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I recently tried out a SideTour experience and had a chance to see the future, first-hand. I test-drove a Tesla Model S, the first all-electric vehicle with the potential to capture the hearts and minds of the American public.
A few quick stats. Starting at $60,000, the Model S is a sedan that can carry up to seven people comfortably, go 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds, and travel up to 300 miles on one charge. With only a one-cylinder engine (since there’s no gas, traditional pistons, etc. are rendered unnecessary) and zero tailpipe emissions, this car is designed to perform for both the driver and the environment.
In addition to a gorgeous aluminum body, awesome features like a large computer panel to run all of the car’s electronics, including its stereo system, cruise control, GPS, etc., door handles that submerge inside the car and pop out upon a light touch from the user, the most impressive feature of the Model S is it’s chassis. That is because the chassis also serves as the Model S’s battery. The flat, one-piece chassis forms the Model S’s entire body, and it is actually composed of hundreds of much smaller batteries so that if any one cell goes bad, the rest of the batteries pick up the slack. In addition the one-piece rectangular design differs from a traditional chassis made of myriad steel parts that are bolted together, which causes even luxury performers to give slightly when handling turns, high speeds, etc. Because the Model-S chassis is one flat rectangle, the car doesn’t give at all around turns, even at high speeds, and the handling is immaculate.
The Model S, which is comparable in price to a BMW 5 Series or Audi A6, will probably sell something like 5000 units this year and will enable Tesla to continue to improve the capability of its batteries over time. The plan of legendary founder Elon Musk is to have a car that is comparable in size and performance to a BMW 3 Series that will sell in the high $30,000s by 2015. I truly left this test-drive believing that Tesla is the car and the company of the future, with battery technology that could revolutionize the U.S. car industry and the way we all relate to our vehicles. I am extremely excited to see Tesla take the industry by storm, and the Model S is an excellent start.
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