Tesla Test Drive

Tesla-Motors-logoYesterday my wife and I headed to the Tesla dealership in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. The dealership looks more like a service garage. The reason is that Tesla is a new company and more important, their vehicles require little service when compared to units boasting an internal combustion engine. We were told that the dealership is expanding to include the entire building where they are currently located. The showroom area (none existing at this time) will be included in the modernization of the facilities. Overall, customers should not care. They buy a vehicle, not the showroom.

We had an appointment to test drive a Tesla Model S. When we arrived, a couple was taking delivery of a Model X. The rear wing doors were open. It provided wide and easy entry to five of the seven seat configuration. We are planning on changing our BMW convertible this year. My wife and I have been thinking of a SUV. She likes a Range Rover model; at least until yesterday.

We spent some time with a sales representative inside a Model S. All features were explained. Will discuss more what we liked and what we did not later in this entry. After reading (to some extent :o) the disclaimer, signing it and showing my driver license, we expressed our interest on the Model X. The sales person made the necessary arrangements to make the switch.model_s_tesla

My wife and I have been driving BMWs for the past three decades. If we include our children, we have owned over two dozen vehicles in that time. We have watched features improve with time. We drove our 2016 Alpina B6 to the Tesla test drive. More on this detail later in this blog entry.

We test drove a black Model X. The remote (key fob) is able to open the doors in the vehicle. The windshield is massive. The visor has been very nicely design to address the large windshield. Pressed a button and the SUV was ready to move. Given that all Tesla models are electric, the ride is very quiet. The first thing I noted was the effect of the regenerative system when you release the foot from the accelerator. All cars tend to slow down when you release the foot from the pedal, but the transition was somewhat noticeable.

model_x_teslaWe made a right turn on an incline to get into a main road. There was traffic coming from the left so we came to a complete stop. As the last car was about to pass in front, I release my foot from the brake. The SUV started to creep back. That is something I have not experienced in a BMW ever. The sales representative mentioned there was a setting that could be changed but it had to be done with the car in park. That was not the time to enable it (we never did).

As we took the entrance ramp into a freeway, I pressed the accelerator. I was very impressed how fast and quiet the SUV accelerated. The Alpina accelerates as fast and has a top speed of 200 mph. It appears all Tesla models are limited to 155 mph. I have never driven on an open road at such top speeds. BMW has driving school and facilities that allow one to drive quite fast under different conditions. In general, it is unsafe and obviously not legal to drive over the speed limit. It is just nice to feel the acceleration that would help you catch up with traffic when entering a freeway, specially is you start from a complete stop.

During the test drive, we accelerated a few more times. The low center of gravity makes the vehicle incredibly stable when accelerating in curves. Tesla products are very impressive when one takes into account the fact they come from such a young company.alpina_b6

After the test drive, we spent a few minutes building on the Tesla web site our ideal vehicle. All our questions were answered by the sales people. We were asked what we liked and what we did not about the Tesla SUV. Our comments follow.

On the positive side, both cars and SUV have a nice curve appeal. We drove a black SUV with black rims. We prefer all black interior. Tesla offers such configuration. Acceleration, speed and stability are a big plus. The SUV comes in three different configurations with seven, six and five seats. For us a configuration with six seats would be ideal. We owned a BMW X5 with seven seats, but only our dogs could ride in the back. Both of us tried the back seats. We are not small people. The seats are easy to access and very comfortable. There is enough glass to provide abundant light for all passengers.

tesla_dashboardThe range of the vehicles varies with the size of the battery and other options. For use a range of 300 miles on a full charge is more than enough. We drive about 6,000 miles per year per car. The big question is a longer trip (i.e., Minneapolis, MN to Chicago, IL). Tesla has the answer. There are super charging stations on most Interstates that appear on the big console display. Apparently one can get a full charge in about 15 minutes. A trip from Minneapolis to Chicago (about 400 miles) would require one 15 minute stop. That should be quite acceptable for most owners. Overall, Tesla has produced a very exciting SUV.

As we all know, nothing is perfect in life. The outside of the vehicles is quite nice. The interiors need some time to match the finishing details you encountered on similarly priced vehicles. My first impression when we sat in the Model S was that of a Japanese car from the 1980s. The SUV has a better look and feel.Tesla_SuperchargingStation

The way the SUV creep back on an incline as soon as the brake was release was unexpected. Hopefully the alternate setting (which we did not try) addresses it. The dashboard is fine. More mature luxury car manufacturers have spent many decades testing and updating their designs to make them simple and uncluttered. The dashboard needs some work.

There is no heads up display. Having some basic information projected on the windshield on the river side is invaluable to me as a driver. Apparently such option is not available in any model at this time.

The ride is quite smooth and quiet. The vehicles do not come with run flat tires. There are issues with vehicle range and noise with such feature. We have only experienced one flat in several decades so I assume run flats are not up on the list.

tesla_black_model_xIn conclusion, Tesla has done an extremely nice job with the design and production of their vehicles. We are seriously considering the Model X as a replacement for our BMW convertible.

I did put a note regarding our enthusiasm for BMWs. On our way home, after the test drive, a message appeared on the display of our car. The engine needed two quarts of oil. We immediately made a turn and drove to the BMW dealership. Regardless the fact we did not have an appointment, the service personnel addressed the issue in a friendly manner in minutes. We have owned the Alpina for about a year. The car was about to remind us it needed service. We got an appointment for the next week.alpina-b6-v8-engine

We were explained that large engines with twin turbo units tend to consume more oil that smaller engines without them. The engine outputs up to 600 HPs. There are a lot of moving parts that need to be lubricated and work in perfect harmony to produce such power. We were very satisfied with the explanation and service we received.  That said; a Tesla vehicle would not incur on such problems because they use electric motors with considerably fewer moving parts which do not require motor oil at all. Something to think about when you are ready to buy your next vehicle :o)

The Naïve American

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