By on February 10, 2015

Tesla charging

I’ve got a buddy who was once a titan of industry, a computer geek in the C-suite who never forgot his roots. Let’s call him Professor Zorkmid. He never needs to work another day in his life, but he enjoys hanging out with students, telling grand tales of his adventures in the Great Underground Empire, swinging his sword at trolls and making his way through the maze of twisty corporate passages, all alike.

Two years ago, Zorkmid was planning to upgrade his C6 Corvette Convertible to a C7, but then he developed a fancy for the Tesla. Being a rational fellow, he developed spreadsheets with detailed cost models, agonizing over whether it was worth the extra bump for the P85+ (a tighter sport suspension on crappy Houston roads?), the larger 21″ wheels (more opportunity for curb rash?), or the panoramic glass roof (versus the pounding summer heat). The catalyst for him was the August 2013 refresh, when Tesla added parking sensors and made a handful of other small tweaks to the car. He took delivery later on in the year, and fell in love with the car.

Fast forward to the recent announcement of the P85D and Tesla’s various “AutoPilot” features. Zorkmid was sitting in my office, going back and forth about the relative costs and benefits of the new P85D. The extra performance? Certainly desirable. The extra features like the AutoPilot? Seriously beneficial for his commute to campus from his white house, out in a distant field. Sure, it’s got the latest Frobozz technologies, but are you willing to eat the first-year depreciation? He had to think about that. Because if you want to sell it, I might want to buy it. And that’s what leads us to this TTAC exclusive comparison of two Teslas.

Two Teslas (front)

First, since everybody else is writing articles about the 0-60 launch of the P85D, I thought it would be worth chiming in. Yes it’s fast. Yes it’s brutally fast. And if you’re faced with the choice between the 2015 S85(-D or not) and the 2015 P85D (they got rid of the P85 non-D), then that extra oomph is going to be a big selling point, assuming price is no object. If your budget however, like mine, is finite, I highly recommend you find yourself another Zorkmid willing to eat the first-year depreciation, because the regular P85 is still very, very fast, and one of them can be yours for 80% of the original sale price.

This is the place where the buff books would start waxing poetic about the “well-controlled oversteer driving at 9/10ths into an off-camber sweeper” and other such nonsense. I’m totally unqualified to write that sort of prose, but hopefully we’ll be able to get Jack Baruth down here at some point to do the honors. Instead, once I’ve had the car long enough, I hope to bring to TTAC discussions with data. Kilowatt-hours. Operating costs. Integration with SpaceX’s Merlin engines. That sort of thing.

Tesla AutoPilot cruise control

Tesla rolls out its new software to all of its cars, which is a great thing, but old cars don’t get new hardware features. Here’s a dashboard photo showing several new things that require the AutoPilot hardware. You can see that the Tesla’s forward-facing camera recognized a speed limit sign and displayed it front-and-center for a few seconds. That eventually goes away, but notice where the blue arc on the left turns grey? That indicates how much you’re going above the posted speed. Likewise, if you’ve got the adaptive cruise control on and something gets in your way, there’s a line left behind so you know where the car’s going to accelerate to if and when the slowpoke in front of you gets out of the way. Tesla has also implemented a lane departure warning feature (it makes an unhappy buzz at you if you drift toward the lane lines without signaling), but the real “auto pilot” goodness is still to come in some future update at an unspecified time.

Tesla 19" wheels

Aside from the rear badge, there isn’t much to help you tell these cars apart from the outside. Zorkmid’s new car (on the right) has the “turbine” wheels (which might improve mileage by a tiny percentage) and red brake calipers (whoopie!). Mine, on the left, has curb rash (my fault, not his). Okay, that’s fine and all, but what are all the other differences between these cars? Ever wonder how Tesla has improved all the little details in the past two years? Here we go. Cue the split-screen graphics. (Click for larger versions.)

Tesla turn signals

In 2013, Tesla had the cruise control stalk on top and the turn signal stalk below. This messed me up for a few weeks but I’m used to it now. They fixed this in their newer cars, which has of course caused Zorkmid no end of cognitive dissonance.

Tesla front seats

The new Tesla “sport” seats have noticeably larger side bolsters. They feel great. The old ones are fine as well, although other reviewers have complained about them. If you’re seriously planning to track your car, then yeah, you want the sport seats, but you can totally live your life without them.

Tesla rear seats

But the rear seats? Oy vey. Those overstuffed bolster bumps aren’t going to help in any meaningful way if you’re hauling ass, but they’re sure going to be annoying if you’re trying to get a slightly oversized kid booster seat to fit in the back. Still, can you live with it? Maybe, but here’s the bigger problem with the new rear seats:

Tesla rear visibility

Those new rear seats chew up a ton of the space in your rear view mirror, and the headrests don’t fold down. Apparently this is also true for the “version 2” regular seats, whereas I apparently have the “version 1” regular seats. I’m sure there’s a safety reason for the huge headrests, but unless Tesla implements the Volvo flip-down thing, there’s a safety cost now, with the rearview mirror giving you a lot less information. So maybe you think this is just micro nit-picking? Isn’t that what TTAC is all about? Anyway, here’s another interesting point of comparison.

Tesla interior roof

Zorkmid originally got the solid roof (paying extra for the Alcantara headliner) but he decided to spring for the glass roof on his new ride. This photo gives you an idea of just how much tinting is included with the roof, but the jury’s still out on how much extra heat the car will accumulate on hot summer days. While I’m here, I’ll also call your attention to the seat belts. Notice anything missing? Yup, you can’t adjust the shoulder height. I was really hoping they’d have fixed this in the 2015 so I could somehow retrofit it to my 2013. Alas, my seatbelt will continue to not fit quite right.

Tesla window controls

Diving deeper into the minutae, you might notice that the newer Teslas have a new mirror button. This lets you fold the mirrors in with the push of the button. They’ll even automatically fold when you turn the car off. There’s no such feature on my 2013 mirrors, which can at least be manually flipped in and out; a retrofit is apparently available if you really want it. (Another cool trick of the newest Tesla: the battery charging door will automatically close itself after you remove the charger cable.)

Tesla center console decking

Tesla apparently decided to make the formerly optional “yacht decking” between the front seats into a standard feature. Zorkmid prefers the carpeted deck in my car. I can see the style benefits of the new approach, but my real problem is that there’s precisely one enclosed storage location: the glove compartment. That’s it. The big center console doesn’t open. There are no map pockets (okay, a tiny pocket on the front-edge of the driver’s seat on my 2013, gone from the new 2015). My daughter even complained that there’s nowhere to in the back seat to store her stuff. I will note, for the sake of journalistic completion, that Tesla does offer an “executive rear seating” option. That replaces the three-across rear bench with two nice bucket seats and an arm-rest (with enclosed compartment!) between.

Tesla dash cover

This shot shows you the wood dash versus the carbon fiber dash. I think they’re both very attractive, but I’m not sure I would have been willing to pay extra for either of them. You’ll also notice that Tesla changed one of the leather dashboard panels to be fuzzy Alcantara instead. Either way, you don’t want to leave this car out in the heat on a daily basis. My old BMW Z3 had a leather-wrapped dashboard that had to be repaired three times in the seven years I owned it, since I had to park it in the hot sun every day and the leather eventually shrank and pulled up from the edges. (And yes, I used a sun shield on the front window and I garaged it at night.) I’m now paying extra to park my car in an underground lot, so I can avoid spending the money on replacing my Tesla’s dashboard later on. This works for me, but it’s not an option for everybody.

Tesla frunks

Moving on, here’s a view of the “frunk” of the two Teslas. You’ll notice that the front motor and its associated machinery render the frunk into more of a curiosity than a functional storage space. With RWD comes a much bigger frunk. That said, you’re not going to use the frunk on a daily basis on either car, largely because they really blew it on the way the frunk latches.

Tesla frunk latch

The old latch is exceptionally finicky. You have to mostly close the frunk, slowly and carefully, then place one palm on each side and apply a solid push. You get a really unpleasant sound and the frunk latches. (Apparently, many owners trying to slam it shut, like you’d do for every other car hood in the history of car hoods, would sometimes miss the latch point and deform the aluminum hood — an expensive mistake.) For the newer Tesla, they replaced the two hooks with one, which does yield a smoother latch action, but it’s still not something you’re going to want to slam shut. Hopefully they’ll eventually make it a push-button motorized thing, just like the tailgate.

Tesla sunshade vanity mirrors

Lastly, I want to point out some of the dumb things that make you think “surely there’s an automotive supplier who can do this properly for an entirely modest amount of money”. Our first example is the vanity mirror cover. On the right, you might notice the right hinge is busted. Zorkmid reports it’s already been replaced once. They’re broken like this on both sides despite very infrequent use. This repair will be on the list for my next scheduled maintenance. On the left, you can see a modest redesign of the hinge mechanism. Maybe it’s better now? I hope so. Also, there’s this:

Tesla key

The Tesla keyfob normally stays in your pocket, but you want to keep it on your keychain, right? On the right, you can see how I solved this problem: with a cheap plastic tie-wrap. You can’t otherwise thread a standard metal keyring through the hole in a Tesla keyfob. Newer Teslas include the leather keyfob pouch, on the left, and there are a variety of third-party pouches as well. But really, a keyfob you can’t put on a standard keyring?

Summarizing things: the 2015 Tesla P85D is a stupendously fast and fun car. If you’ve got the bucks and you’re ready to spend them, fire away! If you don’t have the bucks, there are a whole bunch of Tesla early adopters looking to upgrade. So long as you don’t feel you need the newest features, now’s the time to be gunning for a used P85.

I’ve been trying to understand why Tesla doesn’t offer the P85 (non-D) any more, since there’s a pretty big hole in their product line between the S85/S85D and the P85D. My theory: “soak the rich”. Tesla is steering buyers like Zorkmid toward their highest-dollar highest-spec car. Assuming they’re running the production line flat out, why not use it to make the variant that generates the most profit, never mind the most buzz in the news with its outrageous performance? If/when demand softens on the P85D, they can always reintroduce the P85 RWD version.

Side note: When you own a fast Tesla, all your friends want to experience the launch. My daughter and her friends (9-10 years old) all love it. My daughter even once asked me, “daddy, why don’t you do that more often?” Anybody who’s concerned that the children of the future won’t care about fast cars because they’ll instead be glued to their brain-implanted smartphones while droning around in 25mph self-driving Googlemobiles… Don’t worry. Teenagers will definitely continue to be attracted to fast cars. Which reminds me… Dear Mr. Musk: I’ll still have this Tesla when it’s time for my daughter to get her driver’s license. I’d like a software hack please to “detune” it so she doesn’t do anything too stupid. (Ditto for those evil joyriding car valets.)

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100 Comments on “Comparison: 2013 Tesla P85 vs. 2015 Tesla P85D...”

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    That was very, very cool. I think the general buzz Teslas get crowds out this kind of detail on running changes, and I appreciate it even though I’m not in the market.

    Did the warranty on the 2013 P85 transfer to you in full?

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. Zorkmid also prepaid for the annual maintenance, and that transferred as well. We had a song-and-dance with Tesla, sending them various documents to convince them that he sold and I bought the car before I was able to set up the phone app and interact with the car over the Internet. Not too bad, really.

  • avatar

    Zork references F-T-W !!!

    Very nice article.

  • avatar

    The only true way to test the P85D versus the P 85 is how it handles on the ice and snow.

    The all-wheel-drive unit is $11,000.

    The interior is the same. Bland and hard.

    You lose 50 miles of range because of the second motor.

    $135,000 with all major options.

    Even the RS7 is a better value: no range anxiety.

    • 0 avatar
      Master Baiter

      The D has better range, moron. From green car reports:

      “The range calculator on the Tesla website provides another basis for comparison. At a steady 65 mph, at 70 degrees with climate control on, the range calculator says the standard S-85 will go 242 miles.

      By that yardstick, the range bonus for the 85D is even more astounding: 53 miles, or 19 percent.”

      • 0 avatar

        #1 I’VE HAD THE P85 and P85D. The P85D DOES NOT have better range.

        Fully charged, it’s less than 250 miles range.

        Watch your mouth – You don’t have my access nor my intelligence. Abide by TTAC’s terms of service.

        • 0 avatar
          Master Baiter

          Well then, post a link to your comprehensive comparison test results. Of course, this would be testing both cars, newly delivered, charged to the same level, driven under the same conditions. I’ll apologize if I’m wrong.

        • 0 avatar
          Master Baiter

          “Abide by TTAC’s terms of service.”

          You should know. This is from a guy who tortures the B&B with comments on every story on this site, then one day, his posts just stop. Miraculously they start re-appearing January 1, 2015.

          I liked you better when you were banned.

          • 0 avatar

            I was never banned.

            #2 You can keep on going to bed every night dreaming of owning one of these hard, plastic, electric cars that’s priced well out of your range, but the simple fact is YOU CAN’T AFFORD IT.

            If Elon Musk wasn’t a SCAM ARTIST who used Obama’s socialist energy handouts – pretending to be building “affordable EV”, the Model S may not even exist.

            It’s nothing more than a TOY FOR THE RICH and since you aren’t RICH, you won’t ever find out.

            Leave the premium cars and technology TO ME. People who can afford em.

          • 0 avatar

            I also like this site better when he isn’t here.

        • 0 avatar

          Abide by TTAC’s TOS?

          I think you’re the pot calling the kettle black here.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve never seen a single good post from bigtruckstroll.

          Otherwise, I would love to own a Tesla. Maybe if I hit the lottery down the road. I’ve seen one in person. Sexy, sleek and more desirable than any supercar (to me at least).

    • 0 avatar

      I went to the Tesla configurator and was able to sort out something like Zorkmid’s P85D for $125,320, and that’s before the $7500 federal tax incentive.

      I’ve previously written here about the Audi A7 vs. Tesla S85 ( In that comparison, the base A7 comes out ahead. When you compare the P85D to the RS7, the prices line right up, with a small advantage for the Tesla.

      I won’t argue about interior aesthetics, but I’ll say that the range anxiety concern is bullshit for local driving, and only comes into play if you’re planning a road trip. If you road trip all the time, then you keep a gas burner around and you’re fine.

    • 0 avatar
      formula m

      I heard these things can dust a Hellcat… Impressive eh

      • 0 avatar

        You before they OVERHEAT or before you run out of electrons and have to sit in a Supercharger stall for a half hour – an hour?

        • 0 avatar

          You know about men who like to drive loud big trucks?
          Nothing is big
          Get used to it, little man
          If you and big oil finally get out of the way, all cars, trucks, etc will be electric in 10 years, even yours! with everything running more efficiently and cheaper than today
          You don’t want to know what would happen if we wait until we run out of oil
          After all, we need oil, gas, solar, coal, etc to make electricity!

    • 0 avatar

      “The D has better range, moron.”

      Electric car buffs can be very thin skinned. Besides, everybody knows you should trust the automaker’s website for accurate range information.

      That aside, great review Dan. Hope you enjoy your new to you ride.

    • 0 avatar

      So I take it you sold your Tesla stock and can really tell it like it is now?

  • avatar

    I love yacht decking! Next up: quilted leather!

    Seriously though the 2013 looks worn out already, with dull paint and headlamp hazing. It’s not aging well.

  • avatar

    The P85D (and, to a lesser degree, the 85kW/h version) are questionable value propositions.

    The 60kW/h model, though, is fairly reasonably priced for what you get, and I suspect the battery pack will be swappable in the future. It’s fast enough, and has enough range, without being problematically expensive.

    Shame about the rear seat…

  • avatar

    Are the electric motors the same between both models?

    Nice in-depth article, with Tesla shooting for only the rish you’d think that they could at least get “frunk” latches and hinges down right.

    • 0 avatar

      The 2013 P85 and the 2015 P85D have the same exact rear motor. The P85D adds a smaller front motor. Combining the two is where the insane performance comes from. Perhaps more interestingly, the 2013 P85’s power gauge goes up to 360kW. The P85D goes up to 480kW. That’s half a megawatt of juice flowing from the battery pack to the wheels. Impressive stuff.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m impressed by the instant torque these electric cars can give, I wonder if it’d make them any better at towing things?

        So the front motor adds 120KW? Sounds good, I was worried that it was just an ECU trick.

        I do like Teslas gradual interior improvements, I just hope their screens can hold up on the used market.

        • 0 avatar

          “I’m impressed by the instant torque these electric cars can give, I wonder if it’d make them any better at towing things?”

          Forklifts and electric winches are very good at this sort of thing, so yes.

          That said, electric forklifts usually have a standard-sized battery that can be swapped in a minute.

          • 0 avatar

            Thats certainly something we need with Electric cars, standard battery sizes that can be made by multiple manufacturers and installed in a few hours.

        • 0 avatar

          I typed the wrong number. The P85 gauge only goes up to 320kW, although the gauge kinda hints that it could swing past that mark. Honestly, when I’ve floored it, I’ve not been paying attention to the power gauge. More important things to worry about!

    • 0 avatar

      They’re called “AA” cells, and are made by many manufacturers.

      In which case, you could get a Model S for $40,000, but with a big “Batteries Not Included” on the Monroney sticker…

      Seriously, there are a lot of niggles for an average car, but if you just look past them (like one would with any exotic), the S is an amazingly capable car in its niche. *Speculation Alert* If I had the car (and a pretty girl in the passenger seat) as soon as she reached for that chintzy vanity mirror, I’d (conditions permitting) simply floor it.

  • avatar

    How many miles did the good professor put on it?

    80% of the value is somewhere in the neighborhood of $90-95K.

  • avatar

    Why are both control stalks on the same side of the steering wheel? That’d drive me nuts, no matter which one was on top!

    • 0 avatar

      On the right side, not pictured, is yet another stalk that lets you select drive/park/neutral/reverse. The dual-left-stalk thing is reasonably common. Our Audi A3 has it.

    • 0 avatar

      For many years, Toyota decided to put the wiper stalk and cruise control stalk on the right side of the wheel. I think it’s awkward.

      Nearly every other manufacturer puts the indicator/light stalk on the left and the wiper stalk on the right. I wonder why Tesla does the opposite. I’ll bet plenty of Teslas turn their wipers on at stop signs and intersections.

  • avatar

    CONGRATULATIONS on your purchase DAN.

    I hope you enjoy the car.
    I considered it, but I am not ready to make the jump to Electric yet. I could deal with the price – since I’d just do a business lease, but the car doesn’t give me enough leg room and I can’t make my regular trips and have to spare time to use superchargers.

    As much as I don’t like driving SUV anymore, I’ll stick to my JeepSRT.

    • 0 avatar

      Prof. Zorkmid regularly made roadtrips in his Tesla from Houston to other Texas cities. The supercharger network makes it possible, but you have to be willing to tolerate the charging times. If you’re doing this frequently, especially if you’ve got kids in the car, then you probably have your routine dialed in, and you don’t necessarily want to take pit stops where the supercharger stations are.

      For my own family, my wife and I share two cars: the new Tesla and an older Audi A3. If I have to do a day-trip to Austin or something like that, I’ll just take the Audi and I’ll be fine. If you’re going to have a Tesla as your sole car, only then do you have to really worry about it. At that point, I wouldn’t recommend a Tesla.

      • 0 avatar

        I am simply not willing to tolerate charge times, nor am I willing to tolerate the lack of comfort features.

        When I take a long drive, I use a W222 S-class. The seats alone make it worth every second. Heated/cooled/massage – and leg space for days.

        My SRT is a great choice too, but I don’t like driving further than 200 miles if I know there will be heavy traffic.

        Once again – Congratulations on your purchase and I hope the car serves you very well.

    • 0 avatar
      an innocent man

      >I’ll stick to my JeepSRT.<

      You strike me as a person that doesn't accept subpar service very well. So I'm curious how you've made out with your Jeep dealer, if you even deal with them at all anymore. My experiences were, well, mixed is the polite way to say it.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    “Leave the premium cars and technology TO ME. People who can afford em.”

    I’ll put my 1040 up against yours any day of the week buddy.

  • avatar

    “Zorkmid” is an anagram for “I’m z Dork”. Sort of like Keith Miller is an anagram for “I’m the killer.” So Dan Wallach is Zorkmid. Confirm or deny.

  • avatar

    I recognise the power windows and mirror switches panel as Mercedes-Benz.

    Ditto for the multi-function stalks:

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Excellent writeup, Dan.

    I test drove a 2014 P85 in the fall (I’m currently a Leaf driver), and really liked it. The turn signal thing was very annoying.

    Yes, my teen passengers loved it, too.

    My question: What is the condition of your used battery? Is the gas gauge accurate, and how close to new is the range?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think I’ve ever had the battery anywhere below 50% charge, so I don’t have a real sense of how accurate it is, particularly if you want to push your luck. I’ll have to consult Prof. Zorkmid, but I believe the car’s rated range is the same today as it was two years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Part of what I mean by ‘accurate’ is this: When the gas gauge drops by 100 miles, have you driven 100 miles (round trip, since one-way is subject to elevation changes)? If not, how close is it?

        The second part of ‘accurate’ is what you were referring to – how close the actual total range is to new actual range.

        I ask this because the Leaf’s gas gauge is notoriously inaccurate, and the winter (western PA) absolutely kills its range. And, aging of the Leaf pack isn’t great.

        • 0 avatar

          Tesla gives you several options for the power gauge: estimated range (regular and “ideal”) and percentage of remaining juice. They even give you a graph that shows yet another estimate as a smoothed average over your driving usage.

          I don’t really have enough experience with the car yet to be able to tell you whether it’s doing a good or bad job on the estimates. Certainly, if I unplug in the morning, drive a mile and park the car, it will often indicate the estimated range as having dropped by 3-4 miles. This is all about amortizing the morning startup costs (heating up the cabin, etc.).

          So, umm, I can’t give you a straight up answer on how accurate it is. It seems to give a useful number, but not terribly all that much more useful than an old-school gas gauge.

  • avatar

    can we ban the ashat? Why does BTR have so much status around here? He’s nothing more then a troll.

  • avatar

    “I’ve been trying to understand why Tesla doesn’t offer the P85 (non-D) any more”

    I have a couple engineer friends who understand manufacturing, and hardware engineering at a level at a level far beyond what I can find out googling around the internet, and I often pepper them with questions like this, or why cars are assembled/built the way they are.

    While they can’t give me the marketing perspective on this, the answer is often something along the lines of simplifying manufacturing logistics, or making sure their supplier contracts are met.

    My marketing angle guess is the same as yours: Potential Model S clients are price flexible and the jump in price isn’t going to impact their sales all that much.

    From a manufacturing standpoint, I think it’s a gear-up to Model X production. Building the motor into the D also allows them to work out any kinks in the manufacturing logistics and streamline production, which is where significant cost savings can be gleaned. Moreover, the cars are beaming data back to HQ, which allows engineers collect a lot more use data than they would just by driving prototypes around, while bankrolling all of this with with the money from D buyers.

    • 0 avatar

      I think you hit the nail on the head there. The Tesla difference is that the car is constantly informing the factory of what its up to and improvements not in hardware can be downloaded. One of GM’s strong points in the early days (think Alfred P. Sloan’s times)was they had a test track where the bugs could be worked out of the prototypes, with EVERY Tesla manufactured now being monitored in real time this is the advantage they have over their competitors.

  • avatar

    Does Tesla have solid-state switching electronics with the efficiency of Toyota’s new silicon carbide devices? I doubt it.

    What about these ancient 18650 cells, the poor form factor, and the ridiculous welding required to put them together in a pack?

    Can Tesla engineer a hood latch for an aluminum hood? Apparently not, when all they had to do was copy a Subaru Legacy 2005 to 09 one. You don’t see bent ones of those.

    I still regard these cars as cynical marketing exercises for the blow dry hairdo hipster crowd. Sure, there may be a few enthusiasts like the author who get off on electron power. Half a megawatt whoopy doo, and high losses through undersized conductors after a few seconds. Such power requires conductors capable of over 1300 amps at 360 volts prior to switching it to spiky 3 phase square waves, just the job for spraying RF everywhere and 500 amp cable is still required.

    Nope, these things are just fashionista statements for people with so much money they can keep another car around for backup. As a solution for the masses these Tesla things are an outright failure. As a Gentleman’s play toy, well let them have their fun.

    The Nissan Leaf shows what happens when real logic meets actual requirements. And it’s useless in snow as well. Instant torque and the weather we’ve been getting in the northeast are incompatible. Then there’s the mere need to defrost windshields and keeping warm in the inevitable traffic jams bad weather causes. In those regards these new electrics are no better than a 1913 Baker Electric. Useless.

    • 0 avatar


      “The Nissan Leaf shows what happens when real logic meets actual requirements. And it’s useless in snow as well.”

      Total ignorance on your part. I’m in the Boston area in a hilly area and have been getting around just fine in my Leaf. My street currently has a surface of snow and I live on a hill.

      Where do you get this crap? Useless in the snow? You don’t know what you’re talking about. How much driving in the snow have you done in a Leaf – none. In the snow, I can use the traction control if needed and I can even dampen the throttle response – 3 selectable levels (my car is equipped with B mode). Regen seems to work well on hill descents – 3 different levels of that. Add to all of that 6 inches of ground clearance which is another great feature to have in the snow.

      Defroster and heat issues – A 1913 Baker didn’t use a heat pump like the Leaf does. Do you even know what a heat pump is? Seat and steering wheel heat does a pretty good job of keeping me warm and doesn’t seem to use much power, but when it isn’t enough the heat pump does a great job. Before I leave, I pull out my cell phone and turn on the climate control and preheat the car while it’s in the garage while plugged into the grid – something you can’t do with an ICE powered vehicle.

      The cold isn’t that limiting – I was able to take the car about 50 miles in subzero temps during the deep freeze that hit the area. Sure, the range isn’t as good as in warmer weather, but it’s enough to get me around wherever I’ve needed to go this winter and I haven’t needed a public charge in almost a month (although I almost went to a charger at MIT today because I was having trouble finding a parking space elsewhere).

      Another thing you’re missing is that the Leaf’s range is extended in heavy traffic lessening the impact of extra heat/defrost. At 16 to 30 mph without heat or defrost you’re consuming power at a rate that could take you well over a hundred miles, so power used for heat in a traffic jam kind of balances out.

      • 0 avatar

        And if it sprayed out RF in all directions in the real world the radio wouldnt work properly and neither would anyone elses in a significant radius (To see what 4 watts of RF does hold a loudspeaker next to a CB antenna while someone talks or the noise your cell phone induces into the radio when it talks to a base station))

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yet, somehow Tesla managed to solve all those technical issues. The RF only exists inside the shielded controller and short-length cabling. If it was a problem, the FCC wouldn’t permit the car on the road, and we’d have heard of it by now.

      As for the Leaf, I’ve addressed your snow comments before. EV torque is throttlable, and traction control help manage it just as in any other car. My Leaf is an excellent car in the snow. Just ask the customers in Norway, who can’t get enough of them. Teslas, too, with 2-3x the torque of a Leaf.

      By the way, Toyota’s SiC devices are experimental only, and totally unproven for performance, cost, or manufacturabilty. And the 18650 was chosen because it’s well-characterized and cheap, which is what you do as a startup company. No need to risk everything on a new battery like Fisker did.

    • 0 avatar

      I went to a technical talk at Stanford that Tesla gave in 2007. They spent a *lot* of time talking about their battery pack engineering — heating and cooling it as necessary to keep the battery cells operating at their optimal temperature. When you’ve got a lithium-ion battery in your laptop or smartphone, there’s a temperature sensor that simply turns the thing off if the temperature gets too high. (You’ve probably noticed this if you play a fancy game on your phone.) They do that because if a lithium-ion battery gets too hot, it has a runaway chemical reaction (i.e., kaboom!).

      Naturally, that’s not acceptable for an electric car which is meant to be able to drive through Death Valley in the middle of the summer. Tesla does cut back on the power if the battery pack is getting too hot. Here’s a nice article from a guy who tracks his Tesla that talks more about it.

      • 0 avatar

        And the difference between Tesla and Boeing due to this is they didn’t have to place the battery in a containment vessel vented to atmosphere (engineering speak for build a fire place and install a chimney) after the first couple of aircraft burst into flames.

  • avatar

    What in the bloody hell did I walk in on?

    Anyway, I have voiced my opinion of the Tesla many times, no need to repeat it. Been in and driven them several times, been in the P85D. In summary the car is not worth the money and as someone that drives long distances often, the inconvenience is not wroth it. A Honda Accord has a better interior. Selling a car for loaded S-Class money on stupid stats like it will beat a Hellcat is nonsense. You will almost certainly never drive it like that, so it could have 1,000 hp and go 0-60 in 2 secs and it still would not matter. The exterior is starting to look generic and dated and the interior is woefully subpar for the money and lacking in features you can get in a $50,000 car. I can’t make a case for buying this car at all in my head no matter how many ways I slice it.

    I mean for $130,000, you can get a fully loaded S-Class with massage seats all around, fully reclining rear seats, heated and cooled all around and ultra-premium materials, fridge and fit and finish just short of Bentley levels. I don’t know how you could go look at cars like that and then decide to plunk down that kind of money on a Tesla, I would feel cheated.

    I was laughing the other day when Steve Wozniak said he got to a supercharger and there was a wait there, something I had predicted in the past, so now your 30-45 min wait just doubled and this is without the Model X or 3 hitting the market yet. I don’t hate Tesla, I just don’t think their cars are remotely even worth what they charge. If you buy one, more power to you, I wouldn’t.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll be writing more in the future about the interior, the features, and the economics of the Tesla as a daily driver. Suffice to say that the Accord is the wrong benchmark for this car. The proper benchmark is the Audi A7. I haven’t managed to drive one of those yet, but I did write a TTAC review of a 2015 A3 ( which has a very similar telematics package. From a usability perspective, the Tesla crushes the Audi, like if you want to program the nav system to get you to a particular destination, you’ll do it much faster on the Tesla than just about any other car out there. From a performance perspective, they really need to be tracked against one another. The Tesla is likely to hold its own, although the Tesla really isn’t meant to be a track car. The battery cooling system won’t be able to keep up, so if that matters to you, then you’re not buying the Tesla.

      In terms of “luxuriousness”, that’s a lot harder to nail down. I can very precisely measure the usability of the telematics system. Like I can bring in test subjects to the lab and give them tasks and time how long it takes them to accomplish those tasks. But how do you quantify luxury? Looks? Plushness of leather? Ambient noise at whatever driving speed? Ability of the suspension to blast over terrible roads without rattling your teeth? Absence of time spent with your car in the shop while broken? Quality of the “executive” rear seating?

      No Model S is old enough yet that we can really say much about long-term wear or reliability. They are undoubtably one of the quietest cars on the road with excellent NVH properties. There’s also something to be said for never having to stop at a gas station. You leave home every morning with a full tank. What’s that worth on the luxury scale?

      Certainly, the optional upgraded Tesla stereo system thoroughly kicks ass, one of the best I’ve heard in any car ever, regardless of price point. What’s that worth?

      One of these days, I’ll see if I can get my hands on an Audi A7 or some other big German lux-mobile and write up a comparison.

    • 0 avatar

      I own an S class and they cannot even make something as complicated as an electric window winder last 350 000KM

  • avatar

    Can you break all four tires loose on launch with that thing?

    • 0 avatar

      The rear motor on the P85 (non-D) is more than sufficient to burn rubber if you disable the traction control system. (And the traction control system will let you get into some non-trivial oversteer before it kicks in and corrects things for you.) I’m not sure whether the front motor on the D version can break loose the front wheels, since it’s got half the power of the rear motor. I guess we’ll have to find a big chunk of empty parking lot and give it a shot.

      • 0 avatar

        Have fun!

        Thanks for the excellent write-up. They’re interesting and impressive vehicles. I’d like to drive one someday. I actually think your P85 would be preferable for me as I especially enjoy a RWD layout for summer use, and I would expect to park either for the winter. I don’t imagine they’d be well-suited to Saskatchewan winters – with -20C daily lows as the norm in January, occasionally hitting -40C – but I could be wrong. I haven’t seen any in my region yet.

        A Baruth review of the duo would be a great read.

  • avatar

    Can’t have a Tesla (or GM/Chrysler) metion without the obligatory ‘Obama socialist’ tag. Banality be thy name ..

  • avatar

    The two drivers of TCO are depreciation and gas. The Tesla depreciation curve has been fairly gentle. So basically the Tesla is way, way, way cheaper to own than anything in its class and several classes below it. The expense is one of cash flow, the high up front cost. It crushes the A7 in TCO. In my calculations the old P85 roughly is on par with owning a Honda Odyssey on a 5 year ownership basis with the maintenance contract.

    The interior is still not up to snuff, but the info nav system and constant upgrades are great. The rear view I expect will be resolved with an always on video screen since Elon Musk prefers technological solutions (and frankly I expect the side view mirrors to disappear eventually to for better aerodynamics).

    The other nice thing is that Tesla is generally very cognizant of construction flaws and engages in (a) continuous improvement and (b) often will provide fixes at minimal or no cost to existing owners. If Porsche gets a pass on IMS, then I don’t really see the problem.

    Would I buy one? I expect a D is in my near future.

    • 0 avatar

      I ran some preliminary spreadsheets on this. If you just compare gas costs vs electricity costs per mile, the Tesla crushes the Audi and is competitive with a Honda Fit (depending on your assumptions for projecting prices in what’s now a volatile market). We need a lot more long-term data to understand depreciation. Current prices might be driven as much by rarity as by anything else.

      The only place where Tesla appears to be a cost failure is in collision damage repair. Colloquial reports have Tesla-approved body shops charging a fortune. It will be curious to see how this sort of thing evolves, particularly with Ford going big into aluminum on the F150. I would expect that this will ultimately show up in notably higher insurance rates. We’ll see.

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