The Tesla Experience
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Elon Musk. The man’s drive, energy and life philosophy are a source of constant inspiration to me. He has managed so many times to beat the odds and continue innovating the way we think about sustainable energy and travel.
The concept of electric cars is nothing new. There have been concept cars competing for accolades in university projects, scientific competitions and technology exhibitions for some time. What was lacking was the ability to transform these concepts into a practical, working production vehicle. Enter Elon Musk.
The history of Elon’s rise and the birth of Tesla is well documented. The question that I asked myself was “what exactly is the Tesla experience?” I headed in to Tesla Motors’ Toronto showroom to find out.
Lorenzo Escobal, the owner of Inception Automotive Detailing had agreed to show me around. Lorenzo’s company is contracted by Tesla to detail the vehicle prior to delivery. “When you visit a Tesla showroom, you are not met by a salesperson,” explained Lorenzo. “You are met by a product representative who is there not to sell but educate and showcase the vehicles. There are so many benefits and perks to owning a Tesla. With Tesla being so popular in the news, many people are looking at changing to an electric vehicle,” he added.
Lorenzo led me over to the Model S first. “Elon Musk’s master plan was to produce a high end limited production roadster first.” (The Tesla Roadster was first introduced in 2008.) “The money generated from this project was used to develop the Tesla S.” My first impression on seeing the vehicle was that it was money well invested. The S is beautiful, with sleek lines and an imposing stance; I could see myself behind the wheel of the S on one of the long, winding scenic drives that Canada is famous for.
“With no gas engine, there’s a lot of space.” Lorenzo showed me the cavernous “front” or luggage space – what we would normally call a trunk. It’s huge! There is certainly space to fit enough luggage for an extended stay at the mountain retreat up in Ainsworth Hot Springs.
What about safety? “The car has a full 5 star NCAP rating. The front is re-inforced with impact absorbing boron steel rails. There are 8 airbags and the whole passenger cabin is re-inforced. It’s really one of the safest cars on the road.”
Technically the Tesla can have 2 extra seats for children rear facing 2 seats at the back of the trunk. It’s a great family vehicle…
Looking into the cockpit, I asked what the screen was for. Lorenzo invited me to sit and we had a look at a few of the functions of the 17 inch screen. “This is where you can control pretty much everything on the car. Here you can control the steering mode, the heated seats, heated steering wheel and heated windshield,” Lorenzo explained. “Heated windshield?” in my mind I had memories of scraping ice and snow off of the windshield with a credit card on cold mornings in Oslo. The heated windshield is certainly a better way of solving that problem – better for the credit card too! Lorenzo explained how the interactive display also controls the opening of the doors and trunk, the adjustment of the lights, suspension and navigation system. “The navigation system is unique. In addition to being a complete navigation system, it will also tell you where to charge and when before you even start your journey.”
“You also use the climate control system, sound system and web browser here. The car has built in wifi and a 4G data plan.” Lorenzo explained that software updates and most maintenance and diagnostics can be done without even having to visit a service centre! On the steering and dash, controls are simple and efficient. The climate control, navigation and radio can be controlled without taking your eyes off of the road. “Voice control works on many of these – it’s very simple to operate.” Lorenzo is obviously having fun. “What’s this,” I asked pointing to the left of the steering. Tesla is much more than a vehicle and technology company – it’s a philosophy. “That’s the self steering. With self steering on, the car will hold its own lane, brake and accelerate as needed. The driver can preset following distance. Of course, you need to remain alert and keep your hands on the wheel just in case you need to take control in an emergency situation, but self drive really helps to reduce driver fatigue.
“And how far can I drive before I need to recharge, and how long does it take to charge?” Lorenzo smiled, “it depends on how you drive and traffic conditions but between 300 and 500 kilometres [190-320miles] on a charge with the standard battery pack. The onboard charger is a 48 amp charger that you can charge at home. It’s recommended that you install the Luma 1450 charging station. This will take 8 – 10 hours to charge if the battery is completely flat – basically overnight.” So, instead of stopping off at the gas station at the end of a long journey, I can simply stop in my garage and plug my car in to recharge – brilliant! “There’s a high amp charge available,” said Lorenzo, “This will take 3 – 5 hours to recharge.” The S and X are have a Tesla proprietary “supercharger” option that will fully charge the standard battery in 20 – 40 minutes. Almost long enough for you grab a quick bite to eat on a really long journey. All Teslas come with a variety of charging adapters to enable you to charge pretty much anywhere where there is electrical power. Charging stations have also been installed in many major cities. A friend of mine in Dubai had told me recently that Dubai had a number of public charging stations planned where you could charge your electric for free. The J1772 adapter will allow you to use these stations.
I asked Lorenzo about the options for the interior. “The interior is customizable. There are options for various upholstery finishes and trim. Personally, I like the white which is the standard option.” Ironically, it is the easiest upholstery to keep clean thanks to the Tesla treatment which makes it stain resistant. “It also gives the car a unique character.
From the Tesla S, Lorenzo led me to the Tesla X, a stylish 7 seater (6+1) SUV.
One of the first things that I noticed was the amount of legroom. I was still trying to figure out whether I could fit in whilst still wearing my snow skis when Lorenzo showed me the central consol with USB ports and airvents. “There is a touch screen for the onboard entertainment system. The two back seats can come out if you want even more loading space.” “Tell me about the tyres?” I asked. “The tyres are really interesting. They have insulating foam inside to reduce road noise – it’s a very quiet car to drive.” With no combustion engine producing thousand of tiny explosions every minute and sound insulating tyres, I could just imaging myself recording a pop album whilst commuting – that is if I could sing. Lorenzo interrupted my daydream, “the side mirrors are auto dimming so you won’t be blinded by someone travelling behind you with their lights on bright.”
“So, I’m ready to buy a Tesla, how does it work from here?” “Once you’ve spoken to the product specialist who has answered all of your questions, you will be introduced to a salesperson. You can book a test drive. Once you’ve done that, you and the salesperson will talk numbers.” I think of the fact that one of the numbers that I’m looking forward to seeing come down is my gas bill. “Tesla doesn’t negotiate on price,” said Lorenzo. “There are sometimes demo or showroom vehicles available. The ordering process is all done online where you can choose interior options and colour, battery options, etc..”
“Once you’ve ordered your car, the delivery manager will keep you updated on expected delivery date. When your vehicle is ready, a delivery specialist will co-ordinate with you to take delivery. In the delivery bay, the car is detailed and cleaned and ready for you. The delivery specialist will do the final paperwork and give you vehicle orientation specific to your car. It’s a very streamlined process particularly for people buying an electric vehicle for the first time.”
“You will never be pressured into buying a Tesla,” Lorenzo told me. “This is part of Elon’s plan. We are there to assist and educate. Tesla is venturing further than automotive with powerwalls, powerplants and solar roofs. It’s a whole ‘ecosys’ in terms of the master plan.”
I considered myself assisted, educated and far better informed as I greeted Lorenzo and the Tesla Experience at Tesla Toronto’s friendly showroom. There is definitely a Tesla in my future…