On the way home
August 20th finally arrived. After a few weeks of anxious waiting. We Picked up the car at the Tampa Tesla Service Center.
Everyone at the Tampa Service Center was wonderful. We found it interesting that three of the people who work at the Service Center had Volts! One of them unplugged his Volt and plugged ours in to charge while we were there!
Our delivery specialist, Ben, walked us through our car with a patient thoroughness. He took Karen on a short drive to familiarize her with the car’s operation. Together we went over every feature. We never had a sense of being rushed out the door, it was a really pleasant experience. Unlike most car dealers, everyone there was professional and knowledgable. I had the sense that they were all excited to be working for Tesla and believers in not just Tesla, but the wider adoption of the Electric Car.
The car was clean and had been charged to the standard 90% level.
First impression, Holy smokes, it’s Beautiful! So glad we went with the brown. Just the right balance of contrast between the body and chrome and nose cone. The brown color has a different personality depending on the light. In sunlight you see gold tinted highlights and in the shade the car looks almost black. Calling it “Brown” does the color a disservice, marketing wise. It should be called “Coffee” or “Mocha.”
The interior is spacious and comfortable made of premium materials. It has a minimalist design with very few buttons or controls. Almost everything is controlled with the massive 17 inch touchscreen display mounted in the center of the dash. The display looks and acts like a giant iPad. The user interface is elegant and responsive, obviously a lot of thought went into it’s design. Underway, almost all functions can be controlled by buttons and scroll wheels on the steering wheel. These interface with the forward display in areas to either side of the speedometer. This minimizes the need to look at the center mounted 17 inch display while driving.
There are only two buttons on the dash, the emergency flashers and a button to open the glovebox. Compared to our Volt who’s center console is festooned with touch sensitive buttons, the Tesla’s dash is clean and uncluttered. It’s like the iPhone compared to an old Treo or Blackberry with chicklet keyboards. This is clearly the future of the automobile user interface.
The first thing you notice underway is how quiet the Model S is. This car is silent–we’re used to the Volt, which is quiet, but the Model S is much more so. Perhaps having the battery under the floor insulates you from a lot of tire noise. It’s easy to exceed the speed limit because the sound cues in other cars just aren’t there.
Wow, this thing is seriously quick! Instant torque when you put your right foot down. All the more impressive given the Model S’ 4,700 pound weight. There’s no noise or drama under acceleration. No sense of the car spooling up or downshifting, you get pushed back in the seat the instant you push the accelerator. This is addicting.
The Model S rides and handles very well. The combination of an adjustable air suspension and a long wheelbase give it a supple yet controlled ride. Rebound is well damped so there’s no sense of floating or being too soft. My car has the 19 inch all season tires and under aggressive cornering the tires are clearly the limiting factor. The car feels neutral near the limit without excessive understeer. Turn in feels quick and the steering weight is adjustable between comfort, standard, and sport. Stability control is always on while traction control can be turned off if you’d like to shred your rear tires in no time at all.
Saturday, Robert and I took the Model S down to Ft. Myers. It gave us a chance to test the range at highway speeds and check out the new Supercharger there. The longer drive gave us a chance to really explore the navigation, trip, and audio features of the car.
Before leaving, we gave the Model S a full charge. That gave us a rated range of 270 miles.
Interestingly, with a full charge a yellow band shows up on the right side of the speedometer. This limits Regen to prevent overcharging a full battery. After a few miles this bar disappeared.
Limited Regen with a full charge
On the way down we stopped in Sarasota to meet some other Model S owners and visit First Impression Premier Auto Detail. Pete, at First Impression gave us lots of tips on how to clean and maintain our car’s finish. We had lunch at Mad Fish Grill before leaving for Ft. Myers.
Three Model S at Lunch
The Supercharger locations are built into the Navigation Database. The Ft. Myers Supercharger is located in a shopping center just off of I 75. The Model S Nav’s Turn by Turn took us right to the exact spot within the large parking lot.
We drove conservatively and followed the posted speed limits on the way down to maximize range. On arrival we had 120 miles range remaining!
There were 8 parking spots at the Ft. Myers Supercharger. They’re located far enough from the stores that they’re unlikely to be “ICE’d.” The Supercharger charge cable is about as thick as the hose on a gas pump and very short. We had to back right up to the bump stop for the cable to reach our charge port.
Sharing the Ft Myers Supercharger with a black Model S
After plugging in we checked the charging display and saw that we were charging at 271 miles per hour! The Supercharger fed us 232 amps at 372 volts. I can see why the cable is so thick!
We walked to Dick’s Sporting Goods and then had a glass of iced tea next door at Aurelio’s Pizza. The manager at Aurelio’s was very nice and absolutely refused to charge us for the tea or accept a tip. We can’t wait to try their Pizza next time.
Speaking of free, Tesla does not charge for the use of their Superchargers. They will always be free to owners of the Model S.
After 25 minutes we had added 100 miles of range to the Model S! With 220 miles of range showing, we decided to drive a bit faster on the way home. This would allow us to compare range against the relatively slow trip down. We drove past our exit to have dinner with Karen at Carrabbas, this added about 15 extra miles. On arrival home we had 65 miles remaining.
Range on Arrival
Taking out the extra miles, we lost roughly 40 miles of range by driving 10 mph faster on the way home. The moral of the story is, if you need to maximize range–slow down!
Either way, we had plenty of reserve and we never suffered from “range anxiety.” When you buy a Tesla you don’t just get a damn fine car, you get the Supercharger Network. And, when Tesla builds out it’s Supercharger Network, long distance travel in an Electric Vehicle will be a reality.
Every now and then a disruptive technology comes along which completely changes the landscape. Before the iPhone, so called “Smart Phones” had tiny screens, used a stylus, and had tiny tiny keyboards. Overnight those phones were rendered obsolete by the new iPhone. The Tesla Model S is also disruptive. Most auto manufacturers don’t yet realize it, but their product is already obsolete.