Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tesla opens in South Florida

Friday November 23rd, 2012

The day had arrived and I was not going to miss it for the world, but having my wife, three sons, and my best friend and his family with me was not going to make the trek a simple one. I had one goal in mind Friday, to sit in a Tesla Model S.
On the other hand everyone else had other ideas. They knew of my longing but things had to be seen and done before we where to head on out to Lincoln road in Miami beach. First stop on my adventure was the Wynwood art district in upper downtown Miami. I am sure many of us have driven past and not really noticed the treasures that lay within this small enclave. For one, I had the best freaken coffee at Panther Coffee... why Panther? I didn't ask since I was too busy enjoying my latte to care. I will be back there... promise. We took some time to stroll the streets that reminded me of a SoHo type of vibe. The graffiti painted on the walls alone is worth making the trip.
We ended up eating at Joe's pizza... pizza was thin crust (the best type) and I recommend it. As for anything else on the menu I will have to go back and try.
Finally, the cultural  exercise was over and we hopped into our cars and caravanned to South beach. Not only was it one beautiful day, but the night seemed to want to compete for top honors. The cool 68 degree breeze circulated itself down the beautiful Lincoln road mall. The local fauna was out and enjoying the weather, people watching and food. It was a beautiful night to stroll.
As we walked  past the countless stores and the pushy restaurant managers selling their flavors, I thought about what I was to expect. Unfortunately, in life, once expectations don't quite always tend to add up. And I was hoping that tonight would not be one of those days. Luckily, the day before, I caught a glimpse of the model S, but was unable to get my antiquated iPhone 4 to snap the picture in time. But from that brief encounter I had high hopes.
We finally crossed onto 5th street and I stood on the ball of my feet trying to look over the crowds for the Tesla store. And a hundred yards down, to the left and through the palm trees I saw it. The Tesla Store. I quickly accelerated past the family and b-lined it to the front door. And there beyond the glass lay a red Model S with countless people salivating over her. One can read all they want, but reality won't set in until you are there touching what has been praised and given the car of the year award.

So I had my wife snap a picture with my iPhone. Here D7000 was outa batteries, go figure. Heck at least the iPhone worked!

Not my color of choice but I will take what I can get!

But there was much much more to the store than I had anticipated. The fourteen foot tall walls where pasted with their own form of Tesla graffiti... just as beautiful as what I had seen earlier in the day. 

What I loved to see though (apart from the car itself) was the beautifully laid out chassis, giving everyone a great look at the genius of this design.
Best way to think about it is like a skate board. This mechanical design stays the same through production and all Tesla has to do is design a body to place over it. In turn this gives them an infinite amount of possibilities for the future. For example the 2014 Model X, which is an SUV/Crossover type of design with three forward facing rows for a total of seven seats using the same chassis as on the Model S. And will you just look at those fantastic doors! This is the way you design cars!

 Perfect for people like me that have been driving SUV's for quite sometime.

Back to the Chassis. Like they say a picture is worth a thousand words so enjoy the visual candy below! 

Here is a general overview of the chassis. In the middle is the battery tray. Towards the rear are the electric engines. Up front is the front suspension.

And here is what makes this car go 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds and that is the base model, the sport will get you there in 4.6 seconds! The electric engines a nestled neatly between the rear wheels. Personally I can't wait to drive one of these. The weight ratio must be fantastic thus giving one incredible handling.  

Here is a good shot of the front suspension and steering. All electric of course...

Close up of the suspension/wish bone...

And the battery tray. You can get it with 150, 230, or 300 mile range

Now I am a mechanical geek at heart so I did spend plenty of time looking over the chassis. What a fantastic and simple solution to a complex problem. To explain what I am talking about take two cars: the Chevy volt and the Fisker Karma. Both are extended range cars, meaning that they have an engine that gives the car the ability to run longer distances using the generator (engine) to power the electric systems. But the design mistake of both these cars is the battery placement. There battery runs the center of the car forcing the interior designers to eliminate the rear bench seat. Now this is all fine and dandy if you are a single guy or just have one or two kids, but for the average family of five like me these cars just don't work. I will be honest and say that if the Volt had that rear bench seat I would be driving one by now. 
Tesla did the smart thing and placed the battery in a two inch thick plate allowing the interior designers a blank canvas to design on. Simple, and functional in one package...

So after my initial overwhelmed brain took a break, I decided to walk around the store. The store had some fun 'Tesla' tag clothing line, including some great hats and a jacket that will hopefully be under the tree.

How about a onecy (or however you spell it) for your new born 'Tesla' child? Honey see that jacket top left hand side... yep tell Santa I am a bit cold...

Tesla also gave you (on both walls) a wonderfully simple way to choose the color and interior of your car.

Pick a color, brown. Pick an interior color block and fit it in the hole. Lastly, choose a facia color and you are done.

Another fun piece to play with was the gas calculator touch screen TV. My number came up to be $5000 for gas over 15,000 miles per year... or $490 for the same milage in electric cost. Now I put gas at $3.80 and cost for electricity at 11 cents per kilowatt hour. I believe Florida is around 17 cents but I did not recall at the time. Next time I go down there I will have the right numbers so I can post up the correct cost.

Fun to see how much money I waste on gas!

Yes finally the Model S review. Well here my first impression .... I fit! so it's SOLD!
All kidding aside this car is very well thought out. 

Here is the front view.

And a shot from the back.

Since there were a few people waiting to sit in the drivers seat I took the opportunity to sit in the back seat. Just for size comparison, I am 6 foot 2 inches tall and weigh in at 210. I had plenty of space in the rear. So much so that I could spend a few hours back there in comfort. Only issue I had was that if I sat straight up the last remaining hairs on my bald head tickled the ceiling, but since I never really sit bolt upright it was a non issue.

Plenty of leg room even behind the drivers seat which was put back by my friend who is the same hight as me.

One very cool and geeky thing is the door handles. You press them and they pop out! once you close the door they sink back into the body making the car just a bit more aerodynamic.


Sitting in the back seat also gives one a great view of the dashboard. Which is just sooo cool! This alone lets you know you are finally in the future!

The 17 inch control panel...You just have to sit down and experience it first hand. It is the iPad for the car! Everything is controlled from there. I asked about internet carrier and or if tethering with your iPhone was available. They did not have an answer for me. But if you do get the full $3500 electronic package you will have 7 years of free software downloads. This might not sound like much but let me tell you what this really means. 
In the airplane industry you have the G-1000 by Garmin. It is basically a computer screen for your dash. And every so often you have to upgrade. Now these upgrades ain't cheap and I figure the same will apply to the Tesla. So if you don't want to worry about paying for upgrades then you will be a much happier cat getting the package. This option also gives you LED and Zeon lights plus a rear camera and whole bunch of other goodies. I think it is worth it.
After a bit of time in the back it was my time to sit up front. I climbed in and it fit me like a glove. The seating position was right on, although I would like to test it over long distances, but from what my butt was telling me I would be comfortable. The steering wheel was a good size and thickness. I have big hands so folks with smaller hands might find it a bit thick to wrap their hands around. 
I loved that the speedo and all the information was basically another computer screen. I did not ask if it could be customized but I am sure that option will eventually hit the market.

Now the main touch screen deserves its own blog post. Man this thing is awesome, from car controls to the internet to the rear view camera the programing is flawless. The only draw back I see to this 17 inch screen is that it can be distracting to some when driving. Hopefully this will not be the case. At least it should not be for me since the only time I look at mine (granted it is much much much smaller) is when I change the radio station.

Once I was done playing with the toys I got down to asking a few questions that had me a bit confused about the charging system. So bare with me if you already know what I am talking about. When you order your 60kw Tesla (the 45kw does not apply since it does not come with the super charger option, and in the 85 kw it comes standard) you can order a few different charging options.
You can get it with a single charger or a double, which as guessed, allows you to charge twice as fast, and you can also get the supercharger. So what is the supercharger and why would I get it?
Well, after forking over $2000 for it you will be able to charge up your Tesla up to 80% in 30 minutes at any of the Tesla supercharging stations which are currently being built. So what is so great about this? Are you sitting down? ALL charging at the supercharging stations will be FREE! yep FREE! so once the stations are up and running (Cali already has theirs and LA to Vegas is being built) one will eventually be able to travel across the country, or for me from Miami to New York, for Free! Crazy right? But it is true! So paying an additional $2000 for this option is well worth it especially since my long distance trips will just be from Miami to Mickey Mouse's house (around 500 miles round trip)
My question was if you can get the twin chargers and the supercharger together. The answer is that they are two separate systems so yes you can... 

It was time to remove myself from the passenger seat to let the next potential customer in. I have to give it to the knowledgeable staff at the Lincoln mall Tesla store, those guys really know the product and are extremely proud of the company they work for... keep up the great work! Anyway, I stepped out of the Model S and took a closer look at the overall design.
Up front you have was the Tesla folk call the Frunk (front trunk) this car has plenty of space to put luggage or groceries. Again simple, functional and smart!

Sorry for the bad pictures... time to get the iPhone 5!

And we are left with the trunk... The particular model S on display had what they call jump seats (for kids only) Now the first thing I think of here is my moms old station wagon. Sitting backwards and making funny faces at all the cars and giving the universal 'honk the horn' sign to the truckers that passed us... good times.
Well, you too can give that feeling to your kids for $1500! Now would I really op for this option? Well that depends. Personally if I really needed the two rear seats I would wait for the Model X and get my  seven facing forward seats that can fit adults cause I know that eventually my kids will outgrow these two seats in the Model S. But heck... for the time being I think they would have tons of fun back there!

They fold flat so cargo space remains the same...

A 9 year old and 7 year old, any older and the seats become extra weight...

Not as claustrophobic as you would think, but a 3 hour ride to Disney might be too much for these two...

Well, that is it for now. I will have to say that this car blew me away... and I have yet to drive it. I have now fallen for Tesla and I don't know what I am going to do with myself if I don't get my hands on one. I could pull off the base model but to be honest I should go with the 60kw plus supercharger. I don't think the double chargers will be needed since I have never been in that much of a hurry!
Tesla has finally proven the viability of the electric car. 

I am so excited for what lies in the future. From the model X SUV crossover which is on my short list to the soon to be announced smaller sedan and smaller crossover, and you can bet they will come out with a two door high luxury model based on the Model S chassis architecture. I am guessing that it will have the same type of look (long nose) as the Mercedes gullwing.

Tesla knows its got a great car and word around the net tells us that prices might go up. I understand why, but it will just make it a bit harder for me to take the leap. So I am thinking of grandfathering myself on the waiting list. Place my order and drop my deposit to lock in the price.
Next step for me? To take the Model S on a test drive. Everyone I know has asked me what it sounds like so I have included this link from Blogger Katie Fehrenbacher. But rest assured I will be doing my own video when my day comes!

I highly recommend that you visit the web site. It is very informative and should answer any questions you have about this marvelous machine. You can also play around and build your dream Model S and swing by the Model X page... those doors are just cool!
And if you are lucky enough to be within driving distance of a Tesla store... do yourself a favor and go. You can thank me later! The future is finally here everyone, so: 

I think I just might head back to Lincoln mall today... I just feel like I have to go 'shopping'! Don't text and drive! and have a beautiful Sunday!

No comments:

Post a Comment