Elon Musk, tells us about his goals for the UK!
10th June 2014
The first right-hand drive versions of Tesla's Model S has finally arrived in the UK - two years after going on sale in the US. The launch took place at The Crystal, opposite the O2 in London's Royal Victoria Docks. The event was hosted by non-other than Elon Musk himself, the flamboyant Chief Executive of Tesla Motors since 2008 and previous to that serial Silicon Valley entrepreneur.
On looks alone, it would be hard to tell the Tesla Model S apart from any other mainstream executive saloon since its shape is smooth and attractive, not weird and gawky like some other electric cars. It even has enough power to leave an Aston Martin Rapide in its wake. Not at all bad for a pure electric car that produces no direct emissions nor makes use a petrol propulsion system to artificially extend its range.
More than 25,000 of the five-door Model S hatchbacks have been sold since its release across the pond in June 2012 -17,650 of these last year alone, making it the third best selling electric car after the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt (23,094), and the battery-electric Nissan Leaf (22,610), the latter selling at half the price of the Tesla. In terms of sales, this puts it ahead of the plug-in Toyota Prius, and many electric and hybrid cars from more mainstream manufacturers.
In the UK, the Tesla Model S will be supported by a network of the company's proprietary superchargers which are able to rapidly charge the batteries to give up to 170-miles of range in just 30-minutes. A full charge is available in 70 minutes from the same machines, giving a range of up to 312 miles. This range is the closest you can get to a traditionally powered vehicle and perhaps will strike a blow to "range anxiety" that electric vehicles supposedly cause. If you want to charge it fully at home, expect that to be a 15-hour overnight affair.
Tesla's vision: to be able to drive the length of the UK with one 20-minute top up mid-way. Elon Musk told first4auto: "We expect customers to be able to travel the length of the UK for free using our Superchargers within the next 18 month. The goal at Tesla is to produce a mass market electric car, but we can only get there one step at a time by selling the Roadster, and now the Model S, to fund the mass market".
Open the door and the sci-fi ambiance is very much in keeping with Silicon Valley, boasting premium technology. The large iPad-style screen on the centre console adds weight to the fact that Musk sees the Tesla Model S as the "Apple" of the car-world, allowing the cars to command a premium price. The huge 17-inch screen even comes complete with Apple-style graphics and touchscreen controls which help manage everything from the air conditioning to music, or opening/closing the sunroof to starting the heated windscreen wipers.
The floor between the front seats is completely flat and climbing behind the wheel shows that the traditional gauges have been unsurprisingly replaced by digital instruments that display battery charge, power usage, range and speed. The lack of a rev counter reminds you that this is a pure electric car. As does the lack of a hole in which to insert the starter key. Simply place the car in 'drive' mode with the key securely placed somewhere on your person is enough to make the car come to life. Place your foot on the accelerator - and off you go.
If you so desire, you can complete the 0-62mph dash in 4.2 seconds - that's as fast as a Lamborghini Gallardo. Not bad for a motor that has the overall volume of a lady's handbag. The shock of realising you are travelling so fast without the accompaniment of a roaring engine takes some getting used to - the only reminder being the squeal of the tyres as you left your mark.
As you reach cruising speed you can begin to think that this is a saloon - capable of carrying 5 passengers and their luggage. Without gears to deal with, the Model S is a doddle to drive. All you have to do is brake then accelerate again to experience a surge of constant power that only a linear electric motor is able to provide. The car obviously feels heavier than established rivals, especially in corners and despite its low centre of gravity.
The 60kWh Model S starts from £49,900 and goes on to £69,080 for the 85kWh Performance model. If you select all the options available, you could end up paying £98,000. The warranty that underpins the Tesla's batteries spans for 8 years - and even provides support to the user even if it is proved they are negligent. The car itself comes with a 4-year warranty.
Tesla operates one "experience and service centre" in the UK at present - at its facility in Westfield, London and the company hopes that by the end of this year this number will grow. This style of selling has fallen foul of car dealer groups in the US and franchise laws in certain states have prompted a series of lawsuits. But the UK and Europe has less stringent legislation meaning that it would be quite easy for similar centres to be established within shopping malls elsewhere in London, as well as Birmingham or Manchester.
On behalf of www.electriccar2buy.co.uk
ANDREW MERRITT-MORLING FCMI
Associate Member of the Guild of Motoring Writers
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