I now have a red, P85 Tesla Model S. I picked it up at the Denver Tesla Service Center on May 3, 2013. After slightly more than a week of ownership, I am still extremely happy. It is incredibly quick (0-60 in 4.0 seconds), it handles well, and it has great Brembo brakes. It has a very smooth, comfortable ride, and it is very quiet while you are driving it.
It also has a lot of useful, high-tech features, such as a 17” touch screen and built-in 3G connectivity (so you have web access and can receive over the air firmware updates). This allows Tesla to add new functionality to the car without even having to physically touch the car.
The Tesla Model S is a battery electric vehicle (BEV). That means it is not a hybrid, there is no gasoline engine. There is no drive tunnel in the center of the car, and there is a second trunk (called a frunk) where an internal combustion engine would be in most cars. There is a hatchback in the rear, and the rear seats fold down, so you have as much storage space as many SUVs.
My Model S has the larger, 85KwH lithium-ion battery pack that has an EPA-rated range of 265 miles. Your actual range depends on how fast you drive, your elevation change, the outside temperature, and whether there are headwinds or cross-winds. This gives you more than enough range for normal day-to-day driving.
The current weak point of the Tesla Model S is the proverbial “road trip”, the one that everyone talks about, but very rarely actually does. Right now, it is possible to drive a Tesla Model S anywhere you want to go, with some planning and extra patience. The current high-speed, public EV charging infrastructure is still somewhat lacking.
If you need to do a complete charge of an 85KWh battery, it will take some time, unless you can use a Tesla SuperCharger (which is free). Right now, there are only a relatively small number of Tesla SuperChargers in California and in New England, but Tesla will adding many more SuperChargers around the country over the next year.
There are also some pretty strong rumors and hints (from Elon Musk) about faster SuperChargers, a faster SuperCharger network build-out, and some form of battery swapping option in the very near future.
In the meantime, Table 1 shows the charge times and charge rates for various power sources.
|Power Available||Charge Time||Charge Rate|
|110V 12A||> 60 hours||< 4 miles per hour|
|220V 12A||27-37 hours||8 miles per hour|
|220V 24A||13-19 hours||17 miles per hour|
|220V 30A||11-15 hours||21 miles per hour|
|220V 40A||8-10 hours||28 miles per hour|
|220V 60A (dual chargers)||5-6 hours||42 miles per hour|
|220V 80A (dual chargers)||4-5 hours||56 miles per hour|
|Tesla SuperCharger||1 hour||270 miles per hour|
Table 1: 85KWh Charging Time Table
It is pretty common and relatively easy and inexpensive to get a 240V, 50A, NEMA 14-50 outlet installed in your garage that will completely charge an 85KWh battery overnight. This is more than sufficient for day to day use, especially since you are very unlikely to completely run down your battery during normal daily usage. You will have a full battery every morning, with no trips to a gas station, ever. It costs about $9.00 in electricity to fully charge the 85KWh battery, which is about 25% of the equivalent gasoline cost.
The Tesla Model S is an amazing, game-changing automobile. Not just an amazing electric vehicle, but an amazing vehicle, period. It was awarded Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2013. It was also awarded Automobile Magazine 2013 Automobile of the Year.
More recently, Consumer Reports gave the Tesla Model S the highest test rating (99/100) they have given any car since 2007.
Here are a number of other reviews:
In case you are wondering, “Tesla Time” is a term among Tesla owners that refers to the time that we typically spend answering questions and showing the Model S to curious, but generally interested and enthusiastic people. It is extremely common for people to approach you with lots of questions about the Tesla and EVs in general whenever you get in or out of one. This is something we generally don’t mind…
On the other hand, I am perfectly aware that there is a lot of anti-EV hostility, primarily from the conservative side of the political spectrum. There is a pretty predictable set of talking points that you will see trotted out in the comments for any mainstream story on the Internet about Tesla or EVs. There is not much I can do about that, except to accurately relate my experiences and try to address some of the more glaring misconceptions about EVs.