Let’s talk about cars…

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As you might know, next to gaming we are also interested in cars. Today we tested the Tesla Model S.

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As a little disclaimer: I am not writing this as a preview or review, as I am not a car-expert. The Game Mistress has more knowledge of cars than I do. I am simply writing a report of how I experienced the drive today, so there can be possibly mistakes in what I say.

Tesla Motors, originally started by Paypal and SpaceX starter Elon Musk, has created an excellent Sedan electric car that has a drive range of 501 kilometers and can get up to 100km/h in less than 5 seconds with its 416 horsepower model.

This car, the Tesla Model S, has been officially launched June this year and is selling really well. The car is well engineered and optimized for its own type. They stepped outside the box creating this car. The car is ultra light as the framework is entirely built out of aluminium. Unfortunately does the car still end up being 3000kg because of the batteries, but the weight is very well balanced over the whole car, with a slightly higher weight in the back for extra stability. The strong part in this are the batteries that are incorperated into the bottom of the frame.
The main ‘breakable’ parts of this car is the electrical motor (backwheel drive) and the batteries. Luckily there is an 8-year non-kilometer limited guarantee on these (85kwt and up). There is a 5-year new-car guarantee (or 80.000km).

Unfortunately there is a 5-6 months waiting line on getting the car as Tesla Motors has currently only one factory in California, USA. The car parts get manufactured there by big robots and the parts are then shipped via Rotterdam to Tilburg. The cars are put together there and then shipped to wherever a customer ordered one in the world.

Electric cars are the future. They have zero omissions, they don’t use fuel other than electric power and there aren’t as many parts that can break down as in a fuel car.

We tested the car here in Norway where it is being sold between 55.700 euro and 90.000 euro. Note that pricing may differ from country to country because of the local currencies and average salaries. Also do the prices differ between the 60kwh and the 85kwh models and ofcourse the many options you can add/delete.
Buying an electric car is very attractive due to a few incentives that both government and Tesla Motors have put up to help the sales and usage of Electric Cars.

For example, you do not have import tax on the car here, you barely pay any road tax (401kr), you don’t pay road toll, you can drive on collective fields (prioritized driving in busy traffic via bus/taxi lanes), you can free charge for free on most shopping centers and town centers as well as some business area’s. And here in Norway power is also cheap because of the way we generate electricity (water, wind).

Tesla offers free charging on their special SuperCharge stations and offer an 8 year guarantee on the batteries (and that is an impressive guarantee!).

Well, back to the testing. The car was amazing. The torque, the amazing power that is between electric motor and driving axxel is just amazing! As soon as you press the ‘gas’ pedal, the car just jumps forwards.

So, I asked the seller, “how do I start the car”, still hoping for an engine sound. But there is no engine sound. You press the brakes and the car activates. You press the Drive or Rewind button and as soon as you let go of the break the car will do your bidding.

Driving The Tesla Model S is smooth. The steering is smooth. The car has active breaking, so on hills it will feel as if you put your car in lower gear to break. No gear shifting here! No gears really apart from Drive and Rewind (and neutral and park for standing still).

The interior is looking in harmony. Not too many buttons, nothing really visible, all hidden inside the car. The car we tested had all or most of the upgrades you could buy extra.
Most controls of this car are actually in the software of the car. Everything other than some emergency stuff is controlled by pressing the giant 17-inch touch screen. The touchscreen has a media player, a navigation system, controls to control the temperature, the heating in the seats and most other technical aspects of the car. You can also see the power usage of the car in different diagrams and there is even a web browser! (for our website?). The car comes with a built in telephone which also has the internet usage over 3G when you are on the road, but it can pick up the wireless signals when you are near an access point. The car has 2 USB ports that can also be used for charging devices. The car has even a hotspot functionality to offer wifi internet to all devices inside the car (but that can be rather expensive over 3G).

The technical pack also has an upgrade with which you can save mirror and drivers seat settings per driver, for easier restoring in your comfortable driving position when you switch between two drivers.

To order a Tesla Model S you have to go to their website and configure it online. So here we could then also test out how our perfect car should look like, if we would want to buy one. You can change pretty much everything. Leather inside, a glass car roof, different sizes and shapes of rims and wheels, different exteriour colours, even different seats. Ofcourse also a lot of options with security, lights, music and more.

We took it for a spin to our house to get some eye’s to pop-out around our neighbourhood as well as to see some jaw’s dropping. That one never get’s old! We drove around our area as there is less traffic and a better road for testing such a performance car. Unfortunately we had to hand it back in 45 minutes time (normally you can only test drive it for 30 minutes by the way), so after been to our house, The Game Mistress took over the steering wheel and had a good spin with it.

To ‘tank’ your car up (charging) you can put it also in your home-socket and it will fully charge your car for about 12 euro in electricity. For longer trips to for example the next big city or even Europe (Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands), you simply make half an hour – an hour stops at special Tesla Supercharge stations. These charging stations use a lot of Ampere to charge the batteries directly and it takes 30 minutes to charge for 300 kilometers worth of traveling to the next SuperCharge station. Pretty neat. Unfortunately are not all of these SuperCharge stations built yet in Europe, but they will be in about a year from now. Would be cool to use a Tesla from here all the way to Germany for example to test drive it there on the motorway. The car can drive between 190 and 210 km/h as top speed (depending on the model).

If you live in a cold climate and have a strong winter with 30 degrees below 0, you have to use the power cable to pre-heat the batteries so that starting is easier and to heat the coupe. This is also to keep your car in shape and not lose any battery power. Pretty good, because other electric cars fail on this point in Norway.

It’s a beautiful car and it is a shame the test drive was so short as well as that we had to actually give the car back to them!

For those interested, here’s a video where they test the speed of an Aston Martin Rapide S in a straight line against the Tesla Model S:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=JUW0l7bZn1s&t=207 (taking you directly to the test).

Otherwise I suggest to check out their website for all the details that I have missed.

Game on!
Steven

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