

      • 0 avatar

        “I can modify it if it is done wrong, and I can maintain it over the long term.
        I have had great success this way so far.”

        So, long story short you fear change.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “Why: with normal parts I can repair it if it breaks. I can modify it if it is done wrong, and I can maintain it over the long term.”

        Can you repair the electronic instrument cluster of any car made in the past 10 years?

        Unless you’re well versed in repairing electronics, probably not. If your speedometer stops working, you’ll be swapping sensors or maybe another cluster from an OEM source or a parts car. This isn’t the 1970s where you’re going to replace a broken speedometer cable.

    • 0 avatar

      The thing is, as time goes on digital displays will become even cheaper and cheaper than analog gauges. Just as how gauges used to be mechanical, but are now digital and simply have computers telling the needles where to point… I don’t think you’ll see a return to mechanical gauges anytime soon. The analog aesthetic, sure, but it’s eventually all going to be on high-res screens…

      The best you can hope for is that the OS powering those screens lets you choose whatever style gauges you like!

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t know that I’d totally reject the possibility like you do, but I have the same inkling as you do. It’s one thing when my laptop screen is hard to read in direct sunlight: I can just move. But if I can’t see my car’s primary controls on a sunny day, that makes for a very hot, unpleasant, possibly dangerous trip. And that doesn’t even address the problem of a giant new reflective surface tilted toward the driver possibly blinding him even if he’s not trying to use the panel.

      Plus, I can very easily turn the volume knob on my car stereo while keeping my eyes on the road, but how many of you can operate your iPhone or iPad without looking?

      • 0 avatar

        “Plus, I can very easily turn the volume knob on my car stereo while keeping my eyes on the road”

        I’d assume all cars that have a touch screen also have volume, bluetooth, cruise, etc. controls on the steering wheel.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that modal UI is a legitimate consideration, and that it’s plain impossible to operate iPod without looking. However, that is a problem in iPod with buttons as well: since the click wheel is overlayed, you cannot be sure you did not switch its mode, and it’s quite difficult to figure out which mode it is (the only exit is to leave the device alone long enough for extra modes to time out, while the mistakenly loud and distorted music is blaring through your car’s speakers). It really is not the problem with display as such.

      • 0 avatar

        Pete, that’s kind of my point: you shouldn’t be operating an iPod while driving because you have to take your eyes off the road to do it, and you shouldn’t operate this massive touch screen while driving for the same reason.

        And jmo, I see a couple of buttons on the steering wheel of the Tesla, but not nearly enough to replicate the functionality that’s been moved from physical buttons on the center stack to the touch screen. Which means all of those functions are essentially (safely) driver-operable only when the car is in park.

      • 0 avatar

        Which means all of those functions are essentially (safely) driver-operable only when the car is in park.

        I assume it also has voice recognition? It works really well in the Infinity.

        Also, I’m not sure I buy the theory that most drivers don’t glance down when they operate a control. Do you have any evidence that they glance down more to the screen vs when using a dial?

      • 0 avatar

        There are a number of test drives up on Youtube, and you can see the screen is sufficiently bright that visibility is not an issue.

        I have not test driven one, but I did sit in the beta vehicle at the dealership. My impression is that the design and interface of the control systems is outstanding. The controls are superbly laid out and the interface is easy to navigate and highly intuitive. I really loved playing with it.

        I’m sure it’s not perfect and it would be interesting to try it when actually operating the car, but I think if you gave it a chance, you’d be surprised at how nice it is.


        [The author loves the ideas behind Tesla as a company. He does not own stock in the company because he strongly suspects it is overvalued.]

    • 0 avatar

      A 1974 Dodge Dart doesn’t cost much to buy, own or maintain.

      If that’s what you want, you should buy one.

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe they allow you to configure the screen so it displays the traditional gauges? You know- just for people like you?

    • 0 avatar

      I wonder what it must be like, to view the world from the eyes of an old man, afraid of technology and change.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s what I was thinking. Batteries and range aside, this car has so much potential, particularly in its UI. Just as my iPad is more advanced now than when I bought it (thanks to several software updates), so it could be with the Tesla UI. That’s what this technology gives you.

        We live in a great age. yes, this car would be better with a guaranteed 300 mile range and a 30 minute recharge time. But what will be interesting to see is just who will determine that it’s good enough to buy/lease right now. With just a couple of adjustments to my lifestyle, this car could work very well for me and, frankly, I’m really interested to see what it’s like to drive an electric car.

      • 0 avatar

        Let me tell you, tuffjuff, everything’s just fine from this old man’s perspective. You keep your technology and change; in the meantime, I’ll enjoy my new S-class.

        • 0 avatar

          Hello from 2021, just reading these old comments on the model S and wondered if you could give us an update on your S class? Or any other cars since 2012. Did you ever test drive any EV, from any brand? If not, keep an eye out for the EQS which looks amazing.

      • 0 avatar


        I wonder what it must be like, to view the world from the eyes of a young man, bold & naively adopting the snake oil to cure all ailments, when it’s expensive, ineffectual, and many times, causes more harm than that which it was peddled to remedy.

        I’m not proclaiming you more or less correct in your position, but positing an alternative viewpoint that may be worth considering.

        Some “older” technology maintains pragmatic and even idealistic advantages over that marketed as the latest and greatest.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “You keep your technology and change; in the meantime, I’ll enjoy my new S-class.”

        Your statement is ironic because your new S-class is loaded with technology that’s a match for the Tesla. Mercedes has even made prototype S-classes that drive themselves.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m 23 and enjoy all kinds of new technology. I build computers. I’m certainly not “afraid” of new tech (except cloud computing, that freaks me out… I’ll keep all my personal data on an external hard drive I can hold, thanks).

        What some people aren’t getting about the argument against touch screens is that sometimes tactile response is better than no tactile response, and for me, driving a car is one of those times. Every time I drive a touchscreen-oriented car it only ends up annoying me. In my car, within a week of owning it, I could reach over to my right, change pre-set radio stations, adjust the HVAC system, and set cruise control without taking my eyes off the road. There’s just a confidence that I’m pressing what I want to press that I don’t think would ever be there on a touchscreen.

    • 0 avatar

      @C170guy: Sure, but people said the same thing about iPhones. “I need my Blackberry keyboard”–but yet, a large majority of smartphone owners decided that flexibility was more important. Tesla Model S owners are going to get updates for almost every system on their car–months and years after the fact. That is difficult to do when everything is hardwired to the dash. Further, there are switches on the wheel, and you can program them to do what you want. So you may be a holdout, but most will switch. Don’t fret–someone still has to buy the Blackberries.

  • avatar
    Sam P

    One of the best looking sedans/streamliners I’ve ever seen.

    Pity they aren’t offering it in a hybrid/plugin version with a large four or small V6 handling generator power. Getting rid of “range anxiety” would broaden the car’s appeal.

    • 0 avatar

      This thing has a huge cargo compartment up front, and another huge one out back. Makes me wonder if they have plans for the front compartment

    • 0 avatar

      The pure electric has a lot of advantages including the tremendous cargo capacity. Check out the reviews of the Fisker Karma – similar overall concept except it’s a hybrid. Has a 30 mile electric range before it has to go to the ICE, but the ICE is rough and a poor performer. Seems to me Tesla’s approach is a lot better for anyone who does most driving within their metropolitan area.

      If I had $100-odd k for a new car I would seriously consider the Tesla but not the Karma.


      • 0 avatar

        “Seems to me Tesla’s approach is a lot better for anyone who does most driving within their metropolitan area.”

        That’s the odd part of the Model S. It looks like something more at home on the highway, yet the range limits it to around town. For around town, a Leaf is probably a better choice.

        It does look great though. Hopefully it does well enough to stick around and encourage some infrastructure changes to make range limitations more bearable.

        The key difference between this and something like the Leaf is this car appeals to most anyone, while the Leaf seems to appeal more to tech enthusiasts and environmentalists.

        You can also make a case that the Model S is a strong value. Where the Leaf is the functional equivalent of B/C segment cars, it costs almost twice as much. The Model S is the functional equivalent of midsize to large luxury cars, and is priced somewhat competitively.

  • avatar

    I don’t understand why one would need the car for an extended period to test the range before delivering a verdict. The EPA has already pronounced its verdict on the range question, and we know how other electric cars have fared compared to their EPA range ratings in various real-world conditions. So the answer to the range question is more or less known. I would agree that you need more than 20 minutes to deliver a verdict on a car, but not because of the electric range question, which boils down to physics and is not a particularly complex or nuanced issue. Any range result that you get while driving the car is just an anecdote anyway.

    • 0 avatar

      True sir. By the way this “range” topic was introduced, you’d think that a normal testing routine would involve driving a car until it runs out of gas and then writing the review while waiting for AAA. I don’t recall any normal car review, TTAC or otherwise, which gives any more mention to range than a simple estimation based on the EPA numbers.

      I understand that the Tesla is a bit of a game-changer, but do you really think there’s any benefit to letting a continual stream of auto bloggers drive it until it runs out of charge, just so each one can “see what happens”? My guess is that just like any gas or diesel car, if you drive it for a long time and ignore the fuel/power gauges and warnings, the car will eventually stop. Hardly newsworthy.

      • 0 avatar

        Considering that unlike a gasoline powered car, there is no place to “refuel” during the trip, I’d say it’s plenty newsworthy. People must know whether it will get them to work and back, to mom’s house and back, to a sporting event and back, a concert and back etc. Or perhaps to drop the kids at school, then hit the grocery store, and get back home, plus recharge quickly enough to pick the kids back up in the afternoon, take them to soccer practice and then back home. None of those things are considerations in a gasoline powered car. But if this car can’t do those things for a potential buyer, then it is a useless slab of metal and plastic.

      • 0 avatar


        Do you drive more than 100 miles in a day? The typical drive that you are describing to me is less than 50 miles and is covered by even the Mitsubishi i-Miev or longer range Nissan Leaf. The base Tesla Model S has 60% more range than the Nissan Leaf and can charge up faster. Every morning, you wake up with full range. So having to stop just to fill up, esp. when you’re already late will be a thing of the past. The only time you would do that in an electric car is during a road trip.

        The only thing that the Model S can’t do better than an equivalent gas-burner is take road trips. That’s it.

        The new EPA 5-cycle testing is harder on vehicles and gives a good estimate of how far you can go. However, most owners of electric vehicles regularly exceed their rated range. Tesla provides a range curve based on speed on their website if you want to know exactly how far you can go at a certain speed.

      • 0 avatar

        @Slance66: “Considering that unlike a gasoline powered car, there is no place to “refuel” during the trip”

        Believe it or not, electric outlets aren’t as scarce as Top Gear would have you believe. In fact, damn near every building constructed in the past 100 years has them. The Tesla can be plugged into any outlet. Sure, a dedicated fast-charger or even a normal 220/240v plug will refill the battery a whole lot more quickly than just plugging into a standard outlet, but you can “refuel” anyplace with electricity. (And given a growing EV market, dedicated quick-charge stations will be becoming more prevalent, especially in major cities.)

    • 0 avatar

      The EPA reports how far the car will go when driven the way EPA people drive. An enthusiasts site, should report how far it goes if driven somewhat more enthusiastically. The two could easily differ in a major way, for cars as fast as these Teslas.

      • 0 avatar

        My grandfather (born 1885)used to tell me about the Baker Electrics which tiptoed over the streets of Boston one hundred years ago. Kettering sealed their fate as surely as Rudolph Diesel’s creations will seal the fate of the current generation of electric cars. That people are burning capital and brain cells on electric vehicles is the very midsummer of madness.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree with oldfatandrich and bigtrucks…

        I am sorry to rain on the EV parade, but as general-purose vehicles, EV’s (perhaps not hybrids) have got to be one of the most amazing scams to reach markets. For city and local shopping: fine; for going to grandma’s house over the river and through the woods on a cold winter’s night: you’ve got to be kidding! Here’s why, and more:
        1) Heating occupants, seats, and windshields in Winter (> large battery drain);
        2) Cooling occupants in Summer (> VERY large battery drain);
        3) Huge battery-pack replacement cost after 8-10 years;
        4) Large-scale recycling difficulties of battery returns/replacements;
        5) Dangerous, limited, and “strangle hold” foreign supply of rare-earth elements for batteries and motors;
        6) Limited REAL range for travel (all the accessories on), currently between 50-150 miles (“range anxiety”);
        7) Without gearing, large (unexpected and dangerous) torque delivery off-the-line at zero RPM, —yeah, just what teenage girl on a cell phone needs;
        8) The power grid is not designed to handle the load of large-scale electric transportation;
        9) Charging stations at destinations and households are about $2K each, and are not in place generally;
        10) “Refueling” times are 24 to 4 hours (depending on use of 110 volts, 220 volts, or 440 volts);
        11) Pollution problems are transferred to coal-fired power plants, worse CO2 polluters than clean diesel;
        12) Stray electric-current safety issues in accidents, impeding recovery of occupants by emergency personnel;
        13) Large added weight and poor weight distribution deter good vehicle driving performance, braking, and accident-avoidance.;
        14) Added electronic / mechanical complexity (e.g., hybridization, KERS*, etc) means poorer long-term reliability and endurance;
        15) Disproportionately high purchase prices and depreciation rates for the level of utility otherwise obtainable with ICE** vehicles.
        16) Whole-grid power failure, as in India recently, or the USA’s NE in 2003. Where do you charge them then? Or are you required to spend another $2K for a decent high KW generator?

        Or, we can invoke the Minnesota Winter Test:
        Temp : -20 deg F, some icy conditions, with light snow.
        Time: Late Saturday Night.
        Route: Minneapolis to International Falls, 295 miles.
        Now, tell me all about the robustness and survivability of these miserable EV’s! (BTW: check the voltage vs temperature physics: see what’s left at -20 deg F.) That “waste heat” for which ICE’s are criticized is part of the safety margin for my wife and kids when they are out in very unhappy conditions.

        And that little Minnesota trip is a piece o’ cake for an ICE-vehicle…. ANY ICE vehicle, whether it runs on gasoline, diesel, CNG, or hydrogen,… long as it goes “vroom” in the night and has a manual transmission! Well, maybe we can forego the latter (^_^)….


      • 0 avatar

        Wow, much desinformation here :( I’1ll try to clarify:

        1. Not a large battery drain, no. Seat heaters use a miniscule amount of heat and the main heater in the Tesla Model S is a heatpump which is very effective.
        2. Cooling draws are even lower. I have a Leaf, typical AC draw is less than 1kW. For a Model S, driving fir 6 hours with the AC on, the AC will use maybe 5% of the battery.
        3. Lithium battery prices are dropping 7-8% each year. The packs will be MUCH cheaper in 10 years. Compare that to an ICE which needs expensive fuel all the time.
        4. No, the recycling is not very difficult, and an old battery with 50% capacity will not be recycled immediately but be put to other duties. Many plans are in motion for end-of-life applications for the batteries.
        5. The Tesla Model S does not use any rare earth elements in the motor or battery. It does however use neodynomium in the speaker magnets like every other premium car.
        6. EPA 5-cycle range (very conservative test) for the Model S 85kWh is 265 miles, not 50-150.
        7. Yeah, high-powered cars can be dangerous to teenagers. Who knew ? Most other people regard the extra power as a positive trait.
        8. Most EV charging happen at home, nighttime, when the grid demand are low. No problem here.
        9. The Tesla Model S comes with a universal charging cable, all you need are a 240V outlet in your garage, like a 14-50 or 14-30.
        10. Yep, full tank every morning. Or you can use one of Teslas SuperChargers and refill half the battery in 30 minutes.
        11. “Clean” diesel are the worst local polluters of all while EVs have no local pollution at all. Smog is NOT a good thing.
        12. There are multiple safety disconnect systems in place which disconnect the battery in an accident. You are more at risk from battery acid from a regular 12V automotive battery.
        13. Are you kidding ? The Model S has perfect weight distribution and the lowest center of gravity of any car available. Weight is comparable to a BMW 7-series, which is one of it’s competitors.
        14. Nope. Much LESS compexity. The motor has ONE moving part. No oil to change or timing belt to break. Breaking is done by motor, not brake pads/discs.
        15. The Model S costs as much as it’s competitors. Granted, it’s not cheap cars, but BMW 5/7 series, MB E550/E63 etc.
        16. Where do you refill your ICE car in a power failure ? The petrol station pumps run on electricity too. And if you don’t need to drive far when there’s a grid failure, you can use the EVs battery to power your fridge, TV and some lighs for several days.

        Regarding your example: Not everyone has to drive 300 miles in -20F temperatures frequently. If you do, an EV is probably not the car for you. They are not for everyone, nobody said that. You can’t pull a big boat trailer with one either, nor can you go 200mph.

      • 0 avatar

        @jkirkebo Thanks for taking the time to address @NMGOM–you did a great job. I’m an early adopter precisely so I can address questions that people have, and this was the standard laundry list of objections people throw out.

        “The car is too fast!” is rich. I had a good laugh at that.

      • 0 avatar

        jkirkebo and stephenpace,

        Thank you for your responses. I’d like to offer some additional “disinformation” for you to clarify, but all this may take a while. To make things more manageable, I’ll address 1) and 2) and 5) for the time being. I’ll pick on Li-ion batteries, since they are common now and are certainly used in the Nissan Leaf.

        1) and 2). The temperature dependence of Li-ion battery function is well known, in both directions. The reference below shows the “Safe Region” in which LI-ion batteries can operate, bounded at the bottom by about -10 deg C, which is PLUS 14 deg F. Any use of the battery below that will cause “Cathode breakdown and short circuit”, and /or “Lithium Plating during charging”. Each greatly shortens battery life. The 10-year battery life quoted for the Leaf may not apply to northern states or Canada. If you “force” the charge at 0 deg F, you WILL damage the battery.

        There is a related issue of capacity available at low temperatures, even if you charge the LI-ion battery in a heated garage, but then let it sit outside later. At -20 deg F, the LI-ion battery has only 53% of the capacity available that you had put in, even without using the car for anything! See Figure 5 in reference — Don’t even think about what reserve you have if you turn on the windshield defroster full blast .. .and those heated seats.

        Now, let’s look at the other end of the temperature scale: hot conditions. Suppose you are a modern young, traveling executive and you live in Tucson, AZ. It’s August. You have a seminar to give in NY for two weeks, and you leave your Li-ion car at the back end of the crowded airport. The mean temperature during that time was 81 deg F. When you get back, you discover the charge depletion (“self-discharge rate”) causes your battery to show only 60% of its charge, — again, without the car being used for anything. But you need at least 80% to get home with the air-conditioning on! See reference —
        All this does not even include the high-temperature damage to the battery that can occur if day time temperatures are 115 deg F, and the inside-the-car temperature is 150 — at the top edge of the “Safe Region” described above.

        OK, so now we have established that we can’t trust the vehicle in very cold conditions, and we can’t trust it in very hot conditions. Where can we use it? Perhaps moderate sea-coast cities?

        5) There are indeed rare earth elements used in EV’s…BIG TIME! Did you ever wonder how these new condensed ring-motors develop such large HP? Their very powerful magnets are made from a LOT of neodymium (beyond audio speakers!). And the world’s bulk of that element comes from …you guessed it: China. Gee, there is a good opportunity for a strangle hold in the future. See reference —

        More significantly, however, is the questionable future availability of the most import element of all in Li-ion batteries: namely lithium. 43% of the worlds supply, and an even greater current mining percentage, comes from just ONE country: Bolivia. I hope they continue to like us. See reference —-
        A quote (that I cannot substantiate) I ran across was that if every car in the USA were converted to become an EV, the world would run out of lithium in 5 years.

        Hence, the two most important elements in EV’s come from somewhat limited sources NOT under our ownership or control. Now, there is a solid recipe for disaster….economic and otherwise.


      • 0 avatar

        I will offer some additional clarifying then:

        1&2: This article is about the Tesla Model S. The Model S has TMS, that means it will manage the temperature of it’s battery by cooling it if it is too hot and heating it if it’s too cold.As long as you leave enough charge in the battery or keep the car plugged in it will maintain optimal temperature. If you leav it too discharged in the cold for too long, it will heat up the battery before charging it.

        If I leave my car at the airport, I will plug it in there (my local airport has 100 EV charge points). This is an infrastructure issue, just like you need gas stations for you fossil fuel car. But I suspect the 265 mile model will have more than enough range for most airport runs without plugging it in.

        The Leaf has no TMS and thus the battery suffers accelerated decay in very hot conditions (so don’t buy one if you live in Phoenix) and slow charging in very cold conditions (but not too bad as it also has a simple battery heater which will keep the battery above 0F if SOC is >30%). The Leaf does not suffer from self-discharge, a two week stay at the airport not plugget in will not do anything (ok, maybe 1% SOC drop at most).

        5. The Tesla Model S uses an asynchronous induction motor. This type of motor has NO permanent magnets and thus use NO rare earth elements. Look it up if you want to. The motor is also quite powerful, 270kW or 310kW depending on model. Weight is extremely low also.

        Lithium is one of our most common elements. Proven reserves are just a fraction of the total as there have been no incentives to search for more sinc the supply was more than ample. When demand ramps up, so will supply. Just like oil earlier last century. We didn’t have that much proven reserves in the 1920’s…

      • 0 avatar

        @NMGOM Regarding lithium, I suggest you read Bottled Lightning: Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy by Seth Fletcher. Besides Bolivia, there are vast stockpiles (as far as the eye can see) in Chile and Argentina, and it exists other places as well. I find it funny that the people using this argument against EVs aren’t out there also saying that smartphone and laptop adoption is at risk as well.

        Regarding the political situation of importing lithium, I’ll just say it is significantly better than the current situation we have importing oil from across oceans from people who don’t like us very much to fuel our current vehicles.

        Last, if you don’t believe @jkirkebo about the lack of rare earth metals in Tesla products, read Tesla’s blogs on the subject. You might not believe them either, but they are a public company and have a lot more credibility with me than a random anti-EV commenter.

      • 0 avatar


        I have quoted from your response. Please see my interlinear comments below.

        “This article is about the Tesla Model S.”
        Yes, that’s true. And my EV criticisms were for EV’s in general, of which the Tesla is one example. I thought you also had expanded this discussion by your use of the Nissan Leaf to demonstrate some features (your point 2). Nonetheless, what happens to the Li-ion battery if the cooling fans or heating circuits fail in the TMS system of your $100K Tesla? (Out of warranty, of course!)

        “If I leave my car at the airport, I will plug it in there (my local airport has 100 EV charge points).”
        You’re going to “hog” an EV outlet for 2 weeks while you’re away (^_^)? Where do you live? My airport certainly doesn’t have power outlets in the remote corners of its parking lot. And what about the fee for outlet usage and/or current consumed while you are gone for 2 weeks?

        “The Leaf does not suffer from self-discharge, a two week stay at the airport not plugget in will not do anything (ok, maybe 1% SOC drop at most).”
        The article (reference) I quoted shows SDR for LI-ion batteries in general. That is just the way they are. Your Leaf will follow the same physics and is not an exception. See the side-panel summary in that reference. SDR = 15%/month at 40 deg C; exponentially faster at higher temperatures.

        “The Tesla Model S uses an asynchronous induction motor.”
        Yup. You’re right. I stand corrected. Tesla only has to worry about lithium not neodymium. That motor design may certainly not be true of smaller EV’s in general, since permanent magnets made from neodymium can carry among the highest field strengths commercially available (I’m told).

        “Lithium is one of our most common elements.”
        I’m sorry: lithium is just not a most comment element. Of elements in the earth’s lithosphere (crust), it ranks 33 out of 78 elements whose concentration is greater than one part per billion. See reference – –'s_crust

        “Proven reserves are just a fraction of the total as there have been no incentives to search for more sinc the supply was more than ample.”
        Again, sorry: this is conjecture. There is no evidence for this. What we do know geologically is that the total amount of lithium on the planet is 8,900,000 tons, 43% of which is in Bolivia. And that’s it. See reference (again) – –


      • 0 avatar


        Moving right along to address your concerns…..

        3) Yes, Li-ion battery-pack prices are dropping. It’s simple supply and demand. Unfortunately, it’s a U-shaped function. As lithium depletion sets in, prices will go back up.
        What “expensive fuel” for ICE’s are you talking about? Despite all our bellyaching, gasoline is still one of the best energy-deals for Americans, and will be so until at least 2050 (ref: Ed Lapham, AutoNews). Even at $5.00 per gallon, it would be a steal. We’re just spoiled. Try driving in Germany at 9.00-$10.00/ gallon (Shell V-Power premium). With high-tech pure ICE engines now getting 40-60 mpg, EV’s are beginning to look rather silly, aren’t they? And those inexpensive ICE cars actually go “vroom”. Don’t underestimate the “vroom” (^_^)! (And, of course, ICE’s can even be made to burn low-pollution methane (CNG) or zero-emissions hydrogen, if we put our minds to it.)

        4) Recycling Li-ion Batteries. It wasn’t YOUR recycling that I was intending: its was society’s recycling that is the issue. Recycling Li-ion is not like lead-acid or NI-metal hydride: lithium is a mess when recovered, and is highly reactive in air and moisture. It causes fires. The energy use to safely recover and control it has not even been factored into the net picture for EV’s, or their prices would go up even higher. Something the EV industry seems to minimize. See reference —

        6) EV range claims (here Tesla, but others too). EPA values are nonsense. Real world measurements show that EV ranges are typically 30-50% LESS than EPA numbers. 50-150 miles is quite realistic. Here are three links that discuss this problem, one of them from this very website, and another from the Tesla motors forum even!


      • 0 avatar

        I’m going to answer two posts here:

        “You’re going to “hog” an EV outlet for 2 weeks while you’re away (^_^)? Where do you live?”

        Oslo, Norway. The outlets are in the long-time parking lots, so they are supposed to be “hogged” while you’re away. It is not expensive for the airport to provide such outlets, in the US a 120V 15A socket is more than enough. The power usage cost is miniscule compared to what you pay for parking and so it’s no point in charging for it. If you cannot take your EV you might take the train or taxi instead, then the airport parking lot earns no money at all. Better for them to provide the neccessary facilities.
        We do have 100 “free” outlets here, but I mostly take the train anyway to the airport.

        “The article (reference) I quoted shows SDR for LI-ion batteries in general. That is just the way they are. Your Leaf will follow the same physics and is not an exception. See the side-panel summary in that reference. SDR = 15%/month at 40 deg C; exponentially faster at higher temperatures.”

        Again, don’t buy an EV without TMS if you live where the temperature averages 40 deg C. In 20 deg C the Leaf has next no no self-discharge, as proven by many owners coming back from 3 weeks of vacation and finding the range has dropped only a mile or two.

        “What “expensive fuel” for ICE’s are you talking about? Despite all our bellyaching, gasoline is still one of the best energy-deals for Americans, and will be so until at least 2050 (ref: Ed Lapham, AutoNews). Even at $5.00 per gallon, it would be a steal. ”

        Compared to electricity, gasoline is VERY expensive. At $4/gal, a 30mpg car will cost 13,3 cents per mile to run. At 10 cents per kWh, an EV will cost around 3,3 cents per mile, making gasoline 4 times as expensive.

        Rergarding lithium reserves there is an interesting discussion here:

        The gist of it is that with proven reserves only, Tesla could build a billion 85kWh Model S cars. Since most cars will have a much smaller battery, more than two billion EVs could be built. After that, search for more reserves to prove. “Peak lithium” is a LONG way out, and contrary to oil it can be recycled. For the time being, lihtium is so cheap that recycling for that only does not make sense. The batteries does however contain quite a bit of copper, which has gotten quite expensive and is very easy to recycle.

        BTW, there are 230 billion tonnes of lithium in sea-water alone. Not economical to extract though.

        Here’s a quote from Wikipedia: ” At 20 mg lithium per kg of Earth’s crust,[36] lithium is the 25th most abundant element. Nickel and lead have about the same abundance.”

        Maybe we’ll run out of lead then, for car batteries ? Because a normal car battery has more lead than there’s lithium in Teslas large 85kWh battery.

        “EPA values are nonsense. Real world measurements show that EV ranges are typically 30-50% LESS than EPA numbers. ”

        You are talking about the old EPA 2-cycle test. The new 5-cycle test (for 2012) are much harder; incorporating heating, cooling, max acceleration runs and 80mph highway driving. The Tesla Model S has a 265 mile range in the 5-cycle test, the Leaf does 73 miles in the same test. The old test had the Leaf at 100 miles.

      • 0 avatar

        I forgot to answer this one:

        “what happens to the Li-ion battery if the cooling fans or heating circuits fail in the TMS system of your $100K Tesla? (Out of warranty, of course!)”

        Exactly the same that will happen to your ICE car if the water pump fails. The car will thrown an error code/light and either go into limp mode or require a tow to the dealer, depending on the severity of the failure.

      • 0 avatar


        Thank you again for responding.

        I did check the link you attached concerning Lithium availability. The 30 million ton figure was apparently greatly overstated: that discussion came in March 2009; the Lithium link I gave you was updated in August 2012, and quoted “only” 9 million tons. There are many elements in seawater: getting them out economically is the problem. If you want to get something out in a simple way, let’s consider getting hydrogen out of sea water by electrolysis from wind power, and use that to fuel cars.

        With regard to your being from Oslo, Norway. Of course you’d be interested in EV’s!! Greater than 98% of all energy in Norway comes from hydroelectric power, the highest percentage of any country on earth. ( I’ve been in Oslo: beautiful, clean city. Congratulations. I enjoyed the sculpture park downtown — forgot the artist.

        With regard to “low price” of gasoline: my reference was low price compared to European (here, German) prices for gasoline (benzin). I was not implying ICE was cheaper to run than electric power. The negative EV trade-off comes from the higher cost for those vehicles (as well as for hybrids) initially; and the high cost of battery-pack replacement if the vehicles are kept for more than 10 years. Consumer Reports at one time estimated that it would take 8-10 years to break even with gasoline at $4.00 per gallon …even for the Prius Hybrid. For an EV’s in the Midwest, GHG (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) are about the same for EV’s as for gasoline powered cars. See links —

        In the EPA range comments, I was talking about neither the 2-cycle not the 5-cycle tests directly. The links I gave you were measurements of real-world range values for the vehicles described. Those findings are much lower than any EPA range listings, and they have been typically between 50 and 150 miles depending on accessories usage, load carried, and weather conditions — in other words, real driving.


      • 0 avatar


        Again: moving right along….

        7). I fear that both you and stephenpace may have misunderstood here. The issue is NOT one of power (EV’s are weak on the average by comparison to ICE’s), nor is it one of speed, as in “going fast”. The problem is one of FULL torque at 0 RPM. Sounds like a virtue, doesn’t it? Well, in the hands of an inexperienced distracted novice, it is like giving a loaded revolver to a 4-year old. The car will be “jerky” off the line, but you already know that. Unfortunately, torque then drops for EV’s continually as RPM increases, hardly suitable for performance driving. See link — (Note: author there reversed axis, but you get the idea.)

        8). The comment was applied to the general case of many people having EV’s. Yes, a few individuals can charge their cars overnight. But having several million people in any one area doing so is beyond the current design of the power grid, whether that charging occurs during the day or the night. EV’s don’t make free energy: the same power to move vehicles that otherwise would have come from gasoline now has to come from the overhead power lines. See link —

        9) Well, great: Tesla may have built-in their charging circuitry. But going back to the general case, other EV’s like the Nissan Leaf require a special 240-volt charging station, made by General Electric, and which costs about $2,000 (or more).

        10) Refueling time for local use surrounding a home territory is not the issue. The problem is travel. When refueling EV’s would take 10 minutes (like gasoline), and not some number of hours, then EV’s may be practical. As I said at the beginning: they may be good within a city for shopping.

        11) I think you missed my point. EV’s are terrible polluters! Yes, you heard that right. Just because you can’t see exhaust coming out of a tailpipe does not mean there is no CO2 from EV”s in the big picture. 75% of the electrical energy in this country comes for coal-fired power plants, which exclusively produce CO2 (and some soot). So, all you are doing is transferring the CO2 and soot-issue from your immediate EV surroundings to the neighborhoods surrounding power plants, and the atmosphere as a whole. If our country ran on hydroelectric (like Norway) or a large percentage of nuclear power (like France), things would be different.

        12) EV’s as a group may not be as diligent as Tesla in all the auto-disconnect requirements you imagine. First responders must undergo special training for approaching crashed EV’s, and must assume they are electrically “alive”, slowing them down. Several groups have said they would not use the “Jaws of life” to free occupants in EV’s, since even after initial grounding, new circuits can be opened by crushing metal in the chassis.

        13) Yes, the Tesla S does have a perfect weight distribution because it’s RWD, and the electric motors are in the rear, forming a 48/52 (F/R) balance. That car was intentionally made to be a sporty EV. But what about the Nissan Leaf? Look at its performance specs by comparison to a comparable Toyota Camry, for example (i.e. stopping distances, slalom, skidpad, acceleration to 100 mph.)

        14) I must say that part of my EV sense here came from hybrids, which are both mechanically and electronically complex. The complexity in pure EV’s is not mechanical (as you point out); they are electrically (obviously) and electronically complex. But electronic complexity seems to be increasing in all vehicles nowadays, whether we like it or not. Braking is NOT only done by the motor(s); it is also done by the rotors and pads in some sort of blend with the motors-acting-as-generators to recover energy (KERS).

        15) The Tesla S in “Signature Performance” version (a mid-grade line) costs $87K; a 5-series, to which that Model S is comparable in space, size, and performance, is $62K. That’s a $25K difference. $25K can buy a lot of gasoline. And the 5-series has a nicer interior to boot.

        16) For power failure, assume a remaining average ICE tank fill = 1/2, meaning 200 miles of driving still available; for EV, average remaining 1/2 “fill” = 25-75 miles of driving available. Beyond that, and for the diligent home owner (e.g., me), I keep 50 gallons of spare gasoline for just such emergencies. Where do you, oh diligent EV owner, keep your spare electrons? (^_^)…

        17) True, there is no 17! But I am going to make one up. You seem to have ignored this in our past discussions: VROOM. Cars have got to go VROOM. If they don’t go VROOM, they are appliances without a soul. Mere conveyances. With VROOM, they have life and passion. They speak a language. They harness the primitive forces of air and fire. I know a guy who had more $$ than he knew what to do with, and he bought a super-car based ONLY on the SOUND it made. But what do EV’s say to you in the evening? “Wee wee wee”, like the little piggy that squealed all the way home?


      • 0 avatar

        7. Nope, the acceleration is not “jerky”. A manual transmission car with an inexperienced driver might often be, but not an EV. The acceleration is incredibly smooth actually, and you don’t get the whole amount or torque right at start either. The Leaf ramps it up over a second or two. The instant torque is actually a great safety feature, making merging and pulling out in an intersection a breeze compared to an ICE car.

        8. No, it’s not. Nighttime, the demand is so much lower that just about every car could be an EV charging at 16A at least. No lights on at home, no cooking and most shops and industry are closed. Also no AC, or at least much less.

        9. The EVSE that is delivered with the Leaf can be upgraded to 240V operation for around $300 (see A wall-mounted 240V charging station does not cost $2000, it costs less than $1000. The Clipper Creek LCS-25 is $995, other makes are sold for $750 or so.

        10. You need fast chargers for fast recharging. The Tesla Supercharger will refill a 85kWh Model S from 20% to 80% in about 35 minutes. After driving 200 miles I need a rest anyway ;) Regarding the Leaf and the other short-range EVs, they are not meant to be your only car, they are positioned as a familys second car. Few families need two long-range capable EVs. I know we don’t, as of next year I will have one Leaf and one Model S P85 (performance 85kWh). The Leaf is for around-town errands and the Model S for my longer drives.

        11. You believe the CO2-as-pollution thing ? Nevertheless, even on 100% coal an EV will emit less CO2 well-to-wheel than a gasoline car. People tend to only use the CO2-numbers from combustion of gasoline, forgetting that production of oil and refining that to gasoline is a VERY energy-intensive operation. Coal plants are slowly being replaced by NG plants in the US (you have a lot of natural gas available) and then CO2-emissions of EVs are less than half of a fuel efficient ICE.

        Regarding the coal plants, they are not turned off at night. Coal plants have a LONG ramp time so they must run 24/7. If enough power is not used at night, it is wasted instead. Why do you think there are low “super-off-peak” rates available at night ? It’s not because the power company WANTS to give you cheap power at night, that’s for sure.
        BTW, nuclear plants have the same, long ramp times. Hydro can be turned off and on again in a minute, NG is somewhere between those two extremes.

        12. Well, the Tesla battery has three separate safety disconnects/fuses, so the risk would be much less than a gas tank rupturing and catching fire. That risk is very real. Regarding safety, the Model S is the safest car ever crash tested so far. It even broke the machine that test roof crush strength ;)
        How good the Leaf systems are I do not have the details on, but I have no reason to believe they’re unsafe. As a first responder, I’d be much more careful about approaching a gasoline car with fluids leaking out.

        13. The Leaf has very good real-life driving capabilities, but it was never meant for the track. Few cars keep up with it at stoplight “races”.

        14. All hybrid blend their braking, the Leaf does too. I agree it’s not a good system. Thankfully, the Model S does NOT blend any braking. All engine braking is on the accelerator pedal, using the brake pedal instantly adds disc braking without messing with the regen braking. Those who bought Tesla Roadsters (or the Mini EV which has the same system) loves it.

        15. Where do you get an M5 for $62k ? Because that is the comparable BMW 5-series. The M5 will win 0-60, but only using the drivetrain-destroying “launch mode”. In a rolling start 5-60 the MSP will win. The Panamera GTS will also lose in a rolling start.

        BTW, the Model S is larger than a 5-series, it’s almost as big as a 7-series.

        16. People with a 73 mile EPA car like the Leaf will have an ICE car too, or they drive in the city only. Those who drive longer and only have EVs will most certainly have a longer range car. Driving carefully in the Model S 85kWh, you will go around 180 miles on half a tank (driving 4045mph with AC off). But since you start each day with a full tank, most probably the battery SOC will be higher when power fails.

        If you are a survivalist, stocking up on gasoline and canned gods, either get an off-grid solar system too or don’t buy an EV.

        17. People love different things. I love the instant and silent thrust which is like a jet under take-off. Also the smooth acceleration not interrupted by shifting. Engine noise I’d like to be as low as possible, thank you. If you like the sound of an Harley, don’t get an EV. Simple as that. Most people like their cars to be as silent as possible, and I think the people living by the road thinks the same way…

        Regarding real-use mileage, no-one has good data on the Model S yet as only a handful of cars are in customer hands so far. Come back in two months. But my Leaf I have no problems going 90+ miles in (going the speed limit on highways with CC on), even though EPA range is 73 miles. 73 miles is what I get in mid-winter, when I need to use the heater. Again, just don’t buy an EV with a real-use range too short for you. That’s why Tesla offers 3 battery sizes, 40, 60 and 85kWh. Get what suits your needs.

      • 0 avatar

        Hello again, jkirkebo…

        Thank you for your very knowledgeable and considered discussion on EV’s.
        I see that things are changing rapidly, as opposed to even 3-4 years ago.
        You are convincing me (and likely some other TTAC readers) that EV’s do have some virtues.

        If the self-charging, magnetic-induction highway ever gets installed and accepted, — and electric power can come largely from nuclear, solar, hydro, or wind energy, — we should not be surprised to find EV’s as a common mode of personal transportation several decades (5-7?) from now. (This may be even more true with the current generation of young people, who seem to care less about the sporting and fun aspects of cars: reportedly, many are not even getting licenses!) Also, since America has terrible public transportation, auto-piloted EV cars could make up for that deficit.

        My personal preferences are still ICE designs, and I feel that H2 is the ultimate “fuel” that can provide either ICE excitement or fuel-cell driven EV smoothness/quietness. Both EV’s and H2-cars still suffer from infrastructure-related problems. But, we’ll see how all this shakes out.

        Still has to go VROOM, though…..(^_^)..


        BTW: The comparison BMW was a 535i (not M); and no, I don’t believe the “CO2 thing”, but that is what European regulatory agencies are specifying, as in “mg CO2/km” or “g CO2/100 km”.

  • avatar

    The front end looks like the last Mercury Cougar that graced the roads

  • avatar

    The side view looks strangely like a Porsche Panamera to me…or a stretched Hyundai Elantra. I guess there’s only so much you can do in streamlining. No, I don’t like coupe styling in a sedan, either.

    Hope it’s a success, as the industry could use a viable electric vehicle that makes sense.

    Apparently, the Nissan Leaf isn’t as practical as the comapany would like it to be, but it does work, range limitations considered.

    Of course, this isn’t a vehicle for “everyone”, as not many can afford this, but it’s a start.

  • avatar

    Really? I thought Tesla had fired up the photocopier looks wise and cloned the XF

    Front end looks nasty though, but then they didn’t clone that bit from the XF….

    Jury’s out for me on this car. What’s the range?

    • 0 avatar

      The Model S and the XF look similar because they were designed around the same time using the same design language. Franz von Holzhauzen has his finger in many pots. He has helped design many beautiful cars for Mazda, GM, and before that, Volkswagen. He has in the past been influenced by Jaguar designs. One of his sources of inspiration while designing the Pontiac Solstice was the Jaguar E-type.

      Who cares anyway if they look similar. They are both very beautiful cars. The fact that they look similar does not detract from either, and it certainly does not mean that they copied a good design. They instead came up with a totally new vehicle and put a familiar face on it.

      I personally dislike the massive grills fitted to the otherwise beautiful Jaguar XF and XJ. It ruins the fluidity of the rest of the design, but it does add boldness and “muscularity”.(I don’t even think that’s a word)

    • 0 avatar

      EPA 5-cycle range is 265 miles on the 85kWh model (compared to the Leafs 73 miles), steady state 55mph is 300 miles.

  • avatar

    Imagine the entire dashboard in front of the driver and the front passenger and including the central console, as one glass covered multi-touch screen (perhaps we can retain the traditional wheel). Free driving apps from Apple store which change all the gauges, everybody able to adjust the styling to their own liking with VW Teutonic black on black and 70s brougham maroon Cartier skins readily available. Entertainment, navigation, internet, news, social networks, climate controls all UI optimized flying in and out of the various parts of the screen controlled by swiping and other advanced navigation gestures in conjunction with the home button in the place of Saab ignition.

    • 0 avatar

      Yep, distracted drivers tinkering with all sorts of stuff. Yep, I can imagine… ;)

      I like all the custom touches that can be fine tuned by the owner but I’d like to think that most of that is locked out if there isn’t a passenger in the car to do the tapping and the car is in motion.

      I have no reason to believe that a rich distracted driver is any more capable of multi-tasking than the teenage driver worried about whatever teenage gossip their phone is delivering real time.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    I could be wrong but I don’t think touch screens were taken from F1 technology. Yes, I can work all the knobs and buttons in my SUV with gloves on.

  • avatar
    Lynn E.

    Sunday’s NY Times had an article about robots and automation. The Tesla factory was mentioned with a picture of its robots. I was impressed as I was still thinking Tesla was a group of craftsmen slowly building each car like in a 1970’s Jaguar factory. This Tesla company has serious money and technology behind them.

    I wish Ford would ask Tesla to electrify the Transit. I like the size and capacity of the Transit but don’t want the pitiful mileage.

    • 0 avatar

      If you’re talking about the Connect and not the upcoming replacement for the E-Series.

      • 0 avatar

        Azure Dynamics isn’t building any Transit Connect EVs anytime soon. A few months ago they filed for protection from their creditors and suspended production of the electric Transit Connects.

  • avatar

    I don’t think that even go-karts handle like go-karts.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a friend who used to go on about Porsches and other cars that had “one to one steering”. Of course outside of open wheel racers, most road cars haven’t anything lower than 2.5:1 which is what the Lotus Elan had, about has high geared steering as you’ll find. Even as light as the Elan is, you better not have your finders inside the spokes when you let the wheel center after a turn or you’ll probably break a finger.

  • avatar

    Hmmmm…. so Tesla basically put you in the car but (1) you only had 20 minutes (2) you couldn´t drive faster than 80 mph, (3) apparently you were only allowed to drive it in a straight line, without a chance to actually take it to a track, (4) without a chance to measure the “fuel economy” (so to speak).

    Pretty pathetic. Not on TTAC´s side, but on Tesla´s side. Either you have full confidence in your product, then hand it over to journos for a few days or weeks. Or you don´t have that confidence, then don´t do any PR events for the time being.

    Even if I was interested in EVs, I´d be VERY cautious about buying this thing right now.

    It does look gorgeous, though.

  • avatar

    Oh how highly the uninitiated wave their dull and tattered flags. Life moves on and new tech will always be there to pick up the torch when the old tech can last no longer.

    Let me first say this: Modern internal combustion engines are nothing short of being mechanical miracles. The amount of engineering that has gone into extending their life cycle in this giant industry is a tribute to the deep set love that many of us have had for a car at least once in our lives.

    But it can’t go on forever, at least not in the way of petrol engines maintaining a 99.9% monopoly over mass transportation (I pulled that number out of my ass, butt how far off can it really be?). Changes need to happen for the same reasons that emission laws were put into place in 1994, and for the same reasons that the CAFE regulations are being met today. The problem is that these changes add to the complexity and cost of the internal combustion engine for continually more marginal gains, which ironically led automakers to recognize that the best way to improve their engine’s efficiency was to pass some of the workload to an electric motor. That should say enough on its own.

    So one of issues that some have commented on is essentially the lack of tactile feedback of the touch screen. There has already been progress on this front. Do a search for, “iPad joystick”. This small, cheap, clever device uses a suction cup to attach itself to the touch screen. When you tilt the joystick, your own electrical capacitance is translated to the screen through the stick itself, giving you a more consistent and repeatable interaction with the device. With my imagination, I can easily apply the same concept to a clicky dial that would function in the same way that my car’s HVAC knob does. The software would just need to support it with an implementable option in a standard universal update. EZ PZ!

    This car breaks boundaries and if you are someone that can’t get excited about that because of the powertrain it doesn’t use then I don’t get how you can really consider yourself a driving enthusiast.

  • avatar

    Tesla loose trim mention: “Although there was a loose trim piece on a door, this was an early series production car and overall the interior meets the expectations of this market.”

    Chrysler loose trim mention: “the only glaring quality control issue on a car with 2,940 miles reading on the odometer was a piece of wood trim above the glove box whose double sided tape was failing so the trim was hanging a bit loosely.”

    One is acceptable, one is a glaring quality-control issue.

    • 0 avatar

      Two different reviewers. The wood trim in the Chrysler 300 that I reviewed was glaring because it was impossible to not notice it and the more so because the rest of the fit and finish in the cabin was outstanding. Should I not have mentioned it? Overall I gave the car a very positive review. That trim and a couple of electronic glitches were the only negative things that I mentioned in the entire article. I said that I could be quite happy with the car as my daily driver and praised just about everything in the car.

      Someone at Chrysler wanted TTAC to review that car so I’m pretty sure that the finished review was read by one or more people in Auburn Hills. I’m a native Detroiter and I’d rather not slag off the local car companies but I have to tell readers and Chrysler my honest opinions. My hope is that someone in Auburn Hills read about the loose trim and at least looked into why it was coming loose.

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