Electric cars. Ah, the debate they inspire, whether it’s fuming outrage or bleating fanboy-ism, will be ongoing for years to come. Personally, I never bought the whole current electric car malarkey, for reasons I’ll note down once again in a minute, but first I’d like to speak a little about the current poster-child for the all-electric automobile. It’s not the Mitsubishi i-Miev, not the Renault Fluance Z.E. or the Twizy, nor even the Nissan Leaf. The epitome of electric motoring is without doubt the Tesla Model S.
I’m starting off with something that’s indisputable here: it just looks the part, doesn’t it? Beautiful, striking lines that make it look as contemporary and as gorgeous as the best of current conventionally-propelled offerings with a little je-ne-sais-quoi hinting its futuristic character. The more I read and find out about the Model S, the more backward, redundant, obsolete and plain silly regular ICE’s look and feel. The absence of maintenance costs, the low running costs, the quietness, the smoothness, the performance and the space! With the battery pack doubling as the floor and thus, offering more rigidity to the chassis, it also frees up stowage space that allows for the two extra seats in the back. The rear boot, though huge, can be done without with because there’s another one up front. It just sounds so obvious and clever. This also allows for a completely flat floor in the front and rear, and a very spacious-feeling cabin.
The Tesla also has astonishing performance figures, with a sub-six second acceleration and the range of 300+ miles, that beats everything else electric out there by far. I have no doubt in saying that if you’re going electric, this is what to go for. Unless of course, you live outside the US and it isn’t available and is also as expensive as hell.
And that’s one of the downsides of the car. I do understand its price tag, but damn, that stings. Another problem is how long will the batteries last and how much it’ll cost to replace them. It’s all very well having little to no maintenance costs for five or so years, but then having to shell out a big ton of cash after that time for a car that cost a six-figure amount can be quite a slap in the face.
Another downside, which I’m sorry to insist on, is still the range and charging time. 300 miles is fine for daily commuting but it’s utter crap for a road trip. And the hefty buying tag and charging conditions (i.e., you have to have your own mains socket next to the car, ergo, you have to own your own house that has to have its own garage) means this will be a toy for the well-off, who will buy this as a guilt-ridding tool so they don’t feel so bad about their other car, a V8 or V12 that gets a single-figure mpg count. And don’t forget, charging away from home will be difficult and lengthy.
To finalise, there’s that stupid touchscreen centre console. It’s pathetic. Everything is controlled from there, whether it’s the AC, the sunroof or the radio, and I bet it’s invisible in sunlight, clunky at best since you’ll probably have to navigate through a plethora of sub-menus to get where you want, and downright f**king dangerous since this demands a lot of eyes-off-the-road time for this. Utter bilge.
But these downsides are niggles that have to be brought into the real world for there to be a concerted effort for development (except for the touchscreen, that’s just s**t). The current model for electric car ownership is crap (it requires ownership of a second ICE car), and as I’ve said before, it’ll fail if it stays the way it is. But infrastructures for charging away from home will pop up eventually if there’s a demand for it. Charging times, battery life and costs will definitely go down over time, and there have been all sorts of news of battery packs that are cheaper, lighter and more efficient, and are just waiting some more R&D and testing to be made commercially available.
So thumbs up for the Model S. Let’s root for it’s success.