It has no muffler, doesn’t pollute, never stops for gas, travels in silence, can accommodate seven people, contains two trunks, requires minimal maintenance, holds the road better than the sharpest sport cars, and as if all that weren’t enough, is beautiful to behold. What could be better?
These flattering epithets describe the phenomenal California Tesla S P85 sedan, the car that will change the world. I’ve worked in the business for over 50 years, and never before has a vehicle excited me as much, except perhaps the legendary late-1960s Ferrari Daytona, but that was a different time. What’s remarkable about the Tesla is that its attributes extend well beyond its electric motor.
The Tesla S avoids the consumer’s principal reservation about the electric car: limited battery life. The most advanced version of the P85 propels at 85 kWh, which translates to a 450 km journey in normal conditions. At this rate, a trip from Montréal to Québec City is conceivable, and at a round-trip cost of $8.10 for electricity. What’s more, the 4,500 km travelled to date would only increase this electricity bill by $72. A most pleasant surprise. Using the simplest outlet, it takes a full evening to recharge the vehicle batteries. With some 7000 batteries housed in the floor of the car, the substantial weight ensures a very low center of gravity contributing to cornering performance that many sports cars are unable to match.
The driving experience and unbridled performance of the Tesla P85 is enhanced by a 416 horsepower synchronous engine featuring 443 ft-lb of torque. The secret to such performance lies in the immediate torque that is characteristic of electric vehicles. Where the driver of a gas-fueled engine requires time to accelerate, the Tesla, capable of achieving 100km/h in four seconds, has already left him in the dust.
The Tesla is currently being built in California at a rate of 500 units per week. Demand has been high since being designated Car of the Year, and roundly praised in Consumer Reports magazine. Comfortable, durable, and packed with an arsenal of electronic functions accessible via a 17-inch screen in the center of the dashboard, this automotive wonder doesn’t skimp on luxury. In completing research for this article, I asked Richard, who owns a Tesla, to close the hatchback, which he proceeded to do with the touch of a button on his cell phone. The driver of this vehicle has already arrived into a new century! I admit to having written elsewhere that the electric car would mark the end of driving pleasure. The Tesla has converted me.
In collaboration with Richard Petit