Tesla: It's all about the technology

Published: Nov. 30, 2017 at 9:04 PM CST
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With the Christmas season upon us, thoughts turn to gifts, and if you're going to dream of a gift, why not dream of a big one?

Tesla was the world's best-selling plug-in electric car in 2015 and 16, when it topped Consumer Reports' Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey at 91%. And this past February, Consumer Reports named Tesla the top car brand in America, ranked 8th in the world.

You may have seen one, and not even known it, if you've been to Meijer's in Bowling Green. It's one of Tesla's hundreds of free Super Charger stations located just off major interstates all over the country.

"So in Bowling Green it's Meijer, so you don't have a lot of variety, but you do have WiFi access, a 24-hour grocery store with access to food and coffee, that sort of thing, a restroom." John E. Anderson owns a four-wheel drive 2017 Tesla Model S-90. He says a trip may require a bit more planning to make sure you are near a charging station when you need one, but the computer in his Tesla will tell him where the charging stations are before he even leaves home.

In fact, John says it was the technology of the car that intrigued him. "I like a nice lookin' car," says John, "but, I'm not the kind of guy who's gonna be under the hood tryin' to figure out how it runs or how it works. But the combination of a real cool-lookin' car and the technology was the appeal."

John: "In certain conditions you can set it on autopilot, and it, you wouldn't do it except for show, but you can take your hands off the wheel and your feet off the gas and brake pedals and it would control, with traffic it would control how close you fall in behind a car.

Gene: "Really."

John: "Yes, it'll drive itself."

John says his original perception of electric cars was that they were slow, unattractive, and restrictive. But he was wrong. "They're definitely not slow," John says. "The acceleration on my car is better than most gasoline engines because of the torque. It's immediate. There's no combustion engine to worry about kickin' in.

John's 2017 Model S 90-D can go from Zero to 60 in 4.2 seconds. It has a range of almost 300 miles on a full charge. "There's no oil," says John. "There's no gas. It's all electric. And really the maintenance to it, there's no maintenance to it that I can do other than add windshield washer fluid to the reservoir."

And John says his electric bill hardly went up at all from plugging his car in overnight. "The only really change we had to make to the home was to add, I think it's a 220 or 240 volt outlet with a 50-amp breaker that would charge it fast enough to make sense."

So it's attractive, inexpensive to charge, and loaded with technology, so what's the down side? It doesn't come cheap. "If you're comparing a BMW 6 Series to a Tesla," John says, "pretty equivalent. It's an upper end car."

John has owned two Teslas, both around $95,000 each. But he says Tesla is coming out with a more mid-priced model. "They're just now rolling out the Model 3," says John, "which is targeted at about $39,000, I think $35,000 to $39,000 car, so it's the first full production vehicle they've made targeted at a lower price point."

And John believes electric cars are here to stay. "I believe electric cars are gonna go, it's gonna be crazy over the next 5 years."

John says General Motors is adding more electric cars to its fleet, and he says Volvo is expected to go to all-electric cars by the year 2020 or 2025.

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