The decision has been made. Fifteen years is long enough. My 1999 Mercedes SLK230 is back on its feet and running well¹ after a recent trip to the car hospital, but it’s time.
There are lots of cars to look at. Today I looked at the Tesla Model S.
The Model S is quite the car. It’s an all electric, no gas engine at all. Built in California, its range is listed at 265 miles.
Tesla doesn’t have dealers. It sells its cars direct from company owned showrooms. There’s one about 25 minutes from here at Fashion Island–a mall in Newport Beach.
I’m not sure I can describe Fashion Island properly. Let’s just say valet parking doesn’t see too many Chevys! That’s two Lamborghinis in a row in that photo.
As with most shopping centers in SoCal, Fashion Island is mainly open air with lots of foot traffic. The are a few anchor stores like Macy*s, Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom’s plus smaller shops and kiosks.
We walked into the Tesla store and looked around. There were two cars on display, a Roadster and a Model S. People were crowded around both.
The Model S had its hood up. There was no engine there. It was actually a trunk. The trunk’s a trunk too!
Before long Jay walked up. His card says “Owner Advisor,” which means he’s a salesman. With some prodding from Helaine and Stef I asked if a test drive was possible.
Usually one could be scheduled in a few days, but maybe… Ten minutes later we were walking into the mall’s garage and climbing into the car.
It is a sedan. It’s a nice sedan, but from the outside not much nicer than any other car. The doors unlocked as we approached.
The Tesla is a fully electric vehicle, so there are a few immediate differences from what you’re driving now. It has motors, not an engine. When it’s not moving it’s silent. When its moving it’s still pretty quiet. The Tesla has no ignition key and no igntiion!
There are no gears. There’s no transmission. There’s no PRNDL. Push a small stalk on the steering column up for forward, down for reverse.
In front of me was a fully digital instrument panel. To the right was a 19″ flat display mounted so the long edges were vertical.
I gingerly backed out of the space then forward toward the street. Jay was telling me about the car, but I was concentrating on not hitting anything.
I am used to driving a powerful car. The Tesla is more powerful. At low speeds the torque is insane. It was obvious as soon I pushed down on the
We ran through some city streets then up into the hills overlooking the Pacific. Newport Beach is spectacular. I was taking a test drive in a location fit for a car commercial!
We made a right turn. Jay told me to hit it hard. The cars low center of gravity kept us firmly on the road as we accelerated through the uphill turn.
If a car can be unflippable, this one is. All the weight from the batteries beneath the cabin give it a very low center of gravity.
I hit 83 mph on one road before easing back. A man walking his dog gave me a dirty look. The car wants to run. I was at its mercy.
Jay showed me the GPS system and looked up something we were chatting about on the web browser. Yes, the car is on the Internet.
As we headed back toward Fashion Island we saw another Model S and pulled up to it at a light. I rolled down my window.
“I’m taking a test drive. Do you like it,” I asked? Two big smiles. Two thumbs up. Jay couldn’t have staged it better.
Like I said, it’s quite a car.
Using electricity brings the operating cost way down, as does the lack of scheduled maintenance. Of course this is offset by it’s astronomical price.
I’m considering it. It’s not out of the question. But, yeah, you have to swallow hard to pull the trigger on a purchase like this.
I’ll be looking at other cars. If not a Tesla, maybe another convertible–maybe the SLK250? I’m at the very confused stage of the process.
The Sun was going down over the Pacific as Helaine, Stef and I reunited. They’d done some ‘mall-ing’ while I drove.
We headed back to Irvine.
¹ – Thanks Steve W. and Steve M. in Connecticut for excellent guidance that saved me grief and money in getting my car repaired recently.