Tesla launched its Roadster a few years earlier, but for all intents and purposes, the United States’ age of electric vehicles (EVs) began with the Nissan Leaf in 2011. The market for electric vehicles has come a long way in 10 years, and now shoppers can buy an EV from any number of companies, from the Kia Soul EV to the BMW i3, and from a Tesla Model X to the Chevrolet Bolt. Continue reading >>>
There are some things all cars should be able to do:Go Stop Make it up a hill
Pretty basic, right? The only car I’ve ever driven that struggled to make it up a hill was a 1987 Subaru GL. That car, for whatever reason, barely had enough power to drive over the added elevation of stripes in a parking lot.
I mention this because last weekend I attended an electric car show and managed to take an up close and personal look at some of the EVs currently on American roads. All were impressive.
One couldn’t make it up a hill.
“Tesla needed to solve the problem of long-distance travel and we can’t wait for others to agree with our strategy. If we wait for some sort of consensus, it’s going to take too long. We just need to get going and other manufacturers can either copy us or join us.”
In the world of high-powered auto executives, you can probably guess that quote comes from the guy who also owns a company that builds spaceships. Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, founder of PayPal, and owner of SpaceX, isn’t a guy to wait around and hope technology adapts to his product. No, Musk would rather adapt and invent technology to support his product.
In this case, the technology seems simple on the surface: recharging the electric vehicles that Tesla builds.
The problem is a current lack of North American infrastructure to provide a network that could support a cross-country trip. But why wait for that infrastructure, when you can just build your own?
Tesla Motors has already succeeded at what many considered an impossible feat: starting a new car company in the United States. Tesla has redefined what’s possible, played by its own rules and created a company currently in production on its second model, with more on the way.
It didn’t get there by bending to expectations of failure or going down the same path trudged by so many others.
Now that the company is seeing success, another group has its sights set on forcing it to play by the pre-established rules. This time, not in how the cars are made, but how (and where) they are sold.
Describing a car with all its doors open, somebody once said, “It looks like an unbuttoned double-breasted suit.” So does the Model X with its “falcon-wing doors.” These are gullwing doors hinged to fold inward as they rise, permitting easier entry.
Car and Driver called it “mostly a gimmick,” which it is. I would not want to be inside this car in a rollover. Otherwise it is basically a Model S, but stretched to take 7 passengers. Buyers can choose AWD with a second electric motor driving the front wheels and 0-60-mph times (maybe) of 4.4 seconds.
Two batteries are available—with 60 or 85kWh, giving a range of about 215 or 270 miles, respectively. The car is going to be 10-12 percent heavier than the Model S sedan, which already weighs 4,700 pounds. So the S should perform a bit better, unless you get the AWD model.
Prices will be in a range similar to the S, from about $49,900 to $97,900, depending on options, batteries, etc., and this includes the federal $7,500 tax credit. But Model X won’t be available until 2014. Still, Tesla is taking $5,000 deposits and has already gotten several. The S will start selling in July.
My son is a car kid. He’s obsessed with anything that has four wheels, two doors and a big engine, and well on his way to becoming a bona fide “car guy” in about 10 years.
He sketches better cars at 9 years old than I’ve ever been able to. He’s convinced that he’s going to grow up and design cars for Ferrari someday. Naturally, I encourage that dream the same way I did when he decided he wanted to be a Seattle Seahawks quarterback. For his ninth birthday he wanted a Ferrari cake, which my wife made, from scratch, into a delightfully delicious and near-perfect Prancing Horse confection.
One of his favorite hobbies is looking through the used car listings and searching for elusive supercars.
When we visited my in-laws’ house last week, he’s the one who noticed the Porsche 911 Carrera S parked next door, and spent the next 10 minutes circling it and breathlessly repeating the word “Wow.” He’s also spotted a red Tesla Roadster from a good 50 yards away and screamed “Lotus!” when a bright orange Elise went by in the opposite direction on a rural highway.
My kid knows his cars. Which is why I was so surprised when he came home yesterday, casually asked a car question, and then slumped his little shoulders when I told him the answer.